Fri, Oct 27, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Bears thunder to first league title

FALL CLASSICThe Bears clawed their way back up from last place last year to nail down their first ever Taiwan Series with a clean 4-0 sweep of the Lions

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

La New Bears players toss manager Huang Yi-chung into the air in celebration after beating the President Lions in Tainan on Wednesday.

PHOTOS: HUANG CHIH-YUAN, TAIPEI TIMES

Chen Chin-fong raised his arms in joy the minute he hit the pitch. Because he knew it was gone.

It was his monstrous, out-of-the-ballpark, two-run homer off the Lions' Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen that tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth to spark what turned out to be a six-run rally as the La New Bears overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the President Lions 7-3 in Game 4 of the 2006 Taiwan Series at Tainan on Wednesday night for their first ever league title.

After Chen's game-tying blast that revived a lineup that had been held to just one run on three hits through the first five innings by Pan, the momentum suddenly shifted to the Bears. And with Huang Long-yi's bases-clearing three-run double off Lin Yueh-ping that broke the 3-3 tie wide open in the top of the ninth, the Bears knew they were well on their way to the promised land.

The clean, 4-0 sweep of the Lions in this year's Fall Classic put a storybook ending to the Bears' remarkable season that saw last year's last-place finisher transform itself from the laughingstock of the league into a powerhouse that won both halves during the regular season before their crowning on Wednesday night.

"I knew we had what it takes to win it [the title], but not that it would be by a clean sweep, because they [the Lions] are a great team," a champagne-drenched La New manager Hung Yi-chung said after the game.

His troops had rallied back from deficits as large as three runs in three of the four wins against the Lions, treating fans around the nation to some of the best late-game finishes in postseason history.

With their backs to the wall in a do-or-die situation, the Lions opened Game 4 on their home turf with Tilson Brito's opposite-filed single off Bears starter Wu Si-yo that scored leadoff man Yang Seng in the bottom of the first for a quick 1-0 advantage.

They would tack on a pair of runs in the fourth to make it 3-0 with outfielder Liu Fu-hao's RBI single and catcher Kao Chih-kang's sacrifice fly off Wu that chased the La New lefty.

Bears right-hander Anthony Fiore of the US threw 4-1/3 inning of shutout ball in relief of Wu to earn the win, beating Lin Yueh-ping, who gave up the final four Bears runs in the ninth, all unearned, for his second loss in the series. It was an error by Lions second baseman Yang Seng on a routine play that allowed the leadoff runner to reach in the top of the ninth to ignite the Bears' four-run ninth.

Asia Series

The newly crowned Bears will represent Taiwan in the annual Asian Series in Tokyo next month.

The Bears will do battle with the champions of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, South Korea's Korean Baseball Organization and China's Chinese Baseball Association all-stars for the bragging rights of being crowned Asia's best.

First-round action will begin on Nov. 9 in a three-game, round-robin format, with the top two teams playing in the title game on Nov. 12.

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