The Macoto Cobras celebrated their first-half title with a thrilling 5-4 win over the Chinatrust Whales in Sinjhuang on Monday as makeup week winds down in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
Having already clinched the first-half title because of a loss by the second-place La New Bears last weekend, the Cobras took the field in Sinjhuang on Monday night looking to celebrate the first-half title with a win over the marine creatures.
And that was exactly what they did, even though they had to hold on for their dear lives to keep a feisty Whales attack from from outscoring them.
The contest began when the serpents came out firing, scoring three quick runs off Du Chang-wei to knock out the Whales starter only one out into the opening frame, courtesy of Kuo Ming-ren's leadoff homer and Lin "Wild Hog" Hong-yuan's two-run single to left.
Then came a two-run second by the Cobras on the strength of Kuo's RBI single and Wang Chuan-jia's run-scoring double off Whales reliever Shen Yu-jeh to make it 5-1 in favor of the league-leaders.
With a run off Cobras starter Pat Ahearne in the bottom of the first and two more in the following inning off the US hurler, the Whales managed to pull within two runs of the serpents after two innings of play and seemed more than capable of overturning the game with a lineup that had little trouble with Ahearne's pitches.
Ahearne was eventually pulled after the fourth after throwing 51 pitches and allowing three runs on seven hits.
But the Whales did not know that the rest of the Cobras bullpen would come up with five outstanding innings of one-run ball on three hits to keep their narrow lead intact.
Other than a sixth-inning run by the Whales on consecutive base hits, the Cobras bullpen showed no signs of weakness as it allowed just two runner to reach second in the final five innings of play.
Picking up the win for the Cobras was reliever Chang Hsien-chih, who threw two-and-one-third innings of two-hit ball while fanning three to earn his fifth win of the year.
Taking the loss for the Whales was Du, who struggled in the game from the start as he allowed all but one of the first six batters he faced to reach to drop to a 1-5 mark for the season.