Chou Si-chi drove in three runs and Kuo Ming-ren took away what would have been a game-tying run with a great game-ending catch at short to pace the Macoto Cobras to a thrilling 5-4 win over the Brother Elephants in Tianmu on Sunday evening.
Chou, the third-year outfielder for the league leaders, has demonstrated steady progress by upping his average to a solid .303, 70 points better than last year's .233 mark. His 24 RBIs for the season thus far also make him one of the more productive hitters on a squad filled with all-stars.
Defensively for the victorious serpents, it was Kuo who saved the day with some nifty glove work as he leaped high to snag a two-out with two-on line-drive hit by the Elephants' Chen Guan-ren that had game-tying RBI written all over it to put an end to a vicious Elephants rally.
PHOTO: LIU HSIN-TEH, TAIPEI TIMES
The contest began with the Elephants striking first in the top of the second with consecutive RBI singles by Chen Huai-shan and Chen Guan-ren off Cobras starter Lin Jing-min for a quick 2-0 lead.
Macoto would slice its deficit by half with a run of their own in the bottom of the same inning when Chou's blooper single to shallow-right landed for a run-scoring base hit against Brother starter Yeh Yong-jeh.
After a scoreless third, the Cobras would tack on three more runs in the fourth to lead it 4-1 with two coming from Chou's two-run blast and another run from Yang Rei-chih's lining single to right.
Antonio Alvarez's timely single with a runner on third got the Elephants to within two of the Cobras only to see Yeh waste it away in the bottom of the same inning when he threw a wild pitch with a man on third to score the Cobras' fifth run of the game.
That run proved to be crucial as the score remained 5-3 in favor of the Cobras until the Elephants struck once more in the top of the ninth by capitalizing on a pair of errors by the Cobras defense.
And with the tying run and the winning run both on, and Chen Guan-ren drilling what surely looked to be a double to the left-center gap that would score at least a run and possibly two, Kuo leaped high in the air and saved the day by coming up with the huge catch.
Picking up the close win for the Cobras was starter Lin, who improved to 2-3 for the year, allowing three runs on seven hits to beat his counterpart Yeh, who pitched well enough for a win if it had not been for a couple of defensive miscues that cost the Elephants the game.
Whales 5, Bears 0
The Chinatrust Whales salvaged a 1-1 series split against the La New Bears by blanking the defending champs in a 5-0 final at Sinjhuang on Sunday to snap a two-game losing skid.
Lorenzo Barcelo pitched his best game of the season by far with eight shutout innings on seven scattered hits before fellow lefty Kevin Tolar struck out the side after giving up two hits in the ninth to keep the shutout intact.
The Whales lineup really took it to the Bears early this time with Cheng Chang-ming and Hsu Ren-jeh connecting for consecutive run-scoring singles in a two-run second to put the marine creatures ahead 2-0 before Tseng Han-chou plated their third run of the game in the third with a clean double down the right-field line to make it 3-0.
With Barcelo on top of his game, the 3-0 Whales lead was more than ample as the Bears were able to reach second only twice throughout the entire game in a losing cause.
The Dominican right-hander was credited with the win and the game-MVP honor for his outstanding performance, while Bears starter Hsu Chih-hua was tagged with the loss for allowing the three early runs by the Whales even though two of the three runs that Hsu had given up were unearned.
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