Torrential rain associated with Tropical Storm Wutip in southern Taiwan limited baseball action to a lone game in Hsinchu between the La New Bears and the Macoto Cobras on Thursday evening in which the Bears toppled the serpents by a 12-4 final.
The Bears took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second on an run-scoring single by Jiang Chih-tsong and an RBI groundout by Lin Jin-ping and never looked back as they went on to score in four of the next seven innings en route to a big win.
Bears starter Gary Rath did not look particularly sharp on the night, allowing four runs on eleven hits in five innings of work.
But the 11-game winner for the defending champs managed to get out of a couple of jams with key double plays in the second and fourth to pull off his 12th victory of the season to lead his team in total wins.
After the Bears scored three runs in the top of the third on RBI singles from Chen Chin-fong, Raul Gonzalez and Jiang to lead it 5-1, the Cobras promptly answered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning on Lin "Wild Hog" Hong-yuan's solo home run and Wong Tsai-sheng's two-run single to make it 5-4.
That was the extent that the Cobras were able to produce offensively as the Bears pitching kept them off the board the rest of the way despite giving up six more hits.
In addition to the two double plays that got Rath out of two big jams, the Bears defense also turned a clutch double play in the eighth with the bases loaded to deny the Cobras a chance to score late in the game.
"Anytime you score only four runs on 16 hits you are bound to lose," a disgusted Cobras skipper Wu Fu-lien said after the game, referring to his club's inability to convert the hits into runs.
The Cobras actually outhit their former Taiwan Major League brethren by a 16-15 margin, only to find themselves losing by a eight runs.
Taking the loss for the hapless serpents was US right-hander Pat Ahearne, who allowed five runs on as many hits over three innings to drop to 2-4 for the year.
His offense simply could not put up any runs to give him the support he needed.
The Brother Elephants will host the Sinon Bulls for a two-game set in Tianmu this weekend with both contests starting at 5pm, while the Chinatrust Whales pay a visit to the Cobras in Sinjhuang today and tomorrow.
It will be a crucial weekend for the Elephants and the Bulls as both teams look to break out of a slump.
As for the matchup between the Cobras and the Whales, the free-falling Cobras, losers of 10 of their last dozen, must come up with a winning formula fast to avoid sinking further in the standings.