Behind four homers by an explosive offense that leads the league in total runs scored (620), the President Lions trounced the La New Bears with a convincing 10-2 home victory in Tainan on Monday evening to claim a 1.5-game lead over the second-place Bears in the latest standings.
Trailing the top-ranked Lions by a half-game margin heading into the three-game series in Tainan, the Bears could have taken the lead from the Lions with a road win in Tainan on Monday as the season boiled down to its final three contests. Instead, it was the Lions who had the last laugh as the offense took control of the game early by spotting starter Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen a quick 3-1 lead after only two innings of play before mowing through the Bears pitching en route to a lopsided win.
After the Bears scored the game's first run in the top of the second on Jiang Chih-tsong's RBI single off Du Du in the top of the second to take a 1-0 lead, the Lions hitters responded in a hurry by stacking up three runs in the bottom of the same inning off Bears starter Hsu Yu-wei on a three-run homer by Huang Gang-lin to lead it 3-1.
PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES
The first blast of the season for the veteran Lions outfielder could not have come at a better time, as it brought the crowd into the game, rattling the young Hsu.
The Lions offense maintained its dominance at the plate by scoring a run each in the third and fourth off Hsu on run-scoring singles by Kao Chih-kang and Chen Lien-hong to make it 5-1 and chase the Bears lefty ace in his shortest start of the year.
In came Bears reliever Jiang Bo-ching, who held off the Lions for the next two frames before being knocked out in the sixth by a two-run blast from the Lions' Kao Guo-ching that brought Hsu Chih-hua, the third Bears pitcher of the night, into the game.
The pitching change by the Bears seemed not to bother the Lions a bit as Chen Lien-hong went deep against Hsu Chih-hua on the ensuing at bat to put his club ahead 8-1 before Tilson Brito followed with his league-leading 33rd round-tripper of the year to boost the Lions to a commanding 10-1.
Trailing by nine, the Bears put up a meaningless run in the eighth on a run-scoring error by the Lions defense.
That was as close as they got. The Lions bullpen quickly buckled down and clamped the scoring door shut.
Pan tossed seven brilliant innings of one-run ball on five hits, improving his league-best win total to 16. The Lions staff ace has not lost a game since starting off the season with two straight losses.
Picking up the loss for the Bears was Hsu Yu-wei, who saw his winning streak halted at eight as he settled for a 9-3 mark for the year.
Elephants 7, Bulls 2
Peng "Chia Chia" Cheng-min became the seventh man to hit 100 homers in the league when he smoked a pitch from Kurita Yusuke that left the ballpark in no time to lead his Brother Elephants to a 7-2 win over the Sinon Bulls in Hsinchu on Monday night.
The soft-spoken and always-smiling Elephants slugger, arguably one of the most popular players in the league, showed why the Elephants offense was far from being dead despite having gone through three straight losing seasons, by going 2-for-3 on the night with a pair of RBIs.
Chen Jiang-ho also had a huge night at the plate for the Elephants with four RBIs on a 2-for-3 hitting, including a two-run shot following Chia Chia's homer to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth.
The game began with the Bulls striking first with a run in the top of the third on Lin Tsung-nan's opposite-field single off Elephants starter Joey Dawley.
They doubled the lead in the fifth on a run-scoring throwing error by the Elephants defense that made it 2-0.
That was the extent of the Sinon offense's impact on the men in the golden uniform, who went on to score seven unanswered runs in capturing their 48th win of the year.
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