Taiwan qualified for the quarter-finals of the Baseball World Cup with a 10-0 hammering of listless Panama at the Intercontinental stadium in Taichung yesterday.
A sixth-inning, five-run annihilation of the Panamanian pitcher ended the contest, although the game petered out after another two runs, including the game's sole home run in the ninth inning.
Before that Taiwan accumulated runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th innings with help from poor pitching -- Lin Chih-sheng made it home twice off hits by Peng Cheng-min after being walked -- and fielding by their foes.
The result means that Taiwan are virtually assured of avoiding the marauding Cuban side in the quarter-final phase.
In other games in Group A, the USA kept pace with Taiwan at the top of the group after beating winless South Africa 4-2. Third-placed Japan virtually sealed a quarter-final spot with a 10-0 hammering of Italy, while Mexico destroyed Spain 19-1. A likely win over Spain by Japan this afternoon would mean the fourth quarter-final spot will go down to percentages for the winner of the Mexico-Italy game and Panama if they defeat South Africa.
In Group B, Cuba continued their undefeated run with an easy seven-inning, 11-1 defeat of winless Thailand, while Australia stayed in second place by narrowly beating Germany 4-2 after the Germans made a late charge.
Canada and the Netherlands made a big step toward the quarter-finals by beating Venezuela 6-3 and South Korea 5-1 respectively. Canada, the Netherlands and South Korea will now vie for third and fourth, although the Netherlands will struggle as their last game is against the relentless Cubans.
The top four teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals. The final will be held on Sunday.
Japan v Spain (Taichung)
Mexico v Italy (Intercontinental, Taichung)
Cuba v Netherlands (Tianmu, Taipei City)
Germany v South Korea (Sinjhuang, Taipei County)
TAIWAN v USA (Intercontinental)
Panama v South Africa (Taichung)
Canada v Australia (Tianmu)
Venezuela v Thailand (Sinjhuang)