Back-to-back-to-back homers by Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min led a fierce Brother Elephants attack as they downed the La New Bears 7-1 in Game 1 of the Playoff Series in Kaohsiung on Friday night to take a 1-0 lead.
The soft-spoken Brother slugger whose patented smile alone has its fans, set a new record for most homers in a postseason contest with three on a perfect 4-for-4 night to champion the visiting Elephants in a big road victory, ending a 10-game winning streak for the home Bears.
“I guess I am seeing the ball a lot better now compared to before,” Chia Chia explained after the game.
PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES
His three blasts in the game gave him seven career postseason homers, one shy of the Sinon Bulls’ Chang “Prince of the Forest” Tai-shan and three behind former Uni-President Lions great Luo Min-ching’s all-time mark at ten.
The highly anticipated showdown between not only the league’s two premier long-ball hitters, Chen Chin-fong of the Bears and Chia Chia, but also 20 game-winner Mike Johnson of the Bears and ERA leader Liao Yu-cheng of the Elephants, was all-Elephants from the get go with the visitors jumping to 3-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI-double by Chen Guan-ren and Chia Chia’s two-run blast off Johnson.
Huang Cheng-wei’s run-scoring single off Johnson in the second quickly made it 4-0 before Chia Chia went deep again against Johnson with his second dinger of the night over the leftfield wall that gave the Elephants a commanding 5-0 lead in the third.
The Bears would get on the board in the bottom of the inning on Chen Fong-min’s solo shot off Liao to avoid the shutout only to see the Elephants answered with Wang Sheng-wei’s one-run single that upped their lead back to 6-1.
Chia Chia’s fifth-inning homer off Bears reliever Huang Chin-chih made it 7-1 in favor of the Elephants which stood until the end with neither offense able to strike again from that point on.
Keeping the potent Bears hitters at bay was Liao who tossed seven innings of one-run ball on three hits to pick up his first career postseason win. The submariner with his unconventional underhand delivery more than backed up his pregame prediction for an Elephants rout.
Suffering the loss with six allowed runs (four earned) on seven hits over 3-2/3 innings of play was Johnson who might have been rattled by the three-run first with two of the three runs coming off a fielding error by his third baseman and never recovered since.
The Bears now face an uphill battle in their quest for the title as the winners from the all-important Game 1 have gone on to take the series in 80 percent of the times.
They must win Game 2 of the best-of-five Playoff Series in Kaohsiung on Saturday in order to have any chance since no team in the playoff format has come back from a 0-2 deficit to claim the best-of-five series.
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