After falling behind 3-2 in the series after a contentious Game 5 marked by controversy and theatrics, the Brother Elephants evened up the CPBL Taiwan Series at three games apiece yesterday, defeating the Uni-President Lions 5-0 and forcing a deciding Game 7 tonight in Tainan.
Japanese starting pitcher Kobayashi Ryokan tossed six stellar innings, while Matthew Perisho picked up the win in relief with two scoreless frames for the Elephants. Third-baseman Chen Rui-zhen drove in the game-winner with a two-run double that sparked a five-run eighth inning.
The game started as a tense pitching duel between Ryokan and Lions starting pitcher Giancarlo Alvarado and remained scoreless through seven innings.
PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES
The crafty Ryokan pitched an exceptional game, moving the ball effectively around the strike zone with a blend of fastballs and off-speed pitches. He struck out seven and walked just one batter over six scoreless innings, confounding a line-up of pressing Lions hitters.
The Lions’ Alvarado pitched seven impressive shutout innings of his own, to match Ryokan and Perisho.
Despite throwing more than 110 pitches through seven innings and appearing fatigued, Alvarado was left in the game by manager Liu Wen-sheng to start the eighth inning.
The top of the eighth would prove fatal for the defending champions when, after singling to start the inning, the Elephants’ Wang Seng-wei advanced all the way to third base on Alvarado’s errant pickoff throw with no outs. After a visibly limping Peng Chen-ming was intentionally walked with one out, Zhen broke the game’s scoring drought with a two-run double off reliever Kao Jian-san, driving in Wang Sen-wei and Peng’s pinch runner, Wang Yong-shi.
First baseman Wang Jin-yong then blew the game open with a decisive two-run blast to center field, putting the game out of reach for the Lions. Huang Zheng-wei added an insurance run with a double, driving in catcher Cheng Rui-chang.
The victory ensured a deciding seventh game tonight. Game 4 MVP Luther Hackman will start for the Lions, while Game 3 MVP Mai Chia-rui will start for the Elephants.
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