Behind a gutsy outing by starter Chang Jia-liang, Nan Ying Vocational High School edged past Ku Pao Home Economics and Commercial High School by a 3-2 margin in the decisive Game 3 to win the annual High School Baseball Taiwan Championship in Taichung on Sunday evening.
Despite losing Game 1 on Friday night to Ku Pao in a 2-0 decision, Nan Ying managed to top their nemesis from Taipei County by winning Game 2 in a 1-0 thriller on Saturday before making it two in a row on Sunday to run away with the trophy.
Shutting down a potent Ku Pao attack with a near-flawless performance was starter Chang, who took a 3-0 shutout into the eighth before surrendering a run each in the eighth and ninth (one unearned) to clutch the complete-game victory in dramatic fashion.
The Nan Ying hitters needed little time getting to Ku Pao starter and Game 1-winner Pan Jeh, who also went the distance on Friday. In a brilliant five-hit gem, Nan Ying first struck in the top of the second when Lai Wei-yu drew a one-out walk off Pan and scored two batters later on Chen Cheng-ming’s RBI-single up the middle to lead it 1-0.
Pan quickly regrouped and struck out the next two batters to prevent Nan Ying from doing further damage in the inning and breezed through the seventh without much difficulty before running into a world of trouble when he surpassed the 100-pitch plateau in the eighth.
With his pitches losing their velocity and sharpness, Pan allowed two of the first three Nan Ying hitters to reach base, but nearly escaped the inning unharmed by inducing an apparent grounder to third for what would have been an inning-ending double play.
But his third baseman failed to field the ball cleanly in a costly error that allowed a run and ultimately gave Nan Ying a 3-0 lead in the top of the eighth. That proved too much for Ku Pao to overcome even though its efforts in the eighth and ninth reduced the deficit to a lone run.
With the tough loss, Ku Pao failed to defend its title in the annual high school competition, cooling off slightly from its recent dominance in high school play after winning the title in three of the previous four tournaments in which it participated.