Failure to come up with the big hits with runners in scoring position, coupled with two errors that led to a pair of unearned runs for Italy, dealt Taiwan their second devastating loss in as many days as they dropped a 4-3 decision in the third-fourth place game of the Intercontinental Cup at the Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung yesterday afternoon to close out the tournament with a fourth-place finish.
Kao Guo-ching’s (Uni-President Lions) two-out grounder back to the pitcher that ended the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth was a case in point as the home team stranded a dozen runners in a game in which they actually outhit the Italians by a 12-6 margin.
The combined two-for-10 hitting with men in scoring position did not exactly help Taiwan’s cause either, especially with a defense that committed two errors in the game for the second straight day, making it virtually impossible to win.
“We really did not do a good job stringing our hits together today,” Taiwan head coach Yeh Chih-hsien said after the game.
His offense simply could not get the hits they needed when it counted the most.
Italy made the most of back-to-back errors by the Taiwan defense to start off the game with runners at the corners and scored them both on an RBI groundout by Mario Chiarini and a double-steal that worked to perfection to take a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
The home team would get a run back in the bottom of the same inning when Kuo Yen-wen (Cleveland Indians) singled off Italian starter Cody Cillo and scored two batters later on Lin Chih-sheng’s (La New Bears) single to left.
Kuo’s second hit of the game, a single to right in the second inning with runners on first and second, would drive in Taiwan’s second run of the game, tying it at 2-2.
After a scoreless third and fourth, the Italian offense struck again, this time on a two-out double by Jairo Ramos that scored the runner on third to retake a 3-2 lead.
Italy managed to score an insurance run in the seventh that proved critical as Taiwan also scored in the inning to pull within a run of the visitors, but that was as close as they got as the offense struggled over the final innings, despite getting runners on base.
CUBA 4, NETHERLANDS 1
Cuba successfully defended their title in the showdown against the Netherlands, downing a feisty squad at the Intercontinental Baseball Stadium last night to claim the title for a record 11th time.
JAPAN 2, SOUTH KOREA 1
In the battle for fifth place, Japan had RBI singles by Hashimoto Itaru and Iwamoto Takahiro to take a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning and held on to win at the Douliou Baseball Stadium yesterday afternoon.