Four big runs in the top of the ninth inning turned a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead as the Uni-President Lions rallied to defeat the Lamigo Monkeys by the same score at the Pingtung County Baseball Stadium last night to sweep their three-game series over the weekend.
Down by a pair heading into the top of the ninth, the Lions drew a pair of walks and a hit batsman to load up the bases against a wild Hsu Ming-jeh, chasing the Lamigo closer out of the game.
The Monkeys turned to Keng Bo-hsuan, who did not fare any better, as the former Toronto Blue Jays minor leaguer bounced one into the dirt that went past his catcher, allowing the runner from third to score.
Keng then bobbled the ball on the next play in what would have been a sure out at the plate, letting the tying run cross the plate, before he served up a two-run single to the Lions’ Liu Fu-hao that cemented the Lions’ lead.
By the time Lamigo skipper Hung Yi-chung sent his third reliever to the mound, his team had already squandered a two-run cushion and fallen behind by a pair against the top club in the nation.
Even though the Monkeys would attempt a final-inning comeback by drawing back-to-back walks off Lions closer Lin Yueh-ping to put the tying run on base with two outs, that was as close as they would get as Lin calmly retired the final batter he faced on a game-ending strikeout to preserve the series-sweeping win.
Picking up the dramatic victory was reliever Kao Jien-san, who tossed a scoreless eighth for his second win of the year, while the loss went to the Monkeys’ Hsu, who allowed all three of the batters he faced to reach on walks in a blown-save opportunity to fall to 1-1 for the year.
The absence of sluggers Lin Chih-sheng and team captain Chen Chin-fong because of injuries might not have contributed directly to the Monkeys loss last night, but it has definitely taken its toll as they have dropped three straight and four of their past six with the hard-hitting tandem out of the Monkeys’ regular lineup.
BULLS 7, ELEPHANTS 6
The Sinon Bulls took a seemingly comfortable 6-0 lead through the fourth inning, but then had to hold on for dear life to eke past the Brother Elephants at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium last night.
It was the second one-run win that the Bulls have mustered in as many days, giving them a 2-1 margin in the weekend series against the defending champions.
Hsu Guo-long’s RBI single following a double by Lin Yi-chuan in the seventh inning proved to be the difference in the game as it gave the Bulls a 7-2 lead at that point, just enough to fend off a four-run rally by the Elephants in the ninth inning to escape with a narrow triumph.
Earning his first victory of the year after 10 starts and two relief appearances was Sinon starter Lin Ying-jeh, who pitched two-run ball through the eighth, before his bullpen nearly blew a five-run lead in the ninth in dramatic finish.
Taking the loss for the Elephants was Yeh Ding-ren, who lasted only two innings with six allowed runs on as many hits for his sixth defeat of the year.