Huang Chih-pei’s walk-off single with the bases loaded scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th as Taiwan outlasted Cuba in extra innings to win the title at the World Port Baseball Tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, late on Sunday evening.
It was the first time Taiwan has won the biennial international competition that dates back to 1985, which Cuba has dominated by winning eight of the 12 titles prior to this year.
What better way for Taiwan to defeat the defending champions than by beating them for the third straight time in the tournament to earn the title in convincing fashion.
“We knew we had a tough battle heading into the game because no one has ever beaten Cuba three times in the same tournament as far as I can remember,” Taiwan skipper Chen Wei-cheng said after the game.
His troops accomplished their “mission impossible” by downing Cuba in all three of their meetings this year and even though Cuba did not send their national team to this year’s event, Taiwan still deserve credit for achieving the amazing feat as the Taiwan team was also filled with amateur players.
Attempting to retain the title for the fifth straight time, Cuba drew first blood in the top of the third after two scoreless frames when Yasel Puig doubled off Taiwan starter Kuo Chun-lin to score Rusney Castillo from second, who reached safely on an infield single after taking second on a single up the middle by Yoelvis Fiss.
Cuba extended their lead with another run in the fourth off reliever Wang Wei-chung, before Taiwan’s offense finally got on the board on the strength of Hsiao Po-ting’s RBI single off Cuba starter Yosvani Torres that made it 2-1.
After Cuba plated their third run of the game in the fifth, Puig ripping a rare triple off Wang and scoring on a throwing error by the shortstop on the same play, the Taiwan bats finally came alive in the bottom of the same inning.
Lin Wei-ting pounded out a three-run double off reliever Dalier Hinojosa to claim the lead for the first time in the game.
Cuba tied the game 4-4 in the seventh on three singles off reliever Lin Yu-ching, a score that remained until Taiwan’s game-clincher.
Lin Chen-hua was credited with the win for his three innings of hitless relief, highlighted by a clutch inning-ending strikeout in the top of the 11th with the bases loaded to deny Cuba a golden scoring opportunity.
Cuba’s Yadier Pedroso was charged with the loss for allowing the game-winner despite pitching five strong innings against a potent attack prior to the 11th.
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