Taiwan proved no match for the Netherlands in a classic pitchers’ duel, dropping a 2-1 decision in the opener of this year’s IBAF Baseball World Cup on Sunday at the Remon Cantera Stadium in Aguadulce, Panama.
Against a much improved Netherlands squad filled with minor leaguers playing in the US, Taiwan skipper Chen Wei-cheng sent budding star and Chicago Cubs minor leaguer Wang Yao-lin to the mound in search of an auspicious opening victory.
Wang did his part, tossing seven effective innings of two-run ball on five hits, seven strikeouts and a pair of walks, to keep his team in the game. Other than a three-hit second that led to both of the Netherlands’ runs, the right-hander out of Greater Kaohsiung’s San Sin School of Commerce and Home Economics was virtually unhittable in a brilliant performance.
“That pitch wasn’t as far away from the hitter as I would’ve liked and he made me pay dearly for it,” Wang recalled after the game, referring to the pitch the Netherlands’ McVince Rooi hit to drive home runners from second and third base for his team’s only runs in the game.
The two runs turned out to be the difference in the game with Netherlands starter Shairon Martis (formerly of the Washington Nationals) outpitching Wang in a three-hit gem over seven frames. He allowed the lone run to Taiwan on an RBI single to Chen Chun-hsiu — a player in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system — in the top of the fourth that scored Hsiao Po-ting, who led off the inning with a single to left.
Taiwan managed to put a runner on base in the bottom of the ninth with Lo Kuo-hui’s single to left off Netherlands reliever Tom Stuifbergen (a minor leaguer with the Minnesota Twins) to represent the tying run. However, that was as close as they got as Stuifbergen retired the next two batters on a foul out to first and a lazy fly to center to preserve the win for the Netherlands.
Martis and Stuifbergen was credited with the win and the save respectively, while the loss was charged against Wang despite an outstanding effort by the young hurler.
Sixteen teams from around the world are taking part in the biennial baseball gala that dates back to 1938 and features perennial powerhouses such as Cuba, Japan and most recently, South Korea.
The teams are divided into two groups of eight with Taiwan, the US, Japan, Canada, Greece, Panama, the Netherlands and Puerto Rico competing in Group A and Australia, Cuba, South Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Italy and Germany playing in Group B.
Each team will play a round-robin preliminary round within their group before the top four teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals. The tournament runs through Oct. 15.
“We will definitely give it our best to make it into the Round of Eight,” Taiwan coach Chen said earlier this week.
Next up for Taiwan is a tough battle against hosts Panama, who rallied from behind to beat Greece in their opening game on Sunday.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:30pm at Remon Cantera Stadium.
Other scores on Sunday:
‧ Nicaragua 5, Germany 4
‧ Cuba 14, Australia 0
‧ Venezuela 5, South Korea 4
‧ Dominican Republic 7, Italy 0
‧ Canada 9, Puerto Rico 1
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