The 2012 Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) season got under way with the Brother Elephants topping the Uni-President Lions 5-3 on opening day at the Taipei Municipal Baseball Stadium in Tianmu last night.
Elephants rookie right-hander Lin Yu-ching pitched himself into the record books by becoming the first-ever rookie to start and win on opening day.
The fire-baller from National Taiwan Sport University, who was the first player chosen by the Elephants in the amateur draft, silenced the Lions’ bats, allowing a lone run on a pair of hits while walking five and fanning four over five frames to earn the historic win.
Other than the four walks, which Lin overcame with two timely strikeouts and a nifty double play turned by the Elephants defense, Lin was well in control of his game.
“It is a thrill to be able to pitch and win on opening day given the level of competition in this league. I am very glad that my manager had enough confidence in me to give me the chance [to start],” Lin said after the game.
Leading the way for the victorious Elephants at the plate was team icon Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min, who was named the game’s MVP for his 3 for 4 performance, including a pair of RBIs.
After each team scored an early run in the first, the game quickly turned into a pitchers’ duel between Lin and his counterpart, Jon Leicester of the US, until the Elephants came up with three runs during the fourth and fifth to chase Leicester.
The Elephants tacked on a run in the top of the seventh to make it 5-1, before the Big Cats fought back with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Chang “OEO” Tai-shan’s solo blast in the eighth brought them to within two of the Elephants at 5-3.
That was as close as they got as Elephants skipper Chen Rei-chen called in closer Ryan Cullen with two outs in the eighth to stop the rally en route to an impressive win.