The Top-ranked Uni-President Lions improved to a league-best 8-3 record with a close 5-4 victory over the Brother Elephants at the Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium last night thanks to a four-run first.
The defending champs found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they trailed the men in the golden uniforms 0-2 after the top of the first, with Huang Shih-hao’s bases-loaded single off Tsai Jing-hao driving home a pair of runs for the Elephants before the Lions offense even got to the plate.
However, the Elephants lead lasted less than an inning as the host Big Cats answered with a four-run first of their own, highlighted by a three-run home run by Chang “OEO” Tai-shan off Elephants starter Lin Yu-ching, to take a 4-2 lead in a fast start for both clubs.
The Big Cats managed to tack on their fifth run of the game in the third with a solo shot by Kuo Tai-chi to make it 5-2 before the Elephants countered with a two-run fourth on the strength of Wang Sheng-wei’s two-run double to make it a one-run game.
The slim margin proved to be the difference in the game as neither team scored again against the respective bullpen despite several close attempts.
The Elephants made things very interesting in the top of the ninth as they loaded up the bags against Lions closer Lin Yueh-ping with one out.
However, the veteran right-hander was able to save his best for last as he calmly struck out the Elephants’ Chang Chih-hao on a full-count before fielding a bunt perfectly on the ensuing play for the game-ending out.
Reliever Liao Wen-yang was credited with his first win of the year for tossing a perfect fifth and sixth, while the loss was charged against Elephants starter Lin even though only one of the five runs allowed by the rookie was earned.
MONKEYS 5, BULLS 4
The Lamigo Monkeys edged past the Sinon Bulls by the same 5-4 score at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium last night to keep pace with the Lions.
A shaky first by Bulls starter Lin Chi-wei in which the righty served up three runs on a walk, two singles, a throwing error and a wild pitch, spotted the Monkeys’ Ken Ray a generous 3-0 lead after one inning of play.
However, Ray would return the favor by allowing the Bulls to tie the game at 3-3 through the fourth before the offense knocked in the Monkeys’ fourth and fifth runs in the fifth and the seventh to put the Primates ahead for good.