Homers by Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min paved the way for a Brother Elephants victory as they edged the red-hot EDA Rhinos 3-2 at the Hualien County Baseball Stadium in Hualien City yesterday afternoon to split the weekend series on the east coast with one win apiece.
It was the seventh time the veteran slugger has belted multiple homers in a game in his 13 seasons in the league, leading an anemic Elephants offense that is dead last in nearly every offensive category with a league-worst 2.93 runs per game in 32 games this season.
“It’s about time [the Elephants’ hitters] get something going on offense,” renown commentator Yang Ching-lung said after the game.
None of the Elephants’ regular starters are hitting above .300 in what many consider as the worst offensive year for the men in the golden uniforms.
The rain-delayed contest that lasted nearly five-and-a-half hours with a 140-minute stoppage in the middle saw the hosts strike first with Peng’s first homer of the night, a solo shot off Rhinos reliever Lai Hong-cheng leading off the top of the fourth.
After a scoreless fifth, the Elephants struck again in the sixth when Peng went deep against Lai for the second time on the night with another solo blast off the Rhinos southpaw that made it 2-0.
Trailing by a deuce against sharp Elephants starter Chen Hung-wen, the Rhinos finally broke through in the seventh with back-to-back singles by Lin Yi-chuan and Kao Guo-hui to set up Cheng Jau-han’s sacrifice fly that knocked home their first run of the game, before a fielding error by Elephants shortstop Wang Sheng-wei scored a runner from third and tied the game 2-2.
The tie would last less than an inning, though, as the opportunistic Elephants took advantage of a wild pick-off attempt to first by Rhinos reliever Lin Cheng-fong that allowed the runner to advance to second and set up Chen Wei-ju’s RBI single that scored the go-ahead run.
That was all the runs that either team would plate as the bullpens did their jobs and kept the opposing hitters at bay the rest of the way to net the Elephants a narrow one-run victory.
Picking up his first win in a starting role was Chen Hung-wen, who pitched seven strong innings of two-run ball (only one earned) on five hits to beat Lin Cheng-fong, who gave up the decisive run in the seventh that nipped his team’s three-game winning streak.
Lions 11, Monkeys 3, 5 innings
The Uni-President Lions put up nine runs over the third and fourth innings to turn a 1-2 deficit into a 10-2 lead as they went on to defeat the Lamigo Monkeys 11-3 at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in five rain-shortened innings to sweep the two-game set over the weekend.