Unable to contain a powerful Cuba attack, Taiwan dropped their first contest of the tournament 10-3 in this year’s World Baseball Challenge at Citizen Field in Prince George, Canada, yesterday morning to even their record at 1-1.
Unlike in the previous two competitions in which the Red Lightning of the Caribbean had sent their national squad to play in the tournament, this year’s Cuba lineup, the Cuba Ciego de Avila Tigres, were last year’s Cuban national series champions.
However, their ability to pile on the runs in an explosive fashion is just the same as they greeted Taiwan starter Fang Meng-chen with three quick runs in the opening frame on the strength of a leadoff homer by Ricardo Bordon and a two-run blast by Yoelvis Fiss to chase Fang in a hurry.
After Cuba tacked on another run in the bottom of the second off Taiwan reliever Wang Tsung-hao that made it 4-0, the Taiwan bats finally awoke against the solid pitching of Cuba starter Yander Guevara, with a solo home run by Hsiao Po-ting and Huang Chia-wei in the third and fourth inning respectively halving the deficit to 4-2.
That was as close as Taiwan got as Cuba answered with a run in the fifth inning, courtesy of an RBI double by Isaac Martinez, before plating another in the seventh inning to set up a four-run eighth, highlighted by Raul Gonzalez’s three-run shot off Taiwan reliever Lin Hang that blew the game wide open.
Trailing 10-2, Taiwan managed to go deep against the Cuba pitching with their third long ball of the game when Wu Tsung-chun drove a 3-1 pitch off reliever Lazzro Santana over the right-field wall to make it 10-3.
Picking up the win was Guevara, who tossed eight innings of two-run ball on five hits to beat his counterpart Fang, who served up three runs on as many hits in just one inning of play.
FACING THE HOSTS
Next up for Taiwan were Canada, playing in front of their home crowd, with the opening pitch scheduled for 7pm yesterday at Citizen Field.
It was a must-win game for Taiwan if they want to remain in the title hunt, with Japan showing no signs of slowing down with a 9-0 win over the hosts following Taiwan’s loss to Cuba.