Taiwan improved to 4-1 in the preliminaries of the World Baseball Challenge with an 8-4 win over the US at Citizen Field in Prince George, Canada, on Sunday.
Starter Chang Hsien-chih was magnificent with six outstanding innings of play, taking a two-hit shutout into the sixth before surrendering a pair of runs on three hits to lift his team past the All-Stars of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges.
The right-hander for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis, who broke onto the professional baseball scene as a pitcher for the then-Macoto Cobras (2006-2007) and the then-dmedia T-Rex (2008), before joining the Aerotropolis in 2009, has been the cornerstone of the rotation in the past four seasons. Even though he has only appeared in two of Taiwan’s five games in the tournament so far, both games have resulted in wins over the US.
Mowing through the opposing pitching for Taiwan on offense was outfielder Wang Po-jung, whose perfect four-for-four hitting led an attack that rang up a dozen hits, including a two-run homer by Shu Chih-hung.
Wang’s team-high .500 batting average is currently No. 3 among the hitters in the tournament behind Cuba’s Raul Gonzalez (.625) and Yoelvis Fiss (.529).
Wang’s RBI single off US starter Gunner Swanson in the bottom of the first got things moving in the right direction for Taiwan as they drew first blood for the third straight game.
That led to another run in the third, before Shu’s two-run blast in the fourth made it 4-0 in favor of Taiwan.
Trailing by four, the US finally solved Chang with a solo homer by Roeman Fields off the Taiwanese hurler to lead off the top of the sixth and a run-scoring double by Cory Urquart two batters later that halved the deficit to 4-2.
After Taiwan plated their fifth run of the game in the bottom of the sixth to keep it a three-run lead, the US knocked in two more in the seventh to fall within a run.
That was as close as they got, though, as Taiwan’s bats came alive once more with three insurance runs in the bottom of the inning that put the game out of reach.
Chang was credited with his first win of the tournament, while the loss went to Swanson, who allowed four runs on five hits in as many innings in a losing effort.
Taiwan got a much-needed day off yesterday after playing for five straight days before they close out the preliminaries with another match today against Cuba, winners of their first contest by a 10-3 margin on Thursday last week.
Sunday’s other result:
‧ Cuba 22, Canada 10