Six unanswered runs over the latter half of the game saw Taiwan overcome a 0-4 deficit and rally to claim a 6-4 victory over previously undefeated Cuba in the final game of the preliminaries of the World Baseball Challenge at Citizen Field in Prince George, Canada, yesterday morning.
Back-to-back RBI singles by Hsiao Po-ting and Kuo Ming-jen with two outs in the top of the eighth broke a four-all tie to give Taiwan the lead.
Closer Hsieh Jung-hao ably protected the advantage with a scoreless eighth and ninth to preserve Taiwan’s thrilling win over a potent Cuba squad.
However, the victory did not propel Taiwan over Cuba in the final standings of the preliminaries because the latter hold a slight advantage according to the tiebreaker rules as both teams have a 5-1 record.
Nevertheless, the win did serve as proof that the “Red Lightning of the Caribbean” are beatable and gave Taiwan a big confidence boost.
Unlike their three previous games, in which the hitters dominated early and often, Taiwan trailed Cuba 4-0 after being held scoreless through the first five innings of play by starter Dachel Duquesne, despite belting four hits off the right-hander over the same span.
However, the scoring drought ended in spectacular fashion as the Taiwan offense finally broke through in the top of the sixth when Huang Chia-wei reached first safely on a hit batsman, then took third on a straight steal and a single by Wang Po-jung, before scoring on a wild pitch by Duquesne that made it 4-1.
That led to a three-run seventh for Taiwan as Lin Wang-wei opened the inning with a rare triple off Duquesne and scored on a single by Hsiao Po-ting in the ensuing play.
Lin Han tied the game up with a two-run home run that chased the Cuban starter to set up go-ahead runs in the eighth.
Picking up the win was reliever Fan Meng-chen, who tossed a scoreless sixth and seventh on a lone hit to beat his counterpart, Rabi Vadir, who allowed the game-winning runs in the eighth.
Next up for Taiwan in the semi-finals will be third-placed Japan, who also rallied from behind with a five-run eighth to best Canada in their final preliminary game earlier in the day.
Top-seeded Cuba were to take on the fourth-seeded US in the other semi-final before the winners battle for the title today.