A costly throwing error by Chang Hsien-chih on a double play attempt that would have ended the top of the 10th led to three runs for the US who went on to defeat Taiwan 9-7 and win the bronze medal in the World Baseball Challenge at Citizen Field in Prince George, Canada, on Thursday.
The loss ended Taiwan’s tournament on a low note as they dropped two in a row in the medal rounds to settle for a disappointing fourth-place finish.
Having won five of six in the preliminaries, including a big victory over Cuba on Wednesday, the Taiwanese had their eyes fixed on nothing less than the title when they came up against Japan in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
However, Japan proved too strong in a 4-1 defeat that left Taiwan’s title hopes in tatters and having to face the US in the bronze medal game after the Americans topped Canada in the other semi-final.
Five quick runs over the first three innings of play, highlighted by Lin Wang-wei’s two-run triple and Chen Wei-chih’s RBI double in the bottom of the second, gave Taiwan an early 5-1 lead against the All-Stars from the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges.
However, the Americans would not lie down easily and fought back with a run in the fourth and three in the fifth off reliever Wang Tsung-hao to tie the game at 5-5.
After Cory Urquhart’s sacrifice fly put the US ahead 6-5 in the seventh, the Islanders were able to come back with a run of their own in the eighth, courtesy of a fielding error by shortstop Max Whitt that scored the runner from second.
Taiwan were not as fortunate in the bottom of the 10th against a three-run deficit as they only managed to plate a run off American stopper Scott Kuzminsky, falling short by a pair in a losing effort.
Kuzminsky was credited with the win for his two innings of one-run relief, while Chang was charged with the loss for his devastating error that ultimately cost Taiwan the game.
In the title game, Cuba cruised past Japan 14-4 to claim the gold.
A six-run fourth by the Cubans was the difference in the game as it broke a 3-3 tie wide open to put the champs ahead for good.
Pocketing the complete-game win for Cuba was Yander Guevara, while Japan’s Motoshi Oshiro was tagged with the loss.