The Uni-President Lions clinched the second-half title with a narrow 2-1 victory over the Brother Elephants at the Taipei Municipal Baseball Stadium last night.
The win not only completed the Cats climb from last place in the standings all the way to the top in one of the most dramatic midseason turnarounds in recent history, but also earned them a ticket into the upcoming Taiwan Series to take on the first-half champs the EDA Rhinos.
Kao Chih-kang’s clutch single with the bases loaded drove in two runs that broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth to give the Lions a 2-0 lead, an advantage they would not relinquish despite allowing the Elephants to plate their lone run of the game in the bottom of the seventh that made it 2-1.
Leading the way on the mound for the victorious Cats was starter Nelson Figueroa who tossed seven effective innings of one-run ball on six hits and four strikeouts before handing the game to the Lion bullpen.
And the relieving corps made up of hired guns Boof Bonser from the US and Luis Vizcaino from the Dominican Republic would equal the task by pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth respectively to preserve the win.
The trio of foreign hurlers may very well be a newfound winning pitching combination for coach Chen Lien-hung who took over from predecessor Terushi Nakajima in the middle of the season after the latter was relieved of his job after a dismal first half of the season.
RHINOS 7, MONKEYS 2
Shen Fu-ren’s tiebreaking grand slam in the top of the ninth was difference as the EDA Rhinos overcame an early 2-0 deficit with seven unanswered runs to top the Lamigo Monkeys 7-2 at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium last night.
It was the first career home run for the fifth-year infielder and former pitcher, giving his club a much needed victory after having lost four of their last five to fall out of title contention.
Picking up the win for the Rhinos was Tsai Ming-jin, who retired both of the batters he faced to end the eighth and improve to 5-4, while the loss was charged against Lamigo starter Tseng Jau-hao.
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