Cashing in on mistakes made by the EDA Rhinos, the Uni-President Lions made it two wins in a row by taking Game 2 of the Taiwan Series 4-2 at the Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium last night to claim a 2-0 lead in the annual Fall Classic.
Tsai Ming-chin’s wild pitch with runners on second and third brought home the go-ahead run that broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning. He would walk home the insurance run for the Lions on the ensuing at-bat that put the game away.
“There’s no doubt that [the wild pitch by Tsai] really hurt us, but our inability to bring home the runs when we had the chance was the real killer,” Rhinos coach Tseng Chih-cheng said, referring to his troops’ two-for-10 hitting with runners in scoring position.
It was the second straight game that the Rhinos outhit the Lions, but still lost.
Starter Luo Ching-lung of the Lions pitched into and out of trouble over the first two frames when he escaped a one-out-with-two-on jam in the first inning and a one-out-with-one-on jam in the second to strand all three runners. That bought him just enough time to settle in and pitch two-run ball through the seventh in a performance worthy of the games Most Valuable Player honor.
“I knew if I kept the game close our offense would eventually come around and win it for us,” Luo said after the game.
Even though he was not credited with the win, with the honor going to his successor Fu Yu-kang, his joy was equally as sweet as the Lions put themselves are two victories shy of the title.
On the defensive side the Lions also had the upper hand, with Chen Yung-chi coming up with several spectacular plays to rob the potent Rhinos offense of at least two base hits.
Deng Chih-wei’s sharp single to left that scored the runner from second put the Cats on the board, before the visitors answered with a pair of runs of their own in the top of the fourth on two extra-base hits and a single off Luo.
The 2-1 lead for the Rhinos lasted only two innings, with Kao “Green Tank” Guo-ching connecting on a two-out double off Rhinos starter Nick Green that evened the score in the bottom of the sixth to set the stage for the game-deciding eighth.
“We kept our patience against their pitchers at the plate to put us in the best position to win and that’s what happened,” Lions coach Chen Lien-hung said after the game.
His Cats really made the most of their home-field advantage by taking the Rhino pitchers deep into the count to wear them down.
With only a handful of teams managing to overcome a 0-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series in history, the Rhinos must put the losses behind them and play their own game in what is a must-win Game 3, as another loss would virtually put the title out of sight.