Taoyuan City’s Taoyuan Agricultural and Industrial Vocational High School (Taoyuan A&I) edged New Taipei City’s Ku Pao Vocational High School in a 3-2 thriller yesterday during the first of the Black Leopard Banner High School Baseball Tournament’s two semi-final games at the Taipei Municipal Baseball Stadium in Tianmu.
Starter Cheng Hao-chun was in a league of his own, with 6-2/3 innings of one-run ball on four hits against the potent Ku Pao hitters.
He also got some timely help from Taoyuan A&I’s defense to keep them in the lead, including several spectacular catches in the outfield that took away many extra base hits from Ku Pao, as well as a stellar throw by the third baseman that gunned down a Ku Pao runner at the plate in the bottom of the eighth.
Taoyuan A&I secured a quick 1-0 lead against Ku Pao starter Wang Yu-pu in the top of the first when Ting Chao-yuan reached on a walk and scored two batters later on Huang Cheng-chieh’s RBI single.
Taoyuan A&I doubled their lead in the third, with Huang knocking in Wang Tsong-yin for his second RBI in the game to make it 2-0, after Ku Pao missed a golden scoring opportunity with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second.
Ku Pao’s slow-warming offense finally got on the board in the fifth against Cheng, when Huang Hsiang drew a walk off Taoyuan A&I’s starter and scored on Chiang Po-hao’s stand-up double to make it 2-1.
Although their lead was halved, Taoyuan A&I managed to reclaim a two-run lead in the top of the eighth by plating an insurance run off Ku Pao ace Lin Tzu-wei, which proved to be decisive as Ku Pao worked a double-steal to perfection in the bottom of the same inning to come within one run of their rivals before faltering in a scoreless ninth to lose by a slim margin.
PING JEN 3, PINGTUNG 2
In the tournament’s other semi-final, Ping Jen High School of Taoyuan County topped Pingtung County’s Pingtung High School yesterday in Tianmu to earn a ticket to tonight’s title clash against Taoyuan A&I.