The Uni-President Lions opened this year’s Chinese Professional Baseball League season on a high note with an impressive 8-4 win over the EDA Rhinos at the Sinjhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City last night.
The rematch of last season’s Taiwan Series went to the defending champs as they doubled up on their nemeses from Greater Kaohsiung with eight runs off EDA pitching, that were highlighted by Kao “Green Tank” Guo-ching’s 2-for-4 hitting with a pair of RBIs to claim the season’s opening game.
Kao Chih-kang’s RBI double off Rhinos starter Andy Sisco got things moving in the right direction for the Lions as they plated two in the bottom of the second to spot fellow starter Luo Ching-lung a quick 2-0 lead.
However, Luo gave one of the runs back in the top of the third on the strength of Lin Wei-ting’s run-scoring double to make it 2-1.
Luo’s offense managed to put up two more runs on the board in the bottom of the same inning, thanks to Deng Chih-wei’s one-run double up the middle and Chen Yung-chi’s infield single that scored Deng from third to make it 4-1.
Trailing by three, the Rhinos fought back with a three-run fourth off Luo to tie things up at 4-4 with back-to-back doubles by Lin Kuen-sheng and Lin Wei-ting that had Lions skipper Chen Lien-hung looking particularly nervous.
However, Luo was able to regroup in a hurry with a perfect fifth and sixth that not only earned him the necessary innings pitched to qualify for the win, but also bought enough time for his offense to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth, when Liu Fu-hao drove an offering from Sisco to deep-center with the bases loaded for a sacrifice fly.
The 5-4 advantage proved sufficient for the Lions as their bullpen held the Rhinos offense scoreless over the final three frames, highlighted by ace closer Kuo Hung-chih’s perfect ninth in his Taiwanese professional debut to preserve the win for Luo.
Charged with the loss was Sisco, who lasted two batters into the fourth, with five allowed runs on six hits.
Scheduled to play today are the Lions against the Chinatrust Brother Elephants at the Taipei Municipal Baseball Stadium in Tianmu, while the Rhinos travel to Kaohsiung to take on the Lamigo Monkeys at the Cheng Ching Lake Baseball Stadium.
The opening pitch is scheduled for 5:05pm in both games.