Fri, Nov 07, 2014 - Page 20 News List

IBAF under-21 Baseball World Cup starts today

‘QUITE AN HONOR’:Kuo Lee Chien-fu is coaching Taiwan in the tournament in and around Greater Taichung featuring teams from 11 different countries

By Paul Huang  /  Contributing reporter

With 11 countries ready to compete with their respective national squads in central Taiwan, this year’s IBAF 21U Baseball World Cup starts at the Taichung Municipal Baseball Stadium in Greater Taichung this morning, with Venezuela squaring off against Nicaragua in an all-Latin American affair.

The 10-day tournament, which will be played in Douliou, an hour south of Greater Taichung, and Greater Taichung’s Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, is to host Groups A and B, with Taiwan and South Korea heading a field of six in Group A that also includes the Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico and New Zealand.

Japan and the Netherlands are to lead a five-team pool in Group B that includes Australia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Teams in each group will play round-robin preliminaries over the first five days of play, with the top three finishers earning berths to play in the super round-robin that will determine the teams to compete in the medal round later next week.

Leading the hosts in this year’s competition will be first-year head coach Kuo Lee Chien-fu, who took over the helm earlier in the year, knowing that the quest to keep the title in Taiwan will be a challenging one given the level of competition and the pool of talent that is expected in the tournament.

“It’s quite an honor to be able to represent Taiwan in this year’s event; we have an excellent group of young players who will do our best to make our country proud,” Kuo Lee said in the pre-tournament press conference last week.

He will leverage his experience as a player on Taiwan’s silver medal-winning squad in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics and a member of the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB) in the 1990s to its maximum to help guide the Taiwanese youngsters in this year’s play.

Leading the Taiwanese pitching rotation is to be starter Sung Chia-hao, who is coming fresh off the silver medal-winning team in this year’s Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in September.

The right-hander for National Taiwan Sport University is to take the mound in the opener at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium this evening, with the opening pitch scheduled for 7pm.

Taiwan are to play the Czech Republic in a day game tomorrow, followed by three straight night contests at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in against South Korea, New Zealand and Italy respectively.

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