Sun, Jun 12, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Brothers defeat Rhinos to win first-half season title

‘UNPLEASANTNESS’:Celebrations after the game were in stark contrast with a downcast atmosphere earlier in the week, as the team’s owner is under investigation

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Brothers Baseball Club’s Chiang Chih-hsien watches the ball in their CPBL game against the EDA Rhinos at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on Friday.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

The Brothers Baseball Club on Friday night won the first-half season title in the CPBL by defeating the EDA Rhinos 7-5 in Taichung, securing their league-best 32 wins against 20 losses for this year’s campaign thus far.

After the game, most of the near-capacity audience at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium tossed yellow streamers — the Brothers’ traditional club color — in the air in local baseball title-winning celebration.

By winning the first-half title, the Brothers secured a berth at the end-of-season championship finals, the Taiwan Series, in which they are to face the winner of the second-half title.

Players and club officials congratulated each other after the game, with some joining fans for selfies.

The joyous mood was in sharp contrast with the downcast atmosphere earlier this week, when team owner Jeffrey Koo Jr was summoned for questioning and released on NT$100 million (US$3.1 million) bail, while CTBC Financial Holding offices were raided in connection with an investigation into financial irregularities.

The team, formerly known as the Brother Elephants, was purchased by CTBC Financial, a part of the Koo family’s business empire, with Koo Jr designated as the club’s owner.

Koo Jr renamed the team, but most people still call it by its old name, as the elephant mascot is still featured in the team’s logo and players still wear yellow jerseys for home games.

Peng Cheng-min, the Brothers’ talismanic leader, said Koo Jr would savor the victory even more, because it would help with the “unpleasantness” of this week and turn his fortune around.

The ongoing probe and speculation of Koo Jr’s involvement in yet another financial scandal have fueled rumors regarding CTBC’s large investment into baseball.

Koo Jr was absent at the Taichung ballpark to celebrate the win, which runs contrary to tradition of the club’s owner and top team officials being present at important games.

On his absence, Koo Jr was later quoted as saying that he did not attend, “because I did not want to take the spotlight off the game itself.”

However, later on Friday night he joined the players at the team’s post-game celebration at a restaurant in Taichung, where he gave them a pep talk.

Koo Jr announced that he would pay NT$5 million to the players as prize money for the first-half title, adding: “If we win the second-half title, I will give out NT$7 million as a reward, and NT$15 million if we win the end-of-year championship.”

Brothers manager Wu Fu-lien said: “It was a collective team effort. Each player is a key man, everyone made vital contributions.”

Brothers starting pitcher Cheng Kai-wen, who pitched six frames, was credited with Friday’s win and holds a 7-2 record.

Shortstop Wang Sheng-wei hit the winning RBI, while outfielder Chou Ssu-chi contributed a two-run homer.

The Brothers have an unassailable seven-game lead over the Rhinos, with six more games left to go in the first half of the season. The Lamigo Monkeys sit in third, with the Uni-President Lions rounding out the standings.

In last night’s game in Taoyuan, hosts the Monkeys defeated the Lions 7-4. Yesterday’s second game between the Brothers and Rhinos was delayed due to rain, with officials postponing the match until later this season.

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