Taiwan lost the chance to go to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the Little League Baseball World Series when hosts South Korea won the Asia-Pacific tournament’s final 7-6 in Seoul on Friday, while controversy surrounded the final out in a tight contest.
Taiwan, represented by Taoyuan’s Chung Ping Elementary School, were disappointed, but still received cheers from family members and supporters when they arrived back in the nation yesterday.
South Korea, represented by a team from the East Seoul Little League, are to travel to Williamsport for the series for baseballers aged 11 to 12 scheduled for Aug. 18 to Aug. 28.
Japan will send their team to Williamsport, being in a separate region from rest of the Asia-Pacific area.
It was no surprise to see top-seeded Taiwan and South Korea go undefeated in their round-robin games.
In Pool B, Taiwan set aside challenges from Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Saudi Arabia for four straight wins.
In Pool A, South Korea beat the Philippines, Dubai, Guam, India and the Northern Mariana Islands, all by double-digit margins.
In their semi-final, Taiwan bolstered their confidence with outstanding pitching and strong hitting to whip the Philippines 12-1, while South Korea scraped past Thailand 2-0.
However, the hosts dashed Taiwan’s hopes in a see-saw final to prevail by one run.
“The [South] Korean pitchers were not too good, but our players did not hit well,” Taiwan head coach Lee Kuo-chiang said.
“They tried too hard in this final showdown, and the pressure got to them,” he said.
Lee and other Taiwanese officials said that umpires favored the hosts in several crucial decisions, especially on a strike call against Taiwan with the bases loaded in the final at-bat to end the game.
“That ball was way outside the strike zone,” Lee said. “The hitter could not reach for the ball, even if he had stretched out the bat.”
“There were factors outside of our control in this game,” he said. “In future competitions in South Korea, it would be difficult for Taiwan to go all the way.”
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