Sun, Mar 26, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Guardians nail victory in baseball season opener

BIG NAMES:The win was a maiden victory on the first attempt for the Guardians, but it was downplayed, as they have many players from last year’s champions

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Singer-actor Wang Lee-hom prepares to pitch the opening ball of the baseball season at the Sinjhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City yesterday.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

The Fubon Guardians opened the CPBL season on a winning note with an 8-5 victory over the Brothers Baseball Club on the back of a stellar performance by starting pitcher Huang Yi-chih, who took home the Most Valuable Player award.

Huang’s teammates gave him plenty of support with the bat.

Huang sailed through seven innings, striking out four and only yielding three hits and no walks. The only blemish on his outing was a solo homer in the fourth frame.

When he left the game for the relief pitchers, the Guardians had an 8-1 lead after a big blow from second baseman Lin Wei-ting, who blasted a grand slam in the fifth inning.

The Brothers made the score a little more respectable, getting some runs after Huang’s departure.

They scored one in the eighth frame and three more runs in the final inning.

In a celebratory mood, Huang accepted the MVP award and was asked about his performance.

“Today it all came down to my good control,” he said. “I was able to pitch to the corners and always stayed ahead of the count by getting early strikes against the batters.”

“We had a full house today, but I experienced this through the championship series last year. The pressure was much more intense in the post-season games,” he said.

Fubon manager Yeh Chun-chang was happy as well.

Yeh said he had likely found a dependable starter for the pitching rotation for the season.

“Huang did an outstanding job today. He was in control and mixed up the pitches well and also handled the situation without too many problems when runners got on base,” Yeh said. “It is the season opener and our team wanted to seize this first win, so he had some pressure on him.”

“Huang gave us a good outing through seven innings, so he has the mental toughness to go with his excellent pitching skills,” he said.

The opening-day triumph was a maiden win on the first attempt for the Guardians, a new team in the CPBL, but some experts and fans downplayed the effort, saying that it is the EDA Rhinos franchise from last year, retaining most of their players.

Fubon Financial Holdings Co, a prominent Taiwan banking and financial services consortium, purchased the EDA Rhinos for NT$300 million (US$9.84 million at the current exchange rate) in November last year.

EDA’s owners put the team up for sale after four years of operating at a loss from 2013, despite the Rhinos capturing the CPBL championship last year.

Prior to 2013, the franchise belonged to Taichung-based Sinon Group, who ran the team as the Sinon Bulls from 1996 to 2012, winning two championships.

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