Sat, Oct 20, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Kuo Fu-lin stars as Lions win thriller

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Josh Roenicke of the Uni-President Lions pitches against the Fubon Guardians in Game 1 of their CPBL playoff series in Tainan yesterday.

Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times

The Uni-President Lions won Game 1 of the CPBL Playoff Series in a dramatic finish with the final swing of the bat, as third baseman Kuo Fu-lin blasted a home run that also brought home two other runners as the Lions seized a 4-1 victory over the Fubon Guardians in Tainan last night.

In a tight contest with the score still tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Lions mounted a rally with the two leadoff men getting on bases with a walk and a single.

The Guardians then brought specialist closer Kuo Hung-chih, the former Los Angeles Dodger, to the mound.

However, it was no use against the red hot Kuo Fu-lin, who launched a shot into the centerfield bleachers for a walk-off home run to end the game and send home fans wild as the Lions grabbed a 1-0 series lead.

The winners of the best-of-five Playoff Series go on to meet the Lamigo Monkeys in the Taiwan Series.

Uni-President Lions officials had invited the parents of pitcher Ryan Verdugo from the US for a pre-game ceremony last night, but at the last minute it was postponed to Game 2, because CPBL commissioner John Wu had a prior commitment and could not make it to the game in Tainan.

Wu is to attend tonight’s game in Tainan as the special guest along with Verdugo’s parents.

Verdugo, a California native, made Taiwanese baseball history when he pitched a perfect game in a 1-0 win over Brothers Baseball Club at Tainan Municipal Stadium on Oct. 7.

With plenty of help from his catcher and fielders, Verdugo sailed through nine innings to dismiss all 27 opposition in order, without any hits, walks or errors, to register the first perfect game in the CPBL’s 29-year history.

With the contest still scoreless going into the bottom of the ninth, Verdugo needed third baseman Kuo Fu-lin to slam a pitch over the outfield fence for a walk-off homer to cap the thrilling evening.

The Lions plan to sell special souvenirs at tonight’s game — a “Ryan Verdugo Perfect Game” T-shirt and towel, as well as a “Kuo Fu-lin Walk-off Home Run” T-shirt — for fans to purchase separately or together as a set.

Game 3 is to be played at New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang Stadium, home of the Fubon Guardians, starting at 5pm tomorrow.

If necessary, Game 4 is also a home game for the Guardians at 6:30 pm on Monday.

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