Thu, Nov 08, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Taiwan hang on, edge Japan 6-5 in exhibition game

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan yesterday led comfortably most of the way in their international exhibition game in Fukuoka, Japan, before the hosts mounted a furious late comeback, but the visitors hung on for a narrow 6-5 victory.

The game, billed as a matchup between the all-star squads of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) and Nippon Professional Baseball, served as a warm-up for the hosts ahead of the MLB Japan All-Star Series, which starts tomorrow.

Japan were looked for a good performance in front of home fans at Fukuoka Dome, home of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, who were crowned Japanese baseball champions after winning the Japan Series 4-2 against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp on Saturday.

However, Taiwan surprised the hosts with an impressive display, with two sluggers from CPBL champions the Lamigo Monkeys getting big home runs.

The two starting lefty pitchers, Taiwan’s Chiang Cheng-yen and Japan’s Kasahara Shotaro, kept batters off balance and the scoreboard clean until the end of the fourth inning.

In the fifth frame, Taiwan seized their chance against Japan’s third pitcher, Yuta Iwasada of the Hanshin Tigers, with runners on the corners after two hits and a sacrifice bunt.

Facing two outs, third basemen Kuo Yung-wei, also of the Lamigo Monkeys, lined a single to drive in the first run, followed by leadoff batter Chen Chieh-hsien slapping another single for another run.

With runners on two bases, outfielder Lan Yin-lun tagged Iwasada for an opposite-field homer to give Taiwan a 5-0 lead.

In the eighth inning, first baseman Chen Chun-hsiu, the Taiwan Series Most Valuable Player, smashed a solo homer off Japan relief pitcher Yuhei Takanashi to make it 6-0.

However, baseball powerhouse Japan can never be counted out. They pummeled Taiwan’s relief pitching in the bottom of the ninth inning to pick up five runs for a thrilling finish.

Japan had nine men at the plate in the rally, starting with Kosuke Tanaka of Toyo Carp getting on base with a double, followed by Tetsuto Yamada, who sent Tanaka home with a single to break the goose egg.

Three batters later and with the bases loaded, Seiji Uebayashi knocked in another run on botched fielding by Taiwan pitcher Chen Yun-wen and Japan added another run on a walk to make it 6-3.

With the bases loaded, Shuta Tonosaki of the Seibu Lions sent a fly ball into the outfield to score two more runs, narrowing the gap to 6-5.

Still facing danger with two runners on base — one hit could tie the game — Taiwan closer Cheng Kai-wen struck out Kosuke Tanaka to end the game and preserve the narrow margin of victory for Taiwan.

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