Taiwan were shut out 2-0 by Mexico in the opening game of the Premier 12 Super Round in Japan yesterday, dealing a severe blow to their hopes of securing a berth at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Both teams managed only three hits in a game dominated by pitching, but Mexico made more of what little offense they produced in the game played at Zozo Marine Stadium in Chiba.
Ali Solis broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out solo homer to left off Taiwan starter Chiang Shao-ching.
Mexico widened the lead to 2-0 an inning later on hits by the first two batters in the inning and an RBI sacrifice fly by Esteben Quiroz off Chiang.
In Mexico’s six other at-bats, only one batter reached base — Noah Perio in the fourth on a walk — but their two runs held up for the victory against Taiwan’s anemic offense, which has scored only one run in their past 18 innings of Premier12 play.
Taiwan’s best chances to score came in the third and seventh, when they put runners on first and second with only one out, but in neither case could it come up with the key hit, wasting a strong pitching performance.
Chiang, 26, who spent last season with the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, struck out eight and walked three in 5-2/3 innings.
Relievers Chen Kuan-yu and Wang Yao-lin were perfect in 2-1/3 innings of relief, with four strikeouts.
The loss left Taiwan with an 0-2 record in the Super Round, their 8-1 loss to Japan in Taichung on Thursday last week adding to their defeat at the hands of Mexico.
Taiwan need to finish above South Korea and Australia in the Super Round to secure a berth at next year’s Olympics. For that to happen their game against South Korea today is virtually a must-win.
If they fail to claim an Olympics spot through the Premier12 tournament, they have a last chance to do so at the final qualifying tournament in March or April next year.
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