Team Taiwan doubled up on Spain in round-one action of the Baseball World Cup 2007 yesterday with an 8-4 triumph in Taichung to improve to a Group A-leading 3-0 mark.
Chen Chin-fong continued his red-hot hitting with his second home run in three games, a three-run blast in the top of the first, to lead the Taiwan attack and submariner Liao Yu-cheng tossed four-and-two-third innings of two-run ball in relief of starter Huang Chih-long to deliver the convincing win.
After Chen's three-run shot gave the hosts a quick 3-0 lead in the first, the Spaniards managed to get two of the three runs back by connecting for four singles off Huang in the bottom of the second to make a game of it.
That was the extent to which were able to remain competitive, however, as the home team immediately returned the favor by plating two more runs on a wild pitch and a past ball with runners in scoring position before tacking on a run each in the fifth and sixth to make it 7-2.
Spain were able to muster one final offensive with a pair of runs in the seventh, when they belted three straight base hits off a tiring Liao for their third run of the game and scored once more against lefty Shen Yu-jeh on a double-play ball.
But that was as close as it got as Chang Tai-shan promptly added a solo home run to Taiwan's lead in the top of the ninth to seal the win.
Liao was credited with his first win in the tournament, beating Spanish starter Ivan Granados who served up Chen's first-inning homer to dig a hole too deep for his team to get out of.
"It was a big win for us considering the fact that our bullpen was able to deliver on a dime after the starter got into a little trouble," Taiwan skipper Kuo Tai-yuan said after the game.
■ FRIDAY NIGHT'S GAME
Taiwan 6, Japan 1
Japan proved no match for Taiwan on Friday night as they lost a 6-1 decision in Taichung that gave Taiwan their second win in as many days.
Veteran starter Yang Jien-fu took a three-hit shutout into the sixth before surrendering the lone run of the game for Japan in the sixth and Nee Fu-deh followed with two-and-a-third dominant innings of shutout relief to deny the Japanese lineup any real chance of turning the game around.
Chang tai-shan led off the bottom of the second with a standup double and scored two batters later on Luo Guo-hui's sacrifice fly to give Taiwan an early 1-0 advantage before the home team led it 3-0 after the fourth with a run apiece in the third and fourth.
After Japan tried to narrow the deficit with a run in the sixth, Taiwan struck for three unanswered runs in the bottom of the same inning to put the game out of reach.
Offensively for the victorious hosts, five different hitters had multi-hit nights, led by Chang Tai-shan's incredible 3-for-4 effort in a 13-hit splurge.
As for Japan, Saigo Yasuyuki's 2-for-3 hitting was the lone spotlight from the plate in the game as the entire lineup racked up only seven hits off the Taiwan pitching staff.
Suffering the loss was Japanese starter Tazawa Junichi, who allowed three runs on eight hits for his first defeat of the competition.
In other games yesterday, it was:
Mexico 13, South Africa 3; Panam 6, Italy 0; US 5, Japan 1.
The Netherlands 7, Venezuela 4; Canada 10, Germany 0; Cuba 7, South Korea 2; Australia 26, Thailand 1.
TAIWAN v Mexico (Intercontinental, Taichung)
South Africa v Italy (Taichung)
Australia v South Korea (Tianmu, Taipei City)
Netherlands v Canada (Sinjhuang, Taipei County)
Spain v USA (Taichung)
Japan v Panama (Intercontinental)
Germany v Thailand (Tianmu)
Venezuela v Cuba (Sinjhuang)