Homers by Chen Chin-fong and Lin Hong-yu led the way for the Lamigo Monkeys as they outslugged the Uni-President Lions 10-8 at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium last night to take the season-opener.
Nearly 18,000 fans packed the ballpark for the highly anticipated showdown between the two clubs, which lived up to its billing as the hitter dominated the pitching from the get go, with the Lions drawing first blood in the top of the first with a run off Lamigo starter Mike Loree on the strength of two base hits and a steal off the American righty.
However, the 1-0 lead for the Cats lasted only an inning as the hosts fought back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second, courtesy of an RBI double by Yu The-long and Tsan Chih-yao’s run-scoring single off Lions starter Pan “Du Du” Wei-luen.
Lamigo added to their lead by one with a run in the third, when Chen Guan-ren singled to lead off the inning and scored on Lin Chih-sheng’s RBI double off Du Du.
After Kuo Jung-yo’s pinch-hit double down the third-base line scored the runner from second for the Lions to cut the Monkeys’ lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth, the Primate offense struck again in the bottom of the fifth on Lin Hong-yu’s two-run blast off Du Du to make it 5-2 in favor of the Monkeys.
The Lions got two of the runs back in the seventh on a single and a rare triple by Chen Yung-chi that reduced the Monkeys’ lead to a run, only to see the hosts answer with an equalizer, a two-run shot to deep-center by Chen Chin-fong off Lions reliever Lee Fong-hua in a 7-4 affair.
Three more runs by the Monkey offense made it 10-4 in the bottom of the eighth, before the Lions mustered one final offensive that brought in four runs in the top of the ninth.
That was as close as the visitors got, as the Monkeys sent rookie hurler Tseng Tsong-hsuan to the mound after regular closer Hsu Ming-jeh had given up four runs to put the tying run on board, before Tseng calmly fanned two of the three hitters he faced to preserve the victory for his team..
Loree was credited with the win for his 6-1/3 innings of four-run ball on eight hits, while the loss went to Pan, who lasted five frames with five allowed runs in a disappointing outing.