Kuo Sho-yen’s perfectly placed bunt to second on a suicide-squeeze attempt scored the game-winner from third for the Lamigo Monkeys, as they edged past the Brother Elephants 3-2 in the bottom of the tenth at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium last night to claim the weekend series in Taoyuan.
“I’m glad I got a good pitch for the play, because a miss would have hung the runner out to dry,” Kuo said after the game, referring to the risky nature of a suicide-squeeze play.
He had his fist up the moment he made contact with the pitch, while the runner on third safely crossed the plate.
The win not only avoided what would have been a tremendous let-down for the Primates, who blew a two-run lead in the top of the ninth with ace closer J.D. Durbin on the mound, but also cut the top-ranked Elephants’ lead over the Primates to two games.
The showdown between the top two squads in the league lived up to its billing, with neither offense able to produce anything through the first four frames until Kuo’s RBI single off Elephants starter Cheng Chi-hung.
It sparked a two-run fifth that gave the hosts a 2-0 lead that lasted through the eighth, before Durbin served up the game-tying runs in the top of the ninth that sent the game into extra innings.
A controversial call on a pick-off play by Durbin that eliminated the runner on second in the top of the tenth denied the Elephants a golden scoring opportunity.
Wang Chung-jeh was initially ruled safe by the second-base umpire on the pick-off attempt, before being called out after Lamigo second baseman Kuo protested and showed that Wang had his foot on Kuo’s foot, instead of the bag.
Durbin was credited with the win, while the loss was charged against his counterpart Brad Thomas, who gave up a pair of hits and an intentional walk in the tenth to set up Kuo’s game-winner.
RHINOS 10, LIONS 1
Getting all their runs during the first three innings of play, the EDA Rhinos piled on 10 to humble the Uni-President Lions at the Cheng Ching Lake Baseball Stadium in Kaohsiung last night to take the weekend series between the two clubs.
Yang Chien-fu pitched his best game of the season by far, with seven effective innings of one-run ball to earn just his second win of the year.
Even though he allowed seven hits in the process, the veteran righty managed to work out of trouble with a clutch strikeout in the fifth and a crucial double play in the seventh to strand six and hold the Lions offense to a lone run before being replaced to start the eighth.
Offensively for the first-half champs, the night belonged to leadoff man Chang Chien-ming and Kao Guo-hui, who belted a home run off the Lions pitching on a combined 7-for-8 hitting to account for eight of their team’s 10 runs on the night.
Chang was named the game MVP for driving in a season-high five runs to beat out Kao, whose homer off Lions reliever Huang Chih-lung represented his 11th, second in the league behind teammate Lin Yi-chuan’s with 16.
Failure to come up with the timely hits ultimately cost the Lions the game, as they collected nine hits off the Rhinos pitching, but were unable to capitalize on the golden opportunities and only had one run to show for all of them.