Lee Seung-yuop’s three-run homer with two outs broke a 2-all tie wide open in the bottom of the eighth as the Samsung Lions shook off Italy’s Unipol Fortitudo 5-2 at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium to take the opener in this year’s Asia Series.
The showdown between the winners of last year’s European Cup and the recently crowned champs of South Korea’s Korea Baseball Organization competition went down to the wire before the electrifying swing by the veteran slugger put the Lions ahead for good.
“I am glad the homer kept the game from going into extra innings, [Fortitudo] are a much tougher team than people give them credit for,” Lee said after being named MVP.
What should have been a relatively easy win for the Lions turned into a dog fight as Fortitudo struck first with a run off Samsung starter Jung Hyun-baek on the strength of a leadoff walk and a pair of singles in the top of the second before the Lions answered with a run of their own to tie it up at 1-all.
The Lions claimed their first lead of the game in the fifth when Hyung Sik-jung drew a one-out walk off Fortitudo starter Bobby Blevins, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Han Yi-park that made it 2-1.
The diehard Fortitudo made things interesting in the top of the seventh with a run that tied the game at 2-all and threatened to blow it open with one out and a pair of runner on. However, poor base-running by the Europeans led to an inning-ending double play to keep them from attaining a lead, setting the stage for Lee’s game-clinching blast an inning later.
Chang Min-sim was credited with the win for his 1-2/3 innings of relief while the loss was charged to his counterpart Filippo Crepaldi.
Shintaro Masuda’s bases-loaded single broke a 1-all tie in what ended up being a five-run eighth to lead Japan’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles past Taiwan’s EDA Rhinos in a 6-1 final in the night game in Greater Taichung yesterday.