Taiwan overcame a two-run deficit in the seventh, forced the game into extra innings, and ousted Cuba 10-6 in the second round of play in the World Baseball Challenge at the Citizen Field Park in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, late on Friday night to advance to today’s title game.
The win not only avenged a tough loss to Cuba in the preliminary round for the Islanders, but more importantly it earned them a day off yesterday as the other squads were left to play out the rest of the double-elimination second round to determine who would face Taiwan in today’s title match.
Starter Chen Yu-hsun ran into trouble early and allowed three quick runs in the opening frame off a pair of singles and a two-out two-run double to fall behind 3-0.
However, Taiwan’s bats would bail out Chen for his early mistakes as they scored the next four runs, three off Cuban starter Miguel Gonzalez and another off reliever Alberto Soto to take a surprising 4-3 lead after four innings of play, highlighted by a solo blast in the second inning by Huang Yi-kun and an RBI single from Yu Tsung-han in the third.
Taiwan’s lead would last less than an inning as Chen failed to keep the opposing hitters at bay in the fifth, despite holding the Cubans to only a lone hit from second through the fourth, by walking a pair to set up Alfredo Despaigne’s three-run home run that set Taiwan back by two runs.
Trailing by two, Taiwan’s offense would strike again against Cuba with Lin Wei-ting delivering a clutch two-out single with the bases loaded to tie the game at 6-6 in the top of the seventh, a score that remained through the ninth, before a four-run 10th blew the game wide open in the eventual 10-6 rout.
Right-hander Lin Chen-hua ably recorded the final three outs to earn the well-deserved victory, pitching shutout ball on no hits over 2-2/3 innings of impeccable relief to beat his counterpart Jonder Martinez in convincing fashion.
Team Canada and Japan’s Toshiba Baseball each won their second-round contest against the Bahamas and China’s Beijing Tigers respectively, and were to battle early yesterday with the winner to later play Cuba to earn the right to play Taiwan in today’s title game.
Skipper Chen Wei-cheng will have most of his pitchers available as Taiwan look to bring home their first gold in the competition’s history.
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