Taiwan roughed up previously unbeaten Japan in a 9-0 shutout to win the title game of the IBAF Under-21 Baseball World Cup tournament at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium last night and secure the gold medal in the 10-day competition.
Having lost to Japan the day before in the Super Round Robin to surrender field advantage in the final game, the hosts not only wanted to keep the title in Taiwan, but also avenge their lone loss in the tournament.
And that was exactly what they did as they overwhelmed the visitors from the north by scoring early and often.
“I am so proud of our players for believing in themselves even after [Saturday’s] loss; we didn’t let anyone down tonight,” an emotional Taiwan skipper Kuo-Lee Chien-fu said after the game.
His troops pulled off a rare feat by downing Japan and South Korea in the same tournament for the first time in recent years.
Starter Kuo Chun-lin was well on top of his game, with seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball silencing a Japan lineup, who had averaged nine runs per game in their previous seven outings.
The right-hander from National Taiwan Sport University, who is to pursue a professional career with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball later this month, ended his amateur days on a high note.
“We really did it, yes we did!” Kuo said after the game.
Lee Tsung-hsien’s bases-loaded walk off a wild pitch by Japan starter Yudai Mori in the top of the second got Taiwan on the board, before a wild throw by reliever Yuya Yokohama on what would have been an inning-ending double play scored two more to give Taiwan a 3-0 lead.
That led to a two-run fourth in which Taiwan pounded out a pair of singles and a double off Yokohama to send the lefty packing.
After a scoreless fifth and sixth against Japan reliever Kazoto Taguchi, the Taiwan hitters broke out once more with two runs each in the seventh and eighth to take a commanding 9-0 lead.
Four players had multi-hit games, with Yang Tai-chun’s 4-for-5 outing and a pair of RBIs leading the way.
Also starring was outfielder Tsao Yu-ning, who picked up two hits and a diving catch that took away a run-scoring extra-base hit from Japan’s Sho Azegami in the second.
In other games yesterday, the Czech Republic beat Australia 6-5 to claim fifth and South Korea took the bronze medal by beating Nicaragua 10-4.
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
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