Samsung Wins;Ends Japans Streak

The Samsung Lions scored all their runs in one inning and relied on the arm of Won-Sam Jang and closer Seung-Hwan Oh to pull out a 5-3 win over the Softbank Hawks.  It was the first win by a non-Japanese team since the Asian Series was started back in 2005.  The Samsung Lions finished second to the Chibba Lotte Marines that year.  This was the Hawks first Asian Series.

The Lions started Jang, who was 8-8, 4.15 ERA in a rather unimpressive 2011 season.  He struggled in the opening frame, giving up a walk, stolen base and a bullet RBI double to Nobuhiro Matsuda down the left field line to give the Hawks an early 1-0 lead.  After the first inning Jang turned the Hawk bats into putty, limiting them to just two hits for his next five innings.  He was taken out with one out in the seventh after giving up back to back singles.

Sho Iwasaki also pitched well for the Hawks.  Sho was 6-2, 2.72 during the 2011 season.  During the first four innings he had allowed only one hit, walking one and hitting a batter.  He unraveled in the fifth.  Jung-Sik Lee got the inning started with a single.  Song-Su Kim made like a human pinata and got hit for the second time in two at bats.  A walk to Young-Seop Bae loaded the bases with just one out.  That left it to Hyung-Sik Jung, who was only in the game because of a first inning injury to Han-Yi Park.  Jung slapped a single up the middle to give the Lions a 2-1 lead.  Sok-Min Park took Iwasaki for a ride deep into left field.  It would have scored two runs, but the ball bounced over the fence, halting the runner at third.

The Hawks brought in their Taiwan star Yao-Hsun Yang to try to get them out of the inning.  He always gets a good ovation when he comes into a game.  He got the first batter to fly to shallow left, but the next batter Bong-Kyu Kang bounced a single off the glove of the diving shortstop Kawasaki to score two more runs.  An error by the second baseman on a hard hit grounder by Tae-In Chae went right under his glove, advancing Kang to third.  With the count 1-2, Chae broke for second and tried to get in a rundown while Kang raced for home.  Kawasaki wasn’t buying this and fired to home, easily nailing Kang at home.

The Lions almost blew the game open in the next inning when they loaded the bases with no out.  Hyung-Sik Jung, who had come through with a 2-run single in the previous frame was not so lucky here.  He grounded into a 4-2-3 double play to end the threat.

In the eighth the Lions turned the ball over to Hyun-Wook Jong.  He only faced two hitters, as back to back singles drove him from the game.  A high bouncer down the first base line was beaten out by Munehori KawasakiYuichi Honda had one of the most amazing at bats that myworld has seen, fouling off at least 10 two strike pitches before blooping a single into left.  Lions manager Joong-Il Ryu did not want to save his best bullet for the ninth inning and allow the game to get out of control in the eighth, so he brought in his 47 save closer Seung-Hwan Oh to close out the game and get a two inning save.

Seiichi Uchikawa singled off Oh to load the bases.  Nobuhiro Matsuda then stroked one sharply, but a ground ball at the second baseman, who turned a 4-6-3 double play.  Yuya Hasaegawa singled in the second run of the inning to put the Hawks to within two, 5-3.  On a littel grounder to first, Kenji Akashi was able to beat Oh to first, putting the winning run at the plate.  Shuhei Fukuda flied to left to end the rally.

Oh did not have any trouble in the ninth striking out the first two hitters in the inning, then getting Munehori Kawasaki to ground weakly to second.  The Lions were victorious and now it was time to gather at the pitcher’s mound for the traditional manager toss.  Ryu was tossed three times

Game notes:  Myworld only saw one pitcher hitting the gun at a consistent 150 Kilometers (93 miles per hour) and that was the Taiwan pitcher Yao-Hsun Yang.  His fastest pitch was 153 kilometers (95 miles per hour).  Myworld did not notice any other pitcher hitting 150 kilometers per hour…Sadaharu Oh was at the game and threw out the first pitch.  His arm still looks pretty good as the throw was straight and true…The IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari was also at the event.  Riccardo and myworld would then be the only two people that attended both the Baseball World Cup in Panama and the Asia series in Taichung, unless someone in his entourage also made the two trips…The ticket prices were a little higher for the championship match.  My $NT 500 ticket was only good for the second level, but in all honesty I preferred the sight lines better from those seats.  The stadium is equivalent to some of the AAA minor league parks, so when you are talking about second floor, you still are not that far away from the action.  The only downside with the upper deck is that there are no concessions in the area…There was a much larger Japanese following at the game than a Korean following.  The cheer section of the Japanese crowd was drowning out the muffled chants of the Koreans…Shortstop Munehori Kawasaki made a nice play on a ball hit up the middle, extending his glove as far as he could to catch the ball, then flipping the ball backward while running towards right field.  The ball was still in his glove hand when he flipped it to get the force at second.  It was the best defensive play of the tournament…Han-Yi Park made a nice falling catch in foul ground in the right field bullpen area.  Unfortunately, he twisted his knee and had to be removed from the field via a stretcher…Catcher Toru Hosokawa threw a ball on a steal of second that first bounced on the pitcher’s mound before it reached second.  Myworld is hoping the ball just slipped off his hand…With a Taiwan team not participating in the finals, the crowd of 4,300 was the second lowest attended game.  The weekend match between Samsung and Softbank drew 3,000 more fans.  Many of those Japanese fans probably had to return to work Sunday night.  The attendance lower than the championship match was the opening day match between the Perth Heat and the Samsung Lions.

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