Sloppy Fielding Leads to Taiwan’s Demise Against Japan

Coming into this game Taiwan had only committed three errors in seven games in this tournament. The boxscore identified them as committing three errors in their 6-2 loss against Japan. Myworld would have given them five errors.

Both teams jumped on their opponent’s bullpen after the starters left. Japan went with Kentaro Taira, who allowed only one hit in his three innings of work. Taiwan found Toshiki Sakurai more to their liking, scoring two runs off him when he came on in relief in the fourth. Chih Chieh Su led the inning off with a walk. Tai Chun Young advanced him to second with a single. Po Jung Wang blasted a ball to one hop the fence for an RBI double. Taiwan had second and third with no outs and one run in. The large crowd that filled most of the third base side of the lower infield were ecstatic.

A shallow fly out to left and strike out seemed to temper the rally. Pin Chieh Chen came through with a bloop single to left to score one run. Wang tried to score but the throw home was a strike to the plate, the catcher blocking the entrance with his glove and knees allowing the runner no place to go but slide into the glove for the out. In the major leagues the runner may have been called safe because the catcher blocked the lane.

Yu Yen Lu pitched five shutout innings for Taiwan, allowing only three hits but also walking three. Japan loaded the bases off him in the first inning with just one out and he escaped out of that jam. They stranded runners on second and third in the second but could not score. Lu only allowed two more runners in the next three innings but they were both caught stealing by the catcher Chih Hsien Lin.

Side armer Huang Tzu Peng came on in relief in the sixth. A single, stolen base, ground out and hit batsman put runners on first and third with one out. Sho Azegami hit a slow bouncer to third and the Taiwan defense chose to decline the throw to the plate to get the out at first allowing the run to score. The gazelle like Seiya Suzuki raced from first to third on the throw. Harutomo Tsuji hit a hard shot to second base that clanked off the glove of Chih Chieh Su, allowing the tying run to score. It was ruled a hit but myworld thought it should have been the third out of the inning. Instead of getting out of the inning with a 2-1 lead the score was tied 2-2.

Kai Lun Chang came in to work the seventh. A single and a walk put runners on first and second with no out. Fumiya Hojo, hitting close to .400 with one homerun in the tournament, was asked to sacrifice for his second time in the game and failed on three attempts for the strikeout. Taisei Makihara hit a sharp ground ball to first where it bounded off the first baseman’s glove on a ball he should have caught and stepped on first for the second out. The scorer ruled it a hit to load the bases. Kensuke Kondo hit a ground ball to the pitcher who threw it home to chalk up the second out but the throw back to first to complete the double play sailed into right field for the third error of the game, allowing the go ahead run to score. In a game that should have still been 2-1 Taiwan with the inning over, Seiya Suzuki broke the fans heart by putting the game away with a triple into the right centerfield gap. Not many in the major leagues can run faster than Suzuki.

Japan scored a final run in the ninth when Hojo led the inning off with a double. He scored after two ground outs. After the throw out at the plate the last 15 Taiwan hitters were retired by the Samurai bullpen.

Game Notes: The game was changed from night to afternoon so as not to conflict with the Japanese game in the evening against the major leaguers. Attendance figures were not available but a pretty good crowd showed up for a game that didn’t really matter since both teams already qualified for the gold medal game. Ticket prices to watch these 21 year olds play are a little higher than what is charged for the CPBL (the professional league) so that may drive attendance down a bit…Before the game they really like playing the electronic dance music to energize the fans. The vibe at the stadium was more like a dance club than a sporting event, but in my opinion it is better than the rap they play before the start of basketball games…Before the game the national anthem for both teams were played. Taiwan fans do not really accept their official national anthem and prior to the Taiwan at bat all the fans stood and sang what they consider their true national anthem, not one forced upon them by China and the international community…Everyone was standing in the ninth inning to root for Taiwan to rally even though they were down by four. There was no give up in their minds…The movie star Yu Ning Tsao (who was one of the primary characters in the movie Kano) is a smooth centerfielder who glides after the ball. Local fans worry about his bat. He went 0 for 4 in the game today to drop his average to .486, tops on the team. He normally hits leadoff…Taiwan catcher Chih Hsien Lin had two rifle throws to nail attempted Samurai base stealers. He was taken out of the game after his wild throw to first. He also struck out twice in the game and is only hitting .238.

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