Taipei down Team USA
Citizen staff, The Prince George Citizen
Considered one of the favourites to take a run at the World Baseball Challenge title, for the most part the Chinese Taipei national team looked legitimate contenders in their opening game at the tournament Wednesday.
Leading 7-1 after two innings, they might have thought Team USA was going to let them off the hook without a fight but that was not the case. Even with Lin Han and his bat spicing the offence and a masterful pitching performance from Koo Chun Lin, Taipei had to be thankful baseball is a nine-inning game.
Playing its second game of the tournament, Team USA recovered from some suspect pitching early on and their bats found some life with three runs in the ninth inning but it wasn’t enough and Chinese Taipei left Citizen Field with a 9-7 victory.
Cleanup hitter Han connected for two doubles in the second inning alone as Chinese Taipei batted through the entire order, chasing U.S. pitchers Skye Adams and Matt Cooper from the game. A wild pitch and a walk issued by Cooper set the stage for Shin Hao Liu, who drove them home with a basehit. Lin’s second two-bagger scored three more runs and it appeared the rout was on.
But Adrian Martinez came on in relief to start the third and his American teammates responded. Cory Urquart was a tough out all game hitting three-for-five, Jacob Herklotz had two hits and drove in two runs and Tyler Baumgartner came up with three hits and four RBI. Baumgartner’s single scored two runs in the ninth but Chang Hsien Chih ended the rally with his right arm. He struck out Ryan Degner (the hero of Team USA’s 13-6 win Tuesday over Canada) and forced Tyler Holm to ground out.
Team USA manager Rick Skinner said Adams was bothered by a back injury the coaches were unaware of until his struggles began and Adams praised Martinez for his efforts to bail out his team, allowing just two runs in six relief innings.
"That’s a good team and they had some great hits that inning and did capitalize on it but we scratched an clawed our way back into the game," said Skinner. "The next three innings we got a run each inning and down five going into the last inning there was no quit in our team. Another base hit would have tied the game."
USA has the day off today and will play Japan on Friday at 3 p.m. Chinese Taipei has a date with Canada tonight at 7.
View game photos on NWAACC Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Mike