Taiwan advances in WBC despite loss
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Chinese Taipei advanced to Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) yesterday evening, despite losing to archenemy South Korea 3-2 in their final first-round match.
March 6, 2013, 12:34 am TWN
Prior to the game, Taiwan already had a significant advantage in its bid to advance to the second round, thanks to winning both of their weekend matches.
The team needed either a win against South Korea or a loss of less than four runs to move on.
Taiwan came close to claiming victory, leading 0-2 until the eighth inning.
But batter Kang Jung-ho's two-run homer on a pitch by Taiwanese fireballer Kuo Hung-chih (郭泓志) led South Korea's three-run rally in the eighth.
The loss meant Taiwan finished the round, held at Taichung's Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, with a 2-1 record, making it the winner of Pool B.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands finished the pool runners-up, after defeating Australia 4-1 early yesterday.
Both teams will face Japan and Cuba at the WBC's second round, set to begin Friday in Tokyo.
“It is a pity we could not take the win over the Koreans, but fortunately we can still advance to Tokyo,” Chinese-Taipei manager Hsieh Chang-heng (謝長亨) said after the game.
This is the first time Taiwan has advanced to the second round of the WBC, the highest-level international baseball competition.
In the previous WBC held in 2009, Taiwan failed to clinch a single win and finished 14th among the 16 participating teams.
The failure included an embarrassing loss to China, seen by many Taiwanese as a national disgrace.
Supported by a cheering capacity crowd of 20,000 in Taichung, Taiwan drew first blood in the third inning.
Facing South Korean left-handed starter Chang Won-jun, slugger Lin Chih-sheng (林智勝) singled on a line drive to center field, sending runner Yang Dai-kang (陽岱鋼) back to first base. Taiwan led 0-1.
The home squad added another run in the fourth thanks to an RBI single by Yang Dai-kang, widening the gap to 2-0.
Starter Yang Yao-hsun (陽耀勳) held the South Korean lineup scoreless until the third frame, when he was relieved because of a fingernail problem.
Building on Yang Yao-hsun's start, Taiwanese relievers Wang Ching-ming (王鏡銘) and Lo Ching-lung (羅錦龍) kept South Korea scoreless.
But South Korean batter Kang's homer rained on Taiwan's chances of a much-hoped for third consecutive win.
South Korea could not get enough points on the board to keep Taiwan from clinching a berth in the next round.
Taiwan won its tournament opener Saturday against Australia 4-1. It later topped the Dutch after coming back from an early 0-3 deficit, taking the important win with a final score of 8-3.