Taiwan exits Little League worlds in bitter loss
CNATAIPEI -- An untimely error. Clutch hits. A bout of wildness. And suddenly Taiwan had been cruelly ousted from the Little League World Series after victory was nearly assured.
August 22, 2013, 11:39 am TWN
In its second elimination game in two days on Tuesday, Taiwan's Chung Ping Little League from Taoyuan County seemed poised to survive again, taking a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth against Latin America representatives Aguadulce Cabezera Little League from Panama.
Even after pitcher Yu Teng-hao yielded a walk and a one-out double, things seemed under control when he struck out Daniel Fernandez, leaving Taiwan one out away from victory.
But Yu then walked Juan Crisp on a full count to load the bases, and when third baseman Yeh Tung-jua booted a ground ball that should have been the final out, Taiwan no longer had any margin for error.
Nursing a 7-5 lead with the bases still loaded, Yu yielded a two-RBI single, then walked another batter to reload the bases and hit Jose Gonzalez to send home the winning run, a shocking finish that left some of the young players in tears.
Taiwan had fought back from a 4-0 first-inning deficit with a run in the second and a six-run rally in the third, but in the end, it was not enough.
The team from Taoyuan opened the double-elimination tournament in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with a 10-2 win over Canada, then lost to Japan 3-2, before staying alive Monday with a 6-4 win over a team from Puerto Rico.
Taiwan's manager talked about the important experience gained during the tournament.
“We have learned how the American people love baseball and we can bring this experience back to Taiwan to improve our baseball environment,” manager Lee Kuo-chiang was quoted as saying on the tournament's website.
Once dominant in the competition, Taiwan has not won a Little League World Series title since 1996.
Another Taiwanese team from Taoyuan was the runner-up in 2009, and a team from Kaohsiung finished third in 2010 after losing an extra-innings heartbreaker to Japan in the International Championship game.