New Zealand 000 000 0 0 6 1 Chinese Taipei 001 180 X 10 11 0
MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Chinese Taipei emerged victorious in their quest to return to the World Baseball Classic, using an eight-run fifth inning to defeat a scrappy New Zealand club, 10-0. Yung-Chi Chen had two doubles in the inning, and starter Yao-Lin Wang was solid on the hill.
Those that were expecting New Zealand to meekly surrender to the hosts were quickly proved wrong in the first. Alan Schoenberger started things off with a single, and one out later, Scott Campbell replaced him at first on a fielder’s choice. Cleanup hitter Boss Moanaroa, who swung a hot bat during the Diamondblacks’ exhibition schedule, stroked a single to right to advance Campbell to third. Tim Auty worked a 2-2 count on Wang, who threw 26 pitches in the inning, before striking out.
Lincoln Holdzkom gave unranked New Zealand a reason to believe they might pull off the unthinkable, getting three quick outs in the bottom of the first frame. The Kiwis set to work again in the second, as Toronto Blue Jays’ prospect Daniel Devonshire ripped a one-base hit to center field. The rally was erased when a strong throw from Chinese Taipei’s catcher Chih-Kang Kao caught Devonshire attempting to steal second.
Holdzkom again looked strong, giving up only an infield hit that deflected off his glove to retire Chinese Taipei again. An inning later, though, the Taiwanese rattled New Zealand’s starter. Yung-Chi Chen, Chinese Taipei’s star in the 2006 WBC, was hit to start the frame. Chih-Kang Kao bunted him to second and he moved to third on a grounder.
With two outs, Holdzkom had a chance to escape the jam, but Chien-Ming Chang laced a single to center to score Chen. Boston Red Sox prospect Beau Bishop did Holdzkom a favour when two pitches later, he caught Chang trying to pilfer a base.
Down by only one run in the fourth, New Zealand had a chance to knot the score. Campbell doubled to left field to start the frame, but with no outs, Moanaroa struck out and Timothy Auty lined out to center. Manager Chang-Heng Hsieh came out for the quick hook, and removed Wang after only 60 pitches. The move was a prescient one, as Chin-Chih Huang struck out Devonshire on four pitches to end the inning.
Holdzkom ran in to trouble again in the fourth, starting another inning by hitting a batter, this time Cheng-Ming Peng. Peng then swiped second, and Bishop’s throw sailed into the outfield, allowing the first baseman to scamper to third. Holdzkom struck out the next batter, but Szu-Chi Chou followed with a single up the middle to plate the second run of the game.
After inducing a grounder for the second out, Holdzkom was removed in favour of Landon Adelman. The new hurler finished up the inning on a ground ball, and the teams moved to the fifth inning with Chinese Taipei up by two.
The Diamondblacks again threatened, as Bishop led off with a sharp single to center. Moko Moanaroa, older brother of Boss, then looped a bouncer up the middle to put two on. Max Brown was successful in a sacrifice bunt, and the Kiwis had the tying run on second with only one down. Hsieh once more dipped into his bullpen, and again it was discerning move, as Ta-Yuan Kuan struck out the next two batters.
After such a back-and-forth contest to that point, the hopes of New Zealand fans were crushed in the bottom of the frame. Chen led off with a two-bagger and was doubled home by Chih-Kang Kao. Cheng-Wei Chang singled Kao to third, and Chien-Ming Chang plated Kao on a soft hit to right.
Joseph Boyce replaced Adelman, but immediately walked the first batter to load the bases. Chih-Shen Lin drove in two on a single to left before Boyce settled down with a pop out and strike out. Lin took second on the pop out, and Boyce intentionally walked Yen-Wen Kuo to load the bases once more.
With two outs, the damage could have been stopped, but up stepped Yung-Chi Chen, who rapped another soft double to left to unload the bases. Desperate to stop the bleeding, New Zealand manager Andy Skeels inserted Wayde Bremner. Kao earned his second RBI of the inning off Bremner, who gave up a single to score Chen. Bremner then got the Diamondblacks out of the frame, recording the third out after 12 batters had appeared.
Kai-Wen Cheng entered to pitch and, no doubt feeling the effects of such a disastrous inning, all three Kiwis struck out against Cheng.
Sam Bishop was next to toe the rubber for New Zealand, and quickly worked himself into a jam. He gave up a double to the first batter, Chien-Ming Chang, but worked his way out of the inning without adding any runs to the 10-0 margin.
Sung-Wei Tseng closed out the game for Chinese Taipei, who did not allow hit in finishing the complete dismantling of the visitors. The game ended after seven on the Classic’s 10-run mercy rule.
Yao-Lin Wang was credited with the victory on the strength of 3 2/3 shutout innings, giving up four hits and no walks with three called out on strikes. Huang and Kuan both earned holds in getting two outs apiece, as the Kiwis were hitless after the fifth. Holdzkom took the tough loss, allowing two runs in 3 2/3 frames with a strikeout.
Chieng-Ming Chang led both clubs with three hits, while Chou, Chen, and Kao had a brace of hits apiece. Chen was tops with three RBI and three runs, while Chieng-Ming Chang, Lin, and Kao all drove in a pair. New Zealand had six different batters with a hit.
The two clubs will get back to work on Friday, as New Zealand drops into the loser’s bracket to face Thailand at 3:30 a.m. GMT. Chinese Taipei will take on the Philippines at 10:30 a.m. GMT for a place in the championship game.
All games are televised on www.worldbaseballclassic.com.