By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)
MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Chinese Taipei left no doubt that they are team to beat in the fourth pool of the World Baseball Classic, crushing the Philippines 16-0. The qualifier hosts have outscored their opponents 26-0 in two games.
Both starting pitchers cruised through the opening two frames. Chinese Taipei was the first to strike, scoring three runs in the third against Philippines starter Ryuya Ogawa. With one out, Chih-Yao Chan reached on a single before Ogawa sent down Chien-Ming Chang swinging.
The wheels fell off after two were out, as Ogawa gave up two walks, the second of which scored Chan. Yung-Chi Chen followed the second base on balls with a single up the middle to plate two. After an error, Ogawa finally escaped the inning.
Yu-Ching Lin continued to dominate, and was working on a no-hitter by the end of three. Ogawa worked around an error and a hit in the fourth to keep the margin at 3-0, and in the bottom of the frame, the Philippines had a chance to score.
Lin gave up a one-out double to Ryan Pineda, but the Philippines could not advance him home. Lin was finished after four innings and 59 pitches, but the Taiwanese bullpen backed him up with three hitless innings split evenly between three hurlers.
The Taiwanese offense was not finished, however. Darwin de la Calzada, who was impressive in the Philippines’ win over Thailand, entered in the fifth to keep the game close. Chinese Taipei had other plans, though, as Szu-Chi Chou greeted him with a double. De la Calzada then walked Yung-Chi Chen before Yi-Chuan Lin doubled both of them home.
Three batters later, Chih-Yao Chan stepped up with one out and runners on first and second. Chan grounded out to the first baseman Leighton Pangilinan, but reached on a fielding miscue which scored Yi-Chuan Lin.
Max Javate replaced de la Calzada, and promptly gave up a free pass to put two runners on for Cheng-Ming Peng. Peng laced a single to center to plate one, but Chih-Shen Lin ripped a double to left to score two, advancing to third on two Filipino errors. He came around to score for the eighth run of the inning on a wild pitch.
Both teams put up zeroes in the sixth, but with the score 11-0, Chinese Taipei needed only four runs in the seventh to end the game on the mercy rule. The inning started with Romeo Jasmin, who had held Taiwan hitless in the sixth, on the mound.
The seventh was a different story, as Cheng-Ming Peng started things off with a line drive single to right. Bing-Yen Lee followed with a double, and Szu-Chi Chou walked to load the bases with no out. Jasmin buckled down to get the tough Yung-Chi Chen on strikes, but Yi-Chuan Lin followed with his second double of the game, which emptied the bases.
Yen-Wen Kuo would rip a single to right and Lin touched home, but with the 15-run mercy rule lead already accomplished, Taiwan added one more to fully slam the door shut. It came on a RBI single by Chih-Yao Chan.
Yi-Hao Lin closed out the affair for Chinese Taipei, which did not allow a run to advance into scoring position after the Pineda double with one out in the fourth. Starting hurler Yu-Ching Lin was credited with the win on the strength of four shutout frames, allowing two walks and a hit, whiffing five.
Ogawa took the loss, giving up five hits, four walks, and three runs in four frames. He did strike out five. Four other pitchers took the hill for the Philippines. Pineda was the lone threat at the plate for the losers, reaching base twice.
Chinese Taipei spread the 16-run, 14-hit shellacking around 14 players. Peng led the squad with three hits and three runs, reaching base five times, an accomplishment he shared with Chou, who walked four times. Yi-Chuan Lin had five RBI and two hits.
The Philippines will have little time to regroup against a New Zealand team that surprised fans with a 12-2 drubbing of Thailand earlier in the day. The two sides will battle over a place in the final at 6 a.m. GMT on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Chinese Taipei will await the winner of that contest in the title game on Sunday, also at 6 a.m. GMT. All games are televised on www.worldbaseballclassic.com.