Japan Wins Fifth Straight Asian Baseball Championships

Gabriel Fidler, Extra Innings (Follow along on Twitter.)

Led by a dominant pitching staff that allowed only two runs in five games, Japan claimed their 17th gold medal at the Asian Baseball Championships (ABC) in Taitung City, Taiwan. Japan has now won five titles in-a-row in the event, which was played between Nov. 28 and Dec. 3.

Japan received stiff competition for Chinese Taipei, who won their 11th silver medal, eclipsing Korea for most second place finishes. Korea settled for their eighth bronze. China, the Philippines, and Pakistan rounded out the field. The tournament is round robin, with the champion finishing at the top of the table. In the 2012 edition, no tie-breakers were needed as the teams all won a different number of games.

Junichi Katayama was named championship’s MVP for his performances for Japan against Chinese Taipei and Korea. In a tense 2-1 victory over Chinese Taipei in third game, the left-hander hurled 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on two hits. Katayama did not walk a batter and struck out five. The southpaw also clinched a 4-0 win over Korea, recording the last two outs. All told, he was 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA and six Ks.

Takumi Horikoshi was the tournament’s top hitter. The Japanese outfielder led the ABCs in average (.455), RBI (7), total bases (10, tied), and triples (2). Chinese Taipei featured the other .400 hitters in Sheng-Wei Wang (.421), Kuo-Hui Kao (.417) and Chiang-Ho Chen (.400). China’s Cui Xao and Korea’s H.S. Jung each had four stolen bases to lead the ABCs.

Korea’s In-Wook Jung impressed on the mound, striking out 13 in 9 2/3 scoreless frames, allowing only two hits. Ryo Akiyoshi upstaged Jung’s efforts, as the Japanese pitcher did not give up a hit or run over eight innings in relief. Akiyoshi picked up three wins for his efforts, including the final two innings in a 1-0 win over the Philippines.

Despite fielding a team without any professional players, Japan totalled gaudy numbers on the mound, posting a 0.22 ERA and 0.56 WHIP. In 41 innings, Samurai pitching gave up only five walks, striking out 55. Batters hit .128 off them. Taiwan was just as impressive, notching a 0.64 ERA and 0.50 WHIP with a .119 batting average against. Its pitchers surrendered just 17 hits and four base on balls, whiffing 40 in 42 frames. Only Taiwan (.295) and Japan (.287) hit above .220 in the tournament. Like Japan, Korea also fielded a team without any players from their domestic league.

The top four sides will be back in action in March in the World Baseball Classic. The Philippines did not qualify, finishing third in a pool hosted by Chinese Taipei. The location of the 2014 championships has yet to be decided, though all but the Philippines and Pakistan are guaranteed a spot. Those two nations will have to qualify through the Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia qualifying tournaments, respectively.

Game-by-game recaps are as follows:

Game One
The Philippines took an early lead against Korea, putting up three runs in the second inning. Korea would strike back in the bottom of the frame, knocking Pinoy starter Darwin de la Calzada out of the game.  De la Calzada walked five in giving up three runs. Romeo Jasmin entered in relief and shut down the fourth-ranked nation in the world over four shutout innings. He allowed only two baserunners and struck out three.

Jasmin was matched by Keun-Young Yoon, who struck out four over 4 2/3 scoreless frames. Korea finally broke the tie with three runs in the sixth against Jon-Jon Robles, who had started the frame for the Philippines. Robles would settle down and hold Korea scoreless the rest of the way, but Dae-Woo Kim and Ji-Woong Yoon matched his zeroes for a 6-3 final.

K.Y. Yoon was credited with the win and Ji-Woong Yoon the save. H.S. Jung reached base three times and had two hits for Korea. Robles took the loss for No. 24 Philippines, who had two hits from Fulgencio Rances and a double and a walk by Rommel Roja.

Game Two
China, the 19th-ranked nation in the world, piled on four runs in the first inning against Pakistan’s Muhammad Usman and coasted to a 7-0 win. The game lasted only five frames after heavy rain began. Xao Cui and Weiqiang Meng had a hitting brace for China, with Meng ripping a double. Tao Bu got credit for the victory, scattering six hits over five innings, striking out nine.

Usman and Saleem Haider saw action on the hill for Pakistan, rated at No. 27. Usman allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 on four walks and five hits, while Haider finished up the game with 2 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out three. Sumair Zawar was 2-for-3 and Zubair Nawaz had a double for the losers.

Game Three
The third game of the ABCs would turn out to be the de facto title match. Third-ranked Japan was the first to score, plating a run in the fourth inning off Chinese Taipei’s Yao-Lin Wang. Akira Matsumoto drove in a run with one his two doubles on the day.

Japan tacked on another run in the fifth, but the 2-0 lead was courtesy of a key Taiwanese error. Takuya Fujishima was credited with the RBI. Wang exited after 4 1/3 innings, allowing only two hits and a walk, striking out four.

The host nation finally got in the board in the seventh, plating a single run off Junichi Katayama, who would later be named MVP. Katayama twirled 5 2/3 innings in relief of Kazumasa Yoshida. Taiwan was unable to score a second run and managed only four hits off Samurai pitching. Katayama got the win, while Kentaro Yoshinaga earned the save after retiring the last two batters.

Japan only managed six hits and a walk off Chinese Taipei’s hurlers, and Matsumoto had the only hitting brace. Sheng-Wei Wang had two hits and Taiwan’s only RBI, driving in Kuo-Hui Kao.  Ping-Chieh Chen had a triple, but was left stranded. Wang took the loss, with Chi-Wei Lin and Yu-Ching Lin finished up the fifth inning. Kai-Wen Cheng struck out five over four innings to wrap up the contest for the losers.

Game Four
In-Wook Jung had an excellent start for Korea in their matchup with China. Korea put two runs on the board in both the second and sixth innings and Jung struck out eight while giving up just one hit through six.

China would collect only one more hit the rest of the way as Korea’s bullpen slammed the door on the 4-0 victory despite three errors by the winners. Three pitchers tossed an inning apiece, with Ji-Woong Yoon striking out the side in the eighth. Korea did not walk a batter in the two-hit shutout.

Korea had seven hits, all by different players. S.J. Oh and Jeong Choi both rapped doubles and H.S. Jung had two RBI. China’s Y. Liu took the loss after allowing four runs (two earned) on four walks and six hits in 5 1/3. He struck out one. Four other pitchers saw action for the losing side.

Game Five
Japan scored four runs in the first inning against Pakistani pitching and piled on nine more before the game was called in the seventh inning via mercy rule. Takumi Horikoshi had three more hits, including two triples and drove in six runs to fuel the Samurai attack. Seiya Inoue had a pair of hits and RBIs, as did Yuki Futaba, who also had a double on the day.

Daichi Osera was Japan’s starter and put on a pitching clinic against Pakistan. Osera struck out every batter he faced in three frames before being pulled for Hayato Arakaki. Arakaki whiffed three more batters in two innings, though he gave up the only baserunner Pakistan would earn on a hit by Usman Azam. Ryo Akiyoshi earned the win over the final two innings, striking out four.

Muhammad Touseef was the losing pitcher for Pakistan. He allowed three hits and walked six in the first three innings, giving up five runs, though only one was earned as the green-and-white committed two errors. Touseef had Pakistan’s only strikeout. Saleem Haider was blasted for seven runs on seven hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings, and Shaheryar Waseem got the final four outs, surrendering a run on a walk and two hits.

Game Six
Philippine starter Charlie Labrador could not replicate his strong performance in the World Baseball Classic Qualifying tournament and was shelled by Chinese Taipei in a 12-1 drubbing. Led by Ping-Chieh Chen’s four hits and three runs, the hosts put four runs on the board in the first and another three in the second frame. The contest ended on the mercy rule after Taiwan scored four more times in the top of the eighth.

Labrador lasted only three outs, giving up five hits and a walk to the nine batters he faced. He was responsible for the first five runs Taiwan would score. Four other hurlers would finish the contest, with Vladimir Eguia the most noticeable. Eguia pitched 2 1/3 frames, scattering a hit and two walks without surrendering a run.

K.H. Chang earned the victory on the strength of four scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and no walks and did not strike out a batter. Christian Canlas scored the Philippines’s only run in the fifth against Ta-Yuan Kuan, who also gave up a double to William Ireton. Three other pitchers would hurl a frame apiece to finish the contest for Taiwan.

Cheng-Wei Chang, Sheng-Wei Wang and Chiang-Ho Chen all had two hits for Chinese Taipei, while Kuo-Hui Kao and Szu-Chi Chou both hit triples. Chou and Wang knocked home two apiece. The Philippines had four players with one hit.

Game Seven
Korea scored in every inning but the first in a rain-shortened 5-0 victory over Pakistan. Pyung-Ho Cho had the big hit for the victors, blasting a solo home run in fifth inning. It was the first home run of the tournament.

S. M. Hong had an impressive start on the mound for Korea, pitching all five innings and allowing only one and two walks. He struck out seven. Muhammad Usman took the loss for the green-and-white, surrendering two runs on four hits in 2 2/3. He sent two down swinging. Muhammad Touseef got two outs and allowed one run, while Tariq Nadeem gave up two runs in 1 2/3.

Y.E. Kim was the only Korean with two hits, though M. K. Kang had a double, a walk, and scored two runs. Y. W. Lee stroked a two-base hit and H. Jung had a triple. Muhammad Asif had Pakistan’s only safety.

Game Eight
The Philippines bounced back from the trouncing by Chinese Taipei and gave Japan all they could handle on day three. Darwin de la Calzada gave up a double and a walk in two scoreless innings and Joseph Orillana followed with a gutsy relief effort before Japan finally plated a run in the sixth. Rains would once more set in, and the Pinoys took a tough 1-0 loss in seven.

Filipino pitchers gave up only five hits to the top-ranked team in Asia, and it was pinch hitter Takuya Fujishima who got things going in the sixth. Yuichi Tabata had his second hit of the day to plate the winning run for Japan. Tabata and Masataka Iryo had doubles for the victors.

Motoshi Oshiro hurled three hitless innings to start things off for the Samurai. Only walk blemished his record, and he struck out three. Masamitsu Hamano gave up two hits in two innings, but struck out the side in both the fourth and fifth. Ryo Akiyoshi earned his second win of the tournament on the strength of two perfect frames with three strikeouts. Orillana’s line covered four innings, during which he gave up four hits and no walks, whiffing three.

Game Nine
Chinese Taipei’s showdown with China was delayed, as the heavy rains that had affected games seven and eight earlier in the day prevented the teams from taking the field.

Game Ten
The host team used the night off to their advantage, throwing a perfect game and dismantling Pakistan 15-0 in a mercy-rule shortened game. Chinese Taipei had 14 hits and drew five walks, and the hapless visitors committed five errors.

Yu-Ching Lin pitched the first five innings of the perfecto, striking out nine. Hung-Cheng Lai and Ta-Yuan Kuan finished off the contest with a frame apiece, with Lai recording a strikeout. Muhammad Touseef started for Pakistan and was shellacked for four runs on seven hits in two innings, striking out two. Three other hurlers saw time on the hill for the losing side.

Cheng-Wei Chang led the way for Taiwan’s batters, hitting a triple along with two hits, scoring three runs, and driving in another. Four other players had a brace of hits, with Che-Hsuan Lin joining Chang with a triple. Kuo-Hui Kao had a single, a double, a walk, and drove in two.

Game Eleven
China also responded well to a day of rest, scoring 10 runs in the sixth inning against the Philippines in a 16-0 scorching. The Pinoys gave up 14 hits, seven walks, and committed seven errors only a day after losing a heartbreaker to Japan.

Qingyuan Meng shut down the Filipino bats, allowing only three baserunners in six innings. He struck out three and gave up just one hit. X. Luo pitched the final frame, surrendering one safety.

Jon-Jon Robles, one of the aces on the Philippines’ staff, had another inconsistent outing. He gave up two runs in two innings, yielding two hits, including a triple, as well as two walks. He struck out two. Romeo Jasmin followed up his stellar performance against Korea by recording only two outs while conceding three hits, three walks, and three runs. Ernesto Binarao gave up four runs, two earned, in 2 1/3 innings. Vladimir Eguia wrapped things up and also had a disappointing second appearance. The southpaw gave up seven hits, a walk, and seven runs (five earned) in the sixth inning.

China had a very balanced attack, with eight different players collecting hits. Z.H. Lu was tops for the red-and-gold at 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and three RBI. Weiqiang Meng also had a two-bagger and drove in three, adding a single and a walk to his efforts. T. Guo reached base three times, including on a triple, cross home plate twice and notching two RBI.

Game Twelve
The final contest of day four was unlike the others, as two undefeated clubs squared off in a pitcher’s duel. Samurai pitching would prove too much for their closest rivals in a 4-0 decision.

Japan pushed across a single run in the second on a Hodaka Yamakawa double. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Yohei Kawato. Akiro Matsumoto tripled in a second run in the third, knocking out Korea’s K.T. Kim. Dae-Woo Kim came in to relieve and settled in to throw four scoreless innings of relief.

Meanwhile, Kentaro Yoshinaga and Ryo Akiyoshi ensured that Korea could not close the deficit. Yoshinaga started and pitched 4 1/3 innings, striking out four. He exited after allowing his second hit on a blooper to center field. Akiyoshi came in to toss four perfect innings against the second-ranked team in Asia, whiffing six.

Japan iced the win with runs in the eighth and ninth, the latter on a run-scoring double by Takumi Horikoshi. Akiyoshi gave way to Championship MVP Junichi Katayama in the ninth and Katayama got the final two outs, including a strikeout, to give Korea their first loss.

Five pitchers saw action for Korea, combining to surrender 10 hits and four walks, striking out seven. The losing side did not collect a hit after Yoshinaga exited. Akiyoshi was credited with the victory. Nine different batters collected hits in support, with Yamakawa the only with multiple safeties. He had a single and a double, driving in one. Matsumoto walked twice in addition to his three-bagger for Japan.

Game Thirteen
Despite scoring first, China could not capitalise on their drubbing of the Philippines in a 10-1 defeat by Japan. The red-and-gold put a run on the board in the first on an RBI from Weiqiang Meng, who drove in Lei Li, who had a double and a single in the game.

Japan struck for four runs in the second and then added two runs in three separate innings for another dominant victory. Takuya Fujishima knocked in two runs in the second on a double and Yuichi Tabata plated the other two runs in the frame on a RBI single.

Five hurlers toed the rubber for the Samurai, with the victory going to the fourth, Motoshi Oshiro. Hayato Arakaki started and threw three innings, allowing China’s run, which was unearned. He walked two and gave up three hits, striking out one.

Fujishima and Toshiyuki Hayashi each had two hits and two RBIs. Fujishima’s hits were both doubles, and he also drew a walk. Hayashi ripped the ABCs’ second home run and scored twice. Hodaka Yamakawa had a two-bagger for Japan.

China trotted out six pitchers to try to stop the Samurai attack. Starter X. Li fared the worst, conceding eight runs, seven earned, on eight hits and four walks. He gave up a double and Hayashi’s four-bagger in only 3 1/3 innings. Jiangang Lu was the most successful pitcher, striking out two in a scoreless eighth. Lei Li was the only Chinese batter with two hits, one of which was a double.

Game Fourteen
The Philippines scored their only win of the tournament in a 2-0 thriller with Pakistan. Charlie Labrador turned in a dominant performance for the Pinoys, tossing a complete game shutout, striking out 10 and scattering five hits and three walks.

Muhammad Usman was undone by Pakistan’s poor fielding, as he threw seven innings and struck out three. Two unearned runs were charged to him, and he gave up five hits and walked only one. Muhammad Touseef loaded the bases on a double and two walks in the eighth, but escaped the jam.

The Pinoys split their six hits evenly among six batters and hit three doubles. Jonash Ponce, Rommel Roja, and Christian Canlas collected the two-baggers. Canlas scored one run and Christian Galedo reached base twice, scoring once. Basit Murtaza was 2-for-3 for the green-and-white, while Sumair Zawar drew two walks from the leadoff position.

Game Fifteen
Korea and Chinese Taipei did battle in the last game of day five to decide the second place team. The hosts left no doubt that they would come away with the silver medal with a 7-0 victory.

The first three and one-half innings were scoreless, with Korea’s Ji-Woong Yoon and Taiwan’s Jen-Ho Tseng swapping zeroes. Chinese Taipei unloaded on Yoon in the fourth, putting three runs on the board. Tseng hung another zero in the fifth, and Taiwan set to work on Yoon once more. Another four runs would score before Korea could get two outs and Yoon’s night was done. He conceded eight hits, three of them for two bases and all seven runs. Yoon struck out four in his 4 1/3 frames.

Dae-Woo Kim got one out in the fifth and In-Wook Jung finished the contest with 3 2/3 shutout innings. Jung gave Korea plenty of chances to rally, giving up only a hit and a walk, whiffing five. Tseng ensured that Korea would dig a deep hole, twirling six scoreless frames. He struck out four, did not walk a batter, and allowed only three hits. Three pitchers finished the shutout.

Korea managed only three hits in the upset win by Chinese Taipei. Szu-Chi Chou collected two of Taiwan’s nine hits and drove in four runs. He had a double and scored once. Cheng-Wei Chang joined Chou with a hitting brace, crossing home twice.

Game Sixteen (rescheduled Game Nine)
The final game of the Asian Baseball Championships finally gave Chinese Taipei a chance to host their rivals in a rare appearance by China on Taiwanese soil. Though the home team had already clinched a silver medal through the victory over Korea, which would have served as a tiebreaker with a loss by Chinese Taipei, they reserved just enough spark to earn a hard-fought 3-1 victory.

China broke a scoreless tie in the third after leadoff hitter Xao Cui drew a walk. He was plated a batter later on a double by Xui An. Taiwan’s Hung-Cheng Lai would shake off the blemish and finish with 4 1/3 frames of one-run ball. He gave up three hits and struck out three.

Yao-Lin Wang would enter in relief and got Taiwan out of the fifth. In the bottom of the frame, Chinese Taipei tied things up, and Wang would ensure they had an opportunity to break the draw, tossing a hitless sixth and seventh.

Taiwan finally took the lead in the bottom of the seventh, and Wang would hurl one final inning without a hit, exiting with five strikeouts and no walks allowed. Closer Hong-Wen Chen slammed the door in the ninth, striking out the first batter before giving up a double. Chen buckled down and got the third out on a swinging strike before inducing a grounder to shortstop to end the threat.

Tao Bu had a strong start for the red-and-gold, working around three hits and two walks over five frames, allowing one run and striking out three. Kun Chen was the loser, giving up an unearned run in 1 2/3 innings. S. Li and J.G. Lu each recorded two outs.

Szu-Chi Chou had another two-hit game for Chinese Taipei and legged out another double. Sheng-Wei Wang also two safeties, driving in one, while Bing-Yen Lee walked twice and scored a run. China only had four hits, but three of them were laced for doubles. Lei Li and Z.H. Lu joined An with two-baggers.

Date

Time

Gm

Venue

Match-up

Official

11/28

12:00

1

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Korea

6-3

Philippines

link

12:00

2

Taichung Baseball Field Pakistan

0-7

China

link

18:30

3

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Chinese Taipei

1-2

Japan

link

11/29

12:00

4

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium China

0-4

Korea

link

14:00

5

Taichung Baseball Field Japan

13-0

Pakistan

link

18:30

6

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Philippines

1-12

Chinese Taipei

link

11/30

12:00

7

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Pakistan

0-5

Korea

link

14:00

8

Taichung Baseball Field Japan

1-0

Philippines

link

18:30

9

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Chinese Taipei

PP

China

12/1

12:00

10

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Pakistan

0-15

Chinese Taipei

link

14:00

11

Taichung Baseball Field China

16-0

Philippines

link

18:30

12

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Korea

0-4

Japan

link

12/2

12:00

13

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium China

1-10

Japan

link

14:00

14

Taichung Baseball Field Philippines

2-0

Pakistan

link

18:30

15

Intercontinental Baseball Stadium Chinese Taipei

7-0

Korea

link

12/3

18:30

9

Chinese Taipei

3-1

China

link

 

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About Gabriel Fidler

Card Sharp is devoted to my chief indoor hobby-baseball (and occasionally football [that's soccer to you Americans], hockey, American football, and basketball) card collecting.
This entry was posted in Asia, Asian Baseball Championship, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Tournaments and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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