Chinese Taipei continued where it left off in the World Baseball Classic qualifying round, combining a persistent offence with stellar pitching to beat 10th-ranked Australia 4-1. Former New York Yankees’ superstar Chien-Ming Wang was dominant in the 2013 WBC opener, tossing six shutout innings for the victory in Taichung.
Taiwan, rated fifth in the world, opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Dai-Kang Yang, added to the roster before the tournament’s main draw, stroked a single to left to lead things off for Chinese Taipei. After a brilliant sacrifice bunt by Che-Hsuan Lin, Cheng-Min Peng stroked a single to right to plate the first run of the game.
Australia’s Chris Oxspring would settle down after Peng’s hit, catching Chih-Sheng Lin looking on strikes and inducing a grounder to get out of the frame.
Neither side would score in the second, but Taiwan would strike for two more in the third. Che-Hsuan singled to start the rally, and Peng walked to put two runners on base. Chih-Sheng Lin followed by blasting a double down the left field line that bounced out for a ground rule double and score Lin. Szu-Chi Chou knocked in Taiwan’s third run with a grounder to first.
Oxspring lasted 2 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk, whiffing one.
Chinese Taipei made the score 4-0 in the fifth, as Peng led off with a line drive home run just inside the right field foul pole.
Wang, meanwhile, needed only 61 pitches to retire Australia through six innings. The veteran right-hander allowed only four hits, using his trademark sinker to erase three on double plays. He walked none and struck out two. He left just before hitting the 65-pitch limit imposed on the first round of play.
Stefan Welch put Australia on the board in the seventh with a home run off the top of the fence in right center field off reliever Yao-Hsun Yang. The dinger ended a streak of 30 2/3 scoreless innings by Taiwanese pitchers in WBC play.
Both team’s bullpens took over in the late innings, with a leadoff double by Che-Hsuan Lin in the seventh the closest either could come to a rally.
Hung-Chih Kuo and Hung-Wen Chen finished the game off for Chinese Taipei, which was backed by a raucous crowd in Taichung’s Intercontinental Stadium. Chen looked particularly filthy, locating a mid-90s fastball and vicious curve to earn the save. He struck out one in the final frame.
Australian manager Jon Deeble used seven pitchers in the loss, all of whom will be available again in the opening round. Brendan Wise was the most effective, striking out one and allowing a pair of safeties in two innings.
Lin and Peng were the hit leaders with two, and Peng reached base in 3-of-4 plate appearances. Neither team committed an error.
The victory was Taiwan’s second in six attempts in the Classic, while the Basebalroos dropped to 1-6. The hosts will take on the Netherlands on Mar. 3 at 6:30 a.m. GMT, while Australia next takes the field against Korea on Mar. 4 at 10:30 a.m. GMT.
Stay tuned to Extra Innings: Baseball Around the World for all of your World Baseball Classic news, analysis, and game recaps.