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Taiwan flops in WBC opener

2017/03/07 18:06:48

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) Taiwan's pitching staff put up little resistance against Israel in the team's opening game of the World Baseball Classic in Seoul, yielding 20 hits, including six for extra bases, in a 15-7 loss.

With few of its top overseas players on the roster this year, Taiwan was not expected to advance to the round of eight as it did in 2013.

But it may have hoped to steal a win against Israel after that team's emotionally draining 2-1 victory over hosts South Korea on Monday night.

If anything, however, it was the Taiwanese who came out flat while the Israeli lineup seemed more energized than the day before, pounding out two runs on four hits on the first 14 pitches dealt by starter Kuo Chun-lin (郭俊麟), who pitches professionally in Japan.

A two-run single by second baseman Tyler Krieger two outs later knocked Kuo out of the game and left Israel with a commanding 4-0 lead before Taiwan had even come up to bat.

"Starter Kuo had trouble with his control, and couldn't find his groove quickly enough. That was today's biggest problem," said Taiwan manager Kuo Tai-yuan (郭泰源).

Israel added two more runs in the top of the third on a two-run homer by catcher Ryan Lavarnway off reliever Chen Kuan-yu (陳冠宇), while impatient Taiwanese hitters put little pressure on starter Corey Baker, mustering only three hits in 4 2/3 innings against the 27-year-old who spent time in the St. Louis Cardinals organization last year.

Taiwan gave itself a chance in the bottom of the sixth, when a single, an error and a walk loaded the bases for slugger Lin Chih-sheng (林智勝), who promptly slammed a two-run double to the base of the wall in left field.

A sacrifice fly by first baseman Lin Yi-chuan (林益全) pulled Taiwan to within 6-3, giving some hope to the Taiwanese fans gathered in the cavernous Gocheok Sky Dome.

But Israel put the game away with a five-run rally in the top of the seventh, keyed by pitcher Lin Chen-hua's (林晨樺) misplay of a sacrifice bunt with the bases loaded.

Lin fielded the ball cleanly but threw it to first before realizing nobody was covering the base, allowing all three runners to score as the ball trickled into right field.

Israel added another run in the eighth and three more in the ninth before Taiwan rallied for four runs in the team's last at bat to make the score more respectable.

Israel's 15 runs were the most Taiwan had ever yielded in a World Baseball Classic game.

Kuo was impressed with Israel, saying it had a very solid pitching staff and good hitters. "That's a very scary team," he said.

Taiwan next plays the Netherlands and its major league infield on Wednesday afternoon and finishes group play on Thursday against South Korea.

It will likely have to win both games if it hopes to advance to the next round of the tournament, a highly unlikely prospect unless it get much better pitching.

Kuo said he plans to start Sung Chia-hao (宋家豪), who pitches in Japan, against the Netherlands.