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Uni-President Lions clinch first half-season championship

2012/06/03 17:29:58

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) The Uni-President Lions clinched the first half-season championship of Taiwan's professional baseball league with an 8-0 victory over the Brother Elephants Saturday, likely guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Taiwan Series.

The 37-13 Lions secured the title with 10 games still left in the league's first half-season.

It was the Lions' 12th half-season championship, the most ever in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), followed by the Elephants with 11.

The CPBL divides its season into two half-seasons, with the winners of each generally qualifying for the Taiwan Series.

The Lions also lead the four-team league with eight Taiwan Series titles, followed by the Elephants' seven.

On Saturday, the Lions' Japanese starter Yuya Kamada shut out the Elephants, allowing just five hits and striking out nine. He improved his record to 11-0 and his ERA to 1.42, the league's best.

The Elephants' rookie starter Lin Yu-ching (5-4), who was the second pick in the CPBL's draft this year, gave up five hits, four walks and three earned runs in his fourth loss in his debut season.

The Lions are currently an insurmountable 14 games ahead of the second place Lamigo Monkeys, with the season's first half to end June 23.

Lions acting manager Terushi Nakashima thanked his players for their effort and said the team would compete in the second half-season that starts on June 29 with a "challenger" mindset.

If the Lions win both half seasons, the teams with the second and third highest winning percentages will compete in a best-of-five series to determine the Lions' Taiwan Series opponent.

The only way the Lions would not automatically qualify for the Taiwan Series -- highly unlikely barring a Lions collapse -- is if a team that does not win either half has the best overall winning percentage for the full season.

In that case, a playoff round would also be held before the championship series.

Nakashima, who was originally hired as the Lions hitting coach, took over as manager in February before the start of the season after the club's previous manager, Lu Wen-sheng, resigned over allegations that he and his wife, Hsieh Fu-yu, had close contact with bookmakers and were giving them inside information.

The couple were charged with breach-of-trust and were later released on bail of NT$500,000 (US$16,949) and NT$300,000, respectively.

(By Lin Hung-han and Jamie Wang)