Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) A team from Taoyuan County was beaten 2-0 in extra innings by Japan's representative at the Little League World Series Sunday, putting the Taiwanese club one loss away from being ousted from the tournament.
The Kuei-Shan Little League team, representing the Asia-Pacific region at the annual tourney, will have to defeat the Oriente Little League team from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico on Monday to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament, being played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Taiwan opened the tournament on Aug. 16 by beating the European representative from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany 14-1, but the Japanese team from Tokyo Kitasuna Little League proved a far tougher challenge.
Helped by an expansive strike zone, starting pitchers Chen Chun-hsiao and Yuta Ishida dominated the regulation six innings of Sunday's game, with each pitcher striking out 11.
Taiwan had three hits to Japan's two, and each team had one runner get as far as third, both times with two outs, but neither team could convert the opportunity.
In extra innings, Japan had the far better scoring chances against the Taiwanese team's shaky relievers. It had runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh and loaded the bases with only one out in the eighth, but failed to score each time.
Taiwan's resistance finally faltered in the bottom of the ninth, when Tatsuya Irie drew a one-out walk and Hajime Motegi slugged a two-run homer.
The loss meant Taiwan now needs to win four consecutive games, including Monday's clash against Mexico, to win the International Division and advance to the Little League World Series championship game.
Teams from Taiwan have won 17 Little League World Series titles, but the last one came in 1996.
In 2009, Kuei-shan Little League became the first Taiwanese team to reach the championship game since the 1996 titlists from Kaohsiung, but fell in the final to a team from California.
(By Lin Hung-han and Ann Chen)