Seoul, Sept. 3 (CNA) Taiwan edged Panama in a preliminary round game at the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) 18U Baseball World Championship in Seoul Monday, nearly guaranteeing itself a spot in the tournament's final six.
But Taiwan needed a rally in the bottom of the ninth for the second straight day to pull out a contest that was not without controversy.
With the game tied 3-3 in the ninth, Taiwan put runners on first and second with one out, and they both moved up a base on a wild pitch.
That forced Panama to intentionally walk Tsao Yu-ning to load the bases and set up a possible double play, bringing Lin Tzu-wei to the plate.
Lin, who signed with the Boston Red Sox in late June this year, responded to the challenge with a sacrifice fly that gave Taiwan a 4-3 decision.
Taiwanese starter Sen Yu-pin had a shaky start, giving up a run on three hits in the first inning. He yielded two more hits and a run in the second but set-up man Tseng Jen-ho took over and limited the Panamanians to just one hit in the following 4 1/3 innings.
The controversy came in the bottom of the first. With one out and Lee Tsung-hsien on first and Sen on third, Taiwan's clean-up hitter Su Chih-chieh flied out to left, scoring Sen.
Lee was then doubled up at first on the same play after straying too far away from the base, leading an umpire to incorrectly rule that Sen's run did not count.
Taiwan pulled its players from the field in protest, and after a half-hour delay, Taiwan was finally given the run, which later would prove to be critical.
The victory left Taiwan tied with Canada and Japan atop Group B with 3-1 records. It will face 1-3 Italy in the final preliminary round game Tuesday, and a win will secure Taiwan's place in the top three of Group B and a place in the final round of six teams.
If Taiwan were to lose, however, along with Japan (to the Czech Republic) and Canada (to Panama) Tuesday, there would be a four-way tie for first, and run difference would be used to decide which three teams advance to the next round.
Meanwhile in Group A, South Korea and the U.S. lead the group with 3-1 records, followed by Colombia, Australia and Venezuela with 2-2 records.
(By Chiang Yuan-chen and Jamie Wang)