Chinese Taipei in driver's seat after win over Dutch
Combined one-hitter has manager Hsieh thinking three-game sweep of Pool B
TAICHUNG, Taiwan -- Chinese Taipei emerged as the group leader with two wins in Pool B after it defeated the Kingdom of the Netherlands, 8-3, allowing only one hit in Sunday's 2013 World Baseball Classic first-round game.
Although it trailed early on shabby pitching, Chinese Taipei soon overturned the deficit with its unstoppable sluggers hard at work. The club's six pitchers only gave up one hit during the game, but too many walks contributed to a sloppy second inning and an early disadvantage.
Up next, Chinese Taipei will face Korea and the Kingdom of the Netherlands will play Australia. The top-two teams from the group will advance to Tokyo to play along with Pool A's top two in the second round beginning March 6.
Thanks to Sunday's victory, Chinese Taipei would win the group with a win in its final game and could still advance with a loss. The Dutch, on the other hand, wouldn't clinch a second-round berth with a win, but they'd still be in solid shape.
In Sunday's game, Chinese Taipei opened with subpar pitching. In top of the second, starter Yao-Lin Wang of the Chicago Cubs organization opened the frame by striking out Wladimir Balentien, but then walked three batters consecutively. He was then replaced by Wei-Lun Pan of the domestic club Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions.
Pan couldn't to contain the crisis, hitting Kalian Sams with a pitch. Then he gave up Holland's only hit of the game, a two-run single to center by catcher Dashenko Ricardo.
He resumed his cool later on, and was credited with the win.
Dutch starter Tom Stuifbergen also turned slightly shaky in the second. Chih-Sheng Lin led off the inning with a single to left, and then Stuifbergen walked Szu-Chi Chou. Hung-Yu Lin lined out to right, but then Chien-Ming Chang, of domestic club EDA Rhinos, singled on a ground ball to left and scored Chih-Sheng Lin. Stuifbergen regained his poise in third with a 1-2-3 inning.
But that did not last long as Chinese Taipei's power hitters helped the team push ahead in the bottom of the fourth. Chih-Sheng Lin walked to open the inning, reached third after Chou doubled on a line drive to center and scored when Yung-Chi Chen singled to center.
Chinese Taipei loaded the bases when Stuifbergen walked Chang intentionally, but Stuifbergen hit Hung-Yu Lin with a pitch, scoring Chou. That brought Minnesota Twins prospect Shairon Martis to take over on the mound, where he gave up a pair of sacrifice flies to before getting out of the inning.
Stuifbergen was responsible for the loss.
Hung-Yu Lin and Dai-Kang Yang made it even sweeter for the home fans in the bottom of sixth. Lin lined a ground-rule RBI double, and later in the inning Yang belted a two-run homer.
Chinese Taipei manager Chang-Heng Hsieh showed ambitions to not only advance, but to win the group outright as well.
"We have won two games now. Although this is not a guarantee yet that we can go to Tokyo, we now stand good chances," he said. "I want to be at our best to play against Korea [on Tuesday] and get three wins in the first round."
Dutch manager Hensley Muelens attributed the loss to strong pitching by Chinese Taipei late in the game.
"They pitched well," he said. "Our guys were a bit over-aggressive ... swinging at breaking balls. That was the formula for them to tame our bats today," Meulens said.
Debby Wu is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.