Game 19
2 vs. Asia 7
Monday, August 23, 2004
8:00PM ET

Taiwan takes advantage of six-run inning to top Canada

By David Graham-Caso

After putting on an 18-run offensive demonstration in its first game, the Shou-Tien Little League from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Chinese Taipei was expected to put on an encore performance in Monday’s nightcap at Lamade Stadium.

The Taiwan team did not disappoint the 5,900 in attendance.

The Shou-Tien Little League (2-0) defeated the East Nepean Little League from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (0-2) 7-2. The victory assures Taiwan a spot in an International semifinal either Wednesday or Thursday. Taiwan faces the Latin America Champion Panama (also 2-0) Tuesday at 5 p.m. to determine who emerges out of pool C as the number one seed.

Canada looked as if it had a chance to compete with juggernaut Taiwan early in the contest. Canada starter Mathew DeLuca blanked Taiwan in the first inning, striking out two and allowing no hits. Canada’s offense even looked invigorated, spraying two singles through the infield in the first.

The second inning was a different story.

Eleven Taiwan batters came to the plate as the Asia Champions tallied six-runs on three-hits. Though a clutch two-out Texas leaguer to shallow center field by Chen Hung-Ta did bring in two-runs, what hurt Canada the most in the inning was the wild pitching of DeLuca. DeLuca walked five-batters in the inning, giving Taiwan every opportunity to post a monster number on the scoreboard. After his fifth-walk of the inning, DeLuca was lifted in favor of Jesse O’Byrne. O’Byrne got the final out two-batters later, but the damage had been done and Canada was now buried in a six-run deep hole.

“(DeLuca) just had trouble throwing strikes,” said Canada manager Mike Crepin.

“It is not our usual style of play to score so many runs off of walks,” said Taiwan manager Cheng Ying-Chun through interpreter George Chen. “We are usually more of a power hitting team.”

The hole got even deeper in the next inning when Hsu Chi-Hung showed why his manager considers his lineup a powerful one. Chi-Hung belted a two-out solo blast deep to left. The homerun put Canada behind by seven, a deficit it would not be able to overcome.

“It feels very good to hit a homerun,” Chi-Hung said through Chen. “I hit the ball pretty hard, and I did not know if it was going out, but it did.”

Taiwan starter Wang Chun-Po had an impressive outing. The five-foot-1, 87 pound starter scattered five-hits and struck out four in his winning effort.

“I am doing okay,” Chun-Po said through Chen. “I can improve my control, I can play better, but I did okay in the game.”

Though they did not score any runs until their final at bat, the Canada offense was not completely stagnant. The Ottawa team was led by O’Byrne, who was 3-for-3 with a double at the dish. Canada’s pair of runs came on a one-out rally in the sixth.

DeLuca got things started when he stretched a single to center into a double. DeLuca then advanced to third on an O’Byrne single and both Canadians scored on a double to left by Niko Van Essen. Taiwan reliever Tung Chen-Lun entered after the double to finish off Canada by inducing Alexandra Bellini to ground out and then by catching Kyle Craig staring at strike three.

Canada finished the game out hitting Taiwan 7-5.

“I thought we played really well,” Crepin said. “Other than one inning, we are right in that game. It was just one bad inning.”

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© 2004 Little League Baseball Incorporated