Chinese Taipei closer to berth after rout
Qualifier host slugs way to mercy-rule win over Philippines
XINZHUANG, Taiwan -- A seemingly invincible Chinese Taipei squad erupted in the fifth inning with eight runs to trounce the Philippines, 16-0, in a seven-inning victory shortened by mercy rule.
Designated hitter Yi-Chuan Lin, 27, led Chinese Taipei's onslaught. He drove in five on two doubles. Lin currently plays for the local professional team Sinon Bulls.
Third baseman Yung-Chi Chen, 29 -- a former Seattle Mariners prospect who is now with the local professional Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions -- also had another field day in the qualifier with a two-run single.
Before the fifth inning, Chinese Taipei was already leading, 3-0, with all three runs from top of the third off three singles and two walks.
Left fielder Szu-Chi Chou opened the top of fifth with a double, ripping an inside pitch to right field. A wild pitch sent Chou to third base and resulted in a walk for Chen. Lin then turned on an inside pitch for a two-run double.
A fielding error contributed to another run for Chinese Taipei, followed by an RBI single by first baseman Cheng-Min Peng.
The crowd erupted when shortstop Chih-Sheng Lin delivered a double, aided by a throwing error, that resulted in three runs. Lin subsequently scored on a wild pitch.
The tournament hosts increased the lead in the top of the seventh with five runs. Peng lined a single to right field to open the inning. Two doubles, from substitute third baseman Bing-Yen Lee and Yi-Chuan Lin, and a walk from Chou resulted in three runs. A single by substitute second baseman Yen-Wen Kuo delivered another run. The frame's last run was attributed to a wild pitch and another single.
The win went to starter Yu-Ching Lin, who struck out five in four innings, giving up only one hit. Three relievers combined to hold the Philippines hitless over the final three innings.
Manager Chang-Heng Hsieh said while he is happy with the result, he wants to focus on the last game now, which will be Sunday at 1 a.m. ET against the winner of Saturday's New Zealand-Philippines matchup in a game that is available on a free, live stream at worldbaseballclassic.com. The winner of Sunday's game advances to the 16-team World Baseball Classic tournament that begins in March.
"I think our pitchers have been very stable in their performance. Our starter, Yu-Ching Lin, also had a great game today," Hsieh said. "We did score many runs in the past two games ... but what matters now is the final game on Sunday."
In the first game against New Zealand, Chinese Taipei scored eight runs in the bottom of the fifth with consecutive hits and ensured a 10-0 victory at the end of the seventh inning by mercy rule.
Each of the five pitchers used by the Philippines in the game was unable to suppress the fierce Chinese Taipei batters. Starter Ryuya Ogawa was responsible for the loss, giving up five hits and three earned runs.
Philippines skipper Jim Ramos said that the result was probably unavoidable when facing such a formidable opponent.
"We just got beat up by a very good team, very polished, executed things very well," Ramos said. "They had pitching, they had hitting, fielding, they've got all three. Any team that's got all three, the chances are that they are going to beat you."
Hsieh hinted that chances are his team will encounter the Kiwis in the final.
"New Zealand has a better pitching staff. The Philippines only has one or two outstanding pitchers, so it will be a bit difficult for them to conquer New Zealand," Hsieh said.
Debby Wu is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.