Pitching like the staff ace that he has become, Chen Wei-yin struck out seven over seven shutout innings to lead Taiwan past the Netherlands in a convincing 5-0 win in Game One of the Beijing Olympic baseball tournament at the Wukesong Baseball Field in Beijing yesterday.
The Kaohsiung County native, who enjoyed an outstanding amateur career at various levels of competition prior to being selected by the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s professional league in 2004, was simply magnificent in holding a potent Dutch lineup to three scattered singles over seven scoreless frames.
Fellow reliever Cheng Kai-wen finished off with a near-perfect eighth and ninth to keep the shutout victory intact for Taiwan.
“I couldn’t be happier with my performance today,” an excited Chen said after the game. “The velocity, control and breaking ball were all working as well as they can.”
Doing the damage at the plate with his bat was speedy outfielder Chang Jien-ming who went a team-best two-for-three with a pair of RBIs to keep his team on the wining track.
A patient Lin Chih-sheng showed exceptional discipline at the batter’s box with three drawn walks to jumpstart two of Taiwan’s three scoring rallies.
The contest began with Taiwan wasting little time getting to Dutch starter David Bergman in the bottom of the second with Lin drawing a walk, advancing to third on a double by Jiang Chih-hsien before scoring on Luo Guo-hui’s sacrifice-fly to claim a quick 1-0 lead.
After a scoreless third, Taiwan moved on again with Lin drawing a leadoff walk off Bergman and Luo following in his footsteps one out later to place runners on first and second to set up Yeh Jung-chang’s RBI-single that made it 2-0.
That was not all the runs that Taiwan would score in the fourth as Lin Tseh-hsuan also came through with a bases-loaded single for Taiwan’s third run of the game.
Chang then brought in the fourth run with another sacrifice-fly to give his team a comfortable 4-0 advantage at the end of the fourth.
Doubles by Shih Chih-wei and Chang in the bottom of the sixth scored the fifth and final run of the game for Taiwan which was more than ample for the win as the Dutch made it to second base only twice let alone scoring a run in the lopsided win.
China was shown no mercy — well, one inning’s worth — by Team Canada in its historic first foray into Olympic baseball.
Chris Begg and two relievers combined on an eight-hitter as Team Canada crushed China 10-0 in eight innings in the preliminary round of men’s baseball at the Summer Games in Beijing on Wednesday.
Begg, a right-hander from Uxbridge, Ont., scattered six hits over 6 2/3 innings and struck out nine batters, including the side in the bottom of the fifth.
“The strikeouts, generally that is not my game,” he said. “I tend to try to place my pitches and get them to put the ball in play.”
“He is one of our best pitchers, in terms of knowing how to pitch,” Canadian manager Terry Puhl said. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here.
“He has had some shoulder injuries. But the man knows how to pitch.”
Ottawa’s Tim Burton and Rheal Cormier, a former major leaguer from Moncton, N.B., mopped up in relief before the mercy rule went into effect.
“I’m going to be going to him a lot,” Puhl said of Cormier.
Scott Thorman of Cambridge, Ont., homered and drove in three runs, Adam Stern of London, Ont., had two runs batted in, and Victoria’s Michael Saunders capped the scoring with a solo home run.
Winnipeg’s Stubby Clapp, Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, Ont., and Jimmy Van Ostrand of Richmond, B.C., had the other RBIs.
“We have good hitters,” Puhl said. “If they continue to have quality at-bats, we’re going to score some runs.”
Chinese starter Bu Tao was tagged with the loss, permitting seven runs — two unearned — on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Bu equalled Begg pitch for pitch through three scoreless innings before finally flinching in top of the fourth inning, yielding singles to Clapp and Saunders to put runners aboard for Thorman, Canada’s hulking clean-up hitter.
Thorman launched a towering home run over the wall in right field to make it 3-0.
“For three innings, it was nail-biting time,” he said. “We had one hit through three innings.
“In a situation like this, the first runs mean so much and we were fortunate to get rolling. Until that point, we were taking nothing for granted and nothing lightly.”
Canada scored twice off reliever Liu Kai in the fifth inning, the first run crossing the plate on a wild pitch and the second on Weglarz’s bases-loaded walk.
Canada went ahead 6-0 in the seventh inning, and piled up four more runs in the eighth.
Chris Robinson was hit by a pitch, took second base on an errant pickoff attempt, and Garcia walked to bring up Stern, who delivered both runners with a soft triple that bounced beyond the reach of centre-fielder Sun Lingfeng.
Clapp later cashed Stern with a sacrifice fly and Saunders ripped a solo homer to right off reliever Li Weiliang to complete the scoring.
“Today was not a good day for us,” Chinese manager Jim Lefebvre said. “We’re a much better team than we showed.”
Canada, which went 6-1 in Olympic qualifying, is determined to improve on its fourth-place finish at the 2004 Athens Games, when it lost 11-2 to Japan in the bronze-medal game.
The five players retained from that squad — Begg, Clapp, Mike Johnson, Ryan Radmanovich and Stern — know the supreme test will be Thursday’s preliminary game showdown with three-time defending champion Cuba (5:49 a.m. ET, CBC Sports.ca).
As much as China was excited by the prospect of competing in baseball for the first time at Beijing, the sport won’t be retained at the 2012 London Olympics.