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Updated: November 8, 2013
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Copyright © 1997-2013
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Japan opens Challenge Series vs. Taiwan with victory
NEW TAIPEI CITY (Taiwan) - Japan opened the 3-game Baseball Challenge vs. Taiwan on Friday-evening (November 8) with a 4-2 victory. The two national teams will meet again on Saturday and Sunday. The first game of the Series, which is played in Taiwan, was played in Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City and was attended by almost 7300 spectators.

The home team opened the score in the first inning off of starter Yasuhiro Ogawa. Pin-chieh Chen led off with a single, then Ogawa struckout the next two batters. He then walked Chun-hsiu Chen, followed by an RBI-single by Chih-hsien Chiang, which scored Chen, but also led to the third out in the inning.

Japan took a 2-1 score in the top of the fifth inning. Taiwan-starter Yao-lin Wang had retired the first six batters in a row, then gave up a single in the third and fourth inning, but no runs. In the fifth, Wang gave up back-to-back doubles to Hideto Asamura and Shogo Akiyama, which tied the score. With one out, Japan took a 2-1 lead when Motohiro Shima singled in the next run.

In the home of the fifth, Taiwan came alongside off of new pitcher Yudai Ono. He walked lead-off hitter Jin-de Jhang, but he was forced out on a grounder by Tu-hsuan Lee, who then scored on a 2-out double by Guo-long Luo. In the remainder of the game, Taiwan reached base only two more times. In the eighth inning, Shoichi Ino took over pitching for Japan, started with a strikeout, gave up a single to Wang-wei Lin and then followed with two more strikeouts. Naoya Masuda then pitched the ninth inning and retired the side, including two strikeouts.

In the top of the sixth inning, Japan re-took the lead by scoring two unearned runs. Guo-hua Luo, who had taken over the pitching in the fifth after Shima's single, saw Ginjiro Sumitami and Sho Nakata both reach on an error and was relieved by Hua-wi Lo. He forced out Sumitami on third base after a comeback-grounder by Hideto Asamura, but then gave up a sacrifice fly to Shogo Akiyama and an RBI-double to pinch-hitter Ryosuke Hirata, that scored respectively Nakata and Asamura to give Japan a 4-2 lead. Japan reached base five more times in the final three at bats, but didn't add more runs.

The Japanese squad, which is nicknamed 'Samurai Japan', is compiled entirely of players from Nippon Professional Baseball. All professional teams are represented in the 28-man roster, except for Yomiuri Giants, which last Sunday lost the Japan Series to Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. There some players invited, but the organization wanted to give their players some rest after a long season. These players not only played with the Giants in the Japan Series, but also participated with Japan in the World Baseball Classic in March.

(November 8)

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