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Updated: November 10, 2013
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Japan nips Taiwan to complete Challenge-sweep
TAIPEI (Taiwan) - Japan scored only one run on Sunday-evening (November 10), but that was enough to win the third game vs. Taiwan and complete a 3-game sweep of the Baseball Challenge. Japan won 4-2 on both Friday and Saturday in the previous games. Today's game was played in Tianmu Baseball Stadium in capital Taipei. The stadium has been the main site of many international events, including the World Championship in 2001 and 2007.

The first eight Japanese batters were retired in order by Taiwan-starter Chun-lin Kuo. OK, one of them singled with one out in the second inning, but then was eliminated. With two outs in the third at bat, Ryosuke Kikuchi singled, then stole second base and scored on a following single by Takero Okajima. Takayuki Kajitani then added another single to put another runner in scoring position, but then the inning ended when powerhitter Ginji Akaminai flied out. A week ago, Okajima and Akaminai celebrated the first Japanese title with Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, which won the Japan Series vs. Yomiuru Giants.

In the fourth, Sho Nakata led off for Japan with a single, but then was eliminated in an inning-ending double play. Japan was then retired in a row in the fifth and sixth inning by Chun-lin Kuo. In the seventh, Kai-wen Cheng took over and also retired three batters in a row.

'Samurai Japan' reached base again in the eighth inning when pinch-hitter Hiromi Oka doubled with one out. He advanced when Takero Okajima reached on an error with two outs, but the inning then ended with a strikeout. In the ninth, Japan left another runner.

Taiwan collected only three basehits in the game, but threatened to open the score in the first inning. Japan-starter Kazuki Mishima walked lead-off hitters Po-ting Hsiao and Tu-hsuan Lee, but Taiwan was unable to score. In the second inning, Mishima gave up lead-off single to Jin-de Jhang, who then advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Han Lin. But after a walk, a double play ended this scoring opportunity.

In the remainder of the game, Taiwan reached base only three more times. With one out in the fourth, Dai-kang Yoh singled, but then Mishima followed with two strikeouts. Reliever Takahiro Matsuba then took over in the fifth, retired six batters in a row, then saw lead-off hitter Dai-kang Yoh reach on an error in the seventh. He moved into scoring position on a sac-bunt by Jin-de Jhang, but this time two groundouts followed.

Shoichi Ino pitched the eighth inning for Japan and gave up a lead-off single to pinch-hitter Pin-chieh Chen, but he also stranded. Closer Naoya Masuda then struckout three batters in the ninth to complete the game, which was attended by more than 8000 spectators.

(November 10)

...Tianmu Baseball Stadium in Taipei...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)

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