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Updated: October 26, 2013
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Copyright © 1997-2013
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Big rally gives Lions win in Taiwan Series-opener
TAICHUNG (Taiwan) - Uni-President Lions broke a 2-2 tie with an 8-run rally in the seventh inning on Saturday-evening (October 26) and went on to win 10-7 vs. EDA Rhinos in the opening game of the best-of-seven Taiwan Series. The game was played in Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, which also has been the site of several international events in recent years. The games of the Taiwan Series will be played in four different stadiums.

The Rhinos won the first half of the regular season and therefore qualified for the Taiwan Series. The Lions then won the second half to become the second finalist. Only four teams are playing in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, the highest professional league in Taiwan. Last years champion Lamigo Monkeys were eliminated for this years final.

The Lions are playing in their 13th Taiwan Series and have won eight of them. For the Rhinos, it's their first trip to the final, while their predecessor Sinon Bulls reached the Series six times and won two of them. The Rhinos hope to win the Series, which it will dedidate to their legendary Head Coach Sheng-ming Hsu, who passed away in August after a heart attack.

The Rhinos and Lions both will participate in the Asian Series, which will take place November 15-20 in Taichung. As Taiwan is the host country of the Series this year, it is allowed to participate not only with the champion, but also the runner-up. In the Series, the teams will meet the champions of the finals in Nippon Professional Baseball and Korean Baseball Organization, which are currently underway. Canberra Cavalry, the 2013 champion of Australia, already qualified for the event. For the first time, the winner of the European Champions Cup also will participate in this prestigious event. Fortitudo Bologna from Italy won the Cup and therefore will become the first-ever representative of Europe to play in the Asian Series.

Former Major Leaguer Manny Ramirez played for the Rhinos in the first half of the season. He then returned to the USA, where he signed a contract with the Texas Rangers on July 3 and played in 30 games for Round Rock Express, the Triple-A team of the Rangers. On August 13, the Rangers released Ramirez again. The 41-year old Dominican played 19 seasons in the Major League, including eight with Cleveland Indians and eight with Boston Red Sox.

Supermodel and actress Sonia Sui, who can be seen in several Taiwanese TV-serials and movies, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the opening game between the Lions and Rhinos.

It was expected that the game would produce a lot of runs and hits early on in the game, but the score was tied at 2-2 after six innings. But when the game was over, the two teams combined on 17 runs and 30 basehits. The Rhinos outhit the Lions 17-13.

39-year old righthander Nelson Figueroa started for the Lions. The American pitched nine years in the Major League for six clubs, but already played in Taiwan for the Lions in 2007. In that season, he was 3-0 in the Taiwan Series. He then returned to the Major League in 2008 and went on to pitch for New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros, before being released in August 2011. Matt Torra, who pitched in nine Minor League-seasons, started for the Rhinos.

Figueroa, who was supported with two crucial double plays, gave up a run in the fourth and fifth inning. But the Lions came alongside in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Lions' outfielder Dai-chi Kuo made a great and important catch in the top of the seventh, preventing a potential RBI-double.

The Lions then broke up the game with an 8-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ying-jeh Lin took over for Torra and ran into problems immediately. He gave up two singles, then committed a balk, which was followed by a sacrifice fly by Chih-shiang Lin that gave the Lions a 3-2 lead. A double by Dai-chi Kuo made it 4-2 and RBI-singles by Tai-shan Chang and Yung-chi Chen lifted the lead to 7-2. Chih-wei Deng then followed with a 3-run homerun on new pitcher Wen-cheng Hsu to highlight the rally and make it a 10-2 score.

The Rhinos reacted with a run in the eighth inning on a basesloaded walk, then rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth inning to narrow the deficit to 10-7. Chin-lung Hu hit a solo-homerun in the inning. But with the tying run at bat and two runners on base with two outs, a grounder ended the game, which lasted three hours and 54 minutes and was attended by almost 19,000 spectators.

(October 26)

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Copyright © 1997-2013 Marco Stoovelaar / Grand Slam * Stats & News.