Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Taiwan bounced back from a heavy 12-5 defeat to Panama on the opening day of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) to an exciting 11-7 victory over Italy on Friday to tie for second place in the five-team Pool A standings.
Competing under “Chinese Taipei,” Taiwan broke a tied game in the bottom of the seventh and knocked out a three-run homer in the bottom of the next inning to secure the victory at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium, which is hosting the WBC Pool A games.
During the matchup on Friday, Taiwan was first to light up the scoreboard when right fielder Lin Tzu-wei (林子偉) homered on a fly ball to right field off the pitch of Italian starter Ryan Castellani in the bottom of the opening inning.
Italy fired back in the top of the second inning with two runs after third baseman Nicky Lopez hit a sacrifice bunt for right fielder Dominic Fletcher to score and send catcher Brett Sullivan to second base.
In the same frame, Italian center fielder Ben DeLuzio then tripled on a sharp line drive to the center field for Sullivan to edge the Italians into the lead 2-1.
Taiwan tied the game in the bottom of the second inning when second baseman Cheng Tsung-che (鄭宗哲) singled on a ground ball to the right field for teammate Chen Chieh-hsien (陳傑憲) to make it 2-2.
In the bottom of the third, Taiwan pushed ahead as Chen singled on a line drive to the left field off the pitch of Italian relief pitcher Joe Biagini for first baseman Chang Yu-cheng (張育成), also known as Yu Chang, to score.
In the same inning, Taiwan’s left fielder Wang Po-jung (王柏融) singled on a ground ball to center field for teammate Wu Nien-ting (吳念庭) to score, sending Chen to second base. Chen later scored after a fielding error by Lopez to widen the lead to 5-2.
However, Italy went on a four-run scoring streak in the top of the fourth and added one more run in the top of the fifth to come from behind and put itself into a 7-5 lead.
Trailing by two runs, Taiwan answered in the bottom of the sixth as Chang homered on a fly ball to right center field to send himself and teammate Lin Li (林立) back to the home plate and tie the game at 7-7.
The excitement grew in the bottom of the seventh, keeping fans out of their seats when Taiwan loaded all bases with only one out. Fan Kuo-chen (范國宸) singled on a soft ground ball for Chen to score and edge the team back into the lead 8-7.
However, from there a double play closed the inning.
After keeping Italy’s offense at bay in the top of the eighth inning, Taiwan’s catcher Kungkuan Giljegiljaw whacked out a three-run homer on a fly ball over center field off the throw of relief pitcher Joey Marciano for Chang and Wu to score, increasing the lead to 11-7.
With Italy unable to score any runs in the top of the ninth, Taiwan celebrated the win as fans screamed “Team Taiwan.”
After the latest games, the Netherlands top the Pool A standings with a 2-0 record, while Taiwan and Italy are tied for second with 1-1 cards. Cuba and Panama are both 1-2 and tied for fourth.
Earlier on Friday, Cuba topped Panama 13-4.
Italy outscored Cuba 6-3 and the Netherlands edged Panama 3-1 on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Netherlands secured a 4-2 victory over Cuba, while Taiwan took a heavy 12-5 loss to Panama.
Taiwan will play the Netherlands on Saturday.
Pool A in Taichung, held March 8-13, is one of four locations for the WBC this year. Pool B will be in Tokyo, Japan (March 9-13), Pool C in Phoenix, Arizona (March 11-15), and Pool D in Miami, Florida (March 11-15).
During pool play, each team plays a single round robin event and the teams with the best two records advance to the quarterfinals to be held March 15-16 in Tokyo.
Taiwan’s best performance at the WBC was its eighth-place finish in 2013.
The 2023 WBC is the international professional baseball tournament’s fifth edition, with the last edition held in 2017.