China keeps Classic hope alive
Collins' club tops Chinese Taipei in elimination game
By Wayne Graczyk / Special to MLB.com
Lu Jiangang (Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
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TOKYO -- Terry Collins has never been to China, but he may have earned hero status in the country. His Team China scored early and rode good performances by three pitchers to defeat rival Chinese Taipei, 4-1, in a World Baseball Classic Pool elimination game on Saturday at Tokyo Dome.
It was China's second consecutive victory over Chinese Taipei, having beaten it, 8-7, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. By winning, China stays alive and goes on to play again Sunday night against Japan or Korea. Chinese Taipei has been eliminated from the World Baseball Classic tournament.
Playing before a crowd of 12,890 and scouts from at least 10 Major League teams, China got on the board in the first inning after Fenglian Hou singled up the middle and went to third on a well-executed hit-and-run single to right by Pirates prospect Ray Chang before scoring on a sacrifice fly to center by Fei Feng.
Collins' club added two more runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth on an infield single by Hou and a double to left by Chang.
A two-out single in the top of the sixth by Cheng-min Peng scored Che-Hsuan Lin for Chinese Taipei's only run of the game, making it 3-1.
Chang then reestablished a three-run lead with a home run over the left-field wall off Fu-Te Ni, capping a 3-for-4 day at the plate for the native of Kansas City.
Starting pitcher Lu Jiangang allowed one run over 5 1/3 innings, allowing only two hits over the first five frames, a fourth-inning double to Wei-chu Lin and an infield single to Wu-Hsiung Pan in the fifth, before a pair of singles chased him in the sixth.
Chinese Taipei starter Yueh-Ping Lin also pitched well, allowing four hits in 4 2/3 innings of work. Lin had to retire from the game after passing the 70-pitch limit dictated by the tournament rules.
"This is a big day for our team and for China," Collins said. "When I came off the field after the game, I saw the Chinese officials were so excited. We can enjoy this win for about three hours, though, then sit in the stands and watch tonight's [Japan-Korea] game and prepare for tomorrow."
Though it appeared China played almost flawless baseball, Collins admitted there were a few mistakes.
"We missed some signs, and we walked too many hitters, especially leading off an inning," Collins said. "We can't do that against Japan or Korea and expect to win, but this victory gives us great confidence for tomorrow night for our game with whichever of those two great teams we will face."
China center fielder Lingfeng Sun, who went 1-for-3, scored a run and stole a base, concurred.
"This is best game we've ever played, but it is just a start. We have to keep winning."