Taiwan to meet South Korea in Asian Games baseball final


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Defending champion Taiwan will meet South Korea in the gold medal game of the 2010 Asian Games baseball event after defeating Japan 4-3 in extra innings in the semifinal game yesterday in Guangzhou, China.

A victory over South Korea, which beat China 7-1 in the other semifinal that same day, will give Taiwan its second consecutive Asian Games title after winning gold four years ago in Doha, Qatar and will be sweet revenge for its 6-1 loss to the Koreans in the preliminary round.

Taiwan did not go into its third consecutive Asian Games final — it won silver at the 2002 games in Busan, South Korea — without suspense. Trailing by three, Japan made a final push in the bottom of the ninth as Toshiyuki Hayashi hit a game-tying three-run homer off Taiwanese reliever Yang Yao-hsun to send the game into extra innings that adopted tie-breaking rules.

After Taiwan scored a run on a fielder’s choice in the top of the tenth inning, the coaches decided to stay with Yang as pitcher and he did not disappoint. With two out and bases loaded, Yang forced none other than Hayashi to a grounder before shortstop Kuo Yen-wen put out the runner at second base to secure the win.

Taiwan launched the first wave of its offense in the fourth inning. Chang Chien-ming had a single and Chen Yung-chi followed with a double as Taiwan put runners on second and third base with no outs and chased off Japan’s starter Tsugio Abe.

Right-handed reliever Takashi Fujita could not hold off Taiwan’s momentum. Chang Chien-ming scored on a fielder’s choice before designated hitter Chang Tai-shan added another hit to bring the score to 2-0.

Lin Chih-sheng, whose winning hit helped Taiwan upset Japan and win its only gold medal in the 2006 Asian Games, had a solo home run off Japanese reliever Manabu Mima in the top of the sixth to increase the lead to 3-0.

The gold medal game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. the following day at the Aoti Baseball Field.