TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan on Sunday clinched the gold medal in a neck-to-neck championship game at the 2019 Asian Baseball Championship, after beating Japan 5-4 at the tournament held in Taichung.
This marks the first No.1 finish for the national squad, competing under the name Chinese Taipei, in the tournament since 2001.
Taiwan took silver medals in the previous four editions of the event that is held every other year in odd-numbered years since 1983.
Japan took an earlier 1-0 lead in the bottom of the opening inning with a hit, a stolen base and an error. The home team promptly rallied back with a three-run second inning, thanks to a three-run triple by Jhang Jin-de (張進德).
Japan closed the gap to 3-2 in the second inning before tying the game in the third. The visiting team added another run in the fourth while Taiwan responded with a two-run fifth to retake the lead 5-4, which it held until the end of the game.
The tournament also functions as the qualification games for the baseball event at the Summer Olympics if the event year is exactly one year before the Olympics.
The top two finishers, excluding Japan, the host for the 2020 Olympics, will be able to participate in the Olympic Final Qualifying Tournament, which will take place in March or April 2020.
China beat South Korea 8-6 to clinch the bronze medal earlier in the day, meaning both sides of the Taiwan Strait are qualified to attend the Olympic Final Qualifying Tournament next year.
Taiwan beat Hong Kong 17-2, lost to Japan 0-2 and triumphed over Sri Lanka 17-0 in the opening round of the 8-team-tournament, which began on Oct. 15.
Taiwan went on to beat South Korea and China 7-1 and 10-2, respectively, in the next round to advance to the gold medal game.
By Joseph Yeh