Defending champions, Chinese Taipei, took the difficult path to defend their title, when they narrowly edged Czech Republic 3-2 in a tie-breaker sixth inning, after two teams were tied 2-2 at the end of five innings, in World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Under-12 Mixed Softball World Cup final this afternoon at the Jin-Long Field in Taichung City.
Chinese Taipei who started off the afternoon as favourties, with five-match unbeaten record in the tournament including a 7-2 victory over the Czechs in the round-robin tie, were rudely shocked when theb Czechs took a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
The Czech Republic had a determined start in the top of the first inning, hitting aggressively to get their runners in scoring position, but Chinese Taipei’s infield defence managed to contain their offence, until Katerina Slanska and Teresa Valtusova mounted the two-run lead off Sebastian Mckeon and Kristyna Sestakova’s singles, respectively.
But Chinese Taipei managed to get back into the game and reduced the Czech lead to one run, when Yi-Cheng Liang earned a walk that progressed to home plate after he stole second base and a throwing error to midfield.
While the Czechs threatened the hosts with their continued aggressive hitting, while Chinese Taipei choose to bunt more often then not, it was a close battle all the way.
Czech’s pitcher Marketa Svecova who have been an ace to them had problems as she was not consistent and lacked variations in her throw, while Chinese Taipei’s pitcher Ou Tzu Chiao was throwing shallow which aided Czechs with their hits.
As two and a half innings went by scoreless, Chinese Taipei jumped on the board again in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Ya-Hsien Hsieh gradually moved to home with Sheng-Zhi Wu’s single, several walks and wild pitches to level the score at 2-2.
The defence of both sides was deliberate and measured, forcing a scoreless fifth inning and the tiebreak.
Liang Yi-Cheng Liang saved the day for Chinese Taipei as he scored the run which gave the hosts a 3-2 edge to beat the Czech Republic in the tie-breaker inning.
Liang became the hero of the final as he made the opening and closing runs, while Yue-Cen Wu contributed two hits to help Chinese Taipei defend their title.
The Czech Republic improved on their previous finish after they placed third in 2019 and the silver medal is their first best result in any WBSC tournament.
Earlier in the morning, in the third placing match, Singapore took revenge over Hong Kong when they won 9-8, also in tie-breaker sixth inning.
In the round robin match, Hong Kong had edged Singapore 7-6 after their former had survived a late scare from Singapore with a three-run surge in the fifth inning.
But this time around the tables were turned around when it was Singapore who had one run to Hong Kong’s after the first inning, had five runs in the second to lead 6-2. around the tables were turned around when it was Singapore who had one run to Hong Kong’s after the first inning, had five runs in the second to lead 6-2.
Singapore got the first run after Yuujin Yamazaki’s hit landed inside the left field line, for an inside-the-park home run. However, the momentum shifted to Hong Kong when they grabbed a 2-1 lead, as Gabriel Wan and David Weiss were awarded runs on an obstruction call.
The game had all the elements of a thriller, where both sides made excellent comebacks and a deadlock in regulation, until Singapore clinched the title in the last stage of the extra innings, edging Hong Kong 3-2 in the tie breaker.
Singapore claimed the momentum back with five runs in the top of the second inning, involving Wang Yanran, Lukas Goh, Shannon Ong, Caden Chan and Keona Lai, until Joy Tan got the third strikeout.
Hong Kong implemented an aggressive base-running tactic in the fourth inning that earned them four runs to level the score at 6-6 leading to the tie-breaker.
With Shannon Ong on second base, she reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Caden Chan. See loaded the bases with an infield single before a fielding error gave way for Singapore to complete three runs to lead 9-6.
Hong Kong replied with Ching Chan scoring on a David Weiss single before Weiss scored himself to make it 9-8 however, Hong Kong failed to level the score with Colin Cheung being called out at home.
Singapore bt Hong Kong 9-8 (6th tie-breaker inning)
Chinese Taipei bt Czech Republic 3-2 (6th tie-breaker inning)