`Firefighter Dominic Han Yuchou is used to handling emergency and it was no wonder he was cool as a cucumber to safe Singapore from jaws of defeat at the hands of Chinese Taipei this morning at the Kochi Softball Fields at Kochi Athletic Recreation Park, Haruno.
Singapore were level with Chinese Taipei 2-2 when batting bottom in the sixth inning when Dominic came on as their sixth batter with loaded bases and his clean hit almost to the perimeter fence saw all three – Marcus Chew Shi Ping, Mohd Huzaifie Mohd Noorsham and Ziglar Oh – come home for three runs.
Low Zu Ray had earlier lined up Singapore to get back into the game with his run in the sixth inning before Dominic saved the day for them.
Earlier Singapore had one run in then first inning and another in the fourth.
With the boosted confidence, Singapore shut out Chinese Taipei in the final inning for a 6-2 victory.
Dominic said when he stepped up for his turn, he just remained calm and was hoping to give my best.
“I was under no pressure despite it was my third time I was batting after two fly balls earlier,” said the 30-year-old national player for eight years and was in the victorious Sea Games gold medalist team who defeated Philippine at Clark City, Philippines in 2019.
“Glad I had a good swing to hit well and bring home the three on bases,” said Dominic who was recently assigned to operations in the Singapore Fire Service department and is in charge of the call centre for emergency calls.
Indeed, it was another emergency call today for Dominic on the pitch of softball against Chinese Taipei and he came off with flying colours.
Dominic said their target here was to qualify for the World Cup after having missed out last year when they finished third and only two tickets were available.
“Last year was disappointing when we lost to India in the rain and are determined to make amends this year,” said Dominic pointing stain marks on his trousers from having played on the pitch in the rain against India.
“Despite trying to wash the stains on my trousers, it is still here reminding me of the painful day.”
Dominic said that although three tickets to the World Cup are available this year, they want to be in the final, especially after going down (0-2) defeat to Japan yesterday (Sunday).
“We want to meet them again for another shot at them,” declared Dominic.
Japan is represented by the U23 World Cup silver medalist in Parana, Argentina in April and look set to defend their title.
Singapore’s coach Koh Ruoh Jie said that his team took time to Chinese Taipei’s slow pitching and although Chinese Taipei looked dangerous at times, he was confident that his team will rise to the occasion.
“We left it to a little late, but got the job done in the end. The players just needed to get adjusted to Chinese Taipei’s pitching and although it took sometime, I am glad that everything fell in place,” said Koh.
Singapore in another crucial game against Philippines won in 9-5 to virtually confirm their place in the final.
Philippines play a a back-to-back match against Japan now.
Philippines gave away 7 runs in the first inning to harm themselves and despite their effort to catch up, it was a difficult task.
Philippines had 4 runs in the top of second inning but Singapore stretched their lead further with another 2 runs in the third bottom inning before Philippines pulled back only one in the sixth inning.
Chinese Taipei on the other hand who had lost to Hong Kong (0-7), certainly gave a much improved performance against Singapore.
“The players had still not recovered from the tiring journey which saw us arrive at night on the eve of the tournament. They were lethargic and we not at our best,” said Chinese Taipei head coach Wu Hsin-Ying.
“The players here only in training for three days and a majority of the players are baseball players as to assemble a men’s team is difficult back home. Women’s team is our forte.”
On the match against Singapore, Wu said: “We certainly gave a much improved performance against Singapore.”
Chinese Taipei play India later in the evening.
In another morning match, Hong Kong continued to spring surprises with their 10-3 win over India, after defeating Chinese Taipei 7-0 yesterday. In their opening match against Philippines, they lost 0-7.
“We came here to seek revenge against India who beat us last and we did it,” said Hong Kong team manager Cherfy Lee Chong Fai.
Hong Kong lost to India last year and finished 5th behind India in the final standing of the tournament in Shimanto, Kochi.
“Now that we have beaten India, we will our best shot to finish fourth for a bronze medal play-off.”
And Hong Kong look set for that playoff with two wins (beat Chinese Taipei 7-0 and India 10-3) and despite their two losses (Singapore 0-9 and Japan 0-10) and a game against Philippines tomorrow.
Philippines look set to be their opponent in the bronze medal play off match.
TODAY’S RESULT (UP TO NOW)
Singapore 6 Chinese Taipei 2
Hong Kong 10 India 3
Hong Kong 0 Japan 10
Philippines 5 Singapore 9
India Chinese Taipei
Hong Kong 0 Singapore 9
India 1 Philippines 5
India 0 Japan 12
Philippines 7 Chinese Taipei 1
Japan 2 Singapore 0
Hong Kong 7 Chinese Taipei 0
Hong Kong v Philippines
India v Singapore
Japan v Chinese Taipei
FINAL DAY (WEDNESDAY) FIXTURES
Bronze medal PR#3 v PR#4
Gold medal PR#1 v PR#2
(The 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed teams on the completion of the Final competition will qualify as the three (3) Asia teams eligible to participate in the WBSC Wold Cup (Group Stage) Men Softball 2024 (host cities and dates to be determined)