Chinese Taipei beats Panama, is still in the U-23 Baseball World Cup medal race

Chinese Taipei beats Panama, is still in the U-23 Baseball World Cup medal race
Submarine Yu-hung Chen proved almost unhittable. A home run by Abraham Rodriguez off reliever Chih-ting Wang put Panama within two runs. Hard-throwing 19-year old Chun-wei Chiu got the three final outs.

Yu-Hung Chen was nearly unhittable on Thursday afternoon in Mexico, and though his bullpen made things interesting late, Chen’s effort carried the day.

Righty Chen retired the first 14 batters he faced on the way to six shutout innings as world No. 3 Chinese Taipei fended off a late rally by No. 13 Panama to hang on for a 5-3 win at Estadio Sonora, its first of the Super Round.

Chen was the story throughout his second start of the U-23 Baseball World Cup. The side-armer retired the side in order through his first four innings and got the first two outs of the fifth before inducing a grounder to short from Panama’s Luis Tello for what could’ve completed five perfect innings. Tello just beat Tsung-Che Cheng’s throw to first for an infield single, giving his team its first baserunner of the day. Chen immediately bounced back by inducing a fielder’s choice grounder to third from Julio Gonzalez to end the inning.

The right-hander pitched with a lead for nearly his entire start. Chinese Taipei broke into the run column in the bottom of the first when Cheng reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on Sheng-Ping Chen’s double to left-center. In the third, Chinese Taipei added a run without the benefit of a hit when Sheng-Hsien Chen walked to lead off the inning, went to second on a bunt by Wen-Han Chang, to third on a groundout by Tsung-Che Cheng and home on a wild pitch from Panama starter Antonio Frias.

In the fifth, Chinese Taipei put the game away, sending all nine batters to the plate and scoring three. Cheng drove in a run with a single to left, and first baseman I-Wei Li batted in two more on at wo-out, bases-loaded single through the left side.

After getting the first two outs of the sixth, Chen surrendered a line drive single to right by Adrian Montero, the second and final baserunner he’d face. In six innings, the 20-year-old threw just 60 pitches, 44 for strikes, fanning two and not walking anyone.

"I'm well aware that my motion is not common in countries such as Panama This was my strength today," said Chen through an interpreter at the end of the game."

Panama made things interesting in the seventh. With reliever Chih-Ting Wang on the mound, Panama opened its final inning with four straight hits, starting with two singles and a homer form Abraham Rodriguez to cut the deficit to two.

After Tello singled, Wang exited. Chun-Wei Chiu retired the side in order behind him to end the threat and earn the save.

"I didn't care about the runner on base. Had he scored, we would have kept a one-run lead," commented 19-year old hard-throwing Chiu. "I concentrated on the batters. I had good control of my fastball and I worked ahead in the count. This helped me get out of the inning."

On Friday, each team will wrap up the Super Round with its sights set on playing for hardware on Saturday. Panama faces Cuba in the morning game from 10:30 while Chinese Taipei will duel with Venezuela at 15:00.