Infielder Ching Kai Lin of Chinese Taipei hits a single in the bottom of the ninth inning during the Asia Professional Baseball Championship third place game between Australia and Chinese Taipei at Tokyo Dome on November 19, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Chinese Taipei took third place at the 2023 Asia Professional Baseball Championship with a dramatic 4-3 win against Australia.
A game-winning hit by center fielder Tien-Hsin Kuo in the bottom of the ninth inning at the Tokyo Dome was the difference for Chinese Taipei.
Australia went winless in all four games at the APBC, while Chinese Taipei finished 2-2 at the tournament following their win on Sunday. The APBC does not count towards the World Baseball Rankings through the World Baseball Softball Confederation.
Chinese Taipei scored in bottom of the third inning. When left fielder Chih-Cheng Chiu hit a ground ball to first base with runners on second and third, Tzu-Ting Yeh came into score the first run of the game for Chinese Taipei. Then, during third baseman Ji-Hong Liu’s at-bat, Holland threw a wild pitch past catcher Alex Hall as Kuo came into score to extend the lead to 2-0.
Australia manager Dave Nilsson lifted starter Samuel Holland after 2.1 innings and 14 batters. Holland was charged with two earned runs, four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts.
Reliever Daniel McGrath replaced Holland and faced Chinese Taipei first baseman Heng-Yu Ho in his first batter out of the bullpen as Ho hit a ground ball to Australia shortstop Liam Spence, who bobbled the baseball attempting to turn a double play and stepped on second for the force out. As he did, designated hitter Chieh-Hsien Chen came in to score to make it 3-0.
In the top of the fourth inning, Australia got on the board when right fielder Christopher Burke roped a double into left-center field, scoring catcher Alex Hall to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Chinese Taipei manager Chen Jinfeng replaced starting pitcher Chun-Wei Chiu with Po-Ching Chen to start the fifth. Chiu threw four innings with 62 pitches and faced 16 batters, allowing three hits, one earned run, one walk, and two strikeouts on Sunday.
During the top of the seventh inning, Jinfeng went to his bullpen once again after Chen gave up three consecutive hits to Burke, designated hitter Mitchell Edwards, and pinch hitter Luke Smith, bringing in Tzu-Chiang Li from the bullpen. Chen threw 2.1 innings with 28 pitches, facing 10 batters and allowing two earned runs and three hits.
A few batters later, Australia tied the game when Spence ripped a two-run double to center field, scoring Burke and Edwards.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Chinese Taipiei’s Cheng-Yu Chang led off the inning with a single to right field. A few batters later, Ching- Kai Lin ripped a single to left field and Chang advanced to third base.
Kuo then ripped a game-winning single over Burke’s head, and Chang came in to score, giving Chinese Taipei third place at the 2023 APBC. Chinese Taipei placed third at the APBC for the second time in their nation’s history.
Chinese Taipei medaled for the second time during 2023 after losing to South Korea 2-0 in the gold medal game at the 19th Asian Games in October at Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Culture Center in Hangzhou, China.
Australia is at No. 11 in the World Baseball Rankings through the World Baseball Softball Confederation and will not play in an international senior event in 2024 unless they are ranked ins the top 12 when the new rankings are released on Dec. 31, 2023, which would get Australia into the 2024 WBSC Premier 12 tournament.
Chinese Taipei, ranked No. 5 in the world, will host the Asian Baseball Championship at the Taipei Dome, Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium, and the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium from December 3-10, with No. 1 Japan, No. 4 South Korea, No. 32 Philippines, No. 37 Hong Kong, No. 43 Thailand, No. 49 Pakistan, and No. 55 Palestine playing in the event.
Chinese Taipei will play in the Taipei Dome’s first baseball game against South Korea in the Asian Baseball Championship on December 3 at 4 a.m. EDT.