Taipei-Taiwan's national baseball team was shut out 2-0 by Mexico in the opening game of the Super Round in the Premier12 baseball championship in Japan on Monday, dealing a severe blow to the team's hopes to secure a berth in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Both teams managed only three hits in a game dominated by pitching, but Mexico made more of what little offense it produced in the game played at ZOZO Marine Stadium in Chiba.
Ali Solis broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out solo home run to left off Taiwan's starter Chiang Shao-ching (???).
The Mexicans widened the lead to 2-0 an inning later on hits by the first two batters in the inning and an RBI sacrifice fly by Esteben Quiroz off Chiang.
In Mexico's six other at-bats, only one batter reached base -- Noah Perio in the fourth on a walk -- but its two runs held up for victory against Taiwan's anemic offense, which has now scored only one run in its last 18 innings in Premier12 play.
Taiwan's best chances to score came in the third and seventh, when it put runners on first and second with only one out, but in neither case could it come up with the key hit, wasting a strong pitching performance.
The 26-year-old Chiang, who spent the 2019 season with the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, struck out eight and walked three in 5 2/3 innings.
Relievers Chen Kuan-yu (???) and Wang Yao-lin (???) were perfect in 2 1/3 innings in relief, with four strikeouts.
The loss left Taiwan with an 0-2 record in the Super Round, a loss to Japan in the Premier12's opening round added to its defeat at the hands of Mexico on Monday.
Each team's record in the six-team Super Round will include its result against the other team in its opening round group that qualified for the final six.
Taiwan qualified for the Super Round with wins over Puerto Rico and Venezuela before losing to Japan 8-1.
Taiwan needs to finish above South Korea and Australia in the Super Round to secure a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympics. For that to happen, however, its game against South Korea on Tuesday night is virtually a must win now that it has already dropped two games.
Even if Taiwan fails to claim a spot in the Olympics through the Premier12 tournament, it will have a last chance to do so at the Olympic Final Qualifying Tournament, which will take place in March or April 2020.
Sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the 2019 edition of the Premier12 features the top 12 teams in the WBSC's 2018 year-end world rankings.
Baseball is returning to next year's Summer Olympics for the first time since 2008.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel