Well, the best team won on Monday. The Japanese NT defeated the NT 10-2 to secure a berth in next year's Olympic Games. South Korea and Taiwan will get another shot to qualify for the Olympics in March as the top three teams from a pool of 8 will advance to Beijing. England, Spain, and South Africa should be chalked up as easy wins. However South Korea, Mexico, Australia, Canada, and Taiwan will be fighting for the 3 remaining spots. Taiwan will have the home field advantage once again in '08, although playing at home hasn't been kind to the NT this year. (8th at the World Cup/3rd at the Asian Championships).
CFC was the only bright spot on offense for the NT. You can now add Yu Darvish to the list of top SP's in Asia that he's hit roundtrippers off of - including Chan-Ho Park ('98 Asian Games) and Koji Uehara ('04 Olympics). CFC's 2-run bomb in the 6th inning put the NT briefly ahead 2-1 heading into the 7th inning. That was the only mistake of the game for Yu Darvish as he allowed only 3 hits and the 2 ER's over 7 IP.
The catalyst for the Japanese NT was Takahiro Arai whose 3 hits (including a HR) and 4 RBI's led the way. Taiwan's SP Chien-Fu Yang pitched well, keeping his team in the ball game through 6+ innings. Po-Hsuan Keng would come on in relief of Yang in the 7th with the score 2-1 in favor of Taiwan and the bases loaded with no outs. He would promptly allow 2 runs to score before he was pulled for lefty Fu-Te Ni. Ni would also give up a run and leave the bases loaded before Coach Kuo decided to put in the team's top closer - Chin-Hui Tsao. Unfortunately for Tsao, he couldn't stop the bleeding as Japan would tack on 3 more runs for a 6-run 7th inning rally. Tsao would give up a 2-run HR to T. Arai in the 9th and allow one more run in the final frame to give us our final score.
Game Recap/Box Score/Play-By-Play
Lefty Ying-Chieh Lin was selected the best pitcher in the '07 Asian Championships - he had good stats but let's not forget that it was against the Philippines.
Interesting note on YC Chen's outlook for next year in the organization - from Larry Larue of The News Tribune:
"And they’re determined to get more offense from second base, although that might not necessitate a deal.
“We have to get better at second base,” Bavasi said. “We either make Jose Lopez better or get someone else.”
Someone else could be 24-year-old Yung Chi Chen, a Taiwanese player whose Arizona Fall League game intrigued the Mariners, who first signed him in 2004.
“Chen’s a guy that has fought his way back to prominence,” Bavasi said. “I’m not sure he fits at the start of this year, maybe somewhere during the season.”
Clearly, the Mariners are unhappy with Lopez, who batted .284 with seven home runs and 47 RBI before the All-Star break in 2007 – then .213 with three home runs and 10 RBI after it.
“Jose is still a young kid (24) feeling his way,” Bavasi said. “He’s got the ability to hit, it’s more a focus issue than anything else.”"