Chinese Taipei advances to title game
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The smiling boys from Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei stood along the third-base line and took a bow in unison as their parents and fans snapped pictures.
They all had plenty to be excited about: Chinese Taipei is headed to the Little League World Series championship game.
Chinese Taipei took advantage of six errors by Reynosa, Mexico and scratched out runs on a bunt single and a bases-loaded walk for a 9-4 victory Saturday to take the international title.
Up next, a matchup Sunday with Chula Vista, Calif., or San Antonio, Texas, for the tournament crown. Chinese Taipei is back in the title game for the first time since 1996, when it beat Cranston, R.I.
"I was really excited, but tomorrow we have another game -- the championship game," starting pitcher Wen Hua Sung said through translator Ming Huang Yeh.
A mix of Mexico miscues and six-hit pitching by 12-year-old starter Wen Hua Sung lifted Chinese Taipei in a game delayed twice by rain.
Mexico waited out the delays in the dugout by reminiscing about their fun times in Pennsylvania.
Some Chinese Taipei players spent the time practicing their swings or snacking on their customary chocolates. Sung mimicked his pitching motion to stay loose.
Practice paid off -- Sung mixed in a breaking pitch more than usual to go with his fastball to keep Mexico guessing at the plate. Manager Chen Ta Lee said he set up his entire tournament pitching rotation to have Sung pitch the international final.
Chin Ou scored on the bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning, then smacked a two-run double in the sixth that gave Chinese Taipei a four-run cushion.
Trailing 9-2 entering the sixth, Mexico got two runs on a groundout and an infield single by Marcelo Martinez before Sung struck out Allan Wilburn to end it.
The teams then exchanged customary Little League postgame handshakes at the plate, before Chinese Taipei lined up to take its bows.
But it was hard to tell that Mexico lost when the skies opened up again as soon as the game ended and the grounds crew hurried to cover the infield.
The squad of 12- and 13-year-old boys danced in the showers, and some opened up their jerseys and started belly flopping and sliding on the waterlogged tarp to the delight of the crowd.
"We told them to treat it like just another game, so they were relaxed," coach Carlos Noguera said through translator Sergio Guzman.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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