Australia suffered a critical 5-4 extra innings loss in this morning’s World Baseball Cup Round 2 game against Chinese Taipei in Godo, Italy.
Facing Chinese Taipei for the second time in a week, a win would have virtually assured the Aussies of a place in the final group stage, consisting of eight teams. Instead, the loss puts them squarely in the middle of what looks like becoming a tight tussle for the fourth and last qualifying place in Group G.
Team Australia went into the game quietly confident, having topped Chinese Taipei 7-5 in first-round action last Friday. A dour defensive struggle evolved today with neither team able to get their offensive firepower going. Having started the tournament in a blaze of hits the Australian bats have been quiet in the last couple of matches.
Chinese Taipei scored in the bottom of the 2nd and Australia promptly answered in the top of the 3rd, Nick Kimpton scoring off a Chris Snelling single to right field.
Aussie pitcher David Welch got through 7 innings of work, giving up four hits for the solitary run and striking out 13 batters. Reliever Paul Mildren took over and the scores remained locked up through 9 innings, with the extra innings rule coming into effect with both teams starting each of the extra innings with runners on 1st and 2nd .
A Chinese Taipei fielding error allowed James Beresford to score and a Snelling single to centre-field scored Kimpton and the Aussies looked headed for consecutive extra innings wins. Brad Harman then scored on a Tim Kennelly sacrifice fly and the Aussies headed into the bottom of the 10th with a 3-run cushion.
Chinese Taipei made the most of the placed base-runners by scoring two runs off an Australian fielding error which also put the tying run on first. When Lin Hu launched his walk-off homer, the game was over with the Aussies now facing critical matches for the remainder of the tournament.
Australia now faces Italy, then Japan and the US before a re-match against Mexico, requiring two wins from four to be assured of progressing.
The Australians have a rest day today before facing hosts Italy in Parma on Friday morning (AEST).
For game results and stats CLICK HERE