WORLD CUP - “GAME OF INCHES”
Ben Risinger crushed and opposite field homer to start the scoring for Australia
Australia came up just a few inches short of victory in their second warm-up match of the 2007 World Cup campaign thanks in large part to a “Bloop” triple, and a ground ball with enough “English” on it to make Eddie Charlton turn in his grave.
While the scoreboard may declare Chinese Taipei the winners in Thursday’s game, had the baseball gods favoured the Green and Gold machine a little more, things might have been very different.
The main damage came for Australia in the bottom of the 4th inning when a bases-loaded blooper fell short of a diving Ben Risinger in right field – rolling all the way to the warning track and allowing three runners to score.
Risinger, who was playing a little deeper than usual with two outs, made a valiant attempt to snare the “dying quail” but ultimately came within a whisker of what would have been a spectacular catch.
The cruel play put a dampener on what was an otherwise solid start for the
Early on, the veteran southpaw seemed he might get the best of the home town Taiwanese in front of the vocal Chia-Yi crowd – especially when he was buoyed by some timely Aussie offence over the first two frames.
But the lanky lefty ended up succumbing to Chinese Taipei’s relentless offence, surrendering 5 runs on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
At the plate, Ben Risinger wasted no time getting things rolling, belting a 1-0 fastball high and deep into bleachers for an opposite-field blast in the top of the first inning.
And when Gavin Fingleson and Trent Oeltjen both laced 2-out RBI singles in the top of the 2nd –
But Chinese Taipei quickly clawed their way back; scoring in each of the following four frames to take control of the game 7-2 and erase any thoughts of a repeat of yesterday’s dominance by the Aussies.
However true to the “Mangy Dog” attitude which is fast becoming the catch cry for the Australians, a ferocious four-run 7th soon had the good guys right back in the mix.
When Justin Huber drilled a lead off triple to right-centre and was quickly followed with hits to Glenn Williams, Brett Roneberg and Michael Collins – the tide was certainly starting to turn.
Then Gavin Fingleson decided it was time he announced his triumphant return to Chia-Yi stadium with a 2-RBI single the score were tied at seven apiece.
Fingleson, who played two seasons in the Taiwan Major League, had a stellar night - finishing with 3 hits and 3 RBIs to go along with some “rough and tumble” defensive plays that might have looked more at home on the clay courts of Roland Garros than a baseball field.
And far from just testing the footing of athletes, Chia-Yi’s red dirt felt it had a little more to offer on the final play of the game by serving up a wicked bounce on a spinning ground ball that shot through 3rd baseman Glen Williams’ on the final play of the game.
With the scores deadlocked and the Aussies relief corps of Brendan Wise, Richard Thompson and Adam Bright holding the Taiwanese at bay - a weak grounder that looked like the cue ball on one of snooker legend Eddie Charlton’s breaks, snuck though Williams and gave the home side a walk off win.