Crazy 13-11 loss ends Worlds for the GB Women

Sat 11 Aug 2018

By Bob Fromer

Saturday 11 August – A 13-11 loss to Chinese Taipei in a mad slugfest at the Akitsu Stadium in Narashino City today ended the 16th WBSC Women’s World Championship for the GB Team, just one game short of the Placement playoff final.

It looks like GB will probably finish 11th in the tournament, a small improvement on their 13th place at the 2016 Women’s World Championship in Canada, but not where they wanted to be or could have been.

In a game in which GB had 17 hits and Chinese Taipei had 16, including five triples and a home run, it was four costly GB errors, three of them on entirely routine plays, that gave Taipei seven unearned runs and turned around a game in which GB had the lead for far more of the time than their opponents.

In contrast, Chinese Taipei made just one error in the game, and it didn’t affect the scoring.

Chinese Taipei used four pitchers, and then brought back their starter, Su-Hua Lin, at the end of the game, and she got the win.  GB used two pitchers – Georgina Corrick, who pitched five innings, and Beth Fleming, who pitched the last two and took a hard-luck loss.  None of these pitchers were able to hold down the other team’s offense: GB scored in every inning except the third and, crucially, the seventh; Chinese Taipei scored in every inning except the second.

The final killer for GB, in a game in which they scored so many runs against a team that came into this tournament fifth in the world rankings, is that their fifth, sixth and seventh innings all ended with rallies cut short by double plays.


Where to start?

I guess we need to start at the beginning, a long, long way from the end of this game, which lasted close to three hours.

Chinese Taipei came up in the top of the first inning, and the first two hitters, Meng-Ting Lai and Yi Yen, hit triples off a startled Georgina Corrick, the first to left field and the second to right field.  Georgina and GB were lucky to get out of the inning just 2-0 behind, thanks in part to a fine catch in deep centre field by Kendyl Scott on a drive by Taipei catcher Szu-Shia Li which became a sacrifice fly rather than something much worse.

But the GB offense responded immediately.

The first two GB batters in the bottom of the first inning, Nerissa Myers and Kendyl Scott, went down quietly, with no hint of what was about to come.  But then Lauren Evans walked and Kirsten Mack blasted the first pitch she saw over the right centre field fence to tie the game.  More was to follow: Amy Moore singled to left, Chloe Wigington slashed a double just over third base and into the left field corner, and Sidney Brown beat out an infield hit to give GB a 3-2 lead.  It might have been even more, but Chinese Taipei executed better than GB on an attempted double steal, and Sydney Brown was tagged out before Chloe Wigington could cross the plate.

The top of the second inning was the only frame in which Chinese Taipei failed to score, although Hsuan Liu hit a two-out triple to right field.

GB then increased their lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the second inning, again after the first two batters were retired.  Nerissa Myers singled to left and took third when Kendyl Scott singled to centre.  Kendyl took second on the throw to third and both runners scored when Lauren Evans singled sharply to right field, the first of four straight hits for the GB first base player. 

That brought the first pitching change for Chinese Taipei, with An-Ju Chiu coming to the circle, and she put a called third strike past Kirsten Mack to end the inning.

If GB thought they were pulling away, they had another think coming.  Georgina Corrick retired the first two Taipei hitters in the top of the third inning, but Szu-Shia Li walked, and came around to score on a long triple to right field that just tipped off Hayley D’Avilar’s glove by the fence.  Chih-Ying Lin then lifted a fly ball into left centre field, and though Tori Charters had to go a long way to get there, the catch might have been made.  It wasn’t, and, though Georgina Corrick struck out Yi-Hsuan Su to end the inning, GB had been pegged back to 5-4.

To make things even more tense, GB had their first scoreless inning in the bottom of the third, as An-Ju Chiu struck out two and shortstop Yi-Ting Yang made a fine catch on Amy Moore’s bid for a single to short centre field.


I’m a pitcher – get me out of here!

The next three-and-a-half innings, from the top of the fourth through the top of the seventh, were a blur of hits, runs, walks, hit batters, pitching changes – three more for Chinese Taipei and one for GB – and for GB, costly errors.

Chinese Taipei scored one run on three hits in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game at 5-5, and might have had more except that GB cut down a runner on a throw home from left field that catcher Amy Moore fired back to Chloe Wigington at third.

In the bottom of the fourth, GB had their best offensive inning of the game – four runs on five hits – and took a 9-5 lead.  With one out, Nerissa Myers, Kendyl Scott and Lauren Evans had consecutive singles, with Lauren picking up another two RBIs.  There were further RBIs later in the frame from Amy Moore on a single and pinch-hitter Chiya Louie when she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. 

During the course of the inning, Chia-Chen Tsai took over the pitching for Taipei, but not very successfully at first, as she hit two of the first three hitters she faced and gave up a single on a fine bunt by Sydney Brown.


Self-destruction

That four-run lead amassed in the bottom of the fourth inning should have set GB on the road to victory and a Placement playoff final later today.  It didn’t because GB let Chinese Taipei right back into the game in the top of the fifth inning, and after that, the outcome was always in doubt.

The first batter in the top of the fifth, Feng-Chen Lin, hit a routine pop-up to second base – but Nerissa Myers unaccountably dropped it.  The next batter, Chih-Ying Lin, singled to right field, sending Feng-Chin Lin to third.  The next batter, Yi-Hsuan Su, hit a ground ball to short – but Sydney Brown’s throw to second for the force play pulled Nerissa Myers off the base as Feng-Chen Lin scored.  The next batter, Chia-Yi Chen, struck out for what should have been the third out of the inning, and as if to emphasise the point, the following batter, Hsuan Liu, grounded back to Georgina Corrick.

But sadly, that was still only two outs, and a triple and two singles then followed, good for three more Taipei runs, and a 9-9 game.  All the runs in the inning were unearned.


Back and forth

To their credit, GB went back on the attack in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Nerissa Myers punched a single to left, Kendyl Scott bunted Nerissa to second and a single to right field by Lauren Evans brought Nerissa home.  It was Lauren’s fifth RBI of the game.

That was the end for pitcher Chia-Chen Tsai, replaced by Taipei’s fourth pitcher of the game, Ya-Ting Tu, and things started badly for her as a walk to Kirsten Mack and another single by Amy Moore loaded the bases.

And that’s when the curse of the double play first reared its head.  Chloe Wigington hit a hard one-hopper to Ya-Ting Tu and Taipei executed a 1-2-3 double play.  But GB had regained the lead, at 10-9.

Not for long.

Beth Fleming came in to pitch for GB in the top of the sixth inning, and the first batter she faced, second base player Feng-Chen Lin, drove a 2-2 pitch deep over the fence in right centre field to tie the game at 10-10.  However, Beth put that behind her and got out of the inning without further scoring on three fly balls to the outfield.


The final countdown

In the bottom of the sixth inning, GB took the lead for the last time.  With one out, Ya-Ting Tu walked Hayley D’Avilar and Tori Charters, and that brought Taipei’s final pitching change.  Starter Su-Hua Lin re-entered the game, and Nerissa Myers greeted Lin with her fourth straight hit, a single to centre field that scored Hayley and put GB ahead 11-10.

With the heart of the GB order coming up, there was every reason to think they could stretch the lead -- until the curse of the double play struck for the second time.  Kendyl Scott’s bouncer was fielded right at third base by Yi-Hsuan Su, and she stepped on the bag and fired to first to complete the rally-killing double play.

So to the top of the seventh inning.  Could Beth Fleming contain the top of the Chinese Taipei order and defend the one-run lead?

Beth and the GB defense made a good start.  Lead-off hitter Meng-Ting Lai hit a slow chopper to the right side that Nerissa Myers charged and flipped to first base just in time for the out.

The next batter, Yi Yen, drew a full-count walk, but Yi-Ting Yang hit the ball right back to Beth Fleming.  Beth tossed to first base – and Lauren Evans dropped the throw.  Instead of two outs and a runner on second, there was one out, runners on first and second, and the momentum sitting firmly with Chinese Taipei. 

Two singles followed, sandwiched around a sacrifice fly, and it took a fine catch near the fence by Hayley D’Avilar, now playing left field, to bring the inning to an end.  But Chinese Taipei had three runs and their first lead since the top of the first inning, at 13-11.


The final curse

After everything that had transpired in this game, GB were not about to surrender without a fight.

Lauren Evans led off, and slashed a double down the left field line.

But now luck was with Chinese Taipei.

Kirsten Mack hit the ball hard – but on a line to third base player Yi-Hsuan Su for the first out.

Amy Moore then tried for her fourth hit of the game, with a little fly ball that looked headed for short left centre field.  But shortstop Yi-Ting Yang made a leaping catch and threw back to second to catch Lauren Evans off the base for Chinese Taipei’s third straight inning-ending double play.

This one ended the ball game.


Scores

Full playoff results so far in the Championship and Placement playoffs are below:

Championship Playoffs: Friday
Mexico 1, Italy 0
Canada 6, Netherlands 1
USA 3, Australia 1
Japan 7, Puerto Rico

Championship Playoffs: Saturday
Australia 2, Mexico 1 (8 inns)
Canada 10, Puerto Rico 4
Canada 12, Australia 0 (4 inns)
USA 4, Japan 3 (8 inns)

Canada's 12-0 thrashing of Australia, which ended the Aussies' tournament, was a big surprise.  Canada scored five runs in the first inning and seven in the third for a four-inning mercy rule win.

On Saturday evening Japanese time, the US and Japan had their eagerly anticipated meeting, and played a great game which the US won with a two-out walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning.  So Japan will play Canada in the bronze medal game on Sunday and the winner will play the US in the final.
 

Placement Playoffs: Friday
Chinese Taipei 8, Botswana 1
China 3, South Africa 0
GB 2, Philippines 1
Venezuela 4, New Zealand 0

Placement Playoffs: Saturday
Chinese Taipei 13, GB 11
China 8, Venezuela 2
Placement Final: Chinese Taipei 6, China 4
 

On Sunday, the tournament will conclude with the bronze medal game at 2.00 pm Japanese time (6.00 am in the UK) between Japan and Canada, and then gold medal game at 7.00 pm Japanese time (11.00 am in the UK) between the United States and the Japan/Canada winner.

All of the remaining games in the tournament can be watched via https://wswc.wbsc.org/schedule-and-results.

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