Chinese Taipei upsets USA in final game of group play


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Chinese Taipei's Yu-Chuan Tu scores on a close play at the plate during Sunday's game against Team USA. Tu's run would prove to be the game winner as Chinese Taipei defeated the USA 4-3.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

With a spot in the Super Round of the Women’s Baseball World Cup already secured, the United States came into Sunday’s final game of pool play needing one more victory to cement the top spot in Group A.

Instead, it was the team from Chinese Taipei that wound up celebrating a stunning 4-3 victory over Team USA at the USSSA Space Coast Complex.

That sets up an interesting scenario today as there are two makeup games scheduled to be played at 11 a.m. Chinese Taipei will play The Netherlands and Puerto Rico faces Venezuela.

Should Chinese Taipei win as expected, it would claim the top spot in Group A with the U.S. coming in second and either Puerto Rico or Venezuela third.

“We have one loss now, so the road to getting into the gold medal game is a little harder now,” Team USA manager Matt Weagle said. “We have options. We can panic, or we can just play the game hard, play it the right way and compete in our next game and try to get a W.”

The U.S. had never trailed in its first four games of the tournament, beating opponents by a combined score of 46-2.

However, Chinese Taipei would take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning Sunday against U.S. starter Jade Gortarez.

A two-run double by Malaika Underwood would put Team USA on top 2-1 in the bottom of the inning, but Chinese Taipei would retake the lead in the top of the fourth on a bases loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.

Once again, Underwood would come through for the U.S., hitting a sacrifice fly to score Amanda Gianelloni with the tying run.

Samantha Cobb replaced Gortarez on the mound in the top of the sixth. A hit batter and a bunt that could not be fielded cleanly helped Chinese Taipei load the bases and set up a controversial play at the plate.

After a fly ball to center field, Chinese Taipei’s Yu-Chuan Tu tagged up at third and headed home. The throw came in from team USA center fielder Brittany Gomez and was relayed to catcher Anna Kimbrell, who applied the tag.

Tu was called safe and, after the umpires took a long look at the replay, the call was upheld, giving Chinese Taipei what would prove to be the winning run.

“It’s a long tournament,” Underwood said. “One loss doesn’t mean we’re out, so we’ve got to pick our heads up, move on and learn from our mistakes in this game and come back with a ton of energy.

“… I think we’re hungry for a gold medal and one loss like this isn’t going to stop us from continuing to play hard.”

The U.S. offense was held to just five hits by Chinese Taipei pitcher Chiao-Yun Huang, who did not appear to throw the ball hard, but did a good job of throwing strikes and keeping hitters off-balance throughout the game. Michelle Cobb had two hits for Team USA, while Underwood drove in all three USA runs.

“I think we could have had better at-bats,” Underwood said. “It’s on us. She was throwing strikes and we could have had better at-bats and just been better hitters at the plate.

“We had some opportunities to drive in runs that we didn’t take advantage of.”

While there will be two games played today, it will be day off for the rest of the teams who qualified for Super Round play.

That will give the U.S. a chance to regroup mentally and physically and come back on Tuesday ready to try to advance to the gold medal game.

“We’ll have a good day off, a good practice,” Weagle said. “I like our team. I like the mental makeup of our team and I think we’ll go out there the next game and play a good game of baseball.”