11/17/12 12:22 PM ET
Chinese Taipei faces Kiwis for Classic bid
By Debby Wu / Special to MLB.com
Fans can watch a free, live stream of the game at worldbaseballclassic.com at 1 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Chinese Taipei has so far demonstrated its superiority in the group by tearing apart New Zealand, 10-0, and the Philippines, 16-0, in games shortened by the mercy rule. Its pitchers allowed six hits in the game vs. New Zealand and only a lone hit against the Philippines.
Third baseman Yung-Chi Chen, 29, has sparked Chinese Taipei's powerful offense with a single, two doubles and five RBIs in two games. Chen currently plays for a local professional club -- Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions -- and had previous Minor League experience, including a stint with the Mariners' organization.
Chen's efforts are bolstered by 27-year-old designated hitter Lin Yi-chuan, who collected five RBIs and two doubles in the game against the Philippines. Lin currently plays for the Taiwanese professional league Sinon Bulls.
The wins went to two young rising pitchers -- Yao-Lin Wang of the Cubs organization and Yu-Ching Lin of Taiwan's professional team Brother Elephants. Although the pair will not be allowed to play in the finals due to World Baseball Classic rules limiting pitch counts, manager Chang-Heng Hsieh still has a solid staff to lean on, with lefty Yao-Hsun Yang of Japan's professional Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks slated to start on Sunday.
Previously unranked New Zealand, which was described by manager Andy Skeels at the beginning of the qualifier as the underdog of the group, may need to depend on 25-year-old star hurler John Holdzkom's nasty slider and 93-mile-per-hour fastball to cool off Chinese Taipei sluggers.
Holdzkom played this past season for the Bakersfield Blaze, the advanced Class A affiliate of the Reds. In Saturday's game against Philippines, he fanned three in 1 1/3 innings pitched and helped to work the Kiwis out of an early jam.
Skeels said that his team is ready to face Chinese Taipei again following two comfortable wins against Thailand and the Philippines.
"We're going to have to play a very tight game," Skeels said. "We're going to have to pitch well, we're going to have to get some big hits. We're going to have to execute on defense. We are going to [have to] play a good game to beat these guys. Coming off the last two games, our team's got a lot confidence."
Skeels will need help from 23-year-old second baseman Alan Schoenberger, first baseman Boss Moanaroa and shortstop Scott Campbell to realize his high hopes. All three had hits against Chinese Taipei in Thursday's game.
Schoenberger had five years of experience with various Minor League teams, including the Lakewood BlueClaws, a Class A affiliate of the Phillies.
Moanaroa, a Red Sox prospect, belted a solo homer in the Thailand game -- the only home run so far by any player in the qualifier -- and has hit .400 through three games. Campbell has delivered six RBIs, including three Saturday vs. the Philippines.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.