TOKYO, March 7 (Reuters) - China knocked Taiwan out of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) with a 4-1 win on Saturday, dealing another major blow to the island’s sporting pride.
The Chinese also shocked Taiwan 8-7 at last year’s Beijing Olympics but Taiwan were still favourites to win their elimination game at the Tokyo Dome.
With China losing their Pool A opener 4-0 to reigning WBC champions Japan and Taiwan crushed 9-0 by Olympic gold medallists South Korea, neither team could afford to lose.
Hou Fenglian got China on the board in the first inning, scoring on a sacrifice fly from Feng Fei, before a Hou single and a double from American-born Ray Chang made it 3-0 in the fifth.
Taiwan’s Peng Cheng-min pulled one run back but Chang, a Double-A shortstop in the Pittsburgh Pirates chain, belted a solo home run in the eighth to restore China’s three-run lead.
Taiwan, silver medallists at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, beat China 12-3 at the inaugural WBC in 2006 but became the first team to be sent packing from this year’s tournament.
Japan were playing fierce rivals South Korea later on Saturday for a place in the second round of the WBC, to be played in the United States.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Nick Mulvenney