With only three pitchers on the team, Soochow University (SU) won their first University Baseball League (UBL) championship title in its 27-year team history, beating the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) 12-8.
Matsunaga Koumei, SU’s starting pitcher and hitter from Nagasaki, Japan, contributed two RBIs with a triple, along with his teammates’ two sacrifice flies, to build a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
Despite NYCU’s effort to cut the deficit with three runs at the bottom of the second inning, SU hitters took advantage of errors and showcased an impressive arsenal with great plate discipline, stealing bases, bunts, and hits to expand the lead to 10-3 after the end of the third inning.
With two outs and two NYCU players on base, the game was only one strike away from being called for SU in the fifth inning. Matsunaga threw a pitch through the margin of the strike zone, but the umpire called it a ball, which made a huge difference.
Losing stamina, Matsunaga then allowed four hits, giving NYCU a chance to make a comeback with 10-8 by the end of the sixth. SU’s Ishiyama Kouki, also from Japan, destroyed their hope with a hit that helped his team score two more runs, beating the NYCU 12-8.
Matsunaga, a two-way player who recorded six strikeouts in seven innings and went 2-3 and 2 RBIs in the championship game, was voted the MVP and touted as the “Shohei Ohtani of SU” for his exceptional performance both in pitching and batting.
He said he was thrilled that the team came out on top. “This trophy is also for the seniors who urged me to stay when I lost enthusiasm for baseball,” Matsunaga added.
The team manager Kuei-Chen Tsou said they didn’t book their hotel rooms for the next day until they won the day’s game, which served as a driving force for the whole team to pursue the win.
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