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China's unexpected baseball win over Japan hits home

By YU YILEI in Hangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-05 09:26
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The Chinese Baseball Association attributes China's epic 1-0 victory over Japan in a secondstage group match at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Tuesday to its consistent efforts to train young players.

Against the odds, China overcame Japan in a nine-inning tussle in 2 hours and 28 minutes, securing the host a place in the super round. It's China's first-ever win over Japan of any age group among their past 45 encounters. Although Japan didn't send its best lineup, the win was so significant that it became one of the most-searched topics of the night on China's microblogging platform, Sina Weibo.

"This is the result of our years of training youth," the association said in a statement.

"The winning key is to be of one mind and one heart. The winning key is to keep fighting and be persistent. The winning key is the people who love Chinese baseball so deeply, regardless of whether they are there in person or in front of the TV."

China was leading 1-0 in the second inning, as Cao Jie ran home thanks to a hit by Liang Pei, who delivered a home run against Japan at the World Baseball Classic on March 9. China was in big trouble as the bases were loaded while no one was out for Japan in the seventh inning. But Chinese reliever, 41-year-old Su Changlong, pitched out Japanese hitters consecutively to keep the host in front.

China finished the match with a double play on a hit by Seifu Suzuki, sending the packed Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Stadium into raptures. China had five hits while Japan had only two. "This is a truly historic victory. We will work even harder," Liang said.

With the competition staged during China's weeklong National Day holiday, Liang's teammate Li Ning said: "This is the best National Day gift to the motherland."

The Hangzhou Asian Games' baseball super round starts on Friday. China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and the Republic of Korea are vying for the title.

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