‘Catch of the millennium’ puts all eyes on Taylor
TAYLOR – The Shing-Ming Junior Little League all-stars from Taoyuan City won the fifth straight Junior League Baseball World Series for Chinese Taipei.
The International champions of the 13- and 14-year-old division of Little League baseball defeated the USA champions from the KAU Little League from Kennett Square, Pa., 12-1, Aug. 20 at Heritage Park.
Despite the lopsided victory, focus around the world has been on an amazing catch in the game by KAU center fielder Jack Regenye that robbed Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yi Hsiang of a certain home run. Regenye caught the ball as he dove over the fence, stood up and held up his glove, showing the ball was inside.
The game was broadcast live on ESPN2 and the video of the play has gone viral on social media and has appeared on such TV programs as “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show” and on sports shows all over the place. Some are calling the play “the catch of the millennium.”
Organizers of the JLWS are pleased the notoriety has placed on the international tournament, which was founded in Taylor in 1981 and is still here 37 years later. The JLWS is considered the “older brother” of the Little League World Series, a more famous event for 12-year-olds in South Williamsport, Pa.
Chinese Taipei went 5-0 during this year’s eight-day tournament and is now 28-0 over the five-year run as World Series champion. All-star teams from Chinese Taipei have represented the Asia-Pacific region eight years in a row.
The win over Pennsylvania was hardly in doubt. Chinese Taipei took a 4-0 lead in the first inning, thanks mainly to a three-run homer by Hao Yu Lee – his fifth of the World Series. The home run total is the second-most ever by a player in the JLWS. Lee wound up knocking in four runs in the game to bring his series total to a series record 17 over five games.
Rockledge, Fla’s., Mason Studstill hit six homers in 2012, the last year Chinese Taipei did not win of the world championship. He also set the RBI record that year with 14. Studstill, by the way, just finished his freshman season on the University of Miami baseball team.
Pennsylvania scored its only run in the bottom of the first when Daniel Kane doubled home Nick Patterson.
Chinese Taipei added a run in the top of the second inning and seven more runs in the fifth to put it away. Tzu Yu Tseng’s solo home run was one of his team’s three hits in the fifth. When Pennsylvania was unable to counter in the bottom of the fifth, the game was halted by the 10-run mercy rule.
Chih Chieh Chen pitched all five innings for Chinese Taipei, allowing four hits – two by Cory Burns of Kennett Square. Regenye, who made “the catch,” had a double.
After the game, Chinese Taipei Manager Huang Wei Chih – in Taylor for the fourth year – insisted that winning five World Series in a row was “good luck.” Through an interpreter, Chih said the players attend school together and won this year as a team.
The eight-day World Series brought 11 championship baseball teams to Taylor from all over the world. Joining Asia-Pacific champion Chinese Taipei in the International Pool were Latin America champ Maracaibo, Venezuela; Europe/Africa champ Brno, Czech Republic; and national champions from Sydney, Australia; Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, and Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Five American teams also participated, qualifying after winning a regional championship. Joining USA East champion Pennsylvania were Central champ North Saginaw; Southeast champ Rutherford County, N.C.; Southwest champ Abilene, Texas; and West champ Encinitas, Calif.
The tournament operated under a “modified double-elimination format.” A team stays in contention until it loses its second game. When four teams are remaining, the top two teams in each pool played for the USA and International crowns. The two pool champions then play for the world title.
Chinese Taipei defeated Venezuela for the International title, 4-3, on Aug. 19. It was close as any team has come to giving the Asia-Pacific champions their first loss in five years. Venezuela led 2-0 until Chun Hao Chao’s three-run homer put Chinese Taipei up in the fifth.
The Latin America champs tied it at 3-3 with a bases-loaded walk in the sixth and the game was tied after the regulation seven innings. In the bottom of the eighth, Hao Yu Lee scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch.
A seven-run second inning set the tone for Pennsylvania’s 15-2 victory over Rutherford County, N.C., in the championship game of the USA Pool. Trailing 1-0, the USA East champs sent 10 batters to the plate in the second. Scott Hansen singled home Louis Sharp. Thomas Edmonds’ base hit scored Matt Haggarty. Regenye doubled home Cory Burns and Hansen. And then Patterson hit a three-run homer, scoring Edmonds and Regenye ahead of him.
The KAU all-stars added three runs in the fourth inning and five in the fifth, while the Southeast champs could muster just one run in the fourth. The game was halted by the 10-run mercy rule after the fifth.
Pennsylvania outhit North Carolina 11-3. Regenye was 3-for-4, scored three runs and knocked in a pair. Patterson was 2-for-4, scored twice and had four RBI. Hansen was 2-for-3, scored once and knocked in two. Matt Haggarty was 1-for-1, but walked twice, scored twice and knocked in a run. Pennsylvania pitcher Patrick Methlie pitched the five-inning complete game, allowing three hits and striking out three.
Chinese Taipei went 16-0 since the all-star team was formed in April. Taoyuan City’s other World Series wins came against Australia, 11-0; Czech Republic, 15-0; and Venezuela, 9-2 and 4-3.
The KAU Little League junior all-stars were making their first appearance in the Junior League World Series, but were undefeated (18-0) until the world championship game. During the week, they beat Texas, 13-4, and North Carolina, 5-2, and 15-2.
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