Citywide News

Posted on: October 24, 2016

Chinese Taipei wins fourth straight crown

For the fourth straight year, a team from Chinese Taipei has won the Junior League Baseball World Series held in Taylor’s Heritage Park.
The Shing-Ming Junior Little League team from Taoyuan defeated the Kawaihau Little League all-stars from Kapaa, Hawaii, 9-1, on Sunday to earn the world championship for the 13- and 14-year-old division of Little League baseball.
The game was hardly in doubt as the talented Chinese Taipei team rolled through the Asia-Pacific region, went 5-0 in Taylor, outscored JLWS opponents 43-4 and extended a World Series winning streak to 25 games, stretching back to 2012..
The World Series appearance in Taylor was the seventh straight by teams from Chinese Taipei. During that time, the Asia-Pacific champions have won five world championships. The Shing-Ming all-stars also won in 2013.
On Sunday, Lee Chen Hsun – who reportedly has never lost a game as a pitcher – won his third game of the 2016 World Series. He threw a three-hitter, walked two and struck out seven to lower his earned run average for the series to just over 1.00.
His teammates rocked Hawaii pitchers for 12 hits. First baseman Huang Chao Wei got it going with a two-run home run in the first inning and wrapped up the scoring with a two-run double in the sixth. He scored two runs as well. Wei led the team with a .643 batting average.
Shortstop Chen Hsueh Sheng had three singles in three trips to the plate and scored a run. Center fielder Chung Shao Hua went 2-for-4.
Lee didn’t get any hits on Sunday (he did get hit by a pitch and walked and scored a run), he had a memorable grand slam and a bases-loaded double that cleared the bases earlier in the series. In fact, he knocked in 12 runs overall.
The only run in the game scored by Hawaii came in the second inning when starting pitcher Ricky Rego led off with a solo home run. Rego had two of his team’s hits. Jacob Borrero had the other hit.
By the way, Borrero and Rego finished 1-2 in the annual Home Run Derby on Saturday morning.
The Kawaihau all-stars had a great run, going 5-0 to win the Hawaii state championship and 5-0 to win the USA West regional title. They went 3-1 in the World Series, winning the USA championship in a thrilling last-inning comeback against the USA Southwest champs from the Padre Little League in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The game was postponed during a day of heavy rains on Saturday and was rescheduled for Sunday morning, just hours before the scheduled world championship game.
In fact, the 2016 Junior League World Series will be remembered as much for rain as much as anything else. Besides several rain delays during games, two of Wednesday night’s games were rained out, forcing them to be moved to Thursday morning. In all, four games were played on the senior league field at the Taylor South Little League complex because of the heavy rainfall on World Series Field.
World Series officials, players, coaches and fans praised the JLWS grounds crew and other volunteers for their extensive work on the field, even if the work was spoiled by additional rain.
The volunteers were working on World Series Field up until just minutes before the world championship game, which was broadcast live – albeit two hours late – to a worldwide audience by ESPN.
“The weather was awful challenging for us,” Taylor City Councilman Dan Bzura, a lifelong World Series volunteer and son of founder and Director Greg Bzura, told a group of participants. “The goal of all of the volunteers was to make sure all of the teams, the players, the coaches, the fans, the umpires – everyone – had an experience of a lifetime. The weather was disappointing, but as volunteers we hope we made your experience a good one.”
The Junior League World Series is the “older brother” of the more famous Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Little League is for 12-year-olds; the JLWS attracts the best teams of 13- and 14-year-olds from around the globe.
The World Series title game in Taylor was the culmination of a nine-day event. The series started in 1981 with four American teams and has been in Taylor since.
The Junior League series has grown steadily, expanding to international regions and growing in the United States as well. With the addition of the National champion of Australia, this year’s field of 11 teams was the largest in the 36-year history of the event. Greg Bzura has been tournament director since year one.
In all, six international teams and five American teams competed this year. Each team of all-star players arrived in Taylor as a national and/or regional champion.
The American teams represented five regions: West (Hawaii), Southwest (Texas), Southeast (Northwood Little League in Taylors, South Carolina), Central (Northeast/Fraternal Northwest Little Leagues in Midland, Michigan) and East (Fruitland/West Salisbury Little Leagues in Salisbury, Maryland).
The International teams represented the Asia-Pacific (Chinese Taipei), Australia (Cronulla Little League in Sydney, New South Wales), Europe/Africa (South Czech Republic Little League in Brno, Czech Republic), Canada (Southwest Little League in Lethbridge, Alberta) and Mexico (Linda Vista Little League in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon).
The national champions of Mexico and Puerto Rico alternate automatic berths in the World Series and the odd team out can still qualify by winning the Latin America region. Puerto Rico will be invited directly next year.
There was a major change this year in the “modified double-elimination” format that was mandated by Little League International. Once a team lost two games in the tournament, it was out of contention for the world championship and was scheduled to play crossover consolation games between USA and International teams.
Once four teams were left, two teams played one game to determine the International and USA champions on Saturday, followed by the world championship game on Sunday. Those games are winner-takes-all match-ups.
In the International championship game, Chinese Taipei defeated Mexico, 6-2, by scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to erase a 2-1 Mexico lead. The next day, Hawaii defeated Texas to win the USA championship.
The fifth world title by Chinese Taipei ties it with teams from Florida and Puerto Rico. Teams from Hawaii and California have won four JLWS championships. Teams from Texas have won three World Series.
In all, 30 states and 24 international locations have been represented in the Junior League World Series.
All of the game results and the complete schedule can be found on the World Series website at www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries. World Series highlights and photos can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/juniorleagueworldseries.
UMPIRE AWARD
Ray Caples, past umpire in chief in Middlebury, Indiana, is the recipient of the McAllister Umpire Award for 2016. The honor is given to a Junior League World Series umpire who demonstrates “the true spirit of Little League.” It is named for Chuck McAllister, who was director of umpires for the JLWS from 1981 until his death in 1998.
Caples, a detective with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, said he enjoys being a volunteer umpire because Little League instills good values in players.
Caples knows all about values. The native of Fairview in Northern Michigan is a senior pastor at Living Stones Ministries in Middlebury. The church started out very small (30 to 40 people) but has flourished by “reaching out to people that most others don’t want to,” including those involved in addictions and broken relationships.
Caples has umpired in multiple state tournaments in Indiana, three regional tournaments (Little League softball and Junior softball and baseball) and two World Series. Prior to coming to Taylor, he worked the Junior League Softball World Series in 2012 in Kirkland, Washington.
Volunteering at the World Series in Taylor “was a great experience,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of really great people. I plan on coming back. The great thing about the Little League volunteer experience is it becomes family. You can always go home. I have a new home. I can always come back.”

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