‘We simply didn’t rise to the occasion,’ says Hong Kong baseball coach after Chinese Taipei slump

Hong Kong’s women suffer a 16-1 defeat to the world number six team

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 5:00pm

Twelve-time international champion baseball coach Anthony Bennett observed silently as his Hong Kong women’s team suffered a 16-1 defeat by world number six Taiwan in Sai Tso Wan this afternoon.

Bennett, who was brought in as a key tactician for Hong Kong’s campaign in the BFA Women’s Baseball Asian Cup, says his team has a long way to go if they want to be considered one of the best in Asia.

“It’s tough. When you put yourself into a tournament environment, you have to bring your A-game every time. We simply didn’t rise to the occasion today,” says Bennett, in what was the home team’s biggest test in the tournament so far.

It was a relatively tight encounter over the first three innings, with a cautious Chinese Taipei edging out 4-0 in the rain.

The turning point came mid-way through the fourth. Local fans were still in high spirits as reliable pitcher Sandra Hung Yik-shan stepped in and persistently attacked the strike zone. A potential comeback was in the works after Hong Kong got on the scoresheet, but it all fell apart from there.

“That was a huge glimmer of hope. We also hit a couple of hard balls right at them, which was a bit unlucky,” reveals Bennett. “But we weren’t consistent with our approach defensively.”

Sloppy Hong Kong fielding allowed Chinese Taipei to pile on the pressure and stretch their lead to a point of no return.

The loss not only put a dent in Hong Kong’s chances at finishing top of the leaderboard, but also ended their impressive win streak against Pakistan and India the previous two days.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t ride the wave of good form that we were on. It got away from us,” Bennett says.

“Hats off to Chinese Taipei. They played with a sense of urgency; they needed to get the win [after losing to Japan] and got it done.”

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As things stand, Hong Kong’s two wins and a loss put them second in the table behind world number one Japan. The pair face-off on Tuesday afternoon.

While fans cross their fingers for an upset tomorrow, coach Bennett knows it will take nothing short of a miracle for his team to leapfrog the strongest team in the tournament.

“The road doesn’t get any easier,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game. We have to be ready to go when the umpire yells ‘play ball’.”

“Obviously there’s a long road ahead when we’re talking about playing the best in the world, but we will prepare for it as well as we can.”