New Zealand have fallen at the final hurdle in their unlikely quest to qualify for next year's World Baseball Classic.
For the second time in four days the Diamondblacks could not match the power of hosts Chinese Taipei, who secured the only spot up for grabs at next year's showpiece tournament following a 9-0 win over the Kiwis in the final of the four-team qualifying event.
Not even a five-hour rain delay could slow down a Chinese Taipei team that was obviously on a mission after failing to earn a win during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Their losses to South Korea and China in that tournament were called a "national shame" by the local press.
After easing through its first two games by a combined 26-0, including a 10-0 opening win over New Zealand, Chinese Taipei fell just short of a third straight mercy-rule win, but there was never any doubt over the result.
Shortstop Chih-Sheng Lin's leadoff hits in the second and the fourth paved the way for scoring rallies, and Chang's three-run double in the fourth helped seal the victory. Chang contributed another run in the seventh with a single.
The game got a tad ugly when Kiwi relief pitcher Lincoln Holdzkom hit Cheng-Min Peng on the head with his pitch right after New Zealand allowed two runs with a single and a throwing error in the bottom of the seventh.
Both Holdzkom and New Zealand manager Andy Skeels were ejected, as Peng had already been hit once in the shoulder by reliever Riki Paewai in the fourth and both benches had been warned.
Despite two big losses against Chinese Taipei, previously unranked New Zealand still had a lot to smile about in the first attempt at qualifying for the World Baseball Classic.
They upset a Philippines squad loaded with Minor Leaguers 10-6 and trounced the Johnny Damon-led Thailand team 12-2.
Chinese Taipei will play host to Korea, Australia and the Netherlands when the group meets at the Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung in March.
- © Fairfax NZ News