Japan’s final Olympic tuneup featured a team that put on a gold medal-worthy performance both at the plate and on the mound on Saturday.
It just didn’t come from the squad headed to Beijing.
Hiroshima Carp first baseman Kenta Kurihara drove in five runs during a 10-run fourth inning and “Hoshino Japan” got a rude awakening as a select group of Central League players rolled to a 11-2 victory at in front of 28,227 fans Tokyo Dome.
“It’s tough to look back today’s game,” national team manager Senichi Hoshino said. “One play changed the whole game,” he said, likely referring to an error that helped lead to the CL’s big inning. “That’s the fearness of baseball. I have watched this kind of games a lot in my baseball life. We must not repeat out mistake in Beijing.”
Kurihara had a two-run homer and a three-run double in the fourth and Hanshin Tigers shortstop Takashi Toritani added a homer and RBI double of his own in the inning as the CL manhandled pitcher Kenshin Kawakami.
Kawakami didn’t last an inning, giving up seven hits and nine runs — five earned — without recording an out to take the loss.
“Kenshin is the type of the player that pitches with guts,” Hoshino said. “We are a little concerned about him, but I also believe he’ll be all right once we arrive at Beijing.”
The national team batters didn’t fare much better, managing just two runs on four hits and striking out seven times.
Hiroshima’s Kan Otake, pitched two hitless innings to earn the win for the CL.
“In the game like this, we tend to lose our consentration,” national team third baseman Shinya Miyamoto said. “So I don’t know what we learned from this game. But we’ll have a new mind-set tomorrow and we’ll be OK.”