Fans swooned, and a mob of supporters quickly formed as baseball legend Sadaharu Oh and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks’ owner made an impromptu trip through the stands.
In fact, the commotion in the seats almost rivaled what was happening on the field. Almost.
Toshiya Sugiuchi tossed a shutout, Munenori Kawasaki ignited a six-run sixth inning with a two-out triple, and the Hawks cooled off the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters with a 12-0 rout on Tuesday night at Tokyo Dome.
“Sugiuchi really pitched well today,” Oh said. “And Kawasaki’s hit with two outs was huge. It helped lead to a big inning which decided the game.”
Sugiuchi (11-3), threw his second complete game of the season to join teammate Tsuyoshi Wada (11-4) and Shun Tono (11-2) of the Yomiuri Giants, the Big Egg’s regular tenants, as the only pitchers this season with 11 wins.
The lefty allowed seven hits, struck out nine and allowed just three base runners to advance past first. Sugiuchi threw 132 pitches in the win and remarked afterward, “I threw too many pitches today.”
Sugiuchi was nursing a one-run lead until Softbank chipped in with the some run support later in the game.
The Hawks’ three-run fifth inning gave their starter a little breathing room, while their six-run sixth effectively put the game out of reach.
“We scored a lot of runs today,” Hawks outfielder Jose Ortiz said. “Everybody was hitting really well. The offense was really good today.”
Softbank’s Hitoshi Tamura went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while Nobuhiko Matsunaka drove in three with his sixth home run of the season.
Ortiz finished with a pair of RBIs, while Satoru Morimoto, Roberto Petagine, Yuichi Honda and Hiroshi Shibahara also drove in runs.
The loss was one of the worst performances in months for the Fighters, who are 10-3 in their last 13 games.
Nippon Ham hasn’t given up 10 runs in a game since losing to the Chiba Lotte Marines on May 4 and hasn’t been shut out since a 1-0 defeat at the hands of pitcher Kenta Maeda and the Hiroshima Carp on May 15.
Atsunori Inaba was 2-for-3 and collected the 350th double of his career in the first inning, providing the Fighters their lone bright spot of the night.
Nippon Ham starter Toshiyuki Yanuki lasted five innings, taking the loss after allowing four runs on six hits. Yanuki (1-2) struck out two and walked five.
“He’s a young pitcher, a rookie,” Ortiz said. “He throws the ball really well. Once we faced him once, we were able to figure him out.”
Reliever Keisuke Tanimoto was also touched up, giving up six runs on five hits in the sixth inning.
Eagles blank Marines
SENDAI (Kyodo) Starter Darrell Rasner and two relievers combined on a seven-hit shutout as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 6-0 at Kleenex Stadium on Tuesday night.
Rasner (2-7) allowed just four hits and struck out nine over seven innings for his first win since April 23.
Randy Ruiz hit a two-run homer in the fourth. Rakuten put the game away with a four-run eighth.
Bryan Corey (0-2) gave up four runs in 7 1/3 innings in his first start in Japan.
Lions 7, Buffaloes 6
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Dee Brown hit a go-ahead two-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth inning as Seibu edged Orix.
Giants 8, Carp 7
At Iwaki Green Stadium, Alex Ramirez turned the tide with a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning as Yomiuri came from behind to beat Hiroshima.
Down 7-4 with two outs in the seventh, Michihiro Ogasawara hit a two-run single to cut the deficit to one and Ramirez followed with his 28th home run this season — a blast off Koji Hiroike (0-1) over the left-field wall.
Tigers 6, Swallows 1
At Kurashiki’s Muscat Stadium, Jason Standridge pitched his first compete game in Japan in an eight-strikeout effort, while Matt Murton and Takahiro Arai drove in four runs between them to give Hanshin a win over Tokyo Yakult.
Standridge (5-1) scattered 10 hits, all singles, and walked one in a 145-pitch outing. Kyohei Muranaka (5-7) took the loss.
Dragons 5, BayStars 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Chen Wei-yin pitched one-run ball over six innings and the Chunichi bullpen escaped narrowly to send Yokohama to its fifth consecutive defeat.