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Wada finds rhythm, takes down Marines

by Kaz Nagatsuka

FUKUOKA — Tsuyoshi Wada gave his teammates and fans plenty to worry about early on in the game. As it turned out, his performance was almost as good as it gets.

The Hawks left-hander tossed a one-run complete game as Fukuoka Softbank sank the Chiba Lotte Marines 3-1 in Game 2 of the Pacific League Climax Series final stage on Friday night.

The Hawks, who entered the series with one-win advantage, are now up 2-1 in the PL championship games.

“I felt pretty good on my fastballs,” Wada said after the game at Yahoo Dome. “I had a hard time locating my breaking balls, but as the game wore on I got better.”

Wada, the league’s joint-winningest hurler at 17 in the regular season, gave up a solo homer to Ikuhiro Kiyota in the first inning.

It seemed that Wada might be in for a rough night, throwing 39 pitches in the first inning. But eventually the southpaw proved there was nothing to worry about.

After allowing a one-out single to Kim Tae Kyun in the second, Wada retired the next 23 batters in a row until the end, after giving up a one-out single to Kim Tae Kyun in the second inning.

Wada received some quick support from the Hawks offense, and it helped him find his composure.

The Hawks went ahead 2-1 when Katsuki Yamazaki drove in two runs on an RBI hit to right off Marines starter Hayden Penn.

Following two Chiba errors, the Hawks added another on a Hiroki Kokubo sacrifice fly in the third to put themselves up 3-1.

After that, it was all about Wada. He struck out 13 batters in front of a crowd of 35,876.

“He gave up a big one (to Kiyota), but he got better as the game wore on,” Hawks skipper Koji Akiyama said. “His fastballs were great, and I give credit to Katsuki, who led Wada behind the plate.”

Wada said he did not have any nerves on the mound. Instead, he entered the game with a concrete mind-set to carry the team to victory.

“(The Marines) beat Sugi (Toshiya Sugiuchi) and we allowed a complete game to (Marines starter Yoshihisa) Naruse yesterday,” said Wada, who earned his first postseason win. “It was such a pitiful loss for us, so I was like, it was my turn to go the distance and give them some payback today.”

Standing on the podium for the post-game hero interview along with Wada, Yamazaki, who made his first start in a while dating back to the regular season, smilingly said there was no way he expected to be there before the game.

“I just tried to guide Wada and give the team as good a chance to win as I could,” said Yamazaki, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. “Wada’s fastballs were working pretty good and he was phenomenal. I was actually a bit nervous catching, because he was making so many great pitches.”

Penn was pulled from the mound after the third inning. The American right-hander gave up three hits and three runs, one earned.

Marines relievers Shingo Ono, Yasuhiko Yabuta and Tatsuya Uchi worked well, blanking the Hawks after the fourth inning on.

The Marines made costly errors early on, while they struggled offensively against Wada.

The Hawks also had a hard time with their bats, coming up with just four hits.

Game 3 is schedule to begin at 1 p.m. at Yahoo Dome on Saturday.