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Fireman Settsu pours cold water on Marines

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Even for a guy who had pitched in half of the entire season, standing on the mound in a playoff game is something different.

Hawks middle reliever Tadashi Settsu came out of the bullpen with two Chiba Lotte runners with two outs in the seventh inning.

Settsu admitted afterward that he was nervous in that situation.

He couldn’t locate the ball in the strike zone with several warmup pitches before taking on Tsuyoshi Nishioka at the plate.

“If you’re in the postseason, you’re playing in a do-or-die tournament game,” Settsu said after Fukuoka Softbank’s 1-0 win over the Marines in Game 3 of the Pacific League Climax Series final stage at Yahoo Dome on Saturday.

“I was like, once I give up a run, it’s over.”

Settsu added with a bitter smile that nobody would like to come out in a 1-0 game.

“Honestly, I thought it wasn’t easy,” the second-year pro said. “But I knew I needed to focus and tried to do the best I could.”

And he got the job done — as he did during the regular season, in which he made a league-leading 71-game mound appearances.

Settsu shared the points title on 42 with teammate Brian Falkenborg this season.

As a rookie, he had the most appearances — 70 — in 2009 as well.

Settsu shut down the Marines, giving up no hits and fanning one against four batters on nine pitches.

“Once I held Nishioka, I got my cool back,” Settsu said. “I appreciate that the team uses me in that kind of situation, and I always try to live up to expectations.”

Hawks skipper Koji Akiyama gave credit to starter D.J. Houlton and Settsu for the victory.

“We sent Settsu into that tough situation,” Akiyama said. “But he did exactly the job he was expected to do, just as he did during the regular season.”

Asked whether he had any fatigue entering the final stage, Settsu responded, “A bit.

“But I could take three to four days off. That was big. And then I was able to rebuild my physical strength. So I gave some good pitches today.”