TAICHUNG, TAIWAN – Shuhei Fukuda sparked a five-run second inning with an RBI double, Hiroki Yamada pitched seven shutout innings and the Japan Series champion Fukuoka Softbank Hawks routed the Samsung Lions of South Korea 9-0 on the second day of the Asia Series on Saturday.
Koji Akiyama’s Hawks won their second game in a row after a 6-5 defeat over the Uni-President Lions of Taiwan on Friday.
“We had to win this game, so I’m glad we could do it,” said Akiyama, who led the Hawks to their first Japan Series title in eight years this past season. “We used our running capability and this led to us scoring. My players have become good at figuring out the habits of catchers and pitchers they face for the first time.”
Fukuda drove in the opening run after Kenji Akashi drew a leadoff walk and stole second. Toru Hosokawa added an RBI double to left-center while Nobuhiro Matsuda chipped in with a bases-loaded infield single.
Two more runs scored in the frame on an error by shortstop Kim Sang Su at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium.
Yuya Hasegawa made a perfect slide at home as the Hawks added the sixth run on a double steal with runners at the corners in the fifth, and Kenta Imamiya had a run-scoring single to make it 7-0.
Pacific League batting champion Seiichi Uchikawa tacked on a sacrifice fly in the sixth and a run-scoring single in the eighth. Softbank had a total of seven stolen bases.
Samsung had an opportunity to score when it loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first, but Kang Bong Kyu struck out swinging and Chae Tae In flied out to right to end the threat.
“We lost by a lot today but a loss is a loss, even if it’s just 1-0. We are focused on our game against Uni-President tomorrow. Had we scored in the first inning, things might have gone our way later,” said Samsung manager Ryu Joong Il.
Uni-President took on the Perth Heat of Australia later the same evening. The four teams play against each other in the first three days with the top two to meet in Tuesday’s final.
Giants eye Murata
The Yomiuri Giants are aiming to acquire the services of Yokohama BayStars third baseman Shuichi Murata, who has decided to exercise his right to free agency, Yomiuri team representative Atsushi Harasawa said Saturday.
“He is a player who fits into our plan to bolster the team. We are preparing for the time we can make a move for him,” Harasawa said.
The Giants have been in search of a third baseman with some power at the plate after disappointments from their foreign contingent this season.
Harasawa said the Central League team will work to reconstruct the roster and it could take longer than expected following the firing of former club representative Hidetoshi Kiyotake.
“We will take a period of one to two years to look at players. But we have the right ingredients,” said Harasawa.
Murata joined the BayStars in 2003 and was the CL home run king in 2007 and 2008. This season, Murata batted .253 with 20 homers and 70 RBIs in 144 games.
Nishimoto passes away
Former Hankyu Braves and Kintetsu Buffaloes manager Yukio Nishimoto died of heart failure Friday night at his home in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. He was 91.
Nishimoto, who hailed from Wakayama Prefecture, won eight Pacific League titles in his 20-year managerial career through 1981 but never won a Japan Series.
He guided the Daimai Orions to the PL championship in 1960, his first year as manager.
Nishimoto went on to win five league titles with Hankyu, including three in a row from 1967, and back-to-back crowns with Kintetsu in 1979-1980.
He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 with a career managerial record of 1,384-1,163.