OBIHIRO, HOKKAIDO – Kenshi Sugiya’s ninth-inning, pinch-hit double lifted the Pacific League-leading Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to a 7-6 walkoff victory on Wednesday over the Softbank Hawks.
The PL leaders overcame an early five-run deficit at Obihiro no Mori Stadium in Hokkaido, where they sent 10 men to the plate in a five-run third inning. Nippon Ham loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk against Hawks starter Tadashi Settsu.
Five Fighters drove in a run apiece in the inning, with Atsunori Inaba becoming the 38th player in Japanese pro ball to drive in 1,000 runs when his single made it 3-0.
“This is not a record than an individual can achieve,” said the 40-year-old. “It requires a collective effort.”
“Coming from behind and getting a sayonara win makes this an unforgettable milestone.”
The hosts went up 6-5 on a Sho Nakata RBI single in the fourth, but the Hawks tied it on a seventh-inning solo shot from Seiichi Uchikawa off lefty Naoki Miyanishi.
Reliever Hirotoshi Masui (4-3) followed with two scoreless innings for the win. Softbank southpaw Masahiko Morifuku (1-4) walked two batters to set the table for Sugiya’s two-out game-winner.
“I was fortunate to be called on in such an important situation and decide the game,” said Sugiya.
The Hawks built an early lead in a four-run first against southpaw Tomoya Yagi, featuring Hiroki Kokubo’s three-run homer.
Eagles 14, Buffaloes 1
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, backed by season highs of 14 runs and 20 hits, Manabu Mima (6-5) threw no-hit ball through six innings in a rout of last-place Orix. The victory snapped the Eagles’s 0-8-3 winless streak.
Mima, who started but did not figure in the Eagles’ last win on July 17, allowed one hit in seven innings, a leadoff shot in the seventh to Lee Dae Ho.
Lions 2, Marines 2 (11)
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Chris Carter’s two-out, ninth-inning double plated Esteban German from second with the tying run as Seibu overcame two solo homers by cleanup man Josh Whitesell to send the game to extra innings. Lions right-hander Atsushi Okamoto inherited a two-on, one-out jam in the 11th and got the final out on a bases-loaded, 3-2 pitch to ensure the tie.
Shogo Akiyama drew a leadoff walk in the ninth against rookie Naoya Masuda, but was forced at second on German’s groundout. German, who hit a seventh-inning home run, stole second and scored on Carter’s double. Whitesell had four hits, including an 11th-inning single that loaded the bases with one out.
Giants 2, Tigers 0
At Tokyo Dome, second-year Yomiuri right-hander Yuki Koyama, filling in for the injured Dicky Gonzalez, threw five scoreless innings, and four pitchers completed a three-hit shutout of Hanshin. The Tigers lost their fifth consecutive decision.
Tetsuya Matsumoto broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth off Tigers starter Yasutomo Kubo (3-5) with an RBI double and scored on a single by Hayato Sakamoto. The Giants’ Yasunari Takagi (2-0) earned the win after allowing one hit in a scoreless sixth inning.
Dragons 2, Carp 0
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Masahiro Araki, who was deactivated with a strained muscle in his left thigh in July, doubled home Yohei Oshima in the first inning for his first RBI since July 7, and Kazuki Yoshimi (8-4) threw a five-hit shutout to beat Hiroshima.
Oshima, who opened the bottom of the first with an infield single off Carp righty Keisuke Imai (1-4), motored all the way from first on Araki’s double. Atsushi Fujii’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth purchased an insurance run in the sixth, and Yoshimi cruised to his second shutout of the season.
Swallows 3, BayStars 2
At Jingu Stadium, Yakult right-hander Yuki Shichijo (1-1) kept the ball down and allowed two runs in 7⅓ innings to beat DeNA for his first victory of the season as the Swallows snapped a three-game losing streak.
Shingo Kawabata broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth with a solo homer off BayStars right-hander Futoshi Kobayashi (1-2), and Swallows cleanup man Kazuhiro Hatakeyama delivered a crucial insurance run with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly.