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Wild pitch in 11th carries Marines to eighth straight win

Chiba Lotte climbs into first place in Pacific League

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Takashi Ogino had the chance to be the hero with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 11th inning. It would’ve been fitting too, with the Chiba Lotte Marines star playing in his second game of the season, after missing most of 2012 with a leg injury.

The stage was set for Ogino to bring in the winning run in dramatic fashion. Only the Seibu Lions beat him to the punch.

Ogino was at the plate when a pitch from Seibu Lions starter Tatsuya Oishi passed through catcher Ginjiro Sumitani’s legs, allowing the winning run to score from third in the Marines 3-2, 11-inning win on Thursday at QVC Marine Field.

The Marines won for the eighth straight game, and jumped over the Lions and into first place in the Pacific League standings.

Lotte’s Tadahito Iguchi, who tied the game with a homer in the eighth, drew a walk to start the 11th. Kei Hosoya entered the game as a pinch runner, and Shota Ishimine was hit while trying to lay down a sacrifice bunt.

Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Toshiaki Imae, and Oishi intentionally walked Daichi Suzuki to load the bases for Ogino.

Ogino was behind 1-2 in the count when the ball squirted through Sumitani’s legs, allowing Hosoya to come home with the winning run.

Catcher Naoya Emura was 2-for-4 for the Marines, while Iguchi was 1-for-3 and hit his fourth homer of the season.

Yoshihiro Ito (1-0) earned the win in relief for Lotte.

Takumi Kuriyama, recently named one of the Pacific League monthly MVPs for March and April, had another good night at the plate for Seibu. The Lions captain went 3-for-4 to record his fifth modasho (three-hit game) of the season and raise his average to .355

The game-ending wild pitch left Oishi (0-2) as the losing pitcher.

Lotte starter Takahiro Fujioka lasted five innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Fujioka threw 105 pitches, struck out one, walked four, and was saved from taking the loss by Iguchi’s home run. The second-year left hander is 0-2 with a 6.32 ERA in three starts against the Lions this season.

“I allowed runners to reach bases in every inning and didn’t really let my fielders get into rhythm and also I threw a lot of balls and couldn’t get into a good rhythm myself.”

Seibu jumped out to an early lead, courtesy of an RBI single by Esteban German in the first inning. Seibu held onto the lead until an error at first allowed Emura to score from second during the third inning.

The Lions put runners on the corners with one out in the fifth, and Jose Ortiz came through with an RBI single to left that made the score 2-0.

Emura doubled to lead off the bottom half of the fifth, and an error by starter Ryoma Nogami on Yoshifumi Okada’s sacrifice bunt attempt left Lotte with runners on the corners and no outs. Shunichi Nemoto followed with a grounder to first that allowed Seibu to pick off Emura between third and home for the first out. Katsuya Kakunaka’s fly ball was caught by shortstop Hideto Asamura for the second out, and second baseman Koji Yamasaki made a diving stop to corral a hard-hit ground ball by Iguchi before tossing the ball to first to end the inning.

Nogami got two quick outs to begin the bottom of the eighth before Iguchi took him deep to left to tie the score.

The Lions will have Friday off, while the Marines will host the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Lotte’s Yuki Karakawa (2-2) will get the start against Eagles rookie Takahiro Norimoto (3-2).

Eagles hold off Fighters
Sapporo KYODO

Manabu Mima pitched one-run ball over five innings, Kazuya Fujita had a clutch tiebreaking two-run double in a four-run third, and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles rallied to beat the struggling Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 6-2 on Thursday night.

Rakuten won its fifth in a row while sending Pacific League rival Nippon Ham to a fifth straight loss.

Fujita doubled with none out and the bases loaded to make it 3-1 and Ryo Hijirisawa and Andruw Jones followed with a run-scoring single and sacrifice fly, respectively, at Sapporo Dome.

Mima (4-2) yielded six hits and walked two with one strikeout. Lefty Mitsuo Yoshikawa (3-3) was tagged for five runs and nine hits in six innings of the loss for the Fighters, who fell a season-worst six games below .500.

Nippon Ham rookie Shohei Otani made a fine catch in right field and hit the cut-off man to protect a runner from scoring with one out and runners at the corners in the sixth. He had an RBI double among two doubles on the night.

Buffaloes 3, Hawks 2

At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Mitsutaka Goto was issued a two-out bases-loaded walk to tie it in the ninth inning and Kazunao Yamamoto followed with a walk-off RBI single as Orix came back to send Fukuoka Softbank to its fifth consecutive defeat.

Lee Tu-hsuan and catcher Katsuki Yamazaki had back-to-back RBI singles to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Reliever Kim Mu Young failed to get out of a bases-loaded jam created by closer Brian Falkenborg (0-1) in the ninth.