Ernesto Mejia’s 23rd homer of the year and some outstanding work by the pitching staff earned the Seibu Lions a 2-2 tie against the Pacific League-leading SoftBank Hawks on Tuesday.
In their last turn at bat in the 12th inning against Kazuki Miyata (0-0), the Lions’ eighth pitcher, Seiichi Uchikawa singled with one out, but pinch runner Ryoma Kidokoro was caught stealing for the second out. Lee Dae Ho kept the inning alive by drawing a walk, but Yuki Yanagita struck out to end the game.
It was the Lions’ fourth tie in their last eight games, and interim manager Norio Tanabe was a little frustrated by some of his men’s at-bats.
“I don’t know what those guys were looking for, they looked like they were getting tied up at the plate,” Tanabe said. “We’ve been persistent but we’re not taking the lead, coming back but not taking the lead.”
Mejia, however, was glad to have had an impact.
“We are playing for a win but at least we tied,” said the Venezuelan who has been a smash hit with the Lions since joining after the start of the season. “I’m just going out to do whatever I can to help the team.”
Lions southpaw Yusei Kikuchi allowed a pair of first-inning runs but he and seven relievers kept the league leaders off the scoreboard for 11 innings
With the Lions trailing by a run, Mejia led off the top of the seventh with a long blast off Hawks starter Jason Standridge, who lasted seven innings. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out seven.
Before 38,561 at Yafuoku Dome, the hometown Hawks jumped on Kikuchi in the first on RBI singles by Kenta Imamiya and Lee but failed to knock the lefty out of the game early, and he didn’t allow another run in his final four innings on the mound.
Akira Nakamura drew a leadoff walk, was balked to second and came home on Imamiya’s single to center. Imamiya stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With the infield playing in tight, Lee hit a little roller up the middle that got through for a single. Kikuchi, however, struck out two of the next three batters to stop the bleeding.
The Lions got a run back in the sixth inning on a one-out walk and a Naoto Watanabe RBI double. Watanabe pulled a 1-1 fastball low and inside down the third-base line. Hawks third baseman Yuki Yoshimura got a glove on it but could only redirect the vicious shot into the left-field corner, and speedy Shogo Akiyama easily scored from first. With the tying run on second and two out, Standridge got cleanup hitter Takeya Nakamura swinging at a curve low and away for an inning-ending sixth strikeout.
Mejia knotted the score at 2-2 when Standridge hung an 0-1 slider up in the zone. The big right-handed hitter leaned into it and drove it well back into the stands in straight-away left field.
Seibu right-hander Masamitsu Hirano entered in the bottom of the sixth and walked the first batter he faced but retired the next six in his two-inning stint. His replacement, lefty Ryohei Fujiwara allowed a pair of singles and was yanked in favor of former Lotte star Hiroyuki Kobayashi. But the veteran right-hander, who had been rebuilding his career in the independent minors before being signed, got Seibu out of the inning on a grounder to first and a strikeout.
With the game tied, the Hawks turned to right-handers Yuito Mori in the eighth and Ryota Igarashi and in the ninth and each kept the game tied.
Closer Dennis Sarfate worked the top of the 10th for the Hawks. A one-out walk and a two-out single put runners on the corners for Nakamura, who once more struck out swinging.
Marines 4, Buffaloes 3
At QVC Marine Field, Tatsuhiro Tamura singled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom ninth inning to lift Lotte to a walk-off win after Orix tied it in the eighth on Wily Mo Pena’s 27th home run.
Fighters vs. Eagles, ppd.
Tigers 8, Dragons 1
At Kyocera Dome, Randy Messenger (11-8) allowed a run in six innings and Takashi Toritani opened the scoring by singling in the first of three runs he would drive in as Hanshin hammered Chunichi.
Giants 6, Swallows 4 (11)
At Jingu Stadium, Yomiuri captain Shinnosuke Abe belted a two-run, 11th-inning home run after to beat Yakult after Hisayoshi Chono tied the game with a two-out RBI double in the eighth.
Carp 8, BayStars 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Yusuke Nomura (5-5) threw eight scoreless innings, and Rainel Rosario singled in a run in the first and doubled in the first run of a five-run fifth as Hiroshima beat up DeNA.