Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Tomoya Ichikawa haunts former club as Hawks beat Giants

Kyodo

Catcher Tomoya Ichikawa belted a two-run home run off his first pro club, lifting the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to a 4-2 interleague win over the Yomiuri Giants on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old Ichikawa, acquired in an April trade from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, was the Giants’ fourth-round draft pick in 2009. With the Hawks trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, Ichikawa came up with one out and a man on against Nobutaka Imamura (1-1).

Ichikawa teed off on the first pitch and drove it well back into the left field stands for his second home run of the season for the reigning Pacific League champs.

“I went up ready to put a good swing on the first pitch I saw, regardless of what it was,” Ichikawa said. “That ball went farther than any I’ve ever hit.”

Ichikawa went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice and threw out a runner trying to steal in the second. He also made a great tag at the plate to end the eighth inning and prevent a run when Hayato Sakamoto tried to score from second on a two-out single to center.

“I owe them a lot,” Ichikawa said of the Giants. “Unfortunately, I was unable to produce early in my career for them.”

Former ace Tadashi Settsu (2-1) overcame three early walks to earn the win after allowing two runs in 5⅔ innings. The right-hander struck out four.

“I had trouble getting into a rhythm early on, but Ichikawa called good pitches and got me through it,” Settsu said.

The Hawks opened the scoring on a second-inning solo homer by Masayoshi Tsukada.

The Giants grabbed the lead in the fourth, when Kazumasa Okamoto homered to tie it and Shinnosuke Abe doubled and scored on Daikan Yoh’s two-out single.

Seiji Uebayashi squeezed home an insurance run in the seventh as four Hawks relievers survived some tough spots to close out the win.

Dragons 6, Eagles 3

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Shinnosuke Ogasawara (2-5) allowed two runs in 6⅓ innings and struck out six, while Zoilo Almonte’s sixth-inning leadoff homer broke a 2-2 tie to put Chunichi in the lead for good against Tohoku Rakuten.

Marines 6, BayStars 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Yuki Ariyoshi (2-1) allowed a run over seven innings, and Ikuhiro Kiyota drove in three runs as Lotte beat Yokohama to improve to .500 for the first time since April 30.

Lions 7, Swallows 4

At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Tatsuya Imai (1-0), Seibu’s 2016 top draft pick, allowed an unearned run over six innings in his pro debut, and back-to-back home runs by Shuta Tonosaki and Ernesto Mejia gave him the lead for good against interleague-leading Yakult.

Fighters 8, Tigers 7