The Seibu Lions clinched their first Pacific League championship in four years Saturday when the second-place Daiei Hawks failed to beat the Nippon Ham Fighters at the Tokyo Dome.
The Lions, who earlier in the day lost to the Chiba Lotte Marines, watched on television as the Hawks tied with the Nippon Ham Fighters 1-1 to grant them their 14th overall PL title.
“I am extremely happy, and at the same time I am very relieved that we were able to win the pennant, ” Seibu manager Haruki Ihara said at a celebratory press conference.
The Lions lost two straight games against the Marines since reducing their magic number for clinching the title to one Wednesday.
At the Tokyo Dome, the Fighters took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Kuniyuki Kimoto slammed a solo home run into the right-field bleachers.
In the top of the ninth and with two outs, Daiei designated hitter Noriyoshi Omichi nailed a clutch solo blast off Nippon Ham starter Chris Seelbach to tie the game.
In the top of the 12th with two outs, Kenji Jojima drew a walk and Munenori Kawasaki followed with a single as the Hawks put runners on first and second, but Takeshi Nonogaki flew out to right field, ending Daiei’s chances of winning the game.
Marines beat Lions
CHIBA — Shingo Ono, Takashi Kawai and Brian Sikorski combined on a seven-hitter as the Chiba Lotte Marines shut out the Lions 4-0 Saturday afternoon.
The first-place Lions had entered the game needing just one win to clinch the Pacific League pennant. After the game, the team returned to its hotel to watch the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks play the Nippon Ham Fighters on TV.
Ono (3-7) allowed just three baserunners in the first five innings and didn’t get into a jam until giving up back-to-back singles to Hiroyuki Takagi and Kazuo Matsui with no outs in the top of the eighth.
Lotte manager Koji Yamamoto then went to his bullpen, and Kawai got Tatsuya Ozeki to hit a pop fly before striking out Masahide Kaizuka.
With Alex Cabrera next up to the plate, Yamamoto handed the ball to Sikorski, a move that prompted more than a little laughter in the press room at Chiba Marine Stadium.
Sikorski had given up a solo home run to Cabrera the previous night in the Marines’ 6-1 win over the Lions.
But Yamamoto’s confidence in the hard-throwing reliever paid off as Sikorski got Cabrera to hit a pop fly to right field to end the threat.
The Marines wasted little time taking the lead. Kenji Morozumi singled to lead off the Marines’ half of the first inning and scored from second on Frank Bolick’s two-out single to right field.
Derrick May followed with a double that plated Bolick and put the Marines 2-0.
Kiyoshi Hatsushiba chipped in with an RBI single in the fourth inning and Kazuya Fukuura drove in the final run with an infield grounder in the seventh. (Dan Latham)
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