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Takahiro Arai ignited a five-run first inning with an RBI triple and Hideaki Wakui threw a one-hitter over six innings Saturday as Japan opened its Olympic qualifying campaign with a 10-0 shutout of the Philippines.

News photoRight-handed pitcher Hideaki Wakui of the Seibu Lions fires a pitch against the Philippines in Japan’s
first game at the final round of the Beijing Olympic qualifiers in Taichung, Taiwan, on Saturday night.
Japan won 10-0 in a called game.
KYODO PHOTO

Arai tripled off the center-field wall with two outs and a runner on third and Shinnosuke Abe followed with a single to put Japan on the way to the rout in a game called after seven innings due to the tournament’s 10-run mercy rule.

Atsunori Inaba hit a solo homer in the fifth and added an RBI single in a four-run sixth after Senichi Hoshino’s team was held scoreless over three innings by Jon-Jon Robles (0-1).

“We needed to score runs in that situation so I tried to get on base and it just turned out to be a home run,” Inaba said.

Wakui (1-0) allowed one hit, a third-inning single to Ruben Angeles, while the Philippines only put one more runner on base on a fielding error by third baseman Shuichi Murata. Hiroyuki Kobayashi threw a perfect seventh.

Shinnosuke Abe had four singles in as many at-bats and Saburo Omura went 3-for-4, as Japan pounded out 16 hits against the Philippines, winner of the first round of the qualifying tournament here, which doubles as the Asian Championship.

Japan will face archrival South Korea on Sunday and fellow Asian powerhouse Taiwan on Monday in the four-team round robin, from which the winner earns a ticket to next year’s Beijing Olympics. The second- and third-place teams will go to the world final qualifying tournament to be held in March.

Earlier in the day, Lee Jong Wook hit a three-run homer and Ryu Hyun Jin pitched five-plus effective innings as South Korea beat host Taiwan 5-2.

Lee turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning with a shot over the right-field wall off Rakuten Eagles right-hander Lin En-yu (0-1), who was charged with three runs and four hits in five innings while striking out 10 in a losing effort.

South Korean left-hander Ryu (1-0) allowed two runs and four hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Park Chan Ho threw three scoreless innings in relief before Jang Won Sam and Chong Tae Hyon combined for a scoreless ninth.

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