The Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions proved that Seibu Lions pitcher Takayuki Kishi can be scored upon.
Beating him, however, is still a work in progress.
Kishi was in postseason form and Hiroyuki Oshima and Shogo Akada provided the run support as Seibu won a tight battle of Lions 2-1 on Friday night at Tokyo Dome.
The Japan Series MVP allowed one run and struck out 10 over eight innings to earn the win.
“I felt my condition was OK,” Kishi said. “I just followed (catcher) Ginjiro’s lead,” he said, referring to catcher Ginjiro Sumitani.
The win was crucial to keep alive Seibu’s hopes of reaching Sunday’s Asia Series final after the Saitama club lost its opener against the SK Wyverns on Thursday.
“There wasn’t any pressure,” Kishi said. “But if we lost we couldn’t go to the final. So I felt like I couldn’t afford to lose this game. So I did my best.”
The 24-year-old has been Seibu’s ace in recent must-win situations.
Kishi threw 147 pitches in a victory in Game 4 of the Japan Series on Nov. 5 to prevent the Lions from falling into a 3-1 series deficit. He followed that with 91 pitches on Nov. 8 to earn the victory in relief in Game 6 to keep Seibu’s season alive.
After tossing 120 pitches in his latest triumph, Kishi laughed off the suggestion he could return to pitch in Sunday’s final.
“I’m afraid it’s impossible,” he said, clearly amused by the question.
Kishi needed some help to pick up the victory and got it in the bottom of the fourth. Seibu trailed 1-0 in the inning when Oshima connected on a run-scoring single to knot the score at 1-1. Akada broke the tie with an RBI double later in the inning to give the Seibu starter all the support he would need.
“Since we had to win this game by any means, I’m glad I could get that timely hit,” Akada said.
Kishi didn’t allow a hit after the fourth and Tomoki Hoshino and Chikara Onodera combined to work a flawless ninth. Onodera earned the save.
“We knew he was a great pitcher,” Uni-President manager Lu Wen Shen said of Kishi. “He was amazing with his changeups and curves today.”
Uni-President countered with its ace Pan Wei-Lun, who finished the Chinese Professional League season with a 12-2 record and a 1.22 ERA in 18 appearances.
Pan had a decent night, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out four in six innings.
Kishi began the fourth by giving up a leadoff double to Yang Sen, who advanced to third on Pan Wu Hsiung’s broken-bat groundout. Tirson Brito followed with a sacrifice fly to center which scored Yang and gave the Taiwanese Lions in the lead.
The run was the first Kishi has allowed in three appearances in November after throwing 14 2/3 scoreless innings in two games against the Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Series.
Seibu’s Yoshihito Ishii led off the bottom half of the inning with his second double of the game to give the Lions a runner in scoring position. Tomoaki Sato laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to third and Oshima tied the score with an RBI single.
Seibu nearly took the lead on catcher Sumitani’s double later in the inning, but Sato was thrown out at the plate to leave the score tied. Watanabe’s men got things right the next time up, scoring the go-ahead run when Akada came through with his RBI double.
Earlier in the day, the Korean Baseball Organization champion Wyverns moved closer to a spot in Sunday’s final after routing the Tianjin Lions of the Chinese Baseball Association 15-0.
The Wyverns stormed ahead in a seven-run third. They added eight runs over the next four innings, highlighted by Kim Jae Hae’s three-run homer in the seventh, before the game was called after the seventh due to the Asia Series mercy rule.
Tianjin committed three errors and was held to five hits as Chinese teams have still never won a game during the tournament, which is in its fourth year.
The Wyverns will face the Uni-President Lions in the night game on Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. Seibu will play in the early game, meeting the Tianjin Lions at noon.
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