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OSAKA (Kyodo) The sweepstakes for Junichi Tazawa are about to heat up among major league clubs after the season for the highly regarded amateur pitcher ended Saturday, when his Nippon Oil team crashed out of the national corporate baseball championships.

Tazawa, who refused to be picked at last month’s Japanese amateur draft to pursue a major league career, made a relief appearance and gave up a go-ahead single in the seventh inning of a 3-2 semifinal loss to Central Japan Railway.

The hard-throwing right-hander allowed three hits, struck out one and walked none in 2 2/3 innings in what was expected to be the final outing of his amateur career, less than 24 hours after he pitched his second straight shutout in the tournament in front of half a dozen major league scouts.

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