SAPPORO – Yoshio Itoi doubled in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Seibu Lions 4-3 on Sunday.
With the second-place Lions’ loss, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks clinched their first Pacific League title since 2003. The Hawks lost to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Sendai later in the day.
Itoi doubled off the left-field wall off Brian Sikorski (2-5) with one out in the ninth, scoring Hichori Morimoto from second base at Sapporo Dome.
Nippon Ham closer Hisashi Takeda (1-5) pitched the ninth for the win.
The Fighters took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles from Yuji Iiyama and Morimoto.
Takeya Nakamura tied the score in the sixth with his second solo home run of the game. Seibu has dropped six of its last seven games.
Eagles 8, Hawks 3
At Kleenex Stadium, Akihisa Makida broke open a close game with a three-run homer in the seventh inning as Tohoku Rakuten snapped Fukuoka Softbank’s five-game winning streak.
Makida’s third home run in five games pushed Rakuten’s lead to 6-1. Satoshi Nagai (10-10) held Softbank to one run and five hits in seven innings.
Kenji Otonari (4-9) took the loss after allowing one unearned run in four-plus innings in Softbank’s final regular-season game.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s been a long, tough journey,” Hawks manager Koji Akiyama said. “From the season opener, we kept striving to win. It’s just a result of that effort. My players really gave it their all.”
Buffaloes 6, Marines 4 (10)
At Kyocera Dome, Mitsutaka Goto hit a walk-off two-run homer in the 10th inning as Orix beat Chiba Lotte to snap a three-game losing streak.
Goto followed a Makoto Moriyama leadoff double with a shot to right off Yasuhiko Yabuta (2-5). Motoki Higa (2-1) picked up the win with a scoreless 10th.
Swallows 3, Dragons 1
At Jingu Stadium, Norichika Aoki became the first player in Japanese baseball history to have a second 200-hit season as Yakult downed Chunichi.
Aoki reached the 200-hit plateau with a tying solo home run in the first inning. Shinya Miyamoto drove in two runs with a groundout in the first and a homer in the sixth.
“This was one of my goals for this season, and it’s nice I got it done at Jingu,” said Aoki, the Swallows’ No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft. “If we keep winning, we still have a chance (at the playoffs). Hopefully, my hits can help the team win more and more games.”
Only four other players have had 200 hits in a season — Ichiro Suzuki (Orix BlueWave) did it in 1994 and Alex Ramirez (Swallows) in 2007, while the Hanshin Tigers’ Matt Murton and Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the Chiba Lotte Marines reached the mark this season.
BayStars 3, Giants 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Jose Castillo hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning as the BayStars dealt Yomiuri’s title hopes a major blow with a hard-fought win.
Yomiuri cleanup hitter Alex Ramirez hit a pair of solo home runs to pass Hanshin’s Craig Brazell for the CL lead with 46.
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