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NAGO, Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) Yuki Saito, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ highly touted rookie, pitched one scoreless inning in his first preseason game on Saturday, contributing in a 9-8 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Saito got his first taste on the mound, coming in at the top of sixth. He walked designated hitter Shoitsu Omatsu and yielded a one-out double to pinch-hitter Naotaka Takehara, but escaped the jam with runners on second and third by retiring the next two batters.

“It gave me confidence that I could keep the opposing team scoreless in that situation,” Saito said.

Makoto Kaneko went 2-for-2 with four RBIs and newcomer Micah Hoffpauir hit a solo homer for the Fighters. Ikuhiro Kiyota hit a two-run drive for Lotte.

In other preseason games, it was Seibu Lions 6, Yakult Swallows 3; Rakuten Eagles 8, Chunichi Dragons 3; Softbank Hawks 1, Hiroshima Carp 0; Yokohama BayStars 4, Yomiuri Giants 1; Orix Buffaloes 1, Hanshin Tigers 0.

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