Yamasaki plays hero for Buffs again


Staff Writer

Koji Yamasaki got a hero interview out of his game-winning hit against the Yomiuri Giants in the first game of their interleague series.

After his latest star turn, the Orix Buffaloes might starting fitting him for a cape.

Yamasaki was the hero again, hitting a tie-breaking three-run home run in the ninth inning, and Hayato Terahara tossed a complete game to help the Buffaloes sweep the two-game series against the Yomiuri Giants with a 4-1 win on Monday night at Tokyo Dome.

“I can’t believe I won the game with a home run,” Yamasaki, a .220 hitter going into the game, said.

Yamasaki’s first homer made a winner out of Terahara (3-4), who turned in a gritty performance, going the distance on 133 pitches.

It wasn’t quite a vintage performance by the 10-year veteran, but he had good velocity throughout the game, located his pitches well and made good use of his entire arsenal.

Terahara allowed one run on seven hits, striking out six and walking two.

“Thanks to Yamasaki, we can enjoy this victory,” Terahara said. “It’s especially sweet coming against the Giants. I felt really strong later in the game and appreciate the manager staying with me.”

To the surprise of the majority of the 39,857 in attendance, Terahara stepped into the batter’s box with two outs and none on in the ninth inning of a 1-1 game, despite having already thrown 120 pitches.

“I decided to leave him in the game to hit because he was pitching well and seemed to get better in the second half of the game,” Orix manager Akinobu Okada said. “He’s not a bad hitter either.”

Terahara squeezed a walk out of a nine-pitch at-bat, then advanced to second after reliever Daisuke Ochi gave up an infield single to Tomotaka Sakaguchi.

That brought Yamasaki to the plate, and he brought the Buffaloes supporters in the crowd to their feet with his blast to left.

Yamasaki helped win the series opener on Sunday by breaking a 1-1 tie with a two-run infield single in the 10th. The Buffaloes also won that game 4-1.

Giants rookie starter Hirokazu Sawamura struck out 11, allowing one run on six hits. He did not factor into the decision.

Ochi (3-1) was charged with the loss.

Dragons 6, Eagles 1

At Nagoya Dome, lefty Yudai Kawai (2-1) pitched one-run ball over 6⅓ innings, Tony Blanco drove in two runs on 2-for-4 hitting and Chunichi downed Tohoku Rakuten for the second night in a row.

BayStars 2, Fighters 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Hichori Morimoto hit a solo homer in support of Clayton Hamilton (1-3), who tossed six shutout innings in Yokohama’s win.

Hawks 0, Swallows 0 (5)

At Jingu Stadium, Sho Iwasaki and Shohei Tateyama each pitched five shutout innings in a game that ended in a scoreless draw due to incessant rain.

Marines at Carp — ppd.

Lions at Tigers — ppd.