Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Akiyama equals NPB single-season hits record in Seibu rout

Kyodo

Shogo Akiyama tied Japan’s single-season hits record with five hits for the Seibu Lions in their game against the Orix Buffaloes on Wednesday.

In a huge game for the Lions, Akiyama went 5-for-5, with two walks, at Kyocera Dome to raise his season total to 214, which ties Matt Murton’s Nippon Professional Baseball record — while the third-place Lions maintained their slim lead over Chiba Lotte in the playoff race.

The first player to reach 200 hits since NPB introduced a less-lively uniform ball in 2011, Akiyama started the day with 209 hits, one behind Ichiro Suzuki, whose record Murton broke in 2010. The 2010 season was a record year for offense when three of NPB’s four highest hit totals were achieved.

Although playing in the Central League, Murton has been cheering on Akiyama’s effort since it became news.

“Amazing accomplishment,” Murton said in an e-mail to Kyodo News. “Incredible night at the dish tonight, and all year for that matter.”

Akiyama doubled to lead off the game for the Lions, who are trying to maintain their slim hold on third place and earn a spot in the postseason. Akiyama opened the scoring on Takumi Kuriyama’s first-inning sacrifice fly.

The Lions leadoff hitter tripled during Seibu’s four-run second and drew a bases-loaded walk in the third.

Akiyama’s fourth plate appearance resulted in a two-out double, and he singled in the seventh to move to within one hit of Murton’s record, which he equaled in the eighth with his third double of the game.

Akiyama batted in the ninth with two outs, but rookie right-hander Seiichi Sakayori, making his pro debut, appeared too nervous to throw strikes and walked him.

Marines 4, Fighters 1

In Sapporo, Shota Ishimine went 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and three RBIs to provide the finishing touch for the Chiba Lotte Marines, who stayed in the thick of the playoff hunt with a 4-1 win over Hokkaido Nippon Ham on Wednesday.

The Marines began the day fourth in the Pacific League, a half-game behind the Seibu Lions.

Taiwan lefty Chen Kuan-yu (5-4) allowed just two hits without a walk over seven innings, while striking out seven. Three relievers finished the job with Tatsuya Uchi recording his fourth save in place of injured closer Yuji Nishino.

Shogo Nakamura, the Marines’ top draft pick last autumn, went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice and scored twice.

Lefty Mitsuo Yoshikawa (11-8) allowed four runs, three earned, in four innings to take the loss for the Fighters, who have already sewn up second place and the home-field advantage in the first stage of the Pacific League Climax Series.

Eagles 3, Hawks 2

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Ginji Akaminai’s two-run, eighth-inning home run lifted last-place Tohoku Rakuten to a come-from-behind win over league champion Softbank.