Tomotaka Sakaguchi’s sacrifice fly plated the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Tokyo Yakult Swallows to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Hiroshima Carp on Thursday night.
Swallows No. 8 hitter Yuhei Nakamura opened the 10th with a double off Hiroshima’s third reliever, Takeru Imamura (0-2), who had entered the game by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth. A sacrifice moved the runner to third and Sakaguchi ended the 4-hour, 4-minute game before 23,277 at Jingu Stadium with a fly to center.
Swallows starter Yasuhiro Ogawa walked five to match the career high he established six days earlier, and the Carp capitalized. The first two batters he walked in the game came home on Takahiro Arai’s two-run, first-inning double.
Yet despite five hits against Ogawa in five innings and a Yakult error, the right-hander kept the game from getting out of control, holding the visitors to three runs, two earned.
Carp starter Aren Kuri, who pitched his university ball at Jingu Stadium for Asia University, took the mound in the bottom of the first with a 2-0 lead and promptly gave one back. A Sakaguchi leadoff single and a Shingo Kawabata double gave the Swallows a perfect start, but they could only manage a run on Tetsuto Yamada’s sacrifice fly.
The Carp made it 3-1 in the second on a double play after a Tsubasa Aizawa leadoff single, a sacrifice and an error put runners on the corners with no outs.
Kuri surrendered leadoff hits to open the second, fourth and fifth innings but nothing else, while Swallows No. 7 hitter Keiji Obiki was twice thrown out trying to steal. The right-hander allowed a run in six innings on five hits and no walks, while striking out two.
His replacement, Bradin Hagens, got three straight outs to close out the Swallows’ seventh, but not before he missed up with a 1-1 cutter that Wladimir Balentien put in the seats for his 11th homer of the season to open the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth against Jay Jackson, Yakult’s base-stealing efforts finally paid off, when pinch runner Wataru Hiyane stole second and third before scoring the tying run on a groundout.
Hiyane entered after pinch hitter Takahiro Imanami drew a one-out walk. With runners on first and third after an intense 10-pitch walk by Sakaguchi, Kawabata hit a bullet off Jackson that ricocheted to first, allowing Hiyane to score on the groundout.
Ryo Akiyoshi, the Swallows’ fifth pitcher, earned the win after working a scoreless 10th.
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