HIROSHIMA – Yusuke Nomura threw six shutout innings and Kosuke Tanaka scored three runs Thursday to put the Hiroshima Carp on the verge of their first Japan Series since 1991.
Before 31,264 at Mazda Stadium, Tanaka reached base and scored his first two times up, and then purchased some insurance with a solo homer to lead off the eighth in a 3-0 Game 2 win over the Yokohama BayStars in the Central League Climax Series Final Stage.
As league champs, the Carp started the six-game series with a one-win advantage and can clinch if the series ends in a tie. So after two shutout wins in Hiroshima, they could wrap it up with a tie in Game 3.
Nomura, whose 16 wins led the CL this season, had good command of all his pitches from the start and allowed three hits and a walk, while striking out four.
“The fans’ support gave me courage tonight,” Nomura said. “It was our goal (to be here), so I’m glad I could pitch well.”
After a 1-2-3 first inning, Tanaka opened the home half with a double off right-hander Kazuki Mishima. Ryosuke Kikuchi sacrificed him to third. Mishima hung a high 3-1 slider and Kikuchi smashed a grounder into right to score Tanaka.
The same trio produced a run in the third. On second base after a leadoff walk and a wild pitch, Tanaka was again bunted to third and then sprinted home to beat a good tag at the plate on a sacrifice fly by Yoshihiro Maru.
“Kosuke and Kiku did a perfect job to set me up (in the first),” Maru said. “I didn’t do a good job of hitting in the third, and that was all due to Kosuke’s good base running.”
The BayStars mounted their best scoring threat of the night in the fourth, when an error and some quality hitting by cleanup hitter Yoshitomo Tsutsugo put two on with two outs. Nomura suddenly lost the strike zone and walked the bases loaded, but a first-pitch changeup to the next hitter produced an easy grounder for the third out.
Mishima allowed two runs in 4-2/3 innings on three hits, two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out one.
Takeru Imamura, Jay Jackson and Shota Nakazaki completed the shutout with one scoreless inning apiece for the Carp.
Hawks 6, Fighters 4
At Sapporo Dome, Yuichi Honda hit a game-tying RBI single in the ninth inning and Yuki Yanagita followed with a timely hit, both off closer Chris Martin to lift Fukuoka SoftBank to its first win in the PL Climax Series Final Stage against league champion Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
The Fighters have a 2-1 lead over the Hawks in the six-game series.
Kenta Imamiya, who had two-run singles in both of SoftBank’s two first-stage wins over the Chiba Lotte Marines, opened the scoring in the second with a one-out RBI single.
With the visitors leading 2-0 in the fourth, Fighters slugger Sho Nakata had an RBI single before Brandon Laird hit a game-tying solo homer in the fifth. Nakata and Yang Dai-kang drove in a run each in the sixth to put Nippon Ham ahead 4-2.
After the Hawks’ Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a solo shot in the eighth, the Fighters sent Martin (0-1) to the mound to protect a one-run, ninth-inning lead. With one out, Shuhei Fukuda was hit by a pitch and stole second. After a walk to Akira Nakamura, the pair executed a double steal to set up Honda’s and Yanagita’s RBI singles. Honda scored the inning’s third run on a groundout.
“I’ve been getting in the way of my team (with an injury) so I feel like I’ve finally become useful,” said Yanagita, who broke his right ring finger on Sept. 1 and did not return to action until the start of the playoffs last Saturday.
Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
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