HIROSHIMA – Hiroshima Carp rookie Takuya Kato came within two outs of a no-hitter in his first professional game on Friday.
The right-hander eventually gave up a run but did more than enough to guide his team to a 4-1 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
Kato issued his seventh walk in the ninth before Yakult cleanup man Wladimir Balentien’s hit to left field, which dashed the 22-year-old’s hope of becoming the second pitcher in NPB to get a no-hitter on his pro debut.
Kato, Hiroshima’s top draft pick last October out of Keio University, then allowed Yuhei Takai an RBI single with runners on the corners. He got the hook following a 135-pitch effort with seven strikeouts.
“I’m really relieved, and glad we’ve won the game,” Kato said before a crowd of 29,675 at Mazda Stadium. “I was really nervous at the start but just wanted to get the win. We’ve been playing extra innings lately so I wanted to go all the way.”
He added: “I could throw where I wanted with my forkballs and that was the most pleasing thing. The senior players backed me up with good defense and they were the ones who were keeping them off the board.”
Yoshihiro Maru hit a two-out double in the first inning before Takahiro Arai also doubled to plate the opening run off Masanori Ishikawa (1-1).
Arai again reached with a one-out single in the third off the left-hander and Seiya Suzuki also singled before Tetsuya Kokubo’s base-hit scored both runners for a 3-0 lead.
Ishikawa allowed three runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batsman over six innings, fanning four in a 92-pitch outing.
The Carp made it 4-0 in the bottom of the eighth on Yoshiyuki Ishihara’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly. The prospect of Kato becoming the first pitcher since former Chunichi Dragons lefty Shinichi Kondo in 1987 to post a no-hitter in his debut loomed, but it wasn’t to be.
“I was only concentrating on pitching the way I do. I’d like to issue less walks next time, I don’t mind giving up more hits but have a solid outing,” Kato said.
Dragons 7, BayStars 5
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi got its first win of the year after twice coming from behind against Yokohama.
Dayan Viciedo tied the game with an RBI single before right-hander Takuya Shindo issued a bases-loaded walk in the seventh for the decisive sixth run.
Giants 5, Tigers 3
At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri scored three runs in the first off Hanshin’s Yuta Iwasada (0-1) with bases-loaded singles from Casey McGehee and Kazuma Okamoto, before Daisuke Nakai went deep in the second.
Miles Mikolas (2-0) allowed three runs in seven innings.
Buffaloes 4, Fighters 2
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Orix won its third straight game after ace Chihiro Kaneko (1-0) held Hokkaido Nippon Ham to two runs — one earned — over six innings.
Stefan Romero scored the opening run and hit a solo shot in the third off Naoyuki Uwasawa (0-1).
Hawks 4, Lions 2
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Seiichi Uchikawa had two solo homers off Seibu’s Yusei Kikuchi (1-1) for Fukuoka SoftBank.
Tsuyoshi Wada (2-0) allowed two runs over five innings, while Dennis Sarfate posted his fourth save of the season.