Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Sayonara magic: BayStars defeat Carp for third straight night in final at-bat

Kyodo

Taketoshi Goto’s two-out, pinch-hit double and a fluke infield single by Toshihiko Kuramoto lifted the Yokohama BayStars to their third consecutive walk-off win, beating the Hiroshima Carp 5-4 on Thursday.

BayStars starter Shota Imanaga allowed four runs over five innings, but three Yokohama relievers held the Central League leaders to just a walk and two hits over the final four innings.

“The relievers did an amazing job, and that is why we were able to come back,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said.

With the Carp leading 4-1 in the sixth, Jose Lopez got the hosts back on the board for the first time since his first-inning groundout had drove in Tatsuhiro Shibata. Lopez, who had hit ninth-inning, game-tying homers in each of the previous two games, belted his 26th home run, a sixth-inning solo shot off starter Yuta Nakamura.

Takayuki Kajitani made it a one-run game in the seventh with his 16th homer of the season, before the BayStars scored again off Carp reliever Ryuji Imaoka in the eighth. A Masayuki Kuwahara single, a sacrifice and a single from cleanup hitter Yoshitomo Tsutsugo tied it at 4-4.

The BayStars, the weakest pinch-hitting team in the CL, sent Goto to the plate in the hopes he might clear the fence and win it. Entering the game 1-for-12 as a pinch hitter, Goto tattooed a fat 1-1 fastball from Shota Nakazaki (3-1) that hit high off the wall in right for a double.

Kuramoto, the BayStars’ shortstop and No. 9 hitter, was jammed by a high 3-2 fastball, but got it in the air. Second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi tried to short hop it, but the ball skidded past him, allowing pinch runner Shuto Takajo to score from second as the hosts completed a series sweep.

“It’s pretty amazing. I was simply lucky,” Kuramoto said.

Rookie right-hander Yuya Onaka worked two scoreless innings in relief of Imanaga, and recently acquired lefty Edwin Escobar worked out of the eighth with the help of a great catch from Kuwahara in center. Closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (4-2) struck out the side in the ninth to earn the win.

Tigers 6, Swallows 3

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Takumi Akiyama (11-4) allowed three runs — two earned — over eight innings, while Masahiro Nakatani homered for the third straight game with a three-run blast in Hanshin’s victory over Tokyo Yakult.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hawks 10, Lions 1

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Seibu’s Yusei Kikuchi (12-6) allowed seven runs, equaling his career worst, in three innings as his career mark against Fukuoka SoftBank fell to 0-12.

Alfredo Despaigne and Kenta Imamiya each homered and drove in three runs as the Hawks ran off their eighth-straight win.

Marines 2, Eagles 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, rookie Ryota Sekiya (1-2) threw six shutout innings to earn his first pro victory, while Takashi Ogino homered and Kazuya Fukuura doubled in a run as Chiba Lotte edged Tohoku Rakuten.

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