TOYAMA – Rookie right-hander Shoma Fujihira allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles snapped an 11-game winless streak with a 6-1 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Tuesday.
Fujihira challenged batters with a fastball that climbed just above 140 kph. But what the 18-year-old lacked in velocity, he made up in daring and execution.
“We were in a losing streak and my focus was on not allowing runs,” said Fujihira, who didn’t yield a hit through his first six innings. “I thought about that (a no-hitter) but the most important things was keeping them scoreless, so I just kept my focus on (catcher Motohiro) Shima’s mitt.”
The concentration level was certainly there, as he located his fastball well and kept batters off balance with breaking balls in the strike zone. Fujihira (2-2) struck out eight and issued one walk, to slugger Shohei Otani, whom he struck out twice.
The Eagles had lost 10 straight games, though they did manage a tie last Wednesday.
Fighters starter Naoyuki Uwasawa (4-6) was nearly as good through seven innings. He stranded three runners in a scoreless third, and held the Eagles to a run in the fifth on a Hiroyuki Shimauchi RBI single. But after two quick outs in the eighth, he surrendered three straight singles.
Both of the runners he left on base scored off reliever Toru Murata, who was also charged with a run in Rakuten’s four-run inning.
Uwasawa gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk over 7-2/3 innings, while striking out eight.
Shimauchi homered to lead off the top of the ninth, and the Fighters avoided a shutout in the home half of the inning against closer Yuki Matsui.
Kazunari Ishikawa singled to open the inning and scored from second on Otani’s two-out RBI single before Matsui retired slugger Brandon Laird for the final out with two on.
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At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Tomoya Mori’s second RBI single of the game snapped a seventh-inning tie in Seibu’s triumph over Chiba Lotte.
Hawks 6, Buffaloes 5 (11)
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In the dramatic win, Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate established an NPB single-season record with his 47th save.
BayStars 4, Swallows 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Joe Wieland (7-2) threw six scoreless innings and broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single before Yokohama pulled away from Tokyo Yakult in a three-run eighth.
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At Matsumoto Municipal Stadium, Takayuki Terauchi belted his first home run in four seasons, a three-run, walk-off clout, to beat Chunichi after Yomiuri came from behind to tie it in a three-run ninth on Shingo Usami’s two-out, two-strike, two-run homer.
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