NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Joe Wieland allowed a run in seven innings to earn the win as the Yokohama BayStars beat the Hanshin Tigers 6-1 on Tuesday to advance to the final stage of the Central League Climax Series.
Wieland, who was pitching his third game this year at Koshien Stadium, was 2-0 here during the season. He went to the mound in the bottom of the first with a 3-0 lead. The right-hander gave up seven hits and a walk, while striking out three.
“It was win or go home,” said Wieland, whose team was shut out in Saturday’s series opener before winning a rainy, muddy mess of a slugfest in Game 2 on Sunday.
Game 3 was originally scheduled for Monday. It was postponed due to to rain.
The BayStars now travel to Hiroshima, where the league champion Hiroshima Carp host the six-game final stage and start with a one-win lead. The winner in Hiroshima will advance to the Japan Series against the winner of the Pacific League Final Stage in Fukuoka between the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
It is the second consecutive year for Yokhama to reach the final stage after finishing third in the league. Last year, the BayStars took just one game of the four played at Mazda Stadium.
On a damp but playable field, seeing-eye grounders and some aggressive base running knocked Tigers starter Atsushi Nomi out of the game in the first inning and staked the BayStars to an early lead.
Masayuki Kuwahara drew a seven-pitch leadoff walk and went to third on Takayuki Kajitani’s ground single into right. Jose Lopez broke the ice with a ground single to left, and Kajitani exploited Kosuke Fukudome’s deliberate return throw to take third.
After a walk and a good defensive play by third baseman Takashi Toritani to get a force at home, backup BayStars catcher Hiroki Minei again found a hole for a two-run single. A one-out Tatsuhiro Shibata single loaded the bases for Wieland, a tough out in the BayStars’ No. 8 spot, and the Tigers went to the bullpen.
“It eases the nerves a bit,” Wieland said of going to the mound with a lead. “I hope that every time that a team gives me three runs, I can go out and give them a win.
“My curveball was good, but overall I felt I was in command of all my pitches.
“We were up for this series. Coming into this place, it’s Koshien, so from pitch one in the first game, we were ready for the challenge.”
Side-arm right-hander Tsuyoshi Ishizaki pitched out of the first-inning jam, and added two more scoreless innings. But after he was pulled for a pinch hitter, the BayStars struck for three off Suguru Iwazaki in the fourth.
A leadoff double by No. 9 hitter Toshihiko Kuramoto, a sacrifice and Kajitani single made it 4-0 before Lopez homered.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5