Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Fighters slugger Brandon Laird whacks game-winning double in ninth against Eagles

Kyodo

Brandon Laird drove in a go-ahead, two-run double in the ninth inning to help the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 2-0 and earn their first win of the seasonon Tuesday.

Before a crowd of 26,662 at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Eagles reliever Yuki Matsui (0-1) loaded the bases by allowing three singles before Laird delivered the winning hit between left and center field.

“It felt good, I knew it would be a hit. I wanted to give our closer (Naoya) Ishikawa a couple of runs for support,” the 30-year-old American said. “I tried to put the ball up in the zone, and tried to give a chance to the runner on third. I put a good swing to it, and went for a double.”

Nippon Ham needed the boost after losing all three games of its season-opening series against the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.

The game, which opened with a moment’s silence for former Eagles manager Senichi Hoshino, who died of pancreatic cancer in January, started off as a pitchers’ duel between two right handers — the Eagles’ Takayuki Kishi and Fighters’ Naoyuki Uwasawa.

Kishi scattered three hits and a walk, while striking out six in eight shutout innings. Uwasawa also had a solid performance on the mound, giving up five hits and two walks while fanning five in seven frames.

Naoki Miyanishi (1-0) picked up the win for pitching the eighth. Ishikawa earned his first career save.

Lions 7, Hawks 4

At Tokorozawa’s Metlife Dome, Seibu maintained its perfect 4-0 record this season after Hotaka Yamakawa and Shuta Tonosaki each hit a sixth-inning, two-run home run to beat Fukuoka SoftBank.

Marines 4, Buffaloes 1

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Chiba Lotte’s Takashi Ogino went 4-for-5 with an RBI and Ayumu Ishikawa (1-0) limited Orix to a run while pitching seven innings in Chiba Lotte’s third straight win of the season.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Carp 6, Swallows 3

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Hiroshima bagged four runs in the sixth, including RBI singles by Takayoshi Noma and Alejandro Mejia, as Hiroshima beat Tokyo Yakult.

Giants 10, Dragons 3

At Nagoya Dome, Hayato Sakamoto opened the scoring with a first-inning single and went 4-for-6 to hand Chunichi its fourth consecutive loss.