Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Fighters hold off Hawks to complete sweep

Kyodo

Third-year reliever Kazutomo Iguchi bailed out the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in the eighth inning to help them scrape out a 7-5 win over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Before 30,927 at Sapporo Dome, Iguchi (1-1) entered a tie game with two outs and two on to face Hawks captain Seiichi Uchikawa. Iguchi got the veteran to swing at a two-strike fastball on the outer edge of the zone resulting in a weak grounder back to the mound.

“I just focused on that batter and trying to get him out. This is my third year as a pro, so there’s not a lot to say about this being my first win, but I am grateful I was used in a game we had been winning,” Iguchi said.

The Fighters took their third lead of the game in the bottom of the inning after Oswaldo Arcia opened with a double off reliever Ren Kajiya (2-1). Brandon Laird was walked intentionally, Shinya Tsuruoka singled with one out and the go-ahead run came home on a ground out. With two outs and the bases loaded, Go Matsumoto plated an insurance run with a single.

For the first four innings, neither team mounted any rallies, with Laird’s 18th home run in the second inning accounting for the only run. The Fighters, however, broke through in the fifth for three runs against veteran Kenichi Nakata. Haruki Nishikawa doubled in a run and Sho Nakata capped the rally with a two-run single.

Fighters starter Hirotoshi Takanashi allowed just one base runner through five innings but got in real trouble with two outs in the sixth. With one on, Taisei Makihara doubled and Yuki Yanagita followed with his 23rd home run of the season, to make it a one-run game.

Nobuhiro Matsuda tied the game for the visitors in the seventh with his 18th home run, but the Fighters got that run back against the Hawks bullpen in the seventh.

The Hawks then played small ball in the top of the eighth. Makihara beat out an infield single. Then when heading for second on a stolen base attempt, he got a bonus when lefty Katsuhiko Kumon uncorked a wild pitch.

Yanagita singled him home to tie it. Alfredo Despaigne also singled to give the Hawks a chance for a big comeback, only for Iguchi to pull the plug on that scenario.

Marines 7, Buffaloes 3

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Hideaki Wakui (5-6) allowed three runs over seven innings, and Tatsuhiro Tamura’s three-run home run capped a four-run seventh inning as Lotte completed a sweep of Orix to move into third place.

Lions 6, Eagles 3

At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, league-leading Seibu came from a run down in a four-run eighth inning against former Tohoku Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui for the win.

The Eagles’ Japhet Amador and the Lions’ Hotaka Yamakawa, the PL home run leader, each homered twice.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 11, BayStars 7

At Yokohama Stadium, Randy Messenger (10-6) allowed two runs over seven innings as Hanshin scored five runs off starter Shota Imanaga (2-6) and added six more against the next four BayStars pitchers.

Swallows 5, Dragons 4

At Jingu Stadium, Wladimir Balentien drove in four runs, three with his league-leading 22nd home run in the first inning, and teammate Tetsuto Yamada broke a 5-5, eighth-inning tie with his 22nd as Yakult completed a sweep of last-place Chunichi.

Carp 8, Giants 6

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yoshihiro Maru drove in four runs and hit two of Hiroshima’s four home runs in a come-from-behind win that completed a three-game sweep of Yomiuri.