Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Ayatsugu Yamashita goes long in 11th inning as Eagles beat Fighters 10-8

Kyodo

Catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita hit an 11th-inning walk-off homer for his first home run of the season on Tuesday as the Rakuten Eagles earned an 10-8 come-from-behind win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Eagles’ right-hander Takahiro Norimoto gave up six runs in six innings as both teams traded points until a standstill in the eighth. After a nail-biting 10th, Yamashita blasted a two-run home run to left field for the walk-off win.

Yuki Matsui (3-6) earned the win for shutting the Fighters down in the 11th, while Taisho Tamai (1-2) got the loss for giving up the tying and losing runs.

With two outs in the second inning, Brandon Laird homered into the left field bleachers at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi to put the Fighters on the board.

But the Eagles took a 2-1 lead in the second when Toshiaki Imae led off the inning with a solo shot to left center, and Japhet Amador followed up two batters later with one of his own.

In the third, Norimoto got into a one-out, bases-loaded jam after giving up three straight hits, and the Fighters tied the game when the right-hander issued a walk to his next batter.

Sho Nakata doubled to the left field wall to drive in two more, and a sacrifice fly from Oswaldo Arcia made it 5-2. Norimoto intentionally walked Laird in his second at-bat, and retired the next batter to end the rally after a full trip through the lineup.

Amador doubled in a run in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the fifth put the Eagles within one, but Norimoto allowed Laird to blast his second homer of the game in the sixth to keep the Fighters up by two.

In the bottom of the inning Amador answered back with his second home run to close the gap again, but the Fighters scored on a fielder’s choice in the seventh.

Ginji Akaminai smacked an RBI double down the right line in the seventh, and Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled in a tying run in the eighth before Nippon Ham reliever Michael Tonkin shut down the inning.

Fighters pinch-hitter Shinya Tsuruoka entered with two outs in the 10th and sent a line drive to left center to drive in the go-ahead run, but Akaminai lobbed one over the pitcher’s mound to send the game into the 11th.

The Fighters remain behind the Pacific-League-leading Seibu Lions at 48 wins, 37 losses and one tie.

Lions 7, Buffaloes 1

At MetLife Dome, Ernesto Mejia, Tomoya Mori and Takeya Nakamura each hit two-run homers, and Lions starter Shinsaburo Tawata (10-4) fanned six and scattered five hits over a full outing against Orix to remain the league leaders.

Marines 10, Hawks 10, 12 innings

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, 12 innings wasn’t enough to decide a winner between Lotte and SoftBank, who traded runs back and fourth in a 5 hour, 45 minute game.

Central League

Swallows 5, Giants 2

At Kurashiki Muscat Stadium, Tetsuto Yamada’s two-run homer in the third got things started for Yakult, while right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-3) didn’t allow a run until the sixth. The Swallows lineup combined for 16 hits as the club pulled closer to second-place Yomiuri.

Dragons 11, BayStars 4

At Hamamatsu Municipal Stadium, DeNA righty Shoichi Ino (3-1) gave up eight runs in four innings, and a five-run rally in the third launched last-place Chunichi to a much-needed win. Shotaro Kasahara (1-3) fanned seven and picked up his first win of the season.

Carp 3, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi’s two-run homer gave Hiroshima an early lead, and Kris Johnson (7-2) and Geronimo Franzua fanned a combined 10 and held Hanshin to a run. Shota Nakazaki earned his 24th save.