FUKUOKA – A day after seeing his team’s nine-game win streak end, Kenji Akashi’s tie-breaking pinch-hit double sparked the SoftBank Hawks to a 7-0 Pacific League win over the Lotte Marines on Wednesday.
Hawks starter Yuki Matsumoto, making his third start of the season, dueled Tanner Scheppers (0-3) for five scoreless innings. Both pitchers repeatedly put themselves in trouble by walking batters, but the game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth.
After Yuki Yanagita’s leadoff single and Akira Nakamura’s one-out double put runners on second and third, the Marines loaded the bases to set up a double play and it backfired stupendously.
Pinch hitter Akashi doubled in two runs, knocking Scheppers from the game. Right-hander Yuki Karakawa entered the game and things went from bad to worse.
“My teammates did such a great job setting the table, I just wanted to bring in a run somehow,” Akashi said. “I was relieved I didn’t hit it straight to the first baseman.”
“Yesterday we lost our nine-game winning streak, but this was the most important game for us to focus on and winning it was big. Even one loss in the second half is big.”
Seiji Uebayashi popped up a suicide squeeze. Karakawa dove for the ball but could only field it on a hop. From his knees he threw to first, but the ball sailed down the right field line to make it a 4-0 game with Uebayashi on second. Taisei Makihara followed with an infield single to second. Karakawa, covering at first, dropped the ball and kicked it down the line, allowing Uebayashi to motor home with SoftBank’s fifth run.
Uebayashi singled in two more runs in the bottom of the eighth against Lotte lefty Kakeru Narita. After a leadoff single and a walk, a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position and Uebayashi cashed them in.
Shuta Ishikawa (11-6) took the mound for the Hawks in the sixth and retired six of the seven batters he faced over two innings to earn the win.
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At Omiya Park Baseball Stadium, Shogo Akiyama singled in two ninth-inning runs to tie it against Rakuten closer Frank Herrmann (2-3) and Hotaka Yamakawa singled in the game winner with two outs as Seibu came from behind to win.
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At Yokohama Stadium, Ryosuke Oguma (3-1) allowed two runs over seven innings, while Yohei Oshima hit a two-run, first-inning home run and added a ninth-inning sacrifice fly in Chunichi’s win over DeNA.
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At Koshien Stadium, Yuhei Nakamura hit a three-run, first-inning home run off Randy Messenger (11-7) as second-place Yakult held on to beat Hanshin and move above .500 for the first time since April 15.
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At Tokyo Dome, 41-year-old Takahiro Arai hit a three-run home run and became Hiroshima’s oldest player with three hits in a game, and Yomiuri reliever Samuel Adames (0-2) walked four batters in the 10th inning to take the loss.
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