Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hawks star Yuki Yanagita bashes grand slam in victory over Lions

Kyodo

Yuki Yanagita blasted a fourth-inning grand slam to help the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks earn a 6-5 come-from-behind victory Saturday against the Seibu Lions.

The Hawks battled back from three runs down in the bottom of the fourth. After Seiichi Uchikawa scored a run on a walk, Yanagita hammered the grand slam into the right field stands at Yafuoku Dome off right-hander Tatsuya Imai (0-1).

“I went into the plate very relaxed. I wasn’t aiming for one, but it happened to be a homer,” Yanagita said.

Lions cleanup hitter Hotaka Yamakawa led off the eighth with a solo homer off rookie Masato Okumura, the fourth of five Hawks relievers. But the right-hander retired the final three batters to avoid further damage in the inning.

Ariel Miranda picked up the win for pitching five innings. The Cuban, playing in his second season with SoftBank, allowed four runs on five hits and three walks.

Left-handed reliever Hiroyuki Kawahara pitched in a top team game for the first time since 2013. He took the mound as the Hawks’ second pitcher and yielded one hit in the sixth inning.

The 27-year-old underwent surgery to his left shoulder and elbow in 2015.

“It feels amazing. I went through a tough time when I couldn’t pitch after the injury, but I’m very happy because I didn’t think I could ever take the mound on the top team again,” he said.

Infielder Yurisbel Gracial put SoftBank on the scoreboard first with a first-inning grounder.

Takumi Kuriyama opened the scoring for the visitors with a second-inning, two-run homer against Miranda, before Tomoya Mori and Takeya Nakamura each drove in a run in the fourth.

Imai surrendered all six runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out six over 4-1/3 innings.

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