FUKUOKA – Yuki Yanagita’s clutch batting helped drive the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks past the Seibu Lions for the second straight day as his undefeated club beat the defending Pacific League champions 3-1 on Saturday to sweep the three-game opening series.
Batting third for the Hawks, Yanagita went 3-for-3 at Yafuoku Dome and blasted a two-run homer against Kona Takahashi (0-1) in the sixth to overturn the Lions’ 1-0 lead.
The 30-year-old slugger belted a grand slam in the Hawks’ 6-5 come-from-behind win against the Lions on Saturday.
In the fifth inning, Takeya Nakamura put the Lions ahead with a solo shot against second-year rookie Rei Takahashi (1-0), who struck out three and gave up four hits over six innings for his first career win.
“If you keep doing the right things, the wins will come,” said Takahashi, who was 0-1 in 12 games last season and still considered a rookie because he didn’t exceed 30 innings.
“I was able to change speeds well. It was my first time to get through six innings.”
Seiji Uebayashi followed Yanagita’s heroics with a solo shot in the seventh to seal the sweep.
Seibu’s Takahashi threw seven innings and allowed all three runs on six hits while striking out four. SoftBank’s bullpen scattered three hits as the Lions opened with three straight losses for the first time in five years.
Fighters 3, Buffaloes 1
In Sapporo, Kohei Arihara (1-0) struck out eight over seven solid innings in the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ win against the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.
Eagles 9, Marines 4
In Chiba, Zelous Wheeler homered twice, doubled and walked for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 9-4.
Giants 6, Carp 3
Three ninth-inning errors allowed the Yomiuri Giants to clinch a 6-3 victory over the Hiroshima Carp at Mazda Stadium, breaking a 3-3 tie on RBIs from Naoki Yoshikawa and Hayato Sakamoto.
Swallows 2, Tigers 1
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Wladimir Balentien and Yuhei Takai hit back-to-back, first-inning RBI doubles as the Yakult Swallows beat the Hanshin Tigers for their first win.
BayStars 3, Dragons 2
At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA pinch hitter Keita Sano drove in the game-winning run in the ninth as the Yokohama BayStars walked off 3-2 against the Chunichi Dragons to win an opening three-game series for the first time in six years.