Seiichi Uchikawa scored the winning run with a seventh-inning homer as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks came back to beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-1 in the Pacific League on Monday, giving rookie pitcher Keisuke Izumi his first professional victory.
Izumi (1-0) picked up the win at Tokyo Dome after pitching two solid innings of relief from the top of the sixth.
After surrendering an RBI to his first batter, the 22-year-old right-hander retired six straight to help the Hawks extend their head-to-head win streak against Orix to three.
“I didn’t think I was going to get my first win. When I got to the mound, my main concern was that I didn’t want to hand (starting pitcher Nao) Higashihama a loss,” he said.
Uchikawa’s heroics came an inning after Nobuhiro Matsuda tied the score with an RBI double off Orix starter Andrew Albers at Tokyo Dome.
Leading off in the seventh, Uchikawa sent Kazumasa Yoshida’s 1-0 fastball several rows back over the left field wall for his second homer of the season.
Hawks designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne drove in another run in the bottom of the eighth, hitting reliever Keisuke Sawada for a single that scored Taisei Makihara.
Right-hander Higashihama gave SoftBank five innings, striking out three and allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks.
SoftBank skipper Kimiyasu Kudo pulled his starter at the top of the sixth after he allowed consecutive hits to Koji Oshiro and Masataka Yoshida to start the inning.
Orix took the lead when Joey Meneses scored Oshiro with a double off Izumi. The rookie retired the next three batters to work his way through a no-out jam with runners on second and third.
“After they got the run I was able to settle things down and stick it out. I’m glad I was able to keep things under control,” Izumi said.
Yoshida (0-1) took the loss, while SoftBank closer Yuito Mori picked up his seventh save.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5