SAPPORO – Taishi Ota had the best game of his career on Wednesday, going 5-for-6 with five RBIs and three runs scored to help lead the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to a 15-5 win against the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles in the Pacific League.
Ota said he “could do no better” after recording five hits and driving in five runs for the first time in his 11-year career with the Fighters and Yomiuri Giants.
“I don’t really know why, but I just had a good feeling that I would hit (today),” Ota said.
Hiroaki Shimauchi’s two-run homer off Bryan Rodriguez in the first put the Eagles ahead at Sapporo Dome, but Rakuten starter Yuya Fukui got into trouble in the bottom of the inning and gave up the lead on three hits and two walks.
Ota doubled in the Fighters’ first run and Sho Nakata drove in the 28-year-old outfielder to tie the game. After Fukui gave up a second walk, Ryo Watanabe belted a two-run double to left to put the Fighters in front 4-2.
In the second, Ota doubled again and then singled in the fourth, and was driven home in both innings by the Fighters’ Taiwanese rookie Wang Po-jung.
The Eagles scored on Hideto Asamura’s RBI single in the fifth, but Ota blasted his third RBI in the bottom of the inning — a two-run double off Rakuten reliever Hiroyuki Fukuyama.
The visitors added late runs on a bases-loaded fielding error and a groundout as Nippon Ham’s bullpen floundered, but the Fighters batted around in a seven-run eighth against Fumiya Ono to seal the win.
Rodriguez (1-1) picked up his first win of the season, while Fukui (2-1) was tagged with his first loss as the Fighters ended Rakuten’s three-game winning streak.
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