Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hawks lefty Kotaro Otake collects first victory of season

Second-year pro holds Eagles to four hits in seven scoreless innings


Left-hander Kotaro Otake worked seven scoreless innings Thursday to pick up his first win of the season as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks blanked the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 1-0.

Making his fifth start, Otake (1-1) limited the Eagles to four hits and three walks, while striking out three at Yafuoku Dome.

“I wasn’t in good form, but holding off the batters even when I’m not doing well was something I couldn’t do last season. So I wanted to show I’ve improved from last year,” said the second-year pro, who went 3-2 in 11 games last season.

The 23-year-old entered with a 0.89 ERA but no wins in four starts. He was tagged with the loss on April 17 when he allowed a run over eight innings in the Hawks’ 1-0 defeat to the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Kenta Imamiya’s first-inning, RBI double against right-hander Yuri Furukawa (0-1) put the Hawks ahead. Rookie outfielder Ukyo Shuto, who singled with one out, was running on the play and scored easily.

“I knew Shuto would run, but I batted aggressively because (Furukawa) is a difficult pitcher to score against,” Imamiya said. “Otake had been pitching very well in every single game, and it was our fault he had been without a win.”

The Eagles had the chance to stage a late rally in the eighth when Hawks rookie Hiroshi Kaino put runners on first and third with one out. But the hard-throwing right-hander got Rakuten cleanup hitter Hiroaki Shimauchi to ground out.

SoftBank closer Yuito Mori pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the win, a day after the Hawks suffered a 9-0 loss to the Eagles.

Furukawa was tagged with the loss. He allowed a run on four hits and four walks and fanned seven in six solid innings.

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