Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Top draft pick Kosei Yoshida makes winning debut as Fighters edge Carp

Kyodo

Kosei Yoshida, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ first pick in last year’s NPB draft, got the win in his professional debut Wednesday as the Fighters beat the Hiroshima Carp 2-1 in interleague play.

Taishi Ota blasted a solo homer and Haruki Nishikawa added an RBI single to help 18-year-old Yoshida clinch his maiden victory against the Central League leaders at Sapporo Dome.

“I’m really happy. The cheering from the fans was really loud, and I drew strength from it,” said Yoshida, who became a household name for leading unheralded Kanaashi Nogyo High School to the final of the National High School Baseball Championship last year.

The right-hander stayed in the game for five innings, striking out four while giving up a run on four hits and a pair of walks.

Hiroshima starter Daichi Osera took the loss to drop to 6-3. The All-Star struck out eight over eight innings but had limited help from his offense.

After a jittery start, in which he walked two of his first four batters, Yoshida kept his composure to pitch out of a jam in the first inning.

Having loaded the bases with a walk to Seiya Suzuki, he struck out Ryoma Nishikawa on three pitches before retiring the side on a ground out by Yoshitaka Isomura.

The Fighters took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning when Ota went deep to left off the first pitch he saw from Osera.

Yoshida allowed his only run in the second when Hisayoshi Chono doubled to score Kosuke Tanaka. But the Fighters retook the lead in the bottom of the inning when Nishikawa singled to bring home Ryo Watanabe.

Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama replaced Yoshida with Kazutomo Iguchi to start the sixth. Iguchi, Katsuhiko Kumon, Bryan Rodriguez and closer Naoya Ishikawa contributed a scoreless inning each as the Fighters improved to 2-0 in the three-game series.

After being presented with the game ball, Yoshida praised his teammates in the Fighters bullpen for helping him get the win.

“The relief pitchers did a perfect job. More than getting the win (as a pitcher), I was happy for (the team’s) victory. I want to give the ball to my parents,” he said.

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