Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hawks' Kotaro Otake tosses eight scoreless innings in victory over Tigers

Yurisbel Gracial slugs three-run homer in seventh

Kyodo

Kotaro Otake pitched eight scoreless innings and Yurisbel Gracial’s seventh-inning home run lifted the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to a 3-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers in interleague play on Thursday.

Otake (4-2) limited the Tigers to two hits and a walk, while striking out four of the 27 batters he faced at Yafuoku Dome. The 23-year-old lefty won his third straight start.

Otake was locked in a pitchers’ duel against fellow second-year pro Haruto Takahashi (1-1), who only gave up a hit and a walk over the first six innings.

“We’re both second-year pros, so I was really putting myself into it. I’m glad I was able to win at the end,” Otake said. “I was looking carefully at how the batters react when I pitched.”

Otake gave up his first hit of the game to Shun Takayama in the third, but continued with four perfect innings before Takayama singled again with two outs in the eighth. The left-hander got the next hitter to fly out before any damage was done.

Takahashi allowed singles to Kenta Imamiya and Seiichi Uchikawa in the seventh, before Gracial blasted a three-run homer into the left field stands.

“Otake was trying really hard and (Takahashi) is also a very good pitcher so I was focused on driving in a run,” Gracial said of his 14th shot of the season.

“I’m glad I didn’t lose my concentration at the plate.”

Hawks closer Yuito Mori pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 18th save.

Takahashi, pitching in his fifth game of the season, gave up five hits and a walk, while striking out six over seven innings.

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