Tsuyoshi Wada threw five masterful innings, and Shuhei Fukuda homered twice as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks clinched their eighth interleague championship with a 5-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Wada (1-1), who missed all of the 2018 season due to injury, made just his third start of the year. The southpaw kept hitters off balance with good location on his fastball and a nasty changeup they couldn’t hit. Wada struck out six, while allowing a run on three hits and two walks.
Fukuda, who hit a tie-breaking grand slam in Friday’s series opener at Tokyo Dome, homered to open the game off Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (7-4). The Hawks made it 4-0 in the inning on two walks, two infield singles an error and a squeeze.
Sugano, who allowed four runs, two earned, was pulled after he walked Wada to open the second inning.
Wada made a few mistakes, but the only one that cost him was a first-pitch fastball to Kazuma Okamoto that the Giants’ young cleanup hitter hit out to center field to lead off the fourth.
“I believed in him, and I’m so happy he could get his first win (in two years) here and wrap up the championship,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “As a former pitcher, I could really feel what he was going through.”
The Hawks bullpen survived a couple of scares to work four scoreless innings to close it out, while Fukuda homered to lead off the Hawks’ seventh and complete the scoring.
BayStars 3, Eagles 0
At Yokohama Stadium, rookie right-hander Taiga Kamichatani (4-3) struck out five over six scoreless innings and broke a scoreless tie with a two-run single off Tohoku Rakuten Eagles veteran Takayuki Kishi (2-2) in the Yokohama BayStars’ victory.
Swallows 6, Marines 2
At Jingu Stadium, lefty Keiji Takahashi (1-3) allowed two runs over six innings, pitching the Tokyo Yakult Swallows past the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Buffaloes 9, Carp 3
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Shuhei Fukuda went 4-for-5 with a walk and one of the Orix Buffaloes’ four 10th-inning RBI triples in their win over the Hiroshima Carp.
Dragons 8, Fighters 4
At Nagoya Dome, the Chunichi Dragons hammered rookie Kosei Yoshida for five runs over three innings in a big win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Yoshida, the brightest star of last year’s national high school summer championship, fell to 1-1 in two starts.
Lions 7, Tigers 3
At Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, Seibu’s top draft pick in 2018 Wataru Matsumoto (3-1) allowed a run over five innings as the Lions beat the Hanshin Tigers.
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