Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Tigers rookie Koji Chikamoto hits for cycle in CL's rout of PL in All-Star Series finale

Kyodo

Hanshin Tigers rookie Koji Chikamoto became the second player to hit for the cycle in in the NPB All-Star Series, leading the Central League to an 11-3 win over the Pacific League in Saturday’s series finale.

Chikamoto, who became the first rookie to lead off the first inning of an All-Star Game with a home run, and Tigers teammates Fumihito Haraguchi and Ryutaro Umeno all hit solo homers at their home ballpark, Koshien Stadium. It was the CL’s first All-Star victory since they won 2016’s Game 1 and ended a five-game PL win streak.

On Friday, the PL defeated the CL 6-3 Game 1 at Tokyo Dome.

Chikamoto, who went 5-for-5 with two doubles, completed his cycle with a seventh-inning triple.

With the CL scoring twice off the Orix Buffaloes’ Taisuke Yamaoka in the first inning, Haraguchi homered in his second straight at-bat when he led off the second against Seibu Lions right-hander Kona Takahashi.

Umeno followed with a solo shot to the delight of the hometown crowd, and Yokohama BayStars cleanup hitter Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who grew up in Osaka, capped the rally with a tremendous line-drive homer into Koshien’s distant seats in straightaway left field.

The Buffaloes’ Masataka Yoshida hit the game’s other homer, when he capped the PL’s three-run third with a two-run blast off Chunichi Dragons right-hander Yuya Yanagi.

Yomiuri Giants right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano started and earned the win after throwing two scoreless innings, while Seiya Suzuki of the Hiroshima Carp hit the CL’s fifth home run of the night.

The other All-Star cycle belongs to Hall of Fame catcher Atsuya Furuta, who accomplished the feat in 1992.