Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Dragons' Yudai Ono twirls no-hitter against Tigers

Kyodo

Yudai Ono pitched the 92nd no-hitter in NPB history Saturday, striking out nine and walking one in the Chunichi Dragons’ 3-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers.

The 30-year-old lefty’s gem comes eight days after Kodai Senga threw his first career no-hitter for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Sept. 6. It was the Dragons’ first no-no since Daisuke Yamai no-hit the Yokohama BayStars on June 28, 2013.

With two outs in the ninth, it looked like rookie Koji Chikamoto would spoil Ono’s bid, when he hit a low liner toward left, but Chunichi third baseman Shuhei Takahashi speared it for the final out causing Ono (9-8) to leap in the air repeatedly on the mound and pump his fists wildly.

“It’s unbelievable,” Ono said. “Through five innings, I just pitched in the firm belief they would get a hit. Because the fans yelled my name as I took the mound in the ninth, I did my best to go for it.

“I thought that ball might go through, but, well, Shuhei was there and that was that. I might have overdone it on the mound I guess, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, and I was expressing my happiness.”

The Tigers did not get a runner on base until Ryutaro Umeno reached after a wide throw from shortstop Yota Kyoda pulled first baseman Dayan Viciedo off the bag with one out in the sixth.

“I was wondering when the hit would come, and I thought that Kyoda’s play was going to be the one,” Ono said, referring to the close play at first which was reviewed by the umpires.

“While they were replaying it, I was set to go back to attacking batters like usual (without worrying about a hit). When they ruled it an error, I changed my mindset back (to thinking about a no-hitter).”

Ono also walked a batter with one out in the seventh, but that was it in his 126-pitch outing before a good crowd of 36,092.

The Dragons opened the scoring against Atsushi Mochizuki (1-1) in the second, when Viciedo reached with a leadoff double off the wall and scored from third on a wild pitch.

Ono contributed to the second run, with a bunt single after catcher Takuma Kato reached on an error. A hit batsman loaded the bases, and Nobumasa Fukuda made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.

Fukuda and Viciedo made it 3-0 in the fifth. Fukuda drew a two-out walk, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Viciedo’s second double.

The no-hitter comes two days shy of the 13th anniversary of the last time the Tigers were no-hit at Nagoya Dome by Masahiro Yamamoto on Sept. 16, 2006.

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