NAGOYA – 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.
Carp 6, Giants 5 (10)
At Tokyo Dome, Seiya Suzuki homered, doubled and drove in three runs, while Takayoshi Noma doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning as Hiroshima edged Yomiuri, which used eight pitchers in a “bullpen day.”
Lions 4, Marines 3 (10)
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Ernesto Mejia’s one-out, 10th-inning RBI double lifted Seibu over Chiba Lotte.
The Marines tied it with two runs in the ninth off closer Tatsushi Masuda.
Hawks 3, Fighters 1
At Sapporo Dome, Yurisbel Gracial singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning as Fukuoka SoftBank protected its slim PL lead over Seibu by beating Kohei Arihara (14-8) and Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Buffaloes 3, Eagles 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yuma Mune drove in three runs, and Brandon Dickson pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the ninth to earn his 16th save as Orix topped Tohoku Rakuten to snap a nine-game losing streak.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5