Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Kotaro Kiyomiya lifts Fighters over Hawks

Kotaro Kiyomiya broke an eighth-inning tie with a bases-loaded RBI single on Sunday, lifting the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to a 7-5 Pacific League win over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

The second-year slugger knocked a high 0-2 fork ball through the infield, driving in two runs off rookie right-hander Hiroshi Kaino (2-5) at Sapporo Dome.

The Hawks claimed a comfortable four-run lead in the third inning, but the Fighters mounted a huge comeback. The visitors dropped to second place after the Saitama Seibu Lions defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines later in the day.

Yushi Shimizu opened the Fighters’ scoring with his fourth home run, a fifth-inning solo shot, before Taishi Ota and cleanup hitter Sho Nakata each drove in a run in the sixth.

With the Hawks leading 4-3 in the eighth, Kaino, the visitors’ fourth reliever, allowed back-to-back singles before retiring his first batter. Nakata hit a game-tying RBI single before Nippon Ham loaded the bases with a walk to set the table for Kiyomiya.

“I really wanted to contribute. I have been able to play despite not being able to deliver results recently, so I’ve wanted to meet the (team’s) expectations,” said Kiyomiya, hitless in three previous games.

The Hawks loaded the bases against closer Ryo Akiyoshi in the final inning, but missed their bid for a third straight win after Nobuhiro Matsuda grounded out for the final out.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura surrendered four runs on four hits, two on an Alfredo Despaigne homer, over three innings. Mizuki Hori (4-3) picked up the win for pitching a scoreless eighth.

Lions 6, Marines 5

At MetLife Dome, Seibu’s Fumikazu Kimura scored the winning run from the batter’s box in the 11th inning when his routine two-out fly was not caught. Lotte center fielder Takashi Ogino and left fielder Shohei Kato collided as both tried to camp under the ball, and Kato was charged with an error. The Lions’ win over the Marines clinched them a spot in the postseason.

Buffaloes 7, Eagles 1

At Kyocera Dome, right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto (7-5) pitched seven solid innings and Stefen Romero drove in three runs in the Orix Buffaloes’ win over the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles.

Central League

Giants 6, Tigers 5

In the Central League, Alex Guerrero’s eighth-inning, two-run homer lifted the Yomiuri Giants to victory over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome. The Giants clinched a postseason berth with the win.

BayStars 6, Dragons 2

At Nagoya Dome, Edison Barrios (1-1) allowed two runs over five innings, while Keita Sano and Jose Lopez each drove in two runs in the Yokohama BayStars’ win over the Chunichi Dragons.

Yakult 8, Carp 7

At Mazda Stadium, Tokyo Yakult Swallows reserve infielder Taishi Hirooka hit two home runs and drove in five in a close win over the Hiroshima Carp.