The importance of the Chiba Lotte Marines leapfrogging the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks for second place in the final Pacific League standings and home-field advantage in the playoffs was clear before the first pitch in Game 1 of the PL Climax Series First Stage.

The Marines fans were in rare from before the game started, singing joyfully and clutching white signboards the club handed out to create a “whiteout” at Zozo Marine Stadium. Their roars reached almost deafening levels as the night wore on and it became apparent that the sheer force of their support and the skill of their players were more than the Hawks could handle.

Ace Roki Sasaki, who last pitched on Sept. 17, returned to the mound with three perfect innings, Takashi Ogino and Gregory Polanco homered in the first inning and the Marines topped the Hawks 8-2 in the series opener on Saturday night.