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Rob Smaal

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Hawks bang out hit parade to down Swallows

by Rob Smaal (Jun 20, 2008)

The Softbank Hawks spread the offense around Thursday night at Jingu Stadium, hanging on for a tough 7-5 interleague win over the Yakult Swallows.

Yuya Hasegawa had three hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Hawks and leadoff hitter Yuichi Honda was 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk, a stolen base, two runs scored and a pair of RBIs.

Softbank starter Kenji Otonari picked up his seventh win for Sadaharu Oh's club. The second-year lefty toughed it out through 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits while striking out eight. Otonari (7-5) did not walk a batter.

Akihiro Yanase worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his third save.

Yakult starter Shohei Tateyama (6-2) took the loss. Tateyama gave up three runs on six hits in five innings.

Softbank leadoff hitter Honda started the party early for the Hawks, working the count full before taking Tateyama downtown for a solo shot to right to start the game, his first tater of the season.

With runners on first and second in the top of the fourth, Softbank's Katsuki Yamazaki drilled a liner back up the middle past Tateyama. Yakult center fielder Norichika Aoki came up throwing and it looked like he just might nail Hiroki Kokubo at the plate as he tried to score from second, but the ball appeared to hit a pebble on the pitching mound and it kicked left, allowing Kokubo to score the Hawks' second run.

In the fifth, Munenori Kawasaki tripled to center, a ball nearly caught by Aoki, and a couple of batters later Kokubo cashed him in with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-0.

The Swallows got a couple back in the home half of the fifth on RBI doubles by Fukuchi and Aoki but Kawasaki stroked an RBI double of his own into the right-field corner off Yakult reliever Kosuke Matsui in the seventh to give the Hawks a two-run margin and, after Nobuhiko Matsunaka had greeted left-handed reliever Masaru Sato by drilling his first pitch into center field for a double, Hasegawa clubbed a two-run double up the middle to make it 6-2. Hasegawa was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.

But the pesky Swallows refused to go quietly. They put three of their own on the board in the bottom of the seventh. Veteran shortstop Shinya Miyamoto lined an RBI single into left and that was the end of Otonari's night. With two men aboard, Hawks skipper Oh brought in reliever C.J. Nitkowski to face the dangerous Aoki, who promptly hammered a two-run double into the gap in left-center to make it 6-5.

(IHT/Asahi: June 20,2008)


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