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Rob Smaal

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Araki leads CL All-Stars' hit parade

by Rob Smaal (Aug 2, 2008)

YOKOHAMA--The Central League teed off on Marines ace Yoshihisa Naruse on Friday night, lighting up the young left-hander for six runs in the fifth inning on their way to an 11-6 pummeling of their Pacific League brethren in Game 2 of Nippon Professional Baseball's annual All-Star series.

The convincing win at Yokohama Stadium avenged Thursday's dramatic 5-4 loss to the PL in Game 1. The Pacific Leaguers still lead the all-time series 74-68-8.

In the fateful fifth, Chunichi slugger Tyrone Woods led off with a solo homer and the CL would go on to get three doubles and three singles in the inning. An error charged to Seibu catcher Toru Hosokawa didn't help Naruse's cause either.

While this one lacked the drama of Game 1, it didn't lack offense. The teams combined for 31 total hits--19 by the winners--and five home runs on the evening and local hero Seiichi Uchikawa of the BayStars went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.

PL pitchers also left Yokohama with a bad case of Araki-phobia after Dragons infielder Masahiro Araki went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three ribbies--pretty good production for a No. 9 hitter and good enough for him to pick up MVP honors.

Shoitsu Omatsu certainly did his part for the PL in a losing cause. The Marines outfielder hit a pair of solo homers Friday--leading off the top of the third with a shot off Swallows pitcher Masanori Ishikawa and leading off the fifth with a dinger off another Yakult pitcher, Shohei Tateyama.

Also going deep were PL veteran Nobuhiko Matsunaka of the Hawks, who went yard in the second inning off CL starter Kenshin Kawakami, a solo shot, and the Buffaloes Takeshi Hidaka, who smacked a two-run tater off Giants closer Marc Kroon in the eighth just a few pitches after the former BayStars flamethrower hit 161 kph on the scoreboard radar gun.

Ishikawa got the win while the Hawks' Toshiya Sugiuchi ended up taking the loss.

Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa set the side down in order in the ninth to preserve the win.

Yomiuri Giants slugger Alex Ramirez, who was 1-for-3 in the game with a double, won the pre-game home-run derby, topping Seibu's G.G. Sato 7-1 in the final round.

In Game 1 on Thursday at Osaka Dome, Rakuten veteran Takeshi Yamasaki drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give the PL squad a come-from-behind 5-4 walkoff victory.

The regular season resumes Sunday.

* * *

In other baseball news, wire services reported that Japan"s high school baseball governing body decided Friday to allow Kiryu Daiichi to take part in the national championship after a member of the team was arrested the previous day on suspicion of molesting a female student.

The Japan High School Baseball Federation decided that the team should not be blamed collectively for such an individual case, thus giving the Gunma Prefecture school the all-clear on the eve of the opening of the tournament.

"Our decision does not mean we disregard the seriousness of the incident," federation head Haruo Wakimura said.

The arrested 16-year-old is believed to have followed the victim, also 16, covered her month with his hand and touched her body at around 9 p.m. on July 22 on a street in Ota. According to police, the suspect has admitted to molesting the girl.


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