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Rob Smaal

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Swallows Spank Fighters

by Rob Smaal (Mar 8, 2010)

Jamie D'Antona slammed a three-run home run in the first inning and Norichika Aoki was 3-for-3 with an RBI to back five shutout innings from starter Yoshinori Sato as the Yakult Swallows blanked the Nippon-Ham Fighters 4-0 in NPB preseason action Sunday at Sapporo Dome.

After Nippon-Ham starter Kenji Tsuchiya hit rookie Takahiro Araki with a pitch and gave up a single to Aoki in the top of the first frame, D'Antona took the second-year lefty deep with a three-run shot into the bleachers in right.

"I was happy to finally square a ball up and was fortunate enough for it to go out," D'Antona said. "I just want it to happen in the regular season when they count."

Right-hander Sato looked sharp in five scoreless innings for Yakult, allowing three hits while striking out six. He combined with lefty Masato Nakazawa, a first-round pick of the Swallows from the Toyota club, who worked the final four scoreless innings in relief to nail down the shutout. Nakazawa allowed just one hit to the reigning Pacific League champions, striking out four and issuing one walk.

At Kurashiki, Kazuyuki Hoashi and Hideaki Wakui split the first eight innings as the Seibu Lions edged the Hanshin Tigers 1-0.

Lefty Hoashi allowed two hits through four scoreless innings before Wakui pitched four shutout innings of one-hit ball in the win. Taiyoh Fujita and Tomoki Hoshino worked the ninth to seal the victory.

Takumi Kuriyama singled in the game's only run with a line shot to right in the fourth inning, one of his two hits on the afternoon.

At Osaka's Kyocera Dome, Orix Buffaloes starter Chihiro Kaneko combined with four relievers to blank the Chunichi Dragons 5-0. Kaneko tossed five innings in the win. The right-hander gave up three hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter.

Newcomer Edward Valdez allowed three runs on eight hits over five innings for the Dragons.

Ikki Shimamura led the offensive charge for Orix, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

At Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka, Yomiuri rookie Hisayoshi Chono continued to swing a hot bat and lefty Tetsuya Utsumi was effective through five frames, allowing just one unearned run while whiffing eight, as the Giants topped the Softbank Hawks 7-5.

Chono was 2-for-3 with a double and a triple and two runs driven in as he boosted his batting average to an even .400.

The Hawks new South Korean import Lee Bum-ho smacked his first home run in Japan, a two-run shot in Softbank's three-run seventh inning.

Elsewhere Sunday, the Rakuten Eagles beat the Yokohama BayStars 5-4 in Nagasaki and Go Kida hit a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Hiroshima Carp edged the Lotte Marines 9-8 in a game featuring seven homers in Fukuyama.


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