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John E. Gibson

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Dragons walk off into Series!!

by John E. Gibson (Oct 23, 2010)

Kazuhiro Wada gave the Chunichi Dragons a magic moment that won't disappear from their memories anytime soon.

The cleanup man drove a liner over Alex Ramirez's head for a 4-3 ninth-inning, walk-off victory on Saturday that clinched the Central League Climax Series' final stage and put the Dragons into the Japan Series.

The Dragons will make their eighth Japan Series appearance and fourth under skipper Hiromitsu Ochiai since 2004, when they take on the Pacific League CS-winning Chiba Lotte Marines here in Game 1 on Saturday.

Wada was named the MVP of the series.

Super set-up man Takuya Asao saved the day for Chunichi temporarily, working out of a jam with one out and a runner at third in the eighth. But he blew the save in the ninth, allowing a leadoff single, a double and an RBI groundout. He ended up with the win.

Rookie Ryoji Nakata and Masahiko Morino drew back-to-back one-out walks off loser Yuya Kubo, and Wada smacked the first pitch he saw into left to end a nearly 4-hour tussle.

The defending Series champion Giants rallied for a run in the eighth inning off Akifumi Takahashi. Hayato Sakamoto and Ryota Wakiya both singled to start the frame to put runners on first and third. Wakiya advanced to second on a wild pitch and Michihiro Ogasawara sent a warning-track sacrifice fly to plate the run and push Wakiya to third.

But Ramirez tapped out to short with the infield in, and Shinnosuke Abe popped out to left to strand Wakiya.

The Giants struggled with runners on base the entire best-of-seven CLCS, which Chunichi began with a one-win advantage.

The Dragons struck in the fourth inning, when former Giant Kohei Oda didn't waste his chance. Oda jumped on a fastball from Seth Greisinger and drove it to the gap in left center for a two-run double and a 2-0 Dragons lead. Tony Blanco drew a one-out walk and Hirokazu Ibata, in his first CLCS start, kept the inning alive with a two-out single to right to set up Oda.

The Giants used back-to-back singles and a sacrifice to put runners on second and third with one out in the top of the fifth. Ochiai lifted Oda for Motonobu Tanishige and pulled Yamamoto in favor of another ex-Giant, Junichi Kawahara, who caught rookie Hisayoshi Chono admiring a 3-2 slider for the second out.

Kawahara coaxed Sakamoto into a harmless roller to second to end the threat and keep the Giants scoreless.

Kawahara then mowed down the Nos. 2-4 batters in the sixth.

The Dragons wasted chances all night. They got a leadoff triple from Masahiro Araki in the first, but stranded him at third. Chunichi put two on in the fourth, but Greisinger fanned Yamamoto to end that threat.


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