Clutch hitting by Seichi Uchikawa coupled with brilliant outings by four different hurlers lifted Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks past Australia’s Perth Heat in a 4-0 shutout in this year’s Asia Series at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium yesterday afternoon.
The veteran slugger who led the Pacific League in hitting during the regular season was at his best when it counted most as he went a solid 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position and two outs, to drive in three of his team’s four runs in the game.
The two wins by the Hawks earned them a spot in tomorrow night’s title game, when the winners will go home with a hefty NT$15 million (US$495,000) check in prize money.
Starter Sho Iwasaki allowed lead-off singles to the Australians in the first and second innings, but managed to get out of trouble on both occasions before turning the game to his bullpen mates, who combined for seven innings of one-hit ball to keep the shutout intact.
The decision to go with a group effort on the mound proved wise for Hawks skipper Koji Akiyama, who should have all his pitchers available for tomorrow’s title game because the most that a single pitcher had pitched was reliever and game-winner Shingo Tatsumi’s four innings.
Miscues on the defensive side hurt the Heat as three of the four runs allowed by starter Trevor Caughey were unearned because of a pair of errors by his defense. They committed three errors to make it virtually impossible to win against any team, let alone the top club in Japan.
SAMSUNG LIONS 6,
UNI-PRESIDENT LIONS 3
Choi Hyung-woo’s two-run blast off reliever Ryan Glenn broke a 3-all tie in the eighth as South Korea’s Samsung Lions defeated Taiwan’s Uni-President Lions 6-3 in Taoyuan last night for a chance to take on the Hawks in tomorrow night’s title game.
Samsung took a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the third against Uni-President starter Seth Etherton and made it 3-0 an inning later before the hosts finally got on the board in the bottom of the four on the strength of Yang Song-hsuan’s RBI single off Samsung starter Bae Young-soo.
Trailing by two, Uni-President managed to tie the game at 3-all, with Kuo Chun-yo’s pinch-hit homer off Samsung reliever Kwon Oh-joon in the bottom of the sixth, setting the stage for Choi’s game-winning swing.
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