Asamura’s sayonara double sends Lions past Eagles


Hideto Asamura finished a big night in a big way, with a game-winning sayonara double, lifting the Seibu Lions to a 5-4 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 12 innings on Wednesday night.

After starting his night 0-for-2 against Eagles star right-hander Takahiro Norimoto, Asamura’s sacrifice fly put the Lions on the board, and he finished with three straight hits, including his one-out gapper to right center that plated Shogo Akiyama from first and won it in the 12th at MetLife Dome.

“It’s kind of scary how much I’ve been hitting,” Asamura said. “I thought that one was going to get through (the outfielders).

The Eagles’ loss dropped their record to 11-3, still Nippon Professional Baseball’s best.

Norimoto had allowed two runs on four hits through seven innings, but went to the mound in the eighth with 106 pitches under his belt and couldn’t escape with the lead.

Two singles, a sacrifice and then an RBI single by Asamura brought the Lions to within a run at 4-3. With two outs, Seibu tied it up when third baseman Zelous Wheeler booted a grounder.

Rakuten skipper Masataka Nashida went to his bullpen an inning too late, and closer Yuki Matsui pitched out of trouble to send the game to extra innings.

The Eagles opened the scoring on the second pitch from Seibu’s Shinsaburo Tawata as 171-cm leadoff man Eigoro Mogi hit a long homer, his fourth, out to right. Mogi singled in another run in the second.

Carlos Peguero’s sixth homer made it 3-0 in the fifth, but the Lions finally broke through against Norimoto in the sixth, as he made his third trip through their lineup.

Akiyama doubled and, after a sac bunt, scored from third on Asamura’s sac fly. Cleanup hitter Takeya Nakamura followed with his fourth homer of the season to make it a 3-2 game.

Mogi, however, walked in the seventh and scored on Wheeler’s second double of the game to give Norimoto a two-run cushion. The right-hander worked over the bottom part of the Lions’ lineup in the seventh, but his fourth time against Seibu’s best hitters proved one time too many.

Two big innings from submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita kept the Eagles off the board until the 11th and Shota Takekuma stopped the visitors in the 12th to eliminate the chance of a Rakuten victory.

Hawks 2, Marines 0

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Giants 1, Swallows 0

At Kagoshima’s Kamoike Stadium, with starting pitcher Hayato Takagi hurt, rookie Shimpei Shinohara (1-0) pitched three innings to win his pro debut as six Yomiuri pitchers combined for a shutout of Tokyo Yakult, which wasted an impressive eight-inning effort from former Philadelphia Phillies right-hander David Buchanan (1-1).

BayStars 4, Carp 0

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, second-year lefty Shota Imanaga (1-1) threw a one-hitter against Hiroshima, as Japan’s most powerful offense was shutout for the first time this season.

Jose Lopez drove in three of the BayStars’ runs in a game that saw Carp manager Koichi Ogata ejected for abusive language after his second encounter with umpire Tetsuo Yamaji.

Dragons 4, Tigers 3

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