As winner of the Pacific League, the Nippon Ham Fighters already had an extra win on their account and after they won two games, the team had a 3-1 lead over the Softbank Hawks in the second stage of the Climax Series, the NPB’s semi final. So it was a must win situation for the team from Fukuoka today.
Manager Kimiyasu Kudoh sent Dutch giant Rick van den Hurk to the mound. And Van den Hurk did what he had to do. He got sufficient run support from his team mates as they scored five runs and outhit the Fighters 12-6 for a 5-2 victory.
In the top of the second inning, Hawks outfielder Yuya Hasegawa hit a solo homerun to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning Akira Nakamura got on base on a ground ball single to left field. After Yuichi Honda singled towards first base, a double steal put runners in scoring position. Yuki Yanagita drove in Nakamura with a single to center field to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
A two run homerun by Kenta Imamiya in the fourth inning, gave the Softbank Hawks a commanding 2-0 lead.
After the Hawks scored one more run in the sixth inning on a solo shot by Nobuhiro Matsuda, the Fighters got on the board. Until then, Rick van den Hurk had limited the Fighters to two hits in five innings.
After Van den Hurk gave up two consecutive walks, Shohei Otani hit a double up the middle to drive in two runs for the Fighters. But that was about all the Fighters were capable of today.
Rick lasted six innings in which he threw 101 pitches, faced 24 batters, walked two, struck out six and gave up two runs on four hits. This solid performance earned him the win and brought the Hawks back in the series, now trailing the Nippon Ham Fighters 2-3.
Here are the highlights of the game: