After Rick van den Hurk guided the Softbank Hawks to a 5-2 victory over the Nippon Ham Fighters on Saturday, the team from Fukuoka faced another must win situation on Sunday with the Fighters leading 3-2 in games.
The Softbank Hawks had a flying start as they scored four runs in the first inning. With the bases loaded, Yuya Hasegawa hit a ground ball to left field and drove in Akira Nakamura.
Then slugger Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a three run homerun to left field to give the Hawks a 4-0 lead over the Fighters.
After this blow, Anthony Bass, who replaced Takayuki Kato after the latter gave up four runs in the first inning, kept the Softbank Hawks in check. So did the rest of the Fighters’ bullpen.
The Nippon Ham Fighters would score in the next four innings. A one run first (solo homerun by Sho Nakata) and second (RBI single by Kenshi Sugiya), a three run fourth inning and a two run fifth inning sealed the fate of the team from Fukuoka.
With the bases loaded in the fourth inning, Hiromi Oka tied the game at four with a single to center field. With runners on second and third, a suicide squeeze would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a 5-4 lead.
The fifth inning would be a decisive one. The former club of Yu Darvish would score two more runs to reach the final score. With runners in scoring position once again, Kensuke Kondoh hit a double towards right field that drove in Shohei Ohtani and Sho Nakata.
Best hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighters was Sho Nakata, who went 3 for 3 with a homerun and an RBI.
Winning pitcher for the Fighters was Anthony Bass. In four innings of relief pitching, he gave up only two hits and he struck out three and walked two.
Closer Shohei Otani had a remarkable performance as some of his pitches topped 100 mph with the fastest hitting a fantastic 103 mph.
Nao Higashihama took the loss. He entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning and managed to record only one out and gave up three runs on two hits and two walks.
Thanks to this win, the Nippon Ham Fighters advance to the Nippon Series and will face the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the winner of the Central League.