Softbank Hawks one win away from clinching NPB title

The Softbank Hawks from Fukuoka won game five of the NPB series vs the Hiroshima Toyo Carp today. The team of Dutch pitcher Rick van den Hurk beat the Carp 5-4. Thanks to this win, the team only needs one more win to clinch the NPB championship.

After game one, that ended in a 2-2 tie after twelve innings, the Hawks suffered their only loss in this series when Rick van den Hurk took the mound. Van den Hurk allowed five runs of which three were earned. His teammates did not give him the much-needed run support as they scored only one run on four hits.

But the Hawks rebounded very well after this loss. In game three, the first of three home games, the team beat the guests 9-8. Game four was won 4-1 and today’s game 5-4.

Hiroshima grabbed a lead twice in today’s game. In the second inning, the team took a 1-0 lead on a single to center field by Tsubasa Aizawa. After the Hawks scored twice in the fourth inning on a timely hit with the bases loaded by Akira Nakamura, the Carp took the lead again in the fifth inning when Yoshihiro Maru hit a two-run shot.

After the Hawks tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, the Carp scored a run in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the game was tied again when Kenji Akashi hit a solo home run.

After nine frames the game was still tied at four. After Yuito Mori took the mound for the Hawks in the top of the tenth inning, he gave up a leadoff walk but then retired the next three batters he faced.

With a 1-0 count, Yuki Yanagita became the game-winner when he connected for a solo home run for the walk-off win.

If manager Kimiyasu Kudo sticks to his plan, Rick van den Hurk will pitch Saturday’s game, the possible championship clincher.

Notable feat, today’s win was the eleventh consecutive Nippon Series game the Softbank Hawks won in their home ballpark Yahoo Dome.

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