Lotte walks off with a sayonara win in the 11th. We now have sole possession of first place, thanks to an 8 game winning streak.
More on innings 10-11 in a bit…
Highlight of the night: Iguchi’s game tying solo HR
It was night of missed opportunities at the plate and scrappy pitching for Lotte.
Two quick outs were made in the home half of the 8th, and the Marines trailed 2-1. The score had gone unchanged since the 5th, as hope was beginning to fade.
Then, with one swing of the bat, Iguchi’s solo blast to left tied it 2-2. The score would remain that way until the last pitch of the game.
Missed opportunities at the plate:
The Marines wasted numerous scoring opportunities, provided in part by the second straight night of sloppy defensive play by the Lions.
For example, Lotte had a golden opportunity in the 3rd. Kakunaka had already tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI double. But, with the bases loaded, and 1 out, Fukuura hit into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play.
Lotte also managed to put runners at 1st & 3rd with 0 out in the 5th, but failed to score. Out 1 was made on a tag out at home on a Nemoto grounder. Out 2 came way of a Kakunaka IF fly. (Side note: That’s two nights in a row Kakunaka popped-out with the infield-fly rule in effect). Iguchi got robbed on a nice diving stop by Lions 2B Yamasaki for out number 3.
The Lions also had their fair share of chances. Marines starter Fujioka didn’t look comfortable and didn’t seem to have command of his pitches all night. But crafty pitching with runners on base by Fujioka (5IP, 2 ER, 5H, 4BB, 1K), and scoreless relief (Rosa 6th, Hattori 7th, Ueno 8th, Matsunaga 9th) kept Lotte in the game.
Daichi Suzuki also helped the pitching with his defense at SS. He made the defensive play of the night in the 6th. Daichi’s diving grab to his right, quick recovery, and sharp throw over to first barely beat the runner Sumitani for out number 2.
Oh ya, extra innings…
Top 10: Masuda came in to pitch the 10th for Lotte. He had a 1-2-3 inning.
Bot 10: Lions reliever Randy Williams also had a 3-up-3-down inning.
Top 11: Itoh threw a 1-2-3 inning for Chiba.
Bottom 11. Finally, a base runner!
-Iguchi lead off and drew a walk off of Seibu’s Ohishi.
-A failed bunt attempt by Ishimine (pinch runner for Saburo earlier) resulted in a HBP. 2 on, 0 out.
-An Imae bunt moved the two runners into scoring position, now with 1 out.
-The red hot Daichi is intentionally walked to load ‘em up.
-With the ouenseki at maximum volume, here comes T.Ogino…
-On an 0-2 pitch…The ball goes low and way outside, and trickles through Sumitani’s legs! PINCH RUNNER KEI HOSOYA SCORES THE WINNING RUN. FIRST PLACE IS OURS!!! 8 GAME WIN STREAK CONTINUES!!!
Ok, a wild pitch is a little anti-climactic. Lions manager Watanabe is not happy. I’m not sure why, but he appeals to second for some reason. Anyway, game over.
On deck: A 3-game weekend series with the Rakuten Eagles.
Look for Steve and I at QVC Marine field this weekend. I’ll be in attendance Friday night and Saturday, Steve I think all 3 games. Rain in the forecast though.
P.S. Glad to see Lions catcher Sumitani is OK after taking a pitch off the Adam’s apple.