In a complete turnaround from the previous three games with the Hiroshima Carp, Our Marines couldn’t hit and couldn’t play defense. The Carp capitalized on Lotte mistakes and ended the season series by defeating Chiba 4-1 in Onomichi.
Lotte actually got on the board first in this one. Daichi led off with a double to right in the second inning and was standing on third after a T OGINO sacrifice. Okada dropped the first pitch from Carp starter Bullington down and Daichi raced in – a nicely executed squeeze play and an early 1-0 Lotte lead.
Narita’s favorite pitcher Yuki Karakawa got the start tonight. Despite the 8 hits that The Baby-Faced Killer gave up over his 8 innings of work, he looked decent more often than not. He cruised along for the first two innings, striking out three and not getting into any trouble. That changed in the 5th, as Soyogi singled (more on him in a minute), Dohbayashi grounded to Iguchi (could have been a DP on a luckier night) and Ishihara drew a walk. Iwamoto singled to drive in Soyogi and the Carp tied it up at 1.
Hiroshima broke the tie in the next inning as singles by Maru and Matsuyama with no out put runners on the corners, and Eldred drove in Maru on a double play. Two outs, but also 2-1 Carp.
Lotte had a golden chance in the Lucky 7 as Iguchi and Imae got on via walk and single with no out. The hot lefty Daichi faced righty Ono, so of course he was bunting as that made no sense. Daichi dropped two bad foul bunts before grounding into a fielder’s choice. T OGINO hit a rocket off Ono next but Soyogi (AGAIN!!!) made an amazing stab to prevent the run from scoring. Okada grounded out to end the best chance in a few innings at scoring.
Karakawa got in-and-out of another jam in the 7th. He ended the night after the 7th – 93 pitches, 8 hits, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 2 runs. As I said, he didn’t look bad despite the hits, and on a night when the offense was doing more he surely pitched well enough to win.
Our Marines’ hopes were dashed in the 8th. Matsunaga relieved Karakawa, and while he did record three strikeouts he also gave up 2 (unearned) runs on a single, a sac bunt that Matsunaga himself muffed, and a 2-out Soyogi (AGAIN!!!!!) double deep over Ogino’s head. 2 runs in, and Hiroshima ends up with a 4-1 win. Only 4 hits for Chiba in the loss.
I’m not going to dwell on this one further – our minds turn to Koshien for this weekend’s very fun and very important set with Hanshin. We’ll be there in the June heat cheering on Lotte to victory!