‘The universe helped’ Hanshin wins with lucky hit, advances to JS for the first time in 9 years…38 years after Oh Seung-hwan era
The Hanshin Tigers have advanced to the Japan Series for the first time in nine years.
Hanshin defeated the Hiroshima Toyokapp 4-2 in Game 3 of the climactic series final stage on Tuesday at Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Hanshin, who began the series with a one-game lead after winning the Central League title (85 wins, 5 ties, 53 losses), swept Hiroshima with three straight wins to advance to the Japan Series with a 4-0 record.
Seishiro Sakamoto went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to lead Hanshin to the Japan Series. His game-winning hit came in the sixth inning, when a missed pitch turned into a lucky hit. Seiya Kinami, who had the game-winning hit in Game 2, continued his hot hitting with a multi-hit performance.
Starting pitcher Kotaro Otake allowed two runs on seven hits in five innings with one walk and three strikeouts. The bullpen of Takuma Kirishiki (2 scoreless innings), Yuta Iwasada (⅓ scoreless inning), Daichi Ishii (⅓ scoreless inning), Hiroya Shimamoto (⅓ scoreless inning), and Suguru Iizaki (1 scoreless inning) paved the way for the upset win.
For Hiroshima, starter Hiroki Tokoda took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in six innings. The Hiroshima bats pounded out 10 hits, with Ryosuke Kikuchi, Kaito Kozono, Takashi Emoto, and Shogo Sakakura all having multi-hit games, but were unable to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
The teams battled through a scoreless third inning. Hiroshima had runners on second and third in the top of the fourth on a double by Takashi Emoto and an infield single by Shogo Yakiyama. Shogo Sakakura followed with an RBI single to center field.
Hanshin answered right back in the bottom of the fourth. After walks by Takumu Nakano and Yusuke Oyama put runners on first and second with one out, Hanshin got an RBI single from Sheldon Noiji and an RBI single from Seishiro Sakamoto.
Hiroshima put runners on first and third in the top of the fifth with singles by Ryosuke Kikuri and Kaito Kozono and a sacrifice fly by Shota Tobayashi to tie the game at 2-2.
After conceding the tie, Hanshin had runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth when Teruaki Sato singled and Noiji walked. Sakamoto hit a hard grounder that landed between the second baseman and right fielder for a hit, 카지노사이트킴 allowing Sato to come home and give Hanshin a 3-2 lead. First baseman Noiji raced to third base but was tagged out to end the threat.
However, Hanshin loaded the bases in the seventh with a single by Seiya Kinami, a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Ryuhei Obata, a walk to Koji Chikamoto and a single by Nakano before Shota Morishita scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-2.
Hiroshima put runners on first and second with one out in the top of the ninth on a walk by Takayoshi Noma and a single by Kozono, but Tobayashi struck out and Ryoma Nishikawa flied out to left field to end fall baseball without a win.
Japanese media outlet Nikkan Sports said, “Hanshin went 4-0 and advanced to the Japan Series for the first time in nine years. This is the fifth time a Central League champion has reached the Nippon Series undefeated after Yakult last season. They came from behind to win three games in a row, showing the quality of a league champion,” said the team’s president, Yakult.
Kinami was named Series MVP after going 5-for-5 at the plate, including a game-winning hit in the final stage of the climactic series. “I was surprised to be named MVP,” said Kinami, who batted eighth and played shortstop, “but I think my good defense in the three games paid off in a good way. “I haven’t thought about what I’m going to spend it on yet,” he laughed about the MVP prize of 2 million yen (about $1.85 million).
With the win, Hanshin advanced to the Japan Series. This is the first time in nine years that the team has advanced to the Japan Series since 2014, when Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung) was the closer. Back then, Hanshin finished as runners-up after losing to SoftBank in four games to one. Hanshin’s only other Japan Series title came in 1985. Hanshin met Seibu that year and won the coveted title with a 4-2 victory. However, since the 1985 title, the team has only finished runner-up three times (2003, 2005, and 2014).
Head coach Akinobu Okada, who led Hanshin to the Nippon Series in 2005, commented on his team’s return to the Nippon Series after an 18-year absence: “Over 90% of the stadium was filled with Hanshin fans during the three games of this series, and we are grateful for their great support. First of all, we have achieved our first goal, the climactic series. The winner of the Pacific League is yet to be determined, but we will strive to win at a higher level.”