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Ohtonari K's 13 as Hawks Roll

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Ohtonari K's 13 as Hawks Roll
Despite an injury-riddled season, Kenji Ohtonari has always had the talent, and the Hawks saw it last season. The junkballing lefty had 7 starts last season with 8 or more strikeouts, and while he has been inconsistent this season, he has showed flashes of brilliance when he has his control.

Today was the brightest flash the team has seen out of Ohtonari (W, 5-6). Through 8 innings and 122 pitches, he gave up 3 runs on 6 hits, walking 1 and striking out a career-high 13. The only real trouble he ran into was in the 9th. Trying to get the complete game win, Lotte's bats finally came to life against the tiring lefty. Former Hawk shortstop Tadahito Iguchi got the rally started with a double, and he was followed by singles from Saburo and Ohmatsu. The two runs led Akiyama-kantoku to pull his starter, giving way to Tadashi Settsu. He took care of matters by striking out the side to end the game.

Ohtonari also got a lot of help from his offense. Big righty Hiroyuki Kobayashi was rocked in 2-plus innings for 6 runs on 8 hits, walking 1 and striking out 1, and hitting two batters. It always seems that one inning gets to Kobayashi, and that was the case in the 3rd inning today for the home Hawks.

The innings just got worse as they went along for the Lotte starter. Compared to the 2nd and 3rd innings, the first inning was relatively incident-free for Kobayashi. However, the Hawks would pile on 6 runs in the next two innings. Kawasaki singled home the 2nd of 2 runs in the 2nd inning, following Honda's RBI single.

The third inning was where the wheels fell off for Lotte. The first five batters reached and SoftBank sent all nine men to the plate. The big blow was Hidenori Tanoue's 3-run shot after Tamura doubled and Hasegawa singled. That would be the end of the day for Kobayashi as he gave way to Ueno.

Ueno would end up going longer than Kobayashi (L, 2-9), going 3-plus innings, but he did give up a run in the 6th on a sacrifice fly which scored Kawasaki, who was on his way to a spectacular 4-for-4 day with four singles, an RBI, two stolen bases, and a walk, raising his average to .259.

The Hawks would add one more in the 8th on another sac fly and that would end the scoring for the day. Final score was with SoftBank on top, 8-3.

Nippon Ham notched another win against Seibu today to keep the gap at 4 games between themselves and the Hawks, while the Hawks added another game's worth of distance between them and the Lions. SoftBank looks to continue their winning ways against Lotte. Yoshiaki Fujioka (4-5, 3.75) takes on Nao Shimizu (4-3, 3.92).

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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