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Sugiuchi shuts out Fighters

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Sugiuchi shuts out Fighters
Following yesterday's brilliant performance by Tsuyoshi Wada, the Haws sent their ace, Toshiya Sugiuchi, to the mound to face the team he took on for Opening Day, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. While not spectacular in March, Suiguchi has shown that he is a bit of a slow starter.

Today he proved that theory as he one-upped Wada's start from yesterday. Sugiuchi (3-1, 2.89) struck out 10 Fighters against no walks and five hits in a complete-game shutout. He also had some help from the Hawks' suddenly potent offense, as Munenori Kawasaki (1) and Lee Bum-ho (1) each hit their first home runs of the season, and in Lee's case, his first NPB home run.

The game was close for a while, as Hirotoshi Masui (0-1, 6.00) made his first professional start and put forth a gutsy effort over six-plus innings. Despite taking the loss, Masui worked his way in and out of jams in the 2nd and 6th innings, and generally looked good aside from the two home runs and assorted wildness which included a wild pitch and a hit batter.

In the 3rd inning, following a single by Matsuda and a sacrifice by Yamazaki, the Hawks shortstop Kawasaki came up and cranked his first home run of the season, a line shot down the right field line.

With a 2-0 advantage, that was more than enough for Sugiuchi, who was not quite dominant, but was still very good. He only struck out two men more than once (Nioka, Yang), but he was still able to get people out.

In the end, it was the 7th inning that did in Masui and the Fighters, as the Hawks put up a four-spot on Masui and reliever Kanamori. Lee led off with his first career NPB home run to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead. Then, when the Hawks loaded the bases, Jose Ortiz came up and cleaned the bases with a three-run double to double the Hawks' score and end the scoring.

With the win, the Hawks now move up to 3rd place in the Pacific League, vaulting over Seibu. Trouble lurks tomorrow, however, as Nippon Ham sends Yu Darvish (1-1, 1.96) to the mound against Yoshiaki Fujioka (1-0, 7.50).

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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