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Falkenborg's error costly as Hawks lose wild one

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Falkenborg's error costly as Hawks lose wild one
This one was the very definition of a wild game. The Hawks and Buffaloes haven't been able to get anything from their starting pitchers for two games now in this three game series. Once again, it would come down to the bullpens, and this time the Hawks lost.

The usually-dependable Brian Falkenborg was his own worst enemy today as a throwing error led to two runs in the home half of the 8th inning. Those broke an 8-8 tie and gave Orix a 10-8 win as Jon Leicester struck out three of the four batters he faced in the 9th for his fourth save.

SoftBank played from behind from the beginning of the game, as Yasushi Kamiuchi, who was making his first start since August of last year, was almost totally ineffective. He gave up a run in the first thanks to a hit batsman (Taguchi) and then gave up an RBI double to Mitsutaka Gotoh. Orix was up 1-0, but they weren't done yet for the first third of the game.

The second inning was worse than the first for Kamiuchi, as he gave up a three-run blast to Keiji Ohbiki (1), this following a double by Takahiro Okada, a walk to Ikki Shimamura, and a pair of wild pitches.

Orix finally chased Kamiuchi in the 3rd after SoftBank scored four off Buffs starter Shogo Yamamoto in the top of the 3rd. This time, it was back-to-back jacks from Greg LaRocca (4, 2-run shot) and T-Okada (6). Kamiuchi's final line was 2 and 1/3 innings, with 7 earned runs surrendered on 6 hits, with a walk, a hit batsman, two wild pitches, and three strikeouts.

Keisuke Kattoh came on and once again saved the Hawks' bacon as he did yeoman's work for 2 and 2/3 innings, giving up a hit, hitting one batter, and striking out three.

For as bad as Kamuichi was, Shogo Yamamoto was not much better for his team. He was roughed up for four runs on six hits in three innings, striking out three. His worst inning was the third, as the Hawks answered back and tied the game at four.

All the Hawks offense in the 3rd came with two out, as it looked like Yamamoto would have another easy inning. Hidenori Tanoue (1) broke the trend with a towering solo home run that seemed to break the Orix lefty.

It had to have, because speedsters Kawasaki and Honda both singled their way on, followed by an RBI single from Ortiz. Kokubo then drove both Honda and Ortiz in with a two-run double of his own.

Trailing 7-4 in the 5th, the Hawks would draw ever closer as they got two more off veteran Kikuchihara. An infield hit and a steal by Munerin and two more singles from Honda and Ortiz loaded the bases for Kokubo, who hit an RBI single. Matsunaka followed up with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-6.

Akio Mizuta couldn't keep the Buffs bats at bay in the 6th, as Takeshi Hidaka led off with a solo shot of his own (1). However, Mizuta got some help from his fielders as Taguchi got gunned down at home while trying to score on an infield hit. Mizuta and the Hawks dodged a bullet in the 6th.

The offense returned the favor against former starter Yoshihisa Hirano. Taguchi was once again the center of attention, but for the wrong reasons. He committed a fielding error on Kokubo's single that allowed him to reach 2nd, and then he reached 3rd on a wild pitch. Things seemed to be looking up as the slow-footed Matsunaka reached on an infield hit and Kokubo scored to make the score 8-7. After a single by Tamura, Hasegawa slapped the game-tying single the other way.

Tadashi Settsu was his usual rock-steady self in the 7th, but the 8th was where it all went south for the Hawks. Brian Falkenborg took the hill, looking to keep the game tied.

After Ohbiki struck out, Taguchi singled his way on. Akada came on looking to bunt, and succeeded in laying one down, but Falkenborg (0-1, 0.90) threw the ball away for a two-base error as Akada ended up on third. SoftBank traded a run for an out as Gotoh grounded out to first to end the scoring.

Neither run was earned for Falkenborg, but he still ended up losing his first game as a Hawk. It remains to be seen how he will respond to this. Hirano ended up getting the win (2-0, 2.61) and Leicester got the save (4).

The Hawks and Buffs meet again tomorrow for the rubber match of this three-game series. Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1, 3.32) looks to build on his excellent start last time out against Lotte. The Buffaloes will give the nod to Kazuki Kondoh (1-1, 4.34).

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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