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Hanshin Tigers 3 Yokohama Baystars 2

Ninth Innings Sayonara Victory!

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Wow! We might not have the easy wins of the Yomiuri Giants, but we do have the most exciting, fantastic escapes and victories.

On the anniversary of my first trip to Koshien, where the Tigers beat the Swallows 6-5 with a sayonara home run from Arai, Hanshin did it again! A magnificently exciting 3-2 victory, thanks to a final hit by Kanemoto, had me dancing around with joy!

It was the bottom of the ninth– Hanshin trailed the Baystars 2-0, 2 out, with no runners. Surely game over? But no! Step up Imaoka, to get a short hit to first base. Then came Hirano– with the count at 2-2, he hit a deep three base hit to push Imaoka round and home to make it 2-1 Baystars. Next up was Sekimoto– at 2-1 he hit towards second, and should have easily been fielded out at first, game over. But the fielder on first failed to catch the throw, an error that drew Hanshin level at 2-2. Next was Toritani– a hit to put runners on first and third. Then- Tomoaki Kanemoto, and a centre hit to win it 3-2 for the Tigers!!

All of this came after a number of chances to equalise following a 2-run home run in the fifth that had put the Baystars into the lead. In the seventh we’d had runners of 1st and 3rd with no outs, then bases loaded with 2 out. In the eighth we’d had Toritani, Kanemoto and Arai up- surely something? No- they were dispatched in quick succession. It was all left to the ninth.

The stats went with the result- Hanshin shaded it, with 9 hits, 4 walks and 1 error to Yokohama’s 8 hits, 3 walks and 2 errors. But stats don’t tell the full story, and this game had all the glory and drama that makes supporting the Tigers such a joy, even if it was just to clinch a 2-1 series victory at home to the worst team in the league!

Pitchers: Kubo -> Egusa -> Williams -> Atchison

Catcher: Kano

Man Of The Match: Toritani (3 hits), Kanemoto (Sayonara hit)

That’s it for April, and next up is the Yomiuri Giants at home- a massive massive series, starting on saturday (2pm), and continuing over sunday and monday (6pm).

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