Baseball: Buffaloes rookie Ren Mukunoki misses the no-hitter by 1 strike

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Ren Mukunoki of Orix Buffaloes plays against Nippon Ham Fighters in a Pacific League match at the Kyocera Dome on July 20, 2022 in Osaka, western Japan. (kyodo)

OSAKA (Kyodo) — Ren Mukunoki, the Orix Buffaloes’ top draft pick last fall, allowed his only hit with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning on Wednesday in the Pacific League’s 2-0 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters .

Nippon Ham’s Ryusei Sato hit a high 2-2 slide down the middle to end the rookie right-hander’s attempt for history at the Kyocera Dome Osaka. Four no-hit shutouts were thrown that season, ranking second highest in a single Japanese pro season. Japan does not record no-hitters when a run is allowed.

22-year-old Mukunoki (2-0) hit 11 while running three over 116 pitches in his second pro game. On his July 7 debut, he allowed two hits over six scoreless innings.

“Throughout the eighth inning, the crowd applauded every pitch and I wanted to respond, but I threw a bad one at the very end,” Mukunoki said.

“I wanted to end up with a strikeout, but it backfired.”

Closer Yoshihisa Hirano took over immediately after Sato’s single, pulling Kensuke Kondo back to finish it and make his 24th save.

The Buffaloes hit both runs in the third on a home run by Masataka Yoshida, his 10th of the year, ahead of 19-year-old Fighters rookie Haruka Nemoto (1-2).

“He (Mukunoki) was outstanding last time and it was so exciting to watch him tonight. That was really a nice pitch,” said Yoshida.

“He’s just starting out but I’m looking forward to what he can do next.”

Elsewhere in the PL, the Lotte Marines beat the Seibu Lions 8-4, while the league-leading SoftBank Hawks were defeated 17-3 by the Rakuten Eagles.

In the Central League, Munetaka Murakami hit his 32nd home run in the Yakult Swallows’ 8-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants while the DeNA BayStars defeated the Chunichi Dragons 6-4 and the Hiroshima Carp defeated the Hanshin Tigers 5-3.

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