Baseball: DeNA’s Shota Imanaga hurls no-hitter as Fighters lose 5 straight

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Shota Imanaga of the DeNA BayStars throws a pitch on his way to a no-hitter against the Nippon Ham Fighters in an interleague baseball game at the Sapporo Dome in northern Japan on June 7, 2022. (kyodo)

SAPPORO (Kyodo) — Shota Imanaga became the 85th pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Nippon Professional Baseball Tuesday as the DeNA BayStars won 2-0 and sent the Nippon Ham Fighters to their fifth straight interleague loss.

Imanaga (3-0) gave up just one walk in a 117-pitch game at the Sapporo Dome, hitting nine with his Central League team scoring two runs in the ninth inning to help the left winger.

“I never thought I could do it, but everyone on the team guided me,” said Imanaga. “Before the ninth, I imagined that everyone would come to me to celebrate. I’m glad it happened that way.”

While Imanaga got his only walk in the second game, his opponent, left Takayuki Kato, also had a commendable performance for his Pacific League club as he departed after six scoreless innings, conceding four and setting four.

Fighters left fielder Yuma Imagawa, who hit ninth, had the cleanest touch when he filled in a big breaking ball from Imanaga with an out in the sixth, but the DeNA starter responded brilliantly to scoop the ball en route to a night to remember to catch.

A single from Keita Sano and a walk yielded two ons with two outs in ninth place before Toshiro Miyazaki doubled (1-1) on crucial runs from Nippon Ham’s fourth pitcher, Naoya Ishikawa.

“Kato hit with good pace and it also had a contagious effect on me when I was putting up zeros,” said Imanaga. “They have a strong batting order and the result is because they were careful not to allow home runs.”

“I was happy with the runs (in the ninth) but I felt that if I was too relaxed I wouldn’t make it, so I tried not to show too much outside.”

Elsewhere, CL’s Hiroshima Carp defeated Rakuten Eagles 3-1, while PL’s Orix Buffaloes smashed CL-leading Yakult Swallows 6-1 for their sixth straight win.

The Seibu Lions defeated the Yomiuri Giants 9-4 and the Lotte Marines defeated the Chunichi Dragons 6-2 to join Orix among the PL winners that night.

But the league-leading SoftBank Hawks lost 2-0 to the Hanshin Tigers as the CL bottom team clinched their six straight victories.

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