Baseball: Kiyomiya walk-off homer lifts PL in NPB All-Star Game 1

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Kotaro Kiyomiya hits a walk-off solo home run to lead the Pacific League to victory over the Central League in the first of two Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star games at the PayPay Dome in Fukuoka on July 26, 2022. (kyodo)

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — Kotaro Kiyomiya’s walk-off solo home run gave the Pacific League a 3-2 win over the Central League in Tuesday’s first of two Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star games.

The Nippon Ham Fighters infielder hit Hiroshima carp ace Masato Morishita’s 2-1 fastball with two outs in the ninth inning as the PL won a close game in front of 35,534 viewers at the PayPay Dome.

“I’m more surprised than anyone,” Kiyomiya, who was named the game’s MVP, said of the first walk-off homer in an All-Star game in 36 years. “I really wanted to hit one. Morishita kept throwing me fastballs and I was able to respond with a full swing.”

The CL took the lead in the opening frame after Yakult Swallows outfielder Yasutaka Shiomi took the lead with a single off PL starter Tomohisa Ozaki of the SoftBank Hawks, stealing second and coming home with a sacrifice fly.

Chunichi Dragon’s slugger Dayan Viciedo smashed a homer by Orix Buffaloes’ Taisuke Yamaoka in heat two of the CL.

But Seibu Lions’ Hotaka Yamakawa, who leads the PL with 29 home runs, followed suit in the bottom half against Hanshin Tigers’ Koyo Aoyagi, who leads the CL with 11 wins.

Orix infielder Yuma Munes bases-loaded single overran the second run of the PL in the sixth ahead of DeNA BayStars’ Hiromu Ise before Kiyomiya ended things in dramatic fashion.

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