Baseball: Rea returns to duty as Hawks get back on track for success

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Colin Rea of ​​the SoftBank Hawks plays against the Orix Buffaloes in a Pacific League game at the PayPay Dome in Fukuoka, southwest Japan on April 7, 2022. (kyodo)

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — Almost a year after leaving Japan to care for his family in the States, Colin Rea took the mound Thursday and claimed the win as the SoftBank Hawks suffered their first loss of the season in a 7- 3 Pacific League shrugged off victory over the Orix Buffaloes.

Unbeaten in their first eight games, the Hawks bounced back from Wednesday’s 3-1 extra innings loss at PayPay Dome when Rea (1-0) allowed three runs over 6-2/3 innings to make his debut of the season to achieve victory.

Rea left Japan last summer, was fired and played in one game for the Milwaukee Brewers in America’s majors, but re-signed with the Hawks this season.

He went into the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead but gave it up on a two-run home run, the first in Japan by new Buffaloes import Breyvic Valera. However, the Hawks decided the game in the home half.

After a base-loaded walk, the 2-2 equalizer equalized, Hawks veteran Nobuhiro Matsuda shooting a triple-to-gap triple-to-gap to make it 5-2.

“I had a lot of fun tonight,” said Rea. “In the middle innings the defense really picked me up and Machi (Matsuda) took the big hit.”

Rea had a scary moment in the top of the fourth when Orix hitting star Masataka Yoshida swiped a ball off his right arm. Rea rushed for cover first to take the throw from Matsuda, who pounced vigilantly for the ball. Rea was then cleared to continue pitching and proceeded to claim the win.

“I’m doing well. I’m just glad Machi made the game and we got the out,” said Rea.

The Central League saw just two games after the DeNA BayStars had to cancel their series finals against the Hanshin Tigers after a spate of coronavirus infections.

Elsewhere, the Hiroshima Carp won 9-2 in a game marred by defensive slips by the Yomiuri Giants, while the Chunichi Dragons hit four homers in an 11-3 win over reigning CL champions Yakult Swallows.

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