Baseball: Roki Sasaki shoots Marines past Hawks

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Roki Sasaki of the Lotte Marines throws a pitch during a Pacific League baseball game against the SoftBank Hawks at PayPay Dome on May 20, 2022 in Fukuoka. (kyodo)

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — Roki Sasaki threw his all-time hardest, hitting nine over six innings to win his fifth game of the season as the Lotte Marines defeated the SoftBank Hawks 8-1 in the Pacific League on Friday.

The 20-year-old right-hander often touched 164 kilometers per hour in the PayPay Dome. And though he missed often badly, Sasaki (5-0) only allowed one run on four hits, two walks and one hit batsman.

“Because I got so much early support, I could just focus on pitching,” Sasaki said. “My control wasn’t very good, so I increased my shots and couldn’t go deep into the game.”

Sasaki went up the mound at the end of the first with a two-barrel lead. Akito Takabe opened the game with a single from Hawks ace Kodai Senga (3-2), Shogo Nakamura doubled and both came home to score.

Toshiya Sato and Hiromi Oka both scored in the third inning and both scored as Adeiny Hechavarria’s two-shot single made it 4-0.

Senga, who hopes to move to MLB next season, conceded four runs with six hits and three walks over four innings.

Hechavarria led a three-run eighth-inning rally and scored the first of five two-out hits that turned the game into a loss.

In the PL, the Nippon Ham Fighters defeated the Seibu Lions 5-3 while the Orix Buffaloes defeated league leaders Rakuten Eagles 1-0.

In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants took first place with a 6-2, 12-inning win over the Hanshin Tigers after the DeNA BayStars defeated the Yakult Swallows 3-1. In Hiroshima, third-placed Hiroshima Carp defeated the Chunichi Dragons 11-5, powered by Ryan McBroom’s grand slam in the first inning.

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