Baseball: Yoshida shoots Buffaloes past Lions

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Masataka Yoshida of the Orix Buffaloes hits a home run in the sixth inning, his first of two in a 3-2 Pacific League win over the Seibu Lions on April 30, 2022 at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka. (Kyodo

OSAKA (Kyodo) — Two-time Pacific League champion Masataka Yoshida hit two late home runs to lead defending champion Orix Buffaloes to a 3-2 win over the Seibu Lions on Saturday.

Yoshida, considered by some MLB scouts as Japanese baseball‘s top straight hitter, went 3-on-4 with a single in the first inning and game-changing homers in the sixth and eighth innings, his third and fourth long bombs of the season.

Serving in his second game of the season in his comeback from elbow surgery in September 2020, right-hander Taisuke Kondo (1-0) conceded two goals but saved a 2-2 draw in the eighth inning. He was credited with the win after Yoshida’s second home run.

“I wasn’t giving the pitchers the kind of run support they deserved, so I did everything I could to get them a run at the end,” Yoshida said. “Hopefully winning a game that way gives us some momentum as we try to get three wins in a row.”

Yoshida and Kondo joined the Buffaloes in 2016 as their top two picks in the 2015 draft.

“He (Kondo) endured a trial unlike any of us and came back,” Yoshida said. “It would be great if I could land a lot of hits that lead to us both being on the (postgame interview) podium.”

Yoshihisa Hirano, Orix’s fourth pitcher at the Kyocera Dome, made his PL-leading ninth save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Brian O’Grady doubled into Sosuke Genda to give Seibu a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but left Sachiya Yamasaki limited the damage with three straight strikeouts.

The Buffaloes rallied with a run in the first and Yamasaki went with a 2-1 lead after six innings, only for Seibu to keep it atop the seventh.

Elsewhere, the Rakuten Eagles scored four runs in the ninth inning on their way to beat the SoftBank Hawks 7-6 in eleven innings, while Koki Yamaguchi drove in four runs to lead the Lotte Marines to a 7-3 win over the to lead Nippon Ham Fighters.

In the Central League, the Hanshin Tigers secured their fifth straight win by beating the Yomiuri Giants 10-3, while the Yakult Swallows defeated the DeNA BayStars 2-0 and the Chunichi Dragons defeated the Hiroshima Carp 4-2.

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