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It Happens; Hawks Pitching Can't Stop Fighters Onslaught

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It Happens; Hawks Pitching Can't Stop Fighters Onslaught

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Two wins out of three isn't a bad way to start the season. However, when a team gets croaked like the Hawks did last night at the hands of the Fighters, it certainly can be disheartening.

D.J. Houlton (0-1) couldn't find the plate in his first start of the season, giving up nine runs in 1 and 1/3 innings in a 16-5 shellacking at Sapporo Dome. Ten of Nippon-Ham's 16 runs came in the second inning off two pitchers, the other being Shota Ohba.

Fighters starter Bobby Keppel didn't do much better (IP, 2H, ER, K), but he wasn't given the chance to potentially let the Hawks back into the game after a pair of hits, a walk, and a wild pitch led to four runs in the home half of the first inning.

Instead Nashida-kantoku went to his bullpen, sending Masao Kida to the mound to keep SoftBank off the scoreboard. He did just that for 5 innings, giving up four hits and walking two in the process and picking up the win.

While Kida (1-0) was keeping the Hawks at bay, the Fighters kept their feet on the gas pedal. They scored five more runs off Ohba, but could not scratch anything off the Hawks' two lefties, Yasushi Kamiuchi and Masahiko Morifuku.

Doing most of the damage for the Fighters (aside from Makoto Kaneko) were Kensuke Tanaka (3-5, 2SB, RBI) and Yoshio Itoi (3-4, 2RBI). It was truly one of those days where almost nothing the Hawks did for pitching would work. Yuki Kume was the final sacrificial lamb for the Hawks on this night, as he gave up 2 earned runs on one hit, but he also walked three.

SoftBank finally scored and at least made the score somewhat respectable in the 9th off their favorite whipping boy, Shintaro Ejiri. They got four runs (three earned) on four hits off Ejiri, who did manage to get through the inning.

The Hawks now head home on Friday for their home opener, and for the second straight year they open up against the Orix Buffaloes. The rumored starter for SoftBank will be Tsuyoshi Wada, although it it subject to change.
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