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Sugiuchi pulls SoftBank ever closer

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Sugiuchi pulls SoftBank ever closer

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A couple of weeks ago, one had to be wondering what was wrong with the Hawks. The team was mired in a sequence of win one, lose one, and the team's ace, Toshiya Sugiuchi, was not performing up to his usual standards.

Today marked his second complete game effort and he showed that he is still the team ace. Over nine innings, Sugiuchi struck out 10 Lions and walked none while scattering four hits in a 2-0 blanking of the first-place Lions.

Ryoma Nogami also pitched very well in the losing effort, as he was tagged with two runs (one earned) on six hits over six and one-third innings. Kimiyasu Kudoh also made a short relief appearance for the team he played for from 1982 until 1994, going two-thirds scoreless innings. It marked his 29th consecutive season with a pitching appearance.

The first run of the game was in the fifth, and it was the unearned run on Nogami's record. Matsuda reached on a fielding error by second baseman Kataoka to lead off, then Hasegawa sacrificed him to second. The white-hot Hidenori Tanoue then came up and rapped out an RBI single to score Matsuda for the 1-0 lead.

The only other run was a leadoff home run for Matsuda (10) in the 6th to help chase Nogami. Sugiuchi would take it from there, as he didn't even let a man reach second base today. He made the two runs stand up despite the Hawks leaving eight runners stranded, but only two in scoring position. An encouraging sign was that he just got stronger as the game wore on, and he only needed 116 pitches to finish the game.

Flying high with a six-game winning streak, the Hawks go for the sweep tomorrow as another lefty, Shinsuke Ogura (4-5, 4.26) takes the mound against Masamitsu Hirano (1-1, 1.84).
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