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Lucky Seven; Hawks complete sweep of Lions

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Lucky Seven; Hawks complete sweep of Lions

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Let it not be said that the Hawks had it easy with this sweep of the first-place Saitama Seibu Lions. After a hard-fought 2-0 win yesterday, the Hawks came through today with an 11-inning victory over the Lions that saw both the best and worst of pitching on both sides.

Shinsuke Ogura got the start for the Hawks and immediately got himself into a 1-0 hole when Yasuyuki Kataoka hit a leadoff home run (9). The Hawks lefty only settled down when he was down 2-0.

The second inning saw Seibu scratch out another run thanks to a rally started with a fielder's choice by Tomoaki Satoh. He went on to steal second, advanced on Tanoue's (almost-to-be-expected) throwing error, and came in to score on Hosokawa's suicide squeeze bunt.

It looked like finally things were going Seibu's way in a tough series for the best team in Japan, but the Hawks bounced back, showing some much-needed moxie. Masamitsu Hirano, who logged a complete-game victory over the Fighters in his last start, was tagged with a run in the bottom of the second when Matsuda doubled home Tamura, who doubled himself to lead off the inning.

The bottom of the third saw the last inning that Hirano was on the mound. Kawasaki singled to get things started. After Honda grounded out, Ortiz hit a towering two-run blast (22) to vault SoftBank into the 3-2 lead. Hirano went three innings, with three runs surrendered on six hits, with no walks and three strikeouts. However, due to future events in this game, he did not factor in the decision.

In the bottom of the fifth, with Atsushi Okamoto on the mound, Ortiz did it again, this time a solo job (23) to give his teammates some insurance at 4-2. It was enough for Ogura to win, as he was done after the fifth. He gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits, with five walks and five strikeouts. He did not factor in the decision, either.

With Tadashi Settsu on the mound in the 6th, it proved to be a bit of an unfamiliar situation for him, and once again he cracked. Once again not the pitcher he was last season, Settsu was rocked for two runs after walking Hosokawa, and he then gave up a two-run shot to Kataoka (10) to tie the game at four.

The Hawks and Lions were deadlocked at four after the 9th, forcing extra innings. Working the 9th and 10th was Brian Falkenborg, who has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season. He struck out two and gave up a hit in his two innings. Brian Sikorski was once again lights-out as well over two innings, giving up just one hit.

However, the goat horns went to Taiyo Fujita, who, after working a solid 10th, was rocked in the 11th. The home team wasted no time, with Kokubo reaching on a single, and after Tamura flew out, Petagine crushed the sayonara two-run home run (5) for the win, and Petagine's second sayonara blast of the season.

With the win, the Hawks go into the All-Star Break on a hot streak, with a season-high seven-game winning streak. They also trail the Lions by only half a game. The Hawks continue the 2010 campaign on Tuesday the 27th, when they take on the Rakuten Eagles at Yahoo! Dome.
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