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Takeda, Koyano make sure Hawks don't sweep

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Takeda, Koyano make sure Hawks don't sweep
Masaru Takeda has been a nemesis for the Hawks for the last three years now. His ERA was under 0.50 going into today, and even though he gave up three runs today, his offense backed him up for three big innings to give the Fighters a 9-5 victory at Yahoo! Dome.

The main offensive contributor today was Eiichi Koyano, who provided four of the Fighters nine runs. He hit a two-run home run off Hawks starter Shinsuke Ogura in the 6th, and added two more runs off Akio Mizuta in the 9th with a two-run double.

Ogura was very good for the first four innings, as he had six of his eight strikeouts in that span. The Fighters were getting baserunners, but they couldn't advance anyone farther than second base.

Everything changed in the bottom of the fifth inning. Petagine singled, and with two outs, Hasegawa drilled a two-run home run (2) to give the Hawks the first score of the day and a 2-0 lead.

However, the Fighters, true to their name, fought back, and with a vengeance. Ogura (4-6, 5.08), his pitch count rising, was rocked in the top of the sixth for five runs. Apart from Koyano's two-run shot, Shota Ohno hit an RBI double of his own, and Makoto Kaneko, who has had an oddly quiet series against SoftBank, recorded an RBI groundout for a 5-2 lead.

SoftBank would pull one closer in the 8th with a season-high third run off Takeda, as Honda drove in Hasegawa with an RBI single. However, the Fighters had other ideas against the home team's bullpen.

Akio Mizuta took the mound, and was completely ineffective, as he has been this season. After Koyano's RBI double, Itoi hit an RBI triple to center, and Nioka lifted a sacrifice fly to center field for a 9-2 lead.

It proved to be needed insurance as Roberto Petagine hit what could have been the game-tying home run (9) off Hisashi Takeda.

Masaru Takeda (10-6, 2.84) is now 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA against the Hawks so far this season, and may get one or two more starts against them. This one man could decide the Pacific League pennant race.

With the white-hot Lions recording another win today against Orix, it drops SoftBank to two and a half games behind them for first place. And speaking of the Lions, they will be the Hawks' next opponents.

Another sweep at the hands of the Lions would be disastrous, as it would drop the Hawks to five and a half games back, effectively ending the pennant race. It is imperative that the Hawks take at least two of three in this series.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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