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Updated: October 31, 2018
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Fukuoka takes lead in Japan Series

CHŪŌ-KU, FUKUOKA (Japan) - Defending champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks won 4-1 on Wednesday (October 31) against Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Game 4 to take a 2-1 lead in the 69th Nippon Series.

The best-of-seven Series opened on Saturday with a 2-2 tie in 12 innings. On Sunday, Hiroshima won Game 2 with a 5-1 score. The Series then moved to Fukuoka, where the reigning champion won 9-8 on Tuesday.

In today's game, Fukuoka again opened the score first, scoring two runs in the third inning. Hiroshima cut the deficit in half in the fourth inning, but Fukuoka then took more distance by scoring a run in its fourth at bat and adding another one in the sixth.

Cuban powerhitter Alfredo Despaigne hit his second homerun in the Series for Fukuoka. Seiya Suzuki accounted for the lone Hiroshima-run with his third homerun.

(October 31)

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(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the first inning, Hiroshima came close to opening the score, but a great defensive play prevented that. Ryosuke Kikuchi tried to score on a double by Yoshihiro Maru, but a strong throw from centerfielder Yuki Yanagita to second baseman Kenji Akashi to catcher Takuya Kai was perfect and so the runner was tagged out just before reaching home plate.

After being retired in order in the first two innings by starter Yusuke Nomura, Fukuoka scored twice with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Takuya Kai then singled and Seiji Uebayashi followed with a homerun.

In the fourth, Seiya Suzuki hit his third homerun of the Series for Hiroshima off of starter Nao Higashihama, but that was to be it for Toyo Carp.

But Fukuoka got the run back in its fourth at bat when Alfredo Despaigne also homered.

Fukuoka added an insurance run in the sixth inning. With runners on first and third base and one out, pinch-hitter Yuya Hasegawa delivered a runscoring single.

Fukuoka-starter Nao Higashihama was the winning pitcher, giving up only four hits in five innings in which he struckout four batters. Hereafter, four relievers completed the game for the home team and they not only held Hiroshima scoreless, they also didn't gave up additional basehits.

For Fukuoka, this was its eleventh consecutive home-victory in a Japan Series since 2011.

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