NPB news: May 12, 2023

A documentary about Japan’s World Baseball Classic team is coming out, one Samurai has failed to keep his hands to himself, while another, Kensuke Kondo, had a night against his old team. Hayato Sakamoto passed a legend and we had some great baseball with two teams avoiding being swept and three others that weren’t so fortunate.

Yamakawa accused of sexual assault

Seibu Lions first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa was in the news Thursday, or rather he was the news, after Bunshin Online published a report in a which a woman acquaintance in her 20s alleges he sexually assaulted her in a Tokyo hotel, leaving her with injuries to her lower body. The report said the 31-year-old Yamakawa admitted to a relationship with the young woman, but denied using force.

Asked about it at Thursday’s game at Seibu Dome, Yamakawa declined to comment.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police said they are looking into the matter, and Seibu did what Seibu does in these cases – this is not their first – they said they are monitoring the situation.

One for the history books

Soon after Japan was denied a WBC championship for the first time in 2013, Nippon Professional Baseball decided to bolster its effort by creating a subsidiary whose job it is to organize, sell and promote the national team.

The result was NPB Enterprise, Inc., which now rakes in sponsorship money for all but a few weeks of each three-to-four-year WBC tournament cycle, sees to it that things are done in an orderly and professional manner – something entirely lacking in the first three teams, when managers were chosen at the last minute and media events were often haphazard.

On Thursday, NPB Enterprise announced that a documentary on this year’s champions, “The samurai who surpassed their idols: The record of the path to No. 1 in the World” will be shown at theaters across Japan for three weeks starting June 2.

“I hope you watch the behind-the-scenes story of our world championship,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said in a press release. “I hope this film will tell the next generation about a page in Japanese baseball history.”

Thursday’s games

Hawks 6, Fighters 3: At Fukuoka Dome, one of those history-making Samurai, Kensuke Kondo, helped turn a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead against his former team with a tie-breaking sac fly and a two-run home run.

Two-way rookie Kota Yazawa doubled to open the game off Koya Fuji (3-2) and scored on Ryota Yachi’s sac fly. Kondo’s WBC teammate, Hawks catcher Takuya Kai, homered to open the third off Koki Kitayama (1-2). Ukyo Shuto, another Samurai, walked, stole a base and scored on Kondo’s flyball.

Kondo went to camp in February expecting to be a bench player after only making a cameo in the 2021 Olympics, but became one of the pillars of the Japan offense after Seiya Suzuki was hurt and unable to play. His two-run homer in the fifth made it 4-1.

Fujii allowed one run, and struck out six over six innings, before a pair of new Fighters went deep against the Hawks’ bullpen, former Tiger Taiga Egoshi and former Dragon Ariel Martinez, who hit his fourth.

Marines 3, Lions 0: At Seibu Dome, a pair of former relievers squared off, with Lotte’s Yuji Nishino (4-1) and Seibu’s Kaima Taira (3-1) each allowing eight hits over six innings. But while Nishino was able to navigate jam upon jam, while Yudai Fujioka doubled in a third-inning run and singled in another in the fifth off the Lions’ flamethrower.

Naoya Masuda recorded his 11th save for the Marines, who completed a three-game sweep on the road.

Carp 3, Dragons 2, 11 innings: At Nagoya Dome, 11th-inning doubles by Matt Davidson and Ryuhei Matsuyama broke a 2-2 tie as the Carp sealed their series sweep in Nagoya.

Trailing 2-0 in the fifth, the Carp got their top two hitters on base with no outs for the second time in the game. This time, Ryan McBroom singled in one run and Shogo Sakakura tied it with another, but the inning ended when Yohei Oshima threw out McBroom at the plate.

Carp left fielder Ryoma Nishikawa returned the favor in the bottom of the sixth, and the game remained scoreless until Davidson and Matsuyama struck.

Carp-Dragons highlights

Eagles 7, Buffaloes 3: At Miyagi Stadium, Takahiro Norimoto (1-2) allowed three runs over seven innings, matching up against an Orix bullpen day. Yuta Kuroki (0-2) allowed one run over three innings in which he was constantly in trouble.

The Eagles then buried the next two guys, Ryo Yoshida and Jharel Cotton, and the pair allowed six runs over three innings to ice it and avoid a three-game sweep.

Giants 4, DenialStars 1: At Yokohama Stadium, Hayato Sakamoto hit his 422nd and 423rd career doubles, moving him past Sadaharu Oh into sixth place all time, and setting a franchise record as the Giants completed a two-game sweep over the Deniers.

Lewis Brinson and Adam Walker each singled in a run for Yomiuri, whose only extra-base hits were Sakamoto’s doubles. Keita Sano homered for the fourth straight game to account for the Giants’ only run. Iori Yamasaki (2-1) struck out seven over 6-1/3 innings to earn the win.

DenialStars-Giants highlights

Tigers 2, Swallows 1: At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin won a well-played, well-pitched entertaining game. Seiya Kinami tripled in Shintaro Sakamoto in the second off Cy Sneed. The right-hander gave up a pair of long drives in the inning, and Sakamoto tripled when center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi appeared to suffer from vertigo as he chased the ball near the wall in dead center and lost it.

Sneed otherwise pitched out of a series of jams, and Soma Uchiyama, catching because Yuhei Nakamura was deactivated with the dreaded “lack of lower-body fitness,” doubled in Tetsuto Yamada in the fourth inning off lefty Masashi Ito, who was electric, and allowed just one run over seven innings.

New Tigers import Johan Mieses singled to open the Tigers’ eighth off setup mana Noboru Shimizu (0-1), who made a great play on the ensuing sacrifice attempt to nail the lead runner. Kinami’s sharp grounder into the hole at short was deflected off third baseman Munetaka Murakami’s glove and into left for an infield double. Pinch-runner Ryuhei Obata did well to come home and slide past the tag on a fielder’s choice after shortstop Hideki Nagaoka made a tough throw to the plate.

The win allowed Hanshin to avoid being swept at home.

Tigers-Swallows highlights

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