On a beautiful, warm Tuesday afternoon at QVC Marine Field, Our Marines bounced back from the heartbreak of Sunday’s loss to Hamu with a thrilling 12-2 win over the visiting Rakuten Eagles and former captain (and eternal hero) Imae.
Second ace Ayumu Ishikawa wasn’t really throwing his best stuff early on, with a (minor) lack of control leading to several baserunners and a second inning Rakuten run. But after that point? Dead solid – three more baserunners total over the next 5 innings, tons of Rak bat frustration.
The great thing about this game was in contrast to many of Ayumu’s late season starts last year (if you have forgotten, he was on the losing end of 3 shutouts in the last 2 months of the season), a heroic performance wasn’t really needed as the Chiba bats really blasted this one open in the late innings. A Kiyota double in the first provided the only RBI in innings 1-5 off Tohoku starter Karashima, but after loading the bases with two outs in the 6th inning, Rakuten skipper Nashida went to the pen for young Yokoyama.
“Big hitter” Okada belted the second pitch he saw neatly in between Wheeler and Matsui in the left center gap, plating all three runners in one go. We thought he had a chance at the first homer of his career, but he ended up at third.
In top 7 with Yokoyama still on the mound, a superb Kakunaka triple (from a very Kakunaka 10 pitch at bat) with two outs led to an AJASMASH and a run, followed by the first home run of the Pacific League season from… Captain Daichi???!! Yes! A pair of errors by Mogi and Fujita immediately followed, and hero Okada laced ANOTHER big hit, misplayed by Okajima in right – two more runs! 6 runs in the inning, and a laugher of a 10-1 score after 7.
That’s not all, though, as in bottom 8 sudden slugger Daichi crushed the second homer of the game off the right field foul pole! That made it a 12-1 game, and a meaningless unearned run in the 9th gave the final total of 12-2.
I’m not necessarily a big fan of blowout games (even when we’re on the winning end) but given that this was a tight game for most of the play, given it was a rare sunny weekday day game, and given that the park was filled with screaming kids enjoying their spring break, this was one to remember.
I took a few pics at the game, hope you enjoy the gallery below.