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Baseball: Eagles overcome 8-run deficit in sayonara win over Fighters

Kazuya Fujita of the Rakuten Eagles sprints home for a sayonara victory during a baseball game against the Nippon Ham Fighters in Sendai on May 15, 2019. (Kyodo)

SENDAI (Kyodo) -- Kazuya Fujita scored the winning run in the 11th inning Wednesday as the Rakuten Eagles rallied from eight runs down to beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 9-8 in a dramatic sayonara victory.

Hideto Asamura tied the game with a ninth-inning, solo home run against right-hander Ryo Akiyoshi, and Fujita scored on a Zelous Wheeler sacrifice fly to turn the game around at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Fujita led off the 11th with a single off Fighters reliever Taisho Tamai (0-1), reached third base on a Hiroaki Shimauchi single and sprinted home on the sac fly.

"I was determined to reach base when I entered the plate, so I was glad I was able to get a hit," Fujita said. "To be honest, I really wanted a pinch runner to replace me, but manager (Yosuke) Hiraishi said he wouldn't. So I wanted to come home no matter what."

"All of the players are very persistent and determined not to give up (even when trailing), so I think that's why we have been able to win these games," he said.

With the Eagles trailing 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Jabari Blash blasted a grand slam against Fighters starter Chihiro Kaneko. The slugger went deep again in the eighth inning, belting a two-run homer to cut the deficit to two runs.

Motohiro Shima capped the Eagles' three-run eighth inning by hitting his third homer of the season, a solo shot against righty Naoya Ishikawa.

Sung Chia-hao (1-1) picked up his first win of the season after pitching a scoreless 11th inning. He allowed a hit and a walk to the five batters he faced.

Taishi Ota powered the Fighters to claim the early lead by hitting back-to-back homers and driving in four runs. But with Rakuten gaining momentum, the visitors were unable to hold the lead.

Elsewhere in the Pacific League, Shuta Tonosaki hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth as the Seibu Lions came back to beat the league-leading SoftBank Hawks 5-4 on the road.

At Zozo Marine Stadium, 20-year-old starter Tsubasa Sakakibara (2-3) threw seven innings for the win as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 3-2.

In the Central League, the DeNA BayStars drove in five runs in the bottom of the sixth, including a grand slam from Hikaru Ito, on the way to an 8-2 win over the visiting Chunichi Dragons.

At Tokyo Dome, the Hanshin Tigers had 18 hits, including 11 against starter Tomoyuki Sugano (5-3), in a 13-8 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

The Hiroshima Carp broke the deadlock in the 10th inning for a 9-7 win over the Yakult Swallows at Mazda Stadium.

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