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Baseball: Imamiya overpowers Lions as Hawks head to Japan Series

Kenta Imamiya's three home runs propell the SoftBank Hawks to a 9-3 win over the Seibu Lions 7-3 in Game 4 of the Pacific League Climax Series' final stage on Oct. 13, 2019. (Kyodo)

TOKOROZAWA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Kenta Imamiya's three home runs propelled the SoftBank Hawks to a 9-3 win over the Seibu Lions in Game 4 of the Pacific League Climax Series' final stage on Sunday.

    The Hawks clinched the final stage four games to one, marking the second straight season they came to MetLife Dome and overcame the league champs' one-win advantage to move on to the Japan Series. The Hawks are the two-time defending Japan Series champs.

    Game 4 had been scheduled for Saturday, but it was postponed on account of Typhoon Hagibis.

    "First of all, we'd like to offer our sympathy to those who have suffered and those who have been forced to evacuate," Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said of the disaster that left dozens killed or injured. "We were pleased to even be able to play in such circumstances."

    Imamiya, who reached base all six times he came to the plate, opened the scoring with a solo home run in the third off right-handed starter Keisuke Honda. In the sixth, with the Hawks leading 3-2, Imamiya hit a two-run homer off rookie Wataru Matsumoto.

    Imamiya's fourth hit of the game, a seventh-inning single, drove in the second run of SoftBank's two-run seventh. He made it 9-3 with another two-run home run and finished the game with six RBIs and was named this year's PL Climax Series MVP.

    "Most of all, we're very happy that this victory allows us to play more games (in the Japan Series) before our home fans," Imamiya said.

    Yurisbel Gracial opened SoftBank's two-run fourth inning with his third home run of the series. Seibu's Hotaka Yamakawa had an RBI single and a solo home run, while Ernesto Mejia also homered for the hosts.

    The Hawks have now beaten the Lions in seven consecutive final stage games, having won the last three games a year ago after splitting the first two.

    The Japan Series opens Saturday at the Hawks' home park, Fukuoka's Yafuoku Dome, where they will take on the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's season finale.

    In the Central League Climax Series, Yomiuri defeated the Hanshin Tigers 4-1 to win their final stage 4-1 behind an outstanding effort from the Giants bullpen.

    Giants starting pitcher Yuki Takahashi allowed a run on four walks and two hits over five-plus innings. He left with two on and no outs in the sixth, but four relievers retired the next 12 hitters to seal the victory.

    The Giants tied it 1-1 in the fifth on Kazuma Okamoto's third home run of the stage, and took the lead in the sixth when Yoshihiro Maru brought a runner home from third with a two-out bunt single. Alex Guerrero made it a 4-1 game in the seventh with a two-run home run.

    It is Yomiuri's first trip to the Japan Series since 2013, when they lost to the Rakuten Eagles.

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