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Swallows trample BayStars to wrap up Central League title

The Yakult Swallows celebrate at Yokohama Stadium after clinching the Central League baseball title on Oct. 26, 2021. (Kyodo)

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) -- Third-inning two-run doubles by Domingo Santana and Yuhei Nakamura broke up a tie game as the Yakult Swallows clinched the Central League pennant with a 5-1 victory over the DeNA BayStars on Tuesday.

    The Swallows' win at Yokohama Stadium, coupled with the second-place Hanshin Tigers' loss to the Chunichi Dragons, lifted the Swallows to their first CL title in six years.

    "Our first priority was winning our game, but at the same time we were a little concerned with the Tigers' wins and losses," manager Shingo Takatsu said after being tossed in the air by the team in a celebratory "doage" ceremony.

    "All we could do was put our best players on the field and our best pitchers on the mound and let them do their parts," he said. "This was 100 percent the players' doing."

    With the game tied 1-1 in the third inning, the visitors loaded the bases against lefty Shota Imanaga (5-5) with one out. Santana drove a ball into the gap in right to break the tie, and Nakamura doubled off the wall in left to make it 5-1.

    Swallows right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi allowed a first-inning run, but left after four innings without allowing another. Lefty Keiji Takahashi (4-1), normally a starter, worked two scoreless innings of relief from the fifth to earn the win.

    At Koshien Stadium, southpaw Shinnosuke Ogasawara (8-10) worked six innings to earn the win and Yohei Oshima delivered a crushing two-run fifth-inning single as the Dragons eliminated the Tigers with a 4-0 victory.

    At Sapporo Dome, the Nippon Ham Fighters edged closer to moving out of the Pacific League cellar with a 1-0 walk-off win over the fifth-place Seibu Lions. The Lions lead the Fighters on winning percentage points, .440 to .438.

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