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Baseball: Swallows, Carp draw Central League battle for 1st

Munetaka Murakami of the Yakult Swallows hits a two-run home run in the first inning of a Central League game against the Hiroshima Carp at Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima on May 15, 2022. (Kyodo)

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) -- In a game befitting a clash of the Central League's top two teams, the first-place Yakult Swallows held off the Hiroshima Carp in a 5-5 12-inning tie Sunday.

    Yakult closer Scott McGough pitched out of a tough spot after a fluke hit put two on with one out in the 12th inning. Registering his second out with a strikeout, McGough got a fly out to end it after 4 hours, 44 minutes at Mazda Stadium.

    The tie leaves the Swallows a half-game ahead of the Carp.

    Swallows third baseman Munetaka Murakami, who opened the scoring with a two-run first-inning home run, his 12th, evaded the barrel of pinch-hitter Shosei Nakamura's shattered bat to record the final out.

    The game had plenty of heroes.

    Carp rookie Kento Nakamura did his level best to be the game's star. His two-run homer, the first of his career, tied it in the Carp's three-run fifth. He doubled, was intentionally walked twice and singled in the 12th, his high pop just falling in to give the Carp hope of a sayonara victory.

    In the 10th, the Carp loaded the bases with two outs against rookie reliever Naofumi Kizawa, but new Swallows import A.J. Cole struck out veteran Kosuke Tanaka to end the inning and worked a scoreless 11th.

    Elsewhere, the Chunichi Dragons hammered the Giants 9-3, while Teruaki Sato homered twice in the Hanshin Tigers' 8-1 win over the DeNA BayStars.

    In the Pacific League, the first-place Rakuten Eagles beat the Seibu Lions 3-1 behind a home run and three RBIs from Jose Marmolejos, while the Orix Buffaloes beat the Lotte Marines 8-5, and the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters crushed the second-place SoftBank Hawks 10-2 to complete a three-game sweep.

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