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Baseball: Junya Nishi slugs, pitches Tigers past Swallows

Junya Nishi of the Hanshin Tigers pitches against the Yakult Swallows in a Central League baseball game at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo on May 18, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Junya Nishi returned to his slugging past as he belted his first home run while throwing his first complete game as a pro in the Hanshin Tigers' 8-1 Central League win over the Yakult Swallows on Wednesday.

    At Jingu Stadium, Nishi (2-0) belted a two-run second-inning home run, one of four hit by the Tigers, as he struck out seven and allowed one run on six hits over the distance.

    As a high school senior, Nishi had both pitched and batted as Japan's designated hitter in baseball's 2019 Under-18 World Cup. His two home runs tied him for the tournament lead, while his 17 strikeouts were tied for second most among pitchers.

    "I was looking for a pitch where he threw it, and put a good swing on it. I thought it was gone the instant I hit it, and I'm just so happy," Nishi said.

    "I worked on my breaking pitches after they got hit for home runs in my last start, but I gave up a home run today, so I still have work to do."

    Jefry Marte got the Tigers going with a first-inning home run off lefty Keiji Takahashi (3-1), his first. Yusuke Oyama's three-run third-inning homer, his sixth, made it 6-0 in the third.

    Teruaki Sato also homered for the Tigers, with his 10th, while Tetsuto Yamada accounted for the Swallows' only score with his eighth homer of the year.

    Elsewhere, the Yomiuri Giants held off the Hiroshima Carp 4-2, while the DeNA BayStars beat the Chunichi Dragons 7-6.

    In the Pacific League, Leonys Martin's 10th-inning sayonara home run lifted the Lotte Marines 1-0 past the league-leading Rakuten Eagles, while Chusei Mannami homered twice and drove in five runs in the Nippon Ham Fighters' 11-4 win over the Orix Buffaloes, and the SoftBank Hawks beat the Seibu Lions 3-2.

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