Read the full story on SportsLook - Yudai Fujioka Delivers Clutch Blast as the Marines Stun the Hawks in Deciding Game
One of the great things about postseason baseball is the chance for unsung heroes to come out of nowhere to help their teams to glory. For example, Yudai Fujioka, a light-hitting 30-year-old shortstop, hit only one home run in 380 plate appearances in the regular season for the Chiba Lotte Marines.
On Monday, October 16, Fujioka hit the biggest home run of his career to lead the Marines to a thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and into the final stage of the Pacific League Climax Series.
With the score tied 0-0 after nine innings, the game went to extras at Zozo Marine Stadium. The winner would advance to play the Orix Buffaloes in the second stage while the loser would go home.
To the shock of the sold-out crowd, SoftBank pushed the second-place Marines to the brink of elimination by taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the 10th on three consecutive RBI hits.
Erasing a three-run deficit seemed like a gargantuan task against a team that has plenty of postseason experience over the years.
Yudai Fujioka Comes Through in the Clutch
Tsumori quickly got into trouble giving up two base hits. That brought up Fujioka, who drilled a Tsumori offering deep into the right field stands, touching off a wild celebration at Zozo Marine Stadium.
"Two of my teammates got on base for me in that situation, and I was ready to swing the bat aggressively," Fujioka said, according to Kyodo News. "We'll do our best to come back and play here [for the Japan Series]."
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Author: Jim Armstrong
The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.