Baseball-Hawks secure fourth consecutive NPB crown

Jack Tarrant
·1-min read

By Jack Tarrant

TOKYO (Reuters) - Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks clinched their fourth consecutive Nippon Professional Baseball title with a 4-1 victory over the Yomiuri Giants, completing a four-game sweep in the Japan Series.

Two-run home runs from Yuki Yanagita in the first inning and Takuya Kai in the second backed a strong performance by veteran left-hand pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, ensuring a Hawks sweep in the championship series for the second consecutive year.

The Hawks have been the dominant force in Japanese baseball over the last decade, winning seven NPB titles since 2011.

The comprehensive series victory also means that the Tokyo-based Giants, Japan's most successful professional team, haven't won the Japan Series since 2012.

NPB started in June after a three-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the season was shortened so as to complete the schedule on time.

Since then, more fans have been allowed into professional sports stadia in Japan, meaning the Hawks' home supporters could join in the celebrations on Wednesday.

However, because of coronavirus-related restrictions, less than 18,000 were in attendance on Wednesday at the Fukuoka Dome, compared to over 37,000 for Game 1 of the Japan Series in the same venue last year.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Mark Heinrich)