Kenta Imamiya, Rick Van den Hurk lead Hawks past Buffaloes

FUKUOKA - Rick van den Hurk hurled seven solid innings and Kenta Imamiya drove in the only run on Sunday as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks eked out a 1-0 win against the Orix Buffaloes.

Van den Hurk (10-7) fanned six and retired 21 of his 24 batters without issuing a walk at Yafuoku Dome. The Dutch right-hander earned his 10th win for the seven-inning effort, reaching double digits for the second time since joining the Hawks in 2015.

“I just wanted to attack today and stay ahead in the count to keep them off balance, and we did a good job of that,” van den Hurk said after the game. “It was a tight game and I’m so happy we got the victory. (Not giving up a walk) is huge, and of course after getting the win, that’s definitely the second thing I’m most proud of today.”

In the first, a fielding error allowed Imamiya to reach on a grounder and a single from Yuki Yanagita put the shortstop in scoring position, but Orix starter Yuki Nishi (8-12) fanned Yurisbel Gracial to strand the runners.

Nishi got into another jam in the second after giving up two straight singles. But after Takuya Kori flied out and Kenji Akashi got caught stealing, the right-hander again limited the damage with an inning-ending strikeout.

The Hawks finally broke through in the fifth, when Kori drew a leadoff walk from Nishi and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Imamiya then bounced a double past short to bring home Kori and give SoftBank the lead.

Ren Kajiya gave up a single and hit a batter but pitched through a scoreless eighth, while three Orix relievers were needed to quash a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half of the inning. Yuito Mori closed out the victory to earn his 27th save.

The Hawks maintained their second-place spot in the Pacific League, while the Buffaloes remain in fourth.

Jeff Chu