Great Tiger Moments #10 – Kanemoto’s Nippon Series Walk-Off HR

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Date: October 23, 2003

The Tigers found themselves back in the Nippon Series for the first time since 1985. However, they lost the first two games in Fukuoka, dampening the mood for their return home to Koshien. They walked off Game 3, but the series was still tilted in the Hawks’ favor.

Cue the dramatics for Game 4. Early in the game, Shinjiro Hiyama punched in two runners on a double to right center, and Atsushi Kataoka brought him home on a single, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead. The Hawks got one back on a Matsunaka solo home run in the second, and then it was a battle of the arms for a while after that. In the bottom of the sixth, Tomoaki Kanemoto hit a homer for the second straight game, stretching the lead back to 3, but in the top of the seventh, the Hawks bats got to starter Kei Igawa, who left the mound with the bases juiced and a one-run lead. Unfortunately, Yuya Andoh pushed the tying run across the plate with a walk. In the next inning, he committed a bases-loaded error to give the Hawks a slim lead. Kanemoto’s walk and steal led to him tying the game in the bottom half on a George Arias single. This one went to extra innings as well, and with the bases empty and one out, this happened:

Series tied. Asked to hit another homer the next day, Kanemoto said, “I don’t know if I can, but we hope to back the Hawks into a corner tomorrow!” (He hit one in Game 5 as well, and they had the Hawks against the ropes heading back to Fukuoka. That’s all the good news 2003 gave us, though.) Just one of many reasons Hanshin fans love this man.

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.

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