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NPB: Shuta Ishikawa Throws First No-Hitter of 2023 Season For SoftBank Hawks

 Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network  |    Aug 18th, 2023 6:59pm EDT

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks starting pitcher Shute Ishikawa threw his first career no-hitter on Friday in an 8-0 win over the Saitama Seibu Lions. It was the first no-hitter this season in Nippon Professional Baseball and the 99th in regular season history. 

Ishikawa recorded eight strikeouts, three walks, and hit one batter. The 31-year-old threw 127 pitches in the contest. Lions veteran Takeya Nakamura hit a hard ground ball to first base for the final out of the game. 

“I didn’t think I would be able to achieve this,” Ishikawa told The Japan Times. “But I had some luck and the fielders got the outs, and I’m grateful for them.” 

The Hawks jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning and scored one run in the third, fourth, and sixth innings. Designated hitter Yuki Yanagita went 3-for-5 at the plate with a solo home run in the sixth inning and two RBI in the game. Yanagita’s home run was his 16th of the season and the 1,500th hit of his career. 

Ishikawa’s no-hitter is the fourth in Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks history. The three others include Akira Bessho on May 26, 1943, against the Yamato Baseball Club, Kodai Senga on September 6, 2019, against the Chiba Lotte Marines, and Nao Higashihama on May 11, 2022, against the Saitama Seibu Lions. 

“Every time I take to the mound, I think about a no-hitter and then I give up a hit in the first inning,” Ishikawa told KyodoNews.Net. “As a result, I tend to just think about one batter after the next. So at the end, I was like that, and maybe not that conscious of it being a no-hitter.” 

Ishikawa was drafted by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2013 and has been a mainstay in their rotation ever since. He signed a 5 million yen contract with the Hawks in 2016 and made his NPB debut in 2017 against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Ishikawa finished his rookie season with an 8-3 win-loss record, 99 strikeouts, and a 3.29 ERA in 98.1 innings. 

Ishikawa has a 3.84 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 89 innings in 2023. The right-hander has walked 42 and allowed 10 home runs. His career-high in strikeouts for a season is 134 in 156.1 innings in 2021, and his career-low ERA when appearing in over 10 games in a season is 2.42 in 2020. Ishikawa pitched in only two games in 2019 due to troubles with right elbow pain. 

Ishikawa’s career accolades include being a one-time Pacific League winning percentage leader, leading Pacific League pitchers in wins in 2020 with 11, and being a four-time Japan Series champion (2017-20). 

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ next contest will be on Saturday, August 18 at 5 a.m. EDT against the Saitama Seibu Lions. The game will be played at Fukuoka PayPay Dome, home of the Hawks. The Hawks are in third place in the Pacific League with a win-loss record of 52-49 and are nine games back of the Orix Buffaloes (61-40) for first place.

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Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network