Lotte Marines pitcher Roki Sasaki set a Japanese pro baseball record by striking out 13 consecutive batters en route to Japan’s 16th perfect game in a 6-0 Pacific League win over the Orix Buffaloes in Chiba on April 10.
The 20-year-old right-hander, whose father was killed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeast coast, was heavily scouted by Major League Baseball teams before signing with the Marines out of high school prior to the 2020 season.
His no-hitter was the 94th in Japanese pro baseball and the first since Aug. 15, 2020. It was the first perfect game in a pro league in Japan since May 18, 1994.
“This is the greatest,” Sasaki told fans after he and 18-year-old rookie catcher Ko Matsukawa teamed up on the masterpiece in their home stadium.
“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about the possibility (of a perfect game). I figured it would be OK if I gave up a hit, so I just pitched and put my trust in Matsukawa right until the end.”
Sasaki also tied a Nippon Professional Baseball record by striking out 19 batters. The 19th batter to fall was pinch-hitter Yutaro Sugimoto, last year’s PL home run champ. (Kyodo)