Molleken, Mathieson battle in Japan
* Dustin Molleken (Regina, Sask.), left, of the Nippon Ham Fighters and Scott Mathieson (Aldergrove, BC) of the Yomiuri Giants are going to head-to-head in the Japan Series ….
By Adam Morissette
Two Canadians are battling it out on the other side of the world as the Nippon Ham Fighters take-on the Yomiuri Giants to decide the champion of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan.
Scott Mathieson (Aldergrove, BC) has been pitching out of the Giants bullpen all season and earned the save in Game 2 of the championship series to give the Giants a 2-0 series lead. Meanwhile, Dustin Molleken (Regina, Sask.) joined the Ham Fighters midway through the season after beginning the year in Triple-A with the Colorado Rockies affiliate in Colorado Springs.
Mathieson and Molleken are the first Canadians to ever play in NPB’s championship series.
“The baseball is really good (in Japan) and the people are great,” said Molleken of his experience in Japan. “The fans are crazy – they’re singing from the first inning to the ninth.”
Nearly 45,000 fans packed the Tokyo Dome to watch the hometown Giants cruise to an 8-1 victory over the Molleken and the Ham Fighters in game one, before Mathieson came on in game two to record the final out in the top of the ninth to secure a 1-0 victory for the Giants.
The best-of-seven series now shifts to the Sapporo Dome, home of the Ham Fighters, for games three and four and, if necessary, game five. If a sixth and seventh game is required, they will be played at the Tokyo Dome.
After joining the Ham Fighters in August, Molleken appeared in 23 games and compiled a 2-1 record with a 3.37 ERA in 22 innings of work.
A member of the 2011 Pan Am Games gold medal team, Molleken spent nine seasons in the minor leagues with the Pirates and Rockies organizations before making the decision to play in Japan.
“So far, it’s been a cool experience playing in Japan,” he said.
For Mathieson, a former member of the Philadelphia Phillies, he made the move to Japan after signing with the Yomiuri Giants in December 2011 and has quickly become a valuable member of the Giants bullpen.
In 30 regular season games he had a 2-0 record with 10 saves and 8 holds. The right-hander also struck out 48 batters in 40 innings, while carrying 1.71 ERA.
Mathieson last appeared in a Canadian uniform in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
The Ham Fighters and Giants have some further incentive to play for as the winner will move onto the Asian Series to play champions from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) and Australian Baseball League (ABL) in November.