Yakult Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami hit his 200th home run in Nippon Professional Baseball on Wednesday, setting a new record as the youngest player to reach the milestone at the age of 24 years and three months, surpassing the previous benchmark set by former Seibu Lions star Kazuhiro Kiyohara.

Belting an eighth-inning solo shot over right-center field at Matsuyama Botchan Stadium in Ehime Prefecture, Murakami went deep off Hiroshima Carp reliever Takuya Yasaki as his ninth homer of the year capped Yakult's 2-0 win in the Central League. His 200th arrived seven months faster than Kiyohara's record from 1992.

Yakult Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami hit his 200th home run in Nippon Professional Baseball during the eighth inning of a Central League game against the Hiroshima Carp at Matsuyama Botchan Stadium in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, on May 15, 2024. (Kyodo)

Murakami, to be posted to Major League Baseball after the 2025 season, slugged 56 homers in 2022 to set a record for a Japanese-born player.

"It hasn't really sunk in. It's only a stop along the way, and I'll be working harder to hit more," Murakami said.

"I trained a lot in Matsuyama in my first year as a pro (during the offseason), and here is where it all began. I'm really happy to hit the milestone home run at such a place."

The Kumamoto Prefecture-born infielder was also the youngest ever to reach 150 NPB home runs in Aug. 2022, the year he won the Triple Crown and helped the Swallows win their second straight CL pennant.

Yakult Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami poses for a photo after hitting his 200th home run in Nippon Professional Baseball in a Central League game against the Hiroshima Carp at Matsuyama Botchan Stadium in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, on May 15, 2024. (Kyodo)

Kengo Matsumoto hurled a three-hit shutout for Yakult on the night in his professional debut.

In other action, Yuki Yanagita and Ukyo Shuto drove in two runs apiece as the Pacific League-leading SoftBank Hawks rallied to beat the Rakuten Eagles 7-3. The Nippon Ham Fighters extended their winning streak to five games with a 12-3 rout of the Seibu Lions.


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