After a long, hard first season in Japan, new import Sheldon Neuse helped propel the Hanshin Tigers to their first Japan pro baseball championship in 38 years with his offensive fireworks in Sunday's Game 7 against the Orix Buffaloes.
After going 0-for-2 in Game 2 against Orix lefty Hiroya Miyagi, Neuse put the Tigers on the road to victory with a three-run fourth-inning homer and an RBI single in a three-run fifth.
A 28-year-old who joined the Tigers after 147 MLB games split between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers, Neuse batted .240 during the season with nine home runs in 133 games but led both of Japan's leagues in outfield assists with 12.
"It's been amazing the whole year. The team is awesome," he said after catching the final out of the series. "I just want to thank them for allowing me to be a part of it this year."
He also acknowledged the work put in by his family to keep up with him in his new position.
"I want to thank them (my family) for the sacrifices they made."
Asked about his season before the start of the series, Neuse admitted things had not gone as well as expected.
"Ups and downs, a lot more downs than ups, but as a team we were able to grind through everything...and winning first place in the Central League was a big deal," he told Kyodo News. "I wish I could have contributed a little more, but it all comes down to this last series."