Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 12, Championship - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) vs. Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)


I am so happy we have this final! I was expecting the exact reverse, but for one day, the 高校野球 gods decided that the small team (sort of) has their day.

Now given, both of these schools are private, and Tsuruga Kehi has been a strong team as of late. But they're not Osaka Touin, they're not Yokohama, they're not a major metropolitan team. We have a school from the Hokushinetsu region that hasn't won since...


The last time a Hokushinetsu school won either Koushien was Gifu Shougyou (Now Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou).

IN 1936.

They won the 1935 Natsu Koushien, then the 1936 Haru Koushien.

And as for Hokkaido?

The only team to ever win (in either Koushien) was Komadai Tomakomai back in 2004-5, and oddly Tanaka Masahiro's team in 2006 was the team to lose the final. As mentioned yesterday, the closest a Hokkaido team has to winning was Hokkai back in 1963 when they reached the final and lost to Shimonoseki Shougyou (Yamaguchi).

Man, a Chuugoku and a Hokkaido team in the final? Those days are long gone.

But now we have a Hokushinetsu team and a Hokkaido team. YAY!

Tsuruga Kehi has hit their stride at the right time. Their first 3 games had a combined winning margin of 5 runs, and 3 of those runs was against Naradai Fuzoku. The other two were against the Tohoku champs Sendai Ikuei and the Tokai champs Shizuoka.

And then against Osaka Touin?? 2 innings and 2 grand slams later, and the game was OVER.

And if they defeat Toukai Dai-yon, that will be 3 super-regional champs defeated. It's like the Meiji Jingu tournament all over again. Except this time Hiranuma is not hurt, and looks to be stronger than ever.

Toukai Dai-yon has had the cinderella run. They have reached the final scoring no more than 3 runs in any game. They were on the verge of losing against Matsuyama Higashi in the 2nd round. They shutout Kendai Takasaki. They limited Urawa Gakuin to just 1 run.

And now they're here in the finals! Albeit an hour late due to the rain. Crowds have stayed away sadly, and so the atmosphere won't be as strong for a final as it could be.

Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
C Ogawa Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
P Oosawa Shiiya
3B Tachibana Susumu
CF Watase Taiki

Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
3B Shinohara Ryou
2B Nakai Kidzuku
SS Hayashinaka Yuuki
P Hiranuma Shouta
CF Yamamoto Kouta
RF Matsumoto Teppei (#17)
1B Ueda Ryouya
C Kamon Yuusuke
LF Kinoshita Shougo (#9)


13:30 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Grounder to 2nd and Nakai can't quite get his footwork down and can't field the ball! Official scorers give a single.

Sac bunt. KAMON throws it away! All safe and Tomita goes to 3rd. Toukai Dai-yon with a big chance!

Kanemura steals 2nd without a throw!!

Oowaki-kantoku not doing the squeeze, and Yamamoto strikes out.

Ogawa not making the same mistake, hits a fly to right. Tomita tagging up, relay throw on a rope... Just safe! Toukai Dai-yon take advantage of the unforced errors and lead 1-0!

Sou gets hit! That's not like Hiranuma at all.

Hiranuma finally gets out of the first striking out Shiota on a slider. Could've been worse, but still not the way you want to start.

Shinohara ready to start the counterstrike as he singles past Kanemura into center. Nakai showing bunt, but gets ahead 2-0. Does actually attempt to lay it down, but rolls it foul towards the 1st base batter's circle.

Lots of attention to Shinohara, but Oosawa is behind Nakai 3-1. The bunt is still laid down.

Huh, Oosawa hits Hiranuma on his right knee. The American cynic side of me wonders about that.

Intentional or not, Yamamoto with a single through the right side! Shinohara will score and we're back on even terms! 1-1!

Azuma-kantoku trying to start his running game, but Yamamoto is thrown out easily. Side retired, but level game!

2nd Inning
Toukai throwing punches! Oosawa with a poke into center for a base hit.

Tachibana flubs the bunt! Hiranuma with a great sliding catch, and Oosawa is a dead duck! 2 down!

Another HBP from Hiranuma? Did that really hit Watase?

Oowaki has nothing to lose with the top of the lineup, so he sends Watase! Throw is in, no call, Watase losing his balance... OUT!

I think he may have been safe, but was waiting to Watase to steady himself. When his foot came off the bag, out he went.

Oosawa the first ace to have a clean inning. Ueda and Kamon both try to hit the deep ball, but fly out to left.

3rd Inning
There are a lot of HBP this game! After 2 quick outs, Hiranuma hits Yamamoto! That's 4 HBP, 2 apiece!

Oowaki-kantoku tries the hit and and run, but Ogawa strikes out.

Kinoshita hangs in there, and from a 1-2 count draws a walk! No bunting from Shinohara, but he swings on the first pitch and pops it up! He fouls out for the 1st out, and now Nakai is squaring to bunt.

He's in trouble though as he falls behind 0-2, and pops out.

More trouble for Oosawa as he walks Nakai! Now Hiranuma gets to the on-deck circle!


Oosawa is able to paint the outside corner and strike out Hayashinaka! 2 out, but Hiranuma gets to bat.

Grounder to 2nd! Kanemura boots it! Hurries, throws, in plenty of time. 3 out.

4th Inning
Toukai batters making Hiranuma work. First 3 batters go at least 7 pitches deep. Oosawa doesn't get a single, but does get a 2-out walk.

Unfortunately that's all they get.

Yamamoto (Kouta) with a blooper to left! Kouta sees the fielders ease up and breaks for 2nd! Throw is high and late! Oh dear!

Mastumoto bunt, and Oosawa spins to throw to 3rd! Its wide and all safe!

Comebacker by Ueda! Oosawa has it! Goes to 3rd again!!


As if to compound the error he tries again thinking he has Kouta hung! Manrui!

Oosawa needs time, badly.

First pitch hits Kamon! But no dead ball as he didn't try to move away.

SANSHIN! Kamon can only hold his breath as that curve supposedly hits the bottom of the zone. One down, and a long way to go.


He throws out the curve again and Kinoshita is over and in front of it! Foul tips it into Ogawa's glove and there's 2 outs! Can he do it?

Count goes to 1-2 on Shinohara!

Not biting on the curve this time.

Grounder to short! Tomita goes to 3rd!!


He's done it! Oosawa gets out of a manrui, no out jam!!!! ありえない!!!

5th Inning
Pressure's on now. Toukai Dai-yon playing for 1 run as after a Tomita single, Oowaki-kantoku calls for a bunt. Yamamoto strikes out meekly though, so nothing doing.

The game seems to be heading to a stalemate status where both teams struggle to gain traction. Oosawa almost has a 1-2-3 inning before the break, but Kanemura boots a ball on a Hiranuma grounder and the inning continues.

Now Hiranuma goes to take 2nd! Throw from Ogawa not in time!

But Yamamoto hits a comebacker to Oosawa and he goes to 1st for the 3rd out. Oosawa holds serve and we hit the break in a tie at 1. Both pitchers have settled down since the 1st and have been able to keep putting up bagels. Who will break first?

6th Inning
First pitch from Hiranuma is a single past Nakai to right! Sac bunt follows of course.

Shiota hit by Hiranuma! That's his 4th!

And Oosawa takes 2nd without a throw! The Tsuruga Kehi continues to be concerned about the double steal.

No matter as Tachibana foul tips into Kamon's glove and Toukai Dai-yon strands 2 more runners in scoring position!

Tsuruga Kehi is desperate to get runners. So much so that Ueda tries a bunt for a base hit, but is out by a good margin. Oosawa just needs 4 pitches to get his 3 outs! That's not good at all.

7th Inning
Watase blooper to center... Nakai chasing it as others converge, but it falls into the triangle!

Tomita bunting. NOT BUNTING!

It's a buster swing and he puts it right through the middle for a base hit! Big chance in the lucky 7!

Now they bunt, and that passes. 2 chances to get the runner in.

Yamamoto gets jammed! Nakai coming in, can't make the catch, but it's so hard to tell the runners have to stay! 4-3 and there's 2 outs.

Hiranuma's out of the jam! Ogawa grounds out to 3rd and 2 more runners are stranded! How is this going to affect the morale of the Hokkaido champs?

Kinoshita wth a leadoff walk! Azuma-kantoku going for it as #15 Kurisu is sent in to run.


Shinohara chases the high fastball! 1 down.

Nakai grounder to 2nd moves the runner to 3rd.

But Hayashinaka swings on the first pitch and it's a can of corn! Kouhei is there for the 3rd out!

8th Inning
#7 Mori comes in to play RF, Matsumoto shifts to LF

Sou with a fly to right center, Kouta over to get it.

IT FALLS IN! He had me fooled! And maybe that was the point!

But the ball bounces away from Kouta and that allows Sou to reach 2nd!

Bunt and Hiranuma goes to 3rd! It's in time. NO!

The slide knocks out the ball and he's safe! Shinohara pleads his case, but to no avail! And in the meantime Shiota takes 2nd!


But it's a pitchout! No chance from Oosawa to make contact and Kehi's done their homework from yesterday! Shiota is rundown and there 1 out!

Toukai Dai-yon tried to go to the well twice, but got burned! And now Oosawa is rung up on an inside fastball! 2 down!

Hot grounder to the right side! Ueda smothers it! Goes to 1st and there's 3 out!

They take the bat away from Oosawa and it backfires! We're still tied and all the momentum is with Tsuruga Kehi!

Hiranuma with a walk. Another sac bunt.


NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 Matsumoto with a deep drive to left! Shiota giving chase!!!



2-run HR gives his team the definitive 3-1 lead!!

I'm not sure there has been one person offensively that has done more for their team than Matsumoto.

The side is retired, but that's doesn't matter! Tsuruga Kehi is just 3 outs away from the Senbatsu title!

9th Inning
Not going away yet! Watase with a single through the right side!


It's successful, but why??

#17 Sakemoto to hit for Kanemura.


No chances for the pinch hitter! He goes down swinging!

And that's it! Yamamoto hits one back to Hiranuma! Goes to 1st and they've done it! Tsuruga Kehi has won the Senbatsu title 3-1 over Toukai Dai-yon!!

I need a moment. Be back after ending ceremonies.

Ok, there's time beforehand.

First off, I want to tip my hat to the losers Toukai Dai-yon. You do not know how hard it is for a team from Hokkaido to be competitive. In a scene where teams practice almost all year round, teams in Hokkaido have to deal with snow. That doesn't make for ideal conditions. Yes, they're just as rural as other prefectures, but Hokkaido is it's own place, much like Okinawa, but without the success.

I still do not know how they did it, for 7 innings they held one of the most dangerous teams to just 1 run. Hiranuma didn't even have a base hit. Sadly it can take just one pitch to decide a game. And that 1 pitch went to the man of the past 2 days. The man that was even more dangerous than Hiranuma, Matsumoto Teppei.

And so Hokkaido is denied again. But congratulations to the team that helped get their prefecture there for the first time in 50+ years. You were truly worthy of reaching the game, now matter how you managed to do it.

Tsuruga Kehi has been well deserving of winning the title. Hiranuma is an ace in his own regard, but this time around he has his teammate to thank.

Funny thing is, I wonder if he was in the doghouse. After going 3-4 and a HR short of the cycle against Naradai Fuzoku, he went 0-3 against Sendai Ikuei and was benched against Shizuoka only coming in as a defensive replacement. Though that may have had to do more with the handedness of the pitcher more than anything else.

And then there's the Osaka Touin game. Oh dear lord the Osaka Touin game.

3-4, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs and a broken Osaka Touin ace.

And in the final, just one hit.

One, 2-run homerun that gives his team the title. I'm not sure one person not on the mound has had a better 2 days than him.

The ending ceremonies are going on, and when the captain Miyazaki picks up the runner-up banner for Toukai Dai-yon, you can tell he's holding back. And you can tell that the rest of them are holding back too. One of them can't and is already crying. Chances are, they won't get another chance like this again and that this has slipped them by. If you're Osaka Touin, you can say we'll get back in the summer and revenge our failures. Toukai Dai-yon may be able to say that they can get back, but cannot say with any certainty that they will be able to revenge this loss.

That's why this final restored my faith in 高校野球 if even for a little bit.  Two schools from regions who have not had total victory got a chance to do so. While it's unrealistic to think that every school out there who plays has an equal chance every year, I always hope that those schools that get here have some modicum of success.

But as this year has shown, there is a gap between schools, between regions. And I have no illusions that that gap will probably not get any narrower anytime soon. And that's why I generally root again the major schools who time and again compete for the title. It's why I loved the Maebashi Ikuei - Nobeoka Gakuen final 2 years ago. And it's why I was happy to see this final.

So the books are closed until the summer where 47 schools will battle it out for the big prize, the Natsu Koushien title. No doubt we'll see some of those teams here again. But for all it'll be a long road back.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 11, Semifinal 2 - Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) vs. Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)

Well, this was unexpected. So perhaps there's a chance for these teams. Maybe not. At the same time, I would have never expected to see Toukai Dai-yon in this spot. Not with Nishougakushadai Fuzoku, not with Tenri, and not with Kendai Takasaki.

And yet here they are. And I have no idea how they did it.

I mean the first game sure. Facing a 21st century school generally means success (sorry Nishougakushadai Fuzoku). But then you faced a Matsuyama Higashi team that for 7 innings dominated them - and then for no reason just tripped themselves up.

And then there's the Kendai Takasaki game. What universe were we in when that game was played? Kendai Takasaki by all metrics prolly had the advantage in pitching, speed, and with the bat. But for some reason they forgot all the rules about baserunning and their unforced errors resulted in an inexplicable 1-0 loss.

There's no way this continues against a team like Urawa Gakuin, right? Right?

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)
3B Suwa Tadayoshi
2B Dai Kouta
SS Tsuda Shouki
1B Yamazaki Kouta
CF Kouki Yuushi
RF Takahashi Tsukasa
LF Araki Yuuya
C Nishino Shinya
P Eguchi Shouri

Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
C Ogawa Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
P Oosawa Shiiya
3B Tachibana Susumu
CF Watase Taiki


13:50 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Dai with a 1-out double over Shiota's head, then a 2-out walk to Yamazaki makes things interesting as OOwaki-kantoku calls for time, but Oosawa gets Kouki to fly out to right.

Eguchi avoids the 1st inning slump, retires the side in order, though Toukai Dai-yon does square the ball well.

2nd Inning
Uh oh. Araki and Nishino with back to back hits on consecutive pitches and Urawa Gakuin is threatening again.

Eguchi hitting and a drive down the right field line to the wall! Araki scores and it's 1-0 Urawa Gakuin!

Contact play! Nishino goes on contact as Suwa hits to 2nd. Kanemura goes home...


Nice play by the Toukai defense to prevent another run from crossing.

Dai with a ball to the gap on the left side, Tachibana with it! Goes to first...


What a great play turned in by Tachibana to prevent another run! Admittedly Dai helped by diving, but you take what you can get.

Leadoff walk for Toukai Dai-yon, but as usual it ends up with a 2-out, runner on 3rd situation.

But wait! Oosawa with a single over a leaping Dai into center! Douten! 1-1.

And now there's a HBP.

And another walk! It's manrui for Toukai!

But Eguchi gets Tomita to ground to AHHHHHHHH!!!!

Dai fumbles on the ball, and his throw to 1st... LATE!!  Everyone's safe and Oosawa scores to give Toukai Dai-yon the 2-1 lead!!

3rd Inning
My ultaportable became fussy again, so I'll need to catch up.

Tsuda drives a ball to de left over Shiota's head for a double.  Yamazaki not bunting flies out to left.

Kouki liner, off Oosawa's glove! But it's right to Tomita! He adjusts and makes the catch, and Tsuda is dead meat! He's doubled off on the 1-6 unassisted double play!

Meanwhile Eguchi gets a well needed 1-2-3 inning.

4th Inning
The 4th inning comes and goes with little fanfare. Both pitchers go 1-2-3 and take a breather.

5th Inning
Eguchi gets his 2nd hit, a ball through the right side for a single. Mori-kantoku will play for the run and has Suw bunt.

But once again, it's just fly balls for Urawa as both Dai and Tsuda fly out.

Toukai gets a lead runner on as well as Eguchi takes a walk.

Oowaki-kantoku sends him! Throw from Nishino... just late! Toukai with a chance!

Tomita liner, but Yamazaki has it!

And so Oowaki-kantoku calls for the bunt and gets it, but with 2 outs the chances are slim, and Yamamoto just hits it back to Eguchi.

If I thought that the first game was unbelievable, this game is just as much so! How is Toukai Dai-yon leading??!!

6th Inning
Another leadoff runner for Urawa Gakuin, Yamazaki the douten runner with a single back up the middle. Kouki bunts him along.

Takahashi can't even move him along, but Oosawa makes it more difficult with a walk.

Oosawa strikes out Nishino though and the inning is over.

Yet again more baserunners to leadoff the inning. Ogawa with a single to right. Sou bunts him over as every run counts.

Shiota strikes out, but the ball gets away from Nishino! Shiota is able to take 1st, and Ogawa heads to 3rd!


Oosawa shows bunt, and the defense isn't prepared! Suwa with the ball, checks home, nothing. Checks first, too late!! Nishino told Suwa to go to 1st, but he hesitated and is lost! It's 3-1 Toukai Dai-yon on the successful squeeze!!

Eguchi retires the next 2 batters, but now it's a 2-run margin and Urawa Gakuin has been unable to do anything.

7th Inning
Oh boy, Urawa Gakuin is pressing. Oosawa just needs 6 pitches to retire the side in the Lucky 7.

Meanwhile Toukai continues to apply the pressure! Tomita bloops one to left.

After a bunt, Yamamoto singles to right, but it's too hard to drive the run in.

Ogawa wants the sac fly, but he hits it too shallow to left and Tomita can't score. One more fly and the runners are left stranded.

8th Inning
Urawa swinging for the big hit with just 6 outs to go. Yamazaki deep drive to right, but Yamamoto is there.

Kouki another drive, this time to left. Shiota running back, sprinting, reaches out... and makes the catch! Toukai Dai-yon just 3 outs away!!

As for Toukai Dai-yon, Ooswaa gets yet another single but otherwise will play hold-on in the 9th!

9th Inning
Defensive change as Shiota, who was hit for by #5 Saitou, is replaced by #16 Sakou.

#15 Araya to hit for Takahashi.

Liner top shallow left! Sakou charging in. Dives, rolls...

HAS THE CATCH!!!!  Sakou sold out on that dive, because if that gets through, it's a triple for sure! But it's not because he makes the catch!!

Not over yet! Araki singles to left.

#14 Ozawa to hit for Nishino.

He singles through the right side! The douten runner is on! And Eguchi is up!

But he pops up the first pitch!! Infield fly is called as Tomita makes the catch! 2 out!

Suwa fly to center! Watase is there! Under it! Makes the catch!!


They avenge a mercy-rules loss in the Meji Jingu Tournament in the biggest way, and when it matters most!!   A Hokkaido team is going to the senbatsu finals for the first time since Hokkai in 1953!!

One could argue that Urawa Gakuin shot themselves in the foot with Dai's error in the 2nd to give Toukai Dai-yon the lead, and that is true. However, you can also argue that Toukai Dai-yon played about a well-executed game as they could have. They had the leadoff runner on 4 of the 8 innings, and scored on 2 of those occasions.

Of course, it helps when on both of those scoring occasions Oosawa was at bat.

What puzzles me is how Urawa Gakin couldn't generate any offense at all. Yes they struggled to score runs before, but you'd expect more than one against a team from Hokkaido. I'm afraid I can't place it at all other than perhaps poor game planning?

It is certainly disappointing to not have reached the finals. And in a prefecture like Saitama, anything can happen on the way to the title. The offense will need to take strides to prevent something like this from happening again, not to mention Eguchi's random control issues that lead to his walks and hit batters. Limiting those will certainly help his team out.

But let's congratulate Toukai Dai-yon for defeating both Kendai Takasaki and Urawa Gakuin! Now comes their biggest test yet - Tsuruga Kehi. And they seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.

Day 11, Semifinal 1 - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka)

If you're wondering where Day 10 went, I'm counting the rest day as a day. Seeing a day 9 and 10 makes me think that there's no break, then I have to realize they're talking about actual game days.

Anyways, we are one day away from finding out who our spring champion is for 2015. I have to wonder if that may already have been decided.

Think about this. Over the last 3 calendar years, Osaka Touin has been to Koushien 5 times, the only time they didn't make it was senbatsu last year.

Of those 5 appearances, they have won it all 3 times.

And the times they did not win?
  • 2013 Summer - They lost in the 3rd round to Meitoku Gijyuku (Kishi Jyunichirou, now at Takushoku Daigaku)
  • 2013 Spring - They lost in the 3rd round to Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Fujita Ryuuji, now at Rikkyou Daigaku)
That's just mindboggling. You want to talk about a dominant program? This is Exhibit A.

I already had mentioned before the tournament started that I found it surprising with Tanaka's peripherals that Osaka Touin hadn't gone farther in the Kinki Super-Regionals. What I think we should have learned from before is that none of those titles matter - well, it doesn't matter if you are really looking at the main prize of winning senbatsu. Same thing goes for the Meiji Jingu tournament. Seriously, if you were the Kinki representative and if you winning the Meiji Jingu tournament would somehow allow Osaka Touin in, would you actually try to win?

Either way, they're here, and they're 2 games away from winning it (again).

Of course, that close game proved that they were vulnerable, unlike other times. The offense is not as explosive as usual, but can still give pop, which counts for something. Tanaka isn't a full-blown ace, but he's not average either.

Tsuruga Kehi is still a question mark. Outside of the first game, which was about as dominant a 3-0 game could be, they have squeaked by their opposition. Their offense is uneven and even small-ball based outside of Hiranuma, which puts a lot of pressure on Hiranuma to keep the score low. Now, chances are that freaky 5th inning versus Shizuoka probably won't happen since some of it I figure was weather-based. But, when facing Sendai Ikuei, he started showing signs of breaking down. Osaka Touin will no doubt push him to his limit.

Grudgingly, I still favor Osaka Touin. I hope my same friend is right in that Tsuruga Kehi will win this game, but I have my doubts.

Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
3B Shinohara Ryou
2B Nakai Kidzuku
SS Hayashinaka Yuuki
P Hiranuma Shouta
CF Yamamoto Kouta
RF Matsumoto Teppei (#17)
1B Ueda Ryouya
C Kamon Yuusuke
LF Kinoshita Shougo (#9)

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
3B Nakayama Yuuto
2B Nagahiro Tomoki
RF Fujii Kenpei
CF Aoyagi Kouki
C Taniguchi Kazuki
SS Fukuda Kouki
1B Yoshizawa Kazuto (#12)
LF Harada Tomoki (#3)
P Tanaka Seiya


11:03 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Shinohara really holding firm at the plate, taking a close pitch to get the count full. And is rewarded with a base hit through the right side. Naturally, Tsuruga Kehi goes with the bunt.

They're really going with the patience game here. Teams do not seem to be doing that a lot, so it's a surprise Azuma-kantoku has done it here. But it's working as Hayashinaka draws a walk.

Hiranuma also goes to the max on Tanaka.  But Tanaka wins on a high fastball! 2 down.

That leaves it to Yamamoto. And they are as patient as, aw... I wrote myself into a corner. Anyways, he again is not trigger happy and he draws a walk! The bases are loaded!!

Matsumoto playing the same game, but Tanaka gets ahead for the first time 1-2, then throws a pitch way up and in to waste it.



Whoo hoo!!!!  Did that just happen? Matsumoto drives a pitch to left and while the outfielders run back, they know it's gone! It's 4-0 Tsuruga Kehi!!

There's the 3rd out, but man that is a great start for the Hokushinetsu champs!

Meanwhile Hiranuma sits down the Osaka Touin order. Gets some help from Kinoshita who makes a catch right at the 3rd base fence.

2nd Inning
What the heck? Tanaka is still getting rocked! Back to back gappers score another run and it's 5-0!

Osaka Touin getting something back as a grounder to short from Nakai gets the runner out at 3rd. Heads up play by Fukuda.

Hayashinaka with a ball the other way slicing down the line fair! And it gets by Fujii! Nakai scores and it's 6-0!

Tsuruga Kehi still making Tanaka pitch. Another walk. Another walk.  Manrui?!!

NO. NO F****IN WAY!!!!!




It's 10-0 Tsuruga Kehi and Tanaka is finally pulled. #11 Takayama comes in to take over and gets the last out.

Now, you may think I'm happy Osaka Touin is getting hammered. I am. But I'm not necessarily happy in the sense that the camera focuses on Tanaka and while he's getting instruction, he's holding back tears. You know he's going to be strong because 高校野球, but even I know at the end these are still kids. You can't tell me that that won't affect him. It could break him and we may not see him in the summer. He could work harder and get even stronger than before. But this is a moment for him and I do honestly feel sorry for him.

When I root against a school I root against the uniform, never the player.

Nothing going right for Osaka Touin. They get their first hit, then go down as Fukuda lines into a 3 unassisted double play.

3rd Inning
Tsuruga Kehi still getting base hits, but it's singles, not doubles and HRs. Takayama though gets out with no damage.

I'd remove Hiranuma, but this is still Osaka Touin, and Harada just hit a 1-out triple to deep left.

Hiranuma though can pitch aggressively and retires Takayama and Nakayama to strand the runner.

4th Inning
There will be no 3 consecutive manrui HRs as Matsumoto comes in with just a runner on 2nd.

Takayama finally sits him down catching him looking on a fastball just on the outside edge.

About the only thing of note as Ueda flies out is that he's the only one without a hit (0-3), while Yamamoto doesn't have an official AB (0-0, 2 BB, Sac bunt)

Huh, CF Yamamoto loses a fly ball to center and Nagahiro has a leadoff double. But three fly balls later, and the side is retired. Yamamoto does find the ball this time around for the 3rd out.

5th Inning
I've never seen Osaka Touin as cooked as they are now. Nakayama makes not 1, but 2 errors helping load the bases. With Hiranuma out, Takayama gets him to fly out to left. Thankfully for all sides, not another manrui HR.

Side retired in order for Osaka Touin. We're at the break and there's really little to say. The rest of the game may take just a couple of paragraphs.

6th Inning+
Players are being subbed in periodically by both teams. Nishitani-kantoku is giving his bench pitchers #11 Takayama an inning then passing it on to #10 Matsui.

Matsui unfortunately hits Nakai on the head. We have had more pitches hit off of players heads this year than I can remember in all the years past.

Nakayama almost has a 3rd error when his throw short hops Harada, but he stays with it and recatches the ball just in time for the 3rd out in the 7th.

Tsuruga Kehi doing situational play. Some sac bunts, and even a squeeze bunt in the 8th that scores 1. 11-0. But while it is validly pointed out that this is a non-leverage situation it's still practice.

Though by the 8th Hiranuma needs to go to a different position at least. He doesn't need to throw any more this game - even if he's at 90 starting the 8th.

But in true 高校野球 form, he finishes the game. Out of defiance maybe Fukuda give the ball one final drive, but perhaps the hamakaze knocks it down and Mori has it for the final out.

There really wasn't much to say after the first 2 innings. Tsuruga Kehi made Tanaka throw strikes, and when he did he was hit hard. When does a batter have 2 consecutive manrui HRs in a game. When does a a player get 2 manrui HRs in a Koushien??

Tsuruga Kehi, who had appeared to struggle on offense, just methodically dismantled the #1 team over the last 3 years.

And like I mentioned before, Tanaka finally lets the tears come out after the game. How can you not after giving up 10 runs in less than 2 innings of work? Was it wrong of Nishitani-kantoku to leave him in? Prolly not in Japanese terms. Being relieved like that after the work he's done would lose face.

But this is pretty bad.

No doubt though we'll see them back at Koushien, and Nishitani-kantoku will have them ready. Just hope Tanaka will be ok.

Tsuruga Kehi now has to be the front-runner to win after this game. They executed a strategy that I advocate to no end, but never see. Making a pitcher hang themselves. And it worked.

Please do it more often, underdog teams in 高校野球. It works.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 9, Semifinal 4 - Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido) vs. Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

And to round out the long day, we'll get something that will probably be a lot less exciting (sorry Toukai Dai-yon).

Kendai Takasaki is probably the best we've seen them since they've broken onto the Koushien scene. We knew them for their speed on the basepaths. It was like as if they had a full team of Johnsons (if you can get that reference, good for you).

But now the team is different. They have an ace in Kawai, the speed isn't their main point, but they still use it in strategic ways. The end result is a team that actually can win the whole thing.

The same cannot be said for Toukai Dai-yon. They eked out a win against a very game Matsuyama Higashi when they put together 1 big inning. But Oosawa is vulnerable on the mound and the team struggles for offense.

I'll be surprised if it's not a one-sided game.

Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
C Ogawa Kouhei
3B Tachibana Susumu
P Gon Towon (#11)
CF Watase Taiki

Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)
CF Kasuga Yuuma
SS Hayashi Kenya
C Tsuge Sena
3B Shibahiki Ryousuke
2B Souma Yuuto
1B Ooshima Kyouhei
RF Satou Nozomu
LF Yanagimoto Eiji (#15)
P Hashidzune Naoya (#10)


16:15 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Since both teams played yesterday, it's no surprise both teams have gone to their bullpens for bench starters on the mound.

So this is a thing. Hashidzume throws from multiple arm angles. I see a sidearm, a submarine, and an overhand. If he can locate from all areas, how do you read that as a batter??!!

Tomita scoffs at it with a leadoff single. But they try the sac bunt, which fails. The next 2 batters go down, including Sou, who strikes out looking.

Hayashi gets a base hit and we'll see this tactical speed in action. He has a very long lead.

He takes off, the throw does get there, but Hayashi just beats it out.

Flyout to left by Tsuge, and Hayashi tries to tag up! Throw from Shiota nails him!

That's a gutsy call, but if you have the speed, there's times to try it. Early on as a surprise tactic, why not?

2nd Inning
Somehow, Toukai Dai-yon's batters are at least seeing the ball to make good contact. But they're still going down in order.

Now Gon reminds me of Engaru and ace Satou who threw really slow but whose fastball and offspeed pitches were similar speeds. That's not quite the case with him, but he throws really slow. Like 110s slow.

But if you do that, your defense will need to be good.

As I think that Shibahiki and Souma put back to back hits and threaten to open the scoring.

They pick off Shibahiki! I've never seen 1 team continue to have this many baserunning mistakes.

Toukai Dai-yon returns the favor! Ooshima's grounder goes 5-hole on Tachibana for an error. Doesn't hurt through as Tachibana fields the next one and makes the play for the out. But for Kendai Takasaki, there's being aggressive, and there's just being not smart.

3rd Inning
1-2-3 for Hashidzume. Ho hum.

And yet another pickoff of a Kendai Takasaki runner. Is this some kind of strategy where you lull the other team to sleep with base running mistakes then suddenly do everything right late? Because otherwise, this doesn't makes sense.

4th Inning
Kanemura with a leadoff single. But no bunting, and the next 3 batters are retired.

The MBS announcers explain that they're doing Haisai Oji-san because Shibahiki is from Okinawa. If you're any fan, you know where that comes from. You don't need it explained.

Anyways, Shibahiki hits a sharp ball that Tachibana smothers, but has no play on. And after Souma singles up the middle, Oowaki-kantoku calls time.

The VERY first pitch after the time out. 4-6-3 double play. Inning over. WTF.

5th Inning
Ogawa with a base hit to right for another leadoff runner. This time Oowaki-kantoku calls for the bunt.

Now #15 Yoshida will hit for Gon, and ace Oosawa is warming up.

Ball to right... falls in for a base hit! It gets by the outfield and to the wall! Ogawa scores as Yoshida.. is at 1st??!!

Did he miss the bag? He should at least be on 2nd. Not sure what happened there.

And if he was on 3rd, that liner top left by Watase might have scored him. But it's just an out, and Tomita goes down as well.

Now, how do you go from trying to time a ball at 110 to one at 130? Might be difficult to do.

Ooshima does hit a shallow liner, but Watase seems to be in the right place to make the catch. As for Yanagimoto and Hashidzume? Well, they get sat down is what happens to them.

Well, this isn't the game I expected. I figured Kendai Takasaki would run laps around Toukai Dai-yon, but instead it's Toukai Dai-yon that has the lead!

6th Inning
Ace Kawai takes the hill for Hashidzume. Also, #14 Higa comes in for Yanagimoto.

You don't see that everyday. Grounder from Yamamoto goes off Hayashi right to Shibahiki's glove, who then fires to 1st for the routine 6-5-3 putout.

The first inning of work for Kawai goes without a hitch.

Same goes fort Oosawa as well. I think the batters' timings are all off. He tallies 2 more Ks.

7th Inning
Outfield umpires are now in play.

Shiota with a leadoff single. Bunt, grounder to opposite side puts him at 3rd. But Oosawa can't get the key hit.

Oosawa perhaps a bit careful with Shibahiki and walks him to start.

Souma hits a double play ball, but Kanemura doesn't field it cleanly and then compounds it with a late throw that goes awry. But Ogawa is heads up and throws to 2nd where they get Souma!

Still, the douten runner is at 3rd.

Satou with a popup to shallow right. Sou takes it, and instead of throwing to 3rd where Shibahiki is baiting him, he smartly runs it in.

Ooshima grounds to 2nd! Oosawa's going to get out of this jam!

8th Inning
2 down for Kawai and he issues a walk.

Yamamoto with a pop to shallow left. Higa with the diving attempt, but he doesn't make the catch! Runners on 2nd and 3rd and they may just get a key insurance run.

Nope! Sou continues to struggle at the plate as he K's for the 3rd time this game!

Kendai Takasaki with the counter! Higa just chopping at the ball and sees it through the left side for a base hit.

Oh no! Kawai bunts it to Oosawa! It's a 1-6-3 double play!!

Also, has anyone else noticed that after the Toukai aces throw the eephus things go wrong afterwards? Because Kasuga on the next pitch gets a base hit.

Hayashi flies out to center though, and no harm done for Toukai Dai-yon. What has happened to Kendai's offense??

9th Inning
Toukai Dai-yon goes in order, and now it's hang on time! Kendai Takasaki does have their 3-4-5 batters up this inning.

Tsuge with a no-no! He lets the fastball go on the outside corner for strike 3!

Shibahiki on base for his 4th time with a base hit up the middle. Last chances, so #17 Miyamoto comes in to run for Shibahiki.

Souma ball to left. It sounded good, and Shiota is backpedaling, but he makes the catch for the 2nd out.

Satou the last chance!

Flyball to left! Shiota running back! Still running back!  Makes the catch as he puts his hands in the air!

What just happened??!! Toukai Dai-yon defeats Kendai Takasaki 1-0!!

I'm just speechless. Kendai Takasaki looked like a serious contender after defeating Tenri. And yet, despite both teams on 0 days rest, they fail to score a run against the Hokkaido champs?! There's no offense meant to Toukai Dai-yon, but it's just that outside of Komadai Tomakomai, teams from Hokkaido haven't really fared well, and there was no indication that this year would be any different.So for a team that had good pitching, and overall team speed to lose like this is shocking.

But given the context of the game, they almost deserved it. They had baserunning mistakes throughout all their games. They didn't have it before. Is it discipline? Skill? What was it about the prior teams that this team didn't have? Because they gave free outs to Toukai Dai-yon.

There's got to be some self-reflection here. They had an easier path to the Koushien final, and just frittered it away.

But congratulations have to go to Toukai Dai-yon. I'm not sure anyone had this outcome, and unless you're a fan of the school and you say you did, I have a bridge to sell you.

So... instead of a revenge match between Kendai Takasaki and Urawa Gakuin from the Kanto super-regional.... we have a revenge match between Toukai Dai-yon and Urawa Gakuin from the Meiji Jingu tournament where Toukai Dai-yon lost 10-0?

Ok, I'll give you this game Toukai Dai-yon. Not sure I can give you next one.

Day 9, Quarterfinal 3 - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) vs. Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)

Onto our matinee games on the other half of the bracket.

Urawa Gakuin has played Ryuukokudai Heian close and took an opening volley from Oomagari Kougyou. For the Meiji Jingu runners-up, it's not very impressive. The one positive you can take is that they seem to be rounding into form. It's still not as dominant as you'd like, but they could still make the run you'd be expecting.

Kengifushou has had an easier time of things, easily handling both Matsushou Gakuen and Oumi. The games were close on the scoreboard, but they were anything but on the field. It also means that they have not been tested on the field yet. Urawa Gakuin will be by far their biggest challenge. Ace Takahashi could be up to the challenge, and with Urawa Gakuin's offensive production the way it is, we could be poised for another interesting game.

Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu)
LF Murai Shouma
RF Hirose Masaru
3B Takegoshi Hiroyuki
LF Yamada Youta
C Katou Jyunya
1B Murahashi Kazuaki
SS Oono Rikuo
P Takahashi Shunpei
2B Sakashita Reon

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)
3B Suwa Tadayoshi
2B Dai Kouta
SS Tsuda Shouki
1B Yamazaki Kouta
CF Kouki Yuushi
RF Takahashi Tsukasa
LF Araki Yuuya
C Nishino Shinya
P Eguchi Shouri


14:05 - First Pitch

1st Inning
Eguchi cannot throw a strike! 4 pitch walk to Murai, and after a sac bunt, another 4 pitch walk to Takegoshi!

But ahead 3-1 Yamada swings away! WHY? Make him throw the 2nd strike! He pops up to 3rd.

And with Katou striking out, Eguchi gets away with a lot.

Dai gets a base hit for Urawa Gakuin, but Mori-kantoku's hit-and-run backfires when it turns into a strike em out, throw em out double play.

2nd-3rd Inning
And now we seem to enter the pitcher's duel. Eguchi has settled down after his very shaky 1st inning striking out 2 at the bottom of the order.

It continues to the 3rd inning where Eguichi racks up 2 more K's. And while batter are making contact off of Takahashi, he's probably having the better of it for Kengifushou because he's using less pitches.

4th Inning+
I'm just putting a plus in because this will just be running thoughts. Or a whole lot of nothing.

Which is what both teams are doing right now. Kengifushou can't hit the broad side of a barn against Eguchi, and while Takahashi is giving up the occasional free pass, it's nothing that isn't handled.

Sure, Kouki got a booming foul that ended up in the ouen-dan section, but it was still foul. And he still struck out.

Now, Urawa finally has something in the 5th when Takahashi gets a leadoff single. But weirdly, they don't bunt with the bottom of the order. See, I mind when teams over-bunt. This would not be such a situation because you know this is going to be a close game.

But Araki doesn't pull the trigger on a ball on the outside corner.

Nishino has a liner to right, but Sakashita makes a great leaping catch. And Eguchi can't help his own cause either.

So, at the break we're deadlocked at 0. Urawa Gakuin is having the better of it at the plate, as they're at least getting opportunities.

Urawa has another chance in the 6th. Suwa drops the safety bunt and though Takahashi barehands it, he still can't make the throw to 1st in time.

But after a sac bunt, Urawa Gakuin can't get that 2nd hit. Tsuda grounds to short, and Yamazaki just hits one back to Takahashi.

Huh, I was focused on the fact that neither team was really doing anything that I finally paid attention to the fact the announcers were saying Eguchi had a no-hitter.

And then Yamada drops one just inches in front of Kouki for a base hit. Heh.

Nishino snap throw to 1st... OUT!!!

Heh. The umpire takes his sweet time, but the call is emphatic. Yamada can only drop his head as he's picked off.

And then it becomes a 1-2-3 Lucky 7.

Uh oh. Takahashi might be cracking in Urawa's Lucky 7.

Back-to-back line shots to the outfield put runners at the corners and a timeout from Ogawa-kantoku.

Oh, Katou wanted that pitch. 0-2 to Araki gets no call.

And wouldn't you know it Araki takes the next pitch back up the middle past a diving Sakashita for a base hit. 1-0 Urawa Gakuin.,

Urawa tries the squeeze, but Nishino has to do all that he can just to foul off the pitch. He eventually strikes out, but it's a hit and run, so Araki takes 2nd with no throw (Takahashi is standing on 3rd).

Eguchi manages to hit a ball to left center that Murai runs down for a catch, but is in no position to throw home. Takahashi tags up, and it's 2-0.

Ace Takahashi has had it. Suwa singles to center and it's 3-0. Ogawa-kantoku calls time, but I Kengifushou might be on their last legs now.

Dai would have had a base hit had not Murahashi stopped the ball in front of him. Makes the tag and the side is retired. But 3 runs? Good luck with that.

8th Inning
Oh, and did I mention that they have 6 outs to make the comeback?

Takahashi gets the team's 2nd hit with a ball to right center.

And contrary to the official scorer, that wasn't an error on Kariya's ball to short. It was an irregular hop and should be a single.

And for the 2nd time, down multiple runs and 2 runners on base, with 1 out - they bunt. Oy.

Hirose hits a ball into the triangle in left center, but Tsuda makes the running catch. Down to their final 3 outs now. Still don't understand that strategy.

Back-to-back doubles for Urawa Gakuin just add to the sign that Takahashi should be humanely relieved. Yes, there's only 3 outs to go, but there's no character building in this.

Takahashi gives up 1 more run, but gets the 3 outs. Guess that's not too bad.

9th Inning
That's just not right. After a leadoff single by Takegoshi, Yamada lines out to Yamazaki who just moves his foot to the bag to double up Takegoshi.

Katou gets a base hit, but PH Makimura hits one back to Eguchi to end the game.

Takahashi did well to hold off Urawa Gakuin for 6 innings, but eventually the deluge came and he couldn't stop it. With just 5 hits they have a lot of work to do. But if Takahashi can improve his stamina, they'll stand a better chance.

Meanwhile, I have no clue what Mori-kantoku is doing over there at Urawa Gakuin, but he's making pitchers who throw average into staff aces - except for perhaps the 1st inning... and that Sendai Ikuei game. Still don't understand that crazy game.

Anyways, Eguchi will need that day off because in all likelihood it's Kendai Takasaki in the semifinals. Which coincidentally was when they played in the Kanto super-regionals. You know they've been circling this possible matchup as a revenge match.

Day 9, Quarterfinal 2 - Shizuoka (Shizokua) vs. Tsuriga Kehi (Fukui)

And now to our 2nd quarterfinal. one of the main dangers in the field is still alive in Tsuruga Kehi. Hiranuma had supposedly been injured in the fall, and I had questions coming into Koushien, but he allayed them first up. Their last game though brought back some other concens.

Mainly, is his stamina at 100%? He started cracking late against the Meiji Jingu champs, though once you're facing a lineup for the 3rd or 4th time, the batter might start having the advantage in the matchup. So perhaps it's that, but seeing Sendai Ikuei with chances late is concerning, and he's only got 1 full day's rest.

The question for Shizuoka is can Muraki continue to walk the tightrope. He gave up 14 hits to Kisaradzu Sougou, but just 2 runs. I can't see that happening today and getting a win.

Shizuoka (Shizuoka)
RF Suzuki Shouhei
2B Ooshi Tomoki
CF Uchiyama Shun
C Horiuchi Kengo
SS Yasumoto Ryuuji
1B Hirano Hidemaru
LF Hirose Shun
P Muraki Fumiya
3B Sanpei Shinya (#13)

Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
3B Shinohara Ryou
2B Nakai Kidzuku
SS Hayashinaka Yuuki
P Hiranuma Shouta
CF Yamamoto Kouta
LF Kinoshita Shougo (#9)
1B Ueda Ryouya
C Kamon Yuusuke
RF Mori Shigeki (#7)


11:15 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Hiranuma with a uncharacteristic walk to start the game. But that gets wiped out by a 5-4-3 double play. A popout later and it's perhaps business as usual.

Shinohara grounder to short and Yasumoto flubs on the ball. E6 to start the game.

As usual, a bunt, but then there's 2 out for Hiranuma.

And there you go.

Hiranuma with a rare drive to right for a 2-run HR and Tsuruga Kehi quickly leads 2-0.

2nd Inning
Well, whatever ailed Hiranuma in the 1st is gone. Tack on 2 Ks in a clean inning,

More errors from Shizuoka. Sanpei makes a great diving stop then throws the ball pretty much into the stands. Sac bunt and then a base hit from Kamon makes it 3-0.

And I have no idea what Muraki was thinking trying to let a ball roll foul when it's been raining. It of course stops in fair territory.

Single loads the bases, but somehow Muraki strikes out Nakai and Muranaka to get out without further damage.

3rd Inning
Hiranuma still having some control issues, but I think this is more due to the rain than fatigue as he's not leaving anything dead center.

That and nothing's leaving the infield. At this point I'll assume he's on cruise control until I see otherwise.

Pitching change already as #10 Muramatsu comes in for Muraki.

Gets a dribbler from Hiranuma (that's a win), and then strikes out Yamamoto. Not a bad start.

But now here the gapper from Kinoshita to right center. The good feeling might be over.

Ueda with a similar ball to left. Hirose running, sliding, and makes the catch. That's a save if they ever needed one.

4th Inning
Suzuki gets the first hit for Shizuoka, but after a sac bunt, nothing doing.

For Tsuruga Keh. switching to the southpaw muramatsu seems to have muted their offense. Kamon gets his 2nd hit, but they too can't do anything after a sac bunt.

5th Inning
Horiuchi with a single through the left side. And now another walk.

Hirano with a buntto the right side and there's miscomunication. Ueda and Hiranuma bump into each other and there's no play. Manrui with no down!

But Hirose's attempt at a sac fly fails as it's too short.

And so Kuribayashi-kantoku goes for a squeeze?! It somehow works and it's 3-1, but there's 2 outs.

Hiranuma strikes out Sanpei to end the inning.

No, wait. There's an appeal and it was a foul instead of just a swing? So they call him back.

And now he hits a ball to center. Yamamoto going back, and it's off his glove and falls in! So somehow a strikeout that wasn't leads to a tie game?! 3-3.

Tsuruga Kehi gets retired in order and suddenly we're back to where we started. Yikes if you're for Tsuruga Kehi.

But now the rain is coming down harder and the teams will have to wait it out as the groundscrew try to put some type of diamond dry on the field. I think we're in a delay.

6th Inning
After about 30 minutes or so, the teams retake the field. After about an inning, my ultaportable laptop decided to not be frozen anymore.

But the inning was uneventful anyways. Any momentum Shizuoka had had disappeared so I think it's just like a 4 inning,(well, now 3) sprint to the finish.

7th Inning
Yasumoto with a ball to left center. Yamamoto tries to make a sliding catch, but can't make it and Shizuoka has a double. The usual sac bunt moved him to 3rd.

And the squeeze bunt fails, and the runner is out. And soon enough the inning is over.

The squeeze bunt still lives in 高校野球. Maybe not as much, but it's still there.

Shinohara with a one out soft single to center. At this point, Tsuruga Kehi will take anything.

Boy, they are really pressing. A failed bunt and then a caught stealing? If you weren't convinced their offense perhaps wasn't as good as you thought, this might cement it.

8th Inning
Leadoff walk for Muramatsu. This was about the time Hiranuma became hittable - though that was Sendai Ikuei.

He gets a break when Sanpei hits it back to him for a 1-6-3 double play. Toss in a K, and Shizuoka's chance is gone.

Hayashinaka with a base hit, and Hiranuma bunts. That basehit might have been the best thing to happen to Shizuoka.

Tomoki saves a run as he climbs the ladder and high points Yamamoto's liner! That would have easily scored 1.

Kuribayashi-kantoku calls for time.

Looks like the message was, if you fall behind, 1st base is open. And indeed there is a walk.

Ueda pops out! He's left hitless as Tomoki makes the catch to end the inning!

9th Inning
Shizuoka is back to being ineffective against Hiranuma. Not that  when they were scoring the runs on solid hits anyways.

Uh oh, Muramatsu walks Mori with 1 down. Will they bunt?

Nope! First pitch flyout to right and we're about to head to enchousen!

I think though that Muramatus wants to make it interesting. 3-0 to Nakai becomes 3-2... and now a walk.

Kuribayashi-kantoku calls for time.

Oh, that sucks. Muramatsu misses on one pitch and Hayashinaka drives it to right. The infield is in, and that will fall in for a sayonara hit. Tsuruga Kehi wins at the death 4-3.

Well, I suppose it was going to suck at this point no matter when Shizuoka lost, but just 1 out from enchousen and things just fall apart.

But from the last couple of innings you had the feeling that while both teams were pressing, Tsuruga Kehi was having better success. And so I guess the ending could have been expected.

Muramatsu really did his best after being pressed into service early. I think he perhaps was reaching his limit, especially facing a team like Tsuruga Kehi. They were fortunate in scoring the runs they did because otherwise the offense struggled - as one would expect. I'm not sure if the break did benefit Hiranuma or not because he certainly didn't give in near the end.

But the offensive woes continue. It was a slog after Hiranuma's early HR, and it's like the rest of the team plays like a rural qualifer. That just won't do, and facing Osaka Touin next means that Hiranuma will be pressed hard to keep the score low.

Day 9, Quarterfinal 1 - Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka)

Before I go on with the commentary, I'll be making a chance to how I do things, though the timing perhaps isn't as good.

Trying to cover the first 2 rounds inning by inning isn't bad necessarily, however when you hit a blowout status, or even just a 1-sided game, trying to make interesting commentary becomes about as bad as some of the commentators on MBS/NHK.

Also, over the years I have become noticeably more bitter watching games. It's not that I don't like 高校野球 now. It's just that I've becomed more seasoned, and more knowledgeable. And the purity and joy that I loved so much isn't quite there.

What the success of Osaka Touin and Nichidai-san has shown, and the story of Kousei Gakuin (now Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei) has shown is that much like in college basketball, there may be some upsets, but in the end it's generally the national powerhouses that continue to win. Even if you're Tenri or Nihon Bunri, or Mie, or Kanzei, or or or.. more often than not you'll get there, but not go far.

And when it comes to games here at Koushien, this year is an anomaly, but there is a clear dilenation of tiers between teams because there is a clear delineation of regions. It's just that this year it was so severe and coincidentally by strength of region that it's just funny. No Kyushu, no Shikoku, no Chuugoku, no Tohoku, and probably after today, no Hokkaido. It is possible that after today we will have 3 Kanto schools and 1 Kinki school left.

What does that say about the state of 高校野球 now?

So now, my commentary on the games will focus less on the play-to-play action, and more on observations I see during the game. There will still be some play-by-play, but you can get that on the box scores and on the game replays provided by MBS.

So onto our first game. Jyousou Gakuin is up and against it against Osaka Touin. They have had an easy schedule to get to the Best 8 and now face an Osaka Touin squad that yes, struggled offensively against Kousei Gakuin, and did struggle against Tenri in the super-regionals. But Osaka Touin now has gained that "fearsome" status that will give a team wins because they are who they are (remember Seiryou's 9-8 win over Komatsu Ootani in the Ishikawa finals last summer).

You shouldn't look ahead but you can't ignore Tsuruga Kehi on the horizon. Hiranuma may not be 100% , and we'll learn more today, but you have to start prepping for that as well in the back of your head.

Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki)
2B Ugusa Kouki
CF Takeuchi Ryou
RF Wada Shingo
1B Ishii Daiki
LF Arahara Hiroki
SS Minakami Yuuheio
C Takase Shoutarou
P Suzuki Shouta
3B Ara Masahiro (#15)

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
3B Nakayama Yuuto
2B Nagahiro Tomoki
LF Hamada Kouhei (#3)
CF Aoyagi Kouki
RF Fujii Kempei
C Taniguchi Kazuki
SS Fukuda Kouki
1B Yoshizawa Kazuto (#12)
P Tanaka Seiya


08:30 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Huh, Ugusa hits the first pitch to center, and Aoyagi runs back, but it's more of a jog.

So when I say that Jyousou Gakuin is probably be up against it Ugusa does that. 1-0 Jyousou Gakuin.

Wada slices one down the left field side for a double. If life would like to prove me wrong about Jyousou Gakuin's chances, I'd be happy to be wrong.

Today there was some rain expected, and the umbrellas are out.

Side retired, but Jyousou Gakuin does appear to be on the ball early.

One out walk to Nagahiro, can't be giving Osaka Touin extra runners.

Suzuki paying A LOT of attention to Nagahiro. And despite all those throws over, he still takes off on a run-and-hit (I say it that way because Hamada swung way late on that pitch). Still wound up like a sac bunt without the risk of bunting poorly (though there's still the risk of a double play).

Ara smothers a ball up the 3rd base line from Aoyagi. The long throw to 1st takes a bounce or two, but gets there in time to end the inning.

2nd Inning
This is about as patient I've seen a team. 5 of the first 7 batters have seen at least 5 pitches including the first 2 this inning. Jyousou is expecting either a low scoring game or want to avoid the double play at the bottom of the lineup as Suzuki bunts Takase over with 1 out.

Nothing doing though to score the run. Ara flies out to center.

Only runners Osaka Touin are getting are because of Suzuki. Hits Fujii to start the inning.

Really, Osaka Touin bunting??

Maybe they should have as Taniguchi wipes out his runner with a 5-4-3 double play.

Strike zone seems wide today. Don't know who that will help.

Suzuki hitting his spots well (outside of the dead ball). Jams Fukuda to retire the side.

3rd Inning
Tanaka with a 1-2-3 inning. Jyousou getting bat on the ball and making decent contact, but they're right to fielers.

Osaka Touin with their first hit as Yoshizawa checks in with a double past a diving Shimizu and down the line.

Another bunt from Nisitani-kantoku? Why?

Oh, that's why. Shimizu short hops the throw and Ishii can't pick it. Time called from Sasaki-kantoku.

Nakayama sac fly to left and that will score the run. 1-1.

Suzuki gets another 5-4-3 double play, this time ending the inning. But you can't keep a good team down forever, and Osaka Touin finally has their reply.

4th Inning
Oh hey, Minakami with a 2-out single. Still hitting the ball square.

And what was that by Nakayama? It's like he didn't want to be in front of the ball, and then just ole'd it.

Suzuki walks and its manrui for Jyousou Gakuin.

Ara base hit right through the infield and into right. That scores 2 and gives Jyousou a 3-1 lead! Nishitani-kantoku calling for time.

Ugusa flies out to end the inning, but I don't remember seeing Jyousou on the ball as they have been today.

Also, it's funny when my two feeds which are not synched do something that is.

Also, Osaka Touin is the one who is lost at the plate. Suzuki is throwing strikes and they're swinging at balls. 2 K's against the heart of the lineup?

5th Inning
Another error from Nakayama as he drops a transfer on what would have been the 3rd out.


Arahara connects on one real good. Fujii waits for it at the wall, as they wave Ishii home. Relay throw home is in time and the inning is over! This despite Fujii overthrowing the 1st cutoff man and Fukuda coming over to cover the throw!

Uh oh, the doctors are coming over to the Jyousou Gakuin dugout. Looks like Ishii hurt himself when sliding into home. From the replays his arm got caught on Taniguchi's leg and it looks like he could have hyper extended it or even dislocated it?

After a delay, he comes out to his position. With a piece of something up his nose. So it was a bloody nose instead?

He gets tested immediately, making a good pick on a short throw from Shimizu.

Fukuda with a ball to right center. Fielders spring to the wall, but it just clears it for a homerun! 3-2 now the gap and Suzuki just plain missed with his location there. Was supposed to be away, went down the middle.

Yoshizawa with a liner to left for a base hit and have they solved the puzzle?

Not sure, but Nishitani-kantoku has Tanaka bunting. Takase up quickly and fires to 2nd. Get the lead runner, and SS Minakami well off to leave it at that.

Side retired, but as we hit the break Jyousou Gakuin certainly looks the better team, but I have this niggling feeling that Osaka Touin is figuring things out.

6th Inning
Leadoff walk to Minakami. Tanaka had already thrown 89 pitches through 5.

That was a mess of a bunt by Takase. Easy picking for Taniguchi.

Another walk from Suzuki. Jyousou continues to play the waiting game on him and it's working to get men on base.

No timely hit from Ara, so it's up to Ugusa. Hit the ball to the outfield in each of his ABs, but they just need a liner instead.

Instead, it's a grounder to 2nd. Nagahiro goes the short way to end the self-made pinch.

Suzuki himself is at 71 pitches. Not as bad as Tanaka, but still a fair amount.

Count runs full to the first batter Nagahiro, and #18 Inoue is warming up in the bullpen.

Liner to center, right at Takeuchi. Now a deep ball from Hamada, but the defense is playing back and Arahara is there to run it down.

Takaoka fouls out, but I think they're getting closer. We've seen Sasaki-kantoku go to his bullpen before. But generally they go to them when it's too late. Will the same apply here?

7th Inning
Where was the defense to help out Harada? Takeuchi with the push bunt up the 1st base line, Harada fields it, but with no one at first has to dive at Takeuchi to tag him before he reached the bag.

Also, this inning they're not going deep into counts. Not sure if that's the right thing to do.

Nagahiro almost causes another error when he drops a grounder. Still 3 outs.

Fujii liner to center, but Takeuchi is well placed. And despite a charge in, has no problems with the catch.

Osaka Touin trying to hit the HR to tie the game instead of base hits it would appear. Taniguchi with one to deep left center, but Takeuchi is there.

Fukuda single up the middle, but there's 2 down.

Suzuki misses on a ball inside and it goes over the middle. Yoshizawa all over that and drives it to the gap in right center. That'll go to the wall and Fukuda scores to make it a 3-3 game.

Oh dear.

Fukuda has a grounder go off his glove and into center. Yoshizawa scores and it's 4-3 Osaka Touin.

Nakayama is left without a hit, but that's of little consequence. They've finally broken through and taken the lead on Jyousou Gakuin.

8th Inning
Jyousou Gakuin has abandoned their patient strategy here in the 8th. They're almost sunk at this point as it only takes 9 pitches for Tanaka to retire the side.

Uh oh, Minakami with a bad throw to 1st gives Osaka Touin another runner.

And then Suzuki hits Aoyagi.

2 down, Taniguchi delivers a liner to left scoring Nagahiro to make it 5-3.

9th Inning
One down and Ara singles past Fukuda into center. Then Tanaka walks Ugusa? The douten runner is aboard!

Understandably Nishitani-kantoku calls for time.

What?? Sasaki-kantoku calls for a bunt? It advances the runners, but there's 2 out!

Wada flies out to center and that's the game.

Well, it certainly was harder that I thought it would be. But I did think that the Osaka Touin batters were gaining momentum. And where were the other pitchers that Sasaki-kantoku had used before? If the were useful, they should have come in in the 7th inning when they really started hitting him deep. Also, why abandon working the count? You were getting baserunners with that method before.

Jyousou Gakuin proved they certainly are a good team, but unless the pitching depth improves this is probably what you get.

As for Osaka Touin, their offense certainly isn't as powerful from start to finish, but they do appear to get things going later as they get more pitches in. It may mean no full blowouts all the way through, but it also means leads aren't safe late.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 8, Game 3 - Matsuyama Higashi (Ehime) vs. Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)

And now the conclusion of the first round. These are the final teams left in their regions (yes, I know Hokkaido only had one, but they're the only ones north of Kanto remaining).

Matsuyama Higashi looked really good against Nishougakushadai Fuzoku, and stand a chance against Toukai Dai-yon who themselves had to face a 21st century team to start. This one however will appear to test them.

Matsuyama Higashi (Ehime)
LF Shimizu Tomoki
SS Ishiyama Tarou
CF Sakai Yuusuke
C Yoneda Keisuke
P Kameoka Yuuki
1B Yamada Kai
RF Yamada Taisei
3B Arita Toranosuke
2B Matsushita Kouki

Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
C Ogawa Kouhei
3B Tachibana Susumu
P Oosawa Shiiya
CF Watase Taiki


13:45 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Shimizu singles through the left side for a leadoff hit! Horiuchi-kantoku has Ishiyama bunt him along.

Sakai though cant pull the trigger on a fastball inside and he's sent packing!

What's this? Yoneda with a drive to left! Shiota going back to the fence... looking up! NO WAY!!!


Yoneda takes care of the scoring early! He hits a 2-run HR to left and the 21st century team is up 2-0!!

Now Kameoka draws a walk! Oosawa struggling right off the bat.

But while he goes full on Kai, he strikes him out to retire the side. Already the Hokkaido champ will have work to do.

Bottom 1st
Kameoka on a mission from the start it would seem. He puts a fastball by Tomita, then Kanemura chases a shuuto on the outside corner.

Yamamoto flies out to center, and it's an easy 1st inning for Kameoka.

Top 2nd
One down and Arita lays down a bunt! Toukai's defense isn't prepared and he's in with a single!

Matsushita tries to bunt him along, but fouls his three bunt and is retired.

Shimizu flies out to left and Oosawa can put up a 0.

Bottom 2nd
Kameoka puts that shuuto on the border that Sou goes after it and becomes Kameoka's 3rd K.

Shiota and Ogawa can fare little better, hitting routine ground balls and Kameoka's making it look easy!

Top 3rd
Oosawa getting into his groove striking out Ishiyama and Sakai to start the inning.

However Yoneda gets his 2nd hit, a single to left.

And then he walks Kameoka for the 2nd time. Horiuchi-kantoku calls for time.

But he still can't find the zone! He winds up walking Kai and it's manrui for Matsuyama Higashi!

With nowhere to put Taisei, Oosawa finally starts throwing strikes. Gets ahead 1-2...


Taisei swings and misses on the high fastball and Oosawa gets out of his own jam.

Bottom 3rd
Oosawa with a liner forcing Kameoka to duck and Toukai Dai-yon has their first base hit!

Watase with a bunt, Arita throw to 1st... not enough! Now runners on 1st and 2nd with one down.

But Toukai Dai-yon is looking for the big hit. Tomita under the ball, flies out to right.

Kanemura with a fly ball to center! Sakai is there and secures it for the 3rd out!

Top 4th
Oosawa getting another reprieve against the bottom of Matsuyama Higashi's order. It's a quick 8 pitch inning as the sides change once again.

Bottom 4th
Toukai Dai-yon finally making some headway at the plate as Sou hits a single to center.

But Shiota hits it up the middle right to Ishiyama! Flips to Matsushita for one, throw to first... double play! And just like that the inning is over!

Top 5th
Ishiyama with no luck agaist Oosawa, goes down swinging for his 2nd time.

After that it's 1 pitch outs for both Sakai and Yoneda, and Matsuyama Higashi perhaps looking to speed up this game.

Bottom 5th
Ogawa with a ball back up the middle, but Kameoka is able to snatch it and go to 1st for the first out.

Tachibana can't catch up to the high fastball and goes down for Kameoka's 4th K.

Oosawa continues to hit at the bottom of the order, sneaking a ball by a diving Kai into right,

Watase thought that was a good idea, so he does the same to Matsushita!

Tomita scorcher up the 1st base line, smothered by Kai! Goes to 1st, and he saves a run with that great play! And with that we're at the break with Matsuyama Higashi in control, but Toukai Dai-yon pounding on the door.

Top 6th
If you blinked you missed the top of the 6th.

First pitch Kameoka drives to center. Watase backpedaling, turning around, leaps and makes the desperation catch.

After that it's a first pitch popup to left and hen a flyout to right. 4 pitches, 3 outs.

Bottom 6th
Kanemura with a leadoff hit! That's their first leadoff runner on. Yamamoto moves him along to 2nd.

And Kameoka throws the ball away to 2nd! Now the runner is at 3rd with Sou up!


Once again Kameoka goes high and Sou can't make contact! 2 outs!

#3 Saitou to hit for Shiota to try and drive the run in.


Kameoka continues to climb the ladder and the batters are obliging! Saitou gets all twisted up and the runner is stranded at 3rd!

Top 7th
Saitou stays in to play 1B, Sou returns to his numbered position in LF.

Nothing new here, each inning going as non-descript as the last with Matsuyama Higashi willing to stake their game on this 2-run lead if necessary.

Bottom 7th
Ogawa with a ball in foul territory and Ishiyama from his position to make the catch.'

Tachibana finally gets a base hit with a single back up the middle. Now, can Oosawa and Watase do something with it?

No! Oosawa grounds to 2nd! Matsushita to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st.. Double play!!!

Top 8th
Ishiyama singles to left to start the inning, but once again they can't lay down the bunt! Sakai pops it up and Oosawa makes the catch for the out.

And now Ishiyama is caught napping on the basepaths! He's run down and there's 2 outs!

Yoneda with a ball to left, Sou is there and AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He sells out for the ball and misses! Watase has to chase it back to the wall as Yoneda is in with a triple!

Kameoka with a grounder to the left side. Tomita runs it down, stops, throws to 1st... in time for the 3rd out! What a great play to prevent another run from scoring!

Bottom 8th
Watase slow grounder to the left side, Ishiyama has it, throws to first, but it's short and gets by Kai! Watase ends up at 2nd!

Tomita with a ball to left, but the outfield is in! Shimizu has to chase after it! They get the ball in but not before Tomita has a double and a run scores! It's 2-1!

Kanemura with a ball to shallow right center! Sakai coming in, Matsushita coming out, but neither can get there! Tomita had to hold in case for a catch so he can only get to 3rd. But now a base hit can give them the lead!

Yamamoto grounder to the right side... through for a base hit! One run will score! They're sending home Kanemura! Relay home.. not in time!! In their final moments Toukai Dai-yon has found a way to take the lead! It's 3-2!

2 down now after a popup and Saitou singles to center! Yamamoto heading to 3rd, but Sakai's throw is on a line and they gun him down!

But more importantly, Matsuyama Higashi just has 3 outs to try and make a final rally!

Top 9th
But after struggling for so long, can they really re-rally?

#13 Kuwahara comes in to hit for Kai. But he goes down on a slider cold.

Taisei pops out to short, and there's quickly 2 outs.

Arita the last chance...

Grounder to the right side... past Kanemura for a base hit! Douten runner on, but still some work to do.

#12 Takenaka in to hit for Matsushita...

Down quickly 1-2, he fights off pitch after pitch.


But perhaps turning the tables, he climbs the ladder himself on Takenaka and Matsuyama Higashi and strikes him out on a high fastball to end the game!

Well, that game turned around in a hurry. Though Toukai Dai-yon were seemingly on the verge of doing something like this with their chances in the prior couple of innings. It's just too bad that Matsuyama Higashi had the lead for so long before it would all melt away.

There is something to be said for a pitcher who actually lives up in the zone. It's the complete opposite of what you normally see, but at the same time it can still produce the same results. But only if you can consistently do that. Just 6 outs away from a Best 8 performance, and instead they're picking up dirt from Koushien to take home as in all likelihood they won't be returning in the summer. But they do rightfully get a round of applause from their huge ouen-dan.

Toukai Dai-yon got lucky. If not for the first error, the rest of the sequence may never have happened because the outfield may not have played as far in as they did. Before that they were getting hits here and there, but they were with outs already on the board and less room for error.

But, a win is a win and they're into the Best 8. No time to rest because Kendai Takasaki is next up. It'll be their first major competitor, and it could get ugly to round out the quarterfinals.

Day 8, Game 2 - Tenri (Nara) vs. Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

I'd ask for a closer game next, but there's a hint of me that doesn't want it. Mostly because if that happens, chances are Tenri will find a way to screw something up. They always do. It generally involves a squeeze bunt that goes awry.

Not helping Tenri at all is that they're facing Kendai Takasaki. I wouldn't call them a giant killer per se, but they certainly make games annoying for the opposing team. That shouldn't change today.

Tenri (Nara)
CF Funabiki Wataru
P Saitou Yuu
SS Sadamitsu Hiroto
1B Sakaguchi Hiroya
RF Tomiki Ryouga
3B Kawasaki Koudai
2B Maekubo Tomoya
LF Mori Shunsuke (#15)
C Tsutsumida Reo

Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)
CF Kasuga Yuuma
SS Hayashi Kenya
C Tsuge Sena
3B Shibahiki Ryousuke
2B Souma Yuuto
1B Ooshima Kyouhei
RF Satou Nozomu
LF Chinen Kazuma
P Kawai Tomoya


11:20 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Funabiki get a bit of a break when Souma doesn't field a ball cleanly. Saitou bunts right to Kawai and he goes to 2nd to get the lead runner.

Sadamitsu with a chopper to 1st and Ooshima steps on 1st for the 2nd out.

Hashimoto-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run, but Sakaguchi meekly swings at a ball out of the zone and the side is retired.

Bottom 1st
Well, Tenri might just save us the trouble. Saitou hits Kasuga, then throws a wild pitch so now Kendai Takasaki has a runner in scoring position with no out.

Hayashi makes a chop swing on a ball inside and punches it to the right side, moving Kasuga to 3rd.

Tsutsumida snap throw to 3rd... They got him! Wow, a rare baserunning mistake from Kendai Takasaki.

Shibahiki flies out to center, and it's a clean, though not without it's moments, inning.

Top 2nd
Tomoki in a long AB versus Kawai, but flies out to left.

Kawasaki and Maekubo go after pitches early in the count, but ground out for a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 2nd
2 down after consecutive groundouts, and Satou hits a single to right. An inexplicable passed ball on a ball down the middle allows him to go to 2nd.

Saitou though pops up in foul territory. Tsutsumida makes the catch near the steps to the umpires area for the 3rd out.

Top 3rd
Kawai issues his first free pass to Mori leading off the inning. Tsutsumida bunts him along.

Funabiki though bites on a high slider for the 2nd out, and Saitou grounds to short. Tenri unable to bring the runner home despite a good start to the inning.

Bottom 3rd
Well, Saitou seems to have settled down. Kawai pops up to Saitou at the mound, Kasuga with a lazy fly to right.

Hayashi then hits one right to Sakaguchi and he takes it himself for the out.

Top 4th
Tenri batters uppercutting everything and popping it up. Sadamitsu to left, Sakaguchi to right.

Tomoki hits it on the ground, but it isn't hard at all. Shibahiki throws to 1st and the side is retired.

Bottom 4th
Tsuge with a single up the middle for Kendai Takasaki.

It's another wild pitch from Saitou and Tsuge goes to 2nd. Shibahiki correctly moves the runner to 3rd with a ball to the right side.

Souma brings him in!! It's a single through the drawn in infield into right! Kendai Takasaki leads 1-0!

Aoyagi-kantoku sends Souma, but Tsutsumida makes a great throw to gun him down!

Ooshima goes down looking and the leadoff runner doesn't come back to haunt them.

Top 5th
Boy, Tenri's batters are having a devil of a time against Kawai. Kawasaki and Maekubo can't improve on their first ABs and both ground out again.

Mori chases a changeup down and away and Tenri has not hit anything well against ace Kawai.

Bottom 5th
Kendai Takasaki is making better contact, and barely has the results to show for it. The bottom of the order though is retired in just 8 pitches and we hit the break.

Kendai Takasaki is having the better of it both on the mound and at the plate. They're hitting the balls more square, and Kawai has Tenri's batters baffled. 4 more innings, and Kinki will be down to just 1 team.

Top 6th
It is looking godawful for Tenri at the plate. No timing, and it looks like they're just guessing up there.

Funabiki gets the best AB against Kawai, as he runs the count full. But it's all wasted when he swings on a high fastball.

Otherwise, it's a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 6th
Saitou down his best to hold down the fort. He's certainly laboring more than Kawai, but he's getting the job done. He gets Kasuga to fly out to left.

Mori really makes him work as he fills up the count before grounding out to Kawasaki.

Tsuge goes down swinging and the margin stays at 1.

Top 7th
Sadamitsu with a ball down the left field line. Chinen is sprinting over from left center! He slides... and can't get there!! The ball goes off the padding and Sadamitsu is in with a standing triple! Tenri finally has a scoring chance.

Sakaguchi not bunting (THANK GOD). But he does pop it up. Tsuge running over to the Tenri on-deck circle... makes the catch for the 1st out.

Tomoki not bunting either.

Instead it's a liner over a leaping Hayashi for a base hit! Sadamitsu scores to make it 1-1!

However, they can't do more than that as Kawasaki grounds into a fielder's choice and Maekubo pops out. Still, they have a new ballgame.

Bottom 7th
Shibahiki lines a single to right in their lucky 7.

And now Saitou hits Souma! They check for a swing, but he doesn't go! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Kendai Takasaki.

#10 Kotani to hit for Ooshima, and he lays down a push bunt. Kawasaki quick throws to 1st and barely gets him. Big chance with even a deep fly establishing the lead.

Satou though hits a grounder to 1st! Sakaguchi checks the runner, but can't tag Satou! Tosses to 1st, and Shibahiki breaks for home! Throw back home is not in time! There's the speed of Kendai Takasaki! It's 2-1!

Saitou picks off Souma at 3rd, another odd baserunning mistake, but they have the lead back!

Top 8th
So Tenri is back where they started and with only 2 innings left to go.

One down and Tsutsumida with a clean single to center. No bunt from Funabiki, but he can't make contact on a changeup down the middle.

Saitou grounds to 1st and the inning is over.

Bottom 8th
Another walk from Saitou, as Chinen takes 1st. After #17 Miyamoto comes in to run, Kawai's pops up his bunt! Saitou is there for the catch and there's 1 down.

But Aoyagi-kantoku goes for the hit and run! Kasuga with a ball to left center... and no one will get to it! Miyamoto scores all the way from 1st and Kendai Takasaki leads 3-1!

That's it for Saitou as #11 Moriura comes in for Mori and takes the hill. Saitou will goes to LF.

Just to show how fast Kendai Takasaki is, Hayashi grounds to 3rd. Kawasaki makes a hard check of the runner, but he still takes off for - and reaches, 3rd.

Tsuge flies out to center., but the insurance run looks like the game is in hand.

Top 9th
#14 Higa comes in for Miyamoto to play LF.

The beat goes on for Kawai. Sadamitsu grounds to short.

Sakaguchi manages to work a walk, but it's quickly 2 down when Tomiki flies out to left.

Kawasaki makes some solid contact, but it's never fair. He flies out to left and the game is over.

Tenri continues to live up to their underperforming ways. They didn't embarrass themselves in prior years with some stupid play. But in this case they were simply outplayed - both on the mound where Saitou struggled with walks, and at the plate where they couldn't hit anything solid. Neither could Kendai Takasaki, but the walks proved to be fatal.

And so the story goes. Kendai Takasaki has become smarter as to when to use their speed, and their pitching has caught up in Kawai. Where they were gritty before, they have become a contender with grittiness.

Day 8, Game 1 - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) vs. Oumi (Shiga)

It's the last day of Round 2 action, and it is entirely possible that there will be no school west of Osaka Touin, and only one school north of Kanto remaining. Given the schools that qualified it is entirely possible that this will not change come the summer. It's not something to be alarmed about per se, but this would be an extreme form of what we generally see at Koushien.

The first matchup is between teams that are not too far apart from one another. They also performed about the same in their first round games - not well. They played inferior teams, and wound up winning fairly close games. Oumi probably had the worse of it, winning 2-0, but batting a whopping 0.111.

Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu)
LF Murai Shouma
RF Hirose Masaru
3B Takegoshi Hiroyuki
LF Yamada Youta
C Katou Jyunya
1B Murahashi Kazuaki
SS Oono Rikuo
P Takahashi Shunpei
2B Sakashita Reon

Oumi (Shiga)
SS Oka Katsuki
2B Okuda Riku
LF Sugino Shougo
1B Yamamoto Daichi
CF Sasaji Kenta
RF Fujiwara Koutarou
3B Hibi Ryousuke
C Nakaya Jyunpei
P Ogawa Ryouken


09:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Murai already getting things going for Kengifushou as he hits a slider down the right field side and to the wall for a leadoff double. Hirose moves him along.

Takegoshi takes a slider to the opposite way. Fujiwara has to scramble back and it's over his head! He's in with a triple and it's 1-0 Kengifushou.

Yamada another ball the other way, Sugino chases towards the foul pole, and it falls in fair! Heads into 2nd as Takaegoshi scores to make it 2-0. 3 extra base hits in 4 batters (the other being a sac bunt) do not look good.

Neither does hitting Katou. Oy.

But, Ogawa does get himself out of the inning thanks to a well played 4-6-3 double play. Okada had to deal with a higher hop.

Bottom 1st
Well, that's some promise. After Oka and Okuda are quickly retired, Sugino with a rather easy swing singles to left.

Yamamoto booms a ball to deep right, but Hirose only has to back up a bit to make the catch.

Top 2nd
Ogawa seems to be getting the better of it here in the 2nd. Oono hits a routine fly, while Takahashi last minute goes after a 2-seamer running back towards the plate.

He almost gets the 1-2-3 inning, but winds up walking Sakashita. Ogawa-kantoku not afraid to send runners and Sakashita steals 2nd with little difficulty.

Murai hits one hard, but back at Ogawa. He snags it and goes to 1st to finish the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Ogawa's counterpart Takahashi is not having those issues.

After Sasaji flies out to center, he goes back-to-back K's to retire the side in order.

Top 3rd
Hirose with a ball off his bat, powers it to left for a leadoff single. Ogawa-kantoku gives the green light again and he steals 2nd with little issue.

While Takegoshi ends up striking out on a slider, Yamada takes a pitch just outside for ball 4.

Katou hits a ball to the left side, but it goes under Oka's glove and to left! Hirose scores and it's now 3-0 Kengifushou.

Murahashi strikes out on another slider and he jams Oono into a fielder's choice to end the inning. But while he recording K's, when he's not missing bats, the results can be bad.

Bottom 3rd
How bad is it for Oumi? Takahashi is just throwing fastballs and daring the batters to hit them.

And they're not.

Nakaya and Ogawa go down on 3 fastballs each. Oka makes contact, but pops out to Okada.

Top 4th
If I were Kengifushou, I would be shortening this game as much as possible. You will have to play the next day against Urawa Gakuin on no rest.

And while there's a hit batter in the sequence, the inning lasts just 9 pitches.

Bottom 4th
Also, when I felt the timing was good, I'd relieve Takahashi and get him some rest. I'd also tell him to get the batters to make contact to not use too many pitches.

But, I'm not the kantoku, and this is Japan. So he strikes out 2 more batters while ticking his fastball up to 150.

The worst part is that some of these batters are just watching a fastball go right down the middle.

Top 5th
Oka turns in a nice play when he stops a grounder in the gap and makes a quick throw to get Takagoshi at 1st.

After another walk to Yamada, Katou get practice on a sac bunt in to move Yamada along.

Murahashi flies out to left and the inning is over.

Bottom 5th
Perhaps they're reading my post (no, not really). While it takes 4 pitches to get Sasaji to fly out to left, He gets Fujiwara and Hibi out in just 3.

As we hit the break, it's yet another team on early cruise control.

Top 6th
While I wholly advocate shortening the game by taking swings, I would hope that they would at least make solid contact.

And they are for the most part, though they are still being retired in order.

Bottom 6th
Ogawa's day is over. #16 Dan hits for him, and draws the first walk for Oumi.

But they try and steal 2nd and Katou makes the perfect throw to get him out. Oka goes down swinging for Takahashi's 7th K.

Top 7th
#18 Arimoto comes in for Dan to take the hill.

Hirose gets his 2nd hit, and then steals his 2nd base of the game, but otherwise Dan has an uneventful inning.

Bottom 7th
One down and Sugino takes a ball the other way for the team's 2nd single.

Yamamoto with another single to left! Sugino takes 3rd and they have a chance to avoid the shutout.

But Sasaji pops out to 3rd, and Fujiwara emphatically slams the bat after he can't catch up to the fastball and the side is retired.

Top 8th
Fairly routine outs from Katou and Murahashi, but Arimoto issues his first walk to Oono. Then proceeds to pick him off for the 3rd out.

Bottom 8th
Oumi gets a runner after Oono drops the ball on the transfer. Then after a sac bunt by PH #17 Itou, Oka's grounder to 1st 5-holes Murahashi! Kengifushou playing sloppy to end this game.

Okuda liner! Oono dives!  Holds up the glove and he makes the catch!!!

Top 9th
Itou stays in to play RF, #11 Kyouyama comes in for Fujiwara to take the mound.

#16 Kariya comes in to take some swings against Kyouyama, but otherwise it's a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 9th
No drama here. Takahashi gets his 9th and 10th Ks to end the game.

Oumi's batting struggles in their first game were present yet again. And while Ogawa gave up just 3 runs, the gap felt like 30. Still, they're generally in the mix in Shiga, so we may see those powder blue uniforms yet again.

Takahashi had about as easy of a game you could have. Gave up just 3 hits and walked 1. It probably would have been nice to get someone in to relieve him, but at least he barely went over 100 pitches (112), so while he'll have no turnaround time, he wasn't stressed (other than perhaps to hit 150 on the gun). They did get some solid swings in, but it would have been nice to get a couple more hits, especially with Urawa Gakuin on the horizon.