We're now entering the final 2 days of the 2nd round. Us reporters get a small break as there are only 3 games scheduled on the docket today and tomorrow.
Both teams here had tough first round games. Honjo Daiichi led Kaisei by as much as 4-1 before giving it all away. It took a sayonara HR by SS Okuda to propel them to the next round.
For Aomori Yamada, they appeared to have a relative easy matchup against Nihon Koku. But don't tell their batters that. They only managed 3 hits against their ace, Kitano. It was only because of a fielding error bit Kitano that Aomori was able to score their 2 runs and win the game.
So who'll have the advantage here? Well, I think Aomori's experience at Koshien will serve them well against the debutants (Honjo has only 2 third-year students in the starting 9!). Their pitching will be a plus over the Honjo's dual tandem, and the batting for Aomori should be better than Honjo, despite the results from the first round.
CF Abe (8)
2B Hasegawa (4)
LF Magario (7)
1B Saitou Tatsunobu (3)
RF Arahari (9)
3B Toyoda (5)
C Yano (2)
SS Miyamori (6)
P Kinoshita (1)
Honjo Daiichi (Kita Saitama)
CF Nohara (8)
LF Yuyama (7)
SS Okuda (6)
1B Tamura (3)
C Kobayashi (2)
RF Hasebe (17)
2B Okada (4)
P Hagiwara (11)
3B Kibe (5)
First pitch! As usual in the mornings, no wind at Koshien.
Hagiwara gives up a leadoff single to Abe, and after a sac bunt, retires the next two in order.
Kinoshita gives up a 2-out single to Okuda, but that's all as well.
Aomori gets another leadoff runner as Arahari draws a walk. He's bunted to 2nd.
Toyoda step to the plate. Arahari heads for 3rd! Throw down, not in time! Runner at 3rd, one down!
SQUEEZE!! They call for the squeeze, but Toyoda can't put it down! And Arahari is run down! That pitch was inside, but certainly was buntable!
Hasebe draws a one out walk, but that's it for Honjo in the 2nd.
Hagiwara retires the side in order, but his control leaves something to be desired. He's not hitting the targets the catcher is placing, and that includes when the catcher intentionally sets up outside to trick the batter.
One down, and the lineup turns over to Nohara. He hits a comebacker past Kinoshita and into center.
Yuyama then puts down a bunt! It's a safety bunt! Kinoshita up with it, but Yuyama's already at 1st! Big chance for Okuda!
But he grounds to short on the first pitch! Miyamori goes to 2nd for one, throw to first.. and a diving Okuda makes it in time! 2 down!
Hit-and-run! They're calling for the hit and run! But Tamura grounds to short and that ends the inning.
Kinoshita's control isn't much better than Hagiwara. Right now though, Kanto is making better contact.
Hasegawa leads it off with a walk. He's bunted over by Magario.
But Saitou and Arahari are retired soon thereafter. Hagiwara's control is still lacking. If Aomori's batters can exercise more patience at the plate, they may be able to put together a couple of runs.
Kinoshita had 2 nicely located pitches against leadoff batter Kobayashi, but then tries to go inside, but goes a little too far. Ow.
So Kobayashi ends up at 2nd, because... well... I don't need to explain by this point, do I?
Runner at 2nd, 1 down, for Okada... make that runner at 3rd, 2 down for Hagiwara. Don't need to explain that one other than it's generally a losing strategy.
And give a "kuroboshi" to that one as Hagiwara grounds to short.
For the 4th time this game, Aomori gets their leadoff batter on base as Toyoda hits a grounder through to right.
And so, it's a runner on 2nd, one down for Miyamori. He hits a sharp ball, but right at Okada. 2 down.
Kinoshita up to try and help his own cause. Chopper past Hagiwara! But Okade is cheating towards 2nd, makes the stop and throws to first for the 3rd out.
Can someone please get the message to Aomori's coach that his players should be patient and try to draw walks?
Kibe begins the inning and hits a blooper that just falls in front of Magario.
Nohara puts the bunt down. Okay, why did I mention it? Well, if I did, that means something other than an out happened at 1st. So what happened? Kinoshita fielded the ball, tried to go to 2nd, but his throw was high and pulled Miyamori off the bag.
So runners at 1st and 2nd on the error by Kinoshita.
Yuyama tries to put the bunt down, but the count eventually works its way to 2-2. So he may not bunt anymore. He's still signaling it, but pulls it back - checks his swing, but the umpire said he went??! Boy, I don't know about that...
One out now for Okuda. Now a DP can end the inning.
Kinoshita's pace has considerably slowed, frequently checking on the runners.
The wind is starting to pick up in the usual direction.
Kinoshita's fallen behind Okuda 3-1. Perhaps low, but the umpire calls it anyways. Full count. And he misses it inside! Manrui for cleanup batter Tamura! Infield is playing in.
Chopper to 1st! Tatsunobu up with it and makes the play at home for the force.
2 down now for Kobayashi, still manrui.
Chopper up the middle! Miyamori up with it! He makes the throw, Kobayashi dives, and he's out! I have to say that if if Kobayashi had run it out, he may have been able to make it safely!
Again another reason why even though the kids want to get their uniforms dirty, and diving is a form of showing one's passion, I'd rather see them overrun the base and be safe than dive and be out.
*gets off soap box*
Anyways, a manrui chance with 1 down for Honjo and they can't push in a run! As we head into the break, we have a scoreless ball game!
Aomori get another leadoff runner after Abe walks.
Hit-and-run! They put the hit-and-run! Hasegawa chops one to 2nd! But it hits Abe as he running to 2nd and he's out!
So, runner on 1st, 1 down for Magario. He hits a single to right! Runners at 1st and 2nd with one down!
AHHHHH!!! Tatsunobu swings at the first pitch and pops out to short! Can someone please tell him to take a pitch once in a while!
So 2 down for Arahari. He takes one pitch before swinging away and pops it up! Okuda backpedals, backpedals, leaps back and it's off his glove! The runners were going on contact so Hasegawa comes around to score! Aomori Yamada breaks through and leads 1-0!
But it still wouldn't kill them to take pitches. Perhaps some of them have a hot date tonight? :P
Kinoshita and Aomori Yamada get a bit of a scare when Hagiwara hits a ball deep to left, but Magario runs it down at the wall for the final out of the inning.
#9 Ujihara replaces Hasebe in right.
Yano to start the inning, count 3-2, hits a short chopper. The fielders do the right thing and waits for it to go foul. 2 pitches later, they catch him looking.
And the next two batters go down as well.
2 down, Yuyama hits a soft single to center. But then he tries to steal 2nd, and is gunned down.
With one down, Hasegawa hits a grounder to short. Okuda goes to field it, but it's dropped! Hasegawa reaches on an error!
Magario comes to bat. But Hagiwara throws a wild pitch! Hasegawa breaks for 2nd. Kobayashi doesn't know where it is!! Hasegawa continues running and is in at 3rd!
And the miscues prove costly! Magario hits a flyball to right, and it's deep enough to score Hasegawa! 2-0 Aomori Yamada!
Honjo Daiichi is running out of time. They need their offense, and need it now.
Okuda starts the inning off with a single to left. The manager elects at this juncture to trade an out for 90 feet in the hopes of getting at least 1 now.
But Kobayashi hits a pop foul to Yano, and Ujihara grounds to 3rd (although that play was scary as Toyoda one-hopped it to 1st.
#1 Itou comes in to pitch as Hagiwara moves to right.
Itou strikes out Arahari to start.
Toyoda pops out to left. No he doesn't!! Yuyama whiffs on the catch! Toyoda ends up at 2nd on the error by Yuyama!
Itou manages to get Yano to ground to 3rd. 2 down.
Hit-and run! Miyamori with the comebacker! It's off Itou's leg and in the air toward the the shortstop! Okuda bobbles it! Toyoda continues on home! Okuda throws home! But it's too late! Aomori Yamada leads 3-0!
2 down for Kinoshita. Pickoff throw to 1st gets by Tamura! Miyamori advances to 2nd!
Then Miyamori tries to steal 3rd! Throw by Kobayashi is wide and into left field! Miyamori comes in to score! 4-0!! The wheels have completely fallen off Honjo Daiichi here in the 9th as Aomori Yamada scores 2 runs thanks to 3 errors!
Honjo Daiichi goes down in order quietly in the 9th as Aomori Yamada advances with the 4-0 victory.
For 8 innings, Honjo Daiichi went toe-to-toe with Aomori Yamada, and it's sad to see the way they finished the game. Hopefully they will be able to build on this experience and perhaps we'll see some of these same players at Koshien next year.