Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 12 - Game 3 - Chiben Wakayama vs. Komadai Iwamizawa (Kita Hokkaido)

The seconds half of games today has a team looking to return to the Best 8 versus a team whose brethren has won the entire thing and would love a chance to do it themselves.

Chiben Wakayama two years ago made a run to the Best 4 before falling to Komadai Tomakomai. Last year they were stunned in the first round against Sendai Ikuei. They're looking to return the team to prominence this year.

Komadai Iwamizawa is sister schools with Komadai Tomakomai who brought the Summer Koshien title to Hokkaido for 2 consecutive years, and had the games of the ages against Waseda Jitsugyo. Now they look to make the same run.

Chiben's road included a win against a very tough Saibi team from Ehime 3-0, then fell behind Kisaradzu Sougou of Higashi Chiba 2-1 before rallying to win 5-2.

Komadai's road had them holding on for dear life against Shimonoseki Kogyo in their first match to win 8-6. Then against Moriokadai Fuzoku, they were in a pitcher's duel for the first half of the game. But they wore Tokita, Morioka's (low-stamina) ace, down and that's when they broke out for their runs winning 8-3.

While Chiben Wakayama can generally be considered a strong team, Komadai has proven that it can hold its own too. The key to this game is two-fold.
  1. Can Itaki get a hold of his control against the Chiben Wakayama squad?
  2. Can the Komadai batters wear the Chiben pitchers down?
Of course, since both keys are dependent on Komadai Iwamizawa, the advantage lies with Chiben Wakayama.

Chiben Wakayama
SS Urata (6)
P Shibata (1)
2B Katsuya (4)
1B Sakaguchi (3)
RF Morimoto (2)
LF Takahashi (7)
CF Tanbo (8)
C Hirano (13)
3B Nishikawa (18)

Komadai Iwamizawa (Kita Hokkaido)
CF Aoyama (8)
RF Kawamura (9)
LF Kodaira (7)
C Matsumoto (2)
3B Oikawa (5)
SS Furukawa (6)
1B Satou Shuuki (3)
P Itaki (1)
2B Takagi (4)
2:12 PM
First pitch!

Top 1st
Itaki's control right from the get go is shaky. After working the count full, he gets leadoff batter Urata to hit a comebacker to him for the first out. But then, Shibata singles through the right side and Itaki hits Katsuya.

After a groundout to 2nd, he walks Morimoto and we have a manrui situation for Takahashi!

But he grounds out to 1st to end the inning! Itaki out of an early pinch!

Bottom 1st
Shibata yields a leadoff walk to Aoyama, but later in the inning he is erased as Kodaira grounds into the 4-6-3 DP.

Top 2nd
2 down, Nishikawa hits a grounder into the left side! Oikawa up with it, twirls and makes the throw! It's not in time, but it's a nice try nonetheless!

But on the next pitch, he's thrown out trying to steal 2nd.

Bottom 2nd
Matsumoto opens the inning with a comebacker that Shibata almost gets his glove on, but shoots into center.

Then Oikawa hits a popup down the right field line. Katsuya and Morimoto converge, Katsuya reaches out his glove and he misses it! And the ball falls fair! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Furukawa!

And he bunts the runners along into scoring position! Big chance for Komadai here in the 2nd!

Liner back at Shibata! He ducks as the ball barely sails over him and into center! Matsumoto scores and Komadai Iwamizawa takes the opening shot! 1-0!

Now Itaki up to help his own cause! Ah! He hits a short grounder to Katsuya. He twirls, makes the throw to 2nd for one. Urata's throw to 1st... in plenty of time to get Itaki! Double play!

But Komadai Iwamizawa has the lead!

Top 3rd
Itaki is throwing strikes now! 5 pitches and he's retired Chiben Wakayama 1-2-3!

Bottom 3rd
One down, Aoyama draws his 2nd consecutive walk. But then he's caught stealing during Kawamura's AB.

Kawamura then hits a grounder to Katsuya, but it bounces off of him as he charges to field it, and Kawamura is safe on the error!

No matter though as Shibata strikes out Kodaira.

Top 4th
Itaki continues to throw strikes against the Chiben batters getting ahead in the count. And for now, Chiben has no response as they are retired in order.

Bottom 4th
Furukawa draws a two-out walk, and steals 2nd thereafter, but is left stranded.

Top 5th
Tanbo leads off the inning with a liner over Oikawa's head and into left for a double! After a sac bunt, 1st year player Nishikawa steps up.

Itaki's starts to lose his control again! Nishikawa goes ahead 2-1 and then he hits a high fly to right! Kawamura runs back, then runs forward! He clamors to get it but it drops in! Kawamura must've been fooled by the wind! Tanbo comes around to score and the game is tied! 1-1!

Urata looking for his first hit is denied as he pops up to 2nd.

But Shibata has other plans! He takes one the other way into right! Nishikawa rounds 3rd and he scores! Chiben Wakayama takes the lead 2-1!!!!

Bottom 5th
Shibata continues to be in good form as he retires the side heading into the break.

Top 6th
It appears the break helped out Itaki a little. As the inning progresses his control gets better, and although he gives up a single to Takahashi, he gets through the inning with little trouble.

Bottom 6th
Kawamoto starts the inning well, getting ahead 3-1. But he swings away on what would have been ball 4, and does the same to strike out.

Kodaira continues to swing early and often and pops out to short.

Matsumoto is more patient though and after fighting through a 9-pitch AB, grounds one to 3rd. Nishikawa up with the throw. It's low and Sakaguchi can't make the pick! E3! That brings up Oikawa.

And he hits a drive to left! Takahasi chases after it, Oikawa is making the homerun signal!

But it's just foul!!! Ah! Too bad!

But the next pitch he drives to center! That's driven hard! Tanbo runs back! And that's off the top of the fence! Matsumoto scores on Oikawa's triple!! Komadai has tied the game! 2-2!!

That's going to be it for Shibata. #9 Hayashi comes to relieve him on the mound. Shibata shifts to right, and Morimoto heads behind the plate.

But Furukawa doesn't care! He hits one past a diving Nishikawa and into left! Oikawa scores and Komadai has the lead! 3-2!!!!!

Then Shuuki hits a liner to left! Furukawa rounds 3rd. He's going home! But Tanbo relays it to Nishikawa who fires it home in plenty of time to get Furukawa! 3 outs!

Ah!! I don't think they should have sent Furukawa home! And while they have scored 2 to take the lead, a 1-run lead against Chiben Wakayama is nothing at all.

Top 7th
Itaki shows little signs of fatigue right now as he fire balls into the strike zone. Chiben Wakayama is one again retired in order.

Bottom 7th
Hayashi starts the inning well, striking out Itaki. But then last batter Takagi drives one to left! That's over Takahashi and to the wall! Takagi flies around the bases, but is stopped at 2nd!

Ara? That's it for Hayashi. Now Chiben's real ace, #10 Okada (a 2nd year player, which is why I think he has the #10 instead of #1) takes the mound.

And he starts off by giving a 4-pitch walk to Aoyama! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Kawamura! And although he grounds to 3rd, the advances the runners 90 feet.

Kodaira, looking for his first hit steps up. Perhaps he'll be patient this time...

Okada doesn't give him time, firing 2 strikes into the zone to get ahead of him. And while he holds on for one more pitch, he strikes out on a fastball away.

Top 8th
This is the critical time for Komadai and Itaki. Okada is in the game, so they cannot afford to give up runs. Also this is the time that Itaki gets fatigued. This could be disastrous for Komadai Iwamizawa if they're not careful.

And Shibata starts the inning with a soft liner to right! Katsuya follows that up with a liner to center!

Uh oh.......

Conference on the mound. Sakaguchi up.

First pitch Sakaguchi drives to center! He's got his fist raised!


And there you have it. Basically the worst case scenario for Komadai Iwamizawa just happened in the span of less than 5 minutes. Sakaguchi hits a no-doubt-about-it 3 run HR, and Chiben Wakayama has the 5-3 lead!

Morimoto continues the onslaught, shooting one up the middle. Takahashi up now. Puts the bunt down. Itaki goes for 2nd. Ah!! Itaki's throw is high! All safe!

Tanbo up. Puts the bunt down! Itaki gets it! Throw to 1st is wild! Morimoto comes home! 6-3!

Okada's up now. And Itaki hits him! Runners at 1st and 2nd!

And that's it for Itaki. #10 Numadate comes in to take over, while Itaki shifts to right. Still no down, and manrui for Nishikawa.

He grounds one to 2nd. Takagi goes home for the force. One out.

But Numadate walks Urata! Tanbo walks home and now it's 7-3!

Shibata with the chopper up the middle! That's through to center! Okada scores, Nishikawa scores! It's 9-3!! And then it suddenly dawns on me.

The reason why the Komadai manager always left Itaki in the game, wasn't because he was the ace... was because he had NO OTHER PITCHERS!

And as I thought this, Katsuya takes the first pitch to deep center! Aoyama runs back. To the wall! And that one is gone. Katsuya with the 3-run homerun, and the game is blasted open 12-3.

While it's impressive that Chiben has gone around the lineup, you can't help but feel bad for Komadai Iwamizawa. The game has completely fallen apart around them. All the manager can do now is to try and get them to the end of the game.

And to that extent, he pulls out Numadate and brings in #11 Ogawa.

With no pitchers, and Sakaguchi up... it was no surprise what would happen.

Yup. A pitch absolutely crushed to left, and Sakaguchi's 2nd homerun of the innning. 13-3.

Thankfully, Ogawa settles down, and while he gives up a single to Takahashi, he gets Komadai out of the inning.

Bottom 8th
Komadai gets a two-out walk by Furukawa and a single by Shuuki, but that's all the team can muster in their state.

Top 9th
It'll be Ogawa's job to get the team home now.

He gets Okada to strike out. But then walks pinch-hitter Hazama (#11). But Ogawa's first pickoff throw is wild and Hazama advances all the way to 3rd.

Ogawa composes himself though and strikes out Urata. 2 down.

Now if Ogawa can get Shibata out, that would avoid the heart of the Chiben lineup.

Shibata though takes a pitch down the left field line for a double, scoring Hazama. 14-3. So Ogawa will have to face at least Katsuya.

Katsuya hits a scorcher to 1st. And it somehow gets under Shuuki and into right. Shibata scores on the error by Shuuki. 15-3.

And up comes Sakaguchi. And while he does hit the ball hard, it's a high popup and secured by Takagi for the final out.

Bottom 9th
Komadai Iwamizawa is retired in order.

This game leaves me a bit somber. It was a great game for 7 innings before everything fell completely apart. While certainly not as bad as the Teikyo-Chiben Wakayama game 2 years ago, this one still hurts in the sense that a team suffered a systemic collapse.

That's it. I'm done with this game.

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