Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 13 - Game 4 - Yokohama (Minami Kanagawa) vs. Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

We have 7 of our Best 8 determined, and what a field it is - Urasoe Shogyo, Hotoku Gakuen, Osaka Toin, Chiben Wakayama, Tokoha Kikugawa, Keio, Seiko Gakuin. All that's left is to fill in that last entry.

Yokohama is looking for its 4th trip to the Best 8 this decade. Sendai Ikuei on the other hand, has not reached the best 8 in the Summer Koshien since 1994.

Now Yokohama certainly has not had an easy road to get here. They withstood a late charge by Urawa Gakuin in the first round to win 6-5, and had to wear down last year's runner-up Koryo scoring in 4 consecutive innings to win 7-5.

Sendai Ikuei had a bit of an easier time. They handily defeated Komono in the first round 4-1,
then scored early and often but still had to hold on against Fukui Shogyo 6-4.

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record and all, but the key will once again be pitching. Both aces have been prone to control issues. So it'll be up to the pitchers to get control of their repertoires early, or for the batters to be patient and raise the pitch counts early.

It'll be hard to determine a winner here based upon the prior games. Quite a few people would probably pick Yokohama, but I think Sendai Ikuei has a good chance in this game. And I'll go ahead and pick them. I think it would be nice to have Sendai Ikuei in the Best 8.

Yokohama (Minami Kanagawa)
3B Kuramoto (5)
SS Ooishi (6)
2B Matsumoto (4)
1B Tsutsugo (3)
LF Iwama (7)
RF Ogawa Kenta (9)
P Tsuchiya (1)
C Oda (2)
CF Nakahara (8)

Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
CF Hashimoto (8)
SS Endou (6)
2B Ono (4)
1B Katou (3)
3B Suzuki (5)
RF Sasaki (9)
LF Ogawa (7)
C Tozawa (2)
P Hozumi (1)
4:33 PM
First pitch!

Top 1st
Hozumi off to a good start, retiring Yokohama in order.

Bottom 1st
Hashimoto with a single through to left! The ball is tossed in and Hashimoto breaks for 2nd! And he's in safely!

Sendai Ikuei has a big chance as Endou bunts Hashimoto over. Ono is very patient at the plate, and after going 2-2 holds up on 2 consecutive borderline pitches to earn a walk.

Katou up, and he hits a ball to fairly deep center. Nakahara is under it, but it's sufficiently deep enough for Hashimoto to come in. Sendai Ikuei up early 1-0!

Suzuki is equally stubborn as Ono, and after the count goes full flies out to center. Sendai has taken the early lead, but Tsuchiya has also thrown 19 pitches.

Top 2nd
Tsutsugo starts the inning for Yokohama with a single to center. He's bunted over by Iwama.

Kenta looking for the timely hit, but he grounds to short for the 2nd out. And then Tsuchiya, after getting ahead 3-1 flies to center.

Bottom 2nd
A pretty easy inning for Tsuchiya. Spotted his pitches well that time around.

Top 3rd
Oda stars the inning with a grounder back up the middle. Nakahara tries to put the bunt down, but Hozumi makes a fine defensive play to get Oda at 2nd.

Kuramoto up and he lines to short! Ono makes the grab, but then the ball bounces off his glove! He regains control of the ball and throws out Kuramoto at 1st. But Nakahara advances to 3rd!

And 1st-year player Ooishi singles to center! Nakahara walks home! Tie game 1-1!

#11 Kimura already starts to warm up in the bullpen as Hozumi pitches to Matsumoto.

Matsumoto with the single back up the middle! Runners at the corners for Tsutsugo! With the count 2-2, Matsumoto takes off for 2nd! But the battery was framing the pitching for the call so there's no throw!

Then Tsutsugo walks! Manrui for Iwama!

And the manager has called for 1st-year #11 Kimura to enter the game! In fact the entire battery has been replaced as #12 Takahashi comes in for Tozawa!

Kimura gets ahead of Iwama 0-2, but then Iwama evens the count. Kimura wins the battle though as he gets him to swing at a high fastball and fly out to center!

Bottom 3rd
Kimura has to turn around now and get to the plate. Tsuchiya returns the favor by getting Kimura to swing and miss on a high fastball.

In fact, Tsuchiya goes on to strike out the side. But he's thrown another 17 pitches this inning.

Top 4th
With one down, Kimura can't locate his curve and walks Tsuchiya.

Ah! Then his pickoff throw is wild and Tsuchiya advances to 2nd!

Kimura settles down after that though, and retires the next 2 batters.

Bottom 4th
The lights begin to turn on at Koshien...

Ono starts the inning off with a bloop single to center and moved along to center. Then Suzuki hits a high chopper! Matsumoto tries to field it, but catches it on the short hop! All safe! Runners at the corners for Sasaki!

He shoots one through the infield and into left! Ono scores and Sendai Ikuei has retaken the lead! 2-1!

Tsuchiya then falls behind Ogawa 3-1, but comes back to strike him out. 2 down for new C Takahashi. And he grounds to 3rd. They've taken the lead, but had an opportunity for more.

Top 5th
Matsumoto with another lengthy AB, works his way to a 2-out walk!

Ah! And he's immediately picked off by Kimura! All that work wasted!

Bottom 5th
After last inning, Sendai Ikuei bails out Tsuchiya by giving him a 4 pitch inning.

Heading into the break, the question will be how Kimura's stamina will last. There are some small signs of laboring already.

Top 6th
First pitch from the break plunks Tsutsugo. Iwama's looking to bunt, but Kimura isn't hitting the zone. Finally, he puts it down on the 3-1 count and moves Tsutsugo along.

Kimura falls behind Kenta as well 3-1, and walks him! His pace has slowed and his is missing his spots.

He manages though to strikeout Tsuchiya. And then goes back to falling behind Oda 3-1. But Oda pops it up down the right field line! Sasaki and Ono running over. Sasaki make a last minute lunge and catches the ball! 3 out!

You have to be concerned if you're Sendai Ikuei. Kimura is obviously laboring, but you don't really have another pitcher.

Bottom 6th
One down, Katou grounds one to right. Suzuki tries to put down the bunt, but gets Katou thrown out at 2nd instead.

Sasaki flies out, and it's another low pitch inning for Tsuchiya.

Top 7th
Nakahara after an extended AB, hits a single to right. Kuramoto advances him to 2nd.

Oooishi singles to left! Nakahara reaches 3rd, and only one down!

Matsumoto does his job when asked. He hit a fly to center, deep enough for Nakahara to score and tie the game! 2-2!!

Tsutsugo then singles to right! Runners at the corners!

Pinch for Kimura! But he strikes out Iwama to end the inning.

Bottom 7th
Takahashi starts the inning with a one-out liner to left. Kimura hits a comebacker that glances off Tsuchiya's glove, but right to Ooishi who throws to first. 2 down.

And then They intentionally walk Hashimoto to get to Endou.

The strategy pays off of Tsuchiya strikes out Endou to retire the side.

Top 8th
Kenta puts a charge into the ball, but flies to center to leadoff the inning. And while Kimura continues to labor, he retires the side.

Bottom 8th
With one down, Katou gets a base hit to left. Sendai Ikuei elects to bunt and Suzuku moves him along.

Now can Sasaki deliver the timely hit? He gets ahead of Tsuchiya 2-0.

No! He hits the soft liner to Matsumoto and the inning is over! As we head to the 9th, who will break through?

Top 9th
Nakahara hits a pop fly to short. Endou looks to camp under it, but in fact he's lost sight of it and it drops in for a base hit! This could be fatal for Sendai Ikuei!

Kuramoto does his job and bunts Nakahara to 2nd. Ooishi with the liner past a diving Endou! Ogawa up with the ball and Nakahara has to hold up! Runners at the corners for Matsumoto! A sac fly could be the game!

With the count 1-1, Ooishi takes 2nd! But Kimura gets ahead 1-2. Matsumoto stays alive with a foul ball.

AHHH!!!!! Wild pitch! Takahashi can't find it! Nakahara come in and scores! 3-2 Yokohama!

And Matsumoto walks! Runners at the corners again for Tsutsugo! Grounder to 1st! Katou goes home! They have Ooishi in a rundown and get him out.

#16 Ariizumi comes in to pinch run for Tsutsugo. But then Iwama walks! Manrui for Kenta!

Sharp grounder to short! Endou with the stop! Toss to 2nd and the inning is over!

But Endou's gaffe at the beginning of the inning proves to be costly as Yokohama pushes through the go-ahead run!

Bottom 9th
3 outs left for Sendai Ikuei, will their season end here?

Tsuchiya gets Endou to strike out. 1 down... Takahashi first pitch swinging, but he flies to right... 2 down.

Down to their last out, it's up to Kimura. Is there anything left? Falls behind 0-2. Fouls one off. Ball outside, 1-2.


Kimura strikes out and Yokohama comes through with the win!

Sendai Ikuei battled hard throughout the entire game, but it just wasn't enough at the end to defeat the Yokohama squad - and sadly, their summer had ended one match short of the Best 8.

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