Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 16 - Best 4 - Game 1 - Urasoe Shogyo (Okinawa) vs. Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka)

Today is where the teams start to shine. These teams have risen to the top winning 3 or 4 straight games. In addition these teams pitching staffs will be severely tested.

These 4 teams are really some of the strongest teams and should provide some great entertainment for everyone.

The first game pits Urasoe Shogyo and its dominating pitching staff led by ace Iha, versus the comeback kids of Tokoha Kikugawa.

Iha has stifled his opponents so far, giving up only 30 hits in 31 innings while striking out 23 and walking 3. His bullpen of #11 Tokima and surprise #15 Shimane give Urasoe depth.

Tokoha Kikugawa has depended on the big inning. 2 runs due to an error on Fukuchiyama Seibi, a 7-run 5th inning against Kurashiki Shogyo, and a 10-run 6th against Chiben Wakayama. The pitching outside of Togari has been shaky at best. Furthermore he hasn't gone longer than 5 innings at one stint (he went the first 5 against Fukuchiyama, then finished the last 2).

Really the question is if Tokoha can really keep this going. How far can you have one big inning in each game? And against such a good pitching staff? But at this point, can you really bet against them?

I liked Tokoha Kikugawa when they won the Spring Koshien last year. I even have their logo on by tour bowling shirt with the #19. The statistics say Urasoe should win, I want Tokoha Kikugawa to win.

So please just let me leave it at that...

Urasoe Shogyo (Okinawa)
RF Kanna (9)
SS Ueji Toshiki (6)
LF Miyahira (7)
C Yamashiro (2)
3B Nakama (5)
1B Touyama Kazuma (18)
CF Nakazato (14)
2B Niita (12)
P Shimane (15)

Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka)
SS Sakai (6)
CF Itou (8)
2B Machida (4)
RF Nakagawa (9)
3B Maeda (5)
1B Uejima (3)
P Togari (1)
C Tochigi (2)
LF Higuchi (7)
11:00 AM
First pitch!

Top 1st
Togari's control looks shaky to start. He retires the side, but throws 19 pitches. This doesn't look good early.

Bottom 1st
Shimane looks REAL good early. He retires the first 2 batters before hitting Machida on the helmet with an offspeed pitch. But Itou running for Machida is thrown out stealing 2nd!

Top 2nd
One down for Kazuma and he takes a drive to left! Higuchi running back, leaps up, but it's way over his head! Kazuma strolls in with a double!

No bunting from Urasoe. Nakazato swings away! But he flies out to right. 2 down.

Niita to try and get him in. Grounder to short. Sakai comes in to play it, and it's under his glove!!!

Kazuma rounds 3rd and he scores! Urasoe up 1-0!

AH! Niita is caught napping at first and Tochigi picks him off! But Urasoe as expected has taken the early lead!

Bottom 2nd
Nakagawa with a liner to short! Toshiki leaps, but it's too hard and comes out! Base hit for Nakagawa!

Then Shimane walks Maeda on 4 straight! Shimane's lost his control!

Uejima with a grounder to left! Manrui for Tokoha Kikugawa!

Shimane seems to have regained control. He gets the count 2-2 to Togari. But then he hits him! That forces home Nakagawa and it's 1-1!

Iha warms up in the bullpen...

Tochigi follows that up with a liner through the infield and into left! Maeda comes in to score! Tokoha is leading early 2-1! This is an unknown situation for them!

That's it for Shimane. Ace Iha comes in.

Higuchi with a grounder to 2nd! Niita comes home for the force! One down.

Sakai behind 1-2. Check swing, appeal to 1st! Called out! Boy, I don't know about that call. Two down.

Itou swinging on the first pitch. Driven to center. DEEP CENTER! Nakazato running back!!! He leaps! It's over him!!!! Togari scores... Tochigi scores... HIGUCHI SCORES!!! Itou with the bases clearing double!! It's 5-1 Tokoha!!!

Urasoe is in big trouble here...

Machida up to bat, the 9th batter to come up to the plate. Grounder to short! AH!!!!! Toshiki doesn't have the ball! All safe! Runners at the corners for Nagakawa!

Tokoha isn't letting up! Maeda takes off for 2nd and he's in safely! Urasoe decides to walk Nakagawa to get a force at all bases.

Up next is Maeda. Gets a hold of one! That's to left! Miyahira running back! He's looking up! まさか!!!


MANRUI HOMERUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maeda with the grand slam home run!!!!!!!! Tokoha Kikugawa has exploded for 9 runs! It's now 9-1!!!

Iha gets Uejima to strike out, but Urasoe is in a big spot now!

Top 3rd
2 down for Urasoe. Toshiki grounds to the left side. Sakai with the great stop! Throw to first is wide! Uejima goes to get it and collides with Toshiki! He scrambles to the bag, but can't get up! After some talk with the umpire, he's helped off the field unable to walk on his left leg!

#9 Kanna comes to replace him on the basepaths.

Miyahira comes up next and grounds one to right! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Yamashiro!

He takes the first pitch to left! Higuchi running back. He looks up! That's off the fence! Kanna comes in to score. Miyahira scores! Yamashiro with the 2-run double to make it 9-3!!

Bottom 3rd
There's a delay in the action as Toshiki is being tended to. After a while, he emerges and is actually running around!

Iha settles down after the big inning. He yields a one out single to Tochigi, but that's it.

Top 4th
Hm... The wind is actually blowing out to right field now. A sign perhaps?

Nakazato with the one out single to left! But later on during Iha's AB, he gunned down to end the inning.

Bottom 4th
Iha and Urasoe is back in rhythm. Kanna makes a fine running catch in right center to start the inning, and Iha gives up only a 2-out single to Nakagawa. But the fact still remains... they're down 6.

Top 5th
Urasoe is swinging away now. And while Toshiki gets a 2-out single, Urasoe can't get anything else...

Bottom 5th
Uejima leads off the 5th with a grounder up the middle! Toshiki dives, but it goes just under his glove!

Togari with the grounder to short. AH!!! Toshiki's throw is off line and into right! E6! Is that ankle still bothering him??

And Uejima is on the ground hurt! He's holding his head! What happened to him! Ah! As Niita goes to try and field it, he hits Uejima! He's helped off as Maeda takes his place.

Tochigi looks to bunt the runners along. But Iha gets to it quickly! Looks to 3rd, no play! Goes to 1st. Throw is high! All safe! Manrui for Higuchi!

Iha gets ahead of him 1-2. But then Higuchi with the liner! It's right to Kazuma at 1st! He races to first and doubles off Tochigi! Quickly 2 down!

Sakai hits back with the comebacker! Iha gets a piece of it, but it dribbles to the right side! Niita charges in, gets it and makes the throw to 1st! 3 out! Iha gets out of the manrui situation!

There's still a ways to go though, and Urasoe has time.

Top 6th
Tokoha Kikugawa now goes to its bullpen and #10 Nojima. Togari goes to left just in case...

Yamashiro with a blast to left! Itou races back, but it's over him! Yamashiro in with his 2nd double!

Nakama with a bloop to right center! That falls in! Yamashiro running home! Throw in, Tochigi with the tag... not in time! 9-4! And Nakama advance to 2nd!

Kazuma with a liner to right! Nakama stops at 3rd! Runners at the corners! AND THEN HE WALKS NAKAZATO!!!

Nojima hasn't retired a batter yet, and we have a manrui situations for Niita!!!!!

Nojima gets ahead of Niita 0-2, but he fights on....

But Nojima gets him to swing on an inside slider!! One down.

Iha up! He can hit the ball! First pitch, low liner back up the middle! It's past Nojima's glove!

Machida dives! HE HAS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND HE EMPHATICALLY POUNDS 2ND WITH THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!! DOUBLE PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WOW!!! What a play by Machida! Nojima gets out of the manrui jam and Tokoha Kikugawa gives up only 1 run!!

Bottom 6th
Iha is doing his best to keep Urasoe in it. He strikes out 2 towards a 1-2-3 inning...

Top 7th
Urasoe though can't seem to get its offense started. Then with 2 down, an irregular bounces gives Urasoe a runner as Miyahira's grounder takes a high hop on Uejima.

Yamashiro up... can he possibly deliver another hit?

Grounder to 3rd. Maeda with it, makes a low throw, but Uejima makes the pick and that ends the inning...

Bottom 7th
Maeda leads off the inning with a single up the middle. And he steals 2nd on Uejima strikeout!

And Iha makes a bad pickoff throw to 2nd! That trickles into center and Maeda advances to 3rd! And then Iha hits Togari! Runners at the corners!


Tochigi puts down the squeeze! But Iha gets to it once again, and passes it to Yamashiro and he makes the tag! OUT!

Maeda out at home! Now 2 down!

Nojima up now. But Togari breaks for 3rd! Yamashiro with the great throw and Togari is out by a mile!

Top 8th
Nakama leads it off with a single through to left to start the inning. Nojima fights back though and strikes out Kazuma.

Then Nakazato with the grounder to 2nd! Machida up with the ball, goes to 2nd for 1, throw by Sakai in plenty of time for the double play.

Bottom 8th
Tokoha Kikugawa is retired in order by Iha... but Urasoe is just about out of time.

Top 9th
Togari returns to the mound for the 9th. #17 Tanji goes to left.

#17 Kuniyoshi pinch-hits for Niita. But he hits a grounder to 1st and Uejima makes the play.

Iha up. This could be his last AB. He hits a liner just over Machida and into right center! The lineup turns over for Kanna.

But he grounds to 2nd! Machida to Sakai for 1! Throw to 1st, double play! Game set!

Tokoha Kikugawa with another offensive explosion, this time in the 2nd and only down 1-0. But they score 9 in the 2nd and go on to the 9-4 victory!!! Perhaps the gamble of using Shimane to start the game was ill-fated, as even Iha could not recover once he entered into the fray.

Tokoha Kikugawa has made it into the finals. Who will join them?


Mark said...

First let me say that I REALLY love your commentary. What a great site you have going here. I'm curious about what the umpire said to the Tokoha pitcher and then to the crowd over the PA a couple of innings ago (maybe in the 6th?). My wife wasn't able to catch it for me. Thanks...and keep up the great work! Go Kikugawa!

Goro Shigeno said...

Honestly, my Japanese isn't that good for me to understand what happened. If someone reading who was watching the game can point that out, that would be great.

My only guess is that it had something to do with his pitching motion. It's possible he made an illegal motion with his pitch and it was called a ball.

Mark said...

And his announcement to the crowd was probably a clarification of what he told the pitcher. I figured it probably had something to do with his motion or perhaps he was fast pitching the hitter before he was ready. Either way it's academic now as they've made it back to the finals! I'm from the U.S. and baseball is supposedly our national pastime...but we don't have anything that can compare with the 2 Koshien tourneys for excitement and passion. The Little League World Series is probably the closest thing!

Dave said...

I was at the game and I actually logged on to the commentary today to see what you'd written about the umpire's announcement.. my Japanese wasn't good enough to understand either. We asked a Japanese guy next to us and he also seemed confused by the delay (or else his English wasn't good enough for translation).

Thanks for all you're doing on this website and your tips in getting to the game. Had a late night Friday but made it to the stadium by 10 and got tickets and great seats in the section next to the covered section - 1200yen.