Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 6 - Game 3 - Yokohama (Minami Kanagawa) vs. Urawa Gakuin (Minami Saitama)

(Due to the rain delay and the length of the other game, I am unable to watch this game live. However, I will watch the game in its entirety and have a full game report here on Day 9 of the tournament.)

The final game of the day is an all Kanto affair, and features one of the more historic, and probably opinionated teams out there...

That team I'm talking about is Yokohama. Famously home to Matsuzaka Daisuke, and a definitive powerhouse in 高校野球. I've had the feeling that people's feelings of Yokohama is split into 2 camps - those that are in awe of it, and those that would like to see it defeated.

The team asked to do that today is Urawa Gakuin. They're no stranger to this tournament, this being their 10th appearance. However, they have not had much success this decade, only advancing past the first game in 2000 and in 2002. Now they're asked to break the trend against of the historically strongest teams in the past decade.

Urawa Gakuin's strength is 2-fold. Their pitching, led by the coach's son, #10 Mori, held opponents' offenses down (30 IP, 17 H, 6 R, 26 K, 12 BB). In addition, the team is very patient at the plate (35 BB in 6 games).

Yokohama's strength is purely all around. A pitching staff led by ace Tsuchiya (37 IP, 17 H, 3 R!, 40 K, 10 BB), yielded 3 shutouts, and only 6 R in the other 3 games! They can definitely hit the ball (.360 average), and hit for power (4 3B, 13 2 B). But they're also patient at the plate (36 BB in 6 games).

Realistically, it's Yokohama's game to lose. Urawa might keep it close early, but I just can't see them pulling off the win.

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

Urawa Gakuin (Minami Saitama)
SS Sakamot (6)
2B Hanata (4)
1B Shimatsu (3)
RF Yamatani (9)
3B Misumi (5)
CF Itou (8)
LF Hasegawa (7)
C Fukushi (2)
P Mori (10)
5:58 PM
First pitch! The winds do not seem to be blowing this late in the day.

Top 1st
Mori retires the side, but not before Matsumoto puts a scare into him as he hits a ball deep down the right field line just short of the foul pole!

Bottom 1st
Urawa gets the first hit of the game as Hanada has a one-out single to center.

Tsuchiya's control looks a little shaky to start with today.

Urawa puts on the hit-and-run! Shimatsu misses the ball, but Hanada steals 2nd easily!

And then Shimatsu draws a walk! Perhaps Tsuchiya's being squeezed a little too.

But he's fallen behind Yamatani 2-1! Fires back to even the count! And gets the K on a high fastball! And captain Misumi swings on the first pitch and grounds to 2nd! Small opportunity to get a jump on Yokohama missed!

Top 2nd
Mori's control seems off here in the 2nd. His pitches are missing the mark, and Kenta draws the leadoff walk.

Iwama bunts Kenta along for ace Tsuchiya.

Mori's pace has definitely slowed down. But his control is still a bit off. Works the count even on Tsuchiya 2-2 and strikes him out looking!

Two down for Tsutsugo. WOW!! Did he ever get a hold of that curve ball! That ball is crushed to right! A no doubt about it home run!! Yokohama on top 2-0!

Bottom 2nd
Itou starts off the inning with a solid single to right. Hasegawa pops his bunt up! Tsuchiya in to get it, and he drops it! Picks it up, throw to 1st, safe! Tsuchiya was looking ahead to doubling up Itou at first, he didn't secure the ball!

Fukushi looking to bunt, pulls it back! He swings away! Liner to Tsuchiya! But it's off him and it dribbles to 2nd base. No play, all safe!! Manrui with no outs!

Ah! Make that one! Mori swings at the first pitch and pops out to 2nd!

Sakamoto up now. Grounder to 1st! Tsutsugo playing in close dives, but it's off his glove! Matsumoto up with the ball, but too late! All safe again, and Itou scores! 2-1!

Hanada swings on the first pitch and hits a short liner! Matsumoto jumps, but can't get it! Hasegawa comes in to score! Urawa's come right back and tied the game! 2-2!! And still only one down with bases loaded!

But Shimatsu hits a comebacker to Tsuchiya! He goes to 2nd for one and Ooishi's throw to 1st is in time, double play! Ah, what a shame! Still, Urawa has answered Yokohama and evened the score.

Top 3rd
One down, Kuramoto start the inning with a chopper up the middle. Hanata makes the nice running catch, but the momentum is too much to get the throw in in time.

Ooishi to bunt him along. Mori rushes to the ball, but the throw is wide! Ooishi's safe and Kuramoto advances to 3rd!

One down for Matsumoto and he lifts one to left! Hasegawa gets under it, makes the catch. Kuramoto tags up! The throw by Hasegawa is cut off and Yokohama retakes the lead 3-2!

Bottom 3rd
Tsuchiya retires Urawa in order, certainly a nice break after last inning

Top 4th
The sun has pretty much set, and the players are playing under the lights of Koshien now.

Mori does the same for Urawa. Looks like both pitchers may be settling down a little.

Bottom 4th
Two down for Urawa, Mori draws a walk. Then Sakamoto hits a liner down the left field line! Runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 down!

But Hanata quickly grounds to short to end the inning.

Top 5th
Oda quickly leads off the 5th with a base hit to left! Hasegawa gets it at the wall, but fumbles it! Oda in with a triple! Nakahara with the sac bunt. But Shimatsu charges in, quickly gets it and throws to 3rd, But the throw is wide and Misumi has no play! All safe!

And Mori has decided his son has seen enough. He pulls him and puts in ace Takashima.

Kuramoto manages to get a pop fly to deep left. It pulls foul, but Hasegawa catches it anyways, allong Oda to tag up and score from 3rd! 4-2 Yokohama!

Wow. The Yokohama oen-dan is LOUD. You can hear the players' names clearly when they chant them. That takes effort, and is very impressive.

Takashima retires the next 2, but Yokohama has extended their lead.

Bottom 5th
Urawa gets a one out single from Yamatani, but he is subsequently picked off during the next AB.

Heading into the break, Yokohama certainly has the advantage, but Urawa has shown that it can get base hits off of Tsuchiya so nothing's for certain just yet.

Top 6th
Yokohama goes in order, thanks to a nice running catch by CF Itou!

Bottom 6th
Itou begins with the leadoff single to center. Hasegawa looking to bunt, and Itou takes off from first! Ah, but he pops it up! Tsuchiya with the catch and easy throw to 1st for the DP.

Top 7th
There's one out for Yokohama when Oda gets his 2nd hit of the day, a blast that goes off the left field wall for a double.

Then Takashima walks Nakahara! Runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 down!

Fukumoto up, swings away early in the count and flies out to center. Up to Ooishi now.

But he hits a high popup to 2nd, and Yokohama is turned away! Even through Urawa has twice as many hits as Yokohama so far (8 vs. 4), they still trail by 4-2.

Bottom 7th
New P Takashima starts the inning with a grounder up the 3rd base line. He runs around for the leadoff double!

But Sakamot pops his bunt up! Oda with the catch and easy throw to 2nd for the DP! Another fundamental error by Urawa!

Top 8th
Matsumoto leads off the inning with a comebacker up the middle. But on the very next pitch, Kenta ground into the 4-6-3 DP.

With 2 down, Iwama resets by hitting a liner to right.

With a runner on, Takashima's pace slows down again as he worries about Iwama on 1st. Then he falls behind 3-0 on Tsuchiya. He battles back to a full count. And Tsuchiya battles back with a couple of foul balls.

Tsuchiya wins the battle! A grounder past a diving Hanata and into right center! They fly around the bases as Tsuchiya ends up on 2nd! Runners on 2nd and 3rd for Tsustugo!

Ah! He takes the ball to left field! Iwama scores! Tsuchiya heads home, he scores! Another big hit for Tsutsugo! He now accounts for 4 of Yokohama's 6 RBI's!

And Tsutsugo is lifted for a pinch runner, #16 Ariizumi. He gets a round of applause as he heads to the dugout.

Takashima is laboring a bit now, and walks Oda to put runners on 1st and 2nd.

Nakahara up now, and he hits a grounder to left! Ariizumi rounding 3rd, he heads home! Hasegawa up the the ball and fires home! Fukishi gets it, goes for the tag and they nail Ariizumi at home! Nice play!

But Yokohama now leads by 4 runs with 2 innings left to go. This looks like it could be it for Urawa.

Bottom 8th
A long ways to go for Urawa. With one down, Yamatani reaches out and puts one in the left center field gap for a double.

Misumi hits a comebacker to Tsuchiya, who throws to 2nd when he sees Yamatani off the bag. But the throw is wide and all Ooishi can do is smother it! What was Tsuchiya doing? Get the out at 1st!

Itou up, and he pops it up down the right field line. 2B and RF are converging on the ball, Ogawa slides and can't get it! Manrui for Hasegawa!!

He gets a hold of a pitch, it goes deep to left! Iwama back to the wall, leaps up, off the wall! The runners have to hold up because it might have been caught! Yamatani scores! Misumi rounds 3rd, he scores! 6-4!!

Runners on 1st and 2nd for Fukushi and still 1 down!

AH! He takes a drive to deep left center! It's going and going and, caught! It's caught by Iwama!

OH NO!!!! The runners took off on contact! Itou is scrambling to get back to 2nd. The throw to Matsumoto at 2nd... in time!!! Double play!!! First they had to hold up when they thought it was going to be caught, and it wasn't - now they run when they think it won't be caught, and it was!! What a turn of events for Urawa!!

Top 9th
Yokohama goes in order, Urawa down to their final 3 outs.

Bottom 9th
Takashima to start the inning, and he strikes out.

But Sakamoto comes back and hits a deep drive to left! It's a one hopper off the wall! He's in with a double!

Hanata with a liner down the 1st base line! Kudou dives, but can't get it! Sakamoto comes home and he scores!! 6-5!!! Only one down!

#13 Mamada comes in to pinch-hit for Shimatsu.

Mamada gets a hold of a pitch. Driven to deep left center! Caught by Iwama!! Hanata scrambles back to 2nd! 2 down!

Yamatani steps up, looking for that last hit to tie the game.

He hits it! But it's a fly ball to right! Kenta comes under it and makes the catch! Game set!

What a finish by both sides!! Yokohama holds on just barely to defeat Urawa Gakuin 6-5! If not for some fundamental errors and a little bad luck, they just might have pulled off the upset!

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