Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 8 - Game 1 - Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka) vs. Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto)

This 2nd round matchup was probably the most anticipated of all the opening matchups. There's definitely more people out this morning than usual. Why?

Tokoha Kikugawa last year was close to sweeping the Koshien tournaments. They won the spring tournament with a road that in order included:
  • Sendai Ikuei
  • Imabari Nishi
  • Osaka Toin
  • Kumamoto Kogyo, and
  • Oogaki Nichidai
and in the summer, made it to the Best 4 (defeating Oogaki Nichidai again!) before losing to runner-up Koryo 4-3.

Fukuchiyama Seibi made their run 2 years ago, reaching the Best 8 while defeating Aikodai Meiden (Ichiro's HS), and Kumamoto Kogyo before losing to Kagoshima Kogyo in 10 innings.

But now to this year...

Tokoha Kikugawa's team strength this year appears to be its pitching. Ace Togari (6 G, 39 IP, 29 H, 7 ER, 39 K, 5 BB) has gotten more experience, and looks to improve from the spring tournament. Their offense is not particularly powerful, and depends on timely hitting to score its runs.

Fukuchiyama Seibi is more offense based. Combined, they hit an amazing 0.443 for the prefectural qualifiers. And with 30 walks, they had an on base percentage of 0.528! That's not to say that their pitching isn't that bad either. In 6 games, they yielded only 8 runs in 44 IP, and almost all pitchers averaged a K/IP.

The advantage here may have to go to Fukuchiyama Seibi. It'll probably be a low scoring game, but expect Fukuchiyama Seibi to get their offense going and put runs on the board

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 Tanji (17)

Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto)
2B Ikoma (4)
P Ueda (9)
3B Fukase (5)
CF Takaku (8)
C Fukumoto (2)
RF Tsuchiba (7)
LF Kadobayashi (17)
SS Sugimoto (6)
1B Okaue (3)
8:30 AM
First Pitch!

Top 1st
Nice start for Ueda as he retires the Tokoha batters in order.

Bottom 1st
Togari gets himself into early trouble! With one down, Ueda hits a grounder to left! Sakai with the diving stop, but that's all he can do. Fukase follows that up with a ground that gets through to left!

But Togari settles down, strikes out Takaku and gets Fukumoto to ground to short to end the inning.

Top 2nd
Ueshima draws a 2-out walk, but he gets thrown out trying to steal 2nd.

Bottom 2nd
Huh. In an almost complete mirror image of Tokoha's frame, Sugimoto also draws a 2-out walk and also gets thrown out stealing 2nd!

Top 3rd
Tokoha Kikugawa is retired in order, with three straight grounders to 2nd.

Bottom 3rd
Ikoma gets a one out single to right, but Togari gets the next two batters to fly to right. (FYI, the wind this morning is non-existent).

Top 4th
Tokoha still looking for their first hit. Two down, Machida draws a walk, but is left stranded. The offense is still hitless!

Bottom 4th
In a small lapse of control, or perhaps being squeezed by the umpire, Togari gives up the 2 out walk to Tsuchiba. But Kadobayashi grounds out to end the inning. So far Togari has done a fine job in shutting down Fukuchiyama Seibi's offense!

Top 5th
Of couse, Ueda has done one better against Tokoha's offense, not yielding a hit so far after 4. And with all 3 putouts (2 K's), he continues to keep them hitless. Ueda's control has been very good, locating his pitches so well, Fukumoto hasn't needed to move his glove around that much.

Bottom 5th
Togari continues cruising along, striking out Sugimoto. Then Okaue hits a chopper to 3rd that takes a high bounce that prevents Maeda from fielding it! Ikoma follows that up with a single to left and Ueda follows that with a grounder to right! All of a sudden it's a manrui situation with only one down!

Fukase steps up to bat. He hits a grounder to short! Sakai with the ball! Falls back as he throws to 2nd, that's one! Machida with the throw to 1st! IN TIME! Nice play!! The defense turns in a double play to get Togari out of the jam! As they go to the break, can Tokoha turn that play around and use the momentum to get the offense started?

Top 6th
With 2 down, Tokoha Kikugawa gets their first hit! Sakai hits a liner to left!

But Itou strikes out looking, and the inning is over. Still, it's a start!

Bottom 6th
Takaku starts the inning out with a single up the middle past a sliding Machida!

And that appears to be it for Togari! #10 Nojima comes in to relieve Togari who moves to LF. This move is a bit concerning since Nojima's numbers are not all that spectacular (13 IP, 13 H, 6 ER, 5 K, 6 BB)

The worries are founded after Fukumoto draws a walk, and Tsuchiba bunts them along! Runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 down!

Kadobayashi with the grounder to 3rd! Takaku goes for home! Maeda up with it, and the throw home is in plenty of time! Runners at the corners, 2 down!

And Kadobayashi takes off for 2nd! No throw! Runners on 2nd and 3rd!

Ah! Nojima hits Sugimoto! He's down! That looked like it hit him on the helmet!

Replays show that the ball bounced off his helmet and directly hit him on his face as he was checking his swing! He's taken out as a substitute runner takes his place.

Manrui for Fukuchiyama Seibi and they elect to pinch hit #12 Sueyoshi for Okaue.

Grounder to first! Uejima with the diving stop! Nojima to cover and the toss is in time! Tokoha avoids another bullet from Fukuchiyama Seibi!

Top 7th
#13 Nakahara takes over at 1B. And it appears that Sugimoto's day is done as #16 Nakatani replaces him at short. Hope he's ok. That was a real shot he took.

Tokoha continues to struggle with its offense, grounding out to 2nd twice. Then Maeda hits a ball deep to left field! Kadobayashi to the wall, and it's off the wall! Maeda gets a two-out double! A base hit here by Uejima can give them the lead!

Liner to left! Kadobayashi falling back! Glove outstretched and... he has it! That was close to be disastrous! But Tokoka is turned away!

Bottom 7th
Ikoma with the 4-pitch walk to start the inning. Ueda hits a falling shot to left, but Togari gets a good beat on it.

Fukase up. AH! The pitch gets by Tochigi! Ikoma advances to 2nd! And Fukase with the grounder to left! Runners at the corners, 1 down! Nojima needs another double play here to get out this jam.

NO! Not going to get it! Takaku shoots a grounder to right! Fukuchiyama Seibi breaks the scoreless tie as Ikoma scores! 1-0!!

Still one down and a great opportunity! Fukumoto with the chopper to 1st. That advances the runners. Now a base hit scores 2!

Nojima though gets Tsuchiba to ground to 1st. 3 outs, but Fukuchiyama Seibi has taken the lead!

Top 8th
Now that Seibi has the lead, what will Tokoha's offense do? Can they put together the timely hits?

Togari, looking to get on base in any way, holds up on a close 3-2 pitch and draws the walk! He's bunted over by Tochigi.

#16 Kitajima now pinch-hits for Nojima. He gets ahead in the count 3-1! Fouls off what could have been ball 4! Full count now. Liner foul!

Togari takes off! Ball 4! Throw to 1st, tag... SAFE!! Togari with the risky steal, but it works!

#18 Matsumoto to run at 1st.

Matsumoto takes off for 2nd Throw to Fukumoto to 2nd and, WHAT! Ikoma and Sugimoto stand there as the ball goes between them and into center! Togari goes home! Matsumoto advances to 3rd.

AH!!! As Takaku tosses the ball in, Matsumoto breaks for home! Everyone's looking away from home! The throw is hastily made, but it's too late! A botched throw proves costly as 2 runs come in to score! A stunned Ueda looks on as Tokoha Kikugawa has taken the lead 2-1!!!!!

Bottom 8th
#7 Tsuchiba takes over in left as Togari returns to the mound. He retires the side in order. Seibi must still be stunned at the turn of events in the 8th...

Top 9th
Mass changes for Seibi. Ace Kondou goes to the mound to pitch. Ueda moves to left. #15 Matsumura comes in to play SS while #14 Tanaka goes to 1st.

Bottom 9th
Is there anything left for Seibi? Or will the misplay be their downfall?

Ikoma trying to hold up, grounds to 2nd... one down.

Ueda grounds to 1st. Two down...

Fukase to try and extend the game... Chopper to 2nd! Machida up with the ball, and makes the play!

An unfortunate and unlucky play costs Fukuchiyama Seibi the game. After how well Ueda and the defense had been playing, this is surely crushing to the team. A great pitchers duel will be overshadowed by a single play, and the knowledge that they could have prevented it from happening.

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