Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 1 - Game 1 - Konkou Osaka (Osaka) vs. Kurashiki Kougyou (Okayama)

The tournament kicks off with 2 regional teams - Konkou Osaka out of Osaka-ken and Kurashiki Kougyou out of neighboring Okayama-ken. Kurahsiki Kougyou went from the 4th best team out of Okayama to the winner of the Chuugoku region. Konkou Osaka finished a distant 2nd to PL Gakuen in the Osaka regionals, but held its own in the Kinki regionals.

Konkou Osaka (Osaka)
2B Ishii
C Nakajima
RF Nakamura
SS Youkawa
1B Arikawa
LF Yoshida
3B Nagae
P Koba
CF Nishida

Kurashiki Kougyou (Okayama)
C Yori
CF Inoue
SS Mimura
2B Miki
1B Kusaka
3B Uchiyama
P Yamazaki
RF Yamagata
LF Ogata


10:32 AM - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Kurashiki's ace, Yamazaki is having issues early. He hits Ishii to start the game, and after a failed bunt, walks Nakamura and hits Youkawa to load the bases for Arikawa. And he lines one just under Mimura at short to left! 2 come in to score and Konkou Osaka takes an early 2-0 lead! Yamazaki settles down though and retires the next two batters, but Kurashiki falls behind early.

Bottom 1st
Leadoff batter Yori grounds to 2nd, but Ishii throws the ball high and takes Arikawa off the bag! E4! Inoue bunts him along for Mimura. And he bloops one into shallow right center! Yori rounds for home, and the throw is not in time! Kurashiki gets one right back, 2-1!

Miki then works a walk! Both pitches are having trouble early! Runners at 1st and 2nd, 1 out!

Kusaka steps up looking to tie the game. It's a grounder right of 2nd! Ishii has it, bobbles it! Toss to 2nd, safe! Back to 1st, they get one. 2 down.

Up to Uchiyama now. He falls behind, but is fighting at the plate. But a slow curve by Koba freezes him to end the inning. But Kurashiki has cut the lead in half.

Top 2nd
Koba leads off the inning with a hit to shallow left. Okada charges in, but leaps up! He misjudges it! Koba charges to 2nd and reaches! Last batter Nishida moves him to 3rd and cycles the lineup to the top.

Ishii wastes no time! He takes the first pitch through the middle for a base hit! Koba scores, 3-1 Konkou Osaka!! Nakajima follows that up with a hit down the left field line for a double! Runners at 2nd and 3rd with one down! Yamazaki is once again in a big pinch!

They semi-intentionally walk Nakamura to get the force. But Youkawa does them a favor! He swings at the first pitch popping out to Yori in foul territory! And Arikawa hits a sharp grounder to 3rd! Uchiyama has it and steps on 3rd for the last out. But Konkou reclaims its 2 run lead.

Bottom 2nd
Koba continues to struggle on the mound as he walks Yamazaki. Yamagata tries to bunt him along, but Nakajima goes to 2nd! Youkawa reaches out and they get Koba at 2nd!

Okada swings at the first pitch and lines out to center, 2 down.

Yori won't let the inning die quickly here and he singles to center! Runners at 1nd and 2nd for Inoue. And after falling behind 0-2, starts fighting pitches off.
It's for naught though as he grounds to 2nd to end the inning.

Top 3rd

Konkou Osaka looks to keep the pedal down as they start the 3rd. But instead, Yamazaki settles down and retires the side in order giving his team a breather.

Bottom 3rd
Koba looks to be settling down too, but with one down he hits Miki on a slow curve. And Kusaka grounds one up the 3rd base line past a diving Nishimura! It's a double! Runners on 2nd and 3rd!

Uchiyama then hits a liner to center! But the outfield is in and Nishida makes the running catch freezing the runner! 2 down!

It's up to Yamazaki, but he grouds to short! Youkawa bobbles the ball, but easily throws Yamazaki out at 1st. Big opportunity lost for Kurashiki...

Top 4th
Yamazaki appears to be in his groove now as Nishida grounds to 2nd. Back to the top of the order for Ishii.

But he gets a hold of one! Okada runs back to left field foul pole, he looks up...


Ishii hits a homerun down the left field line! Konkou Osaka extends the lead to 4-1! Yamazaki gets the next 2 batters, but the lead is extended yet again. Kurashiki risks letting this game get away.

Bottom 4th
Kurashiki continues to get baserunners. With one down, Okada gets plunked by Koba. He's replaced by Ikeda. Yori battles at the plate and he reaches down and hits a blooper just over Youkawa at 2nd! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Inoue.

And Nakayama-kantoku elects to bunt the runners along! Runners at 2nd and 3rd for Mimura.

And he hits a ball to deep left! Yoshida runs back to the same spot Okada did earlier. HE LOOKS UP!



Mimura with the 3-run homerun! GOTEN!!!!! 4-4!!!!!!

Miki grounds out to end the inning, but Kurashiki has tied the game up!

Top 5th
With new life in the game, Kurashiki looks to hold Konkou Osaka.

But with 1 down, Arikawa gets his 2nd hit with a grounder through the left side. Then Yoshida lines one down the 1st base line for a double! Konkou is threatening again with runners at 2nd and 3rd!

Nagae is up and he takes the 1st pitch to center! That's to the wall! Inoue can't catch up to it! Arikawa scores! Yoshida scores! Nagae heads for 3rd!!! The relay to 3rd and he's out! Konkou Osaka retakes the lead 6-4!!

Bottom 5th
Kurashiki Kougyou refuses to give up. Kusaka drives one to the left-center field gap for a leadoff double! Uchiyama is up, but what's this? Nakajima catches Kusaka sleeping at 2nd and picks him off on the 0-0 pitch! That kills the Kurashiki attach as the next batters are retired in order.

Top 6th
Konkou looks to add to the lead. With one down, leadoff batter Ishii gets his 3rd hit of the day, hitting a scorcher past Uchiyama and down the 3rd base line for a double! He's 3-3 with a single, double and a homerun!

Nakajima follows that up with a single to right! Runners at the corners for Nakamura!

But he grounds into a 6-4-3 DP! Yamazaki holds off the threat, but they still find themselves down by 2 runs, and running out of time...

Bottom 6th
Kurashiki tries to fight back. WIth 1 down, new LF Yamamoto hits a grounder to the gap in left, but Youkawa backhands the ball and makes a great throw to 1st for the out. Yori works a 2-out walk. Inoue would love to get on base now for Mimura.

But Yori wastes no time! He steals 2nd on the 1st pitch!! Now a base hit can cut down the lead!!

Inoue works the count, and he bloops one down the right field line!! Yori scores!! It's now 6-5 Konkou and Mimura is at bat!!

But he lines to center ending the inning. But the game is getting that much closer now.

Top 7th
Konkou can't be feeling comfortable with their one run lead. Arikawa tries to change that as he blasts one to deep left! Yamamoto goes back to the wall and makes the catch! And while Yoshida bloops one in the infield for a base hit, he's eventually stranded.

Bottom 7th
Miki earns his 3rd base-on-balls as he's hit on a slow curve by Koba. Nakayama-kantoku appears to be looking for the tying run as he's asking Kusaka who's 2-2 with 2 doubles to bunt. Koba however, can't throw a strike and the count is 3-0! The bunt is still on and at 3-1, he puts it down advancing Miki to 2nd for Uchiyama.

Uchiyama moves him along to 3rd with a grounder to 1st. But he goes on the first pitch and weakly grounds to 3rd to end the inning.

Top 8th
With one down, Nishida starts the inning by getting plunked by Yamazaki and it's back to the top of the order for Ishii. He wastes no time by getting a base hit through the left side. Once again, Konkou is threatening!

But Nakajime grounds to short! Mimura bobbles it, but he completes the 6U-3 double play to end the inning! But Kurashiki is running out of time...

Bottom 8th
#5 Nishimura comes in the game at RF.

Yamagata starts off the inning with a drive to center. Nishida runs back, and it's over his head! Yamagata starts off the inning with a lead-off double!

And immediately, Nakayama-kantoku asks Yamamoto to bunt, but he can't put it down! The count goes to 1-2, and he has to swing away. But no! He squares up again and puts the bunt down! Yamagata advances to 3rd, but can they get him in?

Back to the top of the order for Yori. But he can't get him home! He grounds to 2nd, and Yamagata can't come in to score! 2 down for Inoue - can he get it done?

It's a blooper to left center! Nishida and Yoshida come in, they almost collide! But it drops in!!! Yamagata comes around to score!!!!! GOTEN!!!! 6-6!!!!!!!!!!! And Inoue winds up at 2nd!!!

And now both oen-dans are cheering their teams on. Konkou's to hold them off, Kurashiki's to get them ahead. And while Mimura grounds to 2nd to end the inning, Kurashiki has tied the game up heading into the 9th!!!

Top 9th
And Konkou looks to answer! With one down, cleanup batter Youkawa drives one to deep left for a double! Arikawa flies to right in foul territory allowing Youkawa to advance to 3rd. It's up to Yoshida to bring the go-ahead runner home.

The count gets worked to 2-2. And it's a grounder to short! Mimura comes up with it, but the throw is high!!! It goes into foul ground and Youkawa scores!!! 7-6!!!

And the error gets compounded immediately.... Nagae lines one down the right field for a double line scoring Yoshida, and before I can get that recorded in the scorebook, Koba also singles to right scoring Nagae and it's suddenly 9-6...

And that puts an end to Yamazaki on the mound as he's replaced by Hayafuji. While he gets Kurashiki out of the inning, it could be too late as they have 3 outs to get 3 runs.

Bottom 9th
Kurashiki continues to fight! With one down, Kusaka works a walk. Then he steals 2nd! Uchiyama then singles to center and it's runners at the corners!

New P Hayafuji steps up to the plate and he singles past a diving Youkawa to left! Kusaka scores!! 9-7!!

And Yamagata hits one down the right field line... FAIR!!! IT'S FAIR!!!! Uchiyama scores!! Hayafuji rounds 3rd, the throw comes in, not in time!!


And Yamagata has advanced to 3rd! One down and now Kurashiki has the sayonara chance!!!

Yamamoto steps up to the plate and they try the squeeze! But it's ball 1. Next pitch, he tries it again!!! He puts it down! Koba glove tosses it home!! Yamagata slides, but he's late and he's out at home! Chance lost for Kurashiki! And after Yori flies out the opening game, already a thriller, heads to enchousen!

Top 10th
Hayafuji shuts down Konkou Osaka yielding only a 2-out hit to Youkawa who promptly gets thrown out trying to steal 2nd.

Bottom 10th
Koba's day is done as #10 Fujimoto takes the mound. He retires the side in order, and now it turns into a grinders game. Who can grind out that one run to win the game...

Top 11th
Of course I could be wrong. Arikawa leads off the inning with a single to the left side. But instead of bunting, they go for the hit-and-run! Yoshida though hits a weak fly to right and Arikawa has to return to 1st.

Nagae grounds to 3rd, and Arikawa advances to 2nd for Fujimoto.

And Konkou's new P gets a base hit through the left side! Runners at the corners for Konkou with 2 down!

#9 batter Fukue steps up to the plate looking for the timely hit. The count is worked full, and Hayafuji walks him! Manrui for Ishii!!!!

This looks bad for Kurashiki. Can Hayafuji get out of this pinch?

YES! He gets Ishii to pop up to left to end the inning!

Bottom 11th
Kurashiki tries to answer as Kusaka singles through the left side! He's moved along by Uchiyama. And now they can end it with a base hit.

Hayafuji steps up to the plate and it's a wild pitch! Kusaka advances to 3rd!

And you have to figure the squeeze is on with Hayafuji at bat.

And they go on the first pitch! But it's a pitchout! Hayafuji throws the bat out, but he has no chance! Kusaka is left out to dry and is eventually run down! You have to think that Nakayama-kantoku could have waited to try the squeeze....

It's too bad though, as Hayafuji hit a weak chopper down the 3rd base line for an infield base hit. But while trying to steal 2nd, PH Uchida Takayuki (#18) is called for batter interference and the inning is over.

Top 12th
Konkou tries to take advantage of the momentum swing as Nishimura drives one down the right field line for a triple! Konkou with a great chance!

Kurashiki elects to intentionally walk Youkawa to give them a double play chance... Can they get out of yet another pinch?

NO! Arikawa drives a fly to deep center, easily scoring Nishimura! Konkou takes the lead 10-9!
Yoshikawa strikes out to end the inning, but the damage has been done.

Bottom 12th
Kurashiki looks yet again for another answer. Yamamoto grounds to SS, but it's off Youkawa's glove and into the outfield! E6! Yori looks to bunt the runner along, but AH!!! He pops it up! One down!

Inoue up and he puts down the safety bunt! Arikawa charges in, but he has nowhere to go! ALL SAFE!! Runners on 1st and 2nd with one down!

And Mimura singles to right! Yamamoto rounds 3rd, but he's held up! Manrui sayonara chance!!

There's nowhere to put Miki!

He singles to right! Yamamoto scores! Inoue rounds 3rd, he's heading home!!! Kawaguchi with the strong throw home!!! It's in plenty of time to get Inoue out, but once again Kurashiki comes through again!!!! GOTEN!!! 10-10!!!!!!

Kusaka has a chance to end it here. And he hits one to right! Kawaguchi dives, but it's in for a base hit!!!!! SAYONARA!!!!!


Kurashiki, who never held the lead, continued to fight back each time, from a 3-1, 6-4, and a 9-6 deficit before finally coming through in the 12th to take the victory away from Konkou Osaka.

What a heck of an opening game. And while you have to applaud Kurashiki's continued battling under pressure, you have to feel bad for Konkou Osaka as they had numerous chances to put the game away, only to see it slip away time after time.

So please, applaud Konkou Osaka for their efforts. It's too bad that there had to be a loser in this hard fought game.


Notable Performances
Ishii (Konkou Osaka) - 4-6, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, HBP
Arikawa (Konkou Osaka) - 3-6, 3 RBI
Mimura (Kurashiki Kougyou) - 3-7, HR, 2R, 4 RBI
Yamagata (Kurashiki Kougyou) - 2-5, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI
Kusaka (Kurashiki Kougyou) - 4-5, 2 2B, R, サヨナラ RBI

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