Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 1 - Game 3 - Kōsei Gakuin (Aomori) vs. Imabari Nishi (Ehime)

So 2 down, one more to go today. The final game feature Kousei Gakuin out of Aomori versus a familiar face to the tournament - Imabari Nishi out of Ehime. We've had an offensive exhibition and a bit of a pitchers duel already, so what will we see now?

Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)
2B Tajimi
C Arai
RF Matsumura
CF Shimooki
LF Oozawa
1B Onodera
3B Kanizawa
SS Enomoto
P Rokuno

Imabari Nishi (Ehime)
RF Tsubouchi
C Kubo
SS Takino
CF Kanou
1B Seki
LF Sugihara
P Ooto
3B Hamamoto
2B Takaichi


4:08 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Imabari's ace, Ooto looks solid early giving up a 2-out walk before retiring Shimooki to end the inning.

Bottom 1st
Kousei's starter Rokuno also looks good early, retiring the side in order.

Top 2nd
Onodera starts the Kousei offense with a base hit down the left field line for a one-out double. Kanizawa grounds out to 1st, but at least advances the runner.

And Enomoto hits a grounder past a reaching Seki and into right! Onodera comes in to score and Kousei has the 1-0 lead!

Bottom 2nd
Rokuno continues to retire Kousei's batters in expedient fashion, helped along by Imabari's aggressive play at bat.

3rd Inning
Both pitchers yield a base runner, with Rokuno giving up his first hit, but nothing materializes on either side.

4th Inning
More of the same. Ooto gives up a 2-out single to Kanezawa, but he gets caught stealing 2nd. Rokuno only needs 3 pitches for his 3 outs.

Top 5th
Ooto gives up yet another baserunner, but once again leaves him stranded. His key for the most part is to not let the leadoff hitter each inning get on base.

Bottom 5th
Rokuno too gives up a one-out single, this time to Sugihara. Ooto shows bunt late on the first pitch, not tipping it early like others. Meanwhile Rokuno makes several throws to 1st to keep the runner close. However, Ooto puts the bunt down and advances the runner.

Hamamoto then proceeds to draw a walk, putting runners at 1st and 2nd, but with 2 down.

However, Kanezawa-kantoku has seen enough. He pulls Rokuno in favor of Shimooki and puts Kobayashi in center.

Meanwhile, last batter Takaichi steps up to the plate.

Shimooki gets ahead 1-2, but Takaichi hits a grounder to the left side! Kanizawa reaches with his glove, but it's just out of his reach and goes to left field! Sugihara rounds 3rd for home, Oozawa comes up with the ball and throws home! Kanizawa gets the ball, relays it, but it's not in time! Sugihara scores and the game is tied 1-1!!!!!

Looking at the replay, I'm not sure the relay was necessary, but it's hard to tell.

Top 6th
It's a new ballgame now and Kousei looks to regain the lead. With 1 down, Shimooki grounds to short, but Takino throws the ball off line and Seki loses the ball when he tags Shimooki!

But that's all they can muster as Ooto retires the next two batters. His control continues to be excellent on his fastballs, but depends on the batter to wave at the offspeed stuff.

Bottom 6th
Kousei returns the favor as a grounder hit by Takino is bobbled by Tajimi and allows him to reach!

Kanou then hits a laser, but Onodera makes a great stop and starts the 3-6-3 DP to end the inning!

Top 7th
Kanizawa starts off the inning with an infield single as he barely beats the throw from Takino. He's moved along to 2nd, and Kousei has a good scoring opportunity.

A grounder to 2nd by new CF Kobayashi moves him to 3rd, but with 2 down they'll need a timely hit from Tajimi.

But instead, they elect to intentionally walk him! That seems very strange with two outs, but perhaps with one of the few hits for Kousei, Oono-kantoku figures that they'd be better off with the next batter Arai who's 0-2 so far.

But Arai works the count full and could get a walk. AH! Instead, he reaches down and hits a towering fly to center to end the inning. So the score remains tied with Kousei unable to generate any kind of offense.

Bottom 7th
Seki is pinch hit for by #10 Hino to try and jumpstart the offense, but he grounds out to first. And while Ooto gets a 2-out hit, he gets picked off ending the inning.

Top 8th
Kousei goes down quickly in order unable to mount any type of offense

Bottom 8th
Meanwhile, Hamamoto draws a leadoff walk. The feeling is short-lived though after being bunted to 2nd as the top of the order both strike out to end the inning.

Top 9th
Kousei finally gets the leadoff runner on base, as Onodera singles to left. Kanizawa moves him order to try an push the go-ahead run in.

Enomoto makes a bid for a base hit as he sharply grounds one to 3rd. Hamamoto bobbles the ball slightly, but he makes the throw just in time to get the out.

Ooto looks to get out of the jam, but then he walks Kobayashi!

After Nagao comes in to PR for Onodera, it's up to Tajimi to get the runner home. He gets a hold of a pitch, but it's right at Sugihara who's drawn in, and the threat is dissapated.

Bottom 9th
With 3 outs left and both pitchers doing well on the mound, it looks like we may be headed to extra innings.

But with one down, Kanou hits a slow grounder to Nagao. He waits for the ball, and his throw to 1st is not in time! By not charging the ball, Kanou beats out the throw!

And then he takes off on the 1st pitch! The throw by Arai is a little high and Kanou slides under the tag! With enchousen looming, Imabari is showing signs of life!

Hino steps up to the plate, but Shimooki pitches around him to create the force.

Now the job of getting the sayonara hit falls to Sugihara. But Shimooki is pumping gas down the pipe, reaching 145 kph or 90 mph!!

But it's his changeup that gets Sugihara! 2 down and now it's Ooto that can end it here.

And he hits a grounder to the left side. It's through! Oozawa charges and comes up firing! Kanizawa cuts it off, double clutches, throws home, and it's wide! SAYONARA!!!! Ooto comes up with the base hit to end the game!

But one has to immediately wonder whether the relay was really necessary. Oozawa came up with the ball in shallow left and appeared to make a decent throw home. But the decision to cut it off by Kanizawa and the double clutch certainly allowed Kanou to score.

It's a crushing defeat for Kousei as Imabari Nishi advances. Tip your cap to them as they certainly fought hard, as we witness another great game to end a very exciting 1st day of action at the 81st Spring Koushien.


Notable performances
Onodera (Kousei Gakuin) - 2-4, 2B, R, K
Kanizawa (Kousei Gakuin) - 2-3
Rokuno (Kousei Gakuin) - 4.2 IP, ER, 4 K, BB
Shimooki (Kousei Gakuin) - 4 IP, ER, 3 K, 2 BB
Ooto (Imabari Nishi) - 2-3, RBI, サヨナラ RBI
Ooto (Imabari Nishi) - CG, ER, 4K, 3 BB

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