Day 10 begins much like how Day 9 ends. Nanyou Kougyou, who shocked everyone by defeating PL Gakuen faces off against a surprising Hanamaki Higashi squad and ace Kikuchi. Kikuchi, unlike most other aces, has an air of confidence that borders on cockyness. His numbers though, show that his actions are justified. Like Imamura, Kikuchi also has yet to give up a run so far this Koushien.
If Nanyou wants to advance, they'll have to pull yet another rabbit out of the hat because Hanamaki Higashi certainly won't hurt themselves.
Interestingly enough, it's not ace Kikuchi on the mound, instead it's #5 Sarukawa who's starts on the hill for Hanamaki Higashi.
11:01 AM - First Pitch
While not as overpowering as Kikuchi, Sarukawa is definitely servicable. He retires the top of the Nanyou order to start the game.
Ryouhei slices one to left for a one-out single. Then Iwamoto walks Kawamura! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Sarukawa!
Then with the count 2-2, Iwamoto hits Sarukawa! Manrui for Hanamki Higashi early!
Yamasaki-kantoku calls a conference on the mound. They certainly would not like to fall behind at this early stage in the game!
And Iwamoto gets Yokokura on a pitch to the outside corner, 2 down! Chiba flies one to left, and the side is retired! Iwamoto gets out of the pinch, but he can't afford to do this each inning!
Mizui gets Nanyou their first hit with a bloop to center! But Yamazaki ends the inning as he attempts a safety bunt that goes right to the Yokokura for the out.
One down, Ryuujirou chops one to the right side. Kawamura up with the ball, but his short throw to 1st is wide!! It goes into the dugout, and Ryuujiryou is awarded 2nd.
Yamada with the safety bunt! Mokudai charges, is up with the ball and the throw just beats out a fast Yamada! 2 down!
But top batter Kashiwaba takes one the other way for a single and Ryuujirou scores! Hanamaki Higashi takes the 1-0 lead!
And Iwamoto with a quick pickoff throw gets Kashiwaba! But Nanyou Kougyou finds themselves down early!
Kawamura with a grounder to 3rd, but Sasaki boots the ball! It scoots away from Sasaki and Kawamura reaches base! Yamasaki-kantoku has him moved along. Nanyou with a chance to pull back even right away!!
Sarukawa meanwhile has troubles at the plate. He falls behind 3-0 to Mokudai and walks him! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Nanyou and ace Kikuchi heads to the bullpen to warm up.
Takeshige with a liner to center! Ryouhei charges in, dives and misses it! Big mistake by Ryouhei!! The ball goes all the way to the wall!! Kawamura scores, Mokudai rounding 3rd, he scores!! A misplay by the Hanamaki Higashi defense leads to a 2-run triple! 逆転!! Nanyou takes the lead, 2-1!!
Nakagawa now with a chance to extend the lead with a sac fly! And he hits a deep fly to center! Takeshige scores and it's 3-1 Nanyou!!
Kunihiro grounds to 3rd, but a critical misplay costs Hanamaki Higashi. Nanyou has taken the lead!
Hanamaki Higashi though looks to go on the counterattack. With one down, Kawamura grounds one past a diving Mokudai and into left! Sasaki-kantoku doesn't elect to bunt and has Sarukawa swinging away!
Then with the count 2-2, he has Kawamura steal 2nd! The throw in from Yamazaki is not in time! Runner now in scoring position!
But Sarukawa pops up to short, and there's 2 down for Chiba.
Iwamoto though, continues to have trouble with the strike zone, as he hits Yokokura on the first pitch! Then he falls behind Chiba 3-1. But he manages to get him to ground to 1st to end the inning. Nanyou maintains the lead, albeit a bit of a tenuous one.
Yamazaki gets a two-out liner for Nanyou, but with the count 0-2, he takes off! The pitch is high for a ball, and Chiba's throw to 2nd guns Yamazaki down!
The troubles continue... he walks Sasaki after a long AB. Ryuujirou looks to bunt, but misses one attempt and looks at a 2nd strike. He pulls it back and swings away, but it's a chopper to 2nd! Kawamura tosses to 2nd for one, and the relay throw is not in time! One down and a runner on 1st.
Yamada then hits a grounder to short! Yamazaki with the ball, but loses it. He gets it back, only has one play! Throws to 1st and just gets Yamada! 2 down.
But Iwamoto plunks Kashiwaba! Now runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 down! A base hit can cut the lead to one! And it's Ryouhei! Can he make up for his earlier gaffe?
No! He hits a grounder to Mokudai who goes to 2nd for the out. Nanyou still with the lead.
A very quick inning for Sarukawa. He retires Nanyou in just 3 pitches! But they still have not been able to get to Iwamoto, despite his struggles on the mound!
After two routine grounders to Kawamura, a third by Yokokura goes right past him! But Chiba hits a fly to left and Hanamaki is retire once again.
While Sarukawa has settled down, Sasaki-kantoku isn't taking any more chances. Ace Kikuchi takes the hill in reflief to permantently shut down the Nanyou offense and give his team a chance to rally back.
As expected from Kikuchi, he retires the side in order. The Nanyou batters however are making good contact on the ball, even though he quickly collects 2 K's
With one down, Iwamoto gives up his 6th walk of the game. Yamada squares to bunt, but doens't get the bat off the shoulder! Iwamoto freezes him on a ball to the outside corner!
And a grounder to 1st by Kashiwaba ends the inning! Nanyou still up 3-1 and perhaps we can start thinking about the upset?!
One down and Mizui gets on base with a slow chopper up the 3rd base line!
Yamasaki-kantoku looks to be aggressive with baserunners against Kikuchi as runners could be few and far between. He has Mizui try and steal 2nd, but Chiba once again guns him down.
With 2 down, the threat evaporates. Yamazaki grounds to 3rd and the inning is over.
With time running down, Hanamaki needs to get its offense started soon.
Ryouhei starts with a bunt down the 3rd base line! Mokudai charges in, but slips! The ball gets past him! They then try to see if it goes foul, but it stops in fair territory! Kawamura bunts him over into scoring position. Yamasaki-kantoku calls a conference as Sarukawa steps to the plate.
Sarukawa hits a high pitch to deep center!! Takeshige runs back, looks up!!
Sarukawa with a blast that lands on the first level in dead center!! Hanamaki Higashi has equalized!! 3-3!!!!
And then Yokokura singles to center! Now they're looking for the lead!
Chiba with a hit to right! But it's caught by Nakagawa. 2 down.
Kikuchi with a hit to left! Kunihiro running back, but that's over his head!! Yokokura was running on the pitch and is rounding the bases!! He comes in to score and Kikuchi has put his team ahead with a timely 2-out double!!! 4-3 Hanamaki Higashi!!!!!
Iwamoto finally gets his third out, but it's too late. They've lost the lead, and with the ace Kikuchi on the mound, equalizing could just prove to be impossible.
With one down in the 8th, Yamasaki-kantoku puts in #9 Sanai to PH for Iwamoto. His day is done and he will not get a chance to redeem himself here.
Kikuchi is giving his all, even hitting 148 kph en route to a K!!
Mokudai falls to Kikuchi too and this late in the game, there may not be enough time for Nanyou to regroup...
Sanai stays in the game to play right as ace Nakagawa comes in in relief.
One down, Kashiwaba gets hit by Nakagawa. He's in a bit of pain coming down first, but after some spray is applied and he works it out, he's ok.
Meanwhile, Yamasaki-kantoku makes a defensive change. #12 Tanaka comes in Takagi's spot in the order to catch, while Mizui goes from cather to 1B. Perhaps this change is to take advantage of a stronger arm in Tanaka.
But on a pitch outside, Kashiwaba tries to steal 2nd and the throw one hops the base! Now Ryouhei squares and lays the bunt down, advancing him to 3rd, but with 2 down.
AHHHHH!!!!!! The first pitch from Nakagawa is in the dirt and it gets away from Tanaka! He loses sight of it and Kashiwaba comes in to score! It's now a 5-3 lead for Hanamaki Higashi!!
Nakagawa's troubles continue! He walks Kawamura, then gives up a base hit to left! Hanamaki could open the game wide open here with 2 down!
But he gets Yokokura to fly out to center and the inning is over.
But an insurance run means that Nanyou will have to come back from a 2-run deficit.
Takeshige lines the first pitch to center to start the inning!
Then he walks Nakagawa on 4 straight! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Nanyou and Sasaki-kantoku calls an immediate conference!
Kunihiro with a comebacker! It gets past Kikuchi!! Kashiwaba though fields the ball and tosses to 2nd for the out. 1 down!
#17 Nakamura comes in to PR for Kunihiro.
Tanaka goes down swinging, and Nanyou's down to their final out!
Mizui represents their last chance, and Kikuchi hits him!!! Manrui for Nanyou here in the 9th!!
Another conference from Sasaki-kantoku... Yamazaki at the plate, can he keep the rally alive?
Kikuchi gets ahead 1-2, and now they're down to their final strike!
Kikuchi steps off once... twice... and the pitch is outside, 2-2...
The next pitch... sanshin!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kikuchi strikes out Yamazaki looking!! Hanamaki Higashi comes from behind thanks to a game-tying 2-run homerun by Sarukawa to defeat Nanyou Kougyou and advance to the Best 4!!
But Nanyou certainly gave Hanamaki Higashi a good run, taking the lead early. But Iwamoto's pitching troubles eventually came back to haunt them. Nonetheless, Nanyou should be looked at as a contender for the summer Koushien after this game and their upset of PL Gakuen.