Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 10 - Quarterfinal #4 - Rifu (Miyagi) vs. Waseda Jitsugyō (Tokyo)

The final quarterfinal match is a match of complete opposites.

Waseda Jitsugyou in the early years of Koushien dominated the scene, but tailed of in recent decades. But with the emergence of Saitou Yuuki (aka The Hankerchief Prince), they seem to be having a resurgance.

For Rifu, it's completely new - this is their first Koushien appearance, spring or summer. In addition, they were selected as a 21st century team. Now, they did make the Best 4 of the Tohoku fall tournament so perhaps they're stronger than most. Certainly so far in this tournament they have surprised, routing Tokai runner-up Kakegawa Nishi and outdueling Kanto runner-up Narashino.

While Rifu has been a good story so far this tournament, you'd have to be hard-pressed not to see Waseda advance as the last team into the Best 4.

1:31 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Onoda seem to be having a little trouble locating his pitches. He works the count full on two batters and gives up a single to Baba with 2 down past a diving Isoami, but a grounder to 2nd by Inoue ends that.

Bottom 1st
Tsukamoto has a hassle-free first inning retiring the Waseda batters in order. As a pitch-to-contact ace, it's nice to see early the batters hitting ground balls in the infield.

Top 2nd
There's one down in the inning when Sakurada lines one down the right field line for a base hit. But Kakinuma bobbles the transfer and Sakurada breaks for 2nd! The throw in is not in time and Rifu has a runner in scoring position!

Shuuta hits a short chopper back to Onoda. Sakurada is taking off for 3rd! Onoda throws to 3rd and Rukazawa makes the easy tag.

With the lead runner gone, Onoda gets out of the jam.

Bottom 2nd
And as is custom with the 2nd inning, Waseda's oen-dan starts playing Konpeki no Sora...

And Mori (frame true to his name, and I mean tall not wide), sneaks one through the left site for a leadoff single. Nakano tries to bunt him along, but it's right to Tsukamoto who goes to 2nd to cut down Mori (no pun intended, seriously).

(And I'm getting a bit annoyed because this is the 2nd game they're continuously talking about the game against Tenri...)

Meanwhile, Onoda lines the 0-1 pitch over a leaping Yuuji and into right! Nakano advances to 3rd while Onoda is about to stretch out a double! Runners at 2nd and 3rd and Waseda is challenging early!

Tsukamoto gets ahead of Kakinuma 0-2, but then allows him to run it full! Fortunately, he gets him swinging. 2 down!

But Isoami bloops one to center! That's in for a base hit! Nakano scores, Onoda coming home and the throw is cut off by Tsukamoto! Waseda pulls ahead with a 2-0 lead!

Rukazawa with a single to right! Waseda threatens once again!

#10 Takahashi warms up for Rifu. They can ill afford to fall behind too far.

Tsukamoto though gets Oono to strike out and the inning is over. Waseda, as expected, has pulled ahead.

Top 3rd
Yuuji leads off with a slow grounder past a reaching Onoda. Isoami is there to field it, but his footing comes out from under him and his throw is short! Yuuji beats out the throw for an infield hit!

Obara-kantoku elects not to bunt, but instead to hit-and-run. But Endou flies out to center.

Then with Fujiwara at bat, Onoda throws away the pickoff throw and Yuuji advances to 2nd! Rifu with a chance to cut the lead in half!

And Fujiwara draws a walk! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Rifu!

Just as I type that, Baba lines on up the middle! But Isoami dives and makes the catch! He tosses to 2nd for the easy double play and Rifu is quickly denied!

Bottom 3rd
The issues continue for Tsukamoto as he walks leadoff batter Ooya.

Tsuchiya tries to lay down the bunt, but falls behind 0-2. But he still puts it down! The defenders charge in and it looks like it's going foul, but Endou picks it up! He waited too long though and he has no play!! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Waseda with no outs!!!

Izumi-kantoku looks to have Mori lay down the bunt, but his first attempt is far from promising. The second though gets the job done. Now 2 runners in scoring position for Nakano!

He hits a grounder to the left side and Sakurada has it. But he looks to 3rd, and catches Ooya off base! The throw to 3rd is in time to tag a scampering Ooya! 2 down and now the lead runner is at 2nd!

Onoda pops up to left and Tsukamoto is out of the jam!

Top 4th
Inoue lines one throught to left to leadoff the inning! Yunomura tries to bunt him along, but it's too hard! Onoda goes to 2nd for one, throw to first is wide! Mori gets it, but they may have had a double play if the throw was on line!

Sakurada grounds to Rukazawa though and they do turn the 5-4-3 double play!

Rifu is certainly getting base hits off of Onoda, but can't convert anything into a run.

Bottom 4th
Yunomura does a great job smothering a grounder by Kakinuma for the first out!

Rukazawa does get a grounder through the left side for a 2-out single.

And he dashes for 2nd! Endou's throw hits Oono's bat and goes into the outfield! Rukazawa heads to 3rd on the error!

Luckily for Rifu, Oono grounds to short for the 3rd out.

Top 5th
Shuuta gets plunked by Onoda to start the inning, and is replaced by #7 Fuse. Tsukamoto looks to bunt, but he pulls it back and swings away! It's a short chopper to 3rd! Rukazawa changes course, fields it, but then loses the ball! It trickles away and everyone's safe! It's a great opportunity to score a run!

Yuuji bunts the runners over into scoring position for the top of the order.

Endou with a scorcher down the 3rd base line! Rukazwa dives, goes through, umpire calls fair!!! Fuse scores! Tsukamoto rounds 3rd, he scores! Endou with the timely double! 同点!! 2-2!!!

Fujiwara puts down the safety bunt! Rukazawa charges in, makes the throw, but Fujiwara is flying and beats the throw! Runners at the corners with one down!!

Izumi-kantoku calls for a conference on the mound, and #9 Suzuki is warming up in the bullpen...

Chance for Rifu, but Onoda gets ahead of Baba 0-2. Baba evens it up though when he doesn't chase Onoda's pitches. And Fujiwara goes for 2nd! Pitch is inside and there's no throw! Now another base hit could give Rifu a 2-run lead! And he walks Baba and it's manrui for cleanup hitter Inoue!!

Hm. Now that I'm paying attention to the Rifu oen-dan, they're singing along to one of the songs (not a pop song like Sakuranbo, I don't think). I don't know which one it is off the top of my head, but I don't think I've actually heard an oen-dan singing the lyrics. For a first-time participant, the oen-dan is pretty good.

AH!!! Inoue lines one back up at Onoda! It glances off of him and into center!! Endou scores! Fujiwara gets waved home! The throw from Nakano bounces on the ground is not in time! Rifu scores 2 runs and takes the lead!!! 4-2!!! 逆転!!

And quickly Izumi-kantoku pulls Onoda. He moves to right, while Suzuki replaces Kakinuma's position in the order and takes the hill. Interestingly enough, Suzuki's older brother was a starting member of Keiou Gijuku. How brothers go to "rival" schools is beyond me.

Suzuki hits Yunomura!! Manrui for Rifu again!! The long inning for Waseda continues...

Now he's down 3-1 to Sakurada! There's nowhere to put him!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SQUEEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Obara-kantoku calls for the squeeze! Suzuki charges in, tries the glove toss, but he doesn't have control when he flicks it! It goes into foul territory and Baba scores!! The squeeze works to perfection and Rifu is now up 5-2!!!!

Now Fuse, who pinch ran earlier is the 10th man to come to the plate!! He chops one to Suzuki who goes home for the force, 2 down but still bases loaded.

And finally the inning ends when Tsukamoto grounds to 2nd. Isoami charges and makes a great throw to record the out. But it's been a disaster of an inning for Waseda. A 20 minute half-inning yields 5 runs. The first-timers Rifu have shocked Waseda.

Bottom 5th
Fuse remains in the game and plays LF.

Tsukamoto is doing his team no favors though. He walks Ooya to start the inning and Izumi-kantoku has him moved to 2nd.

Obara-kantoku calls for a conference. The last thing his team needs is to start giving back runs.

Mori hits one right at Yunomura. While his throw is offline, Baba has time to make the tag. 2 down for Waseda.

But Nakano shoots one through the right side! The throw is cutoff and Ooya scores!! Waseda comes right back and scores a run of their own, 5-3!!

Izumi-kantoku continues to push! Nakano takes off for 2nd and the throw gets between the infielders into center! Fujiwara comes in quikly to field it and Nakano holds.

Onoda though grounds to 2nd and the side is retired. Rifu may have gained the lead, but they still have to hold it for another couple of innings!

Top 6th
Endou gets the green light on a 3-0 count and blasts one to center! Nakano back to the wall, but it one hops to the wall! He's in with a double!

Fujiwara with the safety bunt again! But Suzuki charges the ball and the throw beats out a diving Fujiwara!

Baba with a liner! But it goes foul down the left field line! However, he does earn his 2nd walk of the day. Runners at the corners with 2 down.

Suzuki gets Inoue to ground to short to end the threat. But it definitely looks like Rifu still has the foot down trying to get more distance between them and Waseda.

Bottom 6th
Two down for Waseda when Rukazawa blasts one to right! Inoue backs up, reaches out and can't get the ball! Rukazawa flies around the bases and reaches 3rd! Inoue's misplay could cost Rifu another run!

But Oono flies out to left. Fuse, playing back is there to make the catch.

Top 7th
Suzuki retires the side in order. Waseda has killed Rifu's momentum, but they need to get their offense started now.

Bottom 7th
One down for Waseda and Tsuchiya lines one to center. Fujiwara makes a sliding try, but it's called a trap. Mori now steps up as the tying run.

But he grounds into the 4-6-3 double play! Waseda only has 2 more tries to come back against the upstarts!!!

Top 8th
Suzuki continues to shut down the Rifu lineup. They seem fine to the idea of trying to manage the 2-run lead with only 6 outs left. It's a dangerous proposition.

Bottom 8th
One down again, Onoda hits a sharp liner to left, but Fuse makes a sliding catch!

That was the best shot from Waseda in the inning as they go 3 up, 3 down. The Waseda bench is eerily quiet...

Top 9th
Suzuki again retires the side. He's done his job...

Bottom 9th
...and now it's crunch time for Waseda Jitsugyou. They've been down before certainly, but to a complete newcomer? And yet, here they sit 3 outs from being eliminated.

Waseda's oen-dan presses on with Konpeki no sora trying to rally the troops...

Isoami chops one back to Tsukamoto, quickly one down...

Rukazawa grounds to 2nd! Two down!! Leadoff batter Oono is their last chance!

He lines one to left! Fuse charges at the dying fly, and slides! But the ball is off his glove! Oono slides in with a double!

Ooya now charged with the task of keeping it alive.

And it's a towering chopper! Tsukamoto backs up, and gets turned around! The ball is off his glove! He trips on Sakurada and everyone's safe!!

#18 Matsui comes in to pinch run for Ooya.

Tsuchiya can get one run back with a hit.

AHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He lines one to left center!! Fujiwara charges over, and misplays the ball! It bounces off of him! Oono scores! The ball bounces to Fuse!! Matsui advances to 3rd!!!

5-4 Rifu!!!! Runners at 1st and 3rd with 2 down!!!!!!!!!

Obara-kantoku calls a conference on the mound. Waseda is one hit away from tying this game, and perhaps one extra-base hit from winning the game!!

And they have cleanup batter Mori up!!

He grounds one back up the middle! But Sakurada is there and steps on 2nd!! Game set!! Rifu wins! Rifu wins!!

The players are jumping up and down in celebration!! Almost as if they had won the entire thing! Waseda isn't as much sad as unhappy they lost. What an upset!!!

And so it's Rifu, the first-timers, who advance to the Best 4 and a date with Hanamaki Higashi!!

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