Game 2 features Nihon Bunri - one of the better teams out of the Hokushinetsu region facing a team not unfamiliar to Koushien in Seihou. Nihon Bunri has a shot as Seihou has always been known for offense, but not so much on pitching. Can they take advantage of it, or will Seihou just run away with the game?
For the record, MBS's replay player sucks and I am a full game behind as their inning player continues to seize up on me.
11:15 AM - First Pitch
Yahisa leads off the game with a deep drive to left, but it's caught by Takahashi. Itou settles down after that retiring the next 2 batters.
Kitte leads off the inning for Nihon Bunri with a base hit. He reaches down and pokes a low ball into center. Takahashi Jyunnosuke bunts him over for his brother Yoshihito. Although Imamura throws a wild pitch sending Kitte to 3rd, he gets Yoshida to strike out to end the inning.
Itou continues to cruise along. But Imamiya hits a ball to center. Asatsuma runs back to the wall, runs back and collides!
Imamura blasts one to deep center, and possibly wind-aided, but nonetheless, it's a home run!! Seihou takes the 1-0 lead! That was a shoulder-high pitch that he knocked to almost straight center! All I can say is, "Wow.".
Tsuji then works a walk. Yoshida tries the bunt, but a 150 kph pitch is pushed foul. He swings away next and eventually flies out to right.
Shimazaki then grounds to Hirano, but he boots it! He chases the ball to the outfield, and everyone's safe!! That can't be good. Giving a team a 4th out never turns out well.
But Hashimoto pops up to shallow right. Hirano, Asatsuma and Yoshida all converge on it AND IT DROPS IN!!! It somehow falls in-between all of them and Tsuji scores! 2-0 Seihou!!
The announcers talk about the wind, but all 3 of them were right there. Someone should have had the ball. And while Yahisa K's, Nihon Bunri instead of being down only 1, finds itself down 2.
Itou starts the inning with a deep drive to left!! Tsuji runs to the wall, reaches out, collides with the wall!! But he makes the catch, what a play by Tsuji!!!
But Takeishi drives one to the right center field gap. That's in there for a double! And Wakabayashi singles to right! But Yoshida makes a strong throw home and Takeishi has to hold! A great chance for Nihon Burni to get runs back!
But Asatsuma grounds to 1st. He goes home! Takeishi was charging home and he's caught up! They run him down!
It's now up to Hirano to try and make-up for his error. He works the count full, and the runners take off - but he grounds to short and the opportunity is lost.
Itou settles down and retires the side in order, much needed for Nihon Bunri.
Takahashi Jyunnouske give Nihon Bunri yet another base runner as he drives one into the left-center field gap for a one-out double!
Yoshihito hits a single to left, but because it looks like Tsuji could have a play on it, Jyunnouske has to hold at 3rd! Runners at the corners with one down for Yoshida!
But he grounds to short! Hashimoto starts the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning! Another opportunity lost for Nihon Bunri.
Hirano leaves the game, probably due to his error earlier. Kitte moves to 2nd while #5 Nakamura comes in to play 3rd.
And wouldn't you know it, Imamura starts the inning by hitting a grounder to Nakamura who boots the ball. He's moved to 2nd... and then 3rd? Oh! Yoshida-kantoku tried to have Yoshida-kun try a safety bunt! He races down the line, but Nakamura makes a fine play to get him out. Shimazaki steps up to try and extend the lead.
And he delivers! He hits a single to center and Imamura scores! 3-0 Seihou!
And Hashimoto drives one to deep left! But Yoshihito camps under it in front of the left field wall and makes the catch. Nihon Bunri though falls behind by another run.
Nihon Bunri continues to get chances. Itou draws a leadoff walk, and further more Ooi-kantoku elects not to bunt. It pays off as Takeishi singles up the middle. Runners at 1st and 2nd with no down!
Now Ooi-kantoku elects to bunt and Wakabayashi successfully puts it down. Now a base hit could cut the lead down to one!
Asatsuma steps into bat. Imamura doesn't give in, throwing 2 strikes before getting Asatsuma to wave at a ball in the dirt. 2 down for Nakamura. And Imamura starts pumping gas! WOW!!! Three fastballs, 147, 145 and a 148 kph pitch (i.e. 90+ mph) and Nakamura gets to sit. Imamura has ice water in his veins! Imamura just told Nakamura, "I'm going to give you my fastball, come and get it." and he couldn't!! Now that's guts!
Yahisa starts off the inning with a grounder to the left side! But Jyunnouske makes a great stop and throw that just beats Yahisa!
But while Yamamoto gets a 2-out single, he's left stranded by a great diving stop by new 2B Kitte!
It's a quick 1-2-3 inning for Imamura, who now dominates the Nihon Bunri batters.
#10 Honma comes in for Itou who moves to 1st, and the displaced Takeishi moves to center for Asatsuma who was replaced by Honma in the order.
Imamura is still seeing the ball well, getting good contact before reaching down to ground a low pitch to 3rd. It's the first time he's been retired.
Yoshida lines up to bunt, but instead it's a hit-and-run! But it's right to Nakamura who makes the play at 1st. 2 down. And Shimazaki grounds to 2nd for the final out.
Um. Yeah. Can we say dominating? I knew you could. Yoshida and Itou can't check their swings on strike 3, and Takeishi is just looking, thanks.
Honma is doing well in relief, hitting his spots. He retires the side in order and keeps them in the game.
Imamura continues to impose his will. New P Honma drives a deep down the LF line, but Tsuji makes the catch in foul territory. And #17 Sasagawa, PH for Nakamura can do nothing more than wave at Imamura's pitches.
#13 Murayama comes in for Sasagawa and plays center. Kitte returns back to 3rd. Meanwhile, #16 Matsuda relieves Honma on the mound.
On an unrelated note, I realize that Seihou's band plays "Jock Rock", the song I know Chiben Wakayama uses and I love so much. Maybe that was why I liked Seihou a long time ago. Weird reason, I know.
Kawamoto welcomes Matsuda with a single to left. And is moved over by Yamazaki.
And up steps Imamura....
The battery is careful with Imamura, and for good reason. The offerings aren't really that good, but Matsuda does give one nice offspeed that Imamura whiffs at.
Matsuda leaves one up just enough, and Imamura reaches down and promptly puts it to the left-center field wall for a double that scores Kawamoto. 4-0 Seihou. Imamura is eventually left stranded at 3rd, but tacks on yet another run.
Nihon Bunri finally gets a baserunner, but only thanks to a high throw by Hashimoto. Kitte advances to 2nd on the error.
But Imamura gets the next 2 out, yields a walk to clean-up hitter Yoshida before retiring Ise on three straight.
Can I say that Imamura has one of the scarier faces on the mound? Scary in that if I was a batter, I'd be intimidated as all heck?
Matsuda retires the side in order, with 2 K's (both looking). However, it looks all but over for the team from Niigata.
There's still some life for Nihon Bunri as Wakabayashi hits a 1-out double to the right center field wall!! #12 Ishidzuka comes in to pinch hit and gets around on an inside pitch! But it's just foul! And with 2 off-speed pitches, Imamiya has him retired.
And fittingly enough, Imamura gets Murayama looking for his 12th strikeout to end the game. Nihon Bunri fought hard, but in the end, Imamura was just too strong. Seihou with some good pitching may be scary good. And while I can't understand what he says in the interview, he's short and concise with his answers and still looks intimidating...