Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 2 - Game 3 - Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto) vs. Kokushikan (Tokyo)

The final game of Day 2 features a recent face to the Koushien scene in Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto) versus newcomer Kokushikan (Tokyo). Seibi looked strong back on 2006 making it to the Best 8 before falling to Kagoshima Kougyou, so perhaps Kokushikan has their work cut out for them.

1:44 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Nishimoto quickly opens the game with a single to center and is moved to 2nd. Sugimoto then lines one over a leaping Suzuki into left! Nishimoto stops at 2nd, but Seibi has runners at the corners!

Sugaya is having trouble with his control still, getting into a full count against Sueyoshi and having to throw a strike, Sueyoshi hits a fly to right scoring Nishimoto and giving Fukuchiyama Seibi the quick 1-0 lead.

Sugaya continues to have trouble against Fukumoto, but is bailed out when Sugimoto tries to steal 2nd and is caught. Still, Fukuchiyama Seibi takes the quick lead.

Bottom 1st
Takahashi starts off the inning with a grounder to 3rd, but Miyazaki boots the ball! By the time he gathers it and throws, Takahashi has already dived head-first into 1st. E5 to start the inning!

And then he dashes for 2nd! The pitch is high, and the throw even higher and into center! Uekusa tries to bunt him over, but he can't and eventually strikes out on a check swing. There's only one down though, so still a great opportunity to equalize.

Nagaoka gets ahead of Fukuda 0-2, but then tries to nibble on the outside. The third time's the charm and Fukuda reaches and misses an off-speed pitch for out #2.

It's down to Harajima to get Takahashi in. Harajima isn't biting on the outside pitches and works the count full. And takes a close inside pitch for ball 4! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Kitagawa!

And he drops down and gets a breaking ball! That could be trouble! Or not. Hosono is right there to make the catch to end the inning.

Top 2nd
With one down Tajima hits a grounder up the middle! Uekusa makes the stop, but can't get it to 1st in time! Infield hit!

Watanabe looks to bunt him over, but Sugaya can't find the plate! He walks him on 4 straight! And then he hits Nagaoka! Sugaya has done himself no help as now it's a manrui situation with only 1 down!

But Miyazaki hits the first pitch to 3rd! Suzuki charges, makes the throw home, but it's offline!! It glances out of Harajima's stretched out glove and everyone's safe! 2-0 Seibi!

Still one down for leadoff batter Nishimoto! He grounds one to Suzuki! This time though he doesn't muff it completing the double play to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Suzuki starts off the 2nd getting hit - although he didn't really make that much of an effort to get away. Doesn't matter though, Ikeyama immediately grounds to 2nd for the 4-6-3 double play. Quickly 2 down for Kokushikan.

And Nakamura strikes out to end the inning.

Top 3rd
Sugaya finally has a quick 1-2-3 inning, probably to the relief of the Kokushikan team.

Bottom 3rd
Sugaya with a grouder into the left side, Miyzaki dives, can't get it! Sugimoto runs it down, throw to first, not in time! Infield hit!

Takahashi looking to bunt... It's a safety bunt! He's running down the line, throw from Nagaoka is late! Runners at 1st and 2nd now. And Uekusa is looking to bunt. He puts is down and is tagged out. Runners advance for Fukuda.

Nagaoka falls behind as they pitch him away. Spoke too soon, inside pitch fouled away 2-2. But outisde and the count runs full. And an offspeed tailing away gets him! 2 down.

Harajima takes the first pitch to left! Sugaya scores! Takahashi charges home, the throw by Hosono is on line, Fukumoto with the tag, SAFE!!! Harajima with the timely hit and it's 2-2!!

Nagaoka K's Kitagawa to end the inning but the damage has been done. New ballgame!

Top 4th
Sugaya continues to get worked by the Seibi batters. Fukumoto takes 4 before flying to right. Tajima takes 3 before grounding to short. But Kitagawa airmails the throw and Tajima ends up at 2nd!

Watanabe though, grounds to 3rd unable to move Tajima. Nagaoka to try and get him in now. And ont the 2-1 pitch Harajima catches Tajima off base, he breaks for 3rd! The relay to 3rd, not in time! He's now 90 feet away!

But Sugaya gets Nagaoka to offer at an outside pitch and the inning is over! Another long inning for Sugaya.

Bottom 4th
Suzuki looking for a safety bunt. It's hard hit past Nagaoka! Tajima charges in, gathers it and makes the play at first.

Ikeyama next gets frozen on an ofspeed pitch, and Nakamura takes the first pitch to Sueyoshi to retire the side.

Top 5th
Sugaya is about to relatively cruise through the 5th, but Hosono singles back up the middle just past Sugaya's glove and Sugimoto follows that up with a liner to left! Nakamura slips fielding the ball and Hosono easily advances to 3rd! Runners at the corners with 2 down!

Cleanup batter Sueyoshi looking now to give Seibi back the lead. But Sugaya strikes him out to end the challenge.

Bottom 5th
Back to the top of the order and Takahashi hits a high chopper to 3rd! Miyazaki with the catch and throw, but a diving Takahashi is safe!

Nagaoka buckles down though and retires the next 2 batters.

Top 6th
Sugaya has 1-2-3 inning, this time with relatively little effort. While Seibi is trying to work him hard, he's fighting back.

Bottom 6th
Kitagawa give Kokushikan another baserunner as he hits a one-out single to right. Then Suzuki walks on 4 straight! Great chance for Ikeyama!

But he strikes out on 3 straight! And Nakamura grounds out to 3rd to end the inning. Another lost opportunity to take the lead for the first time.

Top 7th
Sugaya's control seems to improve as the game progresses, once again retiring the side in order - which included 2 K's looking.

Bottom 7th
Nagaoka isn't giving in either. He yields a 2-out hit as Uekusa lines one to right, but Fukuda still can't get his first hit of the day, flying out to right.

Top 8th
Hosono leads off the 8th with his 2nd consecutive hit as he lines one to center. Sugimoto bunts one up the 1st base line, and Sugaya and Ikeyama slghtlt collide while fielding it! Sugaya has it though and makes the play at first.

Sueyoshi then hits a slow bounder to the right side! Uekusa runs it down and makes the play. Hosono advances to 3rd.

And what's this?? With 2 down they're intentionally walking Fukumoto??! This makes little sense! About the only reason they would do this is if they've seen something about him in their analysis. Or they don't want the L vs. R matchup.

Well, there's runners at the corners for Tajima. And he grounds to short! Potential disaster averted yet again for Kokushikan! But with time winding down, can anyone push a run through?

Bottom 8th
Harajima takes the first pitch back up the middle and into center! Kitagawa as expected squares to bunt - and puts it down.

2 chances now to get Harajima in. Suzuki steps up, and immediately flies to left. Mino-kantoku didn't look especially pleased about that. Ikeyama grounds to 2nd, and we head to the 9th tied.

Top 9th
Watanabe with a hard shot to 3rd, but Suzuki dives, and has it! Throw to first in plenty of time! But then Sugaya walks Nagaoka! Miyazaki tries to put the bunt down, but can't! It's 0-2 now, will he still try to move him over? Yes! He puts it down and moves Nagaoka over.

And Sugaya gets Nishimoto to swing at a high pitch! 3 down! Can Kokushikan end it here?

Bottom 9th
Nakamura tries for the bunt single, but it goes foul. Anything to get on base now. He's fighting at the plate fouling pitches off. Count full, 9th pitch... grounded to 3rd. One down.

Sugaya steps up. He pops it up in foul territory. Hosono with the catch, and now there's 2 down. It seems inevitable now. And with Takahashi striking out, we head to enchousen.

Top 10th
Sugimoto starts with a one-out single to left. Sueyoshi squares to bunt, but he pops it up! Sugaya lunges and gets it, and easily doubles off Sugimoto to end the inning!

Bottom 10th
Fukuda with a blast down the left field line!!!!! Hosono giving chase!!! But it's foul! 悔しい!! He got a hold of that low pitch but just pulled it foul! Nagaoka gets him to strike out, and shortly retires the side thereafter. We head to the 11th.

Top 11th
Fukumoto starts off the inning with his first base hit, putting one back up the middle. He's moved over for Watanabe.

Grounder to Kitagawa, quick throw is slightly off line, but Ikeayama makes the reach.

AHHHHH!!!!!! Nagaoka with a grounder off a diving Uekusa's glove and into right!!! Fukumoto rounds for home, Takahashi comes up firing!!!! Harajima with the ball and Fukumoto is easily out at home! What a great throw by Takahashi to gun him down!

Bottom 11th
With the play at home, can Kokushikan turn that momentum to their advantage?

Ikeyama gets a two-out single, and steals 2nd! Nakayama then works a walk! Now it's Sugaya to try and do what Nagaoka could not!

But he grounds to short, and we move to the 12th, still tied at 2 all.

Top 12th
Nishimoto gets a one-out bloop to center. But Hosono with a grounder to 3rd, and Suzuki starts the inning-ending 5-4-3 double play! Nicely turned!

Bottom 12th
Back to the top of the order. Takahashi, with yet another hit as he flares one to center!

Uekusa squaring to bunt yet again, puts it down. Another great sayonara chance for Kokushikan! Fukuda, who earlier almost ended the game with a HR, steps up. But a grounder to 3rd is unable to move the runner. 2 down and Nagaoka looks to get out of another pinch. And he does so, getting Harajima to K's looking!

As this game continues, the teams will have to muster something, or move inexorably towards the 15th.

Top 13th
Sueyoshi will have none of it, getting a hit to right. Fukumoto hits a high chopper! Sugaya leaps and it's off the top of his glove! Uekusa charges in, and flips the ball to 2nd for the force. But the ball was slowed down enough to allow Fukumoto to reach. The inning continues on.

Tajima with a flare to left and runners are at 1st and 2nd for Watanabe. Can he get the timely hit?

AH!!! Sugaya with the wild pitch and the runners advance! This doesn't look good now! Grounder to 2nd! Kitagawa with the throw, Watanabe dives... and he's out! Kokushikan gets out of a major pinch as we head to the bottom half of the inning!

Bottom 13th
Kokushikan is retired in order. They could be running out of gas now.

Top 14th
Seibi is quietly going in order, but suddenly #16 Kayama is warming up for Seibi. According to the announcers, there has been an accident with Nagaoka and they're trying to get him warmed up. 183 pitches for Nagaoka and he has to leave with an undisclosed injury. To make things more interesting, Kayama was never used for Seibi in the fall tournament!

Meanwhile, Miyazaki is trying his best to stall working the count and fouing off pitches. Nishimoto tries to lean into a pitch, but that's sniffed out by the plate umpire. He grounds out to Kitagawa and we are 9 outs away from a tie game.

Bottom 14th
As expected Kayama is in the game. 8-9-1 batters up for Kokushikan.

Nakayama elects to bunt? That seems questionable when you have a new pitcher that we don't know has pitched. But Nakayama eventually swings away and grounds to 2nd.

Sugaya stands in and the first pitch is an off-speed way short. He swings at a high fastball and grounds to 1st.

Kayama doesn't have overpowering stuff. His fastball only goes ~120 kph (~70 mph). But no matter, he gets the hot hitting Takahashi to ground to 2nd. Whatever works!

Top 15th
This is it for Seibi, their last chance in this game.

Hosono singles through the right side! Sugimoto should be looking to bunt, and is. Puts it down and Hosono moves to 2nd for Sueyoshi.

And what's this? There's a defense change. #16 Kawauchi comes in for Ikeyama and goes to center. Fukuda moves from CF to 1st.

Back to the game, Sueyoshi grounds up the middle, advancing Hosono to 3rd. But there's 2 down. And they're intentionally walking Fukumoto again! It must be to avoid the L vs. R matchup.

Tajima steps in now. And Sugaya quickly gets ahead 0-2. One strike away. And a waste pitch up. And a pitch outside. Trying to nibble.

But they have Fukumoto caught off 1st. They start the rundown, but then Fukuda breaks for 3rd! They let Fukumoto go to 2nd afraid that Hosono would break for home! Now a base hit scores 2!


Tajima drives one opposite field and past Nakamura in left! Hosono and Fukumoto score on the double by Tajima!!! Fukuchiyama Seibi comes through with 2 down in the 15th inning and now leads 4-2!!!!

And Watanabe with a comebacker past a diving Kitagawa!!! That's through to center and Tajima scores! 5-2 Seibi!!!!!

And that's it for Sugaya... After sudden back-to-back hits plating 3, he's pulled. Suzuki comes in from 3rd to pitch, and #13 Maeda comes in to play 3rd.

Kayama continues the hit parade with a single back up the middle. Has Kokushikan capitulated? They get the final out, but a 3 run deficit seems insurmountable now.

Bottom 15th
Uekusa grounds to 2nd... Fukuda lines one to 3rd and Miyazaki makes a leaping catch. The count goes full for Harajima and he gets a walk. Still a long way to go, but it's a start. But Kitagawa hits one back to Kayama and he makes the play at 1st, game set!

Kokushikan fought hard for 15 innings, but just could not get that final out, and as a result fall to Fukuchiyama Seibi 5-2. You have to feel for the players as they worked hard the entire game, only to see it slip away at the last moment. Perhaps we will see them again in the summer, but for now it is Fukuchiyama Seibi that will advance with the status of their ace possibly in doubt.

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