Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 3 - Game 3 - PL Gakuen (Osaka) vs. Saijyou (Ehime)

The final game of Day 3 is one of several in this first round that I wish didn't happen right now. PL Gakuen, always known as a strong team out of Osaka, faces Saijyou out of Ehime. After looking through the P's on YouTube, I found Saijyou's Akiyama to be a very consistent and better pitcher than most I found.

But the fact they drew PL means that they'll have a difficult time getting out of the first round. And to see Saijyou leave here would at least to me be unfortunate.

1:02 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Yoshikawa draws a walk to start the game. Ishizaki pops his bunt up! Nomura with the catch and they easily double him up at 1st! Quickly 2 down! And Akiyama gets Nomura to strike out! A bit of a shaky start, but Akiyama shows his control right there.

Bottom 1st
Nakano not to be outdone, also retires the side in order. As expected, this will be a pitcher's duel the entire game.

Top 2nd
Kanno leads off the 2nd with a liner back up the middle for a leadoff single. Ootsuki moves him over to 2nd. And the PL band is playing "When the saints go marching in"??

Fujimoto is making Akiyama work, fouling off pitches and working the count. Down 0-2, he works the count full. Finally, on the 9th pitch of the AB Akiyama gets him to fly out to center.

And Yasuda gets a hold of one! That is driven deep into the right ceter field gap!! That's to the wall for a triple, Kanno scores, and PL jumps out to the 1-0 lead!

Then Akiyama walks Kihara! Runners at the corners now for Nakano! And he's hit by Akiyama! Suddenly, he finds himself in a manrui situation and PL could blow this game wide open!!

There nowhere to put Yoshikawa, and the count goes full! But he gets him to pop up in foul territory!! Nomura has a play on it, but can't make the grab! The pressure's back on Akiyama! Foulded off again! The 9th pitch... outside corner!!! Akiyama strikes him out! He prevents further damage and leaves the bases loaded!

But PL has the 1-0 lead!

Bottom 2nd
Fortunate to be down 1-0, Saijyou looks to get the run back.

うわ。。。Just like in Oita Uenogaoka's oen-dan last game, Saijyou's is huge and loud.

Akiyama looks to start the rally himself leading off the 2nd. But Nakano gets Akiyama to wave at a pitch outside for out #1. Hino grounds to 2nd, and Shiba give the ball a drive, but Yoshikawa backs up and has it. Saijyou is quickly turned away.

Top 3rd
Mori, Saijyou's catcher, continues to have troubles. Ishizaki hits a ball into foul territory, Mori gets under it, but again can't make the catch. He pops a ball into shallow left center. Ochi, Suzuki and Hino all converge, but can't get it! What should have been an out instead is a leadoff baserunner for PL! Nakai promptly bunts him over.

Kanno though grounds to short and is unable to move Ishizaki to 3rd. And Akiyama gets Ootsuki to strike out to end the inning.

Bottom 3rd
Nakano and Fujimoto play a bit of trickey in the bottom of the 3rd. Count 0-2 on Sasaki, Fujimoto sets up outside for a waste pitch, but Nakano send it down the middle for strike 3. Ishizaki also makes a fine play to end the inning, catching up to a soft blooper that was over his head.

Top 4th
Mori finally makes a play as a pop-up by Fujimoto is caught in foul territory. Yasuda though follows that up with a single through the right side.

Ah!! But Akiyama with the great pickoff play gets Yasuda napping! And with Kihara grounder to 2nd, he finally gets his first 1-2-3 inning since the 1st.

Bottom 4th
With one down in the 4th, Saijyou finally gets their first baserunner as Ochi lines one over Kihara's head!

But that is immediately negated as Tokunaga grounds into the 4-6-3 double play...

Saijyou continues to struggle getting their offense started. If they're not careful, PL's one run may be enough.

Top 5th
Yoshikawa with one down blasts one to deep left center! Sasaki runs back to the wall, leaps, and makes the catch! NO!! The ball comes out when his glove hits the top of the padding!!! Yoshikawa heads into 3rd with a one-out triple!

Ishizaki hits a fly to center! But it's not deep enough to get Yoshikawa in! 2 down. AH! Nakai is hit! Runners at the corners with 2 down!

And Kanno goes down swinging! Akiyama with another K and Saijyou gets out of another pinch!

Bottom 5th
And yet another deception by the PL battery catches Akiyama looking for strike 3. However, Hino responds by lining one to right for Saijyou's 2nd hit.

...but Shiba then grounds into the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. They just cannot keep baserunners on at all.

Top 6th
Akiyama seems to have settled down now, retiring the side again in order. PL batters are still getting good contact with some fly balls, but they're easy flies for the outfielders.

Bottom 6th
Saiki with a base hit to left gives Saijyou its first leadoff runner! Tanabe-kantoku immediately has Sasaki bunt. And a bad throw by Nakano gets by Nakai and Saiki advances to 2nd!

Conference on the mound, and I think I hear one of the ending to Ruroni Kenshin. Yes, it's Sobakasu by JUDY AND MARY. Wow.

Bunt shown by Sasaki, throw back to 2nd! Saiki collides with Ishizaki, but gets back! Meanwhile, Sasaki can't put the bunt down and has to swing away!

He doesn't and once again can't put it down, one down! 悔しい!

Last batter Nomura up to try and get him in to the sounds of "Train-Train". But he's frozen at the plate and now there's 2 outs!

AH! A wild pitch behind Nomura and Saiki moves to 3rd! Now the tying run is 90 feet away!

But Saiki will have to stay there as Nakano gets Nomura to swing at a ball in the dirt for out number 3!

Top 7th
Kihara opens the 7th with a bloop hit to left! Nakano puts the bunt down, but doesn't! It's a pop-up to Akiyama who doubles off Kihara! Akiyama finishes the side by getting Yoshikawa to pop-up to 3rd. But Saijyou still finds itself down 1 with only 3 innings to go.

Bottom 7th
With two down, Akiyama is plunked by Nakano. Small chance here for Saijyou.

Hino with his second hit, this time to left! Akiyama advances to scoring position. Can Shiba get the timely hit?

No! He waves at an outside pitch and he's retired! Saijyou just cannot push that tying run in.

Top 8th
One down, Nakai hits a weak grounder up the middle. Ochi runs it down, but it's too slow to get him at 1st!

Now it's Akiayama's turn to make a bad throw to 1st! Nakai advances to 2nd.

The error is moot though as Ootsuki grounds out to 2nd.

Bottom 8th
Only 6 outs left for Saijyou. Make that 5 as Saiki strikes out. Sasaki (who has the Kenshin theme song), grounds one right back up the middle for a single! Nomura looks to bunt him over. But he can't lay it down and falls behind 0-2! And he's still squaring! But he can't put it down! Sasaki breaks for 2nd and is safe!

But wait! The home plate umpire calls Sasaki out due to batter interference! He claims Nomura impeded Fujimoto's throw to 2nd!! Looking at the replay, I'm not sure about that call. But I'm not the umpire, and the side is retired. What a bad break for Saijyou.

Top 9th
Akiyama gets the first 2 outs quickly, but then Kihara breaks that up with a drive to left past Tokunaka for a stand-up double!

But Nakano grounds to short. Last ups for Saijyou as Nakano and PL Gakuen look to hold their slim 1-0 lead.

Bottom 9th
Leadoff batter Mori starts off the inning. They just need one hit to get Akiyama up to bat. He's fighting hard at the plate. But he hits a high fly to left and is retired.

Ochi gets jammed and he grounds out to 2nd. Down to their final out, PL Gakuen has a conference on the mound. Akiyama has a word withTokunaga before he steps in the box. You have to bet he wants another shot at Nakano.

Nakano gets ahead of him 1-2, one strike to go... And a fly to right, but Ootsuki is there for the final out! Akiyama is left on deck as PL advances with the 1-0 victory!

While I applaud Nakano and PL Gakuen for their performance, I am mad to see Saijyou go. I really wanted to see Akiyama pitch one more game, but now I'll have to see if they make it to the summer Koushien.

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