Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 4 - Game 3 - Shimotsuma Dai-ni (Ibaraki) vs. Meihou (Oita)

The last game of day is a battle of newcomers - so to speak. For Shimotsuma Dai-ni, this is their 1st Senbatsu appearance, and 2nd overall. For Meihou, this is their 2nd straight appearance - and 2nd overall. But they have a stong pitcher in Noguchi, so perhaps Shimotsuma could have their work cut out for them.

Shimotsuma Dai-ni's road to Koushien involved reaching the quarterfinals of the Kanto tournament before falling to Narashino 8-7. Meihou had made it to the semifinals of the Kyushu tournament before falling to Seihou.

1:50 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
It's Noguchi, not Imamiya that takes the hill for Meihou to start. However, that doesn't change the results as he retires the side in quick order.

Bottom 1st
Shimotsuma Dai-ni also elects not to throw out their ace, going instead with #9 Tokunoya.

And Hirai leads it off with a liner past a diving Kotabe and down the right field line! Kurashige gives chase, but by the time he gets it in, Hirai has a stand-up triple!!

Sunagawa follows that up with a liner to center. Hirai scores giving Meihou the quick 1-0 lead!!

And a balk by Tokinoya sends Sunagawa to 2nd. Ace Sakairi starts warming up in the bullpen.

Imamiya with a grounder past a diving Haneta! Sunagawa rounds 3rd and scores easily, 2-0 Meihou!

Kosuge-kantoku quickly calls for a conference on the mound...

Doesn't help! Tokinoya falls behind 3-0 to Kawano... and walks him! Things are not looking good for Shimotsuma early. Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 runs in and no down...

They do get their first out as Abe bunts the runners along. Tokinoya still cannot find the plate, falling behind Matsumoto 3-0! Finally, he gets a strike across. But then Matsumoto swings away, hitting a grounder to 1st. Kotabe makes the out at 1st, but Imamiya is charging home! The throw is not in time and the lead now stands at 3! 3-0!!

Noguchi lines the next pitch to center scoring Kawano, and it's a disaster for Shimotsuma Dai-ni! Meihou now holds a 4-0 lead!

Kosuge-kantoku has decided that he's seen enough. Ace Sakairi enters the game for Sugiyama, Tokinoya moves to LF, and Nomura goes to 3B. He, like Tokinoya is a side-armer.

Sakairi does get the next batter out, but the damage has been done. Newcomer Shimotsuma Dai-ni has spotted championship contender 4 runs in the first inning. There's a lot of time, but the question is whether they can hit Meihou's pitching.

Top 2nd
Shimotsuma gets its first runner with 2 down as Noguchi hits Numajiri. But Sakairi grounds to 1st, ending the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Sakairi's control is a lot better than Tokinoya, and he retires the side in order while registering 2 K's.

Top 3rd
A nice sliding catch on a short fly by Hirai highlights a 1-2-3 inning for Meihou. Noguchi is just giving Shimotsuma nothing to hit.

Bottom 3th
Imamiya with a hard hit to 2nd. Haneta with the stop, but the ball trickles away. By the time he makes the throw, Imamiya beats it out! E4! But Kawano grounds immediately to Yamaguchi who starts the 6-4-3 double play.

Abe gets that baserunner back as he grounds one through the left side for a single. Sakairi gets Matsumoto to pop-up to center and the side is retired.

Top 4th
Noguchi's control continues to look good, not giving the batters a good look at the ball. Admittedly his off-speed can be hit and miss, but overall is very effective.

Bottom 4th
Sakairi looks equally as good as he induces grounder after grounder. And as a rain shower starts to fall, he gets Shinokawa to swing at an inside pitch to end the inning.

Top 5th
Shimotsuma cannot mount any type of rally against Noguchi as he retires the side in order for the 4th time this game. In fact, his only baserunner was as a result of a hit batter!

Bottom 5th
The rain returns once again as Meihou comes to bat. Looks like it's really coming down now. Even the weather report for today didn't have rain like this forecasted!

Sunagawa with a grounder to the left side, Yamaguchi with the stop in the gap! His quick throw is in time to get Sunagawa at 1st! Nice play!

Sakairi retires the side in order yet again, and one wonders what would have happened if he had been in the game to start with.

Top 6th
The short system seems to have passed by. With 2 down, Shimotsuma gets it's second runner as leadoff batter Haneta gets a walk. Of course, this still means that Noguchi still hasn't given up a hit so far.

And he still doesn't as Matsuo weakly grounds to 2nd to end the inning.

Bottom 6th
One down, Abe finally gets the first base hit for Meihou since the 3rd inning. Matsumoto next with a liner down the right field line! Kurashige slides to get it, but it's off him and into the wall! Abe comes around 3rd to score as Kurashike hits an RBI triple! 5-0!!

Noguchi with a comebacker up the middle, but Haneta makes the diving stop! Throw to 1st is in time, and Matsumoto stays at 3rd!

Sakairi gets Hatada to strike out, but Meihou adds on yet another run.

Top 7th
And just as the announcers were talking about Noguchi's no hitter, Kotabe hits a line shot past a diving Imamiya and down the line for a double. Figures.

And a flare to left by Tokinoya puts runners at the corners with only one down! Shimotsuma Dai-ni with its first scoring chance of the game!

And Numajiri gets jammed hitting a short liner that just gets by a running Sunagawa and into right! Kotabe scores and they're on the board! 5-1!!

Still one down for Sugiyama. But he hits a grounder to 2nd! Sunagawa goes to 2nd for one and the relay is in time! Shimotsuma Dai-ni prevents the shutout, but loses an opporunity to cut the lead even further.

Bottom 7th
Sakairi returns to form, retiring Meihou in order. But it is beginning to appear that Shimotsuma's time here at Koushien is coming to an end.

Top 8th
Shimotsuma goes quietly in the 8th, almost resigning to the fact that their run will end today.

Bottom 8th
Imamiya leads off the inning with a shot past Haneta and into right! Imamiya pushes for 2 and gets it easily!

And as a growing trend, it becomes a battle of oen-dans as Shimotsuma's cheer on Sakairi while Meihou's play their normal music.

Back to the game, Kawano grounds to 2nd but advances Imamiya to 3rd.

Abe steps up as the battle of oen-dans continue. And the squeeze is put on! But it's a pitchout! Abe leaps and manages to foul it off! Count goes to 2-2.

And another squeeze! And another pitchout! But this time Abe can't get it! He strikes out and Imamiya is hung out at 3rd! Double play! A great play by the Shimotsuma battery, but now they face their last AB's in the 9th.

Top 9th
Imamiya comes on in relief here in the 9th to get some work in for later rounds. Noguchi moves to LF and #13 Kimori comes in Matsumoto's position and plays 3rd.

Imamiya's position as the staff ace is apparent when you see the break on his pitches. Matsuo can only look as a shuuto moves to the outside corner for out number 1.

Nomura fares no better swinging at yet another outside breaking ball for the 2nd out.

Kotabe represents Shimotsuma's last chance. And Imamiya hits 145 kph (~90 mph) on his fastball!! Kotabe fights on, working the count full. Ball 4! Imamiya gives up a walk! A small sign of life for Shimotsuma!

Tokinoya enters the box and quickly finds himself down 0-2. Can he continue the game? No! He takes a half-swing at a ball in the dirt and Imamiya records his 3rd K in the 9th as Meihou advances with a 5-1 victory over Shimatsuma Dai-ni!

But who knows what would have happened had Sakairi been in the game to start from the get-go. Perhaps we would have seen a different result. Shimotsuma Dai-ni fought hard, but just could not overcome the deficit.

And we also get a chance to see Meihou ace Imamiya. From what we've seen in the 9th inning, it's a good bet that Meihou could have a chance to go far in this tournament.

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