Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 5 - Game 3 - Hikone Higashi (Shiga) vs. Narashino (Chiba)

After an exciting day of competition, Day 5 winds down with Hikone Higashi, the second 21st century team playing against Kanto Tournament runner-up Narashino. For Hikone Higashi, this is their 1st appearance in 56 years. As for Narashino, this is their 1st in 33 years.

Hikone Higashi seems to have their work cut out for them, and I'm kinda rooting for Narashino anyways because I love their band and unique songs. Shallow, I know.

1:23 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
うわ。。。 The first thing I noticed is that Hikone Higashi's oen-dan takes up the entire section. It's an amazing sea of red.

Shingai Tadahiro starts off the game with a bloop single to center. His brother Tasuku looks to bunt him over. But then Imai-kantoku puts on the hit and run! Tasuku swings and misses, and Yamashita easily throws out Tadahiro!

Narashino's ace Yamada then proceeds to retire the side. An early opportunity to get on the board fals by the wayside.

Bottom 1st
Aw... They're not playing Lets go Narashino!... and there's not that many people in their oen-dan. Where's the love? Kidding. The band isn't bad though - although if you read my prior post, you'd notice that.

Oh, right - back to the game. Well, Kaneko for Hikone Higashi has had a 3-up, 3-down inning. Scoreless after 1.

Top 2nd
Ace Yamada is a sidethrower, definitely not overpowering. He has good control on his fastball, and decent control on his off-speed stuff. He's probably be considered an above average pitcher here at Koushien.

OMG. I'm hearing it again!! Hikone's ace Kaneko's song during his AB is Zankoku na tenshi no teeze!! Automatic win! Do I have to choose now between Kaneko's sing and Narashino's band. NOT FAIR!

But Yamada sits Kaneko down swining on a pitch in the dirt to end the inning. It seems like Hikone's batters are a free-swining bunch, so we'll see if it leads to stringing a few hits together later.

Bottom 2nd
Kaneko on the mound is about the same as Yamada, just replace sidethrower with three-quarters. It seems like he has a 2-seam fastball that runs in on a right-handed batter.

Narashino's squad, at least so far, is also swinging away at whatever good pitches they find. As a result, they're also quickly retired in order.

Top 3rd
Yamada's ace gives up his first walk of the game with one down in the 3rd to Suginaka. Imai-kantoku is having switch-hitter Kouno bunt the runner over, and does so. It's 2 down for leadoff batter Tadahiro.

And he hits a liner to left-center field. That has a chance! But Fukuda dashes all out and makes the running catch, 3 down!

Bottom 3rd
Hm. Narashino doesn't nearly have the numbers that Hikone has, but their band is much louder...

Meanwhile, Kaneko continues his dominance, striking out Fukuda to start the inning.

And Ace Yamda has Surfin' USA has his music???!!!! What??!!

The bottom third 0f Narashino's lineup is taking a lot more pitches. Fukuda went full before striking out, and Yamada went full before walking. It'd be interesting if this trend continued to the top of the order.

Kurihara though is looking to bunt, but can't find a pitch. Then Kobayashi-kantoku at 2-1 has him swinging away. He hits a short liner, but Nozawa playing in makes the easy catch.

It seems more like that Kaneko is having slight control issues has he's walked his 2nd batter of the inning in Motoyama. Runners at 1st and 2nd with 2 down. And now I hear the familar sound of Lets go Narashino...

It's short lived though as Satou grounds the first pitch to short to end the inning.

Top 4th
Yamada quickly gets 2 outs in the 4th before Kouzu reaches out and pokes one into shallow left. Satou runs it down in foul territory, but Kouzu easily reaches 2nd!

And Maekawa drives an inside curve to deep left!!! Satou runs back to the wall, but the ball one hops the wall! He quickly gets the ball back in, but Kouzu easily scores on the double by Maekawa and Hikone Higashi has the 1-0 lead!

And the band and the oen-dan is are much louder. That's what I was expecting from them.

Oh! And Yamada hits Kaneko! Runners at 1st and 2nd now for Hikone Higashi!

Yamada's pace has started to slow and he's nibbling the corners (outside and in) looking for some help by the Hikone batters. He gets it as Nozaka grounds to 3rd to end the inning. But 21st century team Hikone Higashi has taken a lead of Kanto runner-up Narashino!

Bottom 4th
Narashino's start of inning music is really growing on me. I think it's unique and I really like it.

At the dish, Narashino is finding no answers. They're continously being fooled by Kaneko's off-speed pitches.

But then clean-up batter Yamashita hits a liner to left! Nozaka runs to get it, leaps, and it's off his glove! It takes a high bounce behind him and Yamashita reaches 2nd! Great chance for Narashino!

And Lets go Narashino starts playing once again.

AH!! A wild pitch by Kaneko is lost by Suginaka and Yamashita breaks for 3rd. The throw isn't in time! Now Narashino's tying run is 90 feet away!

Toyoda hits a hard liner to the right of Kaneko!! But Kouzu makes the running catch! Kouzu with the fine play to prevent the run from scoring. 2 down for Takahashi.

He strikes out, but the ball gets away from Suginaka! Takahashi breaks for 1st and Yamashita breaks for home! He gets the ball, but no throw! Narashino's tied the game!!

But wait, the Hikone players are appealing to the plate umpire and he calls the batter out! What happened??!

According to the announcers, it appears that in the act of swinging, the ball hits Takahashi causing it to get away from Suginaka. And that's the reason why he was called out. So the run doesn't count and at the end of 4 it's still a 1 run Hikone Higashi lead.

Top 5th
Suginaka with a grounder into the right side, but Motoyama ranges over into the grass (!) and makes the stop and throw.

Yamada retires the side thereafter, although Kouno does give him a small fight with a 9 pitch AB. Outside of the back-to-back doubles, he's pitched well - but his team still find themselves behind by one and with little offense to speak of.

Bottom 5th
After the 1-0 pitch, Kaneko seems to be in some pain. Suginaka comes out to meet him, and he trying to work out his fingers to no avail. The plate umpire is coming out and Kaneko asks to go to the dugout to work out the issue. Meanwhile, Imai-kantoku has #10 Oozawa and #11 Imai quickly warming up in the pen.

Kaneko does emerge, takes a couple of pitches before resuming play. He's still working the fingers a little.

And Fukuda hits a comebacker past Kaneko for Narashino's first hit of the day!

They try the bunt, but Yamada's finding nothing he likes. And Fukuda takes off for 2nd! The throw by Suginaka is placed perfectly and they get Fukuda at 2nd! What a bad break for Narashino!

It looks like whatever was bothering Yamada has passed as he retires the next two batters. Narashino gets their first hit of the day, but cannot materialize anything from it.

Top 6th
While Yamada plunks his 2nd batter of the day in Kouzu with 2 down, nothing comes out of it. He continues to pitch well holding the Hikone batters at bay.

Bottom 6th
As the inning starts Kaneko can be seen continuing to work on his hand.

Top batter Motoyama leads off the inning for Narashino and lines one down the left field side! Nozaka chases after it, leaps and it's over his head!! He has to chase it back to the wall and Motoyama starts off the inning with a leadoff triple!!! Narashino with a great chance to equalize here in the 6th!!

Imai-kantoku calls for a conference on the mound as Lets go Narashino plays yet again. Afterwards, once again Kaneko continues to work on his hand as whatever discomfort he's having still bothers him.

Short chopper by Satou!! Kouno and Tadahiro charge at the ball, but Kaneko isn't at 1st!! Satou outruns Kaneko and Tadahiro has no play! Now it's runners at the corners with no down for Narashino!!

And Kobayashi-kantoku pushes the action! Satou breaks for 2nd and the throw is wide! Now runners at 2nd and 3rd and Yamada really finds himself in a pinch!

Kaneko seems to be going to the rosin bag more as if to give his hand a break.

Miyauchi with a fly to left-center should get the tying run in. Nozaka takes a somewhat circuitous route, but makes the catch. Motoyama comes in to score and Narashino has tied it up at 1-1!!

Imai-kantoku has #15 Kiyougoku ask if Kaneko's leg is fine and he replies that he is. Play contines on as #11 Imai warms up.

Kaneko can't find the plate as he walks Yamashita! Runners at 1st and 2nd with 1 down!

Toyoda comes to the plate looking for the timely hit, but he grounds to short! Kouzu with the throw to 2nd for 1, the relay by Kouno is not in time! Toyoda beats out the throw and the rally is still on!

But with the count 1-1 to Takahashi, Kanaeko isn't finding his hand to be the problem, it's his right leg!! The umpires and Suginaka come in, but he continues to work it out and says he's fine.

Takahashi though takes the next pitch to the right side. Tadahiro comes up with the ball, but again no one's covering 1st. Kaneko tries to run over, but while running, he lands on his right leg and starts limping! Takahashi slides in safe and Satou scores! Narashino takes advantage of Kaneko's situation and take the lead 2-1!

Kaneko is in obvious pain now as he can't even walk anymore. He's obviously hurt and limps to the bench. They're working on him in the dugout, but the way his leg looks his day has to be done.

After several minutes, the verdict comes down and Kaneko's day is done. #11 Imai takes the hill for the injured Kaneko. A lefty, he seems to sport a slow curve.

He gets the job done though as he fields a comebacker to him by Fukuda to end the inning. Narashino takes the lead at the cost of Hikone's ace. How will Hikone respond to losing their #1 pitcher?

Top 7th
Imai makes an immediate impact as he lines one over Miyauchi head and into left!

Imai-kantoku immediately has Nozaka bunt the runner over and there is life on the Hikone bench and oen-dan!!

Suginaka with a grounder to short. Miyazawa gathers the ball, but Imai seems to be way off the bag! But Suginaka instead of trying to get Imai, throws the ball to 1st for the 2nd out.

Yamada's pace has slowed as well as he gets concerned with Imai at 2nd.

Kouno with the safety bunt!! But it's foul. Gutsy play there. He works the count full, and hits a short grounder to the right side. Yamada fields it, but no one's covering first! Kouno and Yamads sprint to the bag, but Yamada dives! That allows Kouno to reach safely!!


Yamada stands up, makes the throw home, but Imai slides around the tag and is safe!! Yamada's dive costs the team twice, one for the possible out at 1st, the other allowing Imai to score! 逆転!! 2-2!!

Tadahiro flies out to deep center, but the damage has been done.

Bottom 7th
Imai on the hill has a slow curve and a very slow and start-stoppy delivery. It's very hard to describe. Needless to say he doesn't really throw it hard.

Control seems to be an issue as he walks Yamada as he walks Yamada.

The announcers seem to say that Kaneko has been sent to the hospital. It doesn't sound good for the Hikone ace.

Kobayashi-kantoku sends up #5 Someya to hit for Kurihara. Well, acutally to bunt. But he can't get it down and is swinging away. He contines to fight off pitch after pitch from Imai. And on a slow curve by Imai, he lines one through the left side! Quickly runners at 1st and 2nd with no down and Narashino is threatening once again!!

Lets go Narashino plays yet again as top batter Motoyama comes to the plate. He puts the bunt down. But Tadahiro overcharges it! Imai dives and just gets it! He makes the play at first as the runners advance.


Kobayashi-kantoku immediately puts on the squeeze!! The infielders scramble! Oohashi fields it, but loses the grip on the ball!! It goes in the air, but he gets it back turns around and throws to 1st. That's just in time to get a diving Satou! They get the out, but Yamada scores and Narashino retakes the lead at 3-2!!

But they're still threatening! Imai plunks Miyauchi on a slow curve and then he takes 2nd on the 1-1 pitch to Yamashita! A base hit could blow the game wide open! The count runs full... and now it's manrui for Narashino!

But Imai gets Toyoda to pop it up! Kouzu is under it for the catch and Imai gets out of the manrui pinch! However, he relinquishes the lead.

Top 8th
Someya who came in to PH, remains in the game at 3rd.

Hikone starts the rally yet again with a single up the middle by Tasuku. Yamada's pace has slowed considerably and is affecting his pitching. Oohashi works the count full... and draws the walk! Runners at 1st and 2nd with no down!!

Kobayashi-kantoku quickly calls a conference on the mound.

Cleanup batter Kouzu stands in next and he's looking to bunt the runners over. But he can't put it down! The count runs to 1-2 and Kouzu is "free bunting"! He does lay the bunt down and now there are 2 runners in scoring position!

Yamada seems to be unintentionally intentionally walking Maekawa as he throws 4 straight.

And instead of Imai, who hit the single in the 7th, in to bat he has #9 Kimura instead!


Kimura puts down the squeeze!! Yamada charge in, glove tosses to Yamashita... and Tasuku is out out at home! What a great play by Yamada! The overhead angle shows that the toss just beat the outstretched hand of Tasuku. Imai-kantoku gambles with the squeeze and it fails! 2 down manrui for Nozaka!

And Yamada falls behind 3-1! There's nowhere to put Nozaka!

The cameras point to the Hikone oen-dan and it appears a good number of the community members have shown up to support the team, thus accounting for the full oen-dan.

Comebacker up the middle! It's off Yamada's glove and heads toward foul territory. Yamada runs it down but has no play! Oohashi comes in to score!! 同点!! 3-3!! Still manrui for Suginaka!


With the count 2-2, Yamada throws one way outside! Yamashita can't get to it and it goes to the backstop!! Maekawa scores on the wild pitch!! 逆転!! Hikone Higashi has taken the lead, 4-3!!

AHHHHH!!!! Suginaka with a drive to left! Satou running over... makes the catch! The inning is over, but Hikone Higashi with help from Yamada has tacked on 2 runs to take the lead!!

Bottom 8th
#10 Oozawa coms in for Imai on the hill. He's looked upon to hold Hikone's lead.

With time running out, Narashino's band plays Lets go Narashino in an attempt to get the team going.

But Takahashi strikes out to start the inning and the band returns to its start of the inning music.

Fukuda with a drive to left!!! Kimura runs to the wall...


Fukuda with the line drive homerun and Narashino has tied the game up on one swing of the bat!! 4-4!!

The momentum continues for Narashino as Yamada walks on 4 straight! 1 down, runner on first for Someya. He bunts Yamada to 2nd. It's back to the top of the order and Motoyama.

But he grounds to 2nd. Kouno with a wide throw, but Tadahiro makes the stretch for the last out. What was a pitchers game has turned into an offensive game late. With teams trading runs. And as we head to the 9th it is tied yet again 4-4.

Top 9th
Hikone looks for an answer here in the last inning of regulation. But they find none as Yamada returns to his earlier pace and quickly retires the side. Now it's hold on time for Hikone as Narashino has it's AB in the bottom half of the frame.

Bottom 9th
Momentum has certainly shifted back to Narashino with the Fukuda homerun and the 1-2-3 inning, but is it enough?

Once again Lets go Narashino starts the inning to try and get the offense started...

Satou with a bloop to short left-center. Kouzu runs back, has to change course and falls!!! Kouzu falls and the ball falls next to him! Satou reaches base on the blooper! The cameras point to the flags at the scoreboard which are blowing hard from right to left. A fortunate hit for Narashino!

Miyauchi bunts him over to scoring position for cleanup batter Yamashita. Oozawa though is trying to get him to bite on corner pitches, but cannot as he walks on 4 straight.

Imai-kantoku calls for a conference on the mound as the Narashino's band plays even louder. TV shots go to both Kobayashi an Imai-kantoku showing their "veteran" faces.

Oozawa still cannot find the plate. He falls behind 2-0. But Toyoda hits a grounder to 3rd! Oohashi stops it, loses the handle for a split second, but makes the throw to 1st in time! But now the winning run is only 90 feet away!

Takahashi comes to the plate looking for the sayonara hit.

He get a hold of one, liner to right!! Tasuku charges in, but can't reach it! サヨナラ! サヨナラ!

Takahashi with the sayonara base hit to right wins the game for Narashino! They advance with a 5-4 victory!

But give credit to the Hikone Higashi players. Cheered on by the community, and in their 1st appearance in 56 years, they fought hard. Despite the loss of their ace Kaneko who was sent to the hospital, the offense responded time and time again. But in the end it was not enough.

The Hikone oen-dan gives the team a standing round of applause for their efforts, and all things considered everyone else should too. While it may be painful, there's nothing that team should hang it's head over.

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