Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 6 - Game 3 - Hōtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) vs. Imabari Nishi (Ehime)

The matinee game of the day should be a good one. Shikoku powerhouse Imabari Nishi squares off against Houtoku Gakuen, who didn't do anything but reach the Best 8 of last year's Natsu Koushien.

Both teams just squeaked by their opponents in the first round, so this could be an interesting match. Not much else to say, other than "Play Ball!"

1:23 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Ooto plunks Tsuji to start the game, and is promptly bunted over by Nojima. Momiyama follows that with a liner off Hamamoto's glove and into left! Runners at the corners and a quick scoring opportunity.

And Saigou delivers with a sac fly to right! Houtoku takes advantage of the hit batsmen, and just like that they take the 1-0 lead!

Bottom 1st
Kubo works Miyatani hard to start the game, and on the 9th pitch earns a walk. Hamamoto moves him along looking for the equalizing run.

Kanou delivers a liner to center! It's hit too hard though and Kubo has to hold at 3rd. But now Imabari Nishi has runners at the corners with 1 down.

Takino comes to bat looking for the timely hit, but he pops it up! Hiramoto camps under it for the 2nd out. Up to Seki now to deliver. But he falls behind 1-2, and a groundout to 3rd ends the threat.

Top 2nd
Miyamoto starts the inning with a drive to left! That's over Hino's head goes to the wall! A stand-up for Miyamoto puts Ooto in an immediate pinch! Nagata-kantoku elects to go for the single run and asks Fujikura to bunt him over. Now just a sac fly from Hiramoto can give them a 2-0 lead.

Imabari is looking for the squeeze though, as the first pitch is a pitchout. Next pitch is a drive to left. Hino running back...


Hino didn't even get a chance to get to the wall before that ball flew out! And while that ball was several rows up, Hiramoto's swing was about as free and easy as you would ever see! Houtoku with the 3-0 lead!

Ooto retires the next two batters, but this isn't looking good for Imabari early.

Bottom 2nd
Imabari continues to work Miyatani, but they're still retired in order.

Top 3rd
Nojima with a chopper to short! Takino with the fine stop, but Nojima beats out the throw! Nojima stays down though! It looks like when he made his head first slide, his face went into the dirt and some got in his eyes!

After trying to shake it off, Nojima heads to the dugout as Tsuji takes over at 1st. Momiyama bunts him over, presenting Houtoku with their 3rd scoring opportunity in as many innings.

After Oono-kantoku calls for a conference, he motions his outfielders to play in.

It doesn't matter though if Ooto can't pitch a strike. He falls behind 3-0 and eventually walks the batter. Once again, runners at 1st and 2nd with one down. This time, with Nara up to bat.

However, Oono-kantoku seems to have seen enough and makes the following move:
  • Hino moves from LF to P
  • Oono moves from P to 1B
  • Seki moves from 1B to 3B
  • Hamamoto moves from 3B to LF
And for the 2nd time in this tournament, MBS has to put a defensive screen up to show the changes.

Nara pops it up in foul territory. New 3B Seki goes over, makes the catch and falls into the camera well!! But in falling into the well, the runners are entitled to move one base. So 2 out, runners on 2nd and 3rd now.

That suddenly makes a difference as Miyamoto hits a hard liner to center! Nojima scores from 3rd, but Saigou has to hold at 3rd. Houtoku adds yet another run, and it's 4-0!

Bottom 3rd
Takaichi leads off the inning with a walk. Oono-kantoku seems to have Kubo going back and forth between bunting and swinging away. With the count 1-2 he should be swinging away. And he does, but flies to left.

Hamamoto does the same thing, but he is able to put the bunt down. 2 down for Kanou.

And Kanou take the first pitch deep to center! Tsuji runs to the wall, but the ball falls in right at the wall! Takaichi scores, but Kanou is pushing for 3! Tsuji throws it to Momiyama who fires to Saigou! And they have him out by a mile!

At a time where baserunners are needed, this could be a critical running mistake.

Top 4th
Before the inning begins, everyone moves back to their original defensive positions.
  • Hino moves from P to LF
  • Hamamoto moves from LF to 3B
  • Seki moves from 3B to 1B
  • Oono moves from 1B to P
Hiramoto leads off the inning with a single through to left. Miyatani looks to bunt, and puts it down. Back to the top of the order now with Tsuji. And a pitch inside has the umpire callind dead ball, but the replay makes the call questionable.

Nojima then puts the bunt down. Ooto fields it but there's no one to cover 1st. All safe! Another mental gaffe by Imabari Nishi and suddenly it's a manrui situation!

Momiyama next hits a grounder to 3rd, but it's off Hamamoto and goes up into the air! By the time he gets it in foul territory, everyone's safe yet again! It's 5-1 now in favor of Houtoku Gakuen! And still only one down!

Saigou then lifts his 2nd sac fly of the day, this time down the left field line. It's now 6-1.

Nagata-kantoku continues to keep the acceleratory down as he calls for the double steal!! Throw to 3rd not in time! But Ooto strikes out Nara to end the inning. But Houtoku continues to slowly pull away.

Bottom 4th
Takino leads off the inning with a single to center. The bunt isn't on here, and Seki grounds to 3rd. Saigou starts the 5-4-3 double play and quickly there are 2 down.

Ooto strikes out for the 2nd time, and the inning is over.

Top 5th
Two down for Hiramoto and he drives one to deep left-center! Kanou gives chase, can't make the running catch, and collides into the wall. Hino with the relay in, but not before Hiramoto has a triple! He's already a double away from the cycle!

Miyatani continues the inning with a walk and Ooto again finds himself in trouble here in the 5th.

And Tsuji with a liner right back at Ooto goes into center, scoring Hiramoto, and Houtoku tacks on another run. 7-1.

Momiyama then takes the first pitch to shallow right. Kurabuchi charges and makes the diving catch! Three out! But Houtoku continues to take pot shots at Imabari Nishi - something that has been rare from Imabari Nishi.

Bottom 5th
Imabari Nishi continues its strategy of taking pitches, but it continues to yield nothing for the squad.

Top 6th
Oono-kantoku makes the positional change he made in the 3rd and as a result, Hino is back on the hill.

Hino retires the 1st two batters with relative ease. But Nara hits a grounder to 2nd and the ball goes past Takaichi and into right! He was in position, but didn't get in front of the ball! The scorer has that play as an error by Takaichi.

And a wild pitch to Miyamoto advacnes the runner! And Hino then walks Miyamoto. Runners at 1st and 2nd!

Fujikura with a drive to left! That's over Hamamoto's head and to the wall! All runners score on his stand-up triple! 9-1 Houtoku!

Another wild pitch by Hino scores Fujikura and the rout is officially on at 10-1.

Bottom 6th
Imabari Nishi's offense is struggling to get any traction against Miyatani, although at 10-1, one wonders how many people care.

Top 7th
Momiyama gets a two-out double with a blast to the center field wall. Saigou follows that up with a hard-hit single through the left side. Runners at the corners with 2 down.

But Hino freezes Nara and the side is retired.

Bottom 7th
Takino starts the inning with a hit to right center. He aggressively heads for 2nd and beats the throw.

After Seki flies out to right. Takino continues his aggressiveness as he steals 3rd with Ooto up!

Ooto grounds to short, but it's sufficient to score Takino - 10-2 Houtoku.

Top 8th
Once again, Oono-kantoku returns everyone back to their original positions and Ooto retakes the mound.

He's immediately welcomed back with a blast to deep left center by Miyamoto. That's to the wall for a leadoff double. After a sac bunt, Hiramoto steps up still only a double away from the cycle. And he drives one do deep center!! That ball is to the wall as well!! But instead of getting the cycle, he pushes and gets yet another triple!! Miyamoto scores and it's 11-2.

Ooto is removed once again from the mound, but this time #11 Abe Takuya comes in from the bench to take the hill. Everyone moves as follows:
  • #11 Abe Takuya replaces Takaichi in the order and comes in to pitch
  • Ooto moves from P to 1B
  • Seki moves from 1B to 3B
  • Hamamoto moves from 3B to 2B
Takuya's walks his first batter Miyamoto. And he seems to be throwing wide a lot, eventually walking Tsuji and loading the bases.

But he finally gets an out as he gets Nojima to fly to short center.

Things gets a little scary as on the next pitch Takuya plunks Momiayma on the helmet. It seems to be a glancing blow though, but he's replaced on the basepaths temporarily by Nojima. Hiramoto comes in and its 12-2.

Saigou follows that up immediately with a liner to center scoring 2 more and the score is 14-2.

Nara is pinch-hit for by #16 Hamano and strikes out to end the inning.

Bottom 8th
#17 Kinoshita comes in for PH Hamano and plays right. Kurabuchi starts the inning with a grounder to the right side, but Nojima makes a fine stop and throws him out.

#9 Tsubouchi comes in to PH for Takuya and flies out to left.

Kubo gets a base hit with a grounder through the right side before Hamamoto grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.

Top 9th
Since Houtoku batted around Hiramoto, already 5-5 on the day will get one more AB.

With the PH for Takuya in the 8th, the defense shifs one more time:
  • Ooto returns to the mound for the 4th time coming in from 1st
  • Hino moves from LF to 1st
  • Tsubouchi remains in the game to play LF
The first 2 batters are retired and it's Hiramoto's turn at the plate. And he hits a drive to deep left! That's at least 15 rows up and while he doesn't appear to be getting the cycle, his line is just sick:
  • 6-6, 2 3B, 2 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI
Miyatani ends the inning, and now Imabari is down to their final 3 outs.

Bottom 9th
With one down, Takino gets his 3rd hit of the day, a bloop single right on the 3rd base line. Seki grounds to 2nd and they're down to their final out.

And with that, Nagata-kantoku makes the following changes:
  • #10 Ioku comes in at Miyamoto's spot in the lineup and is at P
  • #11 Wada comes in at Fujikura's spot in the lineup and is at 1B
  • Miyatani is relieved from the mound and goes to LF
Ioku walks Ooto, and then Hino. Imabari Nishi has a manrui situation for Kurabuchi. But he's pulled for #7 Sugihara.

And a pop-up to short ends the game mercifully for Imabari Nishi. What seemed like a good matchup unfortunately turned into a massacre. But give credit to the team from Ehime as they stuck it through to the end.

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