Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 7 - Game 1 - Seihou (Nagasaki) vs. Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto)

The term "Lucky 7" is used in Japanese baseball to refer to the 7th inning when things can happen.

Perhaps in this case "Lucky 7" could refer to the lucky people who are coming to Hanshin Koushien Kyuujyou. We have 3 great games on the schedule today and if you're coming into the stadium, you'd better come early.

The first game is between Seihou and ace Imamura versus up-and-comer Nakagoka and Fukuchiyama Seibi. Seihou had an easy time with Nihon Bunri while Fukuchiyama Seibi needed all 15 innings to defeat Kokushikan. Imamura has been talked about as one of the better pitchers (surprising for a Seihou team), and Nagaoka went 13 innings before suffering an injury (although he takes the hill today).

Expect a pitching battle.

9:02 AM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Yahisa opens the game with a grounder to left. But Tominaga pops up his bunt attempt and Fukumoto makes the catch. Yoshida-kantoku continues the aggressiveness by trying the hit-and-run. Although it doesn't work it is the mark of Seihou teams.

Nagaoka makes a bad pickoff throw! It goes into foul territory and Yahisa advances to 2nd!

But Nagaoka strikes out Kawamoto and Yamazaki grounds out to 3rd. Seihou's opportunity is snuffed out.

Bottom 1st
Sueyoshi draws the leadoff walk for Fukuchiyama Seibi. He's bunted over by Hosono and advanced on a grounder by Sugimoto. But Imamura strikes out Fukumoto and the inning is over.

Top 2nd
Nakaoka continues to press the Seihou batters, throwing strikes and forcing them to swing away. He retires the side in order.

Bottom 2nd
With one down, Nishimoto gets Fukuchiyama Seibi their first hit with a single up the middle past a diving Hashimoto.

They elect not to bunt, but Watanabe grounds to 3rd for the fielder's choice. 2 down for Nagaoka, and it's Seibi being aggressive. 0-1 pitch, he steals 2nd successfully. Then on a passed ball he advances to 3rd. But Imamura freezes Nagaoka on a pitch low and outside and he's out of the pinch.

Top 3rd
Shimazaki with a grounder to short. Sugimoto up with the ball but his throw to 1st is high pulling Sueyoshi off the bag, E6. Last batter Hashimoto bunts him over. But neither Yahisa or Tominaga can deliver the timely hit and we remain scoreless.

Bottom 3rd
Miyazaki with the slow roller to short. Hashimoto charges and makes the throw but Miyazaki is faster and beats the throw!

Sueyoshi looks to bunt, but twice he tries to pull it back only to have the ball find the bat! And then he looks at a pitch straight down the middle for strike 3. One down for Seibi.

Top 4th
Nagaoka contnues to breeze through the game as Seihou is retired in order.

Bottom 4th
Fukumoto with a drive to deep center! Tominaga backs up on the ball, and that spells trouble for Seihou as he leaps up and has it go off his glove! Fukumoto winds up at 2nd with a leadoff double!

Tejima looks to bunt, but he looks at several pitches that hit the outside part for strikes! 0-2 he swings away and strikes out! One down for Seibi.

Nishimoto with a single through to left! Runners at the corners with only one down! Yoshida-kantoku calls for a conference.

Watanabe steps up needing only a sac fly to get ahead. But Imamura is pitching him high to prevent it and then yanks his chain with a nasty breaking curve for the K. 2 down!

And throw in a high fastball, and you've got 3 K's for Imamura. He strands the runners at the corners and that's just nasty stuff he has.

Through 4 we are flying through this game.

Top 5th
Tsuji with a drive to left! Hosono runs back from his position, but it's over his outstretched glove! That's to the wall for a leadoff double! Nakayama then puts down the sac bunt and now another sacrifice can give Seihou the lead.

But Nagaoka isn't giving him anything to hit and in fact was close twice to hitting him. He falls behind 3-0. Shimazaki shows bunt, but pulls it back for strike 1.


This time he doesn't pull it back! He bunts it down the first base side! Nagaoka, Sueyoshi and Tajima all converge on the ball. There's no play at home, and there's no one covering 1st! Everyone's safe on the bunt and Seihou takes the 1-0 lead!!

And Yoshida-kantoku doesn't stop there. Shimazaki steals 2nd!

Nakagoka though gets Hashimoto to strike out, and after a little effort strikes out Yahisa to end the inning. But Seihou is able to turn it's leadoff double into a run and they score the first run!

Bottom 5th
Hosono gives Seibi a baserunner with a two-out single, but they'll need better opportunities than that against Imamura. He gets Sugimoto to check swing at a ball in the dirt and that ends that.

Top 6th
#3 Okaue comes in for Sueyoshi at 1B.

3 up, 3 down, 2 more K's for Nagaoka... What? No, that's about it.

Bottom 6th
3 up, 3 down... oh wait, that was the top of the inning...

Nishimoto decides to break up that monotony with a two-out single to right. But again, it's with 2 outs... And then Watanabe strikes out on another breaking pitch to end the inning.

Hm... I could have used the 5th inning for this one.

Top 7th
See the 6th inning and replace 2 with 1. Nagaoka continues to fluster the Seihou batters,

Bottom 7th
Finally, a good opportunity for Fukuchiyama Seibi! Nagaoka starts off the inning with a shot between Imamura's legs and through to center!

Tadokoro-kantoku asks Miyazaki to bunt, but he pops it up into foul territory. Then he pulls it back and is called a 2nd strike. And the final indignity for Miyazaki, he completely misses the ball for strike 3.

New SS Okaue fights off Imamura's offerings, but fares no better and instead grounds into the 6-4-3 double play...

Top 8th
Seihou gets their leadoff runner on in this half of this frame as Shimazaki singles through the left side. Hashimoto lays the bunt down once more as the lineup turns over to Yahisa. He grounds to 1st, but advances Shimazaki to 3rd.

Bottom 8th
While Nagaoka has been keeping them in the game, they're still behind and they're running out of time. But the batters cannot make good contact with the ball and quickly go down in order.

Top 9th
Nagaoka retires the side in order for the 5th time this game. It's not enough though as his team stil trails by one.

Bottom 9th
Fukuchiyama Seibi is down to their final 3 outs. It's been a great pitchers duel, but they will have to break through somehow if they want to keep playing. They'll be sending up their 5-6-7 batters.

Tajima leads off the inning. He hits a grounder to short. Hashimoto is up the ball, the throw to 1st and Tajima beats it out! Leadoff runner is on for Fukuchiyama Seibi!!

Tadokoro-kantoku immediately calls for the bunt. But once again, Imamura is giving him nothing to hit. He falls behind 1-2 and swings away! But he swings down and chops one to Imamura! That does the job as his only play is to first! Runner in scoring position with one down for Watanabe!!

He hits a slow grounder to short! Hashimoto's only play is to 1st. Tajima advaces to 3rd but there's 2 down!

Last chance now comes to ace Nagaoka. Can he help himself with a base hit?


Imamura throws one in the dirt! That bounces off Kawamoto and up the first base line! But Kawamoto quickly runs it down and Tajima can't score!

And he hits one to right!! But Nakayama backs up gets under the ball and it's game set for Seihou! Imamura pitches a shutout against formidable Fukuchiyama Seibi as they advance to the Best 8!

But give credit to Nagaoka as well. While he winds up with the loss, he pitched masterfully throughout the game. Don't be surprised if you see him and the Fukuchiyama Seibi squad return for the Summer Koushien.

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