Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 7 - Game 3 - Nanyō Kōgyō (Yamaguchi) vs. PL Gakuen (Osaka)

Two games down, one to go. PL Gakuen, considered one of the baseball factories in Japan, faces off against rural Nanyou. Now, while PL is still known for baseball in Osaka, they've been eclipsed in recent years by the likes of Konkou Osaka and Osaka Touin. Nanyou, on the other hand, has had little experience here and to boot comes from a rural prefecture. And sad as it may be to say, their talent pool and resources may not be as extensive as more metropolitan ones.

Not going to lie here, Nanyou has their work cut out for them.

1:15 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Nakano quickly gets to work, retiring the side in order in relatively easy fashion.

Bottom 1st
Ishizaki looks to get PL's offense started. He lays down a bunt down the 3rd base line. Mokudai charges and makes the throw, but Ishizaki beats it out for an infield hit.

With Nakai up, Kouno-kantoku calls for the hit-and-run! Nakai hits a fly to deep left, but Kunihiro is there to make the catch, 2 down.

Iwamoto finishes the inning by striking out Kanno.

Top 2nd
Nakano has to perform some self-defense as Kunihiro lines one right back at him. Even better that he was able to catch it for the out! He then retires the next two batters in short order. He's hitting his spots, even with his offspeed stuff.

Bottom 2nd
Iwamoto walks the leadoff batter Ootsuki. Fujimoto moves him over for Yasuda.

And the band is playing "When the Saints go Marching in"...

Anyways, Yasuda grounds out to 1st. Ootsuki advances to 3rd.

But Iwamoto freezes Kihara to end the inning! Iwamoto early on is hanging in there.

Top 3rd
Nakano chalks up 2 more strikeouts as he once again goes 3 up, 3 down.

Bottom 3rd
One out Yoshikawa grounds to 2nd. But Kawamura can't field it cleanly and Yoshikawa reaches! Then he steals 2nd on the 1-0 pitch to Ishizaki! PL with anoher good scoring opportunity!

Then Iwamoto walks Ishizaki! Runners at 1st and 2nd for PL! In a pinch, Iwamoto's pace has slowed consdierably. Furthermore, he has run the count full for Nakai! He does get him to strike out looking, but on the K Yoshikawa steals 3rd!

Iwamoto runs the count full for the 2nd consecutive batter, this time to cleanup hitter Kanno. but he manages to get him to pop out to 2nd to end the inning.

Top 4th
Nanyou still has yet to find an answer for PL ace Nakano. Once again, he ratchets up 2 more K's in a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 4th
Iwamoto is holding his own as well, only yielding a 2-out single to Yasuda.

Top 5th
Nakano retires the side in order yet again. Through 5 he has faced the minimum.

Bottom 5th
One down, Yoshikawa sends a drive to right! Nakagawa tries to run it down, dives, but doesn't come up with it! It bounces to the wall as Nakagawa scurries to get the ball in. Yoshikawa easily gets into 3rd with a one-out triple! Now a sac fly can break the stalemate!

Ishizaki up to bat, and he's swinging away. He continues fouls off pitches looking for one he can hit to the outfield. But on the 9th pitch, Iwamoto gets him to swing at an offspeed pitch down in the zone. And he does the same with Nakai to retire the side! He leaves Yoshikawa stranded at 3rd and the game remains scoreless!!

Top 6th
Nanyou finally gets its first baserunner with one down in the 6th as Nakano hits Kawamura.

Then on a 3-0 count to Iwamoto, Kawamura takes off for 2nd! It's a strike and the throw to 2nd is in time to get Kawamura! Nanyou's first baserunner is removed as quickly as they got it!

Nakano completes the inning by coming back and striking out Iwamoto. While the perfect game is gone, Nakano has faced the minimum and has a no-hitter through 6!!

Bottom 6th
One down, Ootsuki grounds one through to left! Fujimoto isn't bunting and flies out to left! 2 down now for PL.

And once again, the baserunners take advacing into their own hands! First pitch to Yasuda and Ootsuki steals 2nd!

And a wild pitch by Iwamoto allows Ootsuki to move to 3rd! And after a long AB against Yasuda, he doesn't get the call on the payoff pitch and Yasuda earns a walk!

Runners at the corners for Kihara, but he grounds to 2nd and the inning is over! Through 6 we are still scoreless!!

Top 7th
This is beginning to get nuts. Nakano tallies 2 more K's this inning and Nanyou is still without a base hit!

Bottom 7th
While not as dominating as Nakano, Iwamoto continues to hold off the PL offense, retiring the side in order yet again! Amazing as it is, he continues to pitch toe-to-toe with the Osaka squad!

Top 8th
Nakano contines to throw strikes, and fooling the Nanyou batters on his offspeed stuff. 3 up, 3 down, yet 2 more K's. He stands at 12 so far and still no hits!!

Bottom 8th
How is Iwamoto doing it! Not even wearing the ace number, he continues to baffle PL! Another 1-2-3 inning is in the books and as we head to the 9th, we have a pitcher who has a no-hitter and a possibility of extra innings!!

Top 9th
MBS shows Nakano's silly line so far after 8. He's faced the minimum (24), struck out half of those (12), hit one batter and thrown only 91 pitches!!

Hanshin Koushien is eerily quiet... Finally Nanyou's band starts playing.

Yamazaki takes the first pitch and grounds out to 2nd. One down.

Kawamura hits a short chopper. Nakano calmly fields it and makes the play at 1st. Two down.

And Iwamoto flies the first pitch to right! Ootsuki under it and makes the catch!

The side is retired! Nakano through regulation has a no hitter!!! Yet, the game still continues!!!!!

Bottom 9th(!!)
This situation is interesting because from here on out, Nakano cannot control the end of the game (unless he drives it in himself). If the PL offense can't score, Nakano is at risk of losing his no hitter!! So it would behoove the offense to get started.

Or perhaps it's because Nakano has a no-hitter that the players can't get the offense going!

Fujimoto comes up, he hits a deep drive to left-center! But the defense is playing back and Kunihiro goes over to make the catch.

Yasuda next with a hard hit ball to short! Yamazaki is there, but his throw to 1st is offline! Yamada reaches safely and PL has their sayonara runner on base!

#7 Ukegawa comes in to PH for Kihara. Kouno-kantoku is not looking to bunt. But he hits a chopper back to the mound and Iwamoto makes the play at 1st. 2 down, but Yasuda is in scoring position for Nakano!!

But alas, he grounds back to Iwamoto, and the side is retired. We head to enchousen with the game knotted at 0-0. Can Nakano continue the no-hitter??

Top 10th
#5 Kojima comes into the game for PH Ukegawa to play 3B.

Top of the order is due up here in the 10th (kinda obvious if he's faced the minimum... doh.)

Mokudai flies out to center, one down.


Takeshige lines a pitch into left field! That's in for a base hit!! Just like that, Nakano's no-hitter is no more!

He just continues plugging away though. First pitch Nakagawa flies to center, 2 down.

But Kunihiro won't let the hit go to waste! He singles to right and the inning continues!! Runners at 1st and 2nd with 2 down! Things are developing here for Nanyou in the 10th!


Takagi with a shot back up the middle. That's through to center!! Takeshige rounds 3rd, and heads home!! Yoshikawa is up and throwing, but it's high and Takeshige scores!! Nakano has gone from a no hitter to a possible losing situation as Nanyou takes the 1-0 lead!!

And Mizui singles to left! Kunihiro scores!! Takagi rounds 3rd and heads home!! Kanno up with the throw home and it's in plenty of time to get him! But yet another run scores and Nanyou has shocked everyone here in the 10th! They now head into the bottom of the 10th up 2-0!!!!!

The anguish on Nakano's face is apparent. He's pitched as well as you could ask for 9-and-a-third. But now his team faces elimination.

Bottom 11th
Top of the order for PL here in the 11th. Yoshikawa steps in as the camera focuses on Nakano.

Yoshikawa flies to left... one down.

Ishizaki works the count full and drives one down the left field line. The defense is playing for no doubles and Nakagawa makes the catch, two down!!

Down to their last out, #13 Hiu comes in for Nakai.

Grounder to the right side! Takagi dives and it's under him! Kawamura is there, but he stumbles and the ball gets past him into right!!

Mizui comes to talk to Iwamoto as cleanup hitter Kanno comes up. The Nanyou battery is too careful with Kanno and they walk him! The tying run is now on base!!

Now #12 Takei comes in to run for Hiu at 2nd as Ootsuki comes to the plate representing the winning run.

Grounder up the middle!! Kawamura dives, but it's past him!! Takei comes around to score and Kanno advances to 3rd!! It's 2-1 and the tying run is 90 feet away!! The winning run is on 1st!!!

And Iwamoto falls behind Fujimoto, 3-1!! But he hits a fly ball to center!! And Takeshige, who got Nanyou's first hit in the 10th runs over and makes the catch!! GAME SET!!

Nanyou does the unthinkable!! After being no-hit through 9 innings, they break through for a 2-1 victory!! The PL players are in an obvious state of disbelief as the Nanyou players celebrate their win!!

We've seen a 19 K performance in Shimabukuro in a loss, and now we see a no-hitter in regulation by Nakano end in a loss. No one can deny that it was an amazing performance, and you have to feel for him as he and his team head home. But he shouldn't be disappointed, and should work even harder to bring PL back for the summer Koushien. Perhaps there may be something even bigger in store...

No comments: