Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 8 - Game 1 - Meihō (Oita) vs. Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)

The final day of round 2 begins with a good match-up. Meihou and their ace (reliever?) Imamiya and his nasty off speed stuff faces off against Hanamaki Higashi's boisterous and possibly cocky ace Kikuchi. Meihou will have to get to Imamiya though, as they will start #1 Noguchi to start the game.

This has the makings of a pitcher's duel, but with the tournament going the way it has, who knows?

9:01 AM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Hirai begins the game with a grounder to right. Sunagawa tries to bunt him over, but can't. Daigobou asks him to bunt still with 2 strikes, but he can't lay it down! One out.

Imamiya then singles to right! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Meihou and an early scoring chance against Kikuchi! Certainly a different start than last time! Meihou's batters are working Kikuchi, making him pitch deep into counts.

Cleanup batter Kawano with a chance to get to Kikuchi early, but he pops up to short. And then Abe grounds to 1st ending the threat. Meihou misses an opportunity to jump on Kikuchi.

Bottom 1st
Kashiwaba lines a ball down the right field line for a double! After being bunted to 3rd, it's Hanamaki Higashi who's trying to get ahead early!

But Noguchi strikes out Kawamura for the 2nd out! And then Sarukawa for the 3rd out! Kashiwaba is stranded at 3rd base and it's Hanamaki Higashi that misses out on a great opportunity!

Top 2nd
Kikuchi doesn't seem as sharp as his 1st round game. While he strikes out Matsumoto looking, rival ace Noguchi grounds one to center. Morimoto after a couple of attempts, finally puts it down. 2 down, runner on 2nd for Shinokawa.

And Kikuchi starts turning on the gas as he repeatedly hits 145 kph (90 mph) en route to striking out Shinokawa to end the inning!!

Bottom 2nd
Noguchi is holding his own as well, retiring the side in order. This is indeed looking to be a very intriguing game.

Top 3rd
Kikuchi looks back in form this inning, hitting as high as 147 kph on his fastball en route to striking out the side. Imamiya gave Kikuchi a good run fouling off a couple of pitches before watching a 147 kph fastball hit the inside corner for strike 3.

Bottom 3rd
With one down, Yamada fists one right up the middle in the infield. Shinokawa dives to catch the dying ball, but can't reach it!

And then Noguchi hits Kashiwaba! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Hanamaki Higashi!

Ryouhei hits a grounder to short! Shinokawa bobbles the ball!! The throw to first is not in time and it's manrui for Hanamaki Higashi!

Daigoubou-kantoku has decided that he's can't wait any longer. He pulls Noguchi for Imamiya. #13 Kimori comes in for Nogchi's spot and plays 3rd. But is it too late?

He falls behind Kawamura 2-0. There's no place to put him and he has to throw strikes. He finally puts one across and it 2-1. Ball low, and it's 3-1. Has to throw a strike here... And Kawamura htis a chopper over a leaping Imamiya! That gets through into center! Yamada scores, Kawano up with the ball but no throw as Kashiwaba comes around to score as well! Timely hit by Kawamura gives Hanamaki Higashi the 2-0 lead!!

Sarukawa with another chopper back up the middle, but Imamiya snags this one and starts the 1-6-3 double play. But even Imamiya could not stem the tide here in the 3rd and Hanamaki Higashi takes the lead!

Top 4th
Kikuchi continues on, striking out Kawano looking for the 4th such strikeout in as many batters.

Abe breaks the trend by working a walk. A wild pitch by Kikuchi advances him to 2nd! Matsumoto gets good contact on the ball, but he lines out to left. 2 down for new 3B Kimori.

But he flies out to left and the inning is over.

Bottom 4th
Yokokura pokes one past a diving Sunagawa into right for a single. Imamiya then walks Ryuujirou. Hanamaki Higashi is threatening again, this time against Imamiya.

Kikuchi lines one to left and now it's another manrui situation for Meihou! Daigoubou-kantoku calls a conference on the mound to try and settle Imamiya down.

The infield plays back for the double play, but Yamada hits a slow chopper to 2nd and Sunagawa's only play is to 1st. Yokokura comes in and it's a 3-0 lead!

Kashiwaba grounds to 2nd, but they've tacked on another run.

Top 5th
Last batter Shinokawa singles through the left side for a one-out single. Hirai does the same to right, and Meihou has runners on 1st and 2nd with no down!

Daigoubou-kantoku is having Sunogawa bunt. But he can't, and the count is 1-2. What will he do now? He squares around! Sunogawa lays the bunt down advancing the runners! But there's 2 down for Imamiya. It'll be up to him to bring the runners home.

Grounder up the first base line! But Yokokura has it! He goes to the bag for out number 3 and the defense turns away Meihou!

Bottom 5th
Imamiya continues to struggle with his command. He walk Ryouhei on 3 straight to lead off the 5th. And then walks Kawamura on 4 straight! Imamiya sure looks off his game today. It definitely isn't looking good as #10 Yamano warms up in the bullpen.

And that's it. Daigoubou-kantoku pulls Imamiya from the mound. #10 Yamano replaces Kimori's spot in the lineup and takes the hill while Imamiya returns to 3rd.

Sarukawa immediately tests Yamano with a sac bunt. Yamano looks for the play at 3rd, but instead goes to 1st for the out.

Then he strikes out Chiba looking for the 2nd out! Yamano is one out away from getting out of the pinch.

But Yokokura lines one to right! Ryouhei scores and it's a 4-0 lead! Ryuujirou grounds out to 3rd soon thereafter, but a 4-0 deficit against Hanamaki Higashi may be too much to overcome.

Top 6th
Meihou won't give up just yet though. Kawano singles through to left to leadoff the inning. Abe with a grounder up the middle, but Kashiwaba makes the diving stop! He tosses it to 2nd for the out! Nice play!

Kikuchi then strikes out Matsumoto on a ball in the dirt for the 2nd out. And then a 146 kph fastball down the middle gets Yamano for the 3rd out. There's 3 inning left, but even an extra 6 may not be enough to get to Kikuchi.

Bottom 6th
Yamano retires the side in order, the first time this game Meihou has done so.

Top 7th
Kikuchi walks Hatada on 4 straight to start the inning. Shinokawa lays the bunt down, Chiba up with it, throw to first is safe??!!! It looks like Yokokura hadn't yet reached the bag before he received the ball! Shinokawa's slide just beats out Yokokura's foot and it's all safe!!

Well, that "error" presents Meihou with a great opportunity here to at least get on the board!

Dougoubou-kantoku is not having Hirai bunt. He falls behind 1-2 , and gets caught looking on an outside fastball. Only now do they elect to bunt. Sunagawa bunts the runners over for Imamiya. He has this exact oppportunity in the 5th, but grounded out to 3rd. Will he fare any better this time around?

No! He jams himself on a fastball and grounds out to 2nd.

Bottom 7th
Yamano has settled in nicely on the mound, retiring the side where the others couldn't.

Top 8th
Abe gives Meihou yet another baserunner as he singles to center. No bunt here, Matsumoto is swinging away.

He gets jammed, but bloops one past Sarukawa and in front of Kawamura! Runners on 1st and 2nd with one down!

But Yamano grounds one to 1st! Yokokura goes to 2nd for one, but there's no relay to 1st. 2 down, runners at the corners for Hatada. And he gets ahead on the count 2-0! And then 3-1! But Kikuchi comes back with a strike and it runs full! The payoff pitch... strike 3!!

Kikuchi gets him looking on a 144 kph pitch inside! Now we see the real Kikuchi!

Bottom 8th
Outside of plunking Ryuujirou, Yamano has a quiet inning. But these will probably be the last ups for Meihou this time around.

Top 9th
Nothing can stop Kikuchi now, and Meihou falls in order. A dominating performance by Kikuchi, throwing his 2nd consecutive shutout, propels Hanamaki Higashi into the Best 8! A good run by Meihou, but their pitching just wasn't here today and as a result, they're going home.

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