Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 8 - Game 3 - Narashino (Chiba) vs. Rifu (Miyagi)

The final game of the 2nd round features Narashino (yay for their band!) versus the only remaining 21st century team Rifu.

Narashino had their hands full with another 21st century team in Hikone Higashi. It may have been that the loss of their ace Kaneko in the middle of the game helped them to victory. Meanwhile, Rifu had their way with Kakegawa Nishi, scoring in the first 5 innings en route to a 10-4 victory. Both pitchers faded late, so it could end up becoming a battle of the bullpens.

So with Waseda Jitsugyou waiting in the Best 8, who will take that next step?

1:31 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Tsukamoto off to a good start freezing Motoyama on a slow curve. Then on a comebacker by Satou, he backhands the ball and makes the play! And then freezes Miyauchi on the same curve!

Bottom 1st
Yamada yields a two-out single to Baba, but then strikes out Inoue to retire the side.

Top 2nd
Yamashita starts Narashino's offense with a one-out single to right by Yamashita.

Yay! Lets go Narashino!!

And then Takahashi Keishirou hits a grounder past a diving Satou into right! Yamashita pushes for 3rd! Inoue up with a strong throw!! Yamashita slides and collides with the 3B Yunomura! And he's out! Inoue with one heck of a throw to get the lead runner out!

Toyoda grounds out to 2nd for the fielder's choice and what seemed like a great opportunity in the making never materializes.

Bottom 2nd
Another two-out runner as Yunomura is plunked on the leg by Yamada. But Yamada quickly ends the inning with a chopper in front of the plate. Both pitchers' control looks good early and we are in for a good pitching duel. Not between overpowering pitchers, but control pitchers.

Top 3rd
Yamada to the tune of Surfin' USA, slices one to left for a one-out single.

Motoyama then goes for the bunt. Tsukamoto goes to 2nd but air mails the throw! Yamada advances to 3rd and Narashino has a great opportunity here in the 3rd!

And more Lets go Narashino!!

SQUEEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But it's fouled off!

Now the Rifu battery is pitching out looking for it. Two pitchouts. And another pitchout. Strike??! That didn't even look close to hitting the plate. And then he swings at an outside pitch for strike 3! Satou breaks for 2nd, but doesn't draw a throw. 2 down for Miyauchi.

And he grounds to 2nd to end the inning...

Bottom 3rd
Rifu with its first non-two out base runner. Endou singles through to left. Obara-kantoku looks for Fujiwara to bunt. He does lay it down and Yamashita's throw just beats out Fujiwara at 1st.

So runner in scoring position with 2 down. However, Baba grounds to 2nd and Rifu is turned away again.

Top 4th
Yamashita with a grounder to 1st, but Baba can't field it cleanly! It bounces toward 2nd, and Yamashita reaches safely!

And with some urgency the Narashino band plays Lets go Narashino!!

But Takahashi grounds to short. And while Yamashita advances to 2nd, he's stranded as Toyoda lines out to 2nd.

Bottom 4th
Inoue leads off the inning with a single that takes a bounce off Miyauchi.

Sakurada tries to bunt, but can't put it down. With 2 strikes he curiously offers yet again at a pitch way outside for the K. It's curious because he offered anyway and Inoue wasn't taking off.

Tsukamoto does lay the bunt down, moving Inoue into scoring position for Yunomura. He can't get the timely hit as Yamada freezes him on an inside pitch.

Top 5th
Yamada gets his 2nd hit of the day as a grounder gets through both a diving Baba and Satou! Both kantokus are looking for a run any way possible as the offenses struggle against the aces. But Motoyama strikes out trying to lay the bunt down, and it looks like another scoreless inning for Narashino.

Satou's walk pushes Yamada into scoring position, and Obara-kantoku sends his player out to have a quick conversation with Tsukamoto.

Miyauchi lines the first pitch, but it's right at Yunomura who makes the catch!

Bottom 5th
Yet another 2-out runner for Rifu as Yamada hits Endou. And trying to make something happen, he takes off for 2nd and reaches safely! But once again he's stranded as Fujiwara grounds out to 2nd.

Top 6th

Fukuda hits a drive to left That's to the wall! He's flying around the bases and gets in with a leadoff triple!

Yamashita follows that up with a fly to deep center! That's more than enough to get Fukuda in and Narashino takes the 1-0 lead!

Bottom 6th
Baba looks to respond as Baba grounds one back up the middle for a leadoff single. Inoue tries to put the bunt down, but the count runs to 0-2. He swings away and it's a grounder off Someya and up the line in foul territory! Runners now at 1st and 2nd with no outs!

Sakurada is also called to bunt. But he pops it up! A charging Takahashi dives but can't reach it! Yamada picks it up and makes the play at first. Now a base hit can give Rifu the lead!

And Tsukamoto looks to help his own cause.


Obara-kantoku waited for the count to run to 3-1 before calling it! And it works to perfection! Baba is almost already to home plate Yamashita's only play is to first! Rifu responds to Narashino's run with one of their own! 1-1!!

Top 7th
Yamada collects his 3rd hit of the day, another 1-out single - this time a bloop to center. And for the 2nd straight AB, Motoyama cannot put the bunt down and strikes out swinging.

But Satou singles on a slow curve to right! Miyauchi steps into the box with another opportunity to put Narashino ahead.

And it seems like however many times the band plays Lets go Narashino it doesn't help today. While the count runs full and the runners take off, Miyauchi remains hitless this tournament as he grounds out to 1st.

Bottom 7th
Yamada retires the side, yielding only a two-out walk to Endou. It is starting to appear that we may be heading towards another enchousen game.

Top 8th
AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With 2 down, Takahashi hits a towering fly ball to right. Inoue steps under it, and had to run back! The ball lands behind him! The wind carried the ball farther than he expected and now Takahashi is flying around the bases! He slides into third! Now a base hit can give Narashino the lead once again!

But Toyoda hits a chopper back to Tsukamoto! He makes the stop and throws to 1st retiring the side! A fielding mistake by Inoue does not end in disaster for Rifu.

Bottom 8th
Yamada plunks Sakurada with 2 down, but that's the only hiccup he has in the inning. We head to the 9th still knotted at 1-1.

Top 9th
#12 Yoshida comes in to pinch hit for Someya. And once again, the band plays Lets go Narashino hopefully to will the team to victory.

Yoshida contines to fight at the plate fouling off pitch after pitch. He hits one to deep center, but Fujiwara is there to make the catch.

Yamada come in next looking for his 4th hit, but he pops it up to 3rd.

Now finally swinging away, Motoyama hits a grounder past a diving Yonemura and Sakurada! But Satou can't keep the inning alive. He hits a grounder to 2nd! Yuuji goes to field it and collides with Satou! Satou is called out and that ends the inning.

Now all that Narashino can do is hold on for extras.

Bottom 9th
#16 Kurihara comes in to play 3B for PH Yoshida.

After a groundout by Yunomura, #14 Asano comes in to PH for Satou Yuuji. He hits a high chopper over Yamada! Miyauchi charges and snags it, but loses it while making the transfer! Asano is safe at 1st!

He's replaced by #16 Watanabe and you have to expect Obara-kantoku to call for the bunt. Sure enough, Fuse lays the bunt down. Runner at 2nd with two down. Kobayashi-kantoku calls a conference on the mound.

And they decide to walk top batter Endou to face Fujiwara. Aside from creating a force at an extra base (2nd and 3rd), they also face a batter who's 0-3 on the day. However, you are walking a righty to face a lefty.

Another conference on the mound is held as Fujiwara steps to the plate.

And Fujiwara slices a hanging pitch to left center! Fukuda runs over, but it's out of his reach! He looks up in anquish knowing that that's the game as Watanabe slides in to score! Fujiwara comes through with the sayonara hit, and it is Narashino who is on the wrong end this time around.

Rifu advances to the Best 8 with a 2-1 victory and earns the right to face Waseda Jitsugyou.

And I lose one of my favorite bands. うあ~~ん。。。

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