Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day 11 - Semifinal #1 - Hōtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) vs. Seihō (Nagasaki)

We have reached the semifinals. Some familiar faces, some not so familiar. For Houtoku Gakuen it's been an interesting road. They barely get out of their first game against Takasaki Shougyou, annihilated a surprisingly flat Imabari Nishi, then was trading punches with Chuukyoudai Chuukyou before prevailing in the top of the 9th.

Seihou, on the other hand has relatively breezed through. On the back of ace Imamura, he has pitches 26 shutout innings (he didn't pitch the 9th against Minoshima). Only Fukuchiyama Seibi proved to be a tough match, but that was because of their pitching, not their hitting.

It's partially bias, but I think Seihou finally has the complete package. Their trademark offense combined finally with an amazing ace equals championship game (and hopefully the title). Houtoku's pitching has been a bit suspect to me, and I don't think it'll last against Seihou's offense.

Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)
CF Tsuji
2B Nojima
1B Miyamoto
3B Saigou
C Hiramoto
SS Momiyama
LF Fujikura
RF Nara
P Miyatani

Seihou (Nagasaki)
3B Yahisa
CF Tominaga
C Kawamoto
1B Yamazaki
P Imamura
LF Tsuji
SS Hashimoto
2B Shimazaki (#14)
RF Yoshida
11:02 AM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Tsuji takes the first pitch and bloops it to left center for a base hit!! Nice way to start the game!! And Nagata-kantoku is using the hit-and-run!! But Nojima pops out to right!

They continue to press!! Tsuji takes off for 2nd on the first pitch to Miyamoto!! But Kawamoto rifles it to 2nd and they gun him down! 2 down!

And Iwamura freezes Miyamoto for the 3rd out!

Bottom 1st
Seihou is hacking away at the plate to start the game! After Yahisa strikes out, Tominaga and Kawamoto fly out on back-to-back pitches to quickly end the inning.

Top 2nd
The aces are just flying through the lineups! Houtoku's batters are just swinging away! Imamura only needs 6 pitches to retire the side!

Bottom 2nd
YAMAZAKI DRIVES A BALL!!! That's deep to left!! Fujikura to the wall!!


WOW!! Yamazaki hits a homerun to left!! Seihou is up 1-0!!

Imamura with a liner to left-center!! That's in for a base hit! Imamura pushes for 2nd!! Throw in, safe!! Imamura with a double and Seihou is threatening again!!

Tsuji bunts him over to 3rd. Now a sac fly can give them a 2-run lead!!

Hashimoto grounds to 2nd, but it's not enough! And Shimazaki grounds to short to end the inning. BUT!! Yamazaki's home run gives Seihou the lead!

Top 3rd
Fujikura with a comebacker! Imamura can't stop it and it goes to center for a base hit!

Nara with a great bunt on a slider down and in and Fujikura moves to scoring position!

Ace Miyatani can help his own cause. Count goes to 2-2 and he starts fouling off pitches. 8th pitch, low! Count runs full!! 9th pitch, Miyatani swings and misses!!

2 down, and back to the top of the order for Tsuji! But he pops it up to Yahisa and the inning is over!!

Bottom 3rd
Yoshida gets the bottom of the 3rd started with a bloop single to center! Back to the top of the order and Yahisa!

Yoshida-kantoku isn't electing to bunt here either! Count runs to 3-1 on Yahisa! Ball 4!! Miyatani is having trouble finding the plate! Runners on 1st and 2nd with no out!

And now Tominaga puts down the bunt. The runners advance to 2nd and 3rd for Kawamoto!!

Kawamoto though hits a comebacker to Miyatani! The runners go back as he makes the play at 1st! 2 down!!

Jock Rock starts playing as Yamazaki steps in!! Nagata-kantoku calls a conference to talk about how to deal with him!!

They're pitching him away. And with the count 2-1, they may be going for the intentional walk!


They pitch to him and he drives a low pitch back up the middle! Miyatani stabs at it, but it's through and into center!!!! Yoshida scores!! Yahisa comes around, he scores!! Yamazaki with a 2-run single and it's 3-0 Seihou!!

And Miyatani walks Imamura on 4 straight!!

That's enough for Nagata-kantoku. He pulls Miyatani from the game. Miyamoto comes in from 1B to relieve him. #11 Wada replaces Miyatani in the 9-spot and plays 1st.

Miyamoto gets Yoshida to fly out to right to end the inning, but Yamazaki is a one-man wrecking crew!! 2-2 with a homerun and all 3 RBI's for Seihou!!

Top 4th
Miyamoto starts Houtoku's offense with a one-out single through the right side! But Imamura clamps down, striking out Saigou and getting Hiramoto to ground to 3rd! He continues to dominate the Houtoku batters!!

Bottom 4th
Miyamoto struggles with the batters a bit, but he stems the Seihou attack! He retires the side in order for the 1st time since the 1st!

Top 5th
A slight rain comes down as we begin the 5th.

Imamura is about to breeze through the inning when Nara grounds one through the left side. But that's only a small blip as Wada flies out to center to end the inning... No team has really threatened Imamura this tournament!

Bottom 5th
The rain starts to come down a little more and the people move for the comforts under the overhang.

Yahisa stars off the inning with a comebacker up the middle for a leadoff single!!

Tominaga bunts him over as the rain falls down a little harder! It would behoove Seihou to get through 5!! But I bet Seihou would like another run or two...

Miyamoto though has other plans! He strikes out Kawamoto, but now faces Yamazaki!!

AND HE SINGLES TO RIGHT!!!!! Yahisa comes in and it's 4-0!!! YAMAZAKI IS ON FIRE!!

Imamura with a grounder through the right side!! Seihou continues to assault Houtoku's pitching!

Jock Rock!!

Tsuji with a foul ball that goes off SS Hashimoto's ankle!! He tries to shake it off as they get an ice pack for him. Ouch. Miyamoto does get him to ground to 1st, but Yamazaki tacks on another run!

Top 6th
One down for Houtoku when Nojima lines one to center. And with Miyamoto up, he goes for 2nd and takes it! He advances to 3rd on Miyamoto's grounder to 2nd.

And then he walks Saigou on 4 straight! Runners at the carners for Hiramoto!! And Imamura can't seem to find the plate! He falls behind 2-0!!

But Hiramoto bails him out!! He grounds to short and Hashimoto tosses it to Shimazaki to end the inning! Don't know if it was the weather, or their pitching sequence , but Imamura didn't look good there to Saigou and Hiramoto.

Bottom 6th
The rain is really coming down at Hanshin Koushien Kyuujyou. It's even apparent on screen how much it's falling.

Two down when Yoshida puts down a safety bunt! Miyamoto comes in to field it... the throw to 1st... not in time! The ball trickles up the first base line but Yoshida stays at 1st.

And with Yahisa up, Yoshida takes off! But Hiramoto's throw is in time for the out! Another 3 up, 3 down inning - so to speak.

Top 7th
Imamura is back to his normal self. He gets ahead of Momiyama and strikes him out swining. The same goes for Fujikura, but he grounds to short. Hashimoto is there, but he can't get a handle on it!! Error on Hashimoto gives Houtoku a runner!

Nagata-kantoku stays aggressive! Fujikura takes off for 2nd!! But it's a pitchout! Kawamoto easily throws him out! 2 down!!

And he gets Nara to strike out! But the ball gets away from Kawamoto and Nara reaches 1st!

But Imamura shuts them down again!! He gets Wada to ground to short and Imamura still has yet to yield a run!!

Bottom 7th
Miyamoto gets the first two batters out, but isn't getting the border calls on Kawamoto. He walks in on 4 straight and that means...

Yamazaki comes to the plate...

Houtoku and Miyamoto continue to pitch to him though. Count goes to 2-2, and he gets jammed! But he powers the ball into right for yet another base hit! Kawamoto advances to 3rd and it's runners at the corners for Seihou!!

Nagata-kantoku calls for another conference on the mound. Meanwhile, more Jock Rock!!

Miyamoto though can't find the zone! He falls behind Imamura 3-0! But a pitch down the middle and a jammed pitch fill up the count...

AND IT'S WAY HIGH!! Hiramoto has to jump up to snag it before it goes to the backstop!! Manrui for Tsuji! All this with 2 outs!

But Tsuji flies out to Tsuji in center, and Miyamoto gets out of the pinch!! That's great, but as they look at the scoreboard, they find themselves down 4 with only 6 outs to go.

Top 8th
It looks like the rain has finally subsided...

Imamura is just not nice. After a battle with leadoff batter Tsuji, he just freezes him on a fastball inside!

But then he walks Nojima. Miyamoto battles with Imamura trying to get on base. Nojima takes off for 2nd! No throw by Kawamoto! That's his 2nd stolen base!

And Miyamoto goes down swinging! 2 down for cleanup batter Saigou.

And he lines one to left! That's in for a single! Tsuji charging for home!! Fujikura takes a bit of a lackadaisical attitude to the ball, and the throw home isn't in time! Houtoku gets on the board, 4-1!! Imamura's streak of scoreless innings ends at 33.2 IP!!

Hiramoto then puts good bat on the all, but Tsuji is there to make the catch.

Bottom 8th
Miyamoto retires the bottom of the order, but as we head to the 9th inning they have 3 outs to score 3 runs.

Top 9th
Momiyama with a short grounder to the left side. Yahisa charges, snags the tough ball and makes the play at 1st!

Fujikura steps to the plate. He's frozen on an offspeed pitch and their down to their final out!!

Andn Nara flies out to left! Tsuji secures the ball, and Seihou wins 4-1!!

In their 2nd appearance at the spring Koushien, they again reach the finals! This time, they look to avenge their 21-0 loss at the hands of Yokohama and claim the title!

Imamura finally has given up a run, and looked a little shaky at times near the end of the game. Can he carry Seihou through one more game?

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