We now move on to round 3 and the Best 16 matches. On tap first is a great match featuring two strong teams. On one had is the hometown squad of PL Gakuen. On the other side is the main representative from Gifu - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou. Combined, these teams have made for 44 appearances and 5 titles (PL has 4).
For PL, Seikou Gakuin gave them quite the trouble early. Only ahead 3-1, Seikou tied it up in the 6th. But PL put them away with 3 in their half going on to a 6-3 win.
For Gifusho, their game against Yamanashi Gakuindai Fuzoku was over before it started. They send 12 batters to plate, score 7 runs and win 14-6.
PL Gakuen (Osaka)
Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu)
CF Matsuda Tomohiro
P Yamada Tomohiro
8:30 AM - First pitch!
Yamada with a good start to the game, retiring the PL batters in order to start the game.
Tomohiro leads off the inning with a single past Yasuda into right! Leadoff run for Gifusho and Fujita quickly moves him to 2nd.
Ezaki up now looking for a hit here to get up early on PL.
And he goes down and lines a pitch over Murata's head and down the left field line! Ukegawa retrieves it at the wall, but Ezaki's in with an RBI double! 1-0 Gifusho!
Ikai up now looking for another timely, but he lifts one to left center instead! Ukegawa catches it, but Ezaki advances to 3rd.
2 down for ace Yamada, but he can't check his swing - 3 down.
But Gifusho strikes first!
One down for PL and Ootsuki hits a liner that Yamada whiffs on and goes into center for a single.
Nakai grounds to 2nd, but Fujita has to run it down so his only play is to 1st.
2 down now, but Yamada hits Ukegawa! So now there's runners on 1st and 2nd for ace Inoue. Can he help his own cause here?
He sure is trying. He goes into an 8 pitch at bat before grounding out to Fujita up the middle.
Kodama with a base hit to start the inning for Gifusho. Sakaida bunts him over to 2nd and now they have another scoring chance!
But Izumida grounds to short and Kodama was going on the play and is easily thrown out.
Runner on 1st, 2 down for last batter Hirabayashi. He grounds to 3rd, and the inning is over.
Ishizaki with a chopper that goes over Ikai and past Sakaida into left!
And Kouno-kantoku immediately sends him on the next pitch! Throw by Hirabayashi is spot on, but Ishizaki gets in there! 2nd chance in as many innings for PL!
But Yoshikawa flies out to left and Ishizaki can't advance!
Yasuda with a chopper to the right of Yamada, and he makes the snag! Looks the runner back and goes to 1st for the 2nd out!
And Yamada has to defend for his life as Fujimoto hits a hard liner right back at him! He knocks it down and goes to 1st for the 3rd out! PL can't scores with a runner from 2nd and no out!
Back to the top of the lineup and Tomohiro, and he swings at a slider way away for the first out.
Fujita works the count full on Inoue and singles to center.
Yamada with yet another good pitch, this time a fastball on the outside corner gets Ezaki to wave at that one for out number 2.
Ikai up and Fujita-kantoku sends Fujita to 2nd! The throw from Fujimoto gets past both Ishizaki and Yasuda!!! Fujita advances to 3rd!
2 out chance here for Gifusho with Ikai up, and Inoue walks him! Runners at the corners now!
Ace Yamada up again in a key spot. And with the count 1-2, Ikai takes off for 2nd! No throw from Fujimoto! Now a base hit from Yamada can plate 2!
And he drives one to left center! Ukegawa runs back as it bounces off the wall! Fujita and Ikai come around to score, and it's 3-0 Gifusho!!!
Kouno-kantoku decides to pull the plug. Inoue is relieved by #10 Nanba.
But Sakaida hits a falling liner to left! Ukegawa charges in and makes the sliding grab! That ends the inning, but not before ace Inoue is knocked out and they score 2 more runs!
Murata with a very high chopper that goes over Murata for a base hit! Ootsuki bunts him into scoring position.
But now Yamada can't throw a strike! He threw 2 balls to Ootsuki before the bunt, and now 4 straight to Nakai to bring the tying run to the plate in Ukegawa!
Fujita-kantoku calls a conference on the mound to settle Yamada down.
But outside of a pitch low that Ukegawa offers at, Yamada walks him on 5 pitches! Manrui for new P Nanba!
And he tomahawks a pitch that gets by Ikai into left!
Murata scores! And they send Nakai! But Ezaki with a strong throw home and they gun him down! 2 out! Another questionable decision by a 3rd base coach!
Now runners at 1st and 2nd for Ishizaki, but he flies out to left. Inning over and Yamada is fortunate to give up only the 1 run.
Izumida drives a ball to deep left! Ukegawa runs back, but that's over his head for a double!
Hirabayashi up now, and lays down the bunt! But Nakai starts charging in early and gets it! Makes a good low throw to 3rd and, AHHHHH!!!!
Murata doesn't get the glove down and it goes under his legs! Izumida comes home and it's 4-1 Gifusho! Hirabayashi goes to 2nd. Tomohiro bunts him to 3rd, and a base hit by Fujita here could really start putting this game into dangerous territory for PL!
But Nanba induces a comebacker from Fujita! He looks Hirabayashi back and goes to 1st for the 2nd out.
Ezaki flies out to center to end the inning, but thanks to an error, Gifu brings the lead back to 3 runs.
Yamada induces two weak grounders from the top of the PL lineup. Just when he's about to cruise though, he hits Fujimoto.
And then cleanup batter Matsuda lines one to left center! Matsuda running over to get it, and Fujimoto is heads to 3rd.
AND THEY'RE SENDING HIM HOME!
And it's a great call by the 3rd base coach as the ball just reaches Fujita and his throw home is late! 4-2!!
Ootsuki ground back to Yasuda, but PL tries to keep the deficit manageable!
Ikai with a fly to deep left, but Ukegawa catches it just in front of the fence down the left field line.
Yamada doesn't leave any doubt about that swing! HAITA!!! Now Gifusho leads 5-2!
Kodama with a fly to left! Ishizaki running out, Ukegawa running in! Ishizaki with the catch, but they collide!!
And both are down! Ishizaki looks to have his leg hurt, while Ukegawa isn't getting up!
The training staff and umpires rush out as Ukegawa tries to stand. But he's stumbling about and has to be held up! Eventually he sits back down. The medical staff comes out as well as stretchers.
We get a replay, and ow. Ishizaki trying to leap over Ukegawa doesn't quite clear and his leg collides with Ukegawa's head and it then goes and hits the ground. That's painful to watch.
Both players get carried off and Ukegawa is immediately replaced. Fujimoto goes from behind the plate to left, while #12 Takei takes over Ukegawa's spot in the order and goes behind the plate.
After a bit of a delay, Ishizaki comes out and takes his position in short!
So 2 down for Sakaida now, and he hits a fly to left. New LF Fujimoto comes in and makes the catch to end the inning. Gifusho though scores another run thanks to the HR by Yamada and once again have the e-run lead going in to the break!
Nakai starts the post-break with a grounder to 3rd, and it takes a bounce off Ikai into left! Leadoff single for PL! New C Takei bunts him over.
Nanba up, looking for another timely hit, but instead grounds to 3rd! Ikai looks the runner back and throws to 1st. The throw is short, but Izumida makes the pick! Two down!
Ishizaki up and man, he still doesn't look 100% out there. He grounds to 1st and gingerly runs to 1st. Inning over.
Nanba finally holds off Gifusho with a 1-2-3 inning, thanks in part to a diving catch by Nakai on a pop bunt by Hirabayashi.
Yoshikawa opens the 7th with a drive to center!! Tomohiro runs back to the wall...
PL continues to try and claw their way back into this game! They're back within 2 at 5-3!!
But Yamada shuts down the PL offense after that! He strikes ou Yasuda, gets Fujimoto to fly to left, and Murata to hit a pop foul near the screen behind home.
One down and Ezaki grounds one to short. But his throw is high and wide! Nakai leaps to get it... and collides with Ezaki! Ezaki manages to get to 1st and is safe! Now, how is Nakai?
Well, it seems like he's fine. He's back up and about, so thankfully it wasn't too bad.
But this is! Ikai drives the first pitch to right center! That's off the top of the padding! Ezaki heading for 3rd, being sent home! Relay throw from Yasuda, not in time!!! Gifushou strikes right back with a run of their own! 6-3!!
And Kouno-kantoku pulls Nanba for #11 Taji with Yamada coming up!
Taji gets ahead 0-2, and makes 2 great pitches - but doesn't get the call!
But the next pitch blows by as Yamada can only watch! 2 down!
Almost out of the jam though, Taji walks Kodama. Runners on 1st and 2nd for Sakaida.
Count goes to 2-2 and...
SANSHIN! Taji lets out a scream as he strikes out Sakaida to retire the side! But once again Gifusho takes that run right back!
PL can't continue to trade runs with Gifusho at this point. They need a couple of runs and need them quickly!
But Yamada gets the PL batters to hit 3 pop flies and now they're down to their last 3 outs!
Tomohiro gets a two out single to center, but is caught trying to steal 2nd. Can Yamada close it out?
8-9-1 batters up for PL.
Taji up.. but goes down on 3 straight!
#13 Hiu comes in to pinch hit for Ishizaki. But he grounds out to 1st! 2 down!
Last chance in Yoshihara, and fortunately for Yamada, he can't tie the game on one swing.
Yamada gets ahead of Yoshizawa 1-2 as Inoue can't bear to watch!
Grounder to 3rd! Ikai up with it, throw to 1st... OUT!
Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou advances to the Best 8 for the first time in 31 years! And meanwhile Inoue bends over in disappointment! And while the players from Gifu run out to their oen-dan, the PL players can't hold back the tears at their loss. Surely they weren't thinking that it wasn't going to end this way. And many can barely scoop up the dirt as they cry...
Yoshikawa (PL Gakuen) - 1-5, HR, R, RBI
Murata (PL Gakuen) - 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
Matsuda Tomohiro (Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou) - 2-4, R
Yamada (Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou) - 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI
Yamada (Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou) - W, CG, 3 ER, 7H , 3 K, 2 BB