So we reach the final game, and it's definitely an intriguing match-up. I don't have the information in front of me, but I wonder if these two managers ever met up before when Wakou-kantoku was managing Tohoku instead of Kyukoku.
2 big hitting squads, Teikyou with the loaded pitching staff. The battle of managers. Man, this should be fun!
Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Fukuoka)
LF Miyoshi (#17)
Teikyou (Higashi Tokyo)
LF Kaneko (#8)
CF Taguchi (#5)
P Suzuki (#11)
4:30 PM - First pitch!
Kobayashi leads it off with a single to center! Leadoff batter on, and Wada isn't bunting. He hits a comebacker! But Suzuki knocks it down with his foot! He looks to 2nd, but goes to 1st for the out! Nice play, but man, using your foot is a bit dangerous.
One down for Kunieda. The Kyukoku batters are all swinging away here. The count goes full and he singles through the left side! Runners at the corners with 1 down!
But Enomoto pops it up! Yoshioka goes into shallow center for the 2nd out!
And Suzuki gets Kawano to fly out to center! 3 outs! He gets out of the early jam!
Noutomi looking good early, only gives up a walk to Hirahara before retiring the side.
Suzuki still looking a bit shaky to here, as he hits Makimoto to lead off the inning.
Amano is asked to bunt, but he can't and the count goes to 1-2. He manages to work it full when Wakao-kantoku calls for the hit-and-run! But Amano flies out to left! 1 down!
Noutomi looking to bunt, and bunts it right into Haraguchi's leg. Ow.
He does put it down. But Suzuki fields it quickly and throws to 2nd! They go to 1st... double play! Nice show of defense by Teikyou!
Um. 4 pitches for 3 outs? That works!
What works even more is that Wakao-kantoku has shifted his outfield depending on the batter and how they pitch them. LF Miyoshi was shaded to left center, right where Haraguchi and Hoshi hit their fly balls.
Miyoshi gets ahead of Suzuki 3-1, then fouls several pitches off. On the 8th pitch, he singles to center!
And that's it for Suzuki. Hirahara takes the hill. Ariga comes in Suzuki's position to play LF, and everyone else moves to their numbered positions.
Kobayashi bunts Miyoshi to 2nd, then Wada grounds out to Hirahara. He looks to 2nd where Miyoshi has taken off for 3rd, but elects to get the out at 1st.
2 down for Kunieda. The count goes full and... SANSHIN! Hirahara strikes out Miyoshi to end the inning!
Noutomi is throwing his pitches for strikes, although not necessarily hitting the glove right on. But he works from ahead and that makes the batters have to swing away.
He strikes out the first two batters, but after going ahead 0-2 on Kaneko, allows it to go full before Kaneko singles through the left side.
Then he falls behind Taguchi 2-1, and then drives a pitch all the way to the top of the left field wall! Kaneko is sent home! Miyoshi plays it off the wall beautifully and relay from Kobayashi home to Kawano is good, but Kaneko slides in just before the tag! Teikyou takes the early lead! 1-0!
Hirahara pops out to Kawano to end the inning, but Teikyou breaks through first here in the 3rd!
On the other hand, Hirahara generally has to work from behind. But he's making it work, getting Enomoto to ground out to short, and striking out Kawano and Makimoto for a 1-2-3 inning.
Teikyou's batters are starting to hit the ball hard now.
With 1 down, Haraguchi hits one into the left center field gap and to the wall for a double.
Hoshi grounds out to 2nd with Haraguchi moving to 3rd.
But Yoshioka does the same and the inning is over.
Noutomi earns a 8 pitch walk to get the douten runner on.
But Miyoshi flies out to right for the 2nd out. And Kobayashi grounds out to 2nd.
He's still not quite sharp yet, but has done enough to hold off the Kyukoku offense.
One down for Teikyou when Ariga gets his first hit of the day with a single past a diving Kunieda!
He's bunted to 2nd, but is stranded when Taguchi grounds out to short.
So we're at the break, and the two offensive squads actually find themselves in a pitcher's duel!
One down and Kunieda drives one to right! Satou thinks he has it but it flies over his head and to the wall! Kunieda rounds 2nd, goes for 3rd.
But he slips and falls! Yoshioka has the ball and now Kunieda is in a rundown! Goes to 3rd, back to 2nd, back to 3rd...
AND THE BALL IS DROPPED!
Kunieda reaches 3rd safely!!! What a break for Kyukoku!
Runner on 3rd with 1 down for Enomoto.
But Hirahara strikes him out, 2 down!
Kawano now to try and get the douten runner home.
AH!!! But he doens't need to! Hirahara throws a wild pitch and Kunieda dashes home! Douten!!!!! 1-1!!
And then Hirahara hits Kawano! Not a good inning for him!
Fortunately, he gets Makimoto to fly out to left, although Ariga makes it a little dicey coming in for that ball.
But Kyukoku, with a LOT of help, ties the game!
Noutomi begins getting ahead of batters again, and is back to retiring the Teikyou side in order. As long as he does that, he'll continue to dominate the batters.
As the clock hits 6 PM, the lights turn on and the field umpires take their spots down the lines.
And Hirahara throws a 2 bounder and hits Amano to start the inning.
Noutomi looking to bunt, but goes ahead 2-0 before Hirahara throws a strike. He does though get the bunt down and advances the runner.
1st year Miyoshi up now. Can he deliver the gyakuten hit?
YES!! He singles back up the middle! Amano rounding 3rd, being sent home! Kaneko with the throw home, and he's safe!! Haraguchi fires to 2nd, and they get Miyoshi trying to get an extra base on the throw! But Kyuoku takes the lead, 2-1!!
Kobayashi kills the first pitch from Hirahara!!!! That is a no doubt about it homerun!!!!
And how much does that throwout at 2nd cost Kyukoku now!! But they'll take it anyways! It's now 3-1 in favor of Kyukoku!!!
And that's it for Hirahara. #18 Itou comes in Satou's spot and takes the hill. Hirahara goes back to 3rd, Taguchi goes back to left, and Kaneko goes to right.
Boy does he throw heat for a 1st year! But his first pitch to Wada is a nasty slider for a strike. He then starts hitting 147 kph en route to a K to end the inning. This guy can deal.
Noutomi's throwing ahead in the count has the batters swinging away. Hoshi grounds out to 2nd, Yoshioka flies out to right, and Matsumoto strikes out.
Kunieda first to face Itou, and he hits a grounder to short, but the throw from Matsumoto is low and Hoshi can't field it!
No matter though, because he gets Enomoto to ground into the 4-6-3 double play! And Kawano also grounds to 2nd to end the inning. Some nice pitching by Itou in relief!
One down for Teikyou, and Kaneko gets a base hit back up the middle when he works the count full. Then Taguchi with a safety bunt! Kunieda charges in, but his throw is high!! Kaneko advances to 3rd on the error!
Runners at the corners for Hirahara.
The first pitch from Noutomi gets by Kawano! Kaneko comes home and Teikyou is within 1, 3-2!!
And now Noutomi works around Hirahara, walking him on 4 straight.
Runners on 1st and 2nd for Itou.
Itou tries to put down the bunt, but fails! They have Taguchi caught!
Kawano's throw to 3rd hits Taguchi! It goes away from 3rd into foul territory and Taguchi dashes for home!!!
On a wild series of events, Teikyou scores the douten run here in the 8th! 4-4!!! Hirahara advances into scoring position!
But Itou strikes out on 3 straight, 2 down.
Haraguchi up, liner to right!!
BUT WADA MAKES THE LEAPING CATCH!!!!!!!!!
Wada saves the game with his catch! But Teikyou has tied the game!!!
Makimoto with a drive to deep right center! That's to the wall! He's in with a leadoff double!
#16 Honda to pinch hit for Amano.
First pitch, ball, snap throw to 2nd. 2nd Pitch, strike, snap throw to 2nd...
AND HONDA WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION! He's caught off 2nd and is run down! One out!
Itou then strikes out Honda! Two down!
And while Noutomi walks, Miyoshi flies out to right to end the inning.
The momentum is definitely with Teikyou now. Can they capitalize?
#7 Yoshioka in for PH Honda and takes right.
Hoshi starts it off and draws a leadoff walk! Noutomi is certainly under pressure now that the game is tied.
Yoshioka with the sac bunt to move Hoshi into scoring position.
Matsumoto up now, he works the count full, and singles through the left side! Hoshi holds up at 3rd and now the sayonara run is 90 feet away!
With only the lead runner mattering, they semi-intentionally walk Ariga to load the bases for a possible double play. Kaneko up now, nowhere to put him!
First pitch, strike! 0-1! Then down and in for 1-1. Fastball, strike 2! He gets ahead 0-2! Pitch, outside?! The battery thinks it's good, it sure looks like it is, but it's called a ball! 2-2!
5th pitch, fouled off! Still 2-2. 6th pitch! Driven to right! Good if it's fair! Yoshioka running back!
IT'S FAIR!!!!! SAYONARA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kaneko with the sayonara hit as Noutomi collapses on the mound! Teikyou rallies from 2 runs down to win and secure a place in the Best 8!!!!!
You know, perhaps it's not the rally power of the teams such as Teikyou and Chiben Wakayama, more than the pressure the opposition places on themselves when ahead to close the game. Because no matter how strong or weak the team is that year, they're still Teikyou. They're still Chiben Wakayama. And the thought of defeating them can put a lot of pressure on oneselves.
It's not until afterwards, when they make the comeback, that you realize that it was never them. If was just your impression of them at that moment, with 6 outs to go... with 3 outs to go...
And perhaps that is the lesson that they will keep, that ability to have confidence in oneself no matter what the situation is - or appears to be. It's certainly a painful lesson to learn at Koshien, considering that for most members, this is their final summer.
Kobayashi (Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku) - 2-3, HR, R, RBI
Kunieda (Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku) - 2-4, 2B, R
Noutomi (Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku) - L, CG, 4 R, 2 ER, 8 H, 5 K, 4 BB
Kakeko (Teikyou) - 3-4, 2 R, Sayonara RBI
Taguchi (Teikyou) - 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
Itou (Teikyou) - W, 2.1 IP, 0 ER, H, K, BB