Today we'll conclude the round of 16 matches. The flurry of games will slow down, but the pace of them for each team will start to accelerate.
Meihou's had quite the trek to just get into the round of 16. They've had to face 2 Senbatsu teams so far this tournament. First off was Kounan and Shimabukuro. In that game, they came back from a 3-0 deficit to win. Then they faced off against Saijyou and Akiyama. There, Noguchi shut down the Saijyou offense while the offense hits 2 home runs off Akiyama to advance 4-0.
Tokoha Tachibana easily handled Asahigawadai in the first round, shutting them out 2-0. But in their 2nd game, they had to hold off a late charge from Kochi to advance 7-6.
1B Kimori (#15)
Tokoha Tachibana (Shizuoka)
8:30 AM - First pitch!
After their first batter is retired, Sungawa singles through the left side after fouling off several pitches.
Imamiya up, and it's clear that Shouji does not have good control to start. While Shouji manages to work the count full after falling behind 3-0, he walks him.
Runners on 1st and 2nd for Meihou and cleanup batter Abe steps in - and sends a clean hit through the right side! Sunagawa rounds 3rd and scores! Meihou quickly on the board, 1-0!!
Next up is Kimori, and that's a clean single past a diving Koizumi into right! Imamiya being waved around 3rd, he scores! 2-0 Meihou and there's still 1 down!
AH! And then Shouji hits Kawano! Manrui for Meihou and there's still only 1 down!
Noguchi can blow this game out early with a base hit!
But Shouji still can't throw a strike! The count goes to 3-0! There's nowhere to put him! Puts one down the middle for strike 1, and Noguchi fouls one off and it goes full!
Deciding pitch... grounded to 1st! Kawaguchi with it! Goes home for 1, back to 1st... double play!
Shouji gets the 3-2-3 double plat to end the inning! But Meihou has sprinted out of the starting blocks with 2 runs!
Noguchi also struggling with his location early on. After retiring Konota to start the inning, he walks Koizumi.
Shouji up and he drives one to deep center, but that's caught by Kawano in front of the warning track.
And Noguchi strikes out Ushiba to end the inning.
First pitch to Saimaki by Shouji hits him, and Meiou quickly getting their offense started here in the 2nd. Inagaki bunts him over to 2nd as the lineup turns back over to Hirai.
He once again grounds out to 1st, but it does advance Saimaki to 3rd. Now a base hit by Sunagawa can plate another run!
But Shouji strikes him out to end the inning! He's still not as accurate as he'd probably like, but he does turn back the Meihou offense.
Kawaguchi leads off the inning with a drive to right! Hirai runs back, but it's off the base of the wall! He's in with a double!
Hayakawa up, and it's a single up the middle! That's through for a base hit! Runners at the corners with no down for Inazumi!
And with the count 2-0, Noguchi picks off Hayakawa at 1st! One down! (There's been quite a bit of baserunning errors this tournament!!)
And Noguchi handcuffs Inazumi! He hits a short blooper that Imamiya fields! Looks to 3rd, throws to 1st for the out! 2 down!
Yamagichi with a comebacker on the first pitch! Noguchi goes to 1st and Tachibana is not able to score with with runners at the corners and nobody out!!!
Shouji still having trouble, walks Imamiya for the 2nd time. Then on a ball hit by Abe, Koizumi charges in, goes to turn 2, but loses the handle! He gets it back, tries to make the tag on Imamiya, but can't! All safe! Runners on 1st and 2nd again for Meihou!
Kimori with the sac bunt (with 2 strikes!) to send the runners over.
Now Kawano with a chance to double their lead over Tachibana.
Bit it's a grounder to 2nd! Koizumi fields it and fires home! Ushiba with the sweep tag, and.... OUT!
Koizumi makes up for the error and throws Imamiya out at home! 2 down!
And Doigoubou-kantoku sends Kawano! Ushiba with the fake throw and turns to 3rd! Abe's caught in no-man's land! They run him down the inning is over! Shouji gets out of yet another pinch!
Yamada stars off the inning with a single to center.
It's back to the top fo the lineup and Konota lines one down the right field line! Yamada's held up at 3rd, but it's runners at 2nd and 3rd for Tachibana!
Base hit ties the game now!
Koizumi reaches down and sweeps one to right! That's in for a base hit! Yamada scores! Konota being waved around! He scores! Koizumi comes back on offense with a douten double! 2-2!!
Shouji comes up, but he grounds to short! It's too slow to get Koizumi heading to 3rd, but Imamiya retires him for the first out.
And Ushiba with the grounder through to left! Gyakuten!!! Koizumi comes in to score and Tokoha Tachibana takes the lead! 3-2!!
Kawaguchi steps in the box, looking to extend the rally. But he grounds to short! Imamiya goes to 2nd, but Sunagawa can't field it! All safe!
And Hayakawa hits a low buzzing liner right by Imamiya into center! Ushiba comes around, and it's 4-2 Tachibana!!!
That's it for Noguchi. Daigoubou puts Imamiya on the mound. Noguchi heads to left, and #16 Shinogawa comes in for Saimaki.
And Imamiya hits 147 kph?!! And then strikes out Inazumi with a 150 kph fastball??!!!!!!
He's throwing complete gas!!!
Yamagishi up... 151!!!! Imamiya's up quickly 0-2, and gets Yamagishi to go way in front of a 128 kph change! OW!
Imamiya just slams the door down on Tachibana's rally, hitting 151 on the gun!!
And with the lead, Shouji starts hitting his locations! And he's implementing a slow curve for strikes!! As a result, he retires the side in order!!
Imamiya may be fireballing, but Yamada will have none of it! He chops it back up the middle for a base hit!
and then Konota gets hit by Imamiya! Runners on 1st and 2nd!
Koizumi bunts them over for Shouji. Now a base hit can tack on another 2 runs.
Imamiya hits 153!!! But Shouji drives it back through the left side! Yamada scores! Konota being sent home, and he scores! It's 6-2 Tachibana!!!
Ushiba grounds out to 3rd, but even the 153 kph fastball of Imamiya isn't invincible!
Hirai with a single through to right. Meihou needs to get some of these runs back soon.
Sunagawa then manages to get a walk! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Meihou, no down, and Imamiya coming to the plate!
AHH!!! But after the 1st pitch, Ushiba fires to 2nd and they catch Hirai napping! He's picked off! One down!
Hit and run for Meihou! Imamiya takes the pitch to left center for a base hit! Runners at the corners now for cleanup batter Abe.
He hits one to center and that's good enought to get Sunagawa in. 6-3!
And while Kimori flies out to center, Meihou has at least gotten back a run.
Imamiya's intimidating fastball has the batters all mixed up. And he starts throwing his off speed pitches for K's. He retires the side in order, but as we head to the break Tachibana holds a 4 run lead! But will it last?
Kawano leads off the 6th drawing a walk from Shouji.
But Noguchi isn't bunting, and strikes out! One down.
Shinogawa and Inagawa both fly out to center to end the inning. Shouji is still not 100%, but he's doing well enough to hold the lead.
Imamiya's dramatic enrtrance has certainly thrown off the Tachibana batters. He's not throwing 150 anymore, but the offspeed stuff is doing it's job. He strikes out the side and has 7 in 3.2 innings of work.
Shouji with two quick outs, but Imamiya shakes it up driving an inside pitch all the way to the wall in left center for a double! But Abe grounds out to 3rd to end the inning. They're down by only 3, but time isn't on their side now.
Koizumi finally gets Tachibana's first hit since the 4th with a single to left center.
Shouji's not bunting and hits a high fly to center for out number 1.
And with Ushiba up, Koizumi takes off for 2nd! But Abe guns it to 2nd and he's out by a mile!
2 down, and Imamiya gets Ushiba to ground out to short to end the inning.
Time really running out for Meihou now... Kimori up and he chops one to left! It one hops Konota and goes into left field! Leadoff runner on for Meihou!
Kawano with a hard hit ball to the right side, but Koizumi gets the sure out at 1st. One down.
#3 Matsumoto comes in to pinch hit for Noguchi. But perhaps the pressure is getting to Shouji?? He walks him on 4 straight!
Now the tying run comes up in Shinogawa!
Grounder past a diving Konota! BUT IT HITS KIMORI!!! He's automatically out!! What a shame! So instead of manrui with one down, it's runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 down!
#18 Kotobuki in to pinch hit for Inagaki.
It's a blooper down the right field line! Hirai charges in, dives, but can't get it! Matsumoto scores! Shinogawa comes around 3rd, he scores!!! Meihou's within 1! 6-5!!!!!
#17 Suzuki comes in to pinch run for Kotobuki.
Hirai flies out to right, but a fortunate hit brings Meihou within striking distance!!
Matsumoto stays in the game and goes to left. #13 Numaguchi comes in for Suzuki and goes to 3rd.
Tachibana would love an insurance run here...
And Hayakawa gives them that opportunity with a one-out single back up the middle! Kurosawa-kantoku has Inazumi but the runner over, and pinch hits #11 Fujisawa for Yamagishi.
But Fujisawa grounds out to 1st and they're turned away.
#15 Miyaji comes in for Fujisawa and goes to center.
Meihou certainly has the momentum, but can Shouji find a way to close it out?
Sunagaw leads off the inning with a dive to the big gap in right center! He's in with a leadoff triple!
Now Tachibana should just concede the run and play for the 9th.
Shouji wants to keep that run! He battles Imamiya and gets ahead 1-2! He's starting to hit 147 on the gun!
But Imamiya lines one to right! That scores Sunagawa and we're all tied up! Now Imamiya represents the winning run!
Abe up, and he gets good contact! But it's right at Kawaguchi! He catches it and tags first for the double play!!
Shouji can relax a little with no runners on base, but not too much. However, he gets Kimori to fly out to center to end the inning.
Meihou ties it up, but given the circumstances, it's probably the best result.
While they gotten away with it just being tied, the new question is - can they score a run off Imamiya?
Tachibana's batters start working Imamiya, but are still being retired. Koizumi gets a two out single, but Shouji grounds out to 1st to end the inning.
Now that the game is tied, it seems like Shouji has settled down. What is it with pitchers not being able to pitch with a lead??
He regains his control, and retires the side in order - ringing up 2 batters in the process.
It's not a good start for Imamiya as he hits Ushiba to start the inning.
Kawaguchi gets good contact on the first pitch and drives it to left, but it hangs up there and Matsumoto is there for the catch. One down.
Hayakawa tries to put down the bunt, but Abe quickly catches it! Fires it to 1st... double play!!! And just like that the threat is over!
Meihou's trying anything to get on base. One down, Hirai tries a push bunt, but gets tagged out.
Sunagawa has the right idea though! He drives one, this time to the left center field gap! He's in with a 2 out double!
And Imamiya steps up looking for another timely.
But Shouji has yet to throw a strike! He falls behind 3-0! And walks him on 4 pitches! But really the runner on 2nd is what matters.
Abe steps up and quickly falls behind 0-2! But he manages to work the count full after Shouji doesn't get the call on the 1-2 pitch.
Kurosawa-kantoku calls for a conference as it's manrui for Kimori! And Shouji is at 193 pitches!
Fly to center! But Miyaji parks under it and the side is retired!!
#10 Yamano comes in for Numaguchi and takes the hill. Imamiuya moves over to 3rd.
And the Tachibana batters start swinging away! The first 2 batters are retired in just 3 pitches and Yamada strikes out to end the inning! We head to the 12th!
Kawano with a drive to right! That's driven deep! Hayakawa at the wall, and makes the catch!!
Matsumoto with a grounder up the middle! Inazumi cuts it off, but this throw goes wild! It goes into the camera well and Matsumoto is awarded 2nd!
Gyakuten runner on 2nd with one down for Shinogawa!
Count goes full and... Shinogawa strikes out! But its a wild pitch! Shinogawa reaches 1st and there's runners at the corners with 1 out!
AHHH!!!! Shouji hits Numaguchi! Manrui for Meihou!!!!!
Hirai with a grounder to short! Inazumi with it! Goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st...
SAFE!!! Inazumi's slight hesitiation costs them!
But wait! Kawaguchi throws home! Shinogawa was going all the way from 2nd and he scores! That's 2 runs on the fielders choice and Meihou leads 8-6 here in the 12th!
Shouji gets Sunagawa to ground out to 1st to end the inning, but Meihou has taken a 2 run lead!
Is there anything left in Tachibana?
The signs point to no. All the batters start swinging away against Yamano.
Konota flies out to left... Koizumi strikes out on 4 pitches...
Down to Shouji, and he hits a weak grounder to 2nd. But Sunagawa can't field the ball and he's aboard!
The hope is short lived though, as Ushiba flails away at the plate, striking out on a pitch in the dirt to end the game....
Meihou, behind the back of Imamiya, goes into the Best 8 after rallying from behind to defeat Tokoha Tachibana! What a performance by the 3rd year!
On the other side, Shouji should be credited for his performance. He threw over 200 pitches in 12 innings, trying to keep his team in it. In the end, it wasn't enough and their 1st ever summer at Koshien comes to an end. But perhaps this will be the first of many that Tachibana will see here at Koshien.