Hanamaki Higashi looks to punch their ticket to the best 8. But before they can do that, the'll have to defeat Darvish Yu's alumus, Tohoku.
3B Itou Wataru
1B Ooba Kouhei
RF Ooba Yuuji
SS Shinotsuka (#14)
Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
CF Satou Ryouhei
LF Sasaki Daiki (#15)
P Kikuchi Yuusei
2:55 PM - First pitch!
Kikuchi seems to be still struggling with his control a bit here to start. But while he gives up a one-out hit to Kikuchi, he harmlessly retires the next two batters to end the inning.
Satou's strategy seems to be to quick pitch his way through the Hanamaki Higashi's batters.
And it seems to be working. Kashiwaba grounds out to 3rd, Ryouhei strikes out looking after a 9 pitch at-bat, and Kawamura also strikes out looking on 3 straight.
We've all decided in the chat room that Yuusei has been working on pitching effectively as opposed to pitching dominantly.
Although that doesn't mean that he can't strike people out. Wataru and Kouhei come up and both strike out to start the inning.
And while Yuusei allows another baserunner in a two-out single by Satou, he gets Yuuji to ground out to 1st to end the inning.
I dare say we may have a pitcher's duel on our hands! Certainly not as imposing as Yuusei, Satou gets two flyouts to right by Sarukawa and Chiba with a grounder back to Satou by Yokokura sandwiched in between.
7 pitches for Kikuchi. He's throwing strikes and forcing Tohoku to swing away early.
Hanamaki gets their first baserunner as the throw from Daiki's grounder is whiffed by Kouhei!
Yuusei bunts him over to scoring position for Yamada.
And he finds the gap through the left side! Absolutely no one there to get it! It goes into left as Daiki comes around to score!!! Turns out the SS was running to cover 2nd for a throw! And the error to start the inning comes in to score! 1-0!
They try the hit and run, but Kashiwaba strikes out, and Sonobe throws to 2nd! They get Yamada for the double play!
But Hanamaki has scored first here!
Kunishima leads off with a short chopper to 1st! Both Yokokura and Kashiwaba charge towards it! Kashiwaba gets it, but then there's no one covering 1st! Base hit!
Sonobe advances him for Wataru, but Yuusei hits him! Runners on 1st and 2nd with one out!
Kouhei then hits a short dribbler in front of home. Chiba gets to it and throws to 1st. Now both runners are in scoring position! But Satou flies out to shallow left center and Yuusei gets out of the pinch.
Tohoku gives Hanamaki their 2nd leadoff runner as Satou hits Ryouhei to start the inning. Kawamura bunts him to 2nd to put him into scoring position.
Sarukawa up and Ryouhei takes off on the 1-2 pitch! Sarukawa swings and misses, and Sonobe's throw is way too late! Runner on 3rd, 2 outs!
And Yokokura hits one to the left side! That's by Itou! Suzuki cuts it off, makes the quick throw! It bounces on the ground towads Kouhei!
But he can't pick the bouncing ball! Yokokura is safe and Ryouhei scores! 2-0 Hanamaki Higashi!
Chiba follows that up with a liner to left! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Hanamaki!
Daiki strikes out, but Hanamaki tacks on another run!
Kikuchi is starting to turn the heat up.
He strikes out Yuuji to start the inning. Then on a drag bunt by Shinotsuka, Yokokura charges in and swipe tags him for the 2nd out! (Although on reply is seems like all he swiped was air).
Sano gets an infield single, as his ball is cut by Sarukawa, but he can't make the throw to 1st. It's for naught though as a chopper up the middle is snagged by Kashiwaba who makes a great throw to 1st to retire the side!!
#15 Kiryuu comes in for Kouhei and takes 3rd. Wataru moves over to 1st.
One down for Hanamaki and Yamada lays down the drag bunt! Satou and Itou converge, but by the time they get to the ball, their only hope is that it goes foul. Which is doesn't.
And then with Kashiwaba up, Yamada takes off for 2nd! But Sonobe's throw to 2nd is low and gets past everyone! He advances to 3rd!
That error costs Tohoku another run as Kashiwaba hits a chopper to the right side! Itou comes up with it but has no play at home! He goes to 1st and it's now 3-0 Hanamaki!
Then Ryouhei with a grounder to the left side! Suzuki runs it down again, but once again the throw is late! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Hanamaki!
However, Kawamura strikes out to end the inning. Hanamaki has extended the lead to 3 as we head to the break!
Yuusei continues to cruise through the lineup, that is until Wataru drives one into the left center field gap for a double!
Kiryuu up looking for a timely hit. And he takes a pitch away to right field! Wataru rounds 3rd and he scores! Tohoku is on the board! 3-1!!
Satou though strikes out to end the inning. Tohoku has taken a run back, but they'll need 2 more of those.
Sarukawa leads off the inning with a single through the right side. He's moved to 2nd for Chiba.
And he drills one down the first base line! Itou dives and makes the stop!! Goes to 1st, 2 down! That could very well save a run!
And it does! Daiki strikes out and the inning is over!!!
#9 Satou Ryuujirou comes in for Daiki and takes right. Yamada movers over to left.
Tohoku continues to struggle making good contact on Kikuchi's pitches. One one ball leaves the infield as Kikuchi retires Tohoku in order.
Yamada gets 3rd base hit of the day with a buzzer up the 3rd base line! But Kikuchi cuts it off quickly and limits him to a single!
Satou then gets Kashiwaba to ground out to 3rd, and Ryouhei lines out to center in a pulled in outfield!
Tohoku is running out of outs if they want to tie this game.
But Hanamaki gives them a gift as a ball hit by Kikuchi goes right in between Kawamura's legs and into left!
Kunishima uses an out to move him into scoring position.
Then Agatsuma-kantoku puts on the hit and run! Sonobe makes contact, but it's right to 3rd. Sarukawa can only go to 1st, but now there's 2 down.
Wataru now needing the timely. The count goes to 2-2, and...
Wataru swings and misses on a pitch inside and Tohoku is denied!
2 down for Hanamaki Higashi, but Satou hits Yokokura!
AHHH!!!!! And a wild pitch sends him to 2nd!!
That's costly! Chba sends one through the left side! Yokoura is being sent home! The throw from Kikuchi is on the ground, and he's in safely! It's 4-1 Hanamaki Higashi!
That's it for Satou. #18 Kiyohara comes into the game to pitch.
He gets Ryuujirou to ground out to 2nd to end the inning.
But the deficit sits once again at 3.
Kiryuu with a chopper up past Kikuchi as he flails backwards to get. But Kashiwaba has his back, fields the ball and gets a diving Kiryuu at 1st! One down!! (If he had not slid, he could have been safe).
#17 Abe in to pinch hit for Kiyohara... But he strikes out on 3 straight!
#6 Suzuki Shou, the captain comes in to pinch hit for Yuuji.
It's a grounder up the first base line, but Yokokura boots it! He's safe at 1st!
Down to Shinotsuka! Slider outside for strike 1! Then a fastball on the corner for strike 2! Last strike for Shinotsuka... SANSHIN!!!!!
He goes down swinging on a 152 kph pitch outside for strike 3! Hanamaki Higashi advances to the Best 8 and a matchup with Meihou tomorrow morning! For Tohoku, their summer is over, but there is nothing for them to be ashamed about. They played a great game against one of the favorites in the tournament, and were just outplayed.