Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 12 - Game 1 - Quarterfinals - Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate) vs. Meihou (Oita)

So we're finally in our Best 8. And I think we have 4 good games in store!

In game 1, we have Meihou's Noguchi and Imamiya facing off against Hanamaki Higashi's Kikuchi Yuusei.

When you discuss Meihou you think of Imamiya Kenta - but you have to some credit to Noguchi. He had a hiccup in the round of 16 match versus Tokoha Tachibana, but he has done a good job giving up 6 ER in 16.2 IP.

Although I guess looking at Imamiya's line, 13.1 IP, 2 ER, 12 K, 0 BB, 3 HBP - is pretty darned good. Add to that that in the last game versus Tokoha Tachibana, he hit 153 kph on the gun for a fastball combined with an offspeed of 128 kph, it could be pretty nasty.

Turn to Hanamaki Higashi, we have the start of the tournament - Kikuchi Yuusei. But the comments about him have been far from dominating. He almost lost his first round game against Nagasaki Nichidai - and perhaps should have if not for the questionable decision by the Nagasaki Nichidai kantoku. He then kept his team in the games against his kantoku's old team - Yokohama Hayato, before pulling ahead late. And in the bracket final, he finally started turning it on against Miyagi's Tohoku squad.

Still, people have commented that he's not the fireballer we'd thought we'd see. In fact his K rates are rather lower than expected (22 K in 27 IP). Plus, he didn't hit the 150's until his last game versus Tohoku.

So what gives?

Perhaps he knew from Senbatsu that he lost a lot of speed by the time he reached the final and is pacing himself through the first rounds...

Perhaps in a way to prepare for the NPB or MLB, or wherever he goes, he's been learning to throw his secondary pitches (slider, curve) for strikes so that he's not regarded as just a fastball pitcher...

But whatever the reason, this is where the road will get tougher, and I don't have any doubt that he'll start pitching 100% if he hasn't already.

So which side will prevail?

Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
2B Kashiwaba
CF Satou Ryouhei
SS Kawamura
3B Sarukawa
1B Yokokura
C Chiba
LF Sasaki Daiki (#15)
P Kikuchi Yuusei
RF Yamada

Meihou (Oita)
RF Hirai
2B Sunagawa
P Imamiya
C Abe
LF Kotobuki (#18)
CF Kawano
1B Matsumoto
SS Shinokawa (#16)
3B Inagaki


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11:00 AM - First pitch!

Top 1st
Imamiya taking the hill to start, gets ahead of Kashiwaba 0-2, but then glances a ball off his head! For precautionary reasons, Yamada comes in to run.

Ryouhei bunts him along to 2nd, and an early opportunity for Hanamaki!

But Kawamura hits a comebacker! Imamiya looks him back, but when he goes to 1st, Yamada takes off! The throw by Matsumoto to 3rd is late and now Hanamaki has the first run 90 feet away!

And Imamiya strikes out Sunagawa to end the inning! Outside of the dead ball, he's looked pretty solid with all of his pitches. As for the fastball, he's hitting about 145 kph.


Bottom 1st
Kikuchi is throwing quite a few off-speed pitches to start, 3 to Hirai who gets ahead of the pitch and grounds it to 1st.

But then he starts throwing fastballs at Sunagawa who grounds out to short.

Imamiya up and takes the first pitch to deep center!!! But he gets under it and Ryouhei stands a couple of feet from the warning track and catches it for the third out!


Top 2nd
Yokokura starts off the 2nd with a base hit to right. Chiba looking to bunt, but Imamiya tries to go around the bunt! But instead he walks him on 4 straight pitches outside!

So now runners on 1st and 2nd as Daiki bunts the runners along. That brings up Yuusei! What will Sasaki-kantoku do?

Yuusei with a drag bunt! But that's foul!

Then it's a squeeze!!!! But he bunts that foul!

1-2 now... can't bunt, right?

Instead he hits a chopper to 1st! Sunagawa has it, but has to go to 1st! Yokokura scores and Hanamaki is up 1-0!! Now Chiba stands at 3rd with two down.

And Yamada tries for the bunt base hit, but is retired quickly by Imamiya to ed the inning.

But Hanamaki is quickly on the board!


Bottom 2nd
Yuusei certainly is off to a good start. He's throwing inside without much trouble and is throwing his pitches for strikes. He racks up 2 K's for his 2nd 1-2-3 inning.


Top 3rd
Imamiya almost cruises to a 1-2-3 inning, but after 2 grounds outs, Kawamura hits another one to 1st. But Matsumoto can't get a handle on the ball and Kawamura is safe!

Then with the count 2-2 to Sarukawa, Kawamura takes off for 2nd! But no one's covering the bag when Abe throws to 2nd! But Kawano is there to make sure he doesn't advance any further.

But Meihou doesn't have to worry as Sarukawa strikes out to end the inning.


Bottom 3rd
Meihou's batters look tentative at the plate against Yuusei. As a result, they either aren't able to catch up to the fastball or are fooled by his off speed pitches.

Rack up two more K's for Yuusei as he retires the side in order yet again.


Top 4th
#15 Kimori is in for Matsumoto.

Yokokura with a drive to left center! That to the wall and Yokoru has the lead off double!

Chiba with the bunt, and it gets by Imamiya! Inagaki comes in, but it's too late! All safe!!!!

Daiki hits a comebacker! That's off Imamiya's glove! It's deflected slightly left of 2nd, but Shinokawa was setup for it to come straight back! He has to go back to get it, and his toss to 2nd is not in time! All safe, and Yokokura scores!! Hanamaki Higashi is up 2-0!!!

Runners at 1st and 2nd, and Yuusei puts down the bunt. He's retired at first, but takes a fall! Everyone gasps, but he's okay and gets up.

Yamada up and a Imamiya is in trouble...

And he takes the 2-2 pitch through the left side! Chiba comes in to score and it's 3-0!!

That'll be it for Imamiya. Daigoubou-kantoku brinds in Noguchi for Inagaki as Imamiya moves to 3rd.

First pitch to Kashiwaba is lined back through the middle! Daiki scores and it's now 4-0 Hanamaki! And still 1 down!

But Ryouhei tries to bunt the runners over and instead pops out.

And Kawamura flies out to left to end the inning. But Hanamaki is making this game start to look one-sided!!


Bottom 4th
Hirai with a hard liner, but it's right at Yokokura! One down.

Sunagawa gets ahead of Kikuchi 3-1, but swings away and grounds to short. 2 down.

And behind 0-2, Imamiya hits a chopper in front of the plate. Chiba gets it and throws him out! Side retired!!


Top 5th
Sunagawa drives the 3-2 pitch deep down the right field line! Hirai to the pole, looks up!!!

FOUL!!!!!!!!!!!!

The ball just sneaks foul!!! But he gets on base anyways as Noguchi walks him a pitch later.

Yokokura tries for a safety bunt, and both Kimori and Sunagawa go for the ball! Kimori has it as Noguchi races over and beats Yokokura to the bag! One down.

But then the count goes full on Chiba and Noguchi walks him! Runners on 1st and 2nd.

And what's this?? Daigoubou-kantoku pulls Noguchi and puts in #10 Yamano!!

Is this desparation? Noguchi only goes for 1 inning! And Yamano isn't a hard thrower!

But he gets Daiki to ground to 2nd! Sungawa goes to Shinokawa for 1, throw to 1st, double play! Yamano gets out of the inning, but what about later?


Bottom 5th
Kikuchi falls behind Abe 3-0. Will he lose his perfect game?

YES! He walks him and Meihou has their first runner!

And then he loses his no-hitter!!!

Kotobuki shoots one through the left side! The outfield is playing back and Abe goes all the way to 3rd! Runners on the corners, no down for Kawano!

And it's a drive to deep right!! Yamada going back... and the wind knocks it down! Yamada catches it in front of the fence! Abe comes in and Meihou is on the board, 4-1!!!

It's too bad as the wind is blowing out to left.

Kimori up for his first AB, and Yuusei falls behind him! He seems to be laboring a bit. But he gets him to ground to pop up to short. 2 down.

And what's this???

Yuusei is being relieved off the mound!!!!

Sarukawa comes from 3rd and takes the hill. Kikuchi moves to left and Daiki goes to 3rd.

Is Yuusei hurt??? Isn't that the only explanation???

But Sarukawa does get Shinokawa to pop up to 2nd to end the inning.

We head to the break with Hanamaki Higashi up 4-1, but the bigger question is...

What's going on with Kikuchi Yuusei??


Top 6th
There's a delay as Kikuchi is still in the dugout...

And Sasaki-kantoku comes back out, and #12 Saitou goes to the plate! Yuusei has left the game!!!

Saitou grounds out to 2nd for the first out.

Yamada with the bunt in front of the plate, and Abe and Yamano collide! Abe tries to throw to 1st, but it's not in time!

But Yamano gets Kashiwaba to strike out looking, and Ryouhei to ground out to short.


Bottom 6th
Saitou stays in the game to play left.

So, now Sarukawa's in for the rest of the game.... Does Meihou have a chance?

Yamano with a grounder to the left side! Just out of the reach of Sarukawa and Kawamura can't cleanly field it! Leadoff single for Meihou!

And Hirai scorches a grounder up the middle! Kawamura with the diving stop! Runs to 2nd for one, throw to 1st... Short! Yokokura can't pick it and it goes into the camera well!! Hirai goes to 2nd.

Sunagawa with a base hit to right! Hirai holds up ap 3rd! Runnes at the corners for Imamiya!!!!!

But he skies one to shallow center! Kawamura has it, and more importantly, Hirai can't tag up!!

It's up to Abe now.

And Sunagawa takes off for 2nd on the 1-0 pitch!!! The throw by Chiba is cut off to prevent the double steal! Now a base hit can bring them within 1!

After another ball, they elect to put Abe on to create the force.

Sasaki-kantoku calls for a conference as #18 Kotobuki steps in...

Ball 1 in the dirt!

Liner through the infield into right! Hirai scores! Sunagawa comes in and the throw is cut off! Kotobuki with the 2-RBI single and Meihou is within 1!!!!!! 4-3!!!!!!!

AH!!!! A wild pitch by Sarukawa sends the runners to 2nd and 3rd!!!! Now the gyakuten run is in scoring position!!!

And they elect to walk Kawano to create the force once again!

Kimori up now... Is it going to fall apart this quickly for Hanamaki Higashi??

Down the middle for strike 1. Chopper, foul down the 1st base line! Behind 0-2. Outside for ball 1. Outside for ball 2! Sarukawa takes too long and Kimori calls time... Lifted to left! Saitou coming in, reverses direction! Goes back and makes the catch! 3 down!

But Meihou has closed to within 1!!!


Top 7th
Sarukawa gets a one out walk, but something's changed within the Hanamaki Higashi ranks...

The batters are swinging away... it seems like there's a bit of worry within their ranks.

Yamano takes full advantage striking out Yokokura and Chiba to end the inning.


Bottom 7th
#9 Satou Ryuujirou comes in for Saitou and goes to right. Yamada goes to left.

The biggest test will be in this inning as to how Meihou responds.

Shinokawa runs the count full, and thinks he has ball 4, but is called out on strikes.

Yamano swings at the first pitch and grounds out to short.

Quickly 2 down for Meihou. But Hirai singles to center! Douten runner on base!

AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A 1-0 wild pitch by Sarukawa sends Hirai to 2nd!! Now a base hit could tie the game!!

But Sunagawa flies out to left! 3 outs!

Certainly Hanamaki Higashi is in red alert mode. Only up one with their ace gone.


Top 8th
With one down, Ryuujirou lines one into left. #10 Shibata comes in for Yamada and bunts the runner over to 2nd.

2 down, runner on 2nd for top batter Kashiwaba.

Daigoubou-kantoku calls time to they can discuss strategy.

And they decide to intentionally walk Kashiwaba to get to Ryouhei!

Ryouhei grounds to 2nd! Sunagawa can't find the ball! But he sees it and goes to 2nd to end the inning!!!


Bottom 8th
#11 Sasaki Kouyuu comes in for PH Shibata and takes left.

Imamiya to lead off the 8th...

He hits a high fly to right center! Everyone's converging on the ball, but it falls in! Imamiya aggressively running, reaches 2nd! Douten runner in scoring position!!

Abe up looking for the timely. Count goes full...

SANSHIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sarukawa gets Abe looking for strike 3!!! One down!

But Kotobuki is hit by Sarukawa!! Runners on 1st and 2nd!!

Sasaki-kantoku calls time and Yuusei heads to the mound! They have a conference as Kawano comes to the plate...

Grounder down the 1st base line! Yokokura dives, can't get it! FAIR!!!!

Imamiya rounds 3rd and scores!!! DOUTEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4-4!!!!!!

KIMORI WITH A DRIVE TO LEFT!!!!!! KOUYUU CHARGING IN, RUNNING BACK!!!!

THAT'S TO THE WALL!!! KOTOBUKI SCORES!!!! KAWANO SCORES!!!!

MEIHOU GYAKUTEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 6-4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2nd year Kimori comes through with a 2-RBI double! And Meihou takes the lead!!!!!!

Shinokawa with a chopper up the middle. Kashiwaba charging in. Makes the snag. Throw to 1st... OUT! 2 down! Kimori advances to 3rd!

Sarukawa goes ahead 0-2 on Yamano, and..

SANSHIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sarukawa strikes out Yamano to retires the side! BUT!! Meihou takes the lead here in the 9th!!!!


Top 9th
Last chance for Hanamaki Higashi...

Kawamura with a single through the right side for a single!

Sarukawa with a liner to right center! Kawamura rounding 2nd goes to 3rd! Runners at the corners with now down!

SQUEEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yokokura offers but misses! Abe looks to 3rd, but that wasn't the object!!! Sarukawa takes 2nd on the commotion! Now a base hit ties the game!!!

SINGLE THROUGH TO CENTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KAWAMURA SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SARUKAWA ROUNDING 3RD.... HE SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DOUTEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yokokura comes through with a douten 2-run single!!!! IT'S 6-6!!!!!!

Chiba with the sac bunt and that advances Yokokura to ??

That's it for Yamano. Imamiya retakes the hill as #13 Numaguchi comes in for Yamano to take 3rd.

And Imamiya hits 152 kph! Then 154!!! And a slider to strike out Daiki!!!! 2 down!!!

Imamiya still throwing heat! There's one at 153!!! 151!! And Ryuujirou strikes out swinging!!!!

Imamiya comes in and slams the door! He keeps the game tied at 6 and gives his team a chance to win it in the bottom of the 9th!!!


Bottom 9th
Hirai leads off the inning with a single through to left! Sayonara runner on base! Sunagawa with the sac bunt.

And they intentionally walk Imamiya!

Runnners on 1st and 2nd with one down!

Abe gets ahead 2-1, but then flies out to shallow right! Hirai can't advance!

Kotobuki up and drives one to deep left! Kouyuu backpedals and makes the catch! We head into extras!!!!!


Top 10th
One down, Kashiwaba with a hard hit grounder to 3rd! It's off Numaguchi, and Kashiwaba is on base!

Ryouhei with the bunt! Kimori with it, tosses to 1st, out!

AH!!! But Ryouhei collides with Imamiya! He's down! Sasaki-kantoku goes out, as well as the doctors... The stretcher is called and he's taken off the field...

Kawamura steps in.

Ground ball... THROUGH!!! IT'S THROUGH TO RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KASHIWABA HEAD SLIDES INTO HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7-6 HANAMAKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sarukawa grounds out to 1st, but Hanamaki has taken the lead here in the 10th!!!!!!!!


Bottom 10th
There's a delay as Ryouhei gets worked on in the dugout...

And he emerges!!! The crowd erupts in applause!!!!

Kawano with a drive to deep right center!!! Ryouhei and Ryuujirou converge... and Ryuujiryou has it!! Almost another collision out there!!

Kimori up... gets ahead 3-1... draws the walk!! Douten runner on base!

Shinokawa up, no bunting here! But he pops it up! Kawamura goes over into shallow center and makes the catch! 2 down!

Last chance for Meihou... #7 Saimaki comes in to pinch hit for Numaguchi.

Down low for ball one! Fastball up and in for strike 1!

Grounder to 2nd... Kashiwaba fumbles it! Gets it, throws to 1st....

OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAME SET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hanamaki Higashi, without their ace pitcher, holds on to win 7-6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Kikuchi seems to be in pain. Meihou needs to take advantage of this.