Our last best 8 game is an intriguing matchup. Certainly, if Chiben Wakayama had advanced out of its bracket, a Chiben-Chuukyou matchup would have been fun to watch.
But a funny thing happened on their way through the bracket...
...and that was the team from Miyzaki-ken. Miyakonojyou Shougyou under ace Shinnishi completely dismantled Chiben Wakayama from top to bottom, yielding a mere 5 hits to the Chiben lineup. Meanwhile, the offense pounded out 4 runs (3 of which were in the 1st) on 12 hits and never gave them a chance.
So it's Miyakonojyou Shougyou that advances to the Best 8. They actually did the same thing in their only other apppearance - reaching the Best 8 back in 1981. They're looking to do better this time around. Shinnishi has been spectacular so far (3 ER in 25 IP), while the lineup from just about top to bottom is raking the ball - led by Mera, Tominaga and Matsubara.
As mentioned earlier, Miyakonojyou's opponent will be Chuukyoudai Chuukyou. Led by ace Doubayashi, they've had to endure some big scares in the last 2 rounds. In the 2nd round, they were in a close game with Kansei Gakuin when they broke though with the douten run. Then in the bottom of the 9th, with C/P Yamazaki back on the mound, Kawai hits a sayonara home run to advance.
In the bracket final, they jumped on Nagano Nichidai 5-0 in the first, only to see that lead evaporate. By the mid-game break, Chuukyou found themselves in a 5-5 tie.
But they would explode afterwards, scoring 4 in the 6th and 7th innings before closing it out with 2 more in the 8th as RP Morimoto shut down the Nichidai squad.
Certainly Doubayashi's struggles in the last game give Chuukyou some reason for pause here in the Best 8 game. Will they have to turn to Morimoto to carry them once again?
Offensively, the team is hitting at the same clip the Miyakonojyou batters are, led by the aforementioned Kawai and Doubayashi. They may need to have the offense turn it up a notch to give the pitching staff some breathing room.
At stake is a Best 4 matchup with the uncertain Hanamaki Higashi squad.
Miyakonojyou Shougyou (Miyazaki)
Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi)
1:46 PM - First pitch!
Yoshihara takes the 1-2 pitch back up the middle. Yamanaka snags it behind 2nd, makes a spin throw, but it's nowhere near 1st! Doesn't go out of play though.
Kawano-kantoku has Oosako move him over looking for the quick strike.
But Fujimoto swing and misses on an offspeed pitch inside for strike 3. Two down.
Uchida grounds out to 2nd, and Miyakonojyou is retired here in the 1st.
Two quick groundouts for Shinnishi, and things look good to start.
But then Kawai with a grounder past Uchida into center...
And then Doubayashi with a grounder through to left! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Chuukyou with 2 down.
Isomura takes the first pitch from Shinnishi and drives it to left center! Oosako and Fujimoto jog to the wall!!!
Isomura with a 3-run homerun!!! That was drilled at least 10 rows up!! Chuukyou explodes here early!! 3-0!!!
Doubayashi with 2 quick outs, but on Mera's grounder to 3rd, Kawai airmails the throw. Runner on for Shinnishi.
But he woudl eventually fly out to down the right field line to end the inning. Doubayashi looks pretty solid on the mound early. It won't help Miyakonojyou that they're already down 3-0.
One down for Chuukyou and Kaneyama draws a 4 pitch walk. Oofuji-kantoku elects to bunt him allong hoping for a timely from Yamanaka.
Alas, he hits a pop fly to right and the inning is over.
One down, Yoshihara drives one to deep left center, but the outfield is playing back and Iwatsuki runs over to make the catch.
Oosako does get on base with a liner above Doubayashi's head into center.
Fujimoto though strikes out for the 2nd time today, and the inning is over.
Shinnishi gives Chuukyou a leadoff runner as he walks Kunitomo to start the inning.
Oofuji-kantoku sends Kunitomo! Throw up 2nd is off line and he's safe!
Kawai though strikes out, effective turning the SB into a bunt.
Doubayashi with what seemed like a bailout swing, but he drives it into the right center gap! And it's all the way to the wall! Kunitomo scores! Doubayashi goes for 3, and like just like Teikyou's move in the 9th, Doubayashi is thrown out at 3rd. But it's 4-0 now in favor of Chuukyou.
Which is disappointing as Isomura drives one to right! That's over Yoshihara and to the wall! He's in with a double!
Itou with a grounder to 2nd, but Yamashita fumbles the ball. His throw is late and Chuukyou has runners at the corners!
Shinnishi gets Shibata to fly out to center and that ends the inning.
One down for Miyakonojyou and Matsubara bloops one into right field for his team's 3rd hit of the day.
Tomimaga follows that up with a single back up the middle! Runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 down!
Oofuji-kantoku calls a conference, trying to settle down the team.
But Mera has none of it! He lines one over Kawai's head and down the line! Matsubara scores! Itou runs it down, but it hugs the wall and he has to chase it down! Tominaga scores! Mera with the timely 2-RBI double! Miyakonojyou's cut the lead in half, 4-2!!
Shinnishi up now looking to bring his team within 1.
Hard grounder to 3rd! Kawai has it! Fires to 2nd!!!!!!!
Mera's scrambling back! Yamanaka with the tag! That's one out! Fires to 1st... double play!!!
Mera's baserunning error leads to an inning ending double play! Miyakonojyou though has made the deficit more managable!
Kawano-kantoku makes a pitching change. Fujimoto comes in from center to take the mound. Shinnishi moves to right while Yoshihara moves to center.
And it's just what the kantoku ordered! He retires the side in order, striking out 2!
Last batter Yamashita draws a walk to start the inning.
Yoshihara tries to lay down the bunt. However he fails twice and has to swing away... and strikes out.
Kawano-kantoku looks for the one timer has he has Oosako bunt the runner over into scoring position.
But he's looking for it in Fujimoto, who has struck out twice today...
...and he strikes out again to end the inning...
Fujimoto crusies along with the first two outs, then starts treading carefully around cleanup batter Doubayashi, walking him on 4 straight.
But that's to pitch to Isomura, who's 2-2 with a double and homerun?
It works though! He grounds back to Fujimoto and that ends the inning!
We head to the break with Chuukyou ahead 4-2, but it's certainly not comfortable.
However, Miyakonojyou cannot get anything going again after the 4th. A popup to short by Uchida, a flyout to right by Matsubara, and a grounder to 3rd by Tominaga... all in 8 pitches.
Itou leads off Chuukyou's offense in the 6th with a single back up the middle. Shibata moves him over to 2nd, and is subsequently moved to 3rd when Kaneyama grounds out to 2nd.
That leaves the job of timely hit to Iwatsuki.
But Fujimoto strikes him out on an offspeed pitch! He's done a wonderful job in relief!!
Now the offense needs to turn around and support its pitcher.
But Mera goes down swinging...
Shinnishi goes down swinging...
#15 Beppu comes in to pinch hit for Yamashita... and goes down swinging...
It's not looking good...
#14 Miyamoto comes in for PH Beppu and takes over at 2nd.
Fujimoto walks Yamanaka to lead off the 7th, and Oofuji-kantoku has him moved over looking for an insurance run.
Kawano-kantoku calls a conference to get the team settled.
But Kawai lines one to left! That's down for a base hit! Yamanaka heading home! Throw in by Oosako is cut off by Mera. They get that insurance run and it's 5-2!
Doubayashi goes down and drives the first pitch to deep left center! Oosako running over, slides, but can't get it! Kawai flies around the bases and scores all the way from 1st! It's 6-2 Chuukyou and the game seems to be slipping away from Miyakonojyou...
And a 0-2 wild pitch by Fujimoto sends Doubayashi to 3rd!
But Fujimoto strikes out Isomura for the 2nd out... and Itou grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Chuukyou though adds 2 more runs to their lead, and down 4 with 2 innings left, it may be enough.
And it certainly looks that way. Miyakonojyou is retired in order without much effort. It may just be a formality for Chuukyou now...
At least the defense is still fighting! After a single to left by Shibata, Kaneyama tries to bunt the runner over. But Mera jumps on the ball and fires to 2nd for 1. Relay to 1st... double play!!
And with Iwatuski grounding out to 2nd, we're down to the final 3 outs for Miyakonojyou Shougyou!
Uchida goes to 2-2, but falls swinging...
Matsubara hits a sharp ball to 3rd! But Matsubara picks it! Throws to 1st, 2 out!
And down to Tominaga... he grounds to 2nd. Kunitomo fumbles the ball, but gathers it and throws to 1st... Game Set!
Miyakonojyou Shougyou, just like 28 years ago in their only other Koshien appearance falls in the Best 8 to Chuukyoudai Chuukyou. They played a wonderful game, and unfortunately are the ones who will have to head home.
But oh the memories! From defeating Seibou Gakuen in the first round, to their shocking upset of Chiben Wakayama under the lights. This certainly won't be a Koshien they'll ever forget! Yes, as with 48 other teams, they'll say it ended too short, but all 48 teams can also say that they leave with their heads held high, even if they're down after a loss. They'll scoop up the Koshien dirt, take it home with them back to Miyakonojyou and talk about the plays they made, the hits that went through, all while under the summer sun and in front of the nation for all to see...