So, we're underway with our 2nd full day of games. We've seen a newcomer pitch a shutout, and in record time too - or so it seemed.
So now our 2nd game, which is still morning really, features Nagano Nichidai, whose only appearance was in the spring last year (and they made the quarterfinals!) versus Sakushin Gakuin, whose last appearance was 31 years ago.
Hard to pick a winner here, both teams don't seem to be strong on the mound. And there's not much help in the qualifiers to give an indication.
Nagano Nichidai (Nagano)
RF Akahane (#17)
Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
10:50 AM - First pitch
Niimura blasts the ball to deep left! Ukajin races out to get it, dives, but it's past him! Niimura winds up with a leadoff double!
Yano bunts him along to 3rd setting up a great scoring opportunity!
And a grouner to 2nd by Itou! Ooshima looks home, but instead goes to 1st and gives up the run! 1-0!!
Kitazawa K's but Nagano takes the early lead!
Asano replies back with a single to right to start. After a sac bunt, Katou plunks Shinozaki!
And Matsuzaki grounds one back up the middle! Asano heads home as Hiraguri makes a throw! Asano's in safely, but Shinozaki heads to 3rd! Kobayashi guns it over and they get him! However, Sakushin equalizes! 1-1!!
Niikura pops out, but this is the type of game I was expecting.
Kobayashi starts the inning with a single up the middle. Hondou looks to bunt, but it's a hit-and-run! He pulls it back and slaps it to left! Runners at 1st and 2nd with no down!
And now a bunt moving the runners over for 2nd year Akahane. And they kind of pitch around him and we have a manrui situation! Kobari-kantoku calls time and now last batter Katou is at the plate.
And now we know why Katou was placed last... he strikes out swining. 2 down, and Ojima is almost out of the mess!
But Niimura lines one to right! Kobayashi scores! Hondou comes around, the throw is cutoff, and he scores! Nagano retakes the lead at 3-1!!
Nakahara-kantoku continues to be aggressive on the basepaths, calling for hit-and-runs! Yano grounds out to Ojima to end the inning, but unlike last game, crooked numbers are being put up on the board!
Katou gives up a leadoff walk to Ukajin. And then he tries to steal 2nd! The throw is high, but the 2nd base umpire calls him out!! I don't know about that one... And replay confirms my suspicions...
So with the runner out of the way, Katou strikes out Ooshima and Ojima to end the inning.
Of course, the minute I talk about runs being scored. They aren't. Ojima gets his 1-2-3 inning thanks to a great play by Ooshima behind 2nd.
One down and Asano hits one up the middle! Kitazawa makes a great stop, but can't duplicate Ooshima's play!
And Wakita elects to bunt! He dashes to first but the throw beats him out.
So Shinozaki is up and...
He just crushed that ball... That's is a no-doubt about it homerun! And we're tied once again!!! 同点!! 3-3!!!
Matsuzaki then grounds one off Itou for a single! Katou looks to be in trouble! But a grounder by Niimura ends the inning. But! We're back to a tie game!
A leadoff walk by Ojima doesn't matter as after a bunt he retires the next 2 batters to end the inning.
Ukajin gets plunked hard by Katou to start the inning. And he takes off for 2nd on the very next pitch! But Matsuzaki makes a good throw and this time the runner is out.
And with 2 more grounders, the inning is over.
Niimura rocks one to deep right center, but Niikura runs it down! One out.
Yano with a grounder to the left side, but Shinozaki charges in too shallow and can't get it! Ozone charges out but too can't get it!
And then Nakahara-kantoku puts on another hit and run! Itou singles through the right side and there's runners at the corners!
Kitazawa hits a grounder to 3rd. Shinozaki has it, and they have Yano who's charging for home! The throw is in plenty of time to record the out.
2 down for Kobayashi, and he shoots one throught the right side! That plates Itou and Nagano retakes the lead, 4-3!!
And then Hondou with a grounder to 2nd and it gets past Ooshima! That scores Kitazawa and it's 5-3!!
But when they try to put the hit and run on again, Ojima turns and has Hondou caught up! They run him down at 1st, but then has Kobayashi caught up between 3rd and home! They run him down and the inning is over. But Nagano regains the 2 run lead!
Ozone starts the inning off with a single to left. And a wild pitch thereafter sends him to 2nd!
Asano brings him to 3rd with a grounder to the right side, and it looks like they'll get back a run. And they do as Wakita doubles down the left field line! 5-4!!
AH!!! Katou makes a bad throw to 2nd and Asano goes to 3rd!
Oh! And Katou plunks Shinozaki right after! AH!! And Matsuzaki next! Manrui for Sakushin!!
Nakahara-kantoku has seen enough. Nishyama comes in for Akahane and takes the mound. Katou goes to right.
But then Niikura then lines one to left! Wakita scores! Shinozaki is held up at 3rd, but we're tied again! 5-5!!
That didn't work and Nishiyama and Katou switch places.
But it's too late! Ukajin with a grounder and that's through the right side!! Shinozaki scores and Sakushin has taken their first lead!!! It's 6-5!!!
Fortunately for Katou, he gets Ooshima to fly out to shallow left and Ojima to ground to 2nd. But 9 batters come to the plate and Sakushin now has the lead!!
What will Nagano do now down 1?
Hiraguri blasts one to deep center! That's over the head of Wakita and he's in with a leadoff double!! Looking for the tie, he's bunted over. Katou somehow manages a walk and now there's runners on 1st and 2nd with one down.
But then Niimura blasts one to deep right! That's to the wall! Hiraguri and Katou come around to score! Just like that Nagano retakes the lead!! 7-6!!!
And immediately, Ojima is called in. #10 Tashiro is called out to stop the bleeding...
But no! Yano singles up the middle! Niimura rounds 3rd! Wakita with the throw home! It's a bullet! Matsuzaki gets it, comes around to make the tag, and... he's out! What a play by Wakita and Matsuzaki!!
But Matsuzaki is shaken up. He can't get up and he's blinking and dazed.... Finally people come to assist, but he gets up, shakes it off, and tells Kobari-kantoku he's ok.
After some time to recover, Itou comes up, and he crushes one to deep center! Wakita runs back but can't get it! It's off the wall! Yano comes around to score and it 8-6!!!!
It doesn't stop! The very next pitch Kitazawa drills down the right field line! That's in for a double and Itou scores!! 9-6!!
Finally, Kobayashi flies out to center, but Nagano responds with a bang, scoring 4 runs and taking a 3-run lead. Will this last?
#9 Hirabayashi relieves Nishiyama in right...
Ozone starts the inning with a grounder through to right! Perhaps there's yet another rally! But then Katou retires the next 3 batters to end the inning. Is this it for Sakushin??
Nagano continues to try and put pressure on Sakushin. With one down, Hiraguri singles back up the middle. And with Hirabayashi looking to bunt, Tashiro throws a wild pitch! Hiraguri goes to 3rd.
And Hirabayashi scorches one to left! That's by Ukajin and to the wall! Hiraguri scores and it's 10-6 Nagano!!
Tashiro strikes out the next 2 batters, but the game is starting to slip away from Sakushin...
Matsuzaki, still hurting from the collision, takes the first pitch and singles through the left side!
And then Katou plunks Niigura! Runners on 1st and 2nd with no out! Make that runners on 2nd and 3rd with one down for Ooshima.
A grounder to 2nd gets the job done, scoring 1 making it 10-7. They'll need this one on 3rd too, and that job falls to new P Tashiro.
But instead of a hit, he earns a walk! He holds off on a couple of pitches and now there's 2 on for Ozone!
And he singles to center! That scores Niigura and they're within 2! It's 10-8!!
Nakahara-kantoku calls a quick conference to try and calm things down. The lead's been cut in half but they're still up by 2.
Asano's giving the ball a ride, but in both cases pulling them foul... and he flies out to left... But the deficit is now manageable!
Tashiro is kicking it up a little. He's hitting 145 kph (90 mph), and even hit 148! His control is still not great, but he strikes out 2 on his way to a 1-2-3 inning!
There's still plenty of time for Sakushin to mount a comeback. Will they?
Defensive change for Nagano Nichidai. #15 Yasutomi comes in for cleanup batter Kitazawa...
Katou freezed Wakita for the 1st out. But then a grounder by Shinozaki to short is airmailed out of play by Itou sending him to 2nd.
Matsuzaki wastes no time and swings away, but grounds to Itou who makes a better throw this time around.
Up to Niigura now to drive him in. The count goes full and... sanshin! Katou strikes him out to retire the side! Opportunity lost by Sakushin!
And the heat continues to be turned up! Tashiro hits 149 on his way to a 1-2-3 top of the 9th. He's kept them in the game, now can they mount a rally?
6-7-8 batters up for Sakushin. Ukajin works the count full, fouls off a couple of pitches and walks on a ball thrown behind him!!
#13 Ogiwara pinch hits for Ooshima. And he singles to center!! Ukajin makes a run for 3rd and beats the throw! Runners at the corners with no down!
But Tashiro pops up to Katou! One down! Now it's Ozone's turn! #14 Nozawa pinch-runs for Ogiwara.
It's a hit and run! But Ozone strikes out! Throw to 2nd is not in time! Now the tying runner is in scoring position with 2 down!
Leadoff batter Asano up! And he pops it up! Yasutomi under it and makes the catch! Game set!
In a slugfest thanks, Nagano Nichidai's 4-run 6th was the death blow for Sakushin Gakuin! The deficit was just too much. They fought valiantly, and made it an interesting game, but it was for naught.
Niimura (Nagano Nichidai) - 3-5, 2 2B, R, 4 RBI
Hiraguri (Nagano Nichidai) - 2-3, 2B, 2R
Shinozaki (Sakushin Gakuin) - 1-3, HR, 2R, 2 RBI
Matsuzaki (Sakushin Gakuin) - 3-4, R, RBI
Ozone (Sakushin Gakuin) - 3-4, R, RBI