So, we've seen a Mark Buherle-type game (i.e. 2 hours) to start, then a battle in the trenches in the second. What will the 3rd game bring?
Our afternoon session will begin with a regular to Koshien in Tenri versus a newcomer in Nanto Sougou Fukuno. Tenri has a solid infield both defensively and offensively - especially needed since their pitcher is a contact-type.
Nantou Sougou Fukuno is one of those scrappy teams. Led by a tandem of Ueda and Morita, they'll do whatever it takes to try and get the job done.
So will the powerhouse steamroll over the newcomer, or will the first-timers put a game to remember together?
Nanto Sougou Fukuno (Toyama)
CF Nakamura (#15)
P Numata (#11)
2:00 PM - First pitch!
2nd year Numata takes the hill, and while Nanto's batters get good contact, the defense (including himself) hold down the fort. 1-2-3 for Numata.
Tokuyama draws a leadoff walk to start the inning. And Takayama catches Tokuyama napping at 1st, but the throw is wide! It goes down the right field line and Tokuyama jets for 3rd! The throw is not in time!
Runner on 3rd and a sac fly will get the run in. But Nakamura doesn't want that. He singles through the left side! That plates Tokuyama! 1-0 Tenri!
And Morigawa-kantoku start putting the game in motion! Nakamura takes off for 2nd and is in easily! Ueda then walks cleanup batter Nishiura. Not a way to start the game...
Oonishi singles to right and that scores Nakamura! 2-0 Tenri!
Yasui Singles through the left side and Nishiura scores making it 3-0 and still going!
Nishikawa hits a scorcher to Annen! It bounces off him and his throw to 2nd is not in time! All safe! Manrui Tenri!
P Numata up to help his own cause. He works the count full, and he holds up! Oonishi walks in and it's 4-0.
The 9th batter comes to the plate in Hashimoto. Tenri's already guaranteed to bat around... Ueda falls behind 2-1... fouled off for 2-2, way outside for full count. Still nowhere to put him... and outside for ball 4...
5-0. Oy. Back to the top of the order and Tokuyama.
A chopper by Tokuyama and Tsunemoto can't field it. Nishikawa scores for 6-0. And Nakayama-kantoku can only sigh...
Harada still can't get a hit, but does hit a sac fly to left. 7-0...
And mercifully, Nakamura flies out to center. But it's been a nightmare inning for Nanto to start...
A quick 1-2-3 inning for Numata does not bode well...
Ueda gets the first 2 outs, but then an airmailed throw by Annen, and a bobble by Matsuura puts runners on the corners. But Ueda gets Numata to ground into a force play to keep Tenri off the board!
Numata racks up 2 more K's as Nanto goes in order.
Yet, after the scoreless inning, Nakayama-kantoku elects to put RF Kaneda on the mound as Ueda goes to RF.
He starts off Hashimoto with a walk, and after a wild pitch Tokuyama hits a small dribbler to advance him to 3rd.
Harada finally gets his first hit with a single up the middle and collects a RBI to boot. 8-0.
Nakamura then sends one to deep center. Yashiki leaps near the wall and can't get it. Harada scores and it's 9-0.
Kaneda gets Nishiura to fly to right and looks to get out of the inning with a grounder to short. But Matsuura bobbles it yet again and the throw is late. Doesn't hurt them any further though as Yasuda hits a popup to Matsumoto to end the inning.
And Ikeda bloops one into shallow left for the first hit for Fukuno!
Matsumoto tries to bunt him along, but Yasuda charges in, throws to 2nd and Nishiura reaches up to get the out! Great hustle there to get the lead runner.
Scorcher by Ueda to 3rd! Yasuda up with the ball! Fires to Harada for one, relay to 1st... in time! Another great defensive play!
Kaneda continues on the mound, and walks Nishikawa to start. After a failed bunt attempt by Numata, a wild pitch does the job for him. He then walks Hashimoto to put runners on 1st and 2nd as we go back to the top of the order.
Kaneda K's Tokuyama for 2 down and looked to get out of the inning again, but Harada nixes that plan with a grounder back up the middle to score Nishikawa and Tenri is in double digits, 10-0.
And after Kaneda plunks Nishimura, Nakayama-kantoku has Ueda and Kaneda switch back.
Ueda gets the job done as Nishiura pops out in foul territory to end the inning.
Yashiki gets another leadoff runer as Yashiki lines one past a diving Yasuda and down the left field line for a double!
And while Annen strikes out, the ball is in the dirt and gets away from Oonishi! It's goes too far and everyone's safe! Runners at the corners!
Kaneda grounds to 2nd, Harada flips to Nishiura for one, throw to 1st... pulls off Nishikawa! Yashiki scores and Nanto is on the board! 10-1!
And in a strange gesture, captain Tsunemoto is pinch hit for by #13, first year Tawara! He grounds to 3rd to end the inning.
#14 Yoshie comes in to play 2nd.
Ueda stil struggles with control as he walks Oonishi to start, gives up two flyballs to center (one deep) and walks Numata. But he K's last batter Hashimoto to keep Tenri off the board.
1-2-3 inning for Tenri once again. #10 Morita comes in to pinch-hit for Matsumoto.
Morita stays in to play left. Ikeda shifts to center and Yashiki goes to 1st.
Tokuyama gets frozen to start the inning.
Harada after that slow start I ragged him about, gets his 3rd consecutive hit. And then proceeds to steal 2nd on the next pitch.
Nakamura gets his 3rd hit with a high chopper to 3rd.
Nishiura gets his 1st hit on a hit-and-run, with yet another high chopper, this time up the middle. Harada scores for 11-1.
Oonishi bloops one into left and Nakamura scores, 12-1. Next pitch, Yasuda is plunked for manrui.
Nishikawa hits a towering popup in the infield for the 2nd.
#18 Hayashi comes in to pinch hit for Numata, and thus ends his day on the mound. He strikes out and the inning is over.
#10 Tabuchi Tatsuya comes into the game, relieving Numata. #17 Tachibana, the CF during the spring Koshien comes in for Hashimoto and plays center.
Ueda hits a comebacker, off Tabuchi's glove and into left field!
But Yashiki strikes out, and after Ueda is picked off 1st, Annen K's to end the inning.
It's playing time for the bench players. #10 Morita goes to the mound, Ueda goes to left, #17 Iwamura comes in for Ikeda to play center while #16 Tsurumi comes in ofr Matsuura to play short.
After 2 quick outs, things begin to unwind quickly. Double by Harada for his 4th consecutive hit. Then after a wild pitch a double down the left field line by Nakamura scores one. A single through the left side scores another.
But a flyout to right by Oonishi ends the inning, and it's 14-1 Tenri.
#7 Yamasaki comes in for Tokushima and plays RF. #13 Iwasaki comes in for Nishikawa and plays 1B.
And a 1-2-3 inning for Nanto.
#10 Morita goes to right as #11 Yamada comes in for Kaneda and takes the mound.
Yasuda starts the inning with a double to deep right center for a double. After the next 2 batters are retired, Nakayama-kantoku sends out his son #18 to pitch the final out. But on the 2nd out, Yasuda injures himself while turning back to 3rd. He has to be replaced by #16 Nishiyama. Not a good sign for Tenri, especially in a blowout...
Nakayama gives up a single and a run before getting the final out. 15-1 Tenri.
#12 Yamada Hironobu pinch hit for Takayama represents the last bench player. Morita gets the final base hit as Tenri goes on to the next round.
In trying to keep up with the defensive changes, I failed to note that as the game was finishing up, around the 8th inning, several players had already started crying. Perhaps not because they were blown out, or that they may not have performed their best. But probably because their summer is over. The little time they got to spend at Koshien they will treasure, but at that moment it hurt because it was coming to an end. They'll carry the dirt of Koshien home as a keepsake to remind them of the journey they all took together that one year, all the way to the national tournament.
As for Tenri, they'll have 2 main issues going forward. One is the status of 3B Yasuda. He needed assistance to get off the field and could be questionable for the next game. Not good for a team built on a solid infield. Second will to make sure there is no letdown going into the next game.
Yashiki (Nanto Sougou Fukuno) - 1-3, 2B, R
Kaneda (Nanto Sougou Fukuno) - 0-2, RBI
Harada (Tenri) - 4-5, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI
Nakamura (Tenri) - 4-5, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI