Now that the rain from the recent typhoon has passed, a lot of these teams can finally take the field. And so Day 3 begins at Hanshin Koshien Kyuujyou.
The morning game has the hometown team (or at least home prefectural team) in Kansei Gakuin facing off against repeat Yamagata champion Sakata Minami.
Kansei's first return to Koshien in 70 years was predicated on the pitching tandem that is their battery. While successful in the qualifiers, the question may very well be whether the 2nd half of that tandem - Yamazaki , can hold up in the blazing summer sun.
Sakata Minami, comes back looking to channel their runs of 2004 and 2005 rather than 2008. Back then they made it to the 3rd round. Certainly, 3rd round probably isn't good enough, but it is a start. Their have a returning ace which helps, but has he improved enough to carry the team further?
Kansei Gakuin (Hyogo)
C Yamazaki Hiroki
RF Toriuchi (#15)
2B Kinoshita (#14)
1B Yamazaki Masaoki
Sakata Minami (Yamagata)
8:30 AM - First pitch!
Leadoff batter Umemoto gets on base thanks to an error by SS Takahashi. After a sac bunt though, Yasui retires the next two batters to negate the error. According to the announcers he's using the sliders on lefties, and a changeup on
Shinkawa looks good to start, inducing 2 ground outs before yielding an infield single to Okuno.
Ace Yasui steps up and he lines one through to right! Okuno's off on the pitch and he reaches 3rd! Chance for Sakata Minami!
But Hayashi grounds to 2nd and the rally quickly is squashed.
Yasui records the first 2 outs, but then yields a hit to Kinoshita. After that, he walks Yamasaki Masaoki on 4 straight! Developing chance for Kansei!
But no, Shinkawa strikes out and the game remains scoreless.
Shinkawa settles down from his first inning and retires the side in order. Both pitchers don't look all that bad to start. We could be in for a nice pitching performance.
Kansei's oen-dan is pretty spot on to have the words be audible by the microphones...
And Umemoto leads off the 3rd with a true base hit, a single through the right side. And Kubo replays the 1st inning and lays down the bunt.
Yamazaki Hiroki tries the safety bunt, but pushes it foul. After that attempt, he swings away...
and drives a pitch away into the right-center field gap! That's about to the wall! Hiroki is in with an RBI double, 1-0 Kansei!!
Hiroki advances to 3rd on a grounder by Kouma and now Kuroki can extend the lead.
And he takes an offspeed offering to left-center past Hayashi's extended arm! That's another RBI double and it's 2-0 Kansei!!
Toriuchi grounds out to 2nd, but Kansei with some great hitting takes the lead!
With one down, Hirakawa drives one to deep right-center! He's sprinting around the bases, and he's in with a triple!
And what's this? Hirooka-kantoku has called for a pitching change! Shinkawa exits the game, replaced by #12 Nakatsuka who goes behind the plate. Hiroki then takes the mound! A short leash on Shinkawa to say the least.
But it works! In 4 pitches he gets the final 2 outs to retire the side!!
Yasui settles down after the long inning, and retires the bottom of the order in order.
Yasui with a drive to center! That's off the wall! Kouma gets it in, and Yasui stops at 1st????!!!!
HOW THE HECK WAS HE NOT ON 2ND!!!!!
And when Hayashi tries to bunt him along, he pops it up in foul territory for an out!
This inning is going terribly for Sakata Minami!
But Hiroki returns the favor with a walk to Kudou! AH!! And a wild pitch advances the runners into scoring position!
And Abe with a dribbler up the 1st base line! Masaoki has it, but Hiroki is slow to get there! Abe beats out Hiroki and Yasui scores! 2-1!!
Hirooka-kantoku calling a conference.
Doesn't help! Nozaki lines one through the left side! Kudou scores!! 同点!! 2-2!
Nishihara-kantoku has Takahashi elect to bunt to bring both runners into scoring position. Hirakawa steps with already with that triple!
But he hits a comebacker that Hiroki fields for the 3rd out. But Sakata Minami has tied the game!
Another 1-2-3 inning for Yasui, although Hiroki drives one to deep left before Kudou catches it.
Yamazaki Hiroki settles down, and retires the side in order, but Sakata's batters give a couple balls a ride to deep center.
One down and Kuroki drives one to deep left! That's down for another double! Kansei threatening again!
Toriuchi ground one to short, but it's good enought to advance the runner to 3rd. But there's 2 down!
#17 Nagai comes in to pinch hit, and instead get's hit! Runners on the corners now!
And Nagai breaks for 2nd, no throw! Now 2 runners in scoring position!
And Masaoki reaches now and bloops one to left! Kudou charges in, but can't get there! Both runners scoreand Kansei retakes the lead!! 4-2!!
Nakatsuka strikes out to end the inning, but Kansei grabs the lead once again
#6 Ohara comes in for Nagai and takes over at SS, Kubo shifts to 2nd.
And while Kudou gets a one-out single, Abe grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Things not looking good for Yasui... Umemoto hits a grounder to the left side, Takahashi snags it but can't the ball to 1st in time!
After yet another sac bunt by Kubo, Hiroko singles to right! Runners at the corners!
Kouma with the squeeze! But Yasui fields it, throws home and Umemoto is out by a mile! Yasui is aided with the fact he was left-handed and could make the quick throw.
Kuroki K's to end the inning and the deficit remainst at 2.
Nozaki leads off an inning with a liner past a diving Kuroki into left! He heads for 2nd, and the ball gets past Umemoto! Nozaki heads for 3rd! The throw in, short! Umemoto's down! Nozaki heads home!! It's a inside-the-park double with 2 errors! 4-3!!!
Attention goes out to Umemoto who's down and in pain! The umpires head out and the first one there stretches out his leg! Perhaps it's a cramp, but Hirooka-kantoku takes no chances and heads out there with his staff. By the time they get there, he's up and kinda walking.
But Hirooka has called for a defensive shift. #9 Ajiki comes in for Umemoto and goes to right. Toriuchi goes to left.
Hiroki afterwards clamps down and retires the next 3 batters, thanks in part to Masaoka who makes a great block at 1st, gathers the ball, and tags the base for the 3rd out!
But Sakata Minami comes within 1 now!
Toriuchi leads off the inning with a single up the middle! New SS Ohara tries to bunt, but pops out instead. Masaoka tries a bunt himself, but Yasui gets it quickly and fires it to 2nd to get the lead runner! 2 down!
Nakatsuka doesn't give up, he singles through the left side and there's runners at 1st and 2nd.
New RF Ajiki comes in to bat. And he drills a ball to deep left! That one-hops the wall and the runners are off! Masaoka scores! Nakatsuka scores! Ajiki comes in and immediately makes an impact with a 2-run double! 6-3!!
Kubo, not able to bunt, strikes out and end the inning, but Kansei pulls away now with a 3-run advantage!!
Yasui collects his 3rd hit with a one-out single up the middle, but Hiroki shuts the door with 2 strikeouts! He's in full command now!
Hiroki starts the inning with an single up the middle. Takahashi gets to it, but can't get a handle on it!
Kouma bunts the runners along, much to the delight of Hirooka-kantoku! He's got enthusiasm you don't see from a manager!
Kuroki with a big fly to right! Okuno running back, trying to find his bearings, and it's off his glove! Hiroki scores on Kuroki's triple! 7-3!
Toriuchi up and... SQUEEZE!
But it's a pitchout! Kuroki is caught and run down! 2 outs!
Toriuchi grounds out to 2nd, but now it's a 4- run lead with 3 outs to go!
It's all but a formality for Kansei now. Sakata's batters go down in order and the game is over. Kansei Gakuin, after a 70 year hiatus, comes back to Koshien and advances to the 2nd round!
For Sakata Minami, their summer is one again over after the first round... perhaps they'll give it a go for the fall...
Yamazaki Hiroki (Kansei Gakuin) - 3-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI
Ajiki (Kansei Gakuin) - 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI
Yasui (Sakata Minami) - 3-4, R
Nozaki (Sakata Minami) - 2-4, 2B, R