For small Imari Nourin, it's probably a dream that they made it - even though they were one of the seeded teams in Saga-ken. Ace Yoshinaga Keita was definitely a major piece to their success. Also too are 3 non-seniors in their starting 9, including a 1st year.
On the other side of the diamond sits Yokohama Hayato, the obvious keystone victory was the upset over Yokohama. They too will have to depend on their 2nd-year ace Imaoka.
2 hard-working teams that have fulfilled their dream of reaching Koshien. Here's hoping for a great game between both teams.
Yokohama Hayato (Kanagawa)
LF Hosono (#16)
1:40 PM - First pitch!
Mori opens with a single to center! But the ball is mishandled and he advances to 2nd! Yonawa moves him over to 3rd for a great scoring opportunity! But Funaki grounds to Yoshinaga and they have Mori caught! Yoshinaga runs over to him and makes the tag! Funaki goes to 2nd.
But a chopper by Oono to Yoshinaga ends the inning.
Kujyuurou starts Imari's half with a single through the left side! Iwamasa looks to bunt, but no! He swings away and sends that throught the left side as well! Runners on 1st and 2nd!
Kubota with the bunt! But Funaki grabs it and fires to 3rd for the force! One down!
Yoshinaga with a single to right! Iwamasa has to hold at 3rd! Manrui for Imari!
Kawahara trying the squeeze, fails once! And he tries again at 1-2 and fouls out! Two down!
Tanaka gets ahead in the count 2-0, and huh? That pitch was down the middle, but a ball??! So there nowhere to put him! Imaoka though puts through 2 strikes and now everyone's going to take off! The pitch... grounded to short! Kanno up with it, but has to double clutch! The throw... just beats a diving Tanaka! Too bad! If he just ran through the base, he would have been safe!
Tokunaga starts the inning with a single back up the middle. But then he tries to steal 2nd and gets caught on a slow curve?!
Yoshinaga then retires the next two batters to end the inning.
Imaoka settles down after that scary 1st and retires the bottom of the lineup in order.
Yoshinaga continues to hum along nicely with his own 1-2-3 inning.
I'm noticing a lot of choppers as if they're trying to hit ground balls. Not sure, but perhaps it's their way of testing the defense..
And Kujyuuro reaches down and pokes one to right! And he goes for 2nd! Yamaguchi gets the throw in, but not in time! Can't tell, but Kujyuuro may have taken advantage of some lackadaisical fielding.
Iwamasa bunts him over to 3rd, but Ootsubo-kantoku elects to have Kubota swing away. But it backfires as he strikes out! 2 down.
Now Imaoka just has to get past rival ace Yoshinaga. And he does! A grounder to 3rd ends the inning! Lost opportunity there by Imari!!
Yoshinaga continues to baffle the Hayato hitters, recording his 3rd straight 1-2-3 inning. We're just flying along here.
This is starting to rival the Tokoha Tachibana-Asahigawadai game in terms of speed. Imaoka goes 3 up and 3 down in all of 7 pitches!
Tokunaga starts the inning with a single to left! And instead of bunting, Yamaguchi looks to hit. But instead he walks on 4 straight!
Ootsubo-kantoku calls a conference to calm things down.
And now Hosono squares to bunt! But then at 2-1, they try the feint bunt, but he slaps it foul! 2-2 and now he has to swing away.
And it's through the right side! Tokunaga rounds 3rd and heads home! Kawahara's throw is cut off and Hayato is on the board! 1-0!!
Hosono then takes off for 2nd! But no throw from Kubota and now they have 2 runners in scoring position for Kanno!
And he slaps one past Toshitomi into right! That'll score Yamaguchi and Hosono, and now Hayato's up 3-0!
Imaoka bunts him along to 2nd and with Mori's fly to right, Kanno goes to 3rd.
Yonoha tries a drag bunt, but pushes it too far and is retired to end the inning. But some timely hitting and aggressive baseruning gives Hayato a 3 spot here in the 5th!
Imari is starting to scuffle now. Imaoka continues to sit down the Imari batters. Only 4 balls have reached the outfield so far for the boys from Saga.
Funaki opens the post break with a bullet past a diving Matsuoka for a double. Then Oono takes the first pitch through the right side! Funaki scores and it's 4-0!
After a groundout, Yamaguchi with a grounder through the left side! That puts runners at the corners!
But Hosono with a grounder to 2nd, Yoshitomi feeds it, AH! It's a bad throw and it goes into left! Everyone advances!
And now Ootsubo-kantoku gets a reliever waming up...
Kanno with a hard hit gounder to 1st gets another run in and it's now 6-0...
Fortunately for Yoshinaga, Yoshitomi makes a fine play to end the inning. But a 6-run deficit may prove to be too much for the newcomers from Saga...
Iwamasa, with the help from a bobble by Mori gets on base.
Then with one down Yoshinaga hits a grounder to short that takes a very high bounce over Kanno's head into center! Runners on 1st and 2nd!
Then Kawahara with a chopper past Imaoka. Tokunaga comes in and it's booted! Everyone's safe as Iwamasa scores! Imari Nourin is on the board! 6-1!
AH! The first pitch to Tanaka gets away from Funaki! He looks to 3rd, then to 2nd, then to 3rd... and everyone advances!! Tanaka then hits a fly to left that scores Yoshinaga! 6-2!
But Yoshitomi pops it up in foul territory. Oono goes over, gets turned around, but makes the catch. 3 outs. But Imari is on the board and only down 4 now.
Wow. 1st year Mori makes a great diving stop to rob Yonaha of a hit. And Yoshinaga is back to the 1-2-3 inning.
But Imari can't use the momentum to their advantage as they go down in order.
Ootsubo-kantoku decides to give his 1st year some experience on the mound. #10 Umezaki comes in for Yoshitomi and takes the hill. Yoshinaga goes to 2nd.
Oono though wecomes him with a grounder just over the 3rd base bag for a double. After a pop bunt, Umezaki walks Yamaguchi. Is the stage too much?
Hosono with a liner to center! Kujyuuro runs and leaps, and makes the catch!! What a play by Kujyuuro to prevent at least 2 runs from scoring!
But then he has a cramp in his leg and has to have it worked out by one of the umpires. But eventually he's fine and the inning continues.
A grounder to short ends the inning and Umezaki pitches a scoreless inning!
Imaoka gives up his first walk to Yoshinaga, but it doesn't matter as he K's Kawahara to end the inning.
Umezaki yields a 2-out hit to Yonaha, but he's wiped off the basepaths when he tries to steal 2nd on the next pitch...
Down to their final 3 outs and 1st-year #17 Maruta comes in to PH for Tanaka. But he gets frozen on a slow curve... 1 down.
Umezaki can't check his swing and they're down to their final out.
#18 Yokodake, another 1st-year, comes into hit for Matsuda. He grounds to short, but it's an irregular bounce and it goes into left!
Mizutani-kantoku calls a conference while #12 Maeda comes in to PR.
And then Kiyota grounds one up the middle! That's in for a base hit. Runners at 1st and 2nd, can they mount a comeback?
No... Kujyuuro, their best batter so far, grounds to 2nd on the first pitch to end the game
Imari Nourin certainly put up a good fight, but Hayato just had too much for them to handle. No need to hang your heads though, You certainly proved you belonged on the grounds of Koshien!
Tokunaga (Yokohama Hayato) - 2-4, R
Kanno (Yokohama Hayato) - 1-4, 3 RBI
Kujyuuro (Imari Nourin) - 2-5, 2B
Yoshinaga (Imari Nourin) - 2-3, R, BB