Sadly, those hoping for a closer match here in the 2nd game may be disappointed. Tokushima Kita, a newcomer draws Tokyo powerhouse Nichidai-san.
Tokushima Kita (Tokushima)
Nichidai-san (Nishi Tokyo)
11:05 AM - First pitch!
Sekiya lays down the smack to start...
- Kuroda - K
- Tsuchiya - K
- Horii - K
Though not as dominant as Sekiya, Sakamoto also retires Nichidai's batters in order. A good start for Kitako.
Saitou drives one to shallow center! Kusaka charges in... and makes the diving catch!!! WOW!
Sakamoto makes it a little easier on Kusaka with a flyout. 2 down.
But Hayashi give Kitako their first baserunner with a single back up the middle!
Matsuda K's to end the inning, but whoops! The ball was in the dirt and they didn't force Matsuda at 1st! He dashes there and everyone's safe! They almost pulled a Yokohama (I'll explain later)!
But Ikeda grounds to short to end the inning.
Wow. Sakamoto's hitting his spots and fooling the Nichidai batters. He racks up 2 K's on his way to a 1-2-3 inning!
But to have any hope of the upset, they need baserunners. Sekiya isn't wanting to oblige, sending Kitaka 3 up, 3 down.
Um, yeah... can I take back my comment above? If I heard correctly, it's ace Sakamoto's birthday today. And his present to himself is apparently to pitch a perfect game (at least through 3).
Horii works the count full, and then gets plunked!
Saitou not bunting to start! But on the 1-0 pitch he shows bunt! NO! It's a hit-and-run! Saitou misses! Throw to 2nd... not handled by Yoshizawa! SAFE!
Saitou grounds to 2nd, but that gets Horii over to 3rd. Big chance for Kitako!
Sakamoto up, and not electing for the squeeze. Count goes to 1-1...
Sakamoto goes for the squeeze, but misses! Horii is trapped! He's run down and a big chance for Kitako seems lost! To make things worse, he bloops one to center right after - to which he apologizes to Shima-kantoku....
Hayashi grounds to Sekiya, and the inning is over. Will Kitako see another chance like that again?
Uchiyama with a grounder to short, but Ikeda airmails the throw! Matsuda knocks it down, but it's an E6!
AH! Sakamoto's pickoff throw goes wild! Uchiyama goes to 2nd!
Sumi bunts now to send the runner 90 feet from home.
Looking for a possible bunt, they're not giving him anything to hit. But now he chops one to 2nd! Kuroda charges in, but muffs the ball! It dribbles away and everyone's safe!! Uchiyama scores and it's 1-0 Nichidai!!
Yoshida lines out to deep center, and Kusaka gets caught stealing 2nd to end the inning.
So... Sakamoto still is pitching a no-hitter, but is down 1-0 on 3 errors!!
Matsuda gets plunked to start the inning. Ikeda tries to bunt but can't and ends up striking out. Sumitomo does, but Sekiya goes to 2nd for 1, but the throw to 1st is high and out of play! So Sumitomo goes to 2nd and essentially is the same as a successful bunt!
But Kuroda lines out softly to 1st and the inning is over.
1st pitch liner is snagged by Tsuchiya. Or rather, he defended his life.
And Ooguma finally breaks up the no-hitter with a single to the left side! Ikeda goes over to field it, but it's off him and to Kuroda whose throw is late!
And after a flyout, Sekiya singles to left! Runners at 1st and 2nd with 2 down!
Momiyama delivers! He sends a comebacker past Sakamoto and into center! Ooguma rounds 3rd and beats the throw home! 2-0 Nichidai!
And while Uchiyama strikes out to end the inning, Nichidai puts together 3 hits and tacks another run on the board!
One down for Kitako, and Horii lines one down the right field line! Chance for Saitou!
He grounds to short, Yoshizawa throws wide of 1st! Saitou's safe! Tying runner on base as another chance presents itself to Kitako!
And here's Sakamoto to hekp his own cause!
High chopper up the middle! Yoshizawa with it, feeds to 2nd for 1 and that's all they get.
Runners at the corners now for Hayashi. And he lines out to Yamazaki! Ah! Another opportunity lost...
Sakamoto settles right back down and sends Nichidai down in order. Still, they trail by 2.
Matsuda starts the inning with a safety bunt! It gets past by Sekiya and when Yamazaki fields it, no one's at 1st to cover!
But Ikeda once again can't get the bunt down! They try the hit and run, but Ikeda strikes out! There no throw to 2nd though and the effectis the same.
And now Sumitomo looks to bunt??! You need runs, but depending on one chance isn't a good thing! At 1-1, he tries it again, but it trickles foul!! Now what?
He grounds to 1st and again it's the same effect as a bunt. Matsuda's now on 3rd, but now there's 2 down.
Kuroda grounds out to short and the inning is over. Outs are becoming a premium now and Kitako can't spend them pushing runners along....
Sakamoto, outside of the 5th inning has looked solid. Yet his team trails 2-0 with just 2 innings left...
Momiyama makes a great diving stop to deny Horii of a base hit as Sekiya retires the side in order.
With one down, Sakamoto gives up his first walk of the game to Momiyama. Will Nichidai capitalize? Ogura-kantoku elects to bunt the runner into scoring position.
And could Sakamoto be tiring? He falls behind Sumi 3-0 before eventually walking him! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Nichidai.
He still can't find the zone against Kusaka! He falls behind him 3-0, but Kusaka grounds to 2nd.
So, we're onto the top of the 9th, last ups for Kitako. Is there something left in them?
Kitako sends up Sakamoto, Hayashi and Matsuda. Sakamoto strikes out on a pitch down and away... 1 down...
Hayashi pops up to Yamazaki in foul territory... 2 down.
#11 Kitaoka comes in to pinch hit for Matsuda... but he grounds out to 2nd, and that's the ball game...
Nichidai-san may have advanced as expected, but Tokushima Kita put up a great fight - led by their ace Sakamoto. They have nothing to hand their heads over, nothing to be disappointed about. Sure, a couple of errors cost them a run, but on the overall, they played very well.
Horii (Tokushima Kita) - 1-3, 2B, HBP
Sakamoto (Tokushima Kita) - 8 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 6 K, 2 BB
Ooguma (Nichidai-san) - 1-3, R
Momiyama (Nichidai-san) - 1-2, RBI, BB
Sekiya (Nichidai-san) - CG SHO, 4 H, 8 K, 2 HBP