The 91st Natsu Koshien finally feels like we're in full swing now. We've had some exiting games so far, and we're wrapping up 1st round play today.
Today is a short session with 3 games on the docket. First up is yet another established team vs. a first-timer.
For those who follow kokoyakyu, Chiben Wakayama is almost a household name - especially those who've watched the documentary with the same name. Nothing's changed since the movie, except for the increasing number of consecutive appearances (currently at 5). They're led by now 3rd year ace Okada Toshiya.
Now, while this is Shiga Gakuen 1st dance, they had to defeat both Kita Ootsu and Oumi to get here - two strong teams within Shiga-ken. Ace Tanoue Takiya will look to lead the team in their 1st round battle.
I know I declared Nichidai-san the overwhelming winner yesterday in their game, only to be humbled. So let me just say that I think Chiben Wakayama is a strong favorite to win.
Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama)
Shiga Gakuen (Shiga)
9:30 AM - First pitch!
Tanoue starts quickly retiring the first two batters before Nishikawa lines one down the right field line for a 2-out double!
Then he gets ahead of Yamamoto 0-2 befor running the count full! But then he strikes him out on a fastball up and in! Good start by Tanoue!
Hikida with a blast to right! That's over Nishikawa's head! He's in with a leadoff double! Mori moves him to 3rd. Early chance for Shiga!
Can Nakahara drive him in? He works the count full, but swings at a pitch up and away for out number 2.
OH! Inagaki with a deep drive down the left field line, but that's foul!
And he's hit on a slow curve! Runners on the corners for Kawabe!
Shiga's batters are very patient. Count goes to 2-2, and he check swings! They check with the 3rd base umpire, and he went!
Opportunity lost for Shiga!
Okada leads off the 2nd with a single to left center! Seto looks to bunt the runner along, but he can't lay it down! He falls behind 1-2 and has to swing away... and strikes out.
Kitabatake up to bat, gets ahead 3-1, but then Takashima-kantoku starts calling for the hit and run. Kitabatake continues to foul off pitches, but on the 8th pitch flies out to center. Hirano does the same and Tanoue retires Chiben. Tanoue has shown good control early on, and will need it for all 9 inings if they want to defeat Chiben.
Tanoue draws a 2-out walk, but Okada handles the bottom of Shiga's lineup with relative ease - although Takida hits a fly to deep center.
One down, and the lineup flips back to Oohata, and he singles through the left side!
And Iwasato can't lay down the bunt! You know, I don't think I've ever seen a Chiben team that has been able to bunt well. So Iwasato has to swing away, and starts fouling off pitches.
And on the 9th pitch, he drives one to deep left! Nakahara goes back to the fence, looks up!
But it's off the wall! Oohata comes around to score on Iwasato's RBI double! 1-0 Chiben!
Nishikawa advances the runner with a grounder to 2nd. Tanoue then strikes out Yamamoto to end the inning, but Chiben takes the lead!
Shiga's bottom of the order swings away and quickly is retired in order. They may want to work Okada in the hopes of wearing him down.
Tanoue continues his strong pitching, retiring Chiben in order once again.
Outside of the opening double by Hikida, Shiga has not been able to get another base hit off of Okada. They go down in order.
Ah, yes, Chiben's trademark "C" in the oen-dan.
And there's the band playing "Jock Rock"! Always brings a smile to hear that.
Hirano agrees and sends a single to left! Shiroyama looks to bunt, but he can't get it down and it goes to 2 strikes again!
But he goes to lay it down again! This time he's successful!
Oohata hits a chopper up the middle, which moves Hirano to 3rd. Can Iwasato get the 2nd run in for Chiben?
No! Tanoue strikes him out and he keeps Chiben at bay!
Okada once again retires the bottom of the order in check and we head to the break with Chiben Wakayama up 1-0 in a quick-paced game.
Nishikawa opens the 6th with a shot to deep center! That one bounds the wall for a leadoff double!
And Yamamoto is NOT bunting here. He hits a hard liner that just goes foul
And then a deep shot to right center! But it hangs up there and Hikida runs it down! Nishikawa tags up and goes to 3rd.
Tanoue taking extra care with Okada, but he falls behind 3-0. Having to throw a strike, Okada lifts it to left for an easy sac fly to make it 2-0 Chiben!
Seto lines out to 2nd, but Chiben adds an insurance run!
One down for Shiga Gakuen, and Mori works a walk! How will Yamaguchi-kantoku play this?
How about a stolen base! Mori takes off for 2nd and the throw is wide! Runner on 2nd!
Nakahara falls behind 0-2 but starts battling. Eventually he works the count full! What now?
Pitch outside and he tries to check up, but doesn't! The home plate umpire calls him out! 2 down! It's up to Inagaki now...
...and he falls behind 0-2... but too starts fouling off pitches. But, he gets handcuffed and grounds out to 3rd. Lost chance for Shiga.
Tanoue with another 1-2-3 inning, but there's only so much he can do. Shiga's offense needs to get itself started, and soon.'
Shiga still cannot get a hit against Okada. They're certainly getting better contact, but nothing's stuck for a base hit.
1-2-3 again for Chiben. Tanoue still pitching strong. But Chiben can afford it, they're ahead.
Yet another 1-2-3 inning. Time running out for the newcomers.
Yamamoto opens the 9th with a single through the left side.
Okada looking to bunt, puts it down, but right at Tanoue! He goes to 2nd for the first out and the relay to 1st is good! Double play!!
Tanoue sits down Seto, but now Shiga's down to their final 3 outs...
#14 Shimizu in to pinch hit for Mori. Takes some big hacks, and strikes out.
#15 Shibata in to hit for Nakahara... He strikes out as well on a ball away as Hirano makes the throw to 1st.
Last chance in Inagaki...
And it a chopper to short, and it takes a high bouncer over Kitabatake into center! Shiroyama muffs the ball and Inagaki goes to 2nd! Chance for Shiga!
#13 Atagawa comes in to hit for Kawabe. Count goes to 2-2 and...
Sanshin! Okada records his 13th K and Chiben Wakayama advances with a 2-0 win!
Shiga played very well against the established squad, but in the end, it wasn't good enough. Okada delivers a 2-hitter.
But Shiga should feel proud to have played as well as they did against a team such as Chiben Wakayama. The newcomers have certainly shown quite a bit of their mettle.