After that great pitcher's battle in the first game, what awaits us in the middle game?
These two teams are relatively now to Koshien. For Sapporo Dai-ichi, this is only their 2nd dance. As for Tottori Jyouhoku, it's their 1st. Neither team has any standout players, and neither ace is an overpowering pitcher.
So I expect a close game. Not sure if it's going to be high or low scoring, but a close game nonetheless.
Tottori Jyouhoku (Tottori)
LF Ichihari (#14)
RF Tamura (#15)
Sapporo Dai-ichi (Minami Hokkaido)
11:50 AM - First pitch!
Kakehata retires the first two batters before Tanikake singles up the middle and past a lunging Miura.
Utsunomiya up now, and he battles Kakehata. But he hits a sharp ball at Miyata and he secures it to end the inning.
Nakao having troubles early. He goes full on Imaizumi before striking him out looking. He does the same to Yada, but he walks him instead. After a sac bunt by Hata, Nakao goes full on Matsuura before walking him! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Sappporo!
But Tomita pops up to 1st to end the inning. Nakao may have nerves, but he'll need to get those in check quickly!
Kakehata quickly retires Jyouhoku in order as the batters start becoming aggressive.
Miyata leads off the inning with a liner over Matsumoto's head and into left for a double! Kikuchi-kantoku immediately calls for the bunt and Sakamoto advances to 3rd!
Kakehara now with a chance to help his own cause. But no squeeze is called. He's good at working the count and continues to foul off pitches.
And he hits a grounder to 3rd! Matsumoto goes to get it and he brushes against Tanikake! He falls! Throw to 1st is wild!! Miyata goes home and scores on the error! 1-0 Sapporo and Kakehata takes 2nd!
Nakao strikes out Miura and gets Inaizumi to fly out to center to end the inning. But an collision and subsequent error costs Jyouhoku a run!
Icihari leads off the inning with a single to right! Tamura looking to move him over, but Matsuura catches Ichihari napping! Snap throw to first nails him! One down!
After a popup by Tamura, Sakoda singles back up the middle.
But then Kakehata cathches him off 1st! Throw to 1st gets him in a rundown, and 2 baserunning mistakes cost them the inning!
Nakao finally gets his 1-2-3 inning, and on 7 pitches no less! He finally looks good for one inning.
Matsumoto's 2nd try at the plate and he grounds to short. But Miura's throw is off line! Miyata leaps and tries to snag the ball but it's off the glove! E6!
AH!! Matsuura catches Miura off the bag and he throws him out!! That's 3 runners picked off! How in the world does that happen??!
But with 2 down, Jyouhoku starts to put something together! Utsunomiya (whose rally song is "Zankoku na tenshi to teeze" - i.e. Shin Seiki Evangelion's theme song) draws a walk after working the count full. Nakao then singles through the left side! Runners on 1st and 2nd!
Tanaka works the count full himself, but he's jammed! It's a soft popup to Sakamoto to secures to to end the inning!
Not a good start for Jyouhoku. A grounder by Tomita gets airmailed by Tanikake and Tomita ends up at 2nd. Miyata bunts him over to 3rd and Sapporo threatens to score another run.
Once again, Kikuchi-kantoku doesn't call for the squeeze. But Sakamoto flies out to shallow left and Tomita can't score! And Nakao induces a comebacker from Kakehata to end the inning!
The cameras point up to the skies which are clear as a pure glass of water. Ok, bad analogy, but there's not a cloud in the sky.
Kakehata records 3 K's, all pitches in the dirt, while yielding one single to last batter Tamura.
Miura leads off with a swinging bunt! The ball dribbles down the 3rd base line and it's too late by the time Matsumoto gets to it!
Kikuchi-kantoku calls for the bunt, but the count instead runs full as Imaizumi can't lay it down. And he calls for the hit-and-run! Fouled off! Another foul! But he can't check his swing and he's the 1st out.
Yada though does place the bunt, but it's 2 down for Hata.
He grounds to short, but the ball bounces off Tanikake! His throw to 1st is wild! Miura comes home and Hata advances to 2nd on the error! Another error costs Jyouhoku the run! 2-0 Sapporo Dai-ichi!
Matsuura with a single to right center! Hata rounds 3rd and he scores! 3-0 Sapporo!
AH! And Nakao catches Matsuura sleeping at 1st! He's run down and the inning is over!
Sapporo takes the 3-0 lead, but I think even stranger is that 4 runners have been caught off base!
One down for Jyouhoku and Tanikake lines one to right! Imaizumi charges in, slides, but it's off him and bounces back towards hoe! Tanikake takes 2nd!
Utsunomiya with a drive to deep center! But there's no wind and the park holds it! Yada catches it and Tanikake moves up to 3rd.
And Nakao with a hard shot at Miura! He blocks it, but it trickles behind him! He can't locate it and Tanikake scores! 3-1 Sapporo!
Tanaka grounds to 1st, but Tottori Jyouhoku is on the board!
Nakao needs a clean inning here if he wants to keep his team in it.
But OH MY.
With one down, Miyata crushes a Nakao offering. That leaves the ballpark before you can say HAITAAAA!!!! and lands at least 15 rows up. 4-1 Sapporo!
And the next pitch from Nakao is bunted by Sakamoto for a base hit! He's then bunted into scoring position by Kakehata.
Last batter Miura up, and he skies one in the infield. Matsumoto comes in, makes a last minute adjustment, and it's off his glove! Sakamoto comes home and it's 5-1!
Matsumoto gets the ball back quickly and throws to 2nd to get Miura out, but another run scores thanks to an error and the game is quickly running away from Jyouhoku.
Kakehata strikes out the first 2 batters looking before Tamura comes up and lines a ball just fair down the left field line for a double!
Oh? On the 7th pitch of the at-bat, the ball comes out of Kakehata's hand before he delivers it! That's a balk and Tamura goes to 3rd!
Next pitch Sakoda singles to right! That scores Tamura and Jyouhoku plates another run. 5-2!
Matsumoto also works Kakehata to a full count, and he draws a walk! Runners at 1st and 2nd with 2 down!
But Tanikake swings at the first pitch and grounds out to 2nd to kill the rally.
Augh. The pitcher is having control issues, why not take a couple of pitches?
Nakao gets his 2nd 1-2-3 inning to help out his offense, but they're running out of innings and just getting 1 back won't be enough,
Utsunomiya steps up to the sounds of Evangelion. I never get tired of that.
He hits a slow dribbler to 2nd and HUH? Sakamoto flat out drops the ball! E4!
And now Ishikawa-kantoku calls for the bunt??! You need one inning of at least 2 runs if you want to tie! Nakao is successful, but he was 2-3 on the day too!
Tanaka gives the ball a ride to right center, but Yada runs it down. Utsunomiya advances to 3rd.
But what's this? The appeal to 2nd and Utsunomiya's out! He left too early! Too bad for Jyouhoku! But it's the 4th baserunning error by Jyouhoku!
Matsuura crushes a pitch to deep left! Ichihari runs back, to the wall..
Matsuura with the 2nd home run for Sapporo and they lead 6-2!
But Ichihari stays down! He looked to have hit the wall at full sprint, but it looks like it's his ankle that's hurt! The replay shows that he looks to have caught his foot somewhere near the warning track causing him to stumble into the wall. He may have turned his ankle.
He's quickly carried in by one of the players, but then when they reach the infield, Ishikawa-kantoku carries him himself!
#7 Tarumoto goes out to replace Ichihari.
With 2 down, Miyata singles back up the middle. He moved to 2nd by Sakamoto. Another chance for Sapporo.
Kakehata with a single to center! Miyata rounds 3rd, goes for home! Mizushima up with the throw home! Tanaka applies the tag and he's out!!
Mizushima and Tarumoto both give good at bats but are retired by Kakehata.
Tamura comes in and CRUSHES A PITCH TO DEEP LEFT CENTER!!!
Tomita goes back to the wall and it's gone!!! HAITAAAAAAA!!!
Last batter Tamura with perhaps a farewell and thank you to Koshien, sends the first pitch into the stands! 6-3!!
And that is indeed the case as Sakota pops out to Hata to end the game.
Errors on the basepaths and on the field cost Tottori Jyouhoku a chance in the ball game. But you can't fault them for not playing hard for all 9 innings. Sadly, they'll kneel, grab the dirt of Koshien, and bow to the field as their summer has ended.
Nakao (Tottori Jyouhoku) - 2-4, RBI
Tamura (Tottori Jyouhoku) - 3-4, 2B, HR, 2R, RBI
Matsuura (Sapporo Daiichi) - 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI
Miyata (Sapporo Daiichi) - 3-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI