Today has to be a blockbuster day on the schedule. Earlier we saw Aomori Yamada face of and...
And now, it's the Higashi Tokyo powerhouse Teikyou, who's back and better than ever. When I saw them live in 2006, they had offense for days, but their pitching failed them. Now, they have both the offense, and supposedly the pitching. They sport 4 pitchers who can all hit 145 kph and several complimentary pitches (even one with a knuckleball!). Even more unique is a person on their starting nine, LF Ariga Naville. He's half-Ghanan and is part of the powerful offense.
And this is what Tsuruga Kehi has to face. They certainly aren't the strong team that Teikyou is, but they do have some above-average players.
But to ask them to defeat Teikyou...
(Other note: Turns out there is an international player for Tsuruga Kehi too. 2B Lee Kai who is Korean. Thanks to a chat member, he's the son of Lee Keiichi, former Yomiuri Giants player.)
Teikyou (Higashi Tokyo)
Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
C Kubo (#12)
11:00 AM - First pitch!
Not good early for Yamada. Kaneko lines one into right center and aggressively heads to 2nd! He's in with a leadoff double!
Taguchi looking to bunt him over. Ball goes to Yamada and he fires to 3rd! Kaidou with the ball, but can't apply the tag in time! Runners at 1st and 3rd for Teikyou and no down!
Yamada gets Hirahara to strike out! 1 down!
But you can't give Teikyou this chance and expect to not get burned! Satou golfs a ball and puts into shallow center! Kaneko scores! 1-0 Teikyou!!
And then Haraguchi chops a ball to 2nd! Mi gets the ball, but his only play is to 1st! Taguchi scores! 2-0!!
Hoshi K's to end the inning, but as expected Teikyou takes the early lead.
Hirahara strikes out the first two batters before Ri singles takes a pitch away through the left side! But Yoshida grounds out to 1st to end the inning.
The bottom of Teikyou's lineup correctly works ace Yamada. After Yoshioka K's, Ariga takes the count full before striking out.
Matsumoto also works the count full, and then hits a hard-hit single to right! He then takes 2nd with Kaneko at bat!
And then Yamada hits Kaneko! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Teikyou!
AH!! And on the 1st pitch from Yamada, the runners take off! Watanabe's throw to 3rd not in time! Big pinch for Tsuruga Kehi!
But he gets Taguchi to strike out looking!
Nakao leads off the 2nd with a 4 pitch walk. Kubo looks to put the bunt down, but Taguchi goes to 2nd to get the lead runner! 1 down!
AH!! Hirahara's pickoff throw goes wild! Kubo advances to 2nd!
But Yamada grounds out to short! Matsumoto looks Kubo back before going to 1st! 2 down!
And Hirahara stikes out Kimura to end the inning!
Hirahara on a 2-2 pitch just lines one crushed down the left field line. That's to the wall for a leadoff double.
Satou bunts him to 3rd for Haraguchi. That's hard hit up the middle! Hirahara scores and Haraguchi takes 2nd! 3-0 Teikyou!
Hoshi flies out in foul territory for the 2nd out, but Yamada's not out of the woods yet.
Yoshioka with a scorcher past a diving Kaidou down the left field line! That an RBI double for Yoshioka! 4-0!!
And Ariga with a hard liner that goes over Nakao's head! He's in with a double! 5-0!
Matsumoto flies out to left to end the inning, but on the back of 4 doubles Teikyou adds 3 more to their lead! They're hitting the ball hard and it could be a long game for Tsuruga Kehi...
Unfortunately for Tsuruga Kehi, they are certainly outmatched. Murota, Nishikiori and Kaidou all battle against Hirahara, but all go down swinging.
Yamada finally gets his 1-2-3 inning, but not in the manner you'd expect. He retires Kaneko and Taguchi on grounders, but yields a single through the right side to Hirahara. But he tries to steal 2nd, and backup catcher Kubo (in because #2 Watanabe suffered an injury) throws him out!
Tsuruga Kehi manages another leadoff runner as Lee walks on 4 straight. Yoshida moves him to 2nd on a slow grounder to 1st.
Nakao works the count full, but then strikes out. 2 down.
And Kubo grounds to 2nd to end the inning. Will they be able to get anything started against ace Hirahara?
This time around, Yamada gets your traditional 1-2-3 inning, retiring the 3-4-5 batters of Teikyou while racking up 2 K's!
Hirahara continues to look good on the mound. The bottom of the lineup for Tsuruga Keih makes contact, but it's all grounders in the infield.
Yamada has looked good since he gave up that 3-spot in the 3rd. He gives up a one out single to Naville, but he's left stranded on 2nd. If not for that 3rd inning, this could be a totally different game.
Leadoff batter Nishikiori leads off the 6th with a single back up the middle! He's moved to 2nd by Kaidou, and Lee has a chance now to drive in a run here for Tsuruga Kehi!
But he strikes out on a ball inside. Now it's up cleanup batter Yoshida to drive him in.
He gives the ball a hard hit, but it's right at Hoshi who goes to the bag to end the inning. Chance lost for Tsuruga Kehi!
Yamada continued to carry on smoothly, retiring the 1st 2 batters before cleanup batter Satou lines a single to left. Haraguchi follows that up with a single through the right side.
Runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 down for Hoshi. But with the count 1-1, Haraguchi takes off! But Satou wasn't heading to 3rd! Kubo throws to 2nd and they get him in a rundown! They eventually catch up to him and tag him to retire the side!
Backup catcher Kubo tries to jumpstart the offense this time. A 1-out single through the left side is a good start. But Yamada pops out in foul territory to Taguchi.
2 down for Kimura and he singles to right! Kubo however can only get to 2nd.
And with Murota up, Kubo takesa delayed steal after Haraguchi throws the ball back! He's safe at 3rd, and now there's runners at the corners!
But Murota strikes out to end the inning...
Yamada with another one of those innings he had in the 4th. Hoshi can't buy a hit as he lines out shallow to a running Nakao. Then with 2 down, Ariga works a walk.
But then he's caught trying to steal 2nd. And it wasn't really close.
Nishikiori leads off the 8th with a liner over Taguchi's head and down the left field line. But Ariga gets it in quickly to limit him to a single. Kaidou up, and on the 1-2 count they try the hit-and-run! But Kaidou strikes out and Haraguchi throws out Nishikiori! 2 down.
And that's too bad as Lee drives one down the right field line! That two-hops the wall and he in with a double! Had Nishikiori not tried to steal 2nd, Tsuruga Kehi could have broken the shutout!
Now it's up to Yoshida, who has grounded to 1st 3 times, to deliver for Tsuruga Kehi.
He does! He lines one to left and Lee comes in from 2nd! Yoshida breaks up the shutout! 5-1!!
And Nakao with a liner to left! Ariga runs back, turns one way, then another, reaches back, and makes the catch! Not necessarily the most graceful there, but it gets the job done!
But Tsuruga Kehi is on the board!
Another 1-2-3 inning, with another rundown involved. Yamada's held Teikyou scoreless since the 4th inning!
Last up for Tsuruga Kehi. Is there anything left?
Kubo collects his 2nd hit with a liner to left! Can Yamada get his first hit?
No. He grounds out to 1st. Hoshi after tagging 1st goes to 2nd, but they don't turn 2.
#13 Shima comes in for Matsumoto, hoping to put something together. But he goes down swinging.
With 2 down, Maeda-kantoku puts in 1st year #18 Itou to get the final out. He goes in Ariga's spot as Hirahara moves to 3rd, Taguchi moves to center and Kaneko moves to left.
Hayashi-kantoku counters with #18 Fujibayashi.
And he pumps gas, let me tell you. While the control is lacking a bit, he hits 147 kph!
With the count full, Fujibayashi makes contact, but it's a grounder to 2nd and that ends the game!
Tsuruga Kehi certainly gave their best effort, but in the end Teikyou's offense was just too much for them to handle. 2 runs right off the bat in the 1st, and 4 doubles in the 3rd reflect their abilities.
It's not much solace, but they were able to break through in the 8th to score a run. It's certainly sad to leave in the first round, and for injured Watanabe it certainly hurts more, but they should take away a good showing against one of the strongest teams in the nation.
Hiraguchi (Teikyou) - 2-4, 2B, RBI
Ariga (Teikyou) - 2-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Hirahara (Teikyou) - 2-4, 2B, R
Hirahara (Teikyou) - W, 8.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 11 K, 2 BB
Lee (Tsuruga Kehi) - 2-3, 2B, R
Yoshida (Tsuruga Kehi) - 1-4, RBI
Kubo (Tsuruga Kehi) - 2-4