If the first 3 games weren't interesting enough, just look at the stands here at Koshien. You know people are here to see Kikuchi Yuusei. He certainly struggled against Nagasaki Nichidai and perhaps may have lost if it weren't for the manager's decision to pull ace Oosera early.
But at the same time Hanamaki Higashi's offense responded to the challenge. A normally average offense came to life when Kikuchi needed it most.
Their opponet this time around will be Yokohama Hayato, who didn't have to come from behind in their 1st game against Imari Nourin. Whether it was adjustments that they made or Imari's ace tiring, Yokohama Hayato strung together hits in the 5th and 6th to score 3 runs each. True to form, the team spreads it's hits around to all the players. But this is no Imari Nourin they're facing now - and Hanamaki Higashi has already been put on notice.
Yokohama Hayato (Kanagawa)
Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
CF Satou Ryouhei
LF Sasaki Daiki (#15)
P Kikuchi Yuusei
RF Satou Ryuujirou
5:14 PM - First pitch!
Kikuchi looks good on the mound to start. He gets 2 grounders before Funaki grounds one through the left side.
But with Oono up, Kikuchi starts throws over to 1st over and over and...
...catches him off 1st. 3 outs.
One down and small Ryouhei earns a walk.
And almost immediately takes off for 2nd with Funaki's throw being way later! The dude's small and fast.
Kawamura with a drive to deep center! Yonaha running back, makes the catch!! But Ryouhei tags up!
Runner at 3rd, 2 out for Sarukawa.
And he hits a chopper up the middle! Iida puts up his glove, but it deflects off it and continues into center! Ryouhei scores and it's 1-0 Hanamaki!!
Yokokura grounds back to Iida, but Hanamaki jumps out to the early lead!
Oono back at the plate, takes Kikuchi on a 10 pitch at-bat when he grounds out to 2nd.
The Hayato batters are making him work. They may go down in order, but he throws 19 pitches that inning.
Iida induces to groundouts before Yuusei pops one up to shallow center. Yonaha charges in and dives, but just can't secure it.
Doesn't matter as Ryuujirou grounds out to 2nd.
Lights start turning on at Koshien as we approach 6 PM.
The bottom of the lineup is having a hard time catching up to Kikuchi's fastballs, and as a result get fooled by the offspeed stuff. He records 2 K's in the 3rd agains the bottom of Hayato's lineup.
One out and Ryouhei works yet another walk. But this time, Kawamura grounds to 1st and they cut him down at 2nd.
Sarukawa responds with a base hit through the right side! Runners at the corners with 2 down!
Mizutani-kantoku isn't going to let the game get away from him and pulls Iida for #10 Hagiwara.
And he gets Yokokura to pop up! Oono over near the camera wells... and makes the catch! 3 outs!
Top batter Mori up and...
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Daiki going to the left field foul pole, looking up...
Mori with the douten home run!!!!!! That's the 4th homerun given up by Yuusei! 1-1!!!!!
Then with 1 dow, Funaki shoots one through the left side! Runner on!
But Yuusei gets Oono to pop up to short for the 2nd out.
Mizutani-kantoku looks to send the game into motion to get anything off Yuusei, but Tokunaga whiffs and Funaki is thrown out at 2nd!
Oono makes a great grab on a ball hit by Chiba! And while Daiki gets a single through the right side, Hagiwara retires the next 2 batters to end the inning.
Kikuchi certainly seems to be settling down. He racks up another 2 strikes for 4 total so far.
Hayato's defense certainly rising to the occasion! Mori's nice snag on a hard hit ball by Ryouhei is surrounded by two popouts.
Hayato's done a great job against Yuusei's squad so far. But how will the 2nd half go?
Kikuchi's starting to get in the groove now. Kanno? Whiffs at a slider. Hagiwara? Watches a fastball blow by him on the outside. Mori, who hit the HR? Same thing.
Hanamaki's batters looking for the big hit start sending flyballs to the outfield. But they're all catchable and Hagiwara continues to match Yuusei!
Yonoha takes a pitch away from Yuusei and grounds it past a diving Sarukawa! Leadoff runner on, but what will Mizutani-kantoku do? And can Yonoha avoid getting picked off?
Kikuchi is certainly throwing over to 1st a lot. Funaki up, but he grounds to short! Kawamura starts the 6-4-3 double play! And Oono grounds to 3rd for the 3rd out!
Hagiwara still going strong. Daiki works the count full, but gets caught looking at pitch inside for strike 3!
And then Yuusei drives one to deep center! Yonaha back to the wall! It's off the base! Yuusei heading for 3! But the relay from Yonoha to Kanno to Mori is good and they nail him at 3rd! 2 out!
Ryuujirou with a grounder to the left side! Mori charges in to take it, but his throw to 1st is wide! It pulls Oono off the bag! E5!
Kashiwaba up and...
Hagiwara leaves one hanging! Kanbara running to the wall in left... looking up...
Kashiwaba makes Hayato immediately pay for the error with a homerun to left! 3-1 Hanamaki!
And after that, and perhaps a batter or two too late, Mizutani pulls Hagiwara for ace Imaoka.
Ryouhei battles Imaoka for 11 pitches, but eventually strikes out to end the inning. But a homerun by top batter Kashiwaba is the difference now.
Yuusei can now go after the batters now mercilessly. Tokunaga grounds back to Yuusei. Yamaguchi flies out to right. And so as to not leave out his teammates, a hard hit liner down the right field line is caught with an amazing dive by Yokokura.
Kawamura opens the 8th with a single past a diving Tokunaga into center. After a sac bunt, Yokokura gets a single through the left side! Kawamura has to hold at 3rd.
But Hanamaki Higashi threatens to open this game open late.
Chiba up to bat. He lines one to right! Kawamura scores and it's 4-1!
But Daiki grounds out into the 5-3 double play to end the inning...
Yokohama Hayato will need some home cooking now to pull this game out. Down 3 with 3 outs to go...
Kanno leads it off with an opposite field hit to right. They'll need more of those...
Imaoka up to bat now. No bunting here. Grounder to the left side! Makes an irregular bounce! But Kawamura charges in, makes the grab, off balanced throw to 1st... out! One down!
Mori up. But he grounds to 3rd! Sarukawa looks Kanno back and goes to 1st! 2 outs!
Last chance in Yonoha now...
Goes ahead 3-0! Ball 4! Yonoha walks on 4 straight and the tying run comes to the plate in Funaki!!
Strike 1... fouled off... down to their last strike... fouled off again... barely fouled off!!! The oen-dans cheer their respective teams! Outside! 1-2... Down and away! 2-2!! Fouled off yet again!!!! Fastball inside... SANSHIN!!
Yuusei strikes out Funaki looking to end the game!
Kikuchi Yuusei survives yet another game against a surprising opponent in Yokohama Hayato, with Kashiwaba this time coming through for Hanamaki with the go-ahead 2 run homerun in the 7th inning.
Yokohama Hayato gave a great effort against one of the favorites in the tournament, and while they lost, they should have nothing to be ashamed of, as painful as it is. The memories of this summer will remain for the rest of their lives, even though their stay was not as long as perhaps they would have liked.
Mori (Yokohama Hayato) - 1-4, HR, R, RBI
Funaki (Yokohama Hayato) - 2-4
Hagiwara (Yokohama Hayato) - L, 4 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, K
Kashiwaba (Hanamaki Higashi) - 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
Sarukawa (Hanamaki Higashi) - 2-3, RBI
Kikuchi Yuusei (Hanamaki Higashi) - W, CG, ER, 5 H, 8 K, BB