And now for a recap of Days 1 & 2 of the Meiji Jingu Tournament
Day 1 - Game 1 - Akita Shougyou vs. Takaoka Shougyou
The battle of Tohoku and Hokushinetsu looked good to start with Kataoka from Akitashou and Nabeda from Takashou keeping their opponents off the board.
But a walk given up by Kataoka comes in to score in the 4th on an error. 2 innings later he would give up one more.
However, it would all be over one inning later in the 7th when Kataoka had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no out. A successful safety squeeze would open the flood gates for 4 runs. The year would end for Akitashou in the 8th when Takashou would score the sayonara run.
Day 1 - Game 2 - Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku vs. Imabari Nishi
So the upstart Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku gets to face one of the well-steeped tradition teams in Imabari Nishi.
And yet in the 3rd, they showed no fear scoring the opening run. That would be the only run scored for a while. And when I say a while, I mean until the 9th.
And when I mean the 9th, I mean the bottom of the 9th - 2 out...
RP Oogawa had come on the mound in the 6th in relief of Okamoto. With 2 down, Imabari Nishi sends up PH Sasaki and manages to earn a walk. And then Hayashi hits one to right for a game-tying triple.
And then one batter later... Minori singles to left, and just like that the game is over.
I'd say that there may have been nerves, but I wonder if there was any time to have it. One out away from victory and 3 batters later, the game is over.
But if nothing else, I wonder if the loss could be good for hardening the team come senbatsu. They'll face teams like this and they'll need to be able to close games.
Day 2 - Game 1 - Teikyou vs. Hokushou
Hokushou sure had their work cut out for them against powerhouse Teikyou. Matano would take the hill for Hokushou while Suzuki Shouta, not Itou was taking the hill for Teikyou.
And Matano and his 138 km/h fastball was able to hold up against the Teikyou offense, and keep them scoreless.
But it takes a special effort to keep them off the board for the entire game. This wasn't one of them.
In the 5th Suzuki decides to take matters into his own hands hitting a 2-run home run to take the lead. Hokushou would cut that lead in half in the top of the 6th, only to see Teikyou retake the 2 run advantage in the bottom of the inning.
It would all seem to be over in the bottom of the 8th when Teikyou would score 3. However, Hokushou would make a show of it scoring 2 in the 9th. While they would fall 6-3, it shows hope for the spring.
Day 2 - Game 2 - Kadena vs. Oogaki Nichidai
Kadena had certainly shown its meddle in the Kyushu Super-Regionals, but here was probably their first real test against Oogaki Nichidai.
And they seemed up to the challenge. A solo HR in the 2nd and a 2-run triple by Nohara(?) gave them a 3-0 advantage!
Wonder if that gave Oogaki a wake-up call...
Because in the 6th with the score 3-1, Oogaki puts 3 walks and 4 hits together to score 6 runs and wrest the game away from Kadena.
Shocked but not deterred, Kadena gets back a run in the 8th. And then in the 9th they get one run back with no out, and one more with one down. Suddenly, it's a 1-run ballgame!
But Yamagi would close out the game for Oogaki as they advance to the Best 4 with a 7-6 win.
Kadena could possibly be one to watch in the spring...