Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 10 - Quarterfinal #4 - Rifu (Miyagi) vs. Waseda Jitsugyō (Tokyo)

The final quarterfinal match is a match of complete opposites.

Waseda Jitsugyou in the early years of Koushien dominated the scene, but tailed of in recent decades. But with the emergence of Saitou Yuuki (aka The Hankerchief Prince), they seem to be having a resurgance.

For Rifu, it's completely new - this is their first Koushien appearance, spring or summer. In addition, they were selected as a 21st century team. Now, they did make the Best 4 of the Tohoku fall tournament so perhaps they're stronger than most. Certainly so far in this tournament they have surprised, routing Tokai runner-up Kakegawa Nishi and outdueling Kanto runner-up Narashino.

While Rifu has been a good story so far this tournament, you'd have to be hard-pressed not to see Waseda advance as the last team into the Best 4.

1:31 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Onoda seem to be having a little trouble locating his pitches. He works the count full on two batters and gives up a single to Baba with 2 down past a diving Isoami, but a grounder to 2nd by Inoue ends that.

Bottom 1st
Tsukamoto has a hassle-free first inning retiring the Waseda batters in order. As a pitch-to-contact ace, it's nice to see early the batters hitting ground balls in the infield.

Top 2nd
There's one down in the inning when Sakurada lines one down the right field line for a base hit. But Kakinuma bobbles the transfer and Sakurada breaks for 2nd! The throw in is not in time and Rifu has a runner in scoring position!

Shuuta hits a short chopper back to Onoda. Sakurada is taking off for 3rd! Onoda throws to 3rd and Rukazawa makes the easy tag.

With the lead runner gone, Onoda gets out of the jam.

Bottom 2nd
And as is custom with the 2nd inning, Waseda's oen-dan starts playing Konpeki no Sora...

And Mori (frame true to his name, and I mean tall not wide), sneaks one through the left site for a leadoff single. Nakano tries to bunt him along, but it's right to Tsukamoto who goes to 2nd to cut down Mori (no pun intended, seriously).

(And I'm getting a bit annoyed because this is the 2nd game they're continuously talking about the game against Tenri...)

Meanwhile, Onoda lines the 0-1 pitch over a leaping Yuuji and into right! Nakano advances to 3rd while Onoda is about to stretch out a double! Runners at 2nd and 3rd and Waseda is challenging early!

Tsukamoto gets ahead of Kakinuma 0-2, but then allows him to run it full! Fortunately, he gets him swinging. 2 down!

But Isoami bloops one to center! That's in for a base hit! Nakano scores, Onoda coming home and the throw is cut off by Tsukamoto! Waseda pulls ahead with a 2-0 lead!

Rukazawa with a single to right! Waseda threatens once again!

#10 Takahashi warms up for Rifu. They can ill afford to fall behind too far.

Tsukamoto though gets Oono to strike out and the inning is over. Waseda, as expected, has pulled ahead.

Top 3rd
Yuuji leads off with a slow grounder past a reaching Onoda. Isoami is there to field it, but his footing comes out from under him and his throw is short! Yuuji beats out the throw for an infield hit!

Obara-kantoku elects not to bunt, but instead to hit-and-run. But Endou flies out to center.

Then with Fujiwara at bat, Onoda throws away the pickoff throw and Yuuji advances to 2nd! Rifu with a chance to cut the lead in half!

And Fujiwara draws a walk! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Rifu!

Just as I type that, Baba lines on up the middle! But Isoami dives and makes the catch! He tosses to 2nd for the easy double play and Rifu is quickly denied!

Bottom 3rd
The issues continue for Tsukamoto as he walks leadoff batter Ooya.

Tsuchiya tries to lay down the bunt, but falls behind 0-2. But he still puts it down! The defenders charge in and it looks like it's going foul, but Endou picks it up! He waited too long though and he has no play!! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Waseda with no outs!!!

Izumi-kantoku looks to have Mori lay down the bunt, but his first attempt is far from promising. The second though gets the job done. Now 2 runners in scoring position for Nakano!

He hits a grounder to the left side and Sakurada has it. But he looks to 3rd, and catches Ooya off base! The throw to 3rd is in time to tag a scampering Ooya! 2 down and now the lead runner is at 2nd!

Onoda pops up to left and Tsukamoto is out of the jam!

Top 4th
Inoue lines one throught to left to leadoff the inning! Yunomura tries to bunt him along, but it's too hard! Onoda goes to 2nd for one, throw to first is wide! Mori gets it, but they may have had a double play if the throw was on line!

Sakurada grounds to Rukazawa though and they do turn the 5-4-3 double play!

Rifu is certainly getting base hits off of Onoda, but can't convert anything into a run.

Bottom 4th
Yunomura does a great job smothering a grounder by Kakinuma for the first out!

Rukazawa does get a grounder through the left side for a 2-out single.

And he dashes for 2nd! Endou's throw hits Oono's bat and goes into the outfield! Rukazawa heads to 3rd on the error!

Luckily for Rifu, Oono grounds to short for the 3rd out.

Top 5th
Shuuta gets plunked by Onoda to start the inning, and is replaced by #7 Fuse. Tsukamoto looks to bunt, but he pulls it back and swings away! It's a short chopper to 3rd! Rukazawa changes course, fields it, but then loses the ball! It trickles away and everyone's safe! It's a great opportunity to score a run!

Yuuji bunts the runners over into scoring position for the top of the order.

Endou with a scorcher down the 3rd base line! Rukazwa dives, goes through, umpire calls fair!!! Fuse scores! Tsukamoto rounds 3rd, he scores! Endou with the timely double! 同点!! 2-2!!!

Fujiwara puts down the safety bunt! Rukazawa charges in, makes the throw, but Fujiwara is flying and beats the throw! Runners at the corners with one down!!

Izumi-kantoku calls for a conference on the mound, and #9 Suzuki is warming up in the bullpen...

Chance for Rifu, but Onoda gets ahead of Baba 0-2. Baba evens it up though when he doesn't chase Onoda's pitches. And Fujiwara goes for 2nd! Pitch is inside and there's no throw! Now another base hit could give Rifu a 2-run lead! And he walks Baba and it's manrui for cleanup hitter Inoue!!

Hm. Now that I'm paying attention to the Rifu oen-dan, they're singing along to one of the songs (not a pop song like Sakuranbo, I don't think). I don't know which one it is off the top of my head, but I don't think I've actually heard an oen-dan singing the lyrics. For a first-time participant, the oen-dan is pretty good.

AH!!! Inoue lines one back up at Onoda! It glances off of him and into center!! Endou scores! Fujiwara gets waved home! The throw from Nakano bounces on the ground is not in time! Rifu scores 2 runs and takes the lead!!! 4-2!!! 逆転!!

And quickly Izumi-kantoku pulls Onoda. He moves to right, while Suzuki replaces Kakinuma's position in the order and takes the hill. Interestingly enough, Suzuki's older brother was a starting member of Keiou Gijuku. How brothers go to "rival" schools is beyond me.

Suzuki hits Yunomura!! Manrui for Rifu again!! The long inning for Waseda continues...

Now he's down 3-1 to Sakurada! There's nowhere to put him!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SQUEEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Obara-kantoku calls for the squeeze! Suzuki charges in, tries the glove toss, but he doesn't have control when he flicks it! It goes into foul territory and Baba scores!! The squeeze works to perfection and Rifu is now up 5-2!!!!

Now Fuse, who pinch ran earlier is the 10th man to come to the plate!! He chops one to Suzuki who goes home for the force, 2 down but still bases loaded.

And finally the inning ends when Tsukamoto grounds to 2nd. Isoami charges and makes a great throw to record the out. But it's been a disaster of an inning for Waseda. A 20 minute half-inning yields 5 runs. The first-timers Rifu have shocked Waseda.

Bottom 5th
Fuse remains in the game and plays LF.

Tsukamoto is doing his team no favors though. He walks Ooya to start the inning and Izumi-kantoku has him moved to 2nd.

Obara-kantoku calls for a conference. The last thing his team needs is to start giving back runs.

Mori hits one right at Yunomura. While his throw is offline, Baba has time to make the tag. 2 down for Waseda.

But Nakano shoots one through the right side! The throw is cutoff and Ooya scores!! Waseda comes right back and scores a run of their own, 5-3!!

Izumi-kantoku continues to push! Nakano takes off for 2nd and the throw gets between the infielders into center! Fujiwara comes in quikly to field it and Nakano holds.

Onoda though grounds to 2nd and the side is retired. Rifu may have gained the lead, but they still have to hold it for another couple of innings!

Top 6th
Endou gets the green light on a 3-0 count and blasts one to center! Nakano back to the wall, but it one hops to the wall! He's in with a double!

Fujiwara with the safety bunt again! But Suzuki charges the ball and the throw beats out a diving Fujiwara!

Baba with a liner! But it goes foul down the left field line! However, he does earn his 2nd walk of the day. Runners at the corners with 2 down.

Suzuki gets Inoue to ground to short to end the threat. But it definitely looks like Rifu still has the foot down trying to get more distance between them and Waseda.

Bottom 6th
Two down for Waseda when Rukazawa blasts one to right! Inoue backs up, reaches out and can't get the ball! Rukazawa flies around the bases and reaches 3rd! Inoue's misplay could cost Rifu another run!

But Oono flies out to left. Fuse, playing back is there to make the catch.

Top 7th
Suzuki retires the side in order. Waseda has killed Rifu's momentum, but they need to get their offense started now.

Bottom 7th
One down for Waseda and Tsuchiya lines one to center. Fujiwara makes a sliding try, but it's called a trap. Mori now steps up as the tying run.

But he grounds into the 4-6-3 double play! Waseda only has 2 more tries to come back against the upstarts!!!

Top 8th
Suzuki continues to shut down the Rifu lineup. They seem fine to the idea of trying to manage the 2-run lead with only 6 outs left. It's a dangerous proposition.

Bottom 8th
One down again, Onoda hits a sharp liner to left, but Fuse makes a sliding catch!

That was the best shot from Waseda in the inning as they go 3 up, 3 down. The Waseda bench is eerily quiet...

Top 9th
Suzuki again retires the side. He's done his job...

Bottom 9th
...and now it's crunch time for Waseda Jitsugyou. They've been down before certainly, but to a complete newcomer? And yet, here they sit 3 outs from being eliminated.

Waseda's oen-dan presses on with Konpeki no sora trying to rally the troops...

Isoami chops one back to Tsukamoto, quickly one down...

Rukazawa grounds to 2nd! Two down!! Leadoff batter Oono is their last chance!

He lines one to left! Fuse charges at the dying fly, and slides! But the ball is off his glove! Oono slides in with a double!

Ooya now charged with the task of keeping it alive.

And it's a towering chopper! Tsukamoto backs up, and gets turned around! The ball is off his glove! He trips on Sakurada and everyone's safe!!

#18 Matsui comes in to pinch run for Ooya.

Tsuchiya can get one run back with a hit.

AHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He lines one to left center!! Fujiwara charges over, and misplays the ball! It bounces off of him! Oono scores! The ball bounces to Fuse!! Matsui advances to 3rd!!!

5-4 Rifu!!!! Runners at 1st and 3rd with 2 down!!!!!!!!!

Obara-kantoku calls a conference on the mound. Waseda is one hit away from tying this game, and perhaps one extra-base hit from winning the game!!

And they have cleanup batter Mori up!!

He grounds one back up the middle! But Sakurada is there and steps on 2nd!! Game set!! Rifu wins! Rifu wins!!

The players are jumping up and down in celebration!! Almost as if they had won the entire thing! Waseda isn't as much sad as unhappy they lost. What an upset!!!

And so it's Rifu, the first-timers, who advance to the Best 4 and a date with Hanamaki Higashi!!

Day 10 - Quarterfinal #3 - Nanyō Kōgyō (Yamaguchi) vs. Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)

Day 10 begins much like how Day 9 ends. Nanyou Kougyou, who shocked everyone by defeating PL Gakuen faces off against a surprising Hanamaki Higashi squad and ace Kikuchi. Kikuchi, unlike most other aces, has an air of confidence that borders on cockyness. His numbers though, show that his actions are justified. Like Imamura, Kikuchi also has yet to give up a run so far this Koushien.

If Nanyou wants to advance, they'll have to pull yet another rabbit out of the hat because Hanamaki Higashi certainly won't hurt themselves.

Interestingly enough, it's not ace Kikuchi on the mound, instead it's #5 Sarukawa who's starts on the hill for Hanamaki Higashi.

11:01 AM - First Pitch

Top 1st
While not as overpowering as Kikuchi, Sarukawa is definitely servicable. He retires the top of the Nanyou order to start the game.

Bottom 1st
Ryouhei slices one to left for a one-out single. Then Iwamoto walks Kawamura! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Sarukawa!

Then with the count 2-2, Iwamoto hits Sarukawa! Manrui for Hanamki Higashi early!

Yamasaki-kantoku calls a conference on the mound. They certainly would not like to fall behind at this early stage in the game!

And Iwamoto gets Yokokura on a pitch to the outside corner, 2 down! Chiba flies one to left, and the side is retired! Iwamoto gets out of the pinch, but he can't afford to do this each inning!

Top 2nd
Mizui gets Nanyou their first hit with a bloop to center! But Yamazaki ends the inning as he attempts a safety bunt that goes right to the Yokokura for the out.

Bottom 2nd
One down, Ryuujirou chops one to the right side. Kawamura up with the ball, but his short throw to 1st is wide!! It goes into the dugout, and Ryuujiryou is awarded 2nd.

Yamada with the safety bunt! Mokudai charges, is up with the ball and the throw just beats out a fast Yamada! 2 down!

But top batter Kashiwaba takes one the other way for a single and Ryuujirou scores! Hanamaki Higashi takes the 1-0 lead!

And Iwamoto with a quick pickoff throw gets Kashiwaba! But Nanyou Kougyou finds themselves down early!

Top 3rd
Kawamura with a grounder to 3rd, but Sasaki boots the ball! It scoots away from Sasaki and Kawamura reaches base! Yamasaki-kantoku has him moved along. Nanyou with a chance to pull back even right away!!

Sarukawa meanwhile has troubles at the plate. He falls behind 3-0 to Mokudai and walks him! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Nanyou and ace Kikuchi heads to the bullpen to warm up.

Takeshige with a liner to center! Ryouhei charges in, dives and misses it! Big mistake by Ryouhei!! The ball goes all the way to the wall!! Kawamura scores, Mokudai rounding 3rd, he scores!! A misplay by the Hanamaki Higashi defense leads to a 2-run triple! 逆転!! Nanyou takes the lead, 2-1!!

Nakagawa now with a chance to extend the lead with a sac fly! And he hits a deep fly to center! Takeshige scores and it's 3-1 Nanyou!!

Kunihiro grounds to 3rd, but a critical misplay costs Hanamaki Higashi. Nanyou has taken the lead!

Bottom 3rd
Hanamaki Higashi though looks to go on the counterattack. With one down, Kawamura grounds one past a diving Mokudai and into left! Sasaki-kantoku doesn't elect to bunt and has Sarukawa swinging away!

Then with the count 2-2, he has Kawamura steal 2nd! The throw in from Yamazaki is not in time! Runner now in scoring position!

But Sarukawa pops up to short, and there's 2 down for Chiba.

Iwamoto though, continues to have trouble with the strike zone, as he hits Yokokura on the first pitch! Then he falls behind Chiba 3-1. But he manages to get him to ground to 1st to end the inning. Nanyou maintains the lead, albeit a bit of a tenuous one.

Top 4th
Yamazaki gets a two-out liner for Nanyou, but with the count 0-2, he takes off! The pitch is high for a ball, and Chiba's throw to 2nd guns Yamazaki down!

Bottom 4th
The troubles continue... he walks Sasaki after a long AB. Ryuujirou looks to bunt, but misses one attempt and looks at a 2nd strike. He pulls it back and swings away, but it's a chopper to 2nd! Kawamura tosses to 2nd for one, and the relay throw is not in time! One down and a runner on 1st.

Yamada then hits a grounder to short! Yamazaki with the ball, but loses it. He gets it back, only has one play! Throws to 1st and just gets Yamada! 2 down.

But Iwamoto plunks Kashiwaba! Now runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 down! A base hit can cut the lead to one! And it's Ryouhei! Can he make up for his earlier gaffe?

No! He hits a grounder to Mokudai who goes to 2nd for the out. Nanyou still with the lead.

Top 5th
A very quick inning for Sarukawa. He retires Nanyou in just 3 pitches! But they still have not been able to get to Iwamoto, despite his struggles on the mound!

Bottom 5th
After two routine grounders to Kawamura, a third by Yokokura goes right past him! But Chiba hits a fly to left and Hanamaki is retire once again.

Top 6th
While Sarukawa has settled down, Sasaki-kantoku isn't taking any more chances. Ace Kikuchi takes the hill in reflief to permantently shut down the Nanyou offense and give his team a chance to rally back.

As expected from Kikuchi, he retires the side in order. The Nanyou batters however are making good contact on the ball, even though he quickly collects 2 K's

Bottom 6th
With one down, Iwamoto gives up his 6th walk of the game. Yamada squares to bunt, but doens't get the bat off the shoulder! Iwamoto freezes him on a ball to the outside corner!

And a grounder to 1st by Kashiwaba ends the inning! Nanyou still up 3-1 and perhaps we can start thinking about the upset?!

Top 7th
One down and Mizui gets on base with a slow chopper up the 3rd base line!

Yamasaki-kantoku looks to be aggressive with baserunners against Kikuchi as runners could be few and far between. He has Mizui try and steal 2nd, but Chiba once again guns him down.

With 2 down, the threat evaporates. Yamazaki grounds to 3rd and the inning is over.

Bottom 7th
With time running down, Hanamaki needs to get its offense started soon.

Ryouhei starts with a bunt down the 3rd base line! Mokudai charges in, but slips! The ball gets past him! They then try to see if it goes foul, but it stops in fair territory! Kawamura bunts him over into scoring position. Yamasaki-kantoku calls a conference as Sarukawa steps to the plate.

Sarukawa hits a high pitch to deep center!! Takeshige runs back, looks up!!


Sarukawa with a blast that lands on the first level in dead center!! Hanamaki Higashi has equalized!! 3-3!!!!

And then Yokokura singles to center! Now they're looking for the lead!

Chiba with a hit to right! But it's caught by Nakagawa. 2 down.

Kikuchi with a hit to left! Kunihiro running back, but that's over his head!! Yokokura was running on the pitch and is rounding the bases!! He comes in to score and Kikuchi has put his team ahead with a timely 2-out double!!! 4-3 Hanamaki Higashi!!!!!

Iwamoto finally gets his third out, but it's too late. They've lost the lead, and with the ace Kikuchi on the mound, equalizing could just prove to be impossible.

Top 8th
With one down in the 8th, Yamasaki-kantoku puts in #9 Sanai to PH for Iwamoto. His day is done and he will not get a chance to redeem himself here.

Kikuchi is giving his all, even hitting 148 kph en route to a K!!

Mokudai falls to Kikuchi too and this late in the game, there may not be enough time for Nanyou to regroup...

Bottom 8th
Sanai stays in the game to play right as ace Nakagawa comes in in relief.

One down, Kashiwaba gets hit by Nakagawa. He's in a bit of pain coming down first, but after some spray is applied and he works it out, he's ok.

Meanwhile, Yamasaki-kantoku makes a defensive change. #12 Tanaka comes in Takagi's spot in the order to catch, while Mizui goes from cather to 1B. Perhaps this change is to take advantage of a stronger arm in Tanaka.

But on a pitch outside, Kashiwaba tries to steal 2nd and the throw one hops the base! Now Ryouhei squares and lays the bunt down, advancing him to 3rd, but with 2 down.

AHHHHH!!!!!! The first pitch from Nakagawa is in the dirt and it gets away from Tanaka! He loses sight of it and Kashiwaba comes in to score! It's now a 5-3 lead for Hanamaki Higashi!!

Nakagawa's troubles continue! He walks Kawamura, then gives up a base hit to left! Hanamaki could open the game wide open here with 2 down!

But he gets Yokokura to fly out to center and the inning is over.

But an insurance run means that Nanyou will have to come back from a 2-run deficit.

Top 9th
Takeshige lines the first pitch to center to start the inning!

Then he walks Nakagawa on 4 straight! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Nanyou and Sasaki-kantoku calls an immediate conference!

Kunihiro with a comebacker! It gets past Kikuchi!! Kashiwaba though fields the ball and tosses to 2nd for the out. 1 down!

#17 Nakamura comes in to PR for Kunihiro.

Tanaka goes down swinging, and Nanyou's down to their final out!

Mizui represents their last chance, and Kikuchi hits him!!! Manrui for Nanyou here in the 9th!!

Another conference from Sasaki-kantoku... Yamazaki at the plate, can he keep the rally alive?

Kikuchi gets ahead 1-2, and now they're down to their final strike!

Kikuchi steps off once... twice... and the pitch is outside, 2-2...

The next pitch... sanshin!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kikuchi strikes out Yamazaki looking!! Hanamaki Higashi comes from behind thanks to a game-tying 2-run homerun by Sarukawa to defeat Nanyou Kougyou and advance to the Best 4!!

But Nanyou certainly gave Hanamaki Higashi a good run, taking the lead early. But Iwamoto's pitching troubles eventually came back to haunt them. Nonetheless, Nanyou should be looked at as a contender for the summer Koushien after this game and their upset of PL Gakuen.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 9 - Quarterfinal #2 - Minoshima (Wakayama) vs. Seihō (Nagasaki)

The 2nd quarterfinal pits one of my favorite teams, Seihou versus a Minoshima squad looking to relive it's days at Koushien during the 70's. However, Minoshima has their work cut out for them. After an easy win against Oita Uenogaoka, they needed 11 to beat upset-minded Kaisei. Now they face a Seihou squad that finally has a true ace pitcher in Imamura. Tournament-to-date he has yet to give up a run. This is on top of a well-regarded offense that can pick apart average pitching.

So, can Minoshima continue its run, or will Seihou mark yet another casualty on their way to the Best 4?

1:50 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Imamura starts off striking off Miyamoto. But he walks Shintarou on 4 straight - a bit strange for Imamura. But the defense bails him out as Mantani grounds into the 3-6-3 double play.

Bottom 1st
Yahisa stars Seihou off with a grounder to left! He's bunted along to 2nd. Then Morimoto walks Kawamoto on 4 straight! Runners at 1st and 2nd with one down for Yamazaki! He makes contact, but it's a grounder to short. Nishihata starts the 6-4-3- double play and it's scoreless after 1.

Top 2nd
Nishihata with a liner to center, but Tominaga makes the shoestring catch for the out!

Imamura next strikes out Keisuke, but the ball gets away from Kawamoto! Keisuke breaks for 1st, and Kawamoto's throw is high! Keisuke reaches base!

But then he tries to take 2nd on the first pitch! Kawamoto makes a great throw and Keisuke is out by a mile.

Imamura finishes the inning by striking out Oota.

Bottom 2nd
Tsuji gets the offense started with a grounder past a diving Numa into right. But he too tries to steal 2nd, only to have the catcher Yamamoto throw him out.

Nakayama gives the ball a good ride, but Mantani backs up and reaches out for the catch.

Top 3rd
Minoshima gets its 3rd one-out runner as Yamamoto lines one back up the middle for a base hit. He's moved to second, but is stranded as Miyamoto pops up to 2nd.

Bottom 3rd
Shimazaki starts it off with a single to left. Hashimoto bunts him over for the top of the order.

Yahisa drives a slow curve to left! Oota chases it, but it one bounces the wall! Shimazaki easily scores on the double by Yahisa! 1-0 Seihou!!

Top 4th
Shintarou starts the 4th with a single past a diving Shimazaki! Mantani moves him to 2nd and Minoshima has the tying run in scoring position!

And Imamura walks Nishihata! Runners on 1st and 2nd now for Keisuke! But he flies the first pitch to left and quickly 2 down!

Sanshin!! Imamura strikes out Oota to retire the side! Minoshima threatening here in the 4th, but Imamura shuts the door!

Bottom 4th
Yamazaki with a fly to right! That falls in front of Miyamoto for a base hit!

Imamura is swinging away and battles with Morimoto! And it pays off! He lines one into right for a base hit! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Seihou with no out!

Yoshida-kantoku has Tsuji bunt the runners along. Now a base hit can score 2!

But Nakayama chops one back to Morimoto! He looks back Yamazaki at 3rd and makes the play at 1st!! 2 down!

Shimazaki with a grounder to short. But it goes through Nishihata's legs and into left!! Yamazaki scores! Imamura rounding 3rd, he's heading home!! The throw from Oota is in line and Yamamoto makes the tag!! Imamura is out at the plate, but Seihou plates another run!! 2-0!!

Top 5th
Imamura oddly enough finally retires all three batters at the plate. He has had 1-2-3 innings, but it involved a runner getting on base and then being retired. But however you look at it, Imamura continues to pitch well.

Bottom 6th
Hashimoto with a fly to deep left! Oota running back, but it falls in front of the wall! Hashimoto reaches 2nd, goes for 3rd!! But the relay throw from Nishihata is in plenty of time to get him out!

But Yahisa takes the next pitch to deep center! Mantani back, and that falls in front of the wall! Yahisa in with a double, AH!!!!!

The throw in from Nishihata overshoots everyone and goes into the dugout!! Yahisa is awarded home, and Seihou takes the 3-0 lead on the error!

Tominaga continues the hit parade with a lazy grounder up the middle!

Morimoto though, gets Kawamoto to fly to left. 2 down.

And with Yamazaki up, he catches Kawamoto off base! They run him down for the 3rd out! Seihou however continues to extend its lead!

Top 5th
One down, Shintarou for the 3rd time reaches base with another walk.

Mantani reaches down and slices one into center! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Minoshima!

Matsushita-kantoku has Mantani swinging away! Sanshin! Imamura gets him looking on an outside fastball! And another scoring opportunity goes wanting!

Bottom 5th
Seihou continues to assault Morimoto and the Minoshima squad! Hashimoto drives one to left. Oota runs back, but the ball lands in front of the wall! Hashimoto reaches 2nd and pushes for 3rd!! The relay from Nishihata reaches Keisuke and he's out by a mile!

They're not deterred though! Yahisa with a drive to left center! Mantani runs back, and that's a one-hopper to the wall! Yahisa stops at 2nd, but AH!!!

This time Nishihata's relay to 3rd sails over everyone and goes into the dugout!! The umpires award Yahisa home and Seihou is up 3-0!!

Tominaga then shoots one through to center! Seihou seem to be having their way with Morimoto!

But with Kawamoto up, Morimoto catches Tominaga off the bag! They run him down for the 2nd out!

And with a fly to left by Kawamoto ends the inning. But the deficit continues to grow...

Top 6th
Minoshima mounts a rally in the 6th. Shintarou draws a one out walk. Mantani follows that up with a single to center and they have runners at 1st and 2nd!

Imamura though clamps down. He strikes out Nishihata and gets Keisuke to pop up to short!

Bottom 6th
For the first time today, Morimoto retires the side in quick order.

Top 7th
Oota leads off the inning battling against Imamura and drawing a 9 pitch walk. And then Imamura hits Numa! Just like that, runners on 1st and 2nd with no out!


After the first pitch to Yamamoto, Kawamoto fires the ball to 2nd! Oota is caught taking a big lead... and he's out! What was he thinking???!!!

Imamura then proceeds to strikeout Yamamoto and Morimoto to end the inning! A critical baserunning error kills Minoshima's momentum!

Bottom 7th
Yoshida-kantoku elects here to pinch hit for Nakayama to start the inning. #4 Sakamoto comes into the game to bat.

And on a full count, he singles back up the middle! Now #9 Yoshida comes in to pinch run for Sakamoto. On the frist pitch, he takes off for 2nd! Yamamoto double clutches the ball, and he's in there safely! Now Shimazaki's bunt moves him over to 3rd! Seihou is threatening once again!!

Matsushita-kantoku calls a conference on the mound, hoping that the defense can prevent another run.

AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! Yamamoto lets a ball in the dirt go between his legs and to the backstop!! Yoshida comes in easily to score, and it's 4-0 Seihou!

Then with 2 down, Yahisa collects his 4th hit of the day, another grounder through to left!

Fortunately, Tominaga strikes out and the inning is over. But with yet another gaffe on the field, it's apparent that Minoshima is overmatched here against Seihou...

Top 8th
Imamura continues to go through Minoshima's lineup with relative ease. He gets 2 quick outs before yielding a single to left by Mantani.

Nishihata give a bit of a scare driving one deep down the left field line foul. But he ends up succumbing to Imamura's slider and the beat goes on...

Bottom 8th
Kawamoto continues Seihou's offense with a blooper to center. After a sac bunt, Matsushita-kantoku calls a conference.

In the meantime, the scoreboard indicates a balk. Apprarently, Morimoto was called for a balk before the sac bunt! So Yamazaki returns to the plate and Kawamoto moves to 2nd!

Once again Yamazaki lays the bunt down, but this time Kawamoto heads to 3rd!

AHH!!!!!!!!!!!! Another pitch in the dirt, and Yamamoto can't move over to field it! It bounces away and Kawamoto scores! 5-0!

And a pitch from Morimoto nails a leaping Imamura! He's down on his knees! But he gets up quickly and moves to 1st. They apply the spray as usual, and he's ready to go.

Tsuji drives the first pitch deep to right, but foul! That must've been a scare to Minoshima! But then he lines the next pitch to right for a base hit!

Now Yoshida is being pulled for a PH, this time #13 Miyahara steps in. He hits one to center, and that's in there for a base hit!! Imamura rounds 3rd, and he's heading home! Mantani up with a strike to home! Yamamoto with the ball, comes around to tag Imamura, but he's just ahead of it and slides home safe!!! 6-0!!

#18 Iwata comes in to pinch run for Miyahara.

And Shimazaki gets a hold of a slow curve! That's into the left center field gap and to the wall! Tsuji comes in to score, throw is cutoff by Nishihata and Iwata scores! Seihou has blown this wide open at 8-0!

Nishihata makes a good stop in the gap to get Hashimoto for the 2nd out.

Yahisa with a liner to center! That's falling in, but Mantani sprints to make the catch! But the game is all but over for Minoshima...

Top 9th
#10 Nakano replaces Iwata and takes the hill. Imamura moves to right. Any time you can give your ace rest is welcome, especially at this stage in the tournament.

Keisuke with a grounder to the right side! Hashimoto ranges over to make the stop, but he can't put enough on the throw to get him out! Base hit for Keisuke!

He's replaced at 1st by #13 Katada.

Oota though pops out on the first pitch to 1st. One down.

Numa with a grounder to short, but a bad hop eats up Hashimoto! The ball bounces away and he reaches safely! The scorer shows E6, but I don't know about that...

#10 Ishii comes in to pinch hit for Yamamoto.

While Nakano hasn't had as much help from his defense as he would have liked, his pitching is nothing like Imamura's (no offense).

Ishii walks on 4 straight and it's manrui for Morimoto! But Matsushita-kantoku pinch hits for him too and it's #15 Kakinoki.

AHHHH!!!! It's a wild pitch! That heads to the backstop and Katada comes in to score! Minoshima gets on the board here in the 9th! It's 8-1!

AHHHH!!!! Kakinoki strikes out, but Kawamoto doesn't catch the ball! It bounces over to the right side! Everyone starts running and it's all safe! Nakano records the K, but Kakinoki reaches 1st on the passed ball. Even more important, Numa comes in to score and it's 8-2!

Seihou showing errors we're not used to seeing here in the 9th!

Miyamoto though grounds to 3rd! Yahisa goes to 2nd for one, relay to 1st beats a diving Miyamoto and the game is over!

Apart from a small hiccup here in the 9th, Seihou easily cruises along to the Best 4 with an 8-2 victory over Minoshima! Minoshima though, made a good showing this tournament, giving their supporters several good game and a reminder of how things were back in their last appearances. Perhaps we may see them yet again... provided Chiben Wakayama doesn't stand in the way...

Day 9 - Quarterfinal #1 - Hōtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) vs. Chūkyōdai Chūkyō (Aichi)

We are now at the point of the tournament where things really accelerate. Teams will start playing almost everyday from here on out. It becomes more a battle of attrition as well as skill that will determine the champion.

If you're read my post of the Best 8 matchups, you know my take on these upcoming games.

That being said, I bring you Quarterfinal #1...

1:31 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Doubayashi takes care of business here in the first, retiring the side in quick order.

Bottom 1st
Miyatani gives up a leadoff walk to start the game. Kunitomo immediately bunts him to 2nd. Early chance here for Chuukyou!

Kawai though grounds out to short. 2 down. And Doubayashi is caught looking! Miyatani snuffs out the threat! However, his control doesn't seem to be there today. He's throwing strikes, but he's not hitting the target. This could be an issue for Houtoku.

Top 2nd
Houtoku gets their first baserunner as Miyamoto singles through to left. Hiramoto doesn't look to be bunting.

Doesn't need to! A wild pitch by Doubayashi advances Miyamoto to 2nd!

And Hiramoto hits a comebacker! That's through to center! Miyamoto comes around and Houtoku grabs the 1-0 lead!

And another pitch in the dirt! Hiramoto advances to 2nd!

Fujikura though flies out to left, 2 down. Oofuji-kantoku calls for a conference. Settle Doubayashi down and get out of the inning.

Nara with a grounder to short, but Yamanaka can't corral it! It runs up his glove! He tries to snag it, but bobbles it! All safe! E6 and the inning continues!!

But Doubayashi gets Miyatani to strike out. Houtoku though takes the early 1-0 lead! And Doubayashi seems to be having the same control issues as Miyatani. This could get interesting/nasty later.

Bottom 2nd
One down, Shibata hits a grounder to 3rd, but Saigou can't field that cleanly! His throw airmails 1st!

And Morimoto lines one over Miyamoto's head! That goes down the right field line all the way to the wall! Shibata is flying around the bases! He's headed home! The relay is not in time! Shibata scores all the way from 1st to tie the game! 動転!! 1-1!!

That ball was left over the plate by Miyatani... It appeared the catcher was looking for an outside pitch.

Kaneyama advances Morimoto with a grounder to 2nd, but is stranded as Iwatsuki flies to right. But Chuukyou has equalized!

Top 3rd
Tsuji with a bid for a base hit, but Yamanaka makes a great stop in the gap and makes a strong throw to 1st for the out!

Doubayashi retires the next two batters to end the inning. He looked a little better there, especially to Momiyama.

Bottom 3rd
Chuukyou gets a baserunner in the 3rd as Kunotimi is hit on the elbow by Miyatani. To add some insult to injury, the ball bounces on the ground straight up and hits his helmet.

No bunting here with one down. Kawai is swinging away. Count runs full and a ball low means runners at 1st and 2nd and a good opportunity for Chuukyou.

Nagata-kantoku calls for a conference on the mound...

But Miyatani falls behind 2-0. AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Doubayashi drive a ball deep to right!! Nara runs back to the wall, leaps, but it's over his head! The runners take off! Kunitomo scores on Doubayashi's double and Chuukyou takes the 2-1 lead!

Control issue continue to plague Miyatani. Hiramoto asked for the ball inside, he left it over the plate.

He gets help though from Isomura who starts waving at anything and strikes out. And while he again misses his target, Shibata flies out to right to end the inning. But Chuukyoudai Chuukyou pulls ahead!

Top 4th
Doubayashi just clips Saigou on the foot as he was leaping away and is awarded 1st. Miyamoto looks to bunt, but gets 2 called strikes! He swings away, but grounds to short! Yamanaka tosses it to Kunitomo for 1, but he can't complete the double play.

AH!!!!!! Doubayashi hangs a pitch!! Hiramoto sends it to deep to dead center!! Iwatsuki runs back to the wall! That falls in front of the wall!! Miyamoto sprints around and heads home! He scores easily! What a blast by Hiramoto!! 動転!! 2-2!!

Fujikura grounds one through to left! Runners at the corners for Houtoku! Oofuji-kantoku calls a conference as Houtoku threatens to take the lead once again!

Nara works Doubayashi and the count runs full! Another offspeed pitch in the dirt and it's manrui for Miyatani!! And it's a slow chopper to short! Yamanaka charges, but his only play is at 1st! Hiramoto scores, and Houtoku does indeed take the lead! 逆転!! 3-2!!

Tsuji hits a comebacker, and Doubayashi retires him. But some timely hitting and a little help from Doubayashi and Houtoku retakes the lead! This is some heck of a see-saw battle!

Bottom 4th
Miyatani finally has his first hassle-free inning, retiring the side in order. He's still not controlling his offspeed stuff well yet, but at least for now he's managing to get through.

Top 5th
Nojima starts off the 5th with a base hit to right, and is moved to 2nd. And then Saigou hits a base hit to right! Nojima rounds 3rd and scores! 4-2!! That was almost the quickest run I've seen scored NOT via the homerun!!

Miyamoto grounds to 2nd, and Hiramoto strikes out. But Houtoku extends their lead to 2!

Bottom 5th
2 down and Kawai smashes a pitch left in the zone! Tsuji runs back and has to play it off the padding! But he fumbles trying to get it! Kawai is in with a triple!


Doubayashi takes another hanging pitch to center too!! Tsuji once again runs back and it's off the top of the padding! Kawai scores on Doubayashi's double!!! Just like that it's 4-3!!!

Nagata-kantoku calls a conference to slow the pace (and Miyatani) down.

But Isomura lines a high pitch to left! That's down for a base hit!! Doubayashi rounds 3rd, he scores!! 3 consecutive hits have tied this ballgame up! 動転!!! 4-4!!!!!

Shibata flies out to right, but once again the see-saw starts swinging the other way!!

Top 6th
Doubayashi and Chuukyou get a breather as Houtoku goes down in order.

Bottom 6th
Morimoto with hit in the left center field gap! That bounces all the way to the wall! He's in with a stand up double and Chuukyou is in business!

Kaneyama though can't put the bunt down! Has to swing away!

AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And does he ever!!!! He htis a hanging breaking ball down the right field line! Nara chases it into the right field corner as it runs along the wall! Morimoto scores! Kaneyama heading for 3rd! But Nojima makes a strong relay throw to Saigou, and they gun him down!! But the advantage once again swings to Chuukyou!! 逆転!! 5-4!!

Miyatani continues to struggle with his control. He works the count full before striking out Iwatsuki, and then walks Yamanaka on 5 pitches. But he's bailed out by Kunitomo who grounds to 2nd.

That see-saw continues to move back and forth. With the back-to-back doubles, it swings now for Chuukyou!!

(Newton's Cradle could work here too, right?)

Top 7th
Doubayashi now is sitting down the Houtoku batters. Now that time is running out the teams, mainly Houtoku, is pressing. The top of the order is quickly retired.

Bottom 7th
Doubayashi continues to help his own cause. He gets his 3rd hit of the day, a single the opposite way in right.

Isomura again follows that up with a base hit of his own! Runners at 1st and 2nd with one out!

Nagata-kantoku has seen enough. Unable to afford giving up another run, he pulls Miyatani. 1B Miyamoto comes in relief, while #11 Wada enters in Miyatani's spot in the lineup and plays 1B.

He strikes out Shibata for 2 outs, but then walks Morimoto. Manrui for Chuukyou!

Nagata-kantoku calls one more conference. Just get him relaxed, hopefully.

And it works! Kanemura take the first pitch and flies out to center! Miyamoto comes in and get out of the pinch!! Houtoku stays in the game!

Top 8th
Miyamoto keeps them in the game, now it's the offense's turn to try and deliver.

Doubayashi retires the first two batters before yielding a single to Hiramoto. It's a baserunner, but with 2 down, it's a very slim opportunity. And indeed it is as Fujikura strikes out swinging.

Time is running out, and their offense has all but stalled.

Bottom 8th
Miyamoto looks to hold Chuukyou down and give his team a chance. But he falls behind Iwatsuki 3-0. He manages to work the count full, but loses him.

Yamanaka bunts him along, hoping to push in an insurance run. Kunitomo chops one to 2nd, advancing Iwatsuki another 90 feet.

Kawai must get a hit here to plate Iwatsuki. But instead he skies the first pitch to 2nd, and the side is retired! Miyamoto's done his job.

Top 9th
Final ups for Houtoku. There's nothing left now.

#13 Sakamoto comes in to PH for Nara. First pitch single to right!!

Now #11 Wada (son of Hanshin Tigers coach Wada Yutaka - who is in the crowd) now steps to the plate. But he pops up his bunt! Shibata gets under it and makes the catch! One down!

Back to the top of the order for Tsuji. The infield has a conference on the mound.

Doubayashi can't throw a strike! The count runs to 3-0! And it's ball 4!! The tying run is in scoring position, and the go-ahead run is on base!!

#10 Yamada warms up in the bullpen...

And Nagata-kantoku has #12 Nakajima PH for Nojima. Ball 1! Doubayashi has only thrown one strike and that was Sakamoto's base hit!

Nakajima fouls one off... then it's a short chopper down the 1st base side! Doubayashi fields it and makes the play at 1st! The runners advance, but they're down to their final out!

Momiyama steps to the plate, hitless on the day.

Inside, ball 1... Inside and it hits him! But he doesn't get out of the way, and it's called a ball. Offspeed pitch comes over for a strike. 2-1. Slider fouled off!! 2-2! Down to their last strike! He hits him again! This time, he's awarded 1st!! Momiyama didn't get out of the way of that ball either, but perhaps after being hit twice the umpire thought he had to give it to him. It did seem like though he bended his knee a little towards the pitch!

Nonetheless, it's manrui now for Houtoku! Cleanup batter Saigou steps in. He's only 1-3 on the day. There's nowhere to put Saigou now.

Shibata motions the outfield to come in. Outside, ball 1. Next pitch, Saigou hits it! It's a liner to left! Isomura comes in, but it falls in!!! Sakamoto scores, Tsuji rounds third!! The throw home is cut off by Doubayashi and Tsuji scores!!! 逆転!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! Saigou delivers with a base hit and they have taken the lead!!! IT'S 6-4 HOUTOKU GAKUEN!!!!!

Miyamoto steps up, he hits a chopper to 2nd. Kunitomo fields it, but no one's covering 1st! Doubayashi scurries over, Kunitomo tosses it to him, and they get the out!! But a bases loased single by Saigou with 2 outs has brought Houtoku back!!

Bottom 9th
Now it is Chuukyoudai Chuukyou who must get themselves together. They suddenly find themselves 3 outs from being eliminated after being one strike from advancing!

For Houtoku, Nakajima stays in and plays 3rd. #17 Kinoshita replaces Sakamoto and plays RF. And Wada moves from 1B to 2B.

And it's Doubayashi who must really compose himself as he steps to the plate...

Miyamoto can't throw a strike. But then he throws one over and Doubayashi hits a screamer to left! But Fujikura is playing back and makes the catch! One down!

Isomura now at the plate. He hits a shot to 3rd, it's off Saigou!! It's right to Momiyama, but there's no play! Chuukyou has the tying run on base!

Shibata with a liner to left, but again, Fujikura is playing back and makes the catch! Their no-doubles defense is holding!

2 down and Morimoto represents their last chance...

Fouled off, 0-1. Next pitch, it's a slow grounder to 2nd! Wada runs in, makes the throw... and they get a sliding Morimoto!! Game set!!! Houtoku Gakuen has come back to defeat Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, 6-5!!!

And as happy as the Houtoku players are, the Chuukyou players are equally as devastated... Both teams went through the whole gamet of emotions, and no one feels as crushed as Doubayashi. Having held off the Houtoku offense, it all came apart for him in the 9th. Whether it be Nomura of Kouryou in 2007 or Dass Romash of Kanzei in 2006, in all games like these there is someone who bears the brunt of disappointment or anguish. Hopefully, he'll be able to get over this loss and lead his team to the Summer Koushien.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Best 8 Matchups

With the conclusion of Day 8, we have our best 8 Matchups:

Day 9
  • Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi) vs. Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)
  • Seihou (Nagasaki) vs. Minoshima (Wakayama)
Day 10
  • Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi) vs. Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
  • Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo) vs. Rifu (Miyagi)
I don't have team stats in front of me, mostly because I've been trying to catch up. So I'll try to give my analysis based upon what I can remember.

Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi) vs. Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)
Both teams have looked solid so far in the first two rounds. Chuukyoudai Chuukyou with the exception of the 6th inning against Kurashiki Kougyou have dominated their competition. Doubayashi has good control, but can tend to nibble around at times. Houtoku Gakuen has shown that they can hit average pitching - as seen in the game against Imabari Nishi. However, Chuukyou isn't average pitching. Miyatani can hold his own on the mound though, and he recieved some extra rest after being relieved in the 7th.

Verdict - Slight edge to Houtoku Gakuen

Seihou (Nagasaki) vs. Minoshima (Wakayama)
This is a different Seihou squad this year. And it boils down to one person - ace Imamura. Next to Hanamaki Higashi's ace Kikuchi, Imamura carries that aura of intimidation. While Kikuchi displays it in his poses, for Imamura it's his facial expressions that to me give the sense of intimidation. The look of, "I can't believe you're up here, I really shouldn't have to sit you down, but since you're here..."

Meanwhile, I have very little to go on for Minoshima. They defeated Oita Uenogaoka handily, and edged out a Kaisei squad that defeated Keiou Gijuku (haven't seen that game yet).

Verdict - Slight edge to Seihou (due to Imamura and my personal wish to see them advance)

Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi) vs. Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
Nanyou certainly deserves to be here. After edging out Maebashi Shougyou, they faced the vaunted PL Gakuen. And while they were no-hit through regulation, they broke through in the 10th inning for 2 runs. Equally amazing was Iwamoto holding off the PL offense.

As mentioned earlier, Hanamaki Higashi can be summarized in one person - ace Kikuchi. He throws gas and isn't afraid to let you know about it. He is the only pitcher in this tournament to have pitched 2 complete game shutouts. He did look a little slow in starting during his 2nd game, but it seemed to go away as the game progressed.

Verdict - Edge to Hanamaki Higashi (I love to see the underdog win, but Kikuchi is just too darned strong)

Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo) vs. Rifu (Miyagi)
Waseda is making their run at Koushien yet again. Their draw was very front-heavy, as in the fall tournament runner-up Tenri Koukou. They edged them out in regulation and then had no trouble with Toyama Shougyou.

On the other side, we have Rifu the 21st century team that could. Or at least that what it seems like. Easily handling Kakegawa Nishi, they then needed all 9 innings to defeats Narashino (grrrrr...). The offense wasn't there though against Narashino's ace Yamada.

Verdict - Waseda Jitsugyou running away (I'm not sure what it is, but I feel like rooting against Waseda. However, they've shown they can punish poor pitching and I just can't see Tsukamoto's style fooling thier batters)

Day 8 - Game 3 - Narashino (Chiba) vs. Rifu (Miyagi)

The final game of the 2nd round features Narashino (yay for their band!) versus the only remaining 21st century team Rifu.

Narashino had their hands full with another 21st century team in Hikone Higashi. It may have been that the loss of their ace Kaneko in the middle of the game helped them to victory. Meanwhile, Rifu had their way with Kakegawa Nishi, scoring in the first 5 innings en route to a 10-4 victory. Both pitchers faded late, so it could end up becoming a battle of the bullpens.

So with Waseda Jitsugyou waiting in the Best 8, who will take that next step?

1:31 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Tsukamoto off to a good start freezing Motoyama on a slow curve. Then on a comebacker by Satou, he backhands the ball and makes the play! And then freezes Miyauchi on the same curve!

Bottom 1st
Yamada yields a two-out single to Baba, but then strikes out Inoue to retire the side.

Top 2nd
Yamashita starts Narashino's offense with a one-out single to right by Yamashita.

Yay! Lets go Narashino!!

And then Takahashi Keishirou hits a grounder past a diving Satou into right! Yamashita pushes for 3rd! Inoue up with a strong throw!! Yamashita slides and collides with the 3B Yunomura! And he's out! Inoue with one heck of a throw to get the lead runner out!

Toyoda grounds out to 2nd for the fielder's choice and what seemed like a great opportunity in the making never materializes.

Bottom 2nd
Another two-out runner as Yunomura is plunked on the leg by Yamada. But Yamada quickly ends the inning with a chopper in front of the plate. Both pitchers' control looks good early and we are in for a good pitching duel. Not between overpowering pitchers, but control pitchers.

Top 3rd
Yamada to the tune of Surfin' USA, slices one to left for a one-out single.

Motoyama then goes for the bunt. Tsukamoto goes to 2nd but air mails the throw! Yamada advances to 3rd and Narashino has a great opportunity here in the 3rd!

And more Lets go Narashino!!

SQUEEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But it's fouled off!

Now the Rifu battery is pitching out looking for it. Two pitchouts. And another pitchout. Strike??! That didn't even look close to hitting the plate. And then he swings at an outside pitch for strike 3! Satou breaks for 2nd, but doesn't draw a throw. 2 down for Miyauchi.

And he grounds to 2nd to end the inning...

Bottom 3rd
Rifu with its first non-two out base runner. Endou singles through to left. Obara-kantoku looks for Fujiwara to bunt. He does lay it down and Yamashita's throw just beats out Fujiwara at 1st.

So runner in scoring position with 2 down. However, Baba grounds to 2nd and Rifu is turned away again.

Top 4th
Yamashita with a grounder to 1st, but Baba can't field it cleanly! It bounces toward 2nd, and Yamashita reaches safely!

And with some urgency the Narashino band plays Lets go Narashino!!

But Takahashi grounds to short. And while Yamashita advances to 2nd, he's stranded as Toyoda lines out to 2nd.

Bottom 4th
Inoue leads off the inning with a single that takes a bounce off Miyauchi.

Sakurada tries to bunt, but can't put it down. With 2 strikes he curiously offers yet again at a pitch way outside for the K. It's curious because he offered anyway and Inoue wasn't taking off.

Tsukamoto does lay the bunt down, moving Inoue into scoring position for Yunomura. He can't get the timely hit as Yamada freezes him on an inside pitch.

Top 5th
Yamada gets his 2nd hit of the day as a grounder gets through both a diving Baba and Satou! Both kantokus are looking for a run any way possible as the offenses struggle against the aces. But Motoyama strikes out trying to lay the bunt down, and it looks like another scoreless inning for Narashino.

Satou's walk pushes Yamada into scoring position, and Obara-kantoku sends his player out to have a quick conversation with Tsukamoto.

Miyauchi lines the first pitch, but it's right at Yunomura who makes the catch!

Bottom 5th
Yet another 2-out runner for Rifu as Yamada hits Endou. And trying to make something happen, he takes off for 2nd and reaches safely! But once again he's stranded as Fujiwara grounds out to 2nd.

Top 6th

Fukuda hits a drive to left That's to the wall! He's flying around the bases and gets in with a leadoff triple!

Yamashita follows that up with a fly to deep center! That's more than enough to get Fukuda in and Narashino takes the 1-0 lead!

Bottom 6th
Baba looks to respond as Baba grounds one back up the middle for a leadoff single. Inoue tries to put the bunt down, but the count runs to 0-2. He swings away and it's a grounder off Someya and up the line in foul territory! Runners now at 1st and 2nd with no outs!

Sakurada is also called to bunt. But he pops it up! A charging Takahashi dives but can't reach it! Yamada picks it up and makes the play at first. Now a base hit can give Rifu the lead!

And Tsukamoto looks to help his own cause.


Obara-kantoku waited for the count to run to 3-1 before calling it! And it works to perfection! Baba is almost already to home plate Yamashita's only play is to first! Rifu responds to Narashino's run with one of their own! 1-1!!

Top 7th
Yamada collects his 3rd hit of the day, another 1-out single - this time a bloop to center. And for the 2nd straight AB, Motoyama cannot put the bunt down and strikes out swinging.

But Satou singles on a slow curve to right! Miyauchi steps into the box with another opportunity to put Narashino ahead.

And it seems like however many times the band plays Lets go Narashino it doesn't help today. While the count runs full and the runners take off, Miyauchi remains hitless this tournament as he grounds out to 1st.

Bottom 7th
Yamada retires the side, yielding only a two-out walk to Endou. It is starting to appear that we may be heading towards another enchousen game.

Top 8th
AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With 2 down, Takahashi hits a towering fly ball to right. Inoue steps under it, and had to run back! The ball lands behind him! The wind carried the ball farther than he expected and now Takahashi is flying around the bases! He slides into third! Now a base hit can give Narashino the lead once again!

But Toyoda hits a chopper back to Tsukamoto! He makes the stop and throws to 1st retiring the side! A fielding mistake by Inoue does not end in disaster for Rifu.

Bottom 8th
Yamada plunks Sakurada with 2 down, but that's the only hiccup he has in the inning. We head to the 9th still knotted at 1-1.

Top 9th
#12 Yoshida comes in to pinch hit for Someya. And once again, the band plays Lets go Narashino hopefully to will the team to victory.

Yoshida contines to fight at the plate fouling off pitch after pitch. He hits one to deep center, but Fujiwara is there to make the catch.

Yamada come in next looking for his 4th hit, but he pops it up to 3rd.

Now finally swinging away, Motoyama hits a grounder past a diving Yonemura and Sakurada! But Satou can't keep the inning alive. He hits a grounder to 2nd! Yuuji goes to field it and collides with Satou! Satou is called out and that ends the inning.

Now all that Narashino can do is hold on for extras.

Bottom 9th
#16 Kurihara comes in to play 3B for PH Yoshida.

After a groundout by Yunomura, #14 Asano comes in to PH for Satou Yuuji. He hits a high chopper over Yamada! Miyauchi charges and snags it, but loses it while making the transfer! Asano is safe at 1st!

He's replaced by #16 Watanabe and you have to expect Obara-kantoku to call for the bunt. Sure enough, Fuse lays the bunt down. Runner at 2nd with two down. Kobayashi-kantoku calls a conference on the mound.

And they decide to walk top batter Endou to face Fujiwara. Aside from creating a force at an extra base (2nd and 3rd), they also face a batter who's 0-3 on the day. However, you are walking a righty to face a lefty.

Another conference on the mound is held as Fujiwara steps to the plate.

And Fujiwara slices a hanging pitch to left center! Fukuda runs over, but it's out of his reach! He looks up in anquish knowing that that's the game as Watanabe slides in to score! Fujiwara comes through with the sayonara hit, and it is Narashino who is on the wrong end this time around.

Rifu advances to the Best 8 with a 2-1 victory and earns the right to face Waseda Jitsugyou.

And I lose one of my favorite bands. うあ~~ん。。。

Day 8 - Game 2 - Toyama Shōgyō (Toyama) vs. Waseda Jitsugyō (Tokyo)

We reach the penultimate game of the 2nd round. We knew that the winner of the Waseda Jitsugyou - Tenri match would have a relatively easy 2nd round onto facing Narashino. No offense to Toyama Shougyou, but it is what it is.

Waseda made it through by the skin of its teeth against Tenri (grrr.....), while Toyama depite striking out 19 times aginst Shimabukuro, defeated Kounan in 12 innings. It's hard not to pick against Toyama, but hopefully they can make a game of it.

1:39 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Oddly enough, even though it's Toyama Shougyou the band is playing Dash Keio... Against Waseda, that has to be funny. It is a little faster than I think the Keio band would play it, but it's still funny.

With 2 down in the 1st, Miyai lines one to right for a base hit.

Kido though, grounds to 2nd and the inning is over.

Bottom 1st
Oono quickly takes the first pitch and pokes it through the middle for a leadoff hit. Ooya looks to bunt, but Minabe isn't pitching anything close... and walks him on 4 straight...

Against a team such as Waseda, I'm not sure the logic in starting your backup pitcher. Come to think of it, Minabe didn't even pitch in the fall tournament!

Tsuchiya bunts the runners along into scoring position, and things are not looking good for Toyama early. And as if scripted, Mori takes the first pitch to left for a sac fly. 1-0 Waseda.

And Konpeki no sora starts playing in the Waseda oen-dan...

Minabe does retire Onoda with a fly to center, but Waseda is already on the baord.

Top 2nd
Hm... Perhaps the Toyama band is permanently in speed up mode. All their songs are just a little too fast...

Onoda gives up his 2nd 2-out runner, but once again it leads to nothing as Yokota grounds to 2nd

Bottom 2nd
Minabe after the shaky 1st, retires the first two batters before Kakinuma laces one into the left center field gap for a double.

And Rukazawa hits a bloop to center! Yokota and Morimoto converge but Yokota can't get it! It falls in and Kakinuma scores! 2-0 Waseda!

Oono with a drive to right! That's by Mabuchi and to the wall! Rukazawa comes in all the way from 1st to score, and Oono's triple gives Waseda a 3-0 lead! The wheels are starting to come off quickly here with 2 down in the 2nd!

And now Ooya with a liner over Yokoyama's head! Oono scores, and for the 3rd time this inning Konpeki no sora plays. It's a 4-0 lead!

That's it for Minabe. Sawada-kantoku calls in ace Murakami.

Murakami does retire Tsuchiya with a liner to center. But it seems way too late...

Top 3rd
Toyama goes down in order. Sad to say, but already the game seems to be over.

Bottom 3rd
Cleanup hitter (and I do mean cleanup) Mori works a 9 pitch walk to start the inning. Izumi-kantoku calls for Onoda to bunt him over and does. Then Nakano grounds one to right, and Mabuchi overruns the ball! He has to run back and Mori scores! 5-0 Waseda.

Murakami retires the next 2 batters, but Waseda continues to pile on the runs.

Top 4th
Onoda seems to have a little loss of control here as he throws 2 way off pitches on his way to walking Kido with one down. With that, Izumi-kantoku calls #9 Suzuki to the bullpen.

And Onoda starts off Yamamoto with 3 straight balls! Yamamoto square to bunt, but pulls it back for strike 1. He gets the green light at 3-1, but grounds to Mori who goes to 2nd for the force.

Three more balls to Kumazen and Onoda can't seem to find the plate! And he walks Kumazen on 4 straight! Uncharacteristic pitching from Onoda here in the 4th!

Single up the midddle by Murakami! Yamamoto has to hold up at 3rd, but Toyama Shougyou has the bases loaded with 2 down! Onoda has put himself in quite a pinch!

#8 batter Yokota comes to bat. And Onoda falls behind again 2-0!!! Finally he throws a strike.

And Yokota slices one down the left field line!! Yamamoto scores! Kumazen being sent home!!

But it's a shallow hit, and the relay in from Sarukawa is in time and a great block by Tsuchiya denies Toyama a 2nd run! They get one back, but could have had more! 5-1.

Bottom 4th
Sarukawa with a grounder to 1st, but a bad hop eats up Miyai and goes to right! Settling for small ball with a good lead, Izumi-kantoku calls for the bunt and Sarukawa moves to 2nd.

But Murakami strikes out Tsuchiya and finally Toyama Shougyou leaves Waseda scoreless for an inning.

Top 5th
I swear, the Toyama band needs to slow down... Or maybe just the conductor, either way it's like they're on 2x speed ALL THE TIME.

Unfortunately for Toyama, Onoda has settled down himself and he retires the side in order.

Bottom 5th
Murakami continues to pitch well in relief, retiring the Waseda batters in order here in the 5th, but it seems all in a lost cause.

Top 6th
Miyai collects his 2nd hit of the day with a grounder back up the middle. Kido bunts him to 2nd. Small opportunity building for Toyama.

But it's short lived. Yamamoto is caught looking, and Kumazen lines to left.

Bottom 6th
Isoami lines the first back to center for a leadoff hit.

Kakinuma with the bunt, but he pops it up! Kawamura comes it, but just misses the catch! He gets it, throws to 2nd and its high!! It goes into center and everyone's safe!!

Sawada-kantoku calls for a conference. Meanwhile #14 Mutou comes in to PR for Kakinuma.

Izumi-kantoku calls for the bunt and Sarukawa puts it down nicely. It's back to the top of the order and Oono. And Murakami hits him!! Manrui for Waseda!!

Ooya steps in. Murakami makes a move to third, the a quick throw to 2nd. But it's wide and goes into center! Isoami scores and the other runners advance a base on the error!! 6-1!

Ooya with a grounder to 1st. Miyai up with it, throws home! Mutou was heading home, but now is caught in between! And Oono is already at 3rd! Mutou gets run back to 3rd, as Kido tags both runners and Oono is called out.

Tsuchiya with a drive deep to left center!! Yamamoto and Morimoto converge on the ball, but it falls just in front! Mutou and Ooya score on the play and it's now 8-1 in favor of Waseda.

And Mori walks on 4 straight! Once again, Toyama seems to be falling apart.

But Onoda does fly out to right. However, a pair of errors by Murakami lead to 3 more runs for Waseda.

Top 7th
With the game in hand, #9 Suzuki comes in relief for Onoda.

Murakami greets him with a single back up the middle. Yokota follow that up with a liner to left! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Toyama with no down!

Suzuki though, strikes out Mabuchi for the first out.

And then Suzuki picks off Yokota at 1st! The inning is falling apart for Toyama! And as if in resignation, Yokoyama jams a grounder to 1st to end the inning...

Bottom 7th
Nakano leads off the inning with a double to the wall in left center. Isoami bunts him to 3rd.

Waseda looks to be on the verge of scoring yet another run, but Suzuki grounds back to Murakami and Sarukawa flies to right.

Top 8th
Morimoto walks to start the inning. But he's gunned down trying to steal 2nd.

Miyai then grounds to short, but Oono can't field the ball!

Kido then singles through the left side and Toyama has a scoring opportunity.

#7 Yatabe comes in to PH for Yamamoto. And he singles back up the middle! That into center and Miyai comes in to score! 8-2!!

Kumazen nubs one up the 3rd base line, but Tsuchiya comes up with the ball for the play at 1st.

Suzuki about out of the mess, but he falls behind Murakami 3-0! He comes back to fill the count, and strikes him out swining!

Bottom 8th
Murakami hits Oono to start the inning, and promptly is moved to 2nd.

He strikes out Tsuchiya for the 2nd out, and he might just get out of the inning. But for the 3rd time this game, Mori earns a walk.

And a pickoff throw by Kido goes into center and the runners advance!

Onoda then walks and it's manrui for Nakano...

He lines the first pitch to left! Oono scores and the lead goes back to 7. 9-2.

Isoami hits a comebacker past Murakami! Kumazen backs up the play and tosses to 2nd for the 3rd out.

Top 9th
Last ups for Toyama Shougyou. And they quickly go down in order.

As expected, Waseda Jitsugyou has no trouble with Toyama Shougyou. They move on to face the winner of the Narashino-Rifu matchup.

Day 8 - Game 1 - Meihō (Oita) vs. Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)

The final day of round 2 begins with a good match-up. Meihou and their ace (reliever?) Imamiya and his nasty off speed stuff faces off against Hanamaki Higashi's boisterous and possibly cocky ace Kikuchi. Meihou will have to get to Imamiya though, as they will start #1 Noguchi to start the game.

This has the makings of a pitcher's duel, but with the tournament going the way it has, who knows?

9:01 AM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Hirai begins the game with a grounder to right. Sunagawa tries to bunt him over, but can't. Daigobou asks him to bunt still with 2 strikes, but he can't lay it down! One out.

Imamiya then singles to right! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Meihou and an early scoring chance against Kikuchi! Certainly a different start than last time! Meihou's batters are working Kikuchi, making him pitch deep into counts.

Cleanup batter Kawano with a chance to get to Kikuchi early, but he pops up to short. And then Abe grounds to 1st ending the threat. Meihou misses an opportunity to jump on Kikuchi.

Bottom 1st
Kashiwaba lines a ball down the right field line for a double! After being bunted to 3rd, it's Hanamaki Higashi who's trying to get ahead early!

But Noguchi strikes out Kawamura for the 2nd out! And then Sarukawa for the 3rd out! Kashiwaba is stranded at 3rd base and it's Hanamaki Higashi that misses out on a great opportunity!

Top 2nd
Kikuchi doesn't seem as sharp as his 1st round game. While he strikes out Matsumoto looking, rival ace Noguchi grounds one to center. Morimoto after a couple of attempts, finally puts it down. 2 down, runner on 2nd for Shinokawa.

And Kikuchi starts turning on the gas as he repeatedly hits 145 kph (90 mph) en route to striking out Shinokawa to end the inning!!

Bottom 2nd
Noguchi is holding his own as well, retiring the side in order. This is indeed looking to be a very intriguing game.

Top 3rd
Kikuchi looks back in form this inning, hitting as high as 147 kph on his fastball en route to striking out the side. Imamiya gave Kikuchi a good run fouling off a couple of pitches before watching a 147 kph fastball hit the inside corner for strike 3.

Bottom 3rd
With one down, Yamada fists one right up the middle in the infield. Shinokawa dives to catch the dying ball, but can't reach it!

And then Noguchi hits Kashiwaba! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Hanamaki Higashi!

Ryouhei hits a grounder to short! Shinokawa bobbles the ball!! The throw to first is not in time and it's manrui for Hanamaki Higashi!

Daigoubou-kantoku has decided that he's can't wait any longer. He pulls Noguchi for Imamiya. #13 Kimori comes in for Nogchi's spot and plays 3rd. But is it too late?

He falls behind Kawamura 2-0. There's no place to put him and he has to throw strikes. He finally puts one across and it 2-1. Ball low, and it's 3-1. Has to throw a strike here... And Kawamura htis a chopper over a leaping Imamiya! That gets through into center! Yamada scores, Kawano up with the ball but no throw as Kashiwaba comes around to score as well! Timely hit by Kawamura gives Hanamaki Higashi the 2-0 lead!!

Sarukawa with another chopper back up the middle, but Imamiya snags this one and starts the 1-6-3 double play. But even Imamiya could not stem the tide here in the 3rd and Hanamaki Higashi takes the lead!

Top 4th
Kikuchi continues on, striking out Kawano looking for the 4th such strikeout in as many batters.

Abe breaks the trend by working a walk. A wild pitch by Kikuchi advances him to 2nd! Matsumoto gets good contact on the ball, but he lines out to left. 2 down for new 3B Kimori.

But he flies out to left and the inning is over.

Bottom 4th
Yokokura pokes one past a diving Sunagawa into right for a single. Imamiya then walks Ryuujirou. Hanamaki Higashi is threatening again, this time against Imamiya.

Kikuchi lines one to left and now it's another manrui situation for Meihou! Daigoubou-kantoku calls a conference on the mound to try and settle Imamiya down.

The infield plays back for the double play, but Yamada hits a slow chopper to 2nd and Sunagawa's only play is to 1st. Yokokura comes in and it's a 3-0 lead!

Kashiwaba grounds to 2nd, but they've tacked on another run.

Top 5th
Last batter Shinokawa singles through the left side for a one-out single. Hirai does the same to right, and Meihou has runners on 1st and 2nd with no down!

Daigoubou-kantoku is having Sunogawa bunt. But he can't, and the count is 1-2. What will he do now? He squares around! Sunogawa lays the bunt down advancing the runners! But there's 2 down for Imamiya. It'll be up to him to bring the runners home.

Grounder up the first base line! But Yokokura has it! He goes to the bag for out number 3 and the defense turns away Meihou!

Bottom 5th
Imamiya continues to struggle with his command. He walk Ryouhei on 3 straight to lead off the 5th. And then walks Kawamura on 4 straight! Imamiya sure looks off his game today. It definitely isn't looking good as #10 Yamano warms up in the bullpen.

And that's it. Daigoubou-kantoku pulls Imamiya from the mound. #10 Yamano replaces Kimori's spot in the lineup and takes the hill while Imamiya returns to 3rd.

Sarukawa immediately tests Yamano with a sac bunt. Yamano looks for the play at 3rd, but instead goes to 1st for the out.

Then he strikes out Chiba looking for the 2nd out! Yamano is one out away from getting out of the pinch.

But Yokokura lines one to right! Ryouhei scores and it's a 4-0 lead! Ryuujirou grounds out to 3rd soon thereafter, but a 4-0 deficit against Hanamaki Higashi may be too much to overcome.

Top 6th
Meihou won't give up just yet though. Kawano singles through to left to leadoff the inning. Abe with a grounder up the middle, but Kashiwaba makes the diving stop! He tosses it to 2nd for the out! Nice play!

Kikuchi then strikes out Matsumoto on a ball in the dirt for the 2nd out. And then a 146 kph fastball down the middle gets Yamano for the 3rd out. There's 3 inning left, but even an extra 6 may not be enough to get to Kikuchi.

Bottom 6th
Yamano retires the side in order, the first time this game Meihou has done so.

Top 7th
Kikuchi walks Hatada on 4 straight to start the inning. Shinokawa lays the bunt down, Chiba up with it, throw to first is safe??!!! It looks like Yokokura hadn't yet reached the bag before he received the ball! Shinokawa's slide just beats out Yokokura's foot and it's all safe!!

Well, that "error" presents Meihou with a great opportunity here to at least get on the board!

Dougoubou-kantoku is not having Hirai bunt. He falls behind 1-2 , and gets caught looking on an outside fastball. Only now do they elect to bunt. Sunagawa bunts the runners over for Imamiya. He has this exact oppportunity in the 5th, but grounded out to 3rd. Will he fare any better this time around?

No! He jams himself on a fastball and grounds out to 2nd.

Bottom 7th
Yamano has settled in nicely on the mound, retiring the side where the others couldn't.

Top 8th
Abe gives Meihou yet another baserunner as he singles to center. No bunt here, Matsumoto is swinging away.

He gets jammed, but bloops one past Sarukawa and in front of Kawamura! Runners on 1st and 2nd with one down!

But Yamano grounds one to 1st! Yokokura goes to 2nd for one, but there's no relay to 1st. 2 down, runners at the corners for Hatada. And he gets ahead on the count 2-0! And then 3-1! But Kikuchi comes back with a strike and it runs full! The payoff pitch... strike 3!!

Kikuchi gets him looking on a 144 kph pitch inside! Now we see the real Kikuchi!

Bottom 8th
Outside of plunking Ryuujirou, Yamano has a quiet inning. But these will probably be the last ups for Meihou this time around.

Top 9th
Nothing can stop Kikuchi now, and Meihou falls in order. A dominating performance by Kikuchi, throwing his 2nd consecutive shutout, propels Hanamaki Higashi into the Best 8! A good run by Meihou, but their pitching just wasn't here today and as a result, they're going home.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 7 - Game 3 - Nanyō Kōgyō (Yamaguchi) vs. PL Gakuen (Osaka)

Two games down, one to go. PL Gakuen, considered one of the baseball factories in Japan, faces off against rural Nanyou. Now, while PL is still known for baseball in Osaka, they've been eclipsed in recent years by the likes of Konkou Osaka and Osaka Touin. Nanyou, on the other hand, has had little experience here and to boot comes from a rural prefecture. And sad as it may be to say, their talent pool and resources may not be as extensive as more metropolitan ones.

Not going to lie here, Nanyou has their work cut out for them.

1:15 PM - First Pitch

Top 1st
Nakano quickly gets to work, retiring the side in order in relatively easy fashion.

Bottom 1st
Ishizaki looks to get PL's offense started. He lays down a bunt down the 3rd base line. Mokudai charges and makes the throw, but Ishizaki beats it out for an infield hit.

With Nakai up, Kouno-kantoku calls for the hit-and-run! Nakai hits a fly to deep left, but Kunihiro is there to make the catch, 2 down.

Iwamoto finishes the inning by striking out Kanno.

Top 2nd
Nakano has to perform some self-defense as Kunihiro lines one right back at him. Even better that he was able to catch it for the out! He then retires the next two batters in short order. He's hitting his spots, even with his offspeed stuff.

Bottom 2nd
Iwamoto walks the leadoff batter Ootsuki. Fujimoto moves him over for Yasuda.

And the band is playing "When the Saints go Marching in"...

Anyways, Yasuda grounds out to 1st. Ootsuki advances to 3rd.

But Iwamoto freezes Kihara to end the inning! Iwamoto early on is hanging in there.

Top 3rd
Nakano chalks up 2 more strikeouts as he once again goes 3 up, 3 down.

Bottom 3rd
One out Yoshikawa grounds to 2nd. But Kawamura can't field it cleanly and Yoshikawa reaches! Then he steals 2nd on the 1-0 pitch to Ishizaki! PL with anoher good scoring opportunity!

Then Iwamoto walks Ishizaki! Runners at 1st and 2nd for PL! In a pinch, Iwamoto's pace has slowed consdierably. Furthermore, he has run the count full for Nakai! He does get him to strike out looking, but on the K Yoshikawa steals 3rd!

Iwamoto runs the count full for the 2nd consecutive batter, this time to cleanup hitter Kanno. but he manages to get him to pop out to 2nd to end the inning.

Top 4th
Nanyou still has yet to find an answer for PL ace Nakano. Once again, he ratchets up 2 more K's in a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 4th
Iwamoto is holding his own as well, only yielding a 2-out single to Yasuda.

Top 5th
Nakano retires the side in order yet again. Through 5 he has faced the minimum.

Bottom 5th
One down, Yoshikawa sends a drive to right! Nakagawa tries to run it down, dives, but doesn't come up with it! It bounces to the wall as Nakagawa scurries to get the ball in. Yoshikawa easily gets into 3rd with a one-out triple! Now a sac fly can break the stalemate!

Ishizaki up to bat, and he's swinging away. He continues fouls off pitches looking for one he can hit to the outfield. But on the 9th pitch, Iwamoto gets him to swing at an offspeed pitch down in the zone. And he does the same with Nakai to retire the side! He leaves Yoshikawa stranded at 3rd and the game remains scoreless!!

Top 6th
Nanyou finally gets its first baserunner with one down in the 6th as Nakano hits Kawamura.

Then on a 3-0 count to Iwamoto, Kawamura takes off for 2nd! It's a strike and the throw to 2nd is in time to get Kawamura! Nanyou's first baserunner is removed as quickly as they got it!

Nakano completes the inning by coming back and striking out Iwamoto. While the perfect game is gone, Nakano has faced the minimum and has a no-hitter through 6!!

Bottom 6th
One down, Ootsuki grounds one through to left! Fujimoto isn't bunting and flies out to left! 2 down now for PL.

And once again, the baserunners take advacing into their own hands! First pitch to Yasuda and Ootsuki steals 2nd!

And a wild pitch by Iwamoto allows Ootsuki to move to 3rd! And after a long AB against Yasuda, he doesn't get the call on the payoff pitch and Yasuda earns a walk!

Runners at the corners for Kihara, but he grounds to 2nd and the inning is over! Through 6 we are still scoreless!!

Top 7th
This is beginning to get nuts. Nakano tallies 2 more K's this inning and Nanyou is still without a base hit!

Bottom 7th
While not as dominating as Nakano, Iwamoto continues to hold off the PL offense, retiring the side in order yet again! Amazing as it is, he continues to pitch toe-to-toe with the Osaka squad!

Top 8th
Nakano contines to throw strikes, and fooling the Nanyou batters on his offspeed stuff. 3 up, 3 down, yet 2 more K's. He stands at 12 so far and still no hits!!

Bottom 8th
How is Iwamoto doing it! Not even wearing the ace number, he continues to baffle PL! Another 1-2-3 inning is in the books and as we head to the 9th, we have a pitcher who has a no-hitter and a possibility of extra innings!!

Top 9th
MBS shows Nakano's silly line so far after 8. He's faced the minimum (24), struck out half of those (12), hit one batter and thrown only 91 pitches!!

Hanshin Koushien is eerily quiet... Finally Nanyou's band starts playing.

Yamazaki takes the first pitch and grounds out to 2nd. One down.

Kawamura hits a short chopper. Nakano calmly fields it and makes the play at 1st. Two down.

And Iwamoto flies the first pitch to right! Ootsuki under it and makes the catch!

The side is retired! Nakano through regulation has a no hitter!!! Yet, the game still continues!!!!!

Bottom 9th(!!)
This situation is interesting because from here on out, Nakano cannot control the end of the game (unless he drives it in himself). If the PL offense can't score, Nakano is at risk of losing his no hitter!! So it would behoove the offense to get started.

Or perhaps it's because Nakano has a no-hitter that the players can't get the offense going!

Fujimoto comes up, he hits a deep drive to left-center! But the defense is playing back and Kunihiro goes over to make the catch.

Yasuda next with a hard hit ball to short! Yamazaki is there, but his throw to 1st is offline! Yamada reaches safely and PL has their sayonara runner on base!

#7 Ukegawa comes in to PH for Kihara. Kouno-kantoku is not looking to bunt. But he hits a chopper back to the mound and Iwamoto makes the play at 1st. 2 down, but Yasuda is in scoring position for Nakano!!

But alas, he grounds back to Iwamoto, and the side is retired. We head to enchousen with the game knotted at 0-0. Can Nakano continue the no-hitter??

Top 10th
#5 Kojima comes into the game for PH Ukegawa to play 3B.

Top of the order is due up here in the 10th (kinda obvious if he's faced the minimum... doh.)

Mokudai flies out to center, one down.


Takeshige lines a pitch into left field! That's in for a base hit!! Just like that, Nakano's no-hitter is no more!

He just continues plugging away though. First pitch Nakagawa flies to center, 2 down.

But Kunihiro won't let the hit go to waste! He singles to right and the inning continues!! Runners at 1st and 2nd with 2 down! Things are developing here for Nanyou in the 10th!


Takagi with a shot back up the middle. That's through to center!! Takeshige rounds 3rd, and heads home!! Yoshikawa is up and throwing, but it's high and Takeshige scores!! Nakano has gone from a no hitter to a possible losing situation as Nanyou takes the 1-0 lead!!

And Mizui singles to left! Kunihiro scores!! Takagi rounds 3rd and heads home!! Kanno up with the throw home and it's in plenty of time to get him! But yet another run scores and Nanyou has shocked everyone here in the 10th! They now head into the bottom of the 10th up 2-0!!!!!

The anguish on Nakano's face is apparent. He's pitched as well as you could ask for 9-and-a-third. But now his team faces elimination.

Bottom 11th
Top of the order for PL here in the 11th. Yoshikawa steps in as the camera focuses on Nakano.

Yoshikawa flies to left... one down.

Ishizaki works the count full and drives one down the left field line. The defense is playing for no doubles and Nakagawa makes the catch, two down!!

Down to their last out, #13 Hiu comes in for Nakai.

Grounder to the right side! Takagi dives and it's under him! Kawamura is there, but he stumbles and the ball gets past him into right!!

Mizui comes to talk to Iwamoto as cleanup hitter Kanno comes up. The Nanyou battery is too careful with Kanno and they walk him! The tying run is now on base!!

Now #12 Takei comes in to run for Hiu at 2nd as Ootsuki comes to the plate representing the winning run.

Grounder up the middle!! Kawamura dives, but it's past him!! Takei comes around to score and Kanno advances to 3rd!! It's 2-1 and the tying run is 90 feet away!! The winning run is on 1st!!!

And Iwamoto falls behind Fujimoto, 3-1!! But he hits a fly ball to center!! And Takeshige, who got Nanyou's first hit in the 10th runs over and makes the catch!! GAME SET!!

Nanyou does the unthinkable!! After being no-hit through 9 innings, they break through for a 2-1 victory!! The PL players are in an obvious state of disbelief as the Nanyou players celebrate their win!!

We've seen a 19 K performance in Shimabukuro in a loss, and now we see a no-hitter in regulation by Nakano end in a loss. No one can deny that it was an amazing performance, and you have to feel for him as he and his team head home. But he shouldn't be disappointed, and should work even harder to bring PL back for the summer Koushien. Perhaps there may be something even bigger in store...