Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 1 - Game 2 - Kadena (Okinawa) vs. Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama)

So with Tenri upset in the opening round game, what will happen in this next matchup?

Admittedly I've been a bit harsh on the Kanto (ex Tokyo) region saying that it's a bit down this year with the exception of perhaps Toukaidai Sagami. Hanasaki Tokuharu was indeed the runner-up and was respectable against Hifumi and his squad.

Their offensive MO is similar to Tsuruga Kehi, except even more so. They're speedy and are very aggressive on the basepaths. They hit for a high average and draw more than their fair share of walks. In tournament games, they had an .403 AVG and a .480 OBP! Lookout for 2B Ootsuka. He has the most extra base hits (including 6 triples!) and is the most aggressive on the basepaths.

The weakness is their pitching. Southpaw Gomyou is their starter, but has major control issues. In fact, in tournament games his K/BB ratio was less than 1!! What's worse, his BB/9 during that span was at 9! The relievers #10 Yamaguchi and #11 Matsumoto ratios are better, but certainly they're both pitch-to-contact relievers.

Kadena doesn't quite stand out in any particular category. Their offense isn't speed-oriented nor power-oriented. This suggests a defensive-minded team. This is borne out in the super-regional scores where they yielded only 7 runs total and ace Ikehara Yuu's WHIP sat at less then 1. They'll need the defense considering that Ikehara isn't that dominating either. If they can't keep Hanasaki Tokuharu from reaching base, they could be in trouble.

Kadena (Okinawa) - Kyushu Champions
SS Yoshida Toshiki
LF Yamauchi Shougo
P Ikehara Yuu
C Majya Hiroya
3B Kyan Hayato
1B Yonaha Takahisa
2B Shimabukuro Takato
CF Itokazu Masaki
RF Nohara Yasuyuki

Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) - Kanto Runner-up
SS Satou Takuya
2B Ootsuka Kentarou
3B Kimura Hayato
CF Totsuka Shun
RF Hashimoto Yuuki
P Gomyou Daisuke
LF Terai Masaaki
C Kiuchi Tatsuya
1B Hanabusa Yuuki


13:40 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
After Yoshida is "hit" with a pitch (i.e. called a ball instead of a HBP), he flies out to left-center.

Yamauchi pops up in foul territory and Kiuchi makes the catch near the back net.

And Ikehara is fooled badly by Gomyou's offspeed pitches and strikes out swinging to end the inning.

Bottom 1st
Ikehara certainly isn't a hard thrower. His pitches are topping out around 130kph. Satou laces one to center to start the inning. Ootsuka squares around late to bunt and advances the runner for Kimura.

And he hits a hard liner to right! Dohara runs back, leaps backwards, and makes the catch! That was a couple feet away from a possible triple!

And Totsuka gets under a curve and flies out to right to end the inning. But it's clear that Hanasaki is getting a good look at Ikehara's pitches.

Top 2nd
Hm... Gomyou throws around the same range as Ikehara, with a fastball in the low-mid 130's, one off-speed pitch around 120, and a slow curve at 110. Kadena 's batters look like they really don't have a plan of attack and some are being fooled badly by Gomyou,

Cleanup batter Majya grounds back to Gomyou. Kyan grounds to short, and Yonaha swings on a slider way away for the 3rd out.

Bottom 2nd
After getting ahead of Hashimoto 1-2, Ikehara throws 3 straight balls to give up a leadoff walk.

Gomyou squares to bunt, but pulls it back and swings away! He hits the ball into the dirt towards short! Yoshida charges in and makes the throw, but it's not in time! Gomyou's fake bunt catches the Kadena defense off guard and now Hanasaki Tokuharu has runners at 1st and 2nd with no out!

Now Terai shows bunt late, but fouls it off. I like their strategy. Their initial plans aren't shown until the last minute. Now that the plan is shown, Terai squares early. He gets the bunt down, Ikehara runs to get it, but his footing goes out from under him! He recovers, throws to 1st, but it's not in time! All safe! Manrui now for Hanasaki Tokuharu!!

Madanbashi-kantoku calls for a conference on the mound as Kiuchi steps to the plate.

Kiuchi squares to squeeze! But he lets it go for strike 1. And now he swings away! It's a pop fly in foul territory! Yonaha goes over to make the catch for the 1st out.

Last batter Hanabusa looks to get the first run in, but falls behind 1-2! But a fastball way away, and a change low brings the count full! And Hanabusa is fouling off pitches trying to stay alive. And an offspeed pitch wide is ball 4! Ikehara loses another batter after getting ahead 1-2 and this time it costs him a run! 1-0 Hanasaki Tokuharu - and Ikehara is still in a large jam!

But he gets Satou to ground back to him! Ikehara goes home for one, Majya's throw to 1st is... in time for the double play! The 1-2-3 double play ends the inning but not before Hanasaki opens the scoring here in the 2nd!

Top 3rd
The wind continues to blow hard from RF to LF, so much so that the outfield cameras have a hard time staying still.

Meanwhile, Kadena continues to have trouble getting moving. Shimabukuro grounds out to 2nd to start the inning. Itokazu strikes out looking on a fastball inside. And while Nohara gets a hold of a slider, but it's right at Hashimoto for the 3rd out.

Gomyou and Ikehara are both quick workers on the mound, going straight into the next pitch after receiving the ball back.

Bottom 3rd
Ikehara continues to have control issues, walking the leadoff batter Ootsuka on 4 straight.

Kimura steps up to the oen-dan playing Ootsuka Ai's "Sakuranbo".

And Ikehara picks off Ootsuka from 1st! Oy.

Kimura pops one up behind Shimabukuro. He meanders back, but loses track of the ball! It falls in harmlessly behind him for a base hit!

I wonder if Iwai-kantoku is seeing something. Totsuka squares late to bunt down the 3rd base side. Ikehara goes over to field it, but Kyan charging calls him off. He fields it, but his throw loops high and Totsuka beats it out! All safe!

Hm... if Kadena's defense isn't their strength, then what is?

Now Iwai has Hashimoto swinging away, but he pops one up to left for Yamauchi. 2 down.

Gomyou's up with 2 down to help his cause. Ikehara gets ahead 0-2, but wastes 2 pitches away although Gomyou almost offers on the 2nd. A third pitch outside fills the count and now the batters will be taking off!

But Ikehara throws a 138kph fastball that Gomyou can't catch up to! He strikes out swinging and the inning is over!

Top 4th
Looking to get something going, leadoff batter Yoshida swings away at 2-0 but flies out to right.

And Yamauchi gets the first hit for Kadena! He lines a ball into left center for a single!

Ikehara gets jammed on a 2-0 pitch and grounds to 1st. Hanabusa bobbles it a bit, and goes to 1st for the out. Kadena does have a runner in scoring position, but there's 2 down.

Cleanup batter Majya steps to the plate looking for a timely hit, but he falls behind 0-2. The 3rd pitch is as expected fairly outside the zone for ball 1.

And Majya pops it up! Satou runs back while Terai charges in! Satou running back, running back, dives...

and makes the catch! With the wind still blowing around, Satou makes the great catch to end the inning and retain the lead!

Bottom 4th
Terai scorches a grounder up the 1st base line, but Yonaha blocks it and makes the play for the 1st out.

As Kiuchi steps up the outfield cameraman can't keep the shot stable. The wind must be really strong if that's the case.

Kiuchi hits a fly to right center. Nohara races over and makes the catch for the 2nd out. And a seeing-eye grounder gets into right center for a base hit!

And Iwai-kantoku finally gets the wheels going! Hanabusa takes off on the 1-0 pitch, but Majya rifles one to 2nd and Hanabusa is out by a wide margin! Nice play by Majya!

Top 5th
Kyan grounds a ball to 3rd for the 1st out. First pitch is hit by Yonaha to short and there's quickly 2 down.

And Shimabukuro grounds to 2nd, but Ootsuka misplays the ball and it bounces off of him and into right! E4.

Itokazu hits a pop fly to shallow center. Totsuka charges in, awkwardly lunges and makes the catch! Boy that did not look graceful at all, but it got the job done. Still 1-0 in favor of Hanasaki Tokuharu.

Bottom 5th
Satou hits the ball hard, but right at Itokazu for the out number 1.

Ootsuka chops one up the middle, but Shimabukuro charges and makes the throw ahead of a diving Ootsuka.

And Kimura takes a ball away down the right field line! Nohara runs over, but it's past his reach! Fair! Kimura is in with a 2-out double!

But Totsuka grounds one up the 3rd base line. Kyan makes the long throw to 1st and the side is retired!

Top 6th
Nohara with a grounder to the right side. Ootsuka makes the diving stop in the outfield! His throw to 1st... not in time! Leadoff infield hit for Nohara!

Yoshida up and he lays down the bunt to put the tying run in scoring position!

And the whistling from the Kadena oen-dan get that much louder... heh.

Yamauchi though falls behind 0-2. Gomyou's only given up 2 hits and his control looks better than before.

Iwai-kantoku is moving the defense around telling some to come in, others to move laterally. And a ball outside is held by Kiuchi, but to no call. 2-2.

And a change is whiffed by Yamauchi for strike 3! 2 down.

Ikehara now with a chance to help his own cause and tie the game.

But he grounds out to 2nd! Ootsuka makes the play and Kadena is denied!

Bottom 6th
Hashimoto pounds one into the ground and it goes high in the air! Yoshida charges in, but the ball goes under his glove for a base hit!

Gomyou quickly lays down the bunt to advance the runner to scoring position.

But just as quickly Terai hits a grounder right to Yonaha and there's 2 down.

And Ikehara gets ahead of Kiuchi 0-2, but Kiuchi hits a grounder to the right of Shimabukuro! He ranges over... makes a great diving stop. Gets up and the throw to 1st is in time! What a nice play by Shimabukuro to end the inning!

Top 7th
Kadena is still in the game down only by a run, but they have only 2 hits so far and time is quickly becoming short for these first timers.

Majya hits a ball back up the middle, but Gomyou knocks it down and makes the play at 1st.

Kyan rips a ball to left!!! He got a hold of it!! But it goes foul! Was that wind aided or would it have gone foul anyways? But man that ball was lasered out to left!

And he rips another one, but that's on the ground for Hanabusa who makes the 2nd out.

Yonaha whiffs on an offspeed pitch down and away for the 3rd out.

Bottom 7th
Hanabusa grounds one right to 3rd for the 1st out.

Satou reaches down and lines a pitch to left center for his 2nd hit today.

And Ikehara is called for a balk on a pickoff throw to 1st! Satou advances to 2nd.

Ootsuka with a hard hit ball at Yonaha! He blocks it, but it bounces into foul territory! Satou advances to 3rd on the infield single!

Kimura up now and SQUEEZE!!!

Kimura lays down the squeeze! Ikehara charges in glove tosses to home, but it's not in time! Majya fires to back to 1st to try and get Kimura and they do for the 2nd out. But he gets the job done and it's 2-0 in favor of Hanasaki Tokuharu!

Totsuka with a grounder to the left side. Yoshida is in front of it, AH!

The ball takes a high bounce off the infield and eats up Yoshida! He can't field it and it goes into left! Ootsuka rounds 3rd and goes home! Throw from Yamauchi is not in time! An unfortunate bounce for Kadena widens the deficit to 3. It's now 3-0 Hanasaki Tokuharu!

And Totsuka takes off 2nd on the 1-0 pitch! Majya with another rifle throw to 2nd to get Totsuka out by a mile and that's the inning. But Hanasaki can breathe a little easier as their lead stands at 3 with just 2 innings to play!

Top 8th
Kadena just can't seem to get a good read on the pitches. More often than not I'm seeing the batters bail on the offspeed pitches as they get fooled time and time again.

Shimabukuro gets on top of one as he grounds to 2nd.

Itokazu flies out lazily to center.

And Nohara pops out down the left field side in foul territory. Satou races over, dives and makes another fine play to retire the side!

Bottom 8th
WOW! Hashimoto just drives one to right field and before you can even say "Haita" that ball is 15 rows up the bleachers! Dear lord that was killed! It's 4-0 now!

And Madanbashi-kantoku pulls Ikehara for #10 Yamashiro. Ikehara goes to center while Yamashiro takes over for Itokazu in the 8-spot of the order.

Yamashiro is a side throwing lefty with an interesting delivery. Not only is he a side-thrower, but he seems to lunge to the left to exaggerate the effect! Gomyou pops out to Kyan in foul territory.

And boy does he work fast. He's throwing faster than Gomyou or Ikehara did! His speed is certainly not fast (mid 120's fastball with 110 offspeed), but it is throwing off the batters! Terai lunges and pops out to Majya behind the plate for the 2nd out.

And Ikehara does hit one, but Ikehara has time to run it down in left-center for the 3rd out. Rather impressive if you ask me. But unfortunately, Kadena is down to their last 3 outs.

Top 9th
#11 Kinjyou Shouta comes in to PH for Yoshida.

And he gets a hold of one down the left field line... Terai runs over... FOUL! Another hard hit pitch that just goes foul! Ah....

Instead of perhaps scoring a run, he gets jammed and weakly ground to short for out number 1.

#15 Sueyoshi Seiya comes in to PH for Yamauchi, but he goes down on 3 straight.

And that leaves Ikehara to try and extend the game for Kadena.

But he goes down looking on an offspeed pitch down the middle and the game is over! Gomyou completes a dominating performance against the Kyushu champions Kadena and win 4-0! I am shocked to see how Kadena performed in this matchup and wonder how if the competition they faces was truly that weak to be 2-hit here at Koshien.

But I don't want to take anything away from Hanasaki Tokuharu. They played a good game and certainly earned their matchup against Tsuruga Kehi.

Notable Players
WP - Gomyou Daisuke - CG, 0 R, 2 H, 7 K, 0 BB
LP - Ikehara Yuu - 7.1 IP, 4 ER, 12 H, 1 K, 3 BB

Hashimoto Yuuki (Hanasaki Tokuharu) - 2-3, HR, 2R, RBI, BB
Satou Takuya (Hanasaki Tokuharu) - 2-4, R
Yamauchi Shougo (Kadena) - 1-3, K

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