After 2 full days of rain the games start back up again. For the teams who have already played, wonder if the extra days off will be a good thing. Then again, this is still the time of the tournament where they get a couple of days off anyways to recover. It's when we get to the quarterfinals and beyond that the games take their toll on the players.
We're into the 2nd half of the 1st round games and the opener should be fun. Kounan, with ace Shimabukuro squares off this morning against Kanzei of Okayama.
If you haven't heard of Shimabukuro, you haven't been following Koshien for the past couple of years. He appeared last spring at Koshien, and against Toyama Shougyou struck out 19 but lost 2-0 in extras. Then in the summer, he went toe-to-toe with Meihou, striking out 9 but losing 4-3.
He's continued his dominating ways, sporting a 11.265 K/9 ratio and even more impressive 9 K/BB ratio!! Expect him to be on the mound as long as his arm stays on. Reliever Sunagawa has seen some time, but predominantly in scrimmage games.
The weakness of the team though has been their offense. They certainly can get their base hits, but have a devil of a time scoring runs - which is why they've been sent home in the first game. Ganeko and Agena would be the players to try and spark the offense.
Kanzei was last at Koshien in spring 2007, the one right after when I saw them in person with ace Dass Romash. They've been rebuilding since then and now they're back.
Ace Katada is the new face of the staff. A southpaw, he throws 140 with a slider and change with a shuuto to righties. He sports some pretty good numbers (53.1 IP, 4.22 H/9, 10.97 K/9, 2.87 BB/9) and his games against Iwamichisuikan (5-0) and Kaisei (3-4) prove that there is some credence to those numbers. Right-hander Mizuhara will come on in occasion, but his numbers are not as good.
Offensively the team hits well with some extra base power, although it should be tempered given the slightly weak opposition in their prefectural tournament. They don't really take walks, and rarely steal bases. Power hitters for them are probably Funamori and Ogura.
Given Kounan's MO, expect this to be another nail-biting close game for them. And it will probably come down to whether their offense will ever get started. If not, it'll be one-and-done once again - much to the chagrin of their ace.
Kounan (Okinawa) - Kyushu 3/4
2B Kuniyoshi Tairiku (#6)
CF Ketashiro Kai
3B Ganeko Moritsugu
1B Maehira Daiki
RF Mekaru Keisuke
C Yamakawa Daisuke
LF Irei Shinya
P Shimabukuro Yousuke
2B Ooshiro Kouji (#15)
Kanzei (Okayama) - Chuukyou Runner-up
RF Ogura Takahiro
2B Fukui Kanjyuurou
CF Isomoto Ryuuji
C Ueda Hiroki
3B Watanabe Yuuki
P Katada Yuuta
LF Watanabe Kenta
SS Nishida Gun
1B Funamori Keigo
9:02 - First Pitch!
Katada rifles in one at 136 kph, but wide. Another at 138.
And Tairiku with a liner into center for a leadoff single! Ketashiro immediately bunts him over. Katada falls down while fielding it, but still has time to make the play.
Ganeko earns a walk, and now there's runners on 1st and 2nd for Kounan.
Maehira with a single though to left! Tairiku has to hold at 3rd
Eura-kantoku with a conference on the mound.
For Katada, he throws a high 130's fastball with a high 110's slider.
Mekaru falls behind 0-2, but lifts a ball to left. Kenta under it, but it's far enough to get the run in. He makes the catch, and Tairiku easily beats the throw to give Kounan the 1-0 lead.
Yamakawa strikes out swinging, and the inning is over. But Kounan gives Shimabukuro the lead as he takes the mound for the first time.
Shimabukuro starts Ogura with a K looking. What else did you expect?
Shimabukuro sports a high 130's fastball and a mid 110's curve.
Fukui strikes out looking. 2 down.
And Isomoto swings at a curve in the dirt! Throw to 1st in time and as expected Shimabukuro is come out firing. 1 inning , 3 K's.
Katada settling down after the shaky first. Flyout to right by Irei, grounder back to him by Shimabukuro and Ooshiro strikes out to end the inning.
Single to center by Ueda and Kanzei has the tying run on base.
Shimabukuro is paying quite a bit of attention to him throwing over several times.
No bunt from Yuuki here, he's swinging away. And he being quite stubborn at the plate.
Grounder to 3rd. Ganeko up with it, throw to Kuniyoshi for one, relay to Maehira... two! Nice double play by the Kounan defense!
And there goes Katada looking to end the inning. Still the cool customer, he is.
Slow grounder by Tairiku. Katada up with it, throw to 1st is wide and OH!
Funamori goes to get it and collides hard with Tairiku! Ball rolls away from first base as Tairiku scrambles there. Funamori stays down for a little while, but gets up. He looks ok. But man that looked like it really hurt.
Kounan also not bunting here. Ketashiro swings away, and strikes out.
Gakiya-kantoku electing to put on the hit-and-run instead! But Ganeko continues to foul pitches off.
And Ganeko strikes out swinging! Throw to 2nd by Ueda in time, but Nishida can't get the tag in time.
Maehira with a liner to right for a base hit! Tairiku rounding 3rd heading home! Throw in by Ogura and Tairiku doubles back to 3rd! Boy, that was a throw by Ogura!
Ooo. Katada threw above Mekaru's head there. Ueda wanted that up, but not that far inside.
But he gets him to pop it up on the next pitch. Kenta under it and the inning is over.
Kenta with a single to left. 2nd leadoff runner Shimabukuro's allowed. Nishida bunts the first pitch and moves him over.
Funamori goes down looking. 2 down.
And Ogura also goes down looking! Shimabukuro with 6 K's!
Yamagawa with a hard grounder to 3rd. Yuuki smothers it and makes the play for the first out. Irei fouls out to 1st.
Shimabukuro with a liner back at Katada! He extends his glove but it glances off and into center!
Ooshiro with a shot to center! Isomoto running back, and makes the catch to end the inning.
Kanzei swinging away early since Shimabukuro is pounding strikes into the zone. Fukui pops up to short.
Isomoto strikes out looking...
...and Ueda reaches out and pokes one to 2nd to end the inning.
Tairiku with a grounder to short. Nishida runs it down in the gap, but his throw has no momentum and Tairiku would have made it even if it was online.
Ketashiro moves him over for the 2nd time this game.
Ganeko with a single to left. Tairiku holds at 3rd. Runners at the corners, 1 down. Cleanup batter Maehira up.
Grounder to short! Nishida to Fukui for one, throw to first... offline! Funamori reaches out, but can't get it! Tairiku scores from 3rd and Kounan takes a 2-0 lead!
Mekaru flies out to left to end the inning, but Shimabukuro has a two-run cushion! Will this be the year that his team finally gets out of the first round?
Yuuki with a drive to right center! That hits the wall on one hop! Yuuki rounding 2nd, heading for 3rd! Tairiku with the throw, and he's out by a mile!
You're down by two, and you get run out at 3rd? Where was the 3rd base coach??! Given, it was a great relay from Mekaru to Tairiku to Ganeko, but that was just not a smart decision.
Katada with a single to center. And if Yuuki stayed at center, we may have a one run game.
Gakiya calling a conference on the mound.
Kenta with a single through to left! Runners on 1st and 2nd!
And Nishida with a grounder back up the middle. Shimabukuro runs to get it, but it's off his glove! Ooshiro gets it, makes a throw to 1st, but not in time! All safe! Manrui for Kanzei!
How much does that throwout at 3rd hurt now? It would be 2-1 with bases loaded and no down, instead of 2-0, bases loaded and 1 out.
Funamori up now. Base hit would be great, sac fly is a minimum.
And he lifts one to right. Mekaru settles under it, and Katada scores. 2-1.
Ogura grounder to 2nd. The inning is over and Kanzei only scores 1 after getting 4 consecutive hits. Certainly a wasted opportunity by Kanzei.
A quick inning for Katada. He gets 3 flyballs from Yamakawa, Irei and Shimabukuro and Kanzei heads in to pick up the sticks again.
But Shimabukuro does Katada one better - he strikes out the side! Looking no less! Sure, Ueda was stubborn and he needed 10 pitches, but that makes 10 K's on the day!
Katada continues to roll. Ooshiro grounds to short and Kuniyoshi grounds to 3rd for 2 quick outs.
And why is it when I say something, it reverses? Ketashiro gets a two-out walk.
Ketada falls behind Ganeko 2-0. And he drives one to deep right-center. That lands in front of the wall! Ketashiro scores and Ganeko secures a triple! It's 3-1 Kounan!
Ooooo~~~y. Now Katada hits Maehira! Runners at the corners.
And Gakiya sends Maehira! Throw is high and now there's runners at 2nd and 3rd!
Oooooooooooooo~~~~~~y. And now Mekaru walks! Manrui for Kounan!
#11 Mizuhara starts warming up in the bullpen.
Yamakawa ground into a fielder's choice to 2nd and the inning is over.
Still, Kounan gets another run on the board and they're back to their 2-run lead!
Yuuki leads off the inning with a single to left.
Conference on the mound. Pretty early for one, but they probably want to nip it in the bud.
Katada up gets ahead 3-1, but strikes out looking. Kenta strikes out swinging, and there's now 2 down.
Nishida lines to right and that's that.
Katada walks Irei to start the inning. Shimabukuro with the bunt, but Katada comes up with it and fires to 2nd! They get the lead runner! Relay to 1st isn't in time, but they get the lead runner.
Ooshiro K's for the 2nd out. And Tairiku grounds to 3rd. Inning over, but Kanzei is running out of time.
Funamori with his first base hit in the 8th! They keep on getting the leadoff runner on, but haven't been able to do anything with it!
Ogura with the bunt, but Shimabukuro quickly gets it and fires to 2nd! They get Funamori!
Fukui hits a towering pop-up. Maehira under it for the 2nd out.
Isomoto strikes out swinging, and it looks like Shimabukuro will get to stay around for another couple of days.
Ganeko with a one out seeing-eye single to right!
And he takes off for 2nd! Throw is not in time and Kounan has another runner in scoring position!
Maehira grounds out to 2nd, but on the play Ganeko advances to 3rd.
Mekaru with a liner to center! That's in for a base hit and Ganeko scores! 4-1 Kounan!
Eura-kantoku calls time and has a conference on the mound.
Yamakawa with a single back up the middle!
Irei grounds to short to end the inning. 3 outs left for Kanzei!
Ueda gets a base hit to left. Another leadoff batter on! They'll need more of those though.
Yuuki with his 3rd hit of the day! Runners on 1st and 2nd.
Katada goes down swinging. 14 on the day for Shimabukuro!
Kenta pops it up in foul territory! Ganeko under it and there's 2 down!
Nishida up and Ueda takes off! Yamakawa up with the ball, but no throw.
It's a grounder to 2nd and Kuniyoshi goes to Ooshiro for the force. Shimabukuro's done it! He's finally broken through the 1st round at Koshien and will live to play another day! Kanzei certainly had their opportunities. 6 of the 9 innings they got the lead runner on, but could only score 1 run.
WP - Shimabukuro Yousuke (Kounan) - CG, 1 ER, 10 H, 14 K, 0 BB
LP - Katada Yuuta (Kanzei) - CG, 3 ER, 10 H, 5 K, 5 BB
Ganeko Moritsugu (Kounan) - 3-4, 3B, R, RBI, BB, SB
Kuniyoshi Tairiku (Kounan) - 2-5, 2 R
Watanabe Yuuki (Kanzei) - 3-4, 2B
Watanabe Kenta (Kanzei) - 2-3