We're approaching the end of the first round, and today we'll be featuring both of the Toukaidai schools.
The morning game has the "other" Toukai school in Toukaidai Bouyou. While successful in the fall tournament, the bulk of the success goes to the pitching staff and ace Nagatomo. He throws in the low to mid 140's with a curve and slider. Even with the velocity though, he doesn't strike out a ton of batters and has more than his fair share of walks - which is concerning even though he sported a 1.26 ERA in the fall tournaments. RP Ozawa numbers are not much better which means that if they don't have control, this could be over quickly.
Offensively they have some hitters in 3B Suzuki and C Sakamoto - but they do not have much power per se. They strike out a little more than average, but also take more walks than average as well. In all, it seems to be a precarious line they run.
Osaka Touin is what it has always been - an offensive powerhouse. They don't necessarily hit for HR's, but they will hit for extra bases. Aren't shy about taking a walk when given one, and will sometimes steal a base or two. Main guys to watch are C Emura, 3B Kawahara and SS Yamaguchi.
The pitching this year seems to be better than in years past though. Ace Fukumoto leads the staff sporting a 130 kph fastball with a slider, curve and change. Ratios are ok, but not great (8.12 H/9, 6 K/9, 2.65 BB/9). RP Yamanaka generally comes in the late innings, and while a small sample size, his numbers look better than Fukumoto's.
It will be interesting to see how Osaka Touin's pitching staff performs. If they can deliver above average performances, it's possible they could make a deep run this spring.
Osaka Touin (Osaka) - Kinki Runner-up
CF Ichikawa Ryouta
2B Hirahata Minoru
SS Yamaguchi Takuya
3B Kawahara Ukyou
C Emura Naoya
RF Fujita Hiromasa
1B Nishida Naoto
LF Yamaashi Tatsuya
P Fukumoto Tsubasa
Toukaidai Bouyou (Chiba) - Kanto 3/4
3B Suzuki Ryouta
2B Nasu Yuuki
SS Oota Tatsuru
C Sakamoto Takuya
RF Sakurai Kento
LF Jige Yoshito
1B Amagawa Taisei
P Nagatomo Akinori
CF Katou Daichi
9:02 - First pitch!
Nagatomo off to a decent start. He strikes Ichikawa out swinging, then turns around and strikes out Hirahata looking. He then finishes the inning by getting Yamaguchi to pop up to Suzuki.
The only issue is that the Touin batters made him throw 18 pitches that inning.
Suzuki with a drive deep down the left field line!! Yamaashi to the wall, looking up...
Boy that seemed really close to a homerun and an early lead for the team from Chiba.
But he grounds out to 1st instead.
Nasu with a grounder to short. Yamaguchi ranges to his right, stops makes the throw, but it's not in time! Infield hit for Nasu.
Aikawa-kantoku is having Oota bunt! But Fukumoto isn't throwing a strike! He walks Oota on 4 straight!
Fukumoto then walks cleanup batter Sakamoto! Manrui for Bouyou!
Sakurai up, and he hits a fly to center. But it's too shallow! Ichikawa with the catch and throw in, and everyone has to hold!
And Fukumoto gets Jige to ground out to 2nd! He gets out of the manrui pinch!
Again the Touin batters work Nagatomo. Cleanup batter Kawahara leads off the 2nd with an 8 pitch walk.
Emura up looking to bunt. But so far it's either a ball or a bunt foul.
And Emura pulls it back and tries the hit-and-run! But he fouls it off. Count 2-2 so will Emura bunt now?
No! He chops one back up the middle and into center for a base hit! Runners at 1st and 2nd!
Hiromasa with a great bunt up the 3rd base line! Nagatomo up with it. Fires to 1st and just gets Hiromasa.
Both runners in scoring position now for Nishida.
And he hits one to left! Yamaashi running back, leaps, but it's over his head!! The runners take off around the bases as Yamaashi hurries back to the fence! Kawahara and Emura both score as Nishida is in with a triple.
But Oota fumbles the relay throw!! The 3rd base coach sends Nishida home and he's in! A disasterous AB for Toukaidai Bouyou as everyone scores and it's suddenly 3-0!!
Nagatomo gets Yamaashi and Fukumoto to ground out to end the inning. But a timely basehit and an untimely error results in a 3 run deficit for Bouyou.
Amagawa with a drive to left center! Ichikawa stops it before the wall, but not before Amagawa has a leadoff double!
Nagatomo up, but Emura fires to 2nd, and they have Amagawa picked off! What was Amagawa thinking?
And that baserunning error hurts even more as Nagatomo singles to center over a leaping Hirahata!
Aikawa has Katou bunt him over looking for a timely hit, but Suzuki grounds out to short to end the inning.
Ichikawa leads off the 3rd with a flare to left for a leadoff single. Hirahata immediately bunts him over.
And then Nagatomo issues his 2nd walk to Yamaguchi. Runners on 1st and 2nd with one out.
But Nagatomo gets Kawahara to fly out to left, and Emura pops up to Nasu in shallow center.
Nasu hits a lazy fly to right to start the inning.
Fukumoto then hits Oota giving Bouyou a runner.
But Sakamoto hit a comebacker to Fukumoto! He starts the 1-6-3 double play, and just like that the inning is over!
Hiromasa flies out to Oota down the left field line.
Nishida lines one into right for a single.
And Nishitani-kantoku puts on the hit-and-run! Yamaashi with a grounder through the gap in left and that's a base hit!
Fukumoto lays down the bunt, Suzuki with the throw, but he one hops Amagawa! He can't make the pick and everyone's safe! Manrui for Osaka Touin!!
Aikawa -kantoku calls a conference. #10 Ozawa goes out to the bullpen.
Ichikawa with a blooper to shallow center! Katou charging in dives, but can't make the catch! The runners advances and it's now 4-0!
But what's this? They throw to 1st and get the batter out? Did he think he was out? I don't know but on the replay he's shown rounding the bases and it's not until he passes third that he doubles back to 1st.
So he gets credit for the single, but is called out after passing the runners in front of him? That's the only thing I can think of. That's just bizarre.
Anyways, 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd - and Hiromasa grounds out to short to end the inning. But Osaka Touin has extended the lead.
Fukumoto with an easy inning. Strikes out Sakurai swinging, gets Jige to fly to left, and strikes out Amagawa swinging. Looks like his early struggles are behind him now.
Nagatomo gives up a two-out single to Emura that just gets by a sliding Nasu but he's stranded there as Hiraomasa flies out to right.
Nagatomo earns a walk to leadoff the 5th.
Katou looking to bunt, but pulls it back and fouls it off! There's still time to play for one run here.
But he swings away, and bails on a fastball away. He pops out to short.
Suzuki with a comebacker to Fukumoto. He goes to 2nd for 1, throw to first goes off the top of Nishida's glove and the inning stays alive.
Nasu can't check up his swing and the inning is over. Osaka Touin holds a 4-0 advantage heading into the break.
Finally, a quiet inning from Nagatomo. He retires the side in order allowing his team to pickup the sticks and try to rally.
Oota with a dribble up the 3rd base side. Kawahara up wth it, but he eats it and Oota leads off the 6th with an infield single!
Sakamoto follows that up with a single to center! Runners on 1st and 2nd.
Now Sakurai tries the safety bunt! Emura up withe ball and fires to 1st beating a diving Sakurai.
Jige with a 4-pitch walk and it's manru for Bouyou!
Nishitani-kantoku calls for a conference as #16 Nakano starts to warm up in the pen.
Amagawa with a grounder to short! Yamaguchi to Hirahata for one, throw to 1st... not in time! Amagawa, running through the bag, beats out the throw - which means that Oota scores from 3rd! It's 4-1!
Nagatomo with a hot shot at 3rd! Kawahara with the backhanded stop!! Throw to 1st retires the side!!
The nice play by Nagatomo ends the rally, but Bouyou is on the board and they still have 3 innings left.
Hirahata with a one-out liner past a diving Suzuki into left for a base hit.
Yamaguchi with a fly into foul territory. Sakurai runs in and makes the catch.
Of course to make things interesting (or just difficult), Nagatomo walks Kawahara.
Doesn't wind up hurting him as he flies out to left to end the inning.
Katou with a drive to center! Ichikawa moving over to his left and makes the catch.
Suzuki with a drive down the right field line! Hiromasa running to the 1st base wall, leaps...
and makes the catch!!!
That's a spectacular play by Hiromasa!!
Nasu with the hard liner back to Fukumoto! He puts up his glove and it deflects off it! It dribbles back up the middle, Yamaguchi makes the adjustment gets the ball in front of 2nd base, fires to 1st... and beats a diving Nasu!
Nice play by Yamaguchi! And poor baserunning by Nasu. He might have been safe if he had run through the bag.
But the inning is over and Bouyou is starting to run out of well... outs.
Hiromasa with a single through the left side starts the Osaka Touin offense going again.
Nishida bunts the runner over, and then Yamaashi goes hits the first pitch back up the middle for a base hit. Runners at the corners for Osaka Touin!
And Fukumoto's day is done. #14 Yamanaka Tsukasa comes in to pinch hit.
And Aikawa-kantoku's making a change as well. #10 Ozawa comes in for Jige and takes the hill. Nagatomo goes over to left.
Tsukasa first pitch swinging and hits a slow grounder to short! Oota up with it, and his only play is to first, giving up the run and making it 5-1.
Ozawa retires Ichikawa on a pop fly to shallow right and he limits the damage to one run. Still, it's a 4 run deficit with 6 outs left.
#16 Nakano comes in for PH Tsukasa and relieves Fukumoto on the hill.
Oota with a grounder past a ranging Hirahata into right. Oota's safely reached base all 4 times today!
And then Nakano hits Sakamoto! Runners on 1st and 2nd, and Nishitani immediately calls time and calls for a conference.
Sakurai up looking to bunt, lays it down the 1st base line. Emura throws him out, but he does the job. Base hit cuts the deficit in half.
#13 Ishibashi pinch hits for Ozawa, which means his relief stint is done. He hits a grounder to 1st. Nishida takes it to the bag and gives up the run, but at this point they have the right idea. 5-2.
Amagawa goes down on 3 straight sliders and the inning is over. Bouyou gets a run back, but at this point it's too little too late.
Ishibashi stays in the game to play left, while Nagatomo re-takes the hill.
And Nagatomo walks Hirahata to start the 9th.
Nishitani puts on the hit and run! Yamaguchi with the chopper back to Nagatomo and his only play is to 1st.
Kawahara pops it up! Sakamoto in front of the plate, makes the catch. 2 down.
Nagatomo with a wild pitch to Emura! Hirahata advances to 3rd... then Emura walks on 4 straight!
There has to be something wrong with Nagatomo. He can't find the plate. He walked Emura on 4 straight, now he walks Hiromasa on 4 straight! Manrui for Osaka Touin!
Timeout called by Aikawa as Nishida steps in.
Nishida golfs a low pitch to right! That's over Sakurai's head and all the way to the wall!! He runs it down, but not before Nishida clears the bases with a manrui triple! It's 8-2!!
Yamaashi contines the parade with a single to center. That scores Nishida and it's 9-2!
Nakano is being recalled to the dugout. #18 Kimura comes out to pinch hit.
He grounds out to 3rd to end the inning. But needless to say Osaka Touin has definitively put the game out of reach here in the 9th.
#11 Yamanaka Kyousuke comes in relief to finish the game.
Nagatomo shoots one into center to lead off the inning. Katou obviously not bunting hits a slow chopper to 2nd. Hirahata with it and goes for the out at 1st.
And Suzuki gets his first base hit with a single to right. Nagatomo holds up at 3rd.
Nasu with a fly to right. Hiromasa with the catch! And because the runners were going on the full count pitch, he makes the easy throw to 1st for the double play to end the game.
Toukaidai Bouyou could not hold off the offensive assault of Osaka Touin as they had baserunners in all but 2 innings. Fukumoto certainly did the job here, but walking 5 and striking out 3 means at least for now means their future in the tournament is a bit shaky.