2nd game of Day 5 has our 3rd and final 21st century team.
Kawashima is probably the weakest of the three 21st century teams. As a team, they collectively had a line of .242/.303/.288. Probably their best hitter is their C Minami.
On the mound, they primarily rely on ace Higashitani who throws in the low 130's with a slider, changeup and curveball. As one would imagine, he's primarily a contact pitcher who heavily relies on his defense which does a good job of keeping the team in the game.
That defense will be heavily tested as they face the Tokai (and Meiji Jingu Taikai) champions Oogaki Nichidai.
Oogaki Nichidai is almost the reverse of Kawashima. Their defense isn't terrible, but it isn't the reason why they win either. Suffice it to say that they hit the cover off the ball. Their tournament line is a much more impressive .341/.513(!)/.482. As you can tell, they take a TON of walks, and hit some extra base hits. They also average about 2 SB's per game as well.
They'll be turning to ace Kassai to lead the team on the mound. While certainly not a strikeout pitcher (6.27 K/9) he does limit the baserunners (1.02 WHIP). He also throws in the low 130's with a curve and slider.
It's the classic defense vs. offense matchup. Chances are Oogaki Nichidai will be too much for Kawashima, but after Kaisei's game, you never know, right?
Kawashima (Tokushima) - 21st Century Bid
CF Oonishi Manabu
SS Oohira Yuuki
2B Fuijihata Keisuke
C Minami Yuuki
3B Yoshida Yuuta
LF Kozaki Fumiya
P Higashitani Yuuki
1B Hirauchi Tomu
RF Fujimoto Jyunpei (#13)
Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu) - Tokai Champions
CF Morita Shouken
SS Kojima Takuya
RF Gotou Kenta
1B Takada Naohiro
LF Andou Yoshirou
3B Koo Takudai
2B Nagaoka Yoshiki
C Tokimoto Ryou
P Kassai Yukiya
11:44 - First pitch!
Oonishi with a single to center for a leadoff single. Wow. The outfield was WAY in for him.
Oohira fouls a bunt off, and AH!
Kassai cathces Oonishi napping at 1st! He picks him off!
Oohira grounds out to 3rd for the 2nd out. But Kassai gives Kawashima another runner as he hits Fujihata.
Kitadani-kantoku decides to put the game in motion! He sends Fujihara on a 2-2 pitch and there's no throw from Tokimoto!
The SB becomes inconsequential though as Kassai strikes Minami out swinging to end the inning.
Hm... Highashitani is a side-armer who does not throw fast at all.
He strikes out Morita to start, but then gives up a base hit to Kojima to left field.
Higashitani then strikes out Gotou looking with a pitch on the outside corner!
Now it's Sakaguchi-kantoku sending the runner! Minami up with the throw and they nail Kojima! Given the speed of Higashitani's pitches, that's pretty impressive.
Yoshida with another leadoff hit for Kawashima with a single to right!
Kozaki up, trying to bunt the runner along, and while it takes him a couple of times, he bunts an pitch way inside and gets it down!
Higashitani up now, and I noticed that Kassai isn't much of a fireballer either. In fact, he's not even hitting 130 on the gun. It's more like the mid to low 120's.
Regardless, he strikes out Higashitani on a high fastball.
Hirauchi though, works his way on base with a walk. And while Tokimoto was holding the glove to try and get the strike call, Yoshida took off for 3rd and reached safely! An interesting call by Kitadani!
Fujimoto with a grounder to 1st. But Takada boots it! It rolls towards 2nd! Takada retrieves it, tosses to 1st, but it's too late! Everyone's safe and Yoshida scores, giving Kawashima the lead 1-0!!
Sakaguchi-kantoku immediately with a conference on the mound.
Back to the top of the order and Oonishi, but he grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
But a surprise here as an error by the Meiji Jingu Taikai champions gives 21st century Kawashima the 1-0 lead!
Higashitani gives up his first walk to Takada. Andou bunts him over into scoring position.
Koo looking for a timely hit to tie the game up.
And he gets it! He singles though to left! But Kozaki gets the ball in and Takada holds up at 3rd.
Nagaoka up with runners at the corners. Sac fly will do the job here. But Higashitani falls behind 3-1!
Nagaoka shows squeeze and puts the bunt down! Higashitani with the ball, but his only play is to 1st! Oogaki Nichidai quickly ties the game at 1-1!
Tokimoto flies out to left and Kozaki makes the catch to retire the side.
But as expected Oogaki quickly replies to the opening salvo by Kawashima!
Oohira is retired with a grounder to 2nd.
Fujihata is hit again with a ball from Kassai. He's got to be wondering, "Why me?".
Cleanup batter Minami steps in.
(Is it bad that I think of Minami-ke when I see him or see his name?)
Anyways, Minami goes down swinging for the 2nd time.
Yoshida up, and Kassai has Fujihata caught off the bag! But when he tosses to Hirauchi, Fujihata is sliding into 2nd!
That's (a) one speedy guy, and (b) one heck of a heads up play! Fujihata goes on first movement, and when Kassai has him "caught" he continues running full speed into 2nd! That's how they teach it and he pulled it to perfection! I wonder if they were able to review tapes, and if they were able to see something, because that's already their 3rd SB today!
Ah! Yoshida fouls out to Takada to end the inning. I like what Kawashima's been showing me so far offensively (outside of the early pickoff).
Kassai stubborn at the dish to start the 3rd. Higashitani has gotten even slower if that's possible throwing in the high 110's.
Kassai gets under a slider and flies out to left.
Higashitani speeding it back up to the low 120s to Morita. Morita with a slice down the left field line, but Kozaki runs it down and makes the catch!
And Kojima does the trifecta, getting under another pitch and flying out to Kozaki in shallow left center.
If nothing else, Higashitani is keeping the pitches down in the zone enough where when he does leave one a little up, the batters are getting under it.
Kawashima starting to swing away a bit here. Kozaki first pitch fouls out to 1st. Higashitani also swings on the first pitch and hits a pop fly to shallow right. Nagaoka backing up makes the catch, but collides with Gotou. Both seem fine though.
Hirauchi puts up a bit of a fight, but grounds out to 2nd.
Oogaki batters becoming a lot more patient here in the 4th. The results aren't changing though. Gotou skies one to short. Takada does get a hold of one, but the park holds it and Kozaki makes the catch in deep left.
Andou skies another one. Fujimoto running in makes the catch to end the inning.
It's a 1-2-3 inning, but each of the Oogaki batters worked the count full on Higashitani.
Fujimoto after working the count full, goes down looking at a fastball on the black.
Kassai does it again to Oonishi for his 5th K.
Oohira tries to surprise the defense with a bunt, but Koo charges in and makes the play to end the inning.
Koo with a grounder that deflects off Hirauchi into right field! Koo sprinting towards 2nd, going for 3rd!! There's no throw and he's in safely! I can't tell what exactly happened, but the only thing I can surmise is that Fujimoto in retrieving the ball must've bobbled it or something similar.
Nagaoka looking for a sac fly instead hits a pop fly! Oohira under it behind 2nd base and makes he catch for the 1st out.
Tokimoto up, and he's swinging away. He's making contact with anything in the zone, and manages to work the count full after falling behind 1-2.
And he hits a pop fly! Yoshida running into foul territory, but he overruns the ball and he can't field it! 8th pitch of the AB now.
Sakaguchi-kantoku decides to put on the squeeze and Tokimoto lays it down!! Minami retrieves the ball tries to tag Koo, but he slides around the tag!! It's 2-1!!
But wait, the umpires are convening... and I see what happened. The replay shows that the bunt went off Tokimoto's knee then rolled into fair territory, which counts as a foul and subsequently an out. Which means the run doesn't count either and we're back to a 1-1 ballgame.
Kassai with a comebacker to Higashitani! He snags it and throws to 1st for out number 3!
We hit the break with Kawashima matching Oogaki Nichidai step-for-step tied at 1!
Well, Fujihata manages to last more than 1 pitch and NOT get hit.
In fact, he hangs in there against Kassai and lines a single to right!
Minami up to bunt, fouls the first one. 2nd pitch, he pulls it back and swings! But he fouls it off. And Kassai hits the outside black for strike 3! That's Minami's 3rd K of the day. Hopefully he doesn't get the golden sombrero.
Yoshida up, and Kassai has Fujihata picked off! But again Fujihata outruns the play and slides safely into 2nd! Wow. One time was surprising enough, but twice??!
Kassai needs to learn to throw to 2nd. This is almost like a "One Outs" episode.
But Kassai gets Yoshida looking on a pitch on the outside corner! 2 out!
#10 Achira is warming up in the bullpen, but Kassai is one out from getting out of the jam.
Kitadani calls for the hit and run! Kozaki jammed but hits one up the middle! Kojima running over to 2nd, but can't get his glove on the ball!! Morita charging in, but whiffs on the ball!! He doubles back but Fujihata is being sent home! He scores and Kawashima takes the 2-1 lead on the error!!
Higashitani grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but Kawashima once again has the lead on Oogaki Nichidai!!
Morita with a grounder to 2nd, but Fujihata doesn't field the ball cleanly! He goes back, but it's too late! E4 and the douten run is on base! Kojima moves him to scoring position.
Gotou though hits a grounder to 3rd. Yoshida looks the runner back and makes the throw to 1st. 2 down.
And Higashitani gets Takada to hit a fly to right! Fujimoto under it and the side is retired! The error doesn't hurt Kawashima and they hold onto the 1-run lead!
Hirauchi goes down swinging on a high fastball.
Fujimoto with the grounder to right, but Nagaoka makes the diving stop! Throw to 1st in time for the 2nd out!!
Oonishi also goes down swinging on a high fastball, and Kawashima is retired.
Andou with a drive down the right field line... fair!! Fujimoto chases it down near the foul pole and Andou's in with a leadoff double!
Koo with a grounder to 2nd. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!
Fujihata again whiffs on the ball and it goes into right! Andou's being waved home and he scores! Fujihata's 2nd error in as many innings costs them as Oogaki Nichidai ties it up! We're all level at 2-2!!
Nagaoka laying down the bunt and Higashitani whiffs on that one! But Fujihata is there to back it up and make the play at first. One down.
Tokimoto follows that up with a fly to center. Oonishi is there, but Koo advances to 3rd on the fly.
Kassai with a liner to center! But it's right at Oonishi and the side is retired. But for what Fujihata has provided on the basepaths, he's given back with the glove...
Oohira with a bloop down the left field line! Andou running in, dives, but can't get it! Kojima runs to retrieve it, but Oohira's in with a leadoff double!!
Fujihata with the bunt on the 1st base side. Takada with it, goes to 3rd!! And they get Oohira!! Major mistake by Fujihata bunting it too hard!
Runner on 1st now, Sakaguchi calls for a conference. Perhaps now that Fujihata is on base, they're telling Kassai to throw to 2nd if they have him picked off.
Fujihata isn't going, but on the 7th pitch, Kitadani calls for the hit and run, but Minami fouls it off!
Minami then hits a blooper to shallow center! Nagaoka and Gotou are running towards the ball, they both dive and collide! The ball bounces in and the runners take off! Nagaoka gets the ball in, and fortunately for them Fujihata only makes it to 3rd because of it.
But Gotou says down. Everyone's runs over to him and he's staying down. He's trying to get up, but still seems a bit woozy. The stretcher comes over to take him off the field, and it seems like they'll work on him first to see if he can play still instead of immediately sending a replacement.
But how much does the failed bunt attempt hurt now? That bloop would have scored a run and given Kawashima the lead instead.
And Gotou comes out of the dugout and returns to right! He looks fine, although that was a hard collision.
Yoshida up. And the runners take off!! It's a pitchout!! Yoshida leans out and just barely puts the bat on the ball and fouls it off!
But I don't know if Fujihata wouldn't have made it home even if Tokimoto was allowed to get it!
Another pitchout!! But the runners go back.
Shows bunt, but takes strike 2.
And they go for the squeeze again! But Kassai puts it outside and Yoshida fouls it off! He fouls out and there's 2 down!!
My question is, if you as a batter know that you can't lay down the bunt successfully, and the pitch is outside, would you be better off letting it go and seeing if the runner (who in this case is the speedy Fujihata) can steal home on his own?
And Kozaki hits a pop fly! Kojima just on the outfield grass makes the catch and Kawashima is denied a run after getting runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out!
Higashitani gets Morita to fly out to center to start off the inning.
Kojima with a slicer down the left field line, Kozaki sliding over in foul territory can't make the catch!
Then he comes right back and drives one to center! Oonishi running back can't get to it! He catches up to it in front of the wall, and Kojima's in with a double!
AH!! Higashitani hits Gotou! Runners on 1st and 2nd now with one down!
Takada up and he isn't bunting.
Grounder to 3rd! Yoshida with it, steps on 3rd for one, throw to 1st, double play!! Higashitani gets the 5U-3 double play to end the inning! We head to the 9th still deadlocked at 2!
Hm... I kinda like Kawashima's oen-dan music. Haven't heard it before so far as I know...
Unfortunately, I think the momentum has shifted to Oogaki after being unable to score in the 8th. Kassai ias able to retire the 7-8-9 batters in order with a flyout and 2 K's.
Those 2 K's bring Kassai's total to 12.
Oogaki Nichidai will have a chance to win it here in the 9th.
Higashitani strikes out Andou looking on a pitch outside and he knew it too.
Then he gets ahead of Koo 0-2, but Koo starts battling. He's fouling off pitch after pitch while working the count. 9th pitch of the AB he takes for a ball and he finally works the count full! And he continues to foul off pitches! It's the 12th pitch! And he gets him looking!!!
And Higashitani strikes out Nagaoka swinging!! He strikes out the side here in the 9th and we're headed into extra innings!!!
Oonishi grounds out to short for a quick out. Then Kassai hits Oohira on the number.
Fujihata up now trying to bunt. Takes strike 1. Oohira takes off!! Pitch is up and Tokimoto immediately fires to 2nd! Oohira nailed by a good amount! Perfect pitch to throw on!
Fujihata fights with Kassai, but in the end Kassai gets him to fly out to left and the side is retired.
Kawashima while certainly still in the game, the longer they go the more prone they are to fatiguing. It's one thing to be in a close game when you're the underdog in regulation - it's another when you're in extra innings.
Tokimoto leads off the 10th for Oogaki with a single to left!
Minami can't handle Higashitani's pitch in the dirt and Tokimoto advances to scoring position!!
Kassai trying to bunt him over, but pushes both foul down the 1st base line!
He squaring to bunt again, and lays it down!! Tokimoto advances to 3rd and the sayonara run is 90 feet away.
Kitadani-kantoku calls time, and they're intentionally walking both Morita and Kojima to create a force at every base.
Gotou up. And he gets under one! Oonishi running in makes the catch and there's 2 down!
Higashitani one out away from getting out of the jam!
But Takada hits a blooper to right! Fujimoto running in dives... can't get it!!
Tokimoto comes in to score and Oogaki Nichidai wins it here in the 10th, 3-2!!
It's a crushing ending for Kawashima as they had matched Oogaki every step of the way, only to fall just inches short... Certainly they blew opportunities to score, and untimely errors cost them a run, but they still managed to find ways to score and to compete against the fall champions.
I certainly gave them no shot to win this, and they almost did. Hat tip to the boys from Tokushima. It'll be hard for them to return in the summer, but I hope at least they make a good run at it.