We wind down the 2nd round with a matchup of teams across the country.
Hokushou faced neighboring Akita Shougyou, and made a 2-run 1st inning lead stick. Matano did a good job of shutting down the Akitashou defense, but the lack of offense from Hokushou after the first inning is concerning. Only Nodate had a multiple hit night.
Meanwhile, Jiyuugaoka was given no chance to defeat Toukaidai Sagami in it's first round matchup. But Hifumi looked mortal on the mound, collapsed in the 8th inning and next thing you knew, Jiyuugaoka had pulled off the upset.
However, the offense only managed just 6 hits, and two of the three runs in the 8th were due to walks. Sure, it was against Hifumi, but if they want the cinderella run to last longer, that will have to improve.
Both teams have something to prove, both teams have flaws that can be exploited. The question will be who will be able to take advantage of it.
Hokushou (Hokkaido) - Hokkaido Champions
SS Oono Masaya
2B Kimura Yuuji
C Nishida Akihisa
P Matano Tomoya
CF Abe Kenichi
LF Nodate Tomohito
1B Shintani Yuuki
RF Chiba Tatsuki
3B Kuroda Kento
Jiyuugaoka (Fukuoka) - Kyushu 3/4
2B Yanagi Takuma
CF Itadani Takahiro
P Ono Gouki
LF Koga Shouta
C Nakamura Keita
1B Sotono Takamasa
RF Kusuda Kousuke (#13)
SS Fujii Shouta
3B Miyzaki Shinnosuke
14:07 - First pitch!
Oono leads off the game with a liner to center. Kimura tries to bunt him along, but Ono winds up walking him instead! Early chance for Hokushou!
Nakamura comes out to talk with Ono and settle him down.
Nishida not bunting, which seems a bit strange.
Grounder to 3rd! Goes to the bag for one, throw to 1st, double play!! And just like that there's 2 outs!
Matano flies out to shallow left, and that's the inning! While I don't necessarily agree with the amount of bunting that goes on in kokoyakyu, I could understand if they had decided to there instead.
But, Ono gets out of the early jam and we're off and running!
And so is Yanagi!! He hits a grounder up the 3rd base line past a diving Kuroda! That rolls all the way to the wall as Yanagi is in with a stand-up double!
Itadani squares up to bunt, but pops it up! Matano comes in and makes the catch!
Now Ono works a walk and there's runners on 1st and 2nd for Jiyuugaoka!
Cleanup batter Shouta steps in, but Suetsugu-kantoku isn't waiting! He sends both runners! The 0-1 pitch from Matano is low and there's no throw! Now a sac fly can give them the early lead!
But Shouta can't get under a high slider and he grounds one to short! Oono makes the play and the runners have to hold!
Nakamura flies out to center, and Matano is also out of a jam here in the 1st!
A much more uneventful 2nd for Ono. Abe grounds out to short, Nodate fouls out to Nakamura near the Jiyuugaoka dugout, and Shintani flies out to right.
Matano seems to be settling down too. He strikes out Sotono and Kusuda back to back, then gets Fujii to foul out to Shintani to end the inning.
One down for #9 batter Chiba and he drives one to left center, and that falls in! Itadani chases it to the wall and Chiba's in with a double!
Dash Keio plays as we head back to the top of the order, but Ono changes eye levels on Oono and gets him to swing at a high fastball and pop out to 3rd.
Kimura grounds out to short, and as quickly as the opportunity came, it left.
Matano's control isn't quite all there yet, but he's still effective against the Jiyuugaoka batters.
He racks up another 2 strikeouts as he gets Miyazaki looking and Yanagi swinging.
Itadani finally breaks it up with a single to right for a two-out single.
Suetsugu continues to be aggressive on the basepaths! Itadani takes off on the 1-1 pitch, but Nishida throws him out easily. Wonder if that was supposed to be a delayed steal?
Defensive change for Jiyuugaoka. #10 Yukuhiro comes in for Miyazaki and takes over at 3rd.
After a quick flyout by Nishida, Matano draws a walk.
Kawakami-kantoku decides to have Abe bunt him along, but instead Abe bunts it right at Ono who goes to 2nd for the force.
Ono paying a lot of attention to Abe.
Now it's Kawakami-kantoku putting the game in motion! He calls for the hit-and-run! But Nodate fouls it back.
2 pitches later, he tries it again, but Nodate swings and misses on a change to end the inning.
Not sure what was going it, but there seemed to be attention paid to Matano and his throwing hand. He takes some warm-up pitches and is seen working the area between his thumb and index finger.
Ono hits a grounder that is just past a diving Kimura for a leadoff single!
Nakamura grounds back to Matano. He looks Kimura back and goes to 1st for the 2nd out.
And Sotono can't hold up on a slider away and Matano gets through another inning. The control still isn't quite there though.
Shintani with a single back up the middle. But Kuroda pops up his bunt and Ono makes the catch!
Kawakami asks Chiba to bunt too, and he lays it down.
And Ono with a wild pitch! Shintani just 90 feet away now.
But Oono grounds out to Sotono and Hokushou remains scoreless.
Matano walks Kusuda to start the inning, and Fujii bunts him along.
And Matano having even more trouble with his control. He walks Yukuhiro on 4 straight!
Looks like Kawakami-kantoku has seen enough from Matano. Matano and Chiba switch places. Guess the question is if whatever's bothering Matano is serious should they win.
Yanagi hits Chiba's first pitch though to right! And the 3rd base coach indeed sends Kusuda home! He stumbles a bit stepping on 3rd, but continues on! Throw in from Nodate is on line, and Nishida makes the tag for the out!
You had to figure on a base hit that they would be sending Kusuda, and they did, but Nodate makes a fine throw to gun him down!
Itadani flies out to center, and Chiba gets Hokushou out of the pinch! We head into the break scoreless!
Kimura comes back from the break and leads off the 6th with a single to left. Nishida moves him into scoring position for Matano.
He hits a high drive to center! Itadani under it for the 2nd out, but Kimura tags up and reaches 3rd.
But once again Ono leaves the runner stranded at 3rd as he strikes out Abe to end the inning!
Ono gets his 2nd hit of the day as he lines one past the glove of Chiba into center!
Suetsugu is having Shouta bunt come hell or high water, and on the 2-2- pitch he lays it down. But Chiba gets to it quickly and fires to 2nd for the force!
Nakamura with a grounder past Kuroda for another hit! Runners at 1st and 2nd with only 1 down!
Camera goes to Matano who's shown wearing a brace on his hand. That can't be good.
Meanwhile, Sotono strikes out for the 3rd time this game on a curve away.
Kusuda grounds out to 1st and the teams still remain scoreless.
Nodate leads off the inning with a single to center. Shintani moves him over and Hokushou once again has a scoring opportunity.
Kawakami goes to his bench and calls on #17 Ikeda to pinch hit for Kuroda.
And he hits the first pitch past a diving Fujii for a base hit! Runners on the corners with one down.
Suetsugu calling a conference as Chiba steps in.
Chiba shows bunt and hits a hard one that gets past Ono! Fujii gets the ball, looks home but goes to 1st! Nodate scores and Hokushou breaks the deadlock! It's 1-0!
Oono with a drive to right center! That hits off the base of the wall! Ikeda comes around to score on Oono's 2-out triple and it's 2-0!!
Kimura with the safety bunt!!!! It's another hard bunt past Ono! Yanagi charging in, throws to 1st... SAFE!!!
Yanagi takes an extra step or two, and as a result, his throw is late and Oono comes in to score! It's 3-0 Hokushou!!!
Now Kimura takes off for 2nd! Throw from Nakamura is not in time and Hokushou continues to put the pressure on Ono!
But he gets Nishida to fly out to right to end the inning. Hokushou has broken the scoreless draw in a big way and now holds a 3-run lead!
#15 Kanazawa comes in for Ikeda and takes over at 3B.
Fujii with a slow grounder to short. Oono double cluches and his throw to 1st can't beat out a sliding Fujii!
Eh? Fujii takes off for 2nd, but once again he's thrown out by a country mile. It's not even close...
And Yukuhiro walks on 4 straight. And Chiba walks Yanagi!! How much does the caught stealing hurt now?
It hurts a lot more now!!
Itadani lines one over Nodate's head and to the wall! Yukuhiro scores from 2nd as Itadani hits an RBI double! Jiyuugaoka is on the board at 3-1!
Nishida goes out to the mound as Kawakami-kantoku callas a conference.
Ono with a base hit to left. That scores Yanagi and it's 3-2!!
The hit parade continues! Shouta with a grounder to right! Itadani comes in to score and Jiyuugaoka has tied it up! 3-3!!!!
The players have another conference on the mound and now #10 Sakata is warming up in the pen.
Nakamura looking to continue the assault. Count goes full!
Grounder to 3rd! Kanazawa there to get it, but can't make a clean grab! Goes to 2nd for one out, throw to first... double play!!
Even with the bobble, they are able to turn the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Jiyuugaoka comes right back to tie the game, but could have had the lead had they not tried the SB earlier in the inning...
Ono retires the first two batters via groundout, but then Nodate lines one over Yukuhiro's head and down the left field line for a double. Small chance for Hokushou!
But Shintani grounds out to short to end the inning. Ono outside of the 7th has done a servicable job and has thrown only 101 pitches.
Sotono unfortunately has to live with the infamous golden sombrero as he strikes out for the 4th time.
Kusuda up to the tune of Evangelion, and gets a 4-pitch walk!
Fujii with the bunt, Nishida goes to field it, but can't get the ball out of his glove! His throw to 1st is late and everyone's safe!!
Yukuhiro not bunting.
The runners take off! 1-1 pitch is in the dirt and Nishida can't get it! Everyone's safe!
After the last 2 failed attempts I'm a bit surprised they tried this, but I guess so was Hokushou!
Now a sac fly will give Jiyuugaoka the lead!!
But Yukuhiro goes down swinging! 2 down for Chiba!
Up to Yanagi now. Count even at 2-2, fouls a couple off. Works it full...
But he goes down swinging on a curve in the dirt! Chiba gets out of another jam and we head to the 9th all tied at 3!
New 3B Kanazawa starts the inning off with a leadoff walk! Chiba immediately bunts him over into scoring position!
Suetsugu-kantoku calls a conference. We're back to the top of the order and Oono.
Oono with a fly ball in foul territory. Yukuhiro running over, reaches out, but it goes off the end of his glove! I think he may have been worried about the bullpen mound, but he probably had a play at that one.
Oono with a fly to deep center. Itadani with it, but it's deep enough to let Kanazawa advance to 3rd!
Kimura with the safety bunt! Yukuhiro running in, decides to try and let the ball run foul...
EXCEPT IT DOESN'T!
The ball hits the uneven ground and rolls back into fair territory!! Kanazawa scores on the play and Hokushou takes the lead here in the top of the 9th! 4-3!
Nishida with a fly ball to left! Shouta running back, still running back, can't make the catch! Kimura comes all the way around to 1st on Nishida's triple and Hokushou leads 5-3!!
That seemed like it was more of a poor fielding attempt than a solid hit. Shouta continue to run back while trying to get bearings on the ball, when it seemed like he had enough time to run back turn around and make the catch instead.
Suetsugu-kantoku calls for a pitching change. It's tough luck for Ono who should have been out of this inning and without any runs scored. It won't show up as errors, but should have been.
So there's a shuffle within the corner fielders. Yukuhiro goes from 3rd to take the hill, #15 Yoshihara comes in for Sotono and takes over at 3B, while Ono goes to 1B.
Matano fouls out to 1st to end the inning, but Jiyuugaoka finds themselves down 2 runs with only 3 outs to go!
Itadani weakly grounds to 2nd, one down.
Ono quickly down 0-2, but starts fighting at the plate and works the count full.
But he hits a fly to right! Matano comes in and makes the catch for the 2nd out!
Shouta the last hope for Jiyuugaoka. Grounder to 3rd! And it rolls up Kanazawa and deflects into shallow left center!! Shouta hustles for 2, and slides in safely!!
Nakamura with a drive to left center!! That falls in behind Nodate! Shouta rounds 3rd and scores on the RBI double and Jiyuugaoka is within 1! It's 5-4!!
Suetsugu pulls his last card. #18 Arita comes in to pinch hit for Yoshihara.
He gets ahead in the count 3-1! Swing and a miss! Arita thinking fastball, but Chiba throws a curve! Full count!
Chiba throws a 3-2 curve and gets Arita swinging!! Hokushou holds on for the 5-4 victory!!
Jiyuugaoka certainly had their chances throughout the game, but it may have been some defensive miscues that cost them the game.
Nonetheless, the boys from Fukuoka put on a good show, and perhaps we'll see more from them this summer.