(AUGH! No one told me the games would be shown live on MBS!!!)
Our opening semifinal puts the kids of Tsuruga Kehi out of Fukui-ken versus the old guard in Tokyo's Nichidai-san.
Tsuruga Kehi took advantage of a weak Tenri bullpen in the first round, while holding off a late charge against Hanasaki Tokuharu in their second round game. The team has shown some timely hitting and will need it against this opponent.
It's hard to tell how Nichidai-san has fared so far. They've played two 21st century teams so far and have had mixed results. Against Yamagata Chuo in the first round, they took care of easily 3-1. But then against Kouyou, they only managed 3 runs in a 3-1 win. Given, Kouyou perhaps was a stronger 21st century team since they defeated Kaisei, but in the end it can only mean so much.
Tsuruga Kehi should prove to be a test of how the team really is. They're more of a known commodity and we can get a better gauge of how good this team really is.
As you can see, I don't really have a favorite in this matchup.
Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) - Hokushinetsu Runner-up
CF Nishikiori Daisuke
2B Hayashi Rui
LF Nakao Yuuto
RF Yoshida Masataka
C Kubo Yuuta
SS Kanayama Yoshihiro
1B Okuno Kyouhei (#13)
P Ookubo Takashi
3B Kawashita Ryuusei
Nichidai-san (Tokyo) - Kanto/Tokyo At-large
RF Takayama Shun
1B Ogihara Tatsurou (#4)
CF Hiraiwa Takuji
3B Yokoo Toshitake
P Yamazaki Sachiya
SS Yoshizawa Shougo
LF Azegami Shou
1B Negishi Kouhei (#15)
C Suzuki Takahiro (#12)
8:32 - First pitch!
Nishikiori is proving to be stubborn for Yamazaki to start off the game. He lasts 9 pitches, but flies out to center.
Yamazaki quickly issues his first walk as he walks Hayashi on 4 straight.
And then he falls behind Nakao 3-0!
Hayashi-kantoku sets the game in motion, sending Hayashi! Throw from Suzuki and Hayashi just slides in under the tag!
And Nakao earns a walk! Runners on 1st and 2nd early for Tsuruga Kehi!
Yoshida up now looking for a timely hit. But he grounds one to short. Yoshizawa to Negishi for one, throw to Ogihara, just beats a running Yoshida! A timely double play ends the inning!
Ookubo gets Takayama swinging for out number 1.
Ogihara with a liner down the right field line. Yoshida plays it off the wall and Ogihara is in with a double.
And now Ookubo falls behind Hiraiwa 3-0. However, he gets Hiraiwa to hit a grounder to Kanayama and he makes the play at 1st. Ogihara can't advance on the play.
But Yokoo gets a base hit to left! Nakao charging in and they're sending Ogihara home! Throw from Nakao is OVER EVERYONE!! Ogihara scores easily and Yokoo advances to 2nd on the errant throw. It's 1-0 Nichidai!
Yamazaki grounds out to 1st to end the inning, but Nichidai-san is on the board.
Yamazaki's control issues seem to persist. He walks Kubo to start the inning. Kanayama bunts him over and Tsuruga Kehi is threatening to tie it up here.
Okuno with a slow grounder to short. Kubo takes off for 3rd as Yoshizawa field the ball and makes a running throw to 1st for the 2nd out.
Ookubo swinging on first pitch and grounds to Yokoo who fires to 1st to end the inning. Tsuruga Kehi is unable to equalize here in the 2nd.
Yoshizawa with a drive down the right field line! Yoshida over to the wall and has to play the bounce! Yoshizawa with a leadoff double!
Azegami doesn't seem to be bunting in this situation and is in fact hitting anything that is in the zone - and some out of it as well.
We're at the 9th pitch, and Ookubo finally gets Azegami as he grounds out to 2nd. But he does advance Yoshizawa to 3rd.
I wonder if Ookubo was protecting against a squeeze, because he winds up walking Negishi on 4 straight. If nothing else it creates a double play opportunity.
Last batter Suzuki up now.
Suzuki on the 1-0 pitch surprises everyone and shows bunt! But he pushes it foul up the 1st base line. Looks like it was a one-shot deal though and Suzuki is back to swinging away.
And Suzuki takes a pitch away and bloops it to right! Yoshizawa scores and it's now 2-0!
Negishi advances to 3rd on the hit so once again Nichidai-san has runners at the corners!
Takayama with a grounder back to Ookubo! He starts the 1-6-3 double play to end the inning!
Once again though, Nichidai-san tacks on another run.
Yamazaki gets Kawashita swinging to start off the 3rd.
Nishikiori with a comebacker to Yamazaki! He puts out his glove, but it glances off and goes towards 1st! Ogihara goes over to get it, throws to Yamazaki who runs to cover 1st, and makes the out! That's your standard 1-3-1 putout there!
And Hayashi goes down on 3 straight to end the inning. Looks like Yamazaki may have settled down from the first 2 innings.
#11 Fujisawa is up and throwing as Ookubo pitches to Ogihara.
And Ogihara with a drive to deep right center!! That one takes one hop to the wall!! Ogihara heading for third as Hayashi, AH!
Hayashi loses the handle on the relay throw and Ogihara comes home! Throw isn't in time and Ogihara scores!! It's 3-0! Ogihara is credited with a 3B and the error allows him to get home.
Ookubo walks Hiraiwa and things don't look so good.
Hayashi-kantoku calls time, and it looks like Ookubo's day is done. #18 Shirazaki comes in for Ookubo and takes the hill.
But Yokoo singles past a diving Kawashita and Nichidai-san is threatening again.
Yamazaki up trying to bunt, but can't lay it down. Instead he singles past Shirazaki and a diving Hayashi into center! Nishikiori fires home but it's not in time! What's more, both runners advance a base on the throw so Nichidai has runners on 2nd and 3rd!! It's 4-0!
Hayashi-kantoku calls time and calls for a conference.
Slight issue as Nishikiori has a bit of trouble with his contact lens, but he's okay and the game continues.
Yoshizawa with a hard grounder up the 3rd base line! Kawashita knocks it down and throws to 1st for the out. Runners have to hold.
Shirazaki falls behind Azegami 3-0, although that may have been partially due to the worry about a squeeze. And while he manages to fill up the count, he walks Azegami.
Manrui for Nichidai-san, although a double play ends the inning.
But Shirazaki falls behind Negishi 3-1! There's nowhere to put him!
And he walks him! Yokoo comes home and it's now 5-0!
Suzuki with a grounder past Kawashita into left! Yamazaki comes home and now it's 6-0! What a disastrous inning for Tsuruga Kehi!
Back to the top of the order in Takayama. He hits a grounder to 2nd. Hayashi goes home with the throw and they get the force on Azegami.
Ogihara, who led off the inning stands at the plate again. He goes down swinging to end the inning, but unfortunately for Tsuruga Kehi, the damage has been done. They trail by 6 after 3 innings, and their future prospects in the game don't look so good.
Tsuruga Kehi finally gets themselves a base hit as Nakao hits a bloop single to left. That has to boost their confidence a little...
But Yoshida pops up to Suzuki, Kubo strikes out looking... and Nakao gets thrown out trying to steal 2nd... Nichidai-san appears to be in full control.
Shirazaki finally stops the bleeding. He gets Hiraiwa to pop up to 2nd, then after allowing a walk to Yokoo, induces a 6U-3 double play from Yamazaki to end the inning!
Down 6 though, they'll need to start chipping away now.
No luck though against Yamazaki. Kanayama grounds out to 1st, while Okuno and Shirazaki strikeout freezing on the curve...
Yoshizawa with a deep drive to center! Nishikiori running back! Makes the catch in front of the fence! Throws it back in, but takes a glance back...
Shirazaki can't seem to shake the walk bug though... He walks Azegami. Fortunately, it doesn't lead to anything as Negishi grounds out to 2nd, and Suzuki flies out to left.
(You know, I kinda like Nichidai-san's oen-dan original music)
Oh man... Tsuruga Kehi is looking baffled at the plate...
Kawashita strikes out looking...
Nishikiori flies to center...
Hayashi strikes out swinging...
I honestly don't see rhem coming back from this deficit...
Takayama reaching out and gets contact. It seems to find the gap, but Kanayama runs it down! That's all he can do though as Takayama flies down the line. Ogihara successfully moves him to 2nd.
AAHHHH! Wild pitch by Shirazaki! Takayama goes to 3rd!
And Shirazaki walks Hiraiwa! It's only the 6th and the team looks defeated.
Hiraiwa heading for 2nd on the first pitch! It's cut off and now there's runners on 2nd and 3rd!!
Yokoo hits a hanging curve to right center!!! Nishikiori trying to cut it off, but can't! It goes to the wall! Takayama scores, Hiraiwa rounding 3rd, being sent home... he scores! Yokoo in with a 2-run triple and now it's 8-0 Nichidai-san.
Yamazaki with a base hit to the right side past a drawn-in infield and Yokoo scores... 9-0. The Tsurua boys may have been playing scared, now it's almost playing with resignation.
It's almost reflected in the next play as Yoshizawa grounds to 3rd, and it looks like a double play... but Hayashi drops the ball at 2nd. He gets it back to get the force, but nothing else.
Yoshizawa gets thrown out trying to steal 2nd, and so the inning ends. But Nichidai-san is in full rout mode now.
Tsuruga Kehi is swinging away now. Nakao flies out to left. Another fly ball by Yoshida, this time to center. Kubo with another fly to left center, but this time it falls in! Hiraiwa runs it down, but not before Kubo is in with a double!
The joy is short-lived as Kanayama immediately grounds to 3rd to end the inning.
Shirazaki just can't shake the wak bug. He walks Azegami to start the inning.
He's bailed out as Negishi grounds back to him. He goes to 2nd for one, relay from Kanayama is in time to complete the double play!
Teikyou doesn't stop putting on the pressure as Suzuki singles through to left. Fortunately, Takayama strikes out to end the inning.
Defensive changes for Nichidai-san. #16 Kobayashi comes in for Negishi and takes center. Hiraiwa shifts to left, Azekami shifts to 1B, and Ogihara shifts to 2B.
Okuno grounds back to Yamazaki...
#15 Iwata in to PH for Shirazaki marking the end of his day. And he takes the first pitch to right for a base hit! #14 Hirota in to run for Iwata...
AHHH!!!! Kawashita lines one right to Yoshizawa! Hirota is caught off the bag and is doubled off to end the inning!!
#11 Fujisawa comes in now for Tsuruga Kehi. Defensive change as well as #3 Ishibashi comes in for Okuno at 1B.
Fujisawa off to a good start striking out Ogihara.
And a popup to 2nd by Hiraiwa... but Hayashi drops it as he brings the glove down! Could have still been called out because it looked like he dropped it on the transfer, but it isn't and it's an E4!
And they pay for the call! Yamazaki with a drive to left center that falls in! It's run down, but Hiraiwa is flying around the bases! He's being sent home and the throw is offline! Another run scores and Nichidai-san hits double digits. 10-0.
Yoshizawa grounds to short to end the inning, and Tsuruga Kehi will have their last ups.
Yamazaki continues stong to the finish. Nishikiori pops out to 1st... Hayashi goes down swinging... and Nakao grounds out to short to end the game...
In the most dominating performance by Nichidai-san this tournament so far, they dismantled Tsuruga Kehi to the tune of 10-0 and punch their ticket to the Best 4.