So with the Tokyo at-large bid in Nichidai-san earning the first spot in the Best 4, who will they face?
It's been a tale of two games so far for Kouryou. After a tenuous 7-6 win over Ritsumeikan Uji where ace Arihara gave up 6 runs while striking out 13 and walking 8, he comes back with a 2-hitter against Miyazaki Kougyou with 10 K's and only 2 walks.
The same goes for Chuukyoudai Chuukyou. Morimoto looked less than stellar against Moriokadai Fuzoku going 8 innings, giving up 4 runs, while only striking out 2 and walking 5. Against Shinkou Gakuen though, he struck out 9 while yielding only 3 walks in a 2-1 victory.
Certainly both pitchers seem to be hitting their stride now. The question is, who will be in top form now?
Kouryou (Hiroshima) - Chuugoku At-large
2B Fukuda Shuuhei
SS Toyota Takamitsu (#9)
LF Kuramasu Takahiro
1B Maruko Tatsuya
RF Tokuda Shinyuu (#13)
3B Sanda Tatsuya (#6)
CF Makoshiba Daiki
P Arihara Kouhei
C Shintani Atsushi
Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi) - Tokai Runner-up
RF Ogiso Ryou
CF Iwatsuki Yuuma
P Morimoto Jyunpei
C Isomura Yoshitaka
LF Iwaikawa Yuuta
2B Fujinami Daisuke
3B Fukushima Hirotaka
1B Horii Yasuhiro (#13)
SS Kawamoto Takeshi
11:10 - First pitch!
Oh... not a good start for Morimoto. He walks leadoff batter Fukuda.
Toyota bunts him over to 2nd...
Morimoto gets ahead of Kuramasu 1-2, but what? Kuramasu is heading to 1st???
Oh! Isomura is called for catcher's interference!
Conference on the mound now. Oofuji-kantoku needs to settle things down now.
But no! Maruko with a single to left! And Fukuda's being sent home!! Throw from Iwaikawa is cut off and Kouryou is on the board! 1-0!
Makoshiba with a grounder through the left side! Kuramasu holds at 3rd!
Sanda with another base hit through the left side! Kuramasu scores! Maruko being waved home! Throw from Iwaikawa... not in time!! It's 3-0 Kouryou on the 2-run single by Sanda!
Tokuda with another grounder to the left side! This time Kawamoto has it. NO! He loses the handle and the ball trickles away! All safe!
Oh, E6, and the game may be slipping from Chuukyou's hands in the 1st inning!
Arihara up, not really swinging away and strikes out looking on a full count.
Shintani the 9th batter to come to the place here in the 1st...
Hard grounder to the left side! Fukushima is up with the nice play and goes to 2nd for the force to end the inning.
But Kouryou sends 9 batters to the plate and scores 3 quick runs.
Arihara looks a little better to start getting Oogiso to strike out swinging.
But then he turns around and walks Iwatsuki.
Unlike Morimoto, he settles down. getting Morimoto to ground to 2nd, and Isomura to hit a comebacker for the 3rd out.
Morimoto still doesn't look all that good. Fukuda, leading off the 2nd straight inning, gets a base hit through the right side.
Anf after Toyota bunts him over for the 2nd straight time, Kuramasu lines one to center! Fukuda holds up at 3rd. Runners at the corners for Kouryou!
Maruko looking to try and end it early here! But he strikes out swinging! Fukuda taking off for 2nd! Isomura up with the throw... and they get him! Strike 'em out throw 'em out double play!
Just like that Morimoto's out of the jam!
Arihara continues to look like the better pitcher on the mound.
Iwakawa strikes out swinging to start the inning. Then Fujinami grounds to 1st.
Kawamoto hangs in there fouling off pitches, then a pitch in the dirt inside appears to hit him! Couldn't tell from what I saw.
Horii up, and he grounds one up the middle past a diving Fukuda! Makoshiba bobbles it in center and Kawamoto takes off for 3rd! Runners at the corners for Chuukyou!
But Fukushima hits a lazy fly. Kuramasu secures it and Arihara is out of the jam!
Morimoto can finally say... "At last!". He gets his first 1-2-3 inning as he gets a popup from Makoshiba, a grounder to 3rd from Sanda, and a comebacker from Tokuda.
Now if only the offense could get going...
Oogiso has no such luck striking out looking.
Iwatsuki grounds to 3rd, and a nice pick by Maruko completes the play.
And Morimoto can't help himself out, flying out to left. Arihara is looking sharp, and his off-speed stuff is going over for strikes and freezing the batters.
Arihara with a hard hit to the left side. Kawamoto over to get it, but it's just off his glove and rolls away from him! Arihara on with a leadoff single!
Shintani trying to lay down the bunt, but Arihara for some reason hesitates before taking off and is thrown out by Morimoto! Not sure what happened there...
Oy. Morimoto walks Fukuda for the 2nd time, this iteration on 4 straight.
Oofuji calls another conference trying to stem the incoming tide.
Toyota looking to bunt? Pulls it back for ball 1. Now he swings away, but flies out to left for the 2nd out.
One more to go for Morimoto as Kuramasu steps up having already reached base twice today...
Morimoto gets ahead 1-2... but throws one in the dirt... another one low and now the runners are taking off...
SANSHIN!! Morimoto gets him to swing at another pitch low and the inning is over! Morimoto gets out of another jam!
But he can't keep doing this and expect his team to win. He needs to settle down, and soon.
Isomura first-pitch swinging... but grounds out to 3rd.
Iwaikawa with a groundout to short.
And Fujinami grounds to 2nd. Arihara making short work of the Chuukyou batters for the 2nd straight inning. Not looking good for them right now...
Morimoto still having some issues. After striking out Maruko on 3 straight, he turns around and walks Makoshiba.
Nakai-kantoku putting on the hit-and-run! But Sanda flies out to left and Makoshiba has to return to 1st.
Eh? Nakai is pinch hitting for Tokuda. #5 Yamauchi is coming in. And on a 3-1 pitch, he singles through the left side!
Arihara up now looking to extend his lead.
But he hits a grounder to short! Kawamoto up with it, takes his time, and makes the throw to 1st to end the inning. Morimoto continues to allow baserunners, but not allowing them to score.
#12 Ninomiya comes in for Yamauchi and takes over at 3B.
Kawamoto with a grounder past a diving Fukuda for a leadoff single!
Horii bunts him over into scoring position for Fukushima. Can they finally get on the board?
Grounder back to Arihara! He gets it, looks Kawamoto back and throws to 1st. 2 down!
Back to the top of the order and Oogiso.
SANSHIN!!! Oogiso gets caught swinging at a pitch down and away for strike 3! Arihara doesn't let the leadoff hit get to him and Chuukyou is denied!
We head to the break with Kouryou still up 3-0, but Arihara is in full control right now.
Morimoto through 5 is already sitting at 92 pitches. Will he make it to the end?
Shintani with a drive to left! Iwaikawa going back... it's off the wall! He's in with a leadoff double!
Fukuda up looking to bunt him over... fouls it back.
Swings away, singles though the right side! Runners at the corners! Uh oh!
Toyoda with a short pop up! Fujinami with it, throws to 1st??? Double play???!!!
Fukuda was off the bag, and was thrown out at 1st??!! WHY? There's no reason to be off the bag at all! Big baserunning blunder but Kouryou there!
And with Kuramasu striking out swinging, yet another opportunity by Kouryou is wasted. They may be up 3, but it's certainly not impossible.
And the longer you leave a good team in it, the better a chance they get back in it.
Iwatsuki tries the bunt single, but Arihara fields it cleanly for the first out.
Morimoto with a liner down the left field line! Sanda up with it, but Morimoto's in with a double!
Isomura goes down swinging on a ball in the dirt. It gets away from Shintani a little allowing Morimoto go reach 3rd. 2 down.
Iwaikawa desperately looking for a base hit falls behind 0-2. Barely fouls one off... Fights another one off... Just gets a piece of an inside pitch...
SANSHIN! Iwaikawa swings and Shintani is able to hold it for the 3rd strike! Arihara gets out of the jam and Kouryou holds the 3 run lead!
Wonder if the message in the dugout was to make Morimoto pitch. Count goes full on Maruko before he grounds out to 1st. Makoshiba does the same, and earns a walk.
Morimoto slider gets away from him and hits Sanda. Runners at 1st and 2nd with one down for Ninomiya.
Ball in the dirt and the runners take off! Isomura with the throw, but not in time! Runners at 2nd and 3rd!
Nakai-kantoku calls for the squeeze and Ninomiya lays it down! Horii quickly with it, but has to go to 1st! Makoshiba scores and it's 4-0 Kouryou on the well-executed squeeze!!
Arihara goes down swinging, but finally they push through another run! Chuukyou's deficit stands at 4 with just 3 innings to play...
Arihara breaking out the slow curves now. 2 straight to Fujinami and he grounds back to Arihara. Kawamoto flies out to left.
And another slow curve gets Horii to ground out to 2nd. Through 7 now, and Chuukyou just can't do anything against Arihara and time is quickly running short.
Shintani with a shot down the left field line... fair! It goes to the foul pole as Shintani walks in with his 2nd double of the day!
Fukuda looking to bunt again, but Morimoto is pitching out. Falls behind 2-0.
Swings away! Hot shot right to Horii! He has it and touches 1st for the out! Shintani has to hold!
Toyoda with a grounder to short. Kawamoto with the play and Shintani once again has to say at 2nd.
Kuramasu with a hit to center. Iwatsuki charging in... dives.. can't get it! It bounces in front of him! Shintani comes around 3rd and he scores! Kuramasu hustling on the hit reaches 2nd! 5-0 Kouryou!
#16 Okamoto comes in to pinch-run for Kuramasu.
Maruko up with a chance to extend the lead further, hit a dribbler up the 3rd base line! Morimoto over to get it, but Maruko running through the bag beats the throw!
Finally! Someone who runs THROUGH the bag!
Runners at the corners with 2 down for Makoshiba. Grounder back up the middle. Snagged by Kawamoto! Throw to 1st... in time! But Kouryou has extended the lead to 5 making the task just that much harder.
#15 Eguchi comes in for Okamoto and plays left.
#16 Kojima in to pinch-hit for Fukushima... but grounds back to Arihara for the first out.
Oogiso with the safety bunt! Maruko charging in, but can't get the throw to 1st in time. Infield hit!
AH!! Grounder to 3rd by Iwatsuki! Ninomiya with it, goes to 2nd for one, relay by Fukuda... TWO! The double play wipes out the runners and the inning! They're down to their last 3 outs!
#10 Asano comes in for Kojima and relieves Morimoto. But he stays in and moves to SS, while Kawamoto moves to 3rd.
And one wonders if Asano should have come in sooner. He winds up striking out the side in order. Could he have prevented the other 2 runs?
Morimoto up, and Arihara gets him swinging at a ball in the dirt for the 1st out.
あれ? Nakai-kantoku decides to make a pitching change! #10 Ueno comes in for Maruko and takes the hill. Arihara moves over to 1st. Maybe he wanted to get the dangerous batter out of the way first in Morimoto.
Isomura up with one down, hits a grounder to the left side. Toyoda running into the gap gets it! Throw to 1st... short! Arihara can't pick it and Isomura's safe!
Iwaikawa up now, and he hits a blooper to shallow left! Eguchi running in... can't get to it! That goes in for a single and now there's runners on 1st and 2nd!
Things not looking so good for Ueno. But he gets Fujinami to fly to right! And while Isomura tags up for 3rd, there's only one out left!
Kawamoto looking to extend the game. He bloops one to left center! Eguchi charging in again... can't get this one either! Isomura rounding 3rd, and scores! 5-1!
Uh oh. Nakai-kantoku with a conference on the mound. This should be simple, and yet it has the possibility of getting out of hand.
Horii now trying to continue the rally. But he hits a high popup! Fukuda under it... makes the catch! Game set!
Kouryou has done it! They have defeated the summer champions Chuukyoudai Chuukyou in superb fashion by a score of 5-1! That will set up the first semifinal matchup between Nichidai-san and Kouryou!
As for Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, they certainly made a good run to take both titles, but their journey ends in the semifinals. They just couldn't get anything started against Arihara, and Morimoto got off to a slow start. They'll have the next couple of months to regroup before making their push to repeat as summer champions.