So we hit the backend of the quarterfinal games for today. And boy, the matinee game should be a lot of fun. Teikyou and 2nd-year ace Itou versus strikeout machine Shimabukuro and Kounan.
Teikyou has not had their prototypical tournament. In both games, they have had to rally in the late innings to defeat Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku and Mie. The offense hasn't been as strong as in Koshiens past. But it has been enough to get them through. The question is either, how long can they do this or when will it finally turn around?
Kounan finally broke through the first round in 3 attempts in defeating Kanzei. They then built on that success by routing Chiben Wakayama albeit with a weakened pitching staff. Now they face a much harder task in Teikyou. Is the offense up to it? Because we all know that the offense is the weakest part of their game.
Kounan (Okinawa) - Kyushu 3/4
2B Kuniyoshi Tairiku (#6)
CF Ketashiro Kai
3B Ganeko Moritsugu
1B Maehira Daiki
RF Mekaru Keisuke
C Yamakawa Daisuke
LF Irei Shinya
P Shimabukuro Yousuke
2B Ooshiro Kouji (#15)
Teikyou (Tokyo) - Tokyo Champions
3B Taguchi Masaki (#4)
2B Yoshioka Shun (#5)
LF Sonoda Takato
CF Kubota (Hirotomo)
P Suzuki Shouta
SS Matsumoto Gou
1B Shimada Naoto
C Yasuo Toshiya
RF Watanabe Yuusuke (#13)
13:44 - First pitch!
Tairiku takes the first pitch and grounds it right back to Suzuki. It goes off his glove but he retrieves it and makes the throw to 1st for the out.
Then Ketashiro is caught swinging at a pitch down in the zone for out number 2.
Suzuki gets a grounder from Ganeko to 2nd, but Yoshioka's throw to 1st is offline and pulls Shimada from the bag! E4!
And now Maehira sends a grounder through the left side for a base hit! Could Kounan be getting to Suzuki?
Mekaru with a grounder to short. Kouji goes to 2nd to retire the side and Kounan's 2-out rally fizzles away.
Shimabukuro looking strong to start. He strikes out Taguchi, then does the same to Yoshioka.
But Sonoda lines a single to right. Mekaru fumbles it though, and Sonoda gets to 2nd!
And then Shimabukuro walks Kubota! Teikyou with their own 2-out rally!
Shimabukuro shuts it down as well, getting Suzuki to groundout to 1st.
Suzuki settling down now? Yamakawa grounds out to 2nd after working the count full.
Irei can't hold up his swing, but the ball goes past Yasuo and to the backstop! Irei sprints to 1st and reaches base on the passed ball!
Gakiya-kantoku then has Shimabukuro bunt. They're looking for the timely hit.
Kouji though grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Matsumoto with a leadoff single to left! Shimada looks to bunt him along, but he bunts it too hard! Shimabukuro up with it and he goes to 2nd! Kouji double clutches though, and his throw is late! Still they get the leadoff runner.
Yasuo up, but he pops it up! Ganeko in foul territory secures it for the 2nd out.
Last batter Watanabe up, and it's a wild pitch by Shimabukuro! Shimada advances to 2nd!
No matter though Shimabukuro strikes Watanabe out to end the inning.
Tairiku with the leadoff hit for Kounan as he singles through the right side! Ketashiro immediately bunts him along into scoring position and we have our first real threat!
Ganeko up... Grounder to the right side... it's through! Tairiku rounding 3rd, and Watanabe can't find the handle on the ball! Tairiku comes home... and scores! It's 1-0 Kounan!!
Maehira looking to continue the rally. And Ganeko takes off! Ball is in the dirt and Ganeko is easily in! Now a base hit could extend the lead!
But Maehira strikes out waving on a pitch outside! 2 down!
Mekaru up to try his luck.
But Gakiya sends Ganeko to 3rd!! Yasuo up with the throw, and it's in plenty enough time to make the play! 3 out!
Kounan gets the first run of the game, but run themselves out of the inning. Perhaps pressing too much?
Taguchi with a grounder to the left side. Kouji runs it down, but a diving Taguchi beats it out. (STOP SLIDING!)
*ahem* Anywho, Yoshioka moves him along to 2nd. Teikyou threatening to tie it right back.
And now Ogura-kantoku sends Taguchi! It's a pitchout! Throw by Yamakawa in plenty of time to get Taguchi! That's 2 runners now thrown out at 3rd!
That baserunning decision really hurts now! Sonoda shoots one through to left for a single!
Cleanup batter Kubota up, and Sonoda takes off for 2nd! Throw by Yamakawa is offline and Sonoda has 2nd!
Now Shimabukuro walks Kubota and there's runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 down!
But Suzuki harmlessly grounds back to Shimabukuro who makes the easy play at 1st to end the inning.
Early on, both teams are getting runners on base, but the pitching has tightened up almost every time.
Mekaru gets the 2nd leadoff runner on as he sneaks one up through the middle for a single.
Yamakawa looking to bunt, but he bunts it too hard! Suzuki up with it quickly and fires to 2nd! One! Throw to 1st... Two! Double play wipes out the chance!
And Suzuki strikes out Irei to end the inning! Kounan still clings onto that slim 1-0 lead!
Shimabukuro makes short work of Teikyou here in the 4th. Matsumoto flies out to right, Shimada pops up in foul territory to 3rd, and Yasuo offers at a pitch way outside, and looks up as if to say, "Why did I do that?".
Shimabukuro makes Suzuki work leading off the 5th. 8th pitch he makes good contact with, but it's a liner right to Sonoda.
Kouji is also making Suzuki work, running it full again. But he has success taking the 7th pitch back up the middle for a base hit!
And Gakiya-kantoku puts up the hit and run! But Tairiku hits a hard grounder right back to Suzuki! He goes to 2nd, gets the lead runner! Throw to 1st.. Two! Another double play by Suzuki and Teikyou ends the possible threat!
Ah! Shimabukuro allows a leadoff runner as Shimabukuro hits Watanabe to start the 5th.
Taguchi with the late show of bunt! But he pops it up! Shimabukuro charges in and makes the catch! Maeda-kantoku can't be too happy with that...
Yoshioka early on swinging away, but then shows bunt! Pops it up again, and Gakiya makes the catch! 2 down!
Sonoda works the count on Shimabukuro, and earns a walk. Runners on 1st and 2nd now as Gakiya calls for a conference.
Kubota looking for the timely hit, also works the count on Shimabukuro. And Shimabukuro hits him! At least that's what they call. But it's hard to tell if it hit him or the bat.
But now it's manrui for Teikyou with Suzuki at bat!
And after whiffing on the first pitch, Maeda has a bench player relay instructions to Suzuki.
But he soon finds himself down 0-2. Shimabukuro is pitching away, and again. Count goes even. Goes inside a little, but leaves it over! But Suzuki just fouls it off!
Again over the plate! This time he hits it fair! But he's gets too much under it! Ketashiro gets under it for the 3rd out!
We head to the break with Kounan still holding on to the 1-0 lead. We've seen before though that such a lead is not safe at all. Will Kounan be able to add on, or will they have to continue holding for dear life?
Delay to start the 6th as Kubota's hand is being worked on. Looked like he was hit after all.
He finally emerges, takes his glove and heads to center.
Ketashiro works Suzuki hard, then sneaks one past a diving Yoshioka into right for a leadoff hit! Ganeko moves to 2nd.
And a soft liner to center by Maehira! Ketashiro was holding up so he only advances to 3rd. Runners at the corners and Maeda sends a player to talk to Yasuo.
Mekaru up... SQUEEZE!!!
Suzuki up with it, but Ketashiro sprints home! Yasuo moves from home and tells Suzuki to concede the run, it's 2-0 Kounan!
Yamakawa looking for another timely hit. Hits one to center, but Kubota is under it to end the inning. But Kounan adds a crucial run!
Shimabukuro strikes out Matsumoto for only his 5th K of the game.
Shimada sends a good drive to left, but the crosswinds knock it down and Mekaru has it for the 2nd out.
Yasuo with a drive to center! Ketashiro running back, plays it off the wall! Yasuo slides in with a two-out double!
Can Watanabe get that run back?
Count goes to 2-2...
SANSHIN!!! He's caught looking on an inside pitch for strike 3! Nice pitching by Shimabukuro to get out of the inning!
#16 Agena comes in to pinch hit for Irei, but grounds back right to Suzuki for out number 1.
Shimabukuro grounds out to 2nd for the 2nd out.
But Kouji puts one into right for a base hit... and then Gakiya puts on the hit-and-run! Tairiku sends it to the right side, and an out of position Matsumoto can't get back to it! Kouji motors to 3rd and there's runners at the corners with 2 down!
Ganeko looking to get the timely hit. But Gakiya isn't waiting! He sends Tairiku! Throw to 2nd by Yasuo is cut off by Matsumoto, but Tairiku stopped midway! Matsumoto fumbles it, but Tairiku just stands there! Matsumoto gets it and starts running down Tairiku. Throw to Shimada as he runs him to 2nd, but the Kouji runs for home! Shimada runs to 3rd, then throws, but it's high! Everyone's safe!!!
And that's costly!! Ketashiro bloops one into left center! Kouji scores... Tairiku rounds 3rd... he scores! The error cost them 2 runs, and Kounan now leads 4-0!
That's it for Suzuki. But it's not Itou, but instead #10 Yamazaki who comes in. He comes in for Watanabe while Suzuki goes to RF.
Ganeko up and Ketashiro takes off for 2nd! Throw from Yasuo is offline and he has the base!
Ganeko with a blooper! That's past the outstretched hand of Yoshioka! Ketashiro scores!! It's 5-0 Teikyou and there's still no sign of Itou!!
Maehira up and Ganeko takes off for 2nd! Yasuo double clutches and the throw isn't in time! They have another stolen base!
But Maehira strikes out to end the inning. Not before Kounan puts up 3 big runs here in the 7th!
#16 Agena stays in the game in LF.
Teikyou can only go quietly as Shimabukuro gets the top of the order to go down 1-2-3 as Taguchi flies out to new LF Agena, Yoshioka flies out to center, and Sonoda grounds out to 2nd. Teikyou's time at Koshien may be drawing to a close.
Looks like the team is in cruise control right now, just wanting to shorten the game and make give their team some rest. Mekaru grounds to 2nd, Yamakawa pops up to 2nd, and Agena strikes out looking.
Shimabukuro is in cruise control, at least it seems that way. He makes short work of the middle of the Teikyou lineup, getting Kubota to fly to right, Suzuki with a comebacker (that does hit Shimabukuro, but he's ok), and Matsumoto to ground to 3rd.
Yamazaki makes short work of the bottom of the order, striking out Shimabukuro and getting Kouji to ground to 3rd.
But then he walks Tairiku, and then allows a grounder to right by Ketashiro.
It almost looks like another bad inning, but Ganeko flies out to center to end the inning.
3 outs left for Teikyou...
Shimada flies out to left...
Yasuo strikes out looking...
#18 Yamada pinch-hitting for Yamazaki... flies out to center...
And there you have it, Kounan takes down Teikyou and heads to the Best 4! Itou never takes the mound in the quarterfinal game and has to watch as his team goes down! Perhaps he wanted to save him, but it doesn't matter if you save him if you don't advance.
For Kounan, Shimabukuro continues his march to the championship. He's just 2 games away from reaching that goal!