Day 10, and now it's crunchtime. The next 2 days will determine the Best 8 field.
The first ticket to be punched could go to the team who sorely underachieved in senbatsu - and that's Hifumi and Toukaidai Sagami.
They faced a very scrappy squad in first-timers Suijyou who took a strategy of patience against the sidearmer Hifumi, and before the game got out of hand, it worked. Hifumi walked and/or hit 8 in his 8 innings of work, and only struck out 3.
Of course, you have to score runs to win, and Sagami can do that - including Hifumi himself. 6 different players had an extra base hit, and Hifume added a homerun to that too.
Standing in the way is Toki Shougyou, who in their opening game overpowered Yazu 15-2. Given the unfortunate performance of the Yazu pitching staff, it's hard to tell what part of it is actual offense, and what part can be attributed to the opposition.
Toukaidai Sagami should have an easy game to the Best 8. But we'll see on the field.
Toki Shougyou (Gifu)
RF Takahashi Yuuya
3B Kaneko (Atsumi)
CF Katou Hidekazu
1B Yada Ryouichi
SS Tanake (Kenji)
LF Hayasaka Shun
2B Matsui Shun
C Miyauchi Shintarou
P Yada Atsunori (#10)
Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa)
RF Watanabe Masaru
LF Ijyuuin Jyun
2B Tanaka Shinta
C Ooshiro Takumi
P Hifumi Shinta
3B Fukuyama Ryou
SS Someya Ryuutarou
1B Ooshiro Kenji
CF Idzichi Akira (#18)
8:30 - First Pitch!
Hifumi again showing some control issues as he walks Katou with 2 down. Ryouichi goes down swinging to end the inning.
2nd year starter Yada Atsunori off to a bit of a shaky start after walking Watanabe. But after a sac bunt, he gets a groundout to 2nd, and a flyout to left by cleanup batter Takumi to end the inning. Not bad to start.
Hifumi falls behind leadoff batter Tanaka 3-0, but comes back to induce a comebacker.
Hayasaka goes down looking on a slider outside, and Matsui grounds out to 1st.
The control issues still persist, but it's not as pronounced so fat.
Grounder to the right side by Hifumi. Matsui runs it down on the outfield grass, but his throw pulls Ryouichi off the bag. It's ruled a base hit considering the difficulty of the play.
Sac bunt and groundout later, it's runner at 3rd with 2 out.
Kenji with a grounder to short. Tanaka with it, throws to 1st. Ryouichi has to jump off to field it, but lands before Kenji reaches for the 3rd out.
Two down, and Hifumi walks his 2nd batter in Takahashi. Tokisho tries to create something as he takes off for 2nd onthe 2-1 pitch and reaches easily.
And while Kaneko does hit a good ball to center, Idzichi is able to get back and catch it for the 3rd out.
Idzichi hit by Atsunori to start the inning. Watanabe isn't bunting and instead it's a hit and run!
Grounder to short, and Tanaka goes to 2nd?!! Idzichi slides in safe! All safe!!!
Runners on 1st and 2nd with no down! Kudou-kantoku calls a conference.
And again Monma-kantoku calls for a hit and run! Fouled off by Ijyuuin. 2-1, and another hit and run!! Again fouled off!!!
Another hit and run! Ijyuuin this time hits it fair, but it's right at Tanaka! He flips to 2nd and gets Watanabe. Matsui throws as he's taken out and Ryouichi has it for the double play!!! Nice turn by the infield!
Tanaka first pitch swinging and grounds to short! Tanaka with it and goes to 1st to end the inning!!! 2nd year ace Atsunori gets some help from his defense and the game remains scoreless!!
Hifumi still working with more efficiency than last game. A failed safety bunt between 2 choppers up the middle fielded by Someya mean a 1-2-3 inning for Hifumi.
Hifumi's taking the offense into his own hands! He collects his, and Sagami's 2nd, base hit as he lines one past a diving Kaneko down the left field line for a double!
Fukuyama follows that up with a single to center! Katou throws to 3rd and it's over everyone! It stays in play, but Fukuyama advances to 2nd on the errant throw.
Someya punishes the defensive miscue! He singles to center! Hifumi scores! Fukuyama rounds 3rd, and Miyauchi doesn't handle the throw from Katou! Fukuyama scores and it's 2-0 Sagami! Someya takes 2nd on the throw home.
2 down, and Idzichi gets hit again!
Watanabe grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but Sagami finally breaks through!
Matsui is hit with one down, and Kudou-kantoku elects for a bunt for a one-timer. And they call on #17 Yamazaki Yuuji to PH for Atsunori which means that we're probably seeing Maeda next inning.
Yamazaki flies out to center on the first pitch, and the inning is over.
Indeed #1 Maeda Takumi takes the hill.
And he has no problems with Sagami's 2-3-4 hitters and we head to the break with Sagami only with a 2-0 lead.
Takahashi with a leadoff walk, and Kudou elects for another bunt.
But neither Katou or Ryouichi can do anything with the opportunity and while he's walked/hit 4 batters, he hasn't given up a hit.
Tokisho is showing more patience at the plate, but they have to do it at all times, not just to get one batter on. So perhaps take off the bunt when a runner gets on and make Hifumi throw strikes.
Maeda continues to shine coming out of the bullpen. He retires Hifumi for the 1st time this game via the K, gets a groundout from Fukuyama, and strikes out Someya to end the inning.
Being patient only works though if the pitcher isn't throwing strikes. Right now though, Hifumi is.
He gets ahead of Tanaka and gets him to ground out to 2nd. Gets ahead of Hayasaka and strikes him out looking on 3 straight! And while he's behind Matsui 2-1, he grounds out to 3rd to end the inning!
Hifumi has a no-hitter through 7!
Maeda continues to keep Tokisho in the game, retiring the 8-9-1 batters in order for 9 straight.
Trying anything at this point, Kudou sends in #15 Itou to PH for Miyauchi.
And he lines the first pitch into left for a base hit!! The no-no is broken!
Maeda bunts him to 2nd, and Takahashi tries a pop safety bunt!! It gets past a charging Hifumi, but Fukuyama is there to field it and throw to 1st for the 2nd out!
Kaneko up to somehow get Tokisho's 2nd hit.
But he pops it up! Ijyuuin over on the left field foul line catches it for the 3rd out!
Tokisho breaks up the no-hitter, but they're still scoreless after 8.
#12 Fujita Tsubasa takes over at C for PH Itou.
One down and Tanaka drive one to right field! Takahashi plays it off the wall for a double!
Takumi then singles to left! They wave Tanaka in, and the throw goes to the infield! 3-0 Sagami, and that might just put a wrap on this game!
Maeda retires the next 2 batters, but the game is all but over now that Sagami has added an insurance run.
Hifumi completed the complete game 1-hitter by retiring the Tokisho batters in order and the game flew by in a mere 90 minutes!
Of course, when the teams combine for just 7 hits, and both pitchers tend to work fast, it happens.
Tokisho didn't have the benefit of waiting for pitches as Hifumi was for the most part on his game today, which mean that they had to swing away and were for the most part unsuccessful. All they can do is tip their had to Hifumi and his efforts and start practicing for the upcoming year.
Toukaidai Sagami's offense is still a point of concern, and they'll have the couple of days to work on it as they have a spot in the Best 8.