Well, we're off to our last game which finalizes our Best 8. And who better to end it with than with Dr K himself Shimabukuro Yousuke? While he has certainly been good, there have been times during this tournament where he seemed rather hittable. The competition will only get harder from here, so he'll have to up his game to prevent an unceremonious exit.
Sendai Ikuei was the receiver of good fortune when they came back to beat Kaisei 6-5 with 3 runs in the top of the 9th. And then they were in an early run-scoring battle against Nobeoka Gakuen, only to be in a pitchers duel winning in 12.
They won't have that luxury of playing hang on like that against Kounan. They'll have to tighten the ship if they want to move on.
Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
RF Shouji Hikari
2B Sasaki (Ken)
CF Satou Takanori
3B Inoue Shinji
LF Sanpei Masahiro (#3)
SS Hino Soumei
P Tanaka Kazuya (#10)
C Saga Akira
1B Kimura Kengo (#1)
2B Kuniyoshi Tairiku
CF Ketashiro Kai
3B Ganeko Moritsugu
1B Maehira Daiki
RF Mekaru Keisuke
C Yamakawa Daisuke
LF Irei Shinya
P Shimabukuro Yousuke
SS Ooshiro Kouji
17:41 - First Pitch!
Lights go on here at Koushien as we approach 6 PM.
One down and Sasaki singles to right. Satou is swinging away, and... well... goes down swinging.
Inoue up 3-0, and fouls a ball off his foot. He's on the ground for a bit with the "itai" spray.
The count goes to 3-2 and...
Shimabukuro gets him looking on a 3-2 pitch on the inside corner! Inoue was heading to 1st, but denied!
Kuniyoshi with a blooper into center for a base hit! He's bunted into scoring position.
Ganeko with a grounder to the right side! Sasaki tries to run it down, but can't! Kuniyoshi running at full speed heads home! Throw from Shouji.... and Kuniyoshi slides outside and scores! 1-0 Kounan!
Hit and run! Maehira pokes through the ball through the left side and we have runners at the corners!
That gets Sasaki-kantoku to call a conference on the mound.
Mekaru with a fly to center. Satou makes the catch and Ganeko tags up from 3rd to score making it 2-0!
Yamakawa with a single through the infield into right. Maehira advances to 2nd.
Irei grounds into a fielder's choice at 2nd to end the inning, but Kounan is wasting no time in this game!
Sanpei with a blast to center! Ketashiro running back! Back to the wall??!!
Sanpei with a solo homerun to dead center field!!!!!
Wow. Wow. Wow. 2-1!
And now he's just barreling down on the batters. Hino strikes out looking on an outside fastball. Tanaka goes down on the fastball on the outside corner. After a single by Saga that Ooshiro could reach, he strikes out Kimura on a slider to end the inning.
But an impressive homerun from Sanpei pulls Sendai within 1!
Shimabukuro walks to start the inning. Gakiya elects to use the hit and run! Ooshiro strikes out swinging, but Shimabukuro reaches 2nd safely!
Kuniyoshi with the liner to left! Shimabukuro being sent home! Throw is cutoff and the margin is 2 again! 3-1!
Ketashiro tries the drag bunt up the 1st base line but can't outrun it and Kimura makes the tag for the 2nd out.
Ganeko grounds to 3rd to end the inning, but Kounan will not let Ikuei get close that easily!
Shimabukuro with his first 1-2-3 inning of the game, retiring the top of Ikuei's order.
Maehira gets hit by a Tanaka pitch and bunted immediately to 2nd.
Yamakawa with a single to right, and Maehira stops at 3rd. Runners at the corners as Sendai Ikuei calls another conference.
SQUEEZE!!! But it's a safety squeeze! Tanaka looks the runner at 3rd, then goes to 1st for the 2nd out!
AHHHHH!!!! The 0-1 pitch gets away from Saga! He goes back to get it, but Maehira comes in to score! 4-1 Kounan!
Shimabukuro grounds out to short to end the inning, but an unforced error by Ikuei costs them another run!
Shimabukuro gives a one out walk to Sanpei, but otherwise retires the batters. He didn't strike anyone out this inning, and they're taking some pitches.
One down for Kounan, and Kuniyoshi singles to center for his 3rd hit of the day!
Ketashiro draws a walk, and that looks like that's going to be it for Tanaka for now. Kimura takes the mound, Sanpei moves to his numbered position, and Tanaka goes to left.
SANSHIN!!!!!!!!! Ganeko walks away as he takes strike 3 looking! 2 down!
SANSHIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Maehira goes down swinging for the 3rd out! Ace Kimura gets his team out of the jam!
Kimura with a one out single to left, but it's quickly erased when Shouji grounds into the easy 5-4-3 double play!!
Kimura records Ikuei's first 1-2-3 inning of the game. He's holding the fort as we go to break, but the offense needs to mount a counterattack in the 2nd half of the game.
Two down for Ikuei when Inoue hits a ball into the left field alley for a double!
Sanpei can't deliver this time though as he flies out to center.
One down and Ooshiro singles to right.
But Kimura has him picked off 2nd! Ooshiro goes to 2nd, and the throw from Sanpei is wide! Hino fields it but Ooshiro slides in safely!
Kuniyoshi walks and it's a situation for Ikuei!
But Ketashiro grounds to short! Hino to Sasaki to Sanpei! 6-4-3 double play ends the inning.
Hino with a drive to left center! That bounces to the wall! Hino in with a leadoff double!
And now he walks Tanaka! Tying run comes to the plate for Ikuei in Saga.
But Shimabukuro gets him looking for the 1st out! And Kimura flies out to center!
It's back to the top of the order and Shouji to deliver for Ikuei!
And Shimabukuro walks Shouji! Manrui for Ikuei! Shimabukuro in his biggest pinch yet!
Up to Sasaki now to stand and deliver.
Sasaki takes the 1-1 pitch for a strike and looks a bit shocked. But I can't tell if that's really questioning the call or getting instructions from the dugout.
Sasaki with a drive to center! Ketashiro running back, stops a good distance from the wall and catches it for the 3rd out.
Huge opportunity lost by Sendai Ikuei here in the lucky 7!
Kimura continues to pitch exemplary here in relief, retiring the 3-4-5 batters for Kounan with relative ease.
...but with 2 innings left to go, they need something here to give them a better chance.
Satou starts off the 8th, but first pitch grounds to 2nd.
Inoue with a good shot to right, but Mekaru is right there at the foul pole to make the catch.
And Sanpei strikes out swinging to end the inning. Only one inning to go...
Kimura retires the side once again. That's 13 of the 15 batters he's faced. He's done all he can do on the mound.
It's up to the sticks now to come through.
Hino goes down on a low slider. One down...
Tanaka with a chopper back to Shimabukuro! 2 down!
#7 Takata Ryouhei to PH for Saga, their last chance.
Fly to center! Ketashiro under it... game set!!
Kounan moves one step closer to realizing the spring/summer sweep! It was definitely not easy for Shimabukuro this time, but he buckled down and got the outs when he needed to! But he will have less than 24 hours to turn around and face Seikou Gakuin and ace Saiuchi. After the laborious effort tonight, it will be difficult.
For Sendai Ikuei, it certainly was a good run. They had one good opportunity to get back in the game in the 7th, but they couldn't deliver. Still they played very well in the tournament and shouldn't be sad about their run here at Koushien.