So Kounan has advanced to the finals with a chance for the haru-natsu sweep. But the question is now, who will they face?
Toukaidai Sagami has had what can only be considered an interesting run to the Best 4.
Ace Hifumi showed a lot of wildness so far, walking and hitting quite a few batters. And yet, he throws a 1-hitter against Toki Shougyou. It's hard what to make of him because he is still considered the top prospect and it could be argued that he's effectively wild, but unless someone's able to fix his control issues, it's hard to see him as a top of the rotation pitcher.
Fortunately for him, his offense is trying to do a good imitation of Teikyou's offense, scoring enough runs to make his pitching a non-issue.
But what happens when you face another good pitcher? That's what Nakagawa Ryou represents from Narita. For those that saw their run in the Chiba prefecturals, you had to figure there was something special there - especially his 1-hit performance in the finals.
He's continued his dominating style into Natsu Koushien. Taking a good look at him with the crooked hat and the emotion he shows, he kind of reminds me of a Felix Hernandez when he's dialed in.
A good chunk of his success I believe has been his splitter. Because pitch recognition may not be developed for a lot of the players out there, this could be a very effective pitch if thrown correctly - and in Nakagawa's case seems to be used with very good results.
But now he's facing off against a very good offense. Will he have the same success as he has had against everyone else?
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)
2B Oogi Ryouta
CF Oka Michiya
1B Kaneko (Yasuhiro)
C Kondou ?
LF Takahashi (Kyuu)
SS Kimura Yuuji
RF Katsuda Yuuto
3B Anzui Daiki
P Nakagawa Ryou
13:41 - First Pitch!
Watanabe with a grounder to short. Kimura with the stop but he fumbles the ball! Watanabe is given an infield hit. Ijyuuin bunts him over to 2nd.
Tanaka lines one into the left center field gap! Watanabe rounding 3rd and he scores! Sagami on the board quickly at 1-0!
Takumi with a single to right! Tanaka comes around to score and it's 2-0 Sagami!!
AH!! Takumi takes off for 2nd before the pitch and Nakagawa has him picked off! Throws to Kimura and he's out!
Hifumi with a single through the right side! 4 hits off Nakagawa here in the 1st!
Fukuyama grounds into a fielder's choice at short to end the inning, but Sagami's offense quickly puts Narita in a hole here in the 1st!
Oogi with a chopper over Hifumi's head! Tanaka goes over to field it, but it goes under his glove and Oogi's in with a leadoff single!
Oka goes down 1-2, but manages to lay the bunt down.
Kaneko with a swinging bunt. Takumi picks it up in front of home and throws to 1st for the out. Oogi doesn't advance.
Cleanup batter Kondou becomes Hifumi's first walk of the day.
And then Takahshi becomes Hifumi's 2nd walk! Manrui for Narita!
Hifumi throws behind Kimura for ball 1!
And Kimura swings on the next pitch??!! He hits a fly to center! Idzichi under it for the 3rd out!
I though Narita was getting it in that they needed to let Hifumi work hard and get walks off of him... and then Kimura goes and does that....
Nakagawa settling down after that rough first inning. He retires the bottom 3 of the order with little difficulty which should build some confidence.
Hifumi records his first K as he gets Katsuta swinging to start the 2nd.
Anzui with a liner just above Hifumi's glove into center!
No bunt from Nakagawa, but he pops it up! Tanaka with it for the 2nd out.
And Oogi can't check his swing and goes down for the 3rd out.
Watanabe tries for the bunt single, but Anzui comes in and his throw to 1st is just in time for the out!
Ijyuuin gets his first hit of the game as he singles to the right of 2nd.
AH!!!!!! Wild pitch from Nakagawa goes off Kondou's glove and to the 3rd base dugout! Ijyuuin advances to 2nd!
Tanaka though flies out to left for the 2nd out.
Takumi with another timely hit as he takes an easy swing into center to score Ijyuuin. 3-0 Sagami!
Hifumi goes down swinging for the 3rd out, but Toukaidai Sagami adds on to their lead!
Oka with a single to right to lead off the 3rd for Narita! He's bunted over to try and cut the deficit.
Kondou with a hard liner to right for a single! Too hard as Oka has to hold!
Takahashi with a single to right! Oka scores! Narita is on the board at 3-1!
And Kimura is given a dead ball? It seemed like a swing, but the home plate umpire calls a dead ball! It's manrui for Narita!
Katsuta up and they're back to taking pitches. He takes ball 4, and Kondou comes in to make it a 3-2 ballgame!!
Anzui with the push bunt squeeze and both Kenji and Tanaka converge on the ball, and no one's covering 1st!
Kenji sees that Kimura was trying to score from 2nd! He throws to 3rd as he's trying to scramble back and he's caught in a rundown! He's tagged out, but allows Katsuta enough time to advance to 3rd. But, Takahashi's run means that Narita has
Nakagawa with a drive to right center! That's past the outfielders and to the wall!!!!!!!!!
Katsuta scores! Anzui all the way from 1st, he scores on Nakagawa double!! 逆転！！！！！ Narita has come back and taken a 5-3 lead!!!!!
And now Oogi walks!!!! That's Hifumi's 5th walk/dead ball on the day!
Oka with a drive to right, goes just right of the right field foul pole!!!
Hifumi finally gets Oka to ground to 2nd to end the inning, but not before Narita finally finds a way to take advantage of Hifumi's wildness to the tune of 5 runs!!!
Fukuyama with a single to right for a leadoff single. Someya bunts him along to get a run back.
Kenji first pitch swings and grounds to 2nd. Kimura's throw is a bit offline, but Kaneko makes the tag for the out.
Idzichi waves badly at a slider in the opposite batter's box for the 3rd out!
Kaneko with Narita's 8th hit of the day, a grounder through the right side for a single.
But Kondou wipes it out! He hits a ball back to Hifumi who starts the 1-6-3 double play!! 2 outs!
Takahashi with a drive to center. Idzichi running back, running back....
Takahashi with the homerun to dead center field off Hifumi!!!!!!!!!!! It's 6-3 Narita!
Kimura grounds out to 3rd and the side is retired. But Narita plays add on, and will need to against this offensive squad!
Watanabe hit by Nakagawa on the 3-2 pitch, giving Sagami a leadoff runner.
And now Ijyuuin draws a walk! Runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs for Sagami!
Hit and run! Monma calls for the hit and run, but Tanaka fouls the 1-1 pitch off!
1-2 and he lays the bunt down! Runners advance 90 feet for Takumi.
Pop up in foul territory! Kaneko to the camera well... and tumbles in! He doesn't make the catch, but more importantly, he's ok.
And he hits a ball to deep center! That'll get the run in as Oka makes the catch.
Oka drops the ball on the transition! The 3rd base coach is furiously sending Ijyuuin home!! He scores!! The miscue costs Narita a run as Sagami pulls within one! It's 6-5!!!!!
Hifumi with a single through to left and the rally keeps going!
Fukuyama follows that with a single back up the middle!! Gyakuten runner on for Sagami!
Soomeya with a liner to right! Katsuta charging in, dives....
AND THE BALL GOES UNDER HIS GLOVE!!!!!!
The ball goes under his glove and all the way to the wall!!! Hifumi scores!!!! 動転！！！！！ Fukuyama comes around 3rd.. he scores!!!!!! 逆転！！！！！！！！！！
Toukaidai Sagami has come back from down 6-3 to lead 7-6 here in the 5th!!!
Kenji flies out to left to end the inning, but we have one heck of a ballgame on our hands!!!
Back with a second chance to hold the lead, Hifumi does a good job in the 5th retiring the bottom 3 batters in 10 pitches.
We're at the break, and boy do we need a breather! The lead has switched hands twice on big innings on both sides! We're barely through the midway point and 13 runs have been scored in this semifinal!!!!
Idzichi with a drive to center! That's over Oka's head! One hops to the wall and he's on with a leadoff double!
Watanabe with no bunt, but grounds to 3rd effectively acting as a bunt.
They don't need it!!! Ijyuuin takes a 1-0 curve deep to left! That's over Takahashi's head and takes a hop to the wall! Idzichi scores and it's now 8-6 Sagami!!!!
Tanaka moves him over to 3rd as he grounds out to short.
Takumi with a pop fly in the left field foul territory. Anzui has a beat on it, but misses! And Kimura falls down and almost rolls on Anzui's legs! But they're both fine. Another foul fly and Kaneko goes tiptoe on the camera well wall to try and catch it but can't get it.
And now Takumi with a shot down the left field line, FAIR! Ijyuuin comes home for the 3rd time this game and it's 9-6!!!!
Grounder to 3rd by Hifumi, and Anzui stabs at the ball, but he misses and it goes by him into left! Takumi scores and it's 10-6 now for Sagami!
Fukuyama with a hit to center! Oka goes to 3rd with the throw, but it's not in time to get Hifumi and Fukuyama advances to 2nd!
Ojima-kantoku with a conference...
Someya flies out to left to end the inning, but Narita finds themselves down more than when the whirlwind of action started!!!
Top of the order for Narita, and Oogi takes a walk!
Oka swinging away grounds to 1st! Kenji to 2nd for the AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He throws it wide of Someya and it's off his glove!!! All safe!!!
Kaneko tries to lay down the bunt, but he can't! He swings away at the 1-2 pitch and grounds to 2nd! Tanaka flips to Someya for one, throw to Kenji... double play!!!
Bad break for Narita as an ideal scoring situation now has them behind the eight ball! 2 down and runner on 3rd for Kondou.
But Hifumi walks Kondou! Runners on the corners for Takahashi who hit the HR in the 4th!
Liner by Takahashi! But it's right at Watanabe for the 3rd out! Narita loses a great scoring opportunity and they're down to the final third of the game...
Kenji with a single past a diving Oogi into center.
Idzichi with the three bunt, but the ball just goes foul before stopping and he's out.
Watanabe with a liner to center! Oka back up, reaches his glove and make a near snocone catch!
Ijyuuin with a hot liner as well, but that's right at Katsuta for the 3rd out.
Katsuta with a one out single to left center.
Anzui in a good battle with Hifumi pops one up in foul territory down the right field line. Tanaka and Watanabe converge on the ball. AH!
Tanaka makes the catch and they just avoid colliding!
Nakagawa with a hard shot at Kenji, but he blocks it and steps on the bag for the 3rd out.
One down and Kaneko makes a great diving stop! He races Takumi to the bag and just beats him out!
Hifumi won't let Sagami go quietly in the 8th as he lines one down the left field line for a double!
But after a stubborn 8-pitch AB, Nakagawa gets Fukuyama to ground out to short.
Oogi with a chopper to the left side. Fukuyama can't field it and while Someya runs it down, Oogi easily beats out the throw.
Kaneko up, but he hits another grounder to 2nd! Tanaka starts the 4-6 3 double play and that's the 2nd consecutive DP he's hit into!
Kondou first pitch lines a single to right!
Takahashi first pitch swinging lines a single to left!!
And now Kimura is hit on the hands!!! Manrui for Narita!!!
The players gather together on the mound as Monma-kantoku calls a conference.
Katsuta steps in, hoping to atone for his error.
But he hits a grounder to 3rd! Fukuyama takes it to the bag and the inning is over! Could that have been Narita's last real chance??
Someya with a grounder to 1st. Kaneko with the great diving stop! Flips to Nakagawa, but Someya slides ahead of Nakagawa's foot!
Monma, not satisfied with a 3-run lead (and who couldn't blame him?) has him bunted over to 2nd.
Idzuchi with a ball right back to Nakagawa. He turns to Someya and catches him off the bag! They run him down, but Idzichi replaces Someya at 2nd.
Watanabe with a drive to center! Oka goes back to the wall, but the ball beats him to it! Idzichi scores! Watanabe heading to 3rd! Relay throw from Kimura nails him at 3rd for the 3rd out!
But Sagami adds one more insurance run to make it 11-7!!
#14 Takatsuka Ryouta comes in to PH for Ishii. First pitch swinging hits a drive to deep left center! But it hangs up and Ijyuuin catches it for the first out.
Nagakawa first pitch swings and he flies out center. 2 quick outs for Narita!
But Oogi doesn't give up! He draws a walk!
Oka up to try and keep the game going...
Hifumi strikes out Oka to end the ball game!
In a back and forth game, Toukaidai Sagami gets the last word as they rally in the 5th and 6th innings to retake the lead for good.
While the performance today was a bit sloppy on both sides, it also speaks to the drive that the teams had to fight past the fatigue, past the tiredness, all for the chance to win the Natsu Koushien.
Narita certainly gave the tournament a run for their money as the surprise team out of Chiba charged through the brackets making it all the way to the best 4. And while they certainly had a chance here against Toukaidai Sagami and fell short, it certainly was a deserving team that made it this far. They may be disappointed, but should also be applauded for their efforts.
For Toukaidai Sagami, they'll have less than a 24 hour turnaround before they face Kounan for the title. However, they suffer from the same problems as Kounan with an pitcher possibly suffering from fatigue with little time to recover...