Now that we've gotten through opening ceremonies and the first couple of games, the grind begins as teams who have to play the extra game fight to advance. Teams and oen-dans will cycle through throughout the day, day after day all hoping that they will return in a couple of days.
The first teams to begin this day of 4 are two schools who only recently have become prominent in the 高校野球 scene.
First there's Kita-Ootsu, who clamped down when it mattered, defeating Shiga Gakuen and Hikone Higashi both by a score of 3-1. However, their offense in both of those games was left a bit wanting. But 2 sources of offense exist in C Yamaguchi Genki, and 1B Nishino Sou.
Now in all probability, the key for them will lie in the defense. Ace Okamoto Takuya is by no means a strikeout pitcher (4.63 K/9), but he is almost Cliff Lee like in his walk rate (0.51 BB/9). So he induces a lot of contact, and his defense will have to be up to the task to keep themselves in the game.
Now Tokoha Tachibana comes back as the 2nd time representative of Shizuoka. They were successful as long as their ace Shouji was. But with him gone to the Hiroshima Carp, #18 Hasegawa Gen was promoted to the ace number. He's not an overpowering pitcher, hitting the mid 130's. But peripheral-wise, he's just about an exact copy of Okamoto (5.22 K/9, 1.26 BB/9), so here again the defense will have be on their game.
Offensively the team seems a little better off than Kita-Ootsu, but is more of an all around performance then specific people per se. But possible people to watch are leadoff batter Konota and CF Yamagishi Tatsuhiro.
LF Kitabayashi Masaya
2B Oono Shinpei
C Yamaguchi Genki
RF Kotani Koutarou
3B Kitano Riki
CF Nakamura Takao
1B Nishino Sou
SS Murai Shouta
P Okamoto Takuya
Tokoha Tachibana (Shizuoka)
3B Konota (Taiji)
SS Inazumi Kouhei
RF Hayakawa Kenichi
C Ushiba (Tomoya)
1B Miyaji Shuuhei
CF Yamagishi Tatsuhiro
2B Kido Kentarou
P Hasegawa Gen
LF Miura Yuuta
8:30 - First Pitch!
And Kitabayashi starts Kita-Ootsu off by hitting a shuuto that runs back onto the plate to left center for a double!
Miyazaki plays for the run, bunting him over.
And Yamaguchi takes a pitch down the 3rd base line under a diving Konota! That scores Kitabayashi and Kita-Ootsu is quickly on the board! 1-0!
Hasegawa retires the next 2 batters, but they'll hit the sticks already behind.
Tokoha is aggressive with the bats, swinging early in counts against the side-armer/submariner. Well, it's not a true submarine, but somewhere in between.
Anayways, at this point the Tokoha batters are hitting the ball on the ground hard. One by Inazumi is fielded quickly by Murai, but his throw is high and into the camera well, giving Tokoha a runner at 2nd with 1 down. And while he does advance to 3rd, another grounder by Ushiba ends the inning
One down, and Nishino hits another gapper to left center for another double. Okamoto lays a perfect bunt, and Hasegawa's only hope is for the ball to go foul. Instead it hits a bump and stays fair.
Once again, Hasegawa is in a big pinch.
Murai chops at a ball inside and somehow hits it into the opposite field gap! That rolls all the way to the wall! By the time Hayakawa gets the ball in, it's a bases clearing triple and it's now 3-0 Kita-Ootsu!
Hasegawa retires the next 2 batters, but this is disconcerting if you're Tokoha. Kita-Ootsu is hitting the ball hard and in the gaps. If they're not careful, this game could go much like Matsumoto Kougyou yesterday...
It's 1st year Kido who gets Tokoha's first hit, as he lines one down the left field line for a 2-out double. That's the first ball not hit on the ground.
Hasegawa also hits it into the air, but it's a pop up to Kitano to end the inning.
I think Okamoto's fast pace on the mound is also throwing off the Tokoha batters.
Again Kita-Ootsu is hitting Hasegawa hard. Yamaguchi leads off the 3rd with a liner down the left field line for a double. A grounder from Kotani moves him over, but Hasegawa leaves him stranded there.
Okamoto continues to make quick work of the Tokoha batters, inducing even more grounders. Inazumi gets a two out single to left, but yet another grounds ball ends the inning.
If somehow the Tokoha batters could get the ball in the air, they might find success.
The game is flying by, with 3 innings completed in just 34 minutes.
Hm. Okamoto must be seeing something, because this time he bunts the ball down the 1st base line for his 2nd bunt single! Makes sense considering that Hasegawa falls off to the 3rd base side and Miyaji was caught a bit off guard.
Kitabayashi with a single through to right, and it gets past Hayakawa??! The ball goes all the way to the wall and Okamoto scores all the way from 1st! It's 4-0!
On replay it just plain looks like the Hayakawa just took a bad angle and let the ball get by him.
Hasegawa compounds things by walking Oono. But a fly out by Yamaguchi ends the inning.
Tokoha cannot afford many more mistakes now.
Once again, it's another quick inning for Okamoto. Just 6 pitches to retire the side. He's no doing anything special other than getting a lot of ground ball outs.
Kotani with a drive down the right field side, and that's gone for the first homerun of the tournament! And apparently he hits a HR on his own birthday! It's 5-0 now.
Hasegawa's control issues persist as he walks Kitano. #17 Watanabe (Taketo) is warming up in the bullpen.
Nakamura with a seeing eye single through the left side, and Kurosawa-kantoku has seen enough. He calls time and has #18 Miyazaki Satoru (a first year!) relieve Hasegawa. Hasegawa has the look of disappointment has he walks off.
Miyazaki immediately goes to work, getting Nishino to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. And he gets Okamoto to ground to 3rd to end the inning. Not bad for a 1st year.
Plus, I think there's something odd about Miyazaki's delivery, but I'll check on that next inning.
Another quick inning from Okamoto. And he records his first K as well. 13 ground ball outs, that's just ridiculous.
Also, I think Okamoto actually changes his arm angle which is why I got confused. He has a side-arm, slightly submarine, and a 3/4 delivery as well. So that's where his deception comes from.
I think I see where I thought Miyazaki's delivery was odd. He throws over the top and thus throws downhill.
It seems to be working as now Kita-Ootsu's batters are hitting the ball on the ground. Outside of a hit batter, Miyazaki records 3 quick outs.
Tokoha is starting to run out of time, and Konota resorts to trying for a bunt single. Okamoto fields it down the 3rd base line and makes a nice throw.
Inazumi gets his 2nd hit, another liner to left. Kurosawa rightly instead of playing a bunt guaranteeing an out, goes for the hit-and-run. It winds up being a ground out, but it gives the chance of a base hit.
Ushiba with a hard grounder to the left side, and Kitano makes a great diving grab! He spins around, throws it to 1st, and Nishino makes a great pick at1st for the 3rd out!
Miyazaki finally gives up his first hit, a lead off single to Kotani.
And now Kitano singles to center. Miyazaki in his first pinch as Kurosawa-kantoku calls a conference.
Oh... A change in the dirt advances the runners...
They get one out as Nakamura grounds to 3rd. Runners hold.
And Nishino with a drive to right center! Hayakawa running it down, dives... just out of his reach! Both runners come in to score, on yet another triple and it's now 7-0.
Things get worse. Okamoto already showing bunt for the squeeze, dives out at a ball down and away and successfully lays it down. 8-0 and the game is well in hand.
Murai singles and gets picked off to end the inning, but it probably doesn't matter at this point.
Yet another 1-2-3 inning for Okamoto and 18 ground ball outs. And there was a point where it looked like he went submarine, side arm then 3/4 on the same batter.
Oono with a 1-out bloop double, but outside of the hiccup in the 7th, Miyazaki has been very effective basically being Tokoha's version of Okamoto..
Looks like Miyazaki's day is done. #10 Araki (Ryouta) comes in to PH for him.
And Araki gets the first ground ball hit! It's a comebacker that Okamoto can't field! He gets high fives as he is replaced by #16 Oohata (Genki) at first.
With one down, Konota finds another hole in the infield as he singles to left!
Kurosawa-kantoku calls a quick conference.
But he doesn't get out unscathed!
2 down, and Hayakawa scorches one to right center! That gets past the fielders and all the way to the wall!! Oohata scores! Konota scores all the way from 1st! Tokoha is on the board at 8-2!!
Ushiba takes the first pitch from Okamoto and drives it to left!!! Kitabayashi to the wall...
That was a submarine delivery by Okamoto and Ushiba just crushed! It's 8-4!!
Miyaji grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but Tokoha has cut the deficit in half. It's still 4 runs, but not impossible by any means!
#17 Watanabe Kento comes in to replace Miyazaki on the mound.
And promptly gives up a triple on a ball hit by Kitano to the right field wall. Sac fly from Nakamura makes it 9-4.
Nishino with a single to right, and one wonders the cost of relieving Miyazaki.
Okamoto with yet another bunt, moves him along.
Murai with a drive to left, and that leaves the yard! 11-4.
Kitabayashi pops out to end the inning, but insurance runs are always helpful.
Changes for Kita-Ootsu. #10 Yokoe (?) comes in for Okamoto and takes over on the mound. #16 Mekata comes in for Yamamoto and takes over at 1st.
And outside of a walk, Tokoha is retired in order.
It turned out to be a dominating performance by Kita-Ootsu this game as they erupted for 11 runs on 18 hits. Combined with Okamoto's arm angles, Tokoha was just outmatched.