Moving onto the matinee game, I think we have two teams who both have something to prove. By now, you've heard me repeat time and time again about how Ichinoseki Gakuin was passed up for senbatsu. Now that they've won the Iwate title, and without any real challenge, I think they're out to show the committee that they were deserving of a selection. Ace Takahashi Takahiro's peripherals match that of every other pitcher mentioned today, so I won't go into too much detail. Offensively, the team doesn't take walks, not steals bases, so they generate all their offense at the plate. Possible key players are leadoff batter Araki, and middle of the lineup batters Miyamoto and Enomoto.
Yuugakukan, in a recurring theme, has been one of the better teams in Ishikawa in recent years, and now finally returns after a 5 year absence. Now, one can argue they were not challenged by any of the stronger teams in Ishikawa, and that is certainly the case. But, they're here and they're ready to play. Apparently this year there are a lot of pitch-to-contact pitchers, and Tsuchikura Masaru falls into that category. The middle of the lineup is where they generate the bulk of their offense, so Yamagishi, Matsuzawa and Kobayashi will look to knock out Takahashi early.
Ichinoseki Gakuin (Iwate)
LF Araki (#2)
2B Miya Jyunnoussuke
SS Miyamoto (Ryouji)
CF Enomoto (Hiroki)
3B Matsuda (Jyun)
RF Satou Daiki
P Takahashi Takahiro
C Kushima Kyouhei (#12)
1B Sugawara (Ema?)
CF Mizuno Issei
SS Taniguchi Ippei
C Yamagishi Yuusuke
3B Matsuzawa Hiroki
RF Yamanaka Nobuyuki
1B Kobayashi Keita
P Tsuchikura Masaru
LF Kondou Daigo (#15)
2B Yamamoto Ryou
13:20 - First Pitch!
Tsuchikura starts off the game by walking Araki. Miya bunts him over to 2nd for Miyamoto. He's left stranded there as Tsuchikura retires the next two batters on ground balls.
Taniguchi gets a 1-out single through the left side, but Takahashi gets two flyouts to end the inning.
Tsuchikura continues to sit down the Ichinoseki batters to start the game, as the batters can't make good contact.
It would appear that Takahashi gets his deception thanks in part to a high leg kick and an interesting followthrough.
Whatever it is though, it's effective as he too retires the side in order.
Tsuchikura continues to baffle the Ichinoseki batters, mixing up his pitches. Once again, he induces grounders and it's a 1-2-3 inning.
Kondou gets lucky as an irregular bounce goes high on Miya and deflects to center.
But after a sac bunt, he's thrown out on 3rd on a hit and run as Mizuno grounds to short.
Taniguchi strikes out to end the inning, and the game remains scoreless.
Ichinoseki is getting the ball in the air now, but they're still easy flyouts.
Enomoto lines one to the right side, but Kobayashi makes a reflex catch at 1st! Nice play!
The wind blowing in from right is really helping out Takahashi has the flyballs Yuugakukan is hitting are just dying in the outfield. 3 up and 3 down, and combined the two pitchers have faced 3 more than the minimum.
2 groundouts and another K and Ichinoseki Gakuin is sat down once again.
Well, Takahashi registers two more K's in the 5th on balls in the dirt. Another quick inning. 52 minutes for 5 innings, 2 hits and 1 walk between both teams.
Neither team has been able to gain any traction so far, so it's quite possible that one run will decide it.
Ichinoseki's batters are getting a bit more aggressive at the plate, swinging away early and often.
But they continue to hit easy groundballs and continue being retired in order. Outside of the walk to the first batter of the game, Tsuchikura has retired 18 straight batters and has a no-hitter.
Yamamoto with a grounder under the glove of Miyamoto and into center. Back to the top of the order, and Mizuno does square around to bunt.
All he's done though is take the first 3 pitches. He finally attempts a bunt, but pops it foul! Kushima runs back, dives, but can't make the catch.
Count goes full, and he lays it down! Takahashi's throw to 2nd, HIGH! It goes into center and the runners advance! Big chance for Yuugakukan!
Numata-kantoku with a conference.
No squeeze! Taniguchi fists one into center for a base hit! Yamamoto comes in to score and we have our first run! 1-0!
Runners at the corners and still no out. And now Takahashi falls behind Yamagishi 3-0...
and walks him to load the bases.
Numata-kantoku calls time, and pulls Takahashi for #11 Numata (Taketo).
Numata hits Matsuzawa and another run comes home. 2-0.
And Yamanaka blasts a ball to deep center! That's going to clear the bases for sure! All 3 runners come in to score on the double and the flood gates open wide at 5-0!
Numata finally records his first out on a grounder by Kobayashi, but now Yamanaka sits 90 feet away from home.
Yuugakukan runs a safety squeeze and Tsuchikura lays it down! Numata elects to go home, but it's not in time! 6-0 for Yuugakukan now!
#16 Nagata Yuushi comes in to PH for Kondou and grounds out to the 2B Miya.
Yamamoto comes up for the 2nd time this inning. And gets plunked on a 1-2 pitch from Numata...
And the barrage continues. Mizuno with a drive to right, and despite the wind, almost carries it to the wall. It's a bases clearing triple and it's now 8-0...
And a walk to Taniguchi means that's it for Numata. #10 Masuda Ryousuke comes in, a side thrower. Anything to get out of the inning.
Yamagishi with a deep fly to right, but this time the wind knocks it down. Daiki is there for the catch and the inning is mercifully over. But Yuugakukan has blown the game wide open at 8-0.
With the long break, can Tsuchikura keep the no-hitter alive?
Miya with a liner down the left field line.. FOUL! That was awfully close to ending the no-hit bid.
But Tsuchikura strikes him out for the 1st out of the inning.
Miyamoto hits a grounder to 1st. Kobayashi with the pick and records the 2nd out.
Enomoto reaches down and bloops one to left! Yuuji runs in, but can't get there! It falls for a base hit and there goes the no-hitter!
Matsuda flies out to right to end the inning, but Ichinoseki Gakuin breaks up the no-hitter!
Not a good start to the 8th for Masuda as he walks leadoff batter Matsuzawa. He makes up for it though as he picks him off.
And then walks Yamanaka....
But he retires the next 2 batters and Ichinoseki goes back to pick up the sticks and perhaps get a run.
Masuda gets Ichinoseki's 2nd hit as he bloops one over Yamamoto's head.
But with #15 Abiko Yuu PH for Kushima, he gets thrown out on a strike 'em out throw 'em out DP to end the inning.
Defensive changes as Araki goes behind the plate and #7 Ogasawara (Akihisa) comes in for PH Abiko and takes over in LF.
#16 Nagata Yuuya comes in to PH for Yuushi. Strikes out swinging.
Masuda was on strike away from retiring the side in order, but Mizuno drive a deep ball to left that Ogasawara cannot run down at the wall and Masuda books it for a triple.
Taniguchi then hits a short blooper that Ogasawara again cannot catch up to, and Mizuno comes in to make it 9-0.
Yamagishi with a drive to right center! That's off the base of the wall! The throw goes wide as Yamagishi slides into 3rd, but he does not go home. Perhaps a bit of mercy as Yuugakukan reaches double digits at 10-0.
Numata-kantoku calls for his 4th pitcher in #17 Hebiguchi Yoshi.
But Hebiguchi can't throw a strike. And when he does, Matsuzawa singles through the left side, making it 11-0.
And now he falls behind Yamanaka 3-1. But a grounder back to Hebiguchi should end the...
The throw is a bit high and Sugawara can't secure it. Everyone's safe...
Thankfully, he gets Kobayashito to fly out to right to end the inning.
Last ups for Ichinoseki Gakuin. Can they avoid the shutout?
#13 Oyamada Kenya comes in to PH for Sugawara, but grounds out to short. Araki grounds back to Tsuchikura for the 2nd out.
But Miya singles to left for Ichinoseki's 2nd hit!
Ichinoseki cannot avoid the shutout as Miyamoto K's to end the game.
It's a disappointing game from Ichinoseki Gakuin's standpoint. They were in step with Yuugakukan for the first 5 innings, but things eventually fell apart and there was little relief in the bullpen.
For some, it reinforces the committee's decision to omit Ichinoseki from senbatsu. But outside of those two innings it wasn't all bad for them.
As for Yuugakukan, they'll return back to their hotel and watch the next game to see who their next opponent will be.Tsuchikura's performance today, facing just 3 more than the minimum was impressive, but it's hard to say that really was his true talent level.
We'll see though in 6 days...