So perhaps for the enthusiast looking for exciting games yesterday, they were a bit disappointed as each of the games wound up being rather one-sided.
Now, I can't guarantee that today's will be any better, especially the first 2, but we can always give it a shot, can't we?
While there generally aren't big crowds in the first couple of rounds, I wonder if things will be a little different given that the morning game features the defending champions of Koushien.
Yep. Morimoto Jyunpei and Chuukyoudai Chuukyou take the field against Nanyou Kougyou of Yamaguchi.
A comment made to me in the live chat room brought something to my attention. Deanna asked me if, "Morimoto was still the ace number." I looked at the roster and said sure, he was still listed at #1.
But, in looking at Chuukyou's last 2 games of the Aichi tournament, turns out the majority of work was given to #10 Asano Fumiya, a 2nd year player.
So I wonder if the savior of the team last year has been "relegated" to the closer position once again, a la Honda Takuto from Kyoto Gaidai Nishi a couple of years back.
Now Asano is in the same mold as all the starters from yesterday. Not a flame thrower, avoids walks like the plague.
As for Chuukyou as a whole, they faced no competition at all in the Aichi tournament, giving up just 3 runs in 6 games and whose smallest margin of victory was 5 runs (and that was in the championship game).
Having shown such a strong performance, it's no surprise the defending champions have several players to watch out for at the plate. They include C Isomura Yoshitaka, and the entire outfield of Iwaikawa Yuuta, Iwatsuki Yuuta, and Ogiso Ryou.
For Nanyou, they too had fairly little trouble getting through the prefecturals with the exception of the finals against Houfu. That was thanks in large part to ace Iwamoto Akira who finally breaks the mold of the soft tosser. He can hit the low-mid 140's and sports a slider, curve and forkball. Now, while he gives up an extra walk or two (3.38 BB/9), he counters that by striking out batters (8.78 K/9), and not giving up a whole lot of hits (3.60 H/9 - although yes, that could be in part due to his defense).
2 other players to possibly look out for are CF Kubo Hayato and SS Mokudai (Shinya).
However, Iwamoto and his squad from Nanyou will have their work cut out for them if they want to advance into the next round. It's not often a team gets a chance to repeat and actually has a squad that could actually do so.
Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi)
RF Okano Shintarou
C Kawamura Ryuuta
CF Kubo Hayato
SS Mokudai (Shinya)
1B Adachi Naoki
LF Ieshige ?
P Iwamoto Akira
2B Shinde Tatsuya
3B Tanoue Tetsu
Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi)
RF Ogiso Ryou
1B Kawamoto Takeshi (#6)
SS Morimoto Jyunpei (#1)
C Isomura Yoshitaka
LF Iwaikawa Yuuta
3B Horii Yasuhiro
2B Fujinami Daisuke
P Asano Fumiya (#10)
CF Iwatsuki Yuuma
8:30 - First Pitch!
Asano gives up a one out single to Kawamura, but a 4-6-3 double play erases that quickly and they head back to the dugout.
After retiring Ogiso on a change looking, Kawamoto hits a hard grounder to left. After Morimoto advances him with a grounder to 1st, Kawamoto is stranded when Isomura flies out to center.
Mokudai leads off the 2nd with a single to right. But a bunt attempt by Adachi fails as Isomura throws out Mokudai.
And then Asano induces yet another 4-6-3 double play to end the inning!
Mokudai with a nice stop in the gap, and a strong throw back across to 1st to get a diving Iwaikawa!
And with 2 down, Mokudai with another stop in the gap, but this time it's a bit deeper and Fujinami easily beats the throw.
Iwamoto from what I've had time to notice doesn't have a good pickoff throw like the other yesterday, and has a fairly quick delivery from the stretch.
Slow curve to Iwamoto to start! Asano locates his fastball pretty well, although I haven't seen the same from his offspeed stuff.
He gets 3 grounders and it's a quick inning.
It's a repeat of the top of the inning. The Chuukyou batters aren't making good contact on the ball and are either hitting lazy flies or ground balls right at fielders.
It's another 1-2-3 inning, but I still don't really see Asano throwing strikes other than with his fastball. Kubo hits a hard liner, but Iwaikawa stretches up and makes the grab. That's a bit scary.
Iwamoto's form is a bit off it seems, and he does have a tendency to throw up in the zone. Ends up walking Isomura. Who then takes off on a ball in the dirt and reaches safely.
Iwamoto is pretty good at pounding inside and gets Iwaikawa on such a pitch.
But Horii lines one to center, and Chuukyou has runners at the corners!
But Iwamoto gets Fujinami to fly out to center to end the inning!
Mokudai with his 2nd hit of the day! He's quickly bunted to 2nd, but Ieshige goes down swinging for the 2nd out.
Iwamoto delivers a base hit to right, but they send Mokudai home even though he's rounding just as the throw is going home. Suffice it to say, it wasn't close.
Iwamoto gives up his 2nd walk of the game, and when Iwatsuki goes to bunt, Adachi tries to let it go foul.
It never does.
So now Ogiso goes to bunt, but it's back to Iwamoto and he throws out Asano at 3rd!
Kawamoto makes it 3 bunts in a row as Oofuji-kantoku elects to bunt the runners along.
The tactic doesn't work here as Morimoto flies out to center.
These games are going by pretty quickly, as we haven't hit the hour mark yet.
I was about to write on a 1-2-3 inning when Okano's grounder to short gets airmailed by Morimoto.
And now Okano takes off perfectly on an offspeed pitch by Asano and Nanyou has a runner in scoring position.
Liner to right center by Kawamura! Iwatsuki races over, and the ball hangs just enough for him to make the running catch!
Now it's Iwamoto with a slow curve...
Isomura gets under another ball and pops out to short. Again, Chuukyou is having trouble making solid contact.
And even with Iwaikawa's base hit, it was a looper just over Adachi's head.
Hm. Just as I say that, Horii lines one hard to left. Chance here for Chuukyou!
Iwaikawa takes off for 3rd! SAFE! WOW!! What a call by Oofuji-kantoku?
Oofuji now calls a squeeze on the 3-1 pitch! But Fujinami fouls it back!
Count is full and he has to swing away... Hard grounder to 3rd! Tagami with it, goes to 2nd for one, relay to 1st...
IN TIME!!!! DOUBLE PLAY!!!
Wow. Nanyou turns a great 5-4-3 double play to end the inning! Iwamoto is out of the jam!
So can Nanyou take advantage of the momentum shift?
Kubo with a gapper to right center!! He's running around the bases as the ball goes to the wall, and he's in with a leadoff triple!
And what's worse for Asano is that Mokudai is up! And boy is he stubborn at the plate.
Liner to right! Ogiso running in, makes the catch! Kubo charging home, but doubles back!
Adachi's turn, and he lines one!
But it's right at a drawn in Fujinami! 2 down!! Will Nanyou leave the runner at 3rd?
Grounder to 3rd by Ieshige....
IT'S OFF HORII'S GLOVE! It goes behind Morimoto and Kubo scores! 1-0 Nanyou!
Looks like the ball may have taken a bad bounce, but Morimoto's expression as the ball goes off the glove says it all!
And now Iwamoto singles back up the middle!
Looks like that's it for Asano. Morimoto moves to the mound, Kawamoto moves to short, and #3 Fukushima Hirotaka takes over at 1st.
Shinde looking to extend the rally... but instead screws himself into the ground on a change.
Can Nanyou hold onto the slim lead now?
Not a good start as Iwamoto walks new 1B Fukushima, who's immediately bunted to 2nd.
Ogiso with a deep ball to left! Ieshige running back, but it's over his head! Fukushima rounding 3rd and he scores! Douten!
The throw from Ieshige is over Mokudai's head!!!
Ogiso running home, and Chuukyoudai Chuukyou takes the lead! 2-1, gyakuten!!
Iwamoto retires the next 2 batters, but Nanyou thanks to a miscue find themselves down 2-1!
So from up 1-0 to down 2-1 with just 6 outs to go...
Nanyou won't necessarily go down quietly. Okano hits a one out single to left.
Oh. And on a throw to 1st, it looks like Okano has cramped up. They try to take care of it at first, but eventually has to be piggy backed to the dugout. Yamazaki heads over to the other dugout for a sec, comes back, but Okano is still getting his right leg worked on.
And after about a 7-8 minute delay, he's back at 1st.
On the first pitch to Kawamura, he hits one to right, but he just gets under it too much. Ogiso runs back and easily fields it.
Kubo also swings at the first pitch, and he pops it up. Kawamoto under it for the 3rd out, and Nanyou will be down to their final 3 outs, provided they can hold Chuukyou here in the bottom of the 8th.
Iwamoto does his job, easily retiring the heart of Chuukyou's order in order. So it's crunch time for Nanyou...
Good leadoff batter for Nanyou as cleanup batter Mokudai steps in.
Change in for strike, change in the dirt and Mokudai is fooled...
He pops it up! Isomura gives way to Horii and Mokudai is retired!
Ieshige with a grounder to 3rd. Horii throws to 1st and there's 2 down!
Up to Ieshige now.
Oooh... A ball up and in... Uwa... another ball up and in... 3-1 now, fouled off... full count.
And the pitch is low! Tying run on base as it's ace on ace with Morimoto pitching to Iwamoto!
#16 Nakahara Daiki comes in to run for Ieshige...
Iwamoto falls behind 0-2, then fights off a 1-2 fastball... and another... ball in dirt, 2-2...
Fly to left! Iwaikawa under it, makes the catch, and it's game set!
Chuukyoudai Chuukyou advances thanks to timely hitting, and a bit of luck... If they want a chance to beat Soujitsu, they'll have to play better than that.
It's a bit of a crushing loss for Nanyou. Having worked so hard and getting a 1-0 lead against the defending champions, it all gets thrown away on an errant throw. While the baseball gods may not have been on their side, it's a painful way to go home. Hopefully, the Nanyou players won't take it too hard.