If you have a day off on Monday, and you were able to head down to Koushien, you would be welcomed with 2, very well known teams.
Your brunch game involves the storied Waseda Jitsugyou (or Soujitsu as it's better known) against Okayama's representative, Kurashiki Shougyou, who's back for the 2nd straight year.
They'll have their hands full, as it appears that the 2009 spring ace Onoda has actually been transitioned to the outfield with 3rd year Suzuki Kensuke taking over at the ace number. It's not often that you see a pitcher, much less the ace, moved out into a fielding position. Anyways, there's no recent videos on Suzuki, and the peripherals provided seem to indicate that while he does suppress hits (5.68 H/9), he ends up offsetting that by walking batters (4.83/9). While they did use other relievers such as #10 Uchida Masato and #11 Yagi Kentarou, it has the feeling that they'll ride Suzuki as long as they can.
Back to Onoda, he was moved out of pitching proabably to focus on his hitting, as he's now become the cleanup batter for Soujitsu. Surrounding him are two strong batters in CF Yasuda Konsu and C Tsuchiya Ryouta.
Soujitsu will be a big test for Kurasho's ace Shimada (Keita), who is one the softest tossers at Koshien this year (max of around 133). Doesn't walk anyone (1.24/9), but I think that'll be the least of his worries. #10 Senou Nobuo saw some action early in the prefectural tournament, but I think that will he'll be used only in an emergency case scenario.
Offensively, they'll have to generate that from the traditional 3-4-5 hitters in Egusa, Kawai and Ueda. But unless their team has improved from last year's team, chances for advancing are very slim.
Kurashiki Shougyou (Okayama)
2B Senou Kyouhei
RF Tatamida Kenta
SS Egusa Jyunpei
1B Kawai Yuutarou
LF Ueda ?
3B Nishitani Kazuma
C Fukui Ryou
CF Nagayasu ?
P Shimada Keita
Waseda Jitsugyou (Nishi Tokyo)
3B Shigenobu Shinnousuke
SS Manabe Kenta
CF Yasuda Konsu
RF Onoda Shunsuke
C Tsuchiya Ryouta
1B Sugai Natsuki
2B Fuzukzawa Kouta
LF Kakinuma Yousuke
P Suzuki Kensuke
11:00 - First Pitch!
Senou starts off the game giving Suzuki first at the plate. But after a 12 pitch battle, Suzuki gets Senou to fly out to left.
Suzuki retires the next 2 batters without as much trouble.
Shimada's missed with his first 4 pitches badly and it's a leadoff walk... Fukui comes out to talk to him.
Manabe makes the sac bunt hard for Senou, but he doubles back to make the play.
Unlike some of the other pitchers, Shimada is very deliberate and pays a lot of attention to the runners.
As for his pitches, he's throws 3/4 with a fastball only in the upper 120's with the fastball, and has a 110 change with a mid-110's slider.
After feeding Yasuda a ton of changes, he gets him to chase a fastball up and away.
And Onoda gets under a ball and flies out to deep center. I wonder how long it's going to be before the Soujitsu batters just key on the offspeed stuff...
Kawai somehow gets on top of a pretty high pitch and sends it back up the middle.
A sac bunt and a groundout advance him to 3rd. So it's up to Fukui.
But Suzuki gets him on a change in the dirt to end the inning.
Hm. When the bases are empty, Shimada is very quick. I mean, VERY quick.
So much so that Sugai actually steps out of the box during his AB.
Doesn't help as he gets him on a full count slider for strike 3.
And a grounder to 1st ends the inning. I'm beginning to think he actually changes his tempo. If that's true, that's pretty interesting...
Suzuki catches Nagayasu on a change for strike 3 to start the 3rd.
But Shimada goes after the first pitch and singles to left!
Senou with the safety bunt! Shigenobu calls for it and makes the throw. OUT! It's a bang-bang play at first, but Senou is called out!
Tatamida grounds to 2nd to end the inning.
After 2 quick outs for Shimada, he walks Shigenobu again. But for some inexplicable reason, Manabe swings at a 0-2 waste pitch...
I guess Shimada's throwing the fastball a little more so Waseda can't key in on it. Still find it interesting that Waseda can't really hit Shimada's pitches.
Kawai jammed on a 2-0 pitch but somehow manages to punch it through the middle for a base hit. Ueda strikes out and Nishitani pops out to short to end the inning.
Yasuda with Waseda's first hit, a single on a change to right.
But Onoda grounds to 3rd! Nishitani starts the 5-4-3 double play and erases the runner!
And Tsuchiya looks at a fastball for strike 3. Waseda bats continue to be quiet against Shimada!
Slow curve from Suzuki to start the inning. He raises the speed pitch by pitch and gets Fukui looking on a fastball.
And after a one pitch out to Nagayasu, he walks Shimada on 4 straight. So it's back to the top of the order and Senou.
But Senou flies out to center to end the inning.
Grounder to 3rd, and Nishitani can't get a handle on the ball! E5 and Waseda has the leadoff runner on, and bunted over to 2nd.
Hard grounder to 2nd by Kakinuma pops up on Senou, but he still has time to make the out. 2 down, runner on 3rd for Suzuki. Can he help his own cause?
YES! He bloops one to right! Tatamida comes in, but has no chance at it! Sugai comes in and the oen-dan begin singing Konpeki no sora! 1-0 Soujitsu!
And Shigenobu gets a hold of a pitch inside! That's over Tatamida's head and to the wall! Suzuki comes in all the way from 1st on the triple! 2-0 Soujitsu!!
Manabe strikes out for the 2nd straight time to end the inning, but the error by Nishitani to start the inning proves costly as we head into the break! There's still time for Kurasho, but can they score 2?
Two quick out for Suzuki, but then they pitch around cleanup batter Kawai. Not a bad gamble per se if you can get the next batter out.
And Suzuki gets him to golf one to left to end the inning.
Yasuda gets his 2nd leadoff hit here to start the 6th - a grounder back up the middle.
Onoda squares to bunt on the first pitch, but Izumi-kantoku takes it off. Onoda winds up being Shimada's 6th K.
And Yasuda gets picked off! Shimada show a quick pickoff move! Combined with Yasuda leaning the wrong way, and there's 2 outs!
Tsuchiya grounds out to 2nd to end the inning! The deficit stays at 2!
But time is starting to run out.
Nishitani with a grounder back up the middle. Fukazawa with the stop and makes an arching throw to 1st! But Nishitani slides and is called out!
(STOP SLIDING INTO 1ST!!!!)
Anyways, the next 2 batters are retired and they'll have to wait until next inning...
I'll say one thing about Shimada. He may not throw fast, but he's not afraid to throw a change or slider in an unfavourable count. He gets Sugai looking on a 3-2 change.
And he retires the next 2 batters on 2 pitches. Shimada's been doing his job...
Now the offense needs to give him some support.
Shimada up to start the inning, and he's been on both times. But Suzuki freezes him on a change of his own for the first out!
Senou too fall victim to the change, missing on a pitch down in the zone.
#17 Yoshida Yasunori comes in for Tatamida. He's supposedly their power hitter.
But Suzuki gets him on a fastball up. He strikes out the side, and now has 10 K's. Soujitsu 3 outs away from advancing to face the defending champs.
Yoshida stays in to play right.
Hm. It's starting to rain... And rain hard!
Chopper up the 3rd base line, Nishitani charges and makes a fine throw to 1st! Good play given the rain starting to come down!
The skies seemed clear earlier, but there were reports of big rain in the Mie area.
The rain doesn't affect Shimada as he retires the side in order...
Defensive change for Waseda. #14 Matsui Yoshinari comes in for Kakinuma to play left.
The rain seems to have left, almost as a sign of who was to win today.
And sure enough, Kurashiki goes down quietly in order to end the game.
Once again, a small error costs the underdogs. If not for the mishandle by Nishitani in the 5th, it would have been a while different ballgame. Remember, while Kurasho only had 3 hits, Soujitsu managed just 4 themselves. It was by no means a dominant performance overall by the boys from Nishi Tokyo.
Kurashiki Shougyou played hard against one of the storied teams in baseball, and fell just short. They should be proud of how they performed, even though they are going home today.