So, not only are both Hokkaido schools playing, they're playing against adjacent teams from Kyushu!
Asahikawa Jitsugyou finally returns to Natsu Koushien after an absence of 11 years. Wasn't easy either. They had to get past Komadai Iwamizawa in the semifinals, then a decent Bushuukan team in the finals. Ace Suzuki Shunpei leads the team, a southpaw who can throw in the upper 130's and only walks 1.2 batters per 9.
Offensively, there isn't really anyone that stands out, but if I had to choose one, it might be cleanup batter Oobo Takuma.
Saga Gakuen didn't have any issues at prefectural, outscoring everyone 25-3. That was thanks to ace Mineshita Tomohiro, a righty who throws in the high 130's with a slider, change and curve. He strikes out batters at a decent clip (7.8/9), and didn't give up his first walk until the semifinals (1.6 BB/9).
No offensive standouts really for Saga, although perhaps Yamaguchi Shouta might be worth a look.
Asahikawa Jitsugyou (Kita Hokkaido)
2B Hososaka Ikki
CF Kubota (Riku)
RF Omura Kouhei
LF Daibo Takuma
1B Mochidate Shouta
3B Miura Shougo
C Watanabe Ikemu
P Suzuki Shunpei
SS Sugano Keigo
Saga Gakuen (Saga)
CF Kitamura Gouki
LF Shibasaki Takaya
P Mineshita Tomohiro
RF Noguchi Shouhei
SS Shibasaki Shouya
1B Yamaguchi Shouta
3B Urase Keisuke
C Kaihara Tatsunori
2B Ootani ?
16:05 - First Pitch!
We play under the clouds and lights here at Koushien. Doesn't happen often, but I wonder why they don't do it more often. Probably because they don't necessarily have lights in all the stadiums.
Kubota with a one out looper to left. Okamoto-kantoku elects for the bunt.
And the 0-1 pitch gets away from Kaihara! Kubota heads for 3rd! Kaihara's throw is well in time, but Urase falls down backwards and can't make the tag!
Daibo manages a walk to put runners at the corners with 2 down. And now Mineshita hits Mochidate on the foot! Manrui for Asahikawa as Kose-kantoku calls a conference. Up to Miura now to get them home.
And Mineshita gets him swinging on a fastball outside for the 3rd out! Mineshita lucky to get out of that jam!
Suzuki's delivery is literally over the top. It's not directly above him, but it's at a pretty high angle.
I know that being tall helps in throwing downhill, but can an overhead delivery do the same thing (a la Ely from the Dodgers)?
Anyways, after retiring the first batter, Takaya becomes a thorn in Suzuki side, fouling off pitch after pitch after pitch. The persistence finally pays off as on the 14th pitch of the AB he finally succeeds, hitting a grounder past Sugano into center.
Grounder to 2nd. Hososaka goes to 2nd and AH!
It's off Sugano's glove! All safe! E6, and Okamoto-kantoku calls a conference.
Another grounder to 2nd. The relay to 2nd is good for the force there, but that's all they can get.
Runners at the corners with 2 down and Shouya up to try his hand at driving in a run.
Oh.... Suzuki shows of a slow curve... for a strike. But the count runs full and Noguchi will be taking off from 1st.
Shouya reaches down on a 3-2 pitch and pokes it past a diving Mochidate and into right! Takaya comes in to score and it's 1-0 Saga Gakuen!
And Miura can't field a grounder from Yamaguchi! E5 and it's manrui for Saga! Perhaps inexperience playing under the lights?
Urase with a hard grounder to the right side! Hososaka with the diving stop! Throw to 1st a bit wide, but they get the out! Nice play! But Saga Gakuen take the early lead!
Watanabe with a drive down the left field line... just foul!! But he flies out to Takaya in left center. Outside of a bit of a stubborn AB by Suzuki, Mineshita reitires the side in order.
Grounder to the left side gets past Miura and goes behind Sugano for a base hit. Ootani tries to bunt him along, but ends up getting Kaihara thrown out at 2nd.
Gouki with a shot to left! Daibo running back, and it's over his head! Ootani comes around to score on the double making it 2-0 Saga!
Takuya with a soft liner! That's over the outstretched glove of Hosaka into right! But Gouki has to hold at 3rd.
Mineshita with the squeeze bunt! Suzuki can't field it! Mochidate makes a desperate throw to 1st, but it's not in time! All safe and another run scores! It's 3-0!
It continues to get worse for Asahikawa as Suzuki throws a pitch in the dirt that gets away from Watanabe and the runners advance 90 feet.
Noguchi with a grounder to 1st. Mochidate up with it and charges to tag Noguchi to hold the runners. A popout by Shouya behind 2nd ends the inning, but Asahikawa is digging themselves a hole.
Mineshita with an easy 1-2-3 inning and Asahikawa is starting to fall into the realm of spinning their wheels.
After a 1st pitch pop up by Yamaguchi, Suzuki walks Uraseon 4 straight. But Kaihara bails him out by grounding into the 4-6-3 double play.
Just a quick note on Mineshita. He throws from overhand and has a deliberate delivery from the set position.
Daibo with a liner to left! Noguchi over to get it, but Daibo sees that he's not hustling over! He takes off for 2nd and makes it in safely!
Mochidate pops it up! Takaya in from the outfield makes the catch for the 1st out... But Miura takes the first pitch through the left side! Runners at the corners for Watanabe!
And Miura takes off for 2nd! No throw!
Big chance here for Asahikawa as the count goes to 3-1 on Watanabe.
Count goes full, and it's a ground to short! Daibo goes home and the throw home is in time. Daibo tries to go around, but not enough and is easily tagged out.
Suzuki flails at a ball outside for strike 3 and Asahikawa's big chance is lost.
Ootani with another bunt down the 3rd base line, and he beats out the throw from Miura.
Gouki tries to bunt early, but ends up swinging away and popping out to Watanabe. And interestingly enough, Kose-kantoku has Takaya (who's 2-2) bunt Ootani over for Mineshita.
Chopper to 3rd is fielded cleanly by Miura and his good throw to 1st is met with a good stretch from Mochidate to end the inning.
Sugano trying anything to get the offense started, lays down the safety bunt! Mineshita hurries over to get it down the 3rd base line, but his looping throw isn't in time!
With some time left in the game Okamoto-kantoku has Hososaka bunts the runner along. But Kubota flies out to left for the 2nd out.
And Mineshita gets Daibo to pop it up! Mineshita to his left, makes a bit of a scary catch reaching out with the glove, but makes the catch to retires the side!
Noguchi leads off the bottom of the 5th with a single to left. Kose-kantoku not leaving anything to chance, sacrifices him over.
And now Yamaguchi with a single to center! Runners at the corners for Saga Gakuen!
Okamoto-kantoku calls time. #10 Naruse comes in for Kubota and relieves Suzuki. He moves to left and Daibo goes to center.
Urase with a hard liner to center! Daibo charging and makes the catch! They send Noguchi home! Daibo with a good throw, but Noguchi is too fast! He beats the tag and it's 4-0!
And while Kaibara grounds to short, Saga Gakuen continues to extend their lead as we head to the break.
Miura drives a ball deep to center. Kitamura is there in front of the wall to make the catch. That's bookended by two strikeouts, and it's beginning to look increasingly unlikely that Asahikawa will be able to mount a rally.
Naruse does well in his first full inning of relief, but it seems like he can throw his fastball for strikes. Nevertheless, he does retire the side in order.
#17 Kanemaru (Makoto) comes in to PH for Suzuki denoting the end of his day. And he singles through the left side! Okamoto-kantoku still plays for the run, having Sugano bunt him over. And while he advances to 3rd on a grounder by Hososaka, he's stranded when Naruse take a borderline pitch outside for a called strike 3.
Kanemaru stays in the game to play left.
For Naruse, he throws around 140 with a slider sitting in the mid 120's. And he seems to be locating decently. It's good enough to strike out 2 batters en route to a 1-2-3 inning.
Defensive change for Saga. #17 Kitamura Hikari comes in for Noguchi in right.
Omura with a sharp grounder to the right side. But Ootani is there with the diving stop and completes the play to 1st.
And then Yamaguchi makes a great stop on another hard hit ball and makes the putout at 1st!
The right side of the infield makes all the putouts as a popup by Mochidate is caught by Ootani in foul territory.
Yamaguchi leads off the 8th with a single to left. And after a sac bunt, Kaihara singles back up the middle! Runners at the corners and Saga threatens to blow it wide open!
Okamoto with another conference, but will it help at this point?
They call for 2 pitchouts, but they're dangerously wide. Watanabe does well to save both of them.
It doesn't... Ootani lays down the squeeze and it's 5-0 in favor of Saga.
Pop up by Gouki ends the inning, and now Asahikawa can only play for pride now.
I just realized something. There was someone screaming throughout the entire game. Ken in the chat room thought it might have been Miura. I figured it wasn't someone on the teams as it didn't sound like a guy screaming.
I notice he's up and OMG it WAS Miura.
He goes down on a check swing.
#16 Hara Naoki comes in to PH for Watanabe, and he singles to left. 2 PH's , 2 hits! #14 Sasaki Riku comes in to run for Hara.
And Suzuki successfully steals 2nd! Kose-kantoku with a conference, although I wonder what that's all about up 5.
Kanemaru with a base hit to left center! Suzuki rounds 3rd! He scores! Asahikawa avoids the shutout! But Kanemaru gets thrown out trying to stretch for 2.
Last chance is in #15 Muroi Genta. But it's a comebacker back to Mineshita who throws to 1st to end the game.
Sadly Asahikawa Jitsugyou couldn't keep up with Saga Gakuen and as a result both Hokkaido teams go home here on the 3rd day of competition. But they can at least say they represented their prefecture, and played to the best of their abilities, even if it wasn't enough.
For Saga Gakuen, it's a date with neighbor Nagasaki Nichidai in the 2nd round.