The game so far this tournament have been going at a fairly fast clip. In past years games would run past the 2-hour planned time and the subsequent games would fall further and further behind.
This year though, offense is at a premium, which has sped up games. And even with games with high scoring, they're scored in bunches and don't really extend the game time. It's interesting also, given the lack of hard throwers so far this tournament. A lot of batters have just been either plain fooled by offspeed pitches or don't make good contact at all.
Tonami Kougyou was a top seed who exactly did what they were supposed to do... win. It certainly wasn't in a fully dominating manner, but when you have the target on your back, it's a bit harder to do.
Interestingly, the team has a similar ace situation to that of Meihou last year. Their go-to guy is #6 Nakayama Shouya. He was the starter for them in 4 of the 5 games they played. Peripherals indicate yet another high-contact, low-strikeout pitcher (7.71 H/9, 5.14 K/9, 2.89 BB/9), although I don't have any information on him to help point in a clear direction. Nakayama is also the offensive starter for the team as well, so don't be surprised if he creates things from both sides.
Houtoku Gakuen's key win in their run was against Okamoto Ken and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku. Leading them is ace Oonishi (Kazunari). A lefty who generally throws in the high 130's it's apparent he stays around the strike zone as he sports the lowest BB/9 ratio of all the pitchers at 0.35. Of course doing so generally means more balls in play, and more hits. So the defense will have to be on their toes at all times.
I haven't been one to make predictions this year, mostly because I think I've generally been wrong, but Tonami will probably have their work cut out for them.
Tonami Kougyou (Toyama)
RF Nanbu Mamoru
2B Takahashi Kousuke
P Nakayama Shouya (#6)
CF Ueda Yuuki
1B Annen Daiki
LF Nishida Yuuki
3B Takebe Toshiyuke
SS Matsushima Takamitsu (#12)
C Saitou Kyouhei
Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)
CF Yashiro Kazuma
2B Tani Koushirou
3B Nakashima ?
1B Koshii Yuuki
RF Urasaki Yuri
C Morita Kouki
LF Kinoshita Haruki
P Tamura Ichirou (#11)
SS Haseba Ryuu
8:25 - First Pitch!
So Nagata-kantoku elects to go with a 1st year! Tamura does throw in the upper 130's/low 140's and from what I can tell while setting up the computers a change in the 110's.
AH! He hits Nanbu on a full count to start the game!
Takahashi with a great bunt! Tamura elects to go to 2nd, but his throw is late! All safe!
Nakayama with another bunt to move the runners along. Early pinch for the 1st year starter!
Ueda with a first pitch comebacker to Tamura! He holds the runners and makes the putout at 1st! 2 down!
And Annen goes down swinging to end the inning! Tamura facing a big test early and passing!
Not a good start for Nakayama as he walks Yashiro to start the inning. But when Tani tries to lay down the bunt, it's right at Nakayama who goes to 2nd for the force! And Nakayama gets Nakashima to line out to left, and Koshii on a weak comebacker to end the inning.
I can't tell if Tamura has different pitches, but there are pitches in the upper 130, pitches in the 120's and pitches in the 110's.
Tamura's control to start the 2nd is wild as there are several pitches up and in. He walks Nishida to start the inning. A sac bunt moves him to 2nd, and a grounder to 1st by Matsushima moves him to 3rd. It's your typical runner on 3rd, 2 out situation.
Last batter Saitou up, and he's jammed. But it's a hard grounder to short! Haseba with the great stop and makes the play at 1st to end the inning!
If I heard correctly, Nakayama has a 2 & 4-seam fastball, slider and change.
And uses them to retire the first 2 batters swinging! But then walks Kinoshita on 4 straight. And then proceeds to pick him off!
Boy there seem to be quite a few pickoffs this year...
Nakayama finally collects the first hit of the game as he takes a slider away to and slices it to left for a 2-out single.
Ueda with a popup to Koshii in foul territory for the 3rd out.
So it appears that the reason Nakamura has been pitching is that ace Kenmei is injured but still on the roster.
But Nakamura is doing a good job in "relief" of his injured ace. He may be walking a couple of batters (including Haseba here with one down), but he's missing his pitches down instead of up in the zone. Of course, you're going to have to put something in the zone for strikes.
Oh! Grounder by Yashiro takes a high hop in front of Annen and goes into right! Haseba advances to 3rd! Runners at the corners with just one down!
Tani with a liner! But it's right at Takahashi for the 2nd out. Down to Nakashima now.
Nakashima with a hard grounder! But it's right at Annen who goes to 1st for the putout! 3 out!
Annen with a slow grounder back up the middle. Tani slides over and makes a fine throw to 1st.
Tamura locating well, but Nishida guesses right and lines one into center for a single.
Takebe with the bunt down the 3rd base line. Nakashima's throw is high! The runners advance and there's a big chance for Tonako!
Matsushima with the squeeze bunt, but Nishida doubles back to 3rd! Tamura goes to the 1st for the out! Looks like Murai-kantoku called for the safety squeeze and Nishida aborted his attempt!
Still 2 down and a chance for Tonako!
But Saitou takes the first pitch and grounds to short! Haseba up with it and makes the put out! Tonako is denied once again!
Koshii with a liner that zooms past a reaching Takebe! Urazaki moves him over to 2nd. Looks like both managers are playing for the 1 run.
Morita in a bit of a battle with Nakayama, but grounds out to 1st. Another 2 out, runner on 3rd situation.
Kinoshita delivers! He takes a low slider the other way and through the infield for a base hit! Koshii comes in as Nishida comes up with the ball and it's Houtoku who's on the board first! 1-0!
Tamura is caught looking for strike 3, but Hotoku is first on the board! Tonami will a bit pressed now that they're behind!
After a quick out by Nanbu, Takahashi works a walk after falling behind 1-2.
And now Nakayama with a gapper to left center! Takahashi holds at 3rd on the double! Big chance!
But Ueda swings on the first pitch! Grounder to shot, and both runners take off! But Haseba is up with it and goes home! Nanbu is caught, but the runners advance to 2nd and 3rd, so it's all the same.
Still, 2 down and runners in scoring position. Can Tonami finally deliver?
Annen with a grounder back up the middle. Tani running over, dives, and it's through! Nakamura scores! Douten!! Ueda bein sent home... he scores! Gyakuten!!! Annen with the timely hit and Tonako takes the lead! 2-1!!
Nagata-kantoku calls time and has a conference on the mound...
Nishida lines to short to end the inning, but Tonami finally delivers a timely hit and takes the lead!
Haseba with a slow roller up the first base line! Annen with it, lunges out at Haseba and just gets his knee before he touches the bag!
Yashiro with a grounder outside of 2nd. Takahashi with it, but the throw doesn't beat out a sliding Yashiro!
And now it's a hit-and-run! Tani grounds to 1st, but advances the runner. 2 down though.
Nakashima up. Nakayama falls behind 3-1, and hangs a slider! Nakashima with a single back up the middle! Yashiro comes in to score and we're all tied up again! 2-2!!
Koshii with a hard shot, but goes foul before the 1st base bag! He doesn't miss twice though! He lines one to left and there's runners at the corners as Murai-kantoku calls a conference.
#10 Yoshida Shounousuke begins warming up...
But Urazaki chases a slider in the dirt for strike 3! Saitou throws to 1st to complete the out, but we head to the break once again back at level.
Pitching change for Houtoku. Southpaw ace Oonishi Kazunari enters the game for Tamura. He throws a fastball in the low130's and a change in the upper 110's.
And he doesn't miss a step, retiring the side in order.
Nakayama makes a great stop on a Kinoshita comebacker. He passes the 100 pitch mark but doesn't seem to be tiring - although Oonishi does single to center with 2 down. ...and a wild pitch sends him to 2nd. ...and then Haseba singles on a slow chopper to 3rd...
Yashiro with a single to left! That scores Oonishi and Houtoku re-takes the lead at 3-2!
Tani hits a popup back to Nakayama to end the inning, but not before Houtoku scores for the 3rd consecutive inning!
Things are not looking good for Tonako as Oonishi continues to mow down the batters in relief. He strikes out 2 in a 1-2-3 inning.
Murai-kantoku relieves Nakayama on the mound. #10 Yoshida Shounosuke comes in for Takahashi and takes over on the mound. Nakayama goes to short and Matsushima goes to 2nd.
Yoshida as an interesting delivery but I don't know how to explain it. A righty, he throws in the mid 130's and might have a cut ball of some sort as there's a range in the high 120/low 130's and a change in the high 110's.
He gives up a one out walk to Koshii, but after a walk and a sac bunt, Yoshida retires Morita to end the inning.
Tonami is running out of time, and haven't been able to get to Oonishi since he entered the game.
Finally, Tonako gets their first hit off of Oonishi as Annen singles to left!
Nishida strikes out on a slider down for the 2nd out. Takebe looks to keep the inning going.
But he strikes out looking to end the inning...
Yoshida misses on 4 straight to Kinoshita and gives up the leadoff walk. Oonishi tries to move him along, but runs to 2 strikes and it looks like he's still asked to bunt. And successfully lays it down.
Infield in for Hasebe, but he grounds to 1st. Again, runner on 3rd, 2 down for Yashiro!
Hard liner to 2nd! Matsushima plays it off the bounce and makes the play at 1st! 3 down, but only 3 outs left to go!
2 outs... Matsushima swings on the first pitch and grounds to short.
Saitou with a drive to left center! That bounces all the way to the wall for a double!
Back to the top of the order as Nagata-kantoku replaces Urazaki in right with #13 ?.
Nanbu with a grounder to short. Saitou takes off for 3rd! Throw form Haseba may have hit the runner! All safe!
Nagata-kantoku with another timeout, this time for a conference on the mound.
Yoshida not squeezing. But he pops it up! Koshii in foul territory for the 2nd out!
Nakayama the last chance for Tonako!
Gets ahead 2-1. 3-1!
Do you take?
Ball outside, just in! Full count!
High fastball, fouled off!
OUTSIDE, BALL 4!! MANRUI!!!
Cleanup batter Ueda up. 0-4 on the day...
Change low! Ball 1! Slider in, swung and missed!! Another slider, swung and missed! 1-2!
Slider, just fouled off!
Fastball swung on and missed! SANSHIN!
Oonishi survives the manrui pinch and they just beat Tonami Kougyou 3-2!
This was by far one of, if not the most exciting games so far this tournament. It was a level game throughout with both teams not making mistakes. Sadly for first-timers Tonami Kougyou, they go home here in the 1st round. But they played a really good team well, and should have nothing to be ashamed of.