Moving along to game 2, we get to see one of the better pitchers peripherally, and he's just a ni-nensei (2nd year)! That's Saiuchi Hiroaki for Seikou Gakuin. Perhaps showing the disparity between teams in Fukushima, Saiuchi started in just 3 games for his squad with various short appearances in other games. In his 29.1 innings of work, he struck out 10.75 batters/9, while giving up a shade under 4 H/9 and 2.15 BB/9. He throws in the high 130's/low 140's and in addition to the mainstay slider and the occasional curve, he actually throws a split, which is rare to see.
But they're up against a Kouryou squad, who reached the semifinals back in the spring. As a refresher, they have their ace Arihara, who throws in the mid 140's with a slider, change and curve. he continues to strike out a ridiculous amount of batters (11.45 K/9), while allowing few baserunners (4.5 H/9, 1.64 BB/9). Offensively, their offensive power supply comes primarily from 1B Maruko Tetsuya.
The last time I said this would be a good low-scoring pitchers' duel, it was anything but, and I got annoyed at the end...
2B Fukuda Shuuhei
3B Tokuda Mahiro
RF Kuramasu Takahiro
1B Maruko Tetsuya
LF Tsukamoto Kenta
CF Sanda Tetsuya
SS Fuchigami Shin
P Arihara Kouhei
C Shintani Jyun
Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)
SS Murashima Daisuke
CF Nemoto Koichi
2B Yamaguchi Kouki
1B Endou Masahiro
RF Sanpei (Eiki)
3B Saitou Hideya
C Hoshi Yuutarou
LF Itakura Kouta
P Saiuchi Hiroaki
12:29 - First Pitch!
Saiuchi looking impressive in the early going retiring the Kouryou batters in order,
Arihara loos to be in good form as he retires the side in order as well to start.
Remember that split? Maruko swings and misses on the splitter inside. The split comes in the upper 120's.
Certainly Kouryou wasn't going to go hitless and Tsukamoto singles back up the middle.
No bunt here as Sanda swings away, but he hits it to Saitou! He goes to 2nd for one, throw to 1st, and Endou can't make the pick off the bounce. 2 down.
Hit-and-run! But Fuchigami fouls the 2-1 pitch off! The mainstay of the Kouryou offense, and we see it in action. Fuchigami grounds back to Saiuchi to end the inning.
Slight hiccup against Masahiro as he falls behind 3-0, but throws 3 straight strikes to retire him for the 2nd K.
Then against Sanpei he throws a ball at 147, one of the fastest balls we've seen so far.
Seikou is attacking the pitches early, but so far to no avail as Sanpei and Hideya ground out to end the inning.
Kouryou having a hard time managing hits off of Saiuchi, but Fukuda gets a two out single to left.
Tokuda is jammed and grounds to 3rd. Hideya elects to go to 2nd for the out. A bit curious, but it doesn't really matter.
Hoshi with a first pitch single to left! He's immediately bunted to 2nd for last batter Saiuchi.
He grounds to 3rd and the runner has to stay. And Murashima hits an easy comebacker to Arihara to end the inning.
Uncharacteristically, Saiuchi walks cleanup batter Maruko on 4 straight for a one out runner.
Tsukamoto with a hard grounder back up the middle. Yamaguchi blocks it but it deflects off him! Murashima grabs it and makes the play at 2nd for the 2nd out. Heads up play there!
Tsukamoto takes off! Hoshi with the throw and Murashima makes the running catch and tag for the out!
Nemoto take a pitch to the opposite field for a base hit! Another leadoff runner for Seikou! Once again, they bunt him over.
But Masahiro is fooled on a slider inside. He strikes out for the 2nd time.
And Sanpei, perhaps expecting a fastball, weakly grounds to 1st for the 3rd out.
Kouryou is trying to make life tough for Saiuchi by taking pitches, but it doesn't work. Sanda strikes out swining, Fuchigami grounds to short, and Arihara walks away on strike 3...
Both aces are on today. Hideya grounds out to 1st, Hoshi walks away on strike 3, and Itakura hits an easy comebacker to Arihara to end the inning.
Both aces have given up 2 hits. Out of the 15 outs, Saiuchi has struck out 4, had one fly (infield), and had 10 ground outs. Arihara has had 4 K's, and 11 groundouts.
Shintani with a sinlge to center to lead off the inning!
Hit and run!
Fukuda grounds out to 1st, but advances the runner.
Tokuda with a grounder to short, and Shintani has to hold. 2 down.
Now, Saiuchi falls behind Kuramasu 2-0 and ends up walking him! Chance for cleanup batter Maruko!
But two splits later he's behind 0-2.... 1-2 splitter, just fouled off!
SINGLE! Maruko with a liner to center!! Shintani being waved home! Nemoto with the throw...
Nemoto with the perfect throw home, Hoshi gets the the right bounce and he makes the tag for the out! We remain scoreless!!
Can Seikou turn this momentum to their advantage?
In a quick word. No.
Arihara needs just 6 pitches to retire the side - a flyout to left, and two groundouts.
Kouryou's offense continues to struggle. Tsukamoto strikes out Tsukamoto on a splitter.
But then he hits Sanda, giving Kouryou a runner.
Eh? Nakai-kantoku's calling for a bunt!
And after 2 pitchouts, Saiuchi falls behind 3-0.
It's a ruse! Kouryou calls the hit and run on a favorable count and Fuchigami singles through the left side!
Saitou-kantoku calls time and has a conference.
Arihara with a fly to center, and Nemoto secures it for the 2nd out. Down to Shintani for a one-timer.
Count runs full on Shintani! Runners will take off!
Pop up! Shallow center! Shintani knows it! Nemoto coming in, and makes the catch for the 3rd out!
One down, Masahiro with a dribbler to the right side! It's past Arihara! Fukuda charges, tosses, and it gets by Maruko! They recover it quickly, but Masahiro is on with an infield hit!
Sanpei with the safety bunt! But it goes foul. Still showing bunt.
HIT AND RUN!
Sanpei makes contact and singles past a diving Fukuda into right! Masahiro goes to 3rd, and now Seikou Gakuin has a big chance!!
Nakai-kantoku calls time - at this rate, one run could be enough.
First pitch outside, no show of a squeeze.
Swings! Maruko up with the ball, tags Hideya and Masahiro stays. Sanpei advances to 2nd.
2 down now, Hoshi up looking for the one timer... Inside fastball swung on for 2-2... Full count!!
SANSHIN! WILD PITCH!!!
Hoshi can't check his swing, but the ball bounces in the dirt and gets away from Shintani! The ball goes to the backstop as Masahiro scores! 1-0 Seikou Gakuin!!
A costly mistake by the Kouryou battery!!
Itakura trying to play add on... Hoshi takes off on the 1-1 pitch! Throw is not in time! Now a base hit can score 2!
Pop up in foul territory! Maruko chasing it down, dives... can't get it!
Another foul and Itakura is hanging in there against Arihara. Takes ball 2! 8th pitch of the AB now... Another foul!
Arihara gets Itakura on a fastball down and in for strike 3, but an unforced error scores the first run of the game!
2 innings left, down 1. Can Kouryou keep the pressure on 2nd year ace Saiuchi??
Top of the order and Fukuda up to bat. After a small battle, he flies out to left.
Saiuchi is beginning to labor a bit. He went full on Fukuda, and goes full on Tokuda before hitting him.
Kuramasu with a grounder to 1st. Masahiro goes to 2nd to get the lead runner. 2 down.
#13 Toyoda Takamitsu comes in to run for Kuramasu.
Cleanup batter Maruko up trying to keep the inning going... falls behind 0-2.
Toyoda takes off, and the ball is in the dirt. Base hit can tie this up!
Maruko flings the bat down in disgust as he swings and misses on Saiuchi's splitter! 3 out!
Kouryou will be down to their last 3 outs as long as Arihara holds the fort.
Arihara retires the side in order. He's done his job...
...now can the offense pick him up?
Tsukamoto up to start the 9th... Pop up!! Hoshi going to the backstop... makes the catch!
Sanda steps in... count goes 2-2... ball low, full count...
Jammed! Grounder to 3rd! Saitou's throw to first, 2 out!
Last chance in Fuchigami... Arihara on deck...
Chopper! Yamaguchi charges in. Throw to 1st...
Saiuchi and Seikou Gakuin has done it! They've defeated Arihara and Kouryou!
Seikou never really had a good handle on Arihara and was thrown off all game. Kouryou couldn't solve Saiuchi's splitter, and yet had some chances to score. The game was a true pitcher's duel from start to finish...
... and it all came down to one bad pitch that decided the game.
Saiuchi had the composure and talent to wear that ace number he earned in the prefecturals. For as long as he can keep that up, Seikou will continue to advance. Saitou-kantoku's call of the hit and run in the 7th set it all up
For Arihara and Kouryou, all you can do is tip your hat to Seikou for a good performance and head home knowing that you lost to a strong team.