Saturday, April 3, 2010

Games remaining to be recapped

This post will be here to notify all readers of what games are still remaining to be recapped. They will be removed as they are covered below.


Day 3 - Game 3 - Chiben Wakayama vs. Takaoka Shougyou (Completed)
Day 4 - Game 3 - Imabari Nishi vs. Mie (Completed)
Day 5 - Game 1 - Osaka Touin vs. Toukaidai Bouyou (Completed)
Day 5 - Game 2 - Kawashima vs. Oogaki Nichidai (Completed)
Day 5 - Game 3 - Toukaidai Sagami vs. Jiyuugaoka (Completed)
Day 6 - Game 1 - Akita Shougyou vs. Hokushou (Completed)
Day 6 - Game 2 - Tsuruga Kehi vs. Hanasaki Tokuharu (Completed)
Day 6 - Game 3 - Kouyou vs. Nichidai-san (Completed)
Day 7 - Game 1 - Miyazaki Kougyou vs. Kouryou (Completed)
Day 7 - Game 2 - Chuukyoudai Chuukyou vs. Shintoku Gakuen (Completed)
Day 7 - Game 3 - Chiben Wakayama vs. Kounan (Completed)
Day 8 - Game 1 - Mie vs. Teikyou (Completed)
Day 8 - Game 2 - Osaka Touin vs. Oogaki Nichidai (Completed)
Day 8 - Game 3 - Hokushou vs. Jiyuugaoka (Completed)
Day 9 - Game 1 - Tsuruga Kehi vs. Nichidai-san - Innings 1-3 (Completed)
Day 10 - Semifinal #1 - Kouryou vs. Nichidai-san (Completed)
Day 12 - Championship - Kounan vs. Nichidai-san (Completed)

Almost done!

Day 12 - Championship - Kounan (Okinawa) vs. Nichidai-san (Tokyo)

(For those wondering why I did not blog this game live, I was attending a convention and talking with a famous manga artist. So this game will be recapped in parts, partly because it's early morning as I start recapping this and I still have 2 days left of the convention. Yes it's life interrupting - until now I've never had so many things coincide at the wrong times...).

After many rain delays, sloppy games, come-from-behind wins, upset victories, and spectacular pitching performances, we finally reach the championship game.

And I must admit, I didn't really see this one coming when the brackets came out.

First of all, there's Kounan. We've known about Kounan for a while, what with their ace Shimabukuro Yousuke mowing batters down, but always wound up being the hard luck boy.

That's changed completely this tournament. Shimabukuro is still showing the opposition a seat, but the offense has finally decided that they have had enough of letting down their ace. In their 4 victories, the team has combined for 26 runs on 50 hits - and up until their semifinal game had only one extra base hit (a double) before exploding for 8 against Oogaki Nichidai. They don't really take walks although they do work the count - unless they see a pitch they really like.

Offensively, one has to look at the 3-4-5-6 batters to see where the success has come from. While not all firing on all cylinders, they still provide the bulk of the offense for the team.

As mentioned before, Shimabukuro had been eliminating the competition left and right, and with the success they had been having, one wondered if his stamina would hold up. All signs so far point to a resounding yes.

In 34 innings of work, he has given up just 3 ER, 27 hits and just 10 walks while striking out 38. He has shown no signs of breaking down so far, and he just has one more game to go.

On the other side is Nichidai-san, an at-large team. But as we are all aware of, this isn't your ordinary at-large team. Perhaps spurned on by their lackluster performance at Natsu Koshien last summer, they have shown the staying power of such stubborn teams as they have progressed through the bracket. The biggest thing is that they've done exactly what they've need to do against weakness, and that is to exploit it for all its worth. They did that against Yamagata Chuo, again versus Tsuruga Kehi, and when Arihara started to lose command in the semifinals, they crushed that too.

But note what I said - they've done it when shown weakness. But now, they're facing Shimabukuro. Sure, he could hit a wall this game much like Arihara. But what if he doesn't? What then? The offense may have to answer that question in the most important game of the tournament.

For pitching, early on it was all about ace Yamazaki. He was putting up similar numbers to Shimabukuro through 3 games, but they were also against perhaps weaker opposition. It was telling then in the semifinal game against Kouryou, that he would be pulled after just 4 innings after giving up 3 runs while showing lack of control.

What's possibly worse is that the bullpen for Nichidai-san isn't much better. None of the relievers after Yamazaki showed good stuff as all suffered from a lack of command. The box score shows that they gave up 8 hits, but walked 14! 14! Certainly they cannot expect to win if the staff puts up those numbers.

The game will probably hinge on whether Shimabukuro can pitch through one more game. Any fatigue and might be all but over.

Kounan (Okinawa) - Kyushu 3/4
2B Kuniyoshi Tairiku (#6)
CF Ketashiro Kai
3B Ganeko Moritsugu
1B Maehira Daiki
RF Mekaru Keisuke
C Yamakawa Daisuke
LF Irei Shinya
P Shimabukuro Yousuke
2B Ooshiro Kouji (#15)

Nichidai-san (Tokyo) - Kanto/Tokyo At-large
CF Kobayashi Ryouji (#16)
1B Ogihara Tatsurou (#4)
RF Hiraiwa Takuji (#8)
3B Yokoo Toshitake
P Yamazaki Sachiya
SS Yoshizawa Shougo
LF Azegami Shou
1B Sano Tomohito
C Suzuki Takahiro (#12)


12:31 - First pitch!

Top 1st
After working both sides of the plate, Yamazaki gets Tairiku to ground to 3rd.

Then works exclusively away on Ketashiro and gets him looking on a fastball away.

Finally, Ganeko grounds out to 1st after being fooled on a change.

Yamazaki is topping out in the high 130's and his slider and change are sitting in the 110's. No worse for wear so far.

Bottom 1st
Kobayashi leads off for Nichidai-san and tries a safety bunt! But he pops it up and Ganeko runs it down in foul territory for the out. An interesting strategy by Ogura-kantoku to start the game...

Shimabukuro seems to be throwing slower to start. In his sequence to Ogihara his sliders are in the low 110's and his fastball is sitting in the upper 120's. I can't imagine that holding up throughout the game.

Oh... ok... NOW he decides to blow a 135 kph high fastball by him. That's better.

There's got to be something to it now Now against Hiraiwa he's starting at 133 kph, then hitting 140 and the upper 130's in this AB. But unfortunately I can't tell if he's varying speeds, or highlighting another pitch such as a cutter...

Oh, and he walks Hiraiwa after an 8-pitch AB.

Going after Yokoo now. Gets ahead 0-2. Count 1-2 and Ogura puts on the hit-and-run, but Yokoo can only foul the pitch off.

And Yokoo goes down swinging on a high slider. Shimabukuro seems to have just been warming up in the 1st.

Top 2nd
Yamazaki being careful with Maehira, throwing predominantly offspeed pitches - and all away. Gets him looking on a slider away.

And now against Mekaru he's going to the fastball and going all over.

But Mekaru makes contact and hits a grounder past Yokoo and down the left field line! Azegami quickly runs it down and limits him to a long single!

And Yamakawa swings on the first pitch and hits a grounder to Yokoo! He fires to Ogihara for one, relay to Sano completes the double play to end the inning!

Bottom 2nd
Shimabukuro uncharacteristically walks leadoff batter Yamazaki after an 8-pitch AB, his 2nd already this game.

Yoshizawa looks to bunt him along, but fouls off the first pitch instead. He bunts the 1-1 pitch towards the 3rd base line. Ganeko throws to 1st... and throws it away!! Mekaru runs it down, but not before Yamazaki advances to 3rd!

Gakiya-kantoku with a conference. Nichidai-san with a rare opportunity against Shimabukuro with no one out!!

Shimabukuro continuing to pay a lot of attention to the runner at 1st, and it seems to be affecting his pitching. He pitches away to Azegami and walks him on 5 pitches!

Manrui for Nichidai-san!!

Shimabukuro turning up the heat! He's throwing 138/139 kph fastballs at Sano! Gets ahead 0-2 and gets a pop up to Maehira for the 1st out!

Double play on Suzuki would end the inning. Suzuki isn't shying away either, he's swinging away. But he's having a hard time catching up to Shimabukuro's fastballs which are now in the low 140's!

But Suzuki works the count full! Will Shimabukuro give up a run on no hits?

Suzuki pops it up to 3rd! Infield fly rule is called as Ganeko secures it!! 2 down!


Shimabukuro makes a throw to 1st, but Maehira can't field it! It gets past him and into foul territory! Yamazaki scores! Yoshizawa coming around 3rd... and he comes in to score!!!

It's an error that opens the scoring as Shimabukuro throws it away! It's 2-0 Nichidai-san!

And on the first pitch to Kobayashi, Yamakawa throws to 2nd, only to have Azegami bolt for 3rd and beat the throw! What is going on with Kounan?

Now Shimabukuro hits Kobayashi! Is he really rattled?

Ogihara stepping up, possibly to extend the lead against Shimabukuro!!

1-2 pitch to Ogihara and Kobayashi takes off! No throw from Yamakawa! Now a base hit could make it a 4-run game!

Ogihara though pops it up to short. Kouji is under it and makes the catch for the 3rd out. But in an uncharacteristic inning for Shimabukuro, he gives up 2 runs without the benefit of a single hit!

Top 3rd
Irei hitting a weak comebacker to Yamazaki to start the inning.

Shimabukuro with another comebacker, and this time it gets past Yamazaki. But he managed to get a piece of it with his glove slowing it down. Yoshizawa runs over, picks up the ball and makes a fine throw to 1st.

And Kouji hits a fly to right, but Hiraiwa is there near the line to make the catch.

Bottom 3rd
Hiraiwa leads off the inning with a fly to center. Ketashiro under it right at the wall. EH? He starts scrambling around and looks up!


Hiraiwa with a surprise homerun to center! The wind is blowing out to center, but it certainly had everyone fooled - including me!

IT'S 3-0 Nichidai-san!!

And now Yokoo with a drive to deep left!!! Irei back to get it, camps in front of the wall and makes the AHHHHHHHHH!

He drops the ball!!! He flat out drops the ball!! He throws it back in, but Yokoo comes in at 2nd on the error!


Yamazaki with a base hit through to left! They're sending Yokoo home! Irei running in makes the throw home! It's on line and Yamakawa makes the tag for the out!! Nice play by Irei after the error!

Yoshizawa with a fly to fairly deep right center, and Mekaru makes the catch after some adjustment.

Shimabukuro then strikes out Azegami to end the inning, but Shimabukuro doesn't seem like himself so far this game...

Top 4th
Kounan continues to struggle at the plate. Tairiku grounds out to 2nd to start the inning.

Ketashiro finally breaks the drought with a single down the left field line.

Ganeko goes down swinging on a hit-and-run, but Tairiku gets to 2nd.

But Yamazaki gets Maehira to go down looking for his 4th K! If you didn't know any better, you'd think Yamazaki was the better pitcher!!

Bottom 4th
Interesting move here. #2 Ootsuka is pinch hitting for Sano. Not sure why though. Shimabukuro gets him to fly out to Mekaru.

Suzuki pops up to Ganeko in foul territory.

And after getting ahead 0-2, Shimabukuro gets Kobayashi to hit a short chopper back to him.

A quick inning finally for Shimabukuro. But his team still trails 3-0.

Top 5th
Ootsuka stays in the game for Nichidai-san and takes over at 1B.

Mekaru first pitch lines one to left for a leadoff single.

Yamakawa looking to bunt the runner along. Lays it down and advances the runner.

But Irei can't catch up to a fastball down and there's 2 down!

Shimabukuro up desperately needing a hit to chip away at the lead - but he falls behind 0-2!

And Yamazaki thinks he has him on a fastball outside, but the umpire won't give it to him! Shimabukuro works the count full... and earns a walk!

Suzuki out to the mound to talk to Yamazaki.

Bottom of the order and Kouji up to bat.

And he hits a dribbler up the 3rd base line. Yokoo over to get it, but he stumbles as he fields it! By the time he recovers, everyone's safe!! Manrui for Kounan!

Tairiku witha single through to left! Everyone advances a base and Kounan is on the board! 3-1!

Ketashiro looking to tie the game with a base hit.

But he hits a grounder to Yoshizawa! he flips to 2nd for the out and Yamazaki gets out with only 1 run!

Bottom 5th
Ogihara leads off the inning with a first-pitch single to left.

Hiraiwa swinging away, then tries to lay down the bunt on the 0-1 pitch! Shimabukuro dispatches him with a fastball inside.

Yokoo with another first pitch single to left. Runners on 1st and 2nd with only one out, and Nichidai-san is threatening again! And it's Yamazaki who's at the plate.

And he spins him around on a 142 kph fastball!

Runners take off on the full count pitch to Yoshizawa, but he pops it up behind 2nd base. Tairiku battling the wind a little makes the catch.

We're at the break with Kounan trailing 3-1. Kounan has looked uncharacteristically bad on the field and that is what has led to the runs. There's still time though...

Top 6th
Out of the break and Ganeko bloops one just past Ogihara into right!

And he teaks off for 2nd! Pitch outside and Suzuki's throw isn't in time!

Maehira can't do anything to move Ganeko though, and grounds to short.

Mekaru, 2-2 on they day so far can't do anything either. He flies out to left and there's 2 down now...

Yamakawa looking for the timely hit. Sends one back up the middle! Ganeko being sent home! Kobayashi with a laser home! Ganeko slides... SAFE! He may have slid a little early, but he just beats the tag and it's 3-2 Kounan! Yamakawa advances to 2nd on the throw.

AH! Now Yamazaki hits Irei! Runners on 1st and 2nd!

Ogura-kantoku calling a conference! Their lead has been cut to 1 and the tying run is in scoring position!

Shimabukuro with a grounder through to left center! Azegami coming in misreads the ball! It's by him!! Kobayashi running it down, throw goes into 2nd, but not before Yamakawa and Irei score!!! Kounan has just taken the lead 4-3!!!!!

Kouji with a grounder back up the middle! They're sending Shimabukuro home!!!! Kobayashi with another laser home! Azegami with it up the line, goes for the sweep tag, Shimabukuro goes to avoid! Scramble back to the plate, and... SAFE!!! Shimabukuro somehow avoids the tag and just gets his foot on the plate! It's now 5-3 Kounan!!! Kouji also advances to 2nd on the throw.

Tairiku pops up to short to end the inning, but Kounan has come back from the break with 4 runs and now they have the 2-run lead!!

Bottom 6th
And with the lead Shimabukuro appears to be back to form striking out Azegami.

AHHHHHHH!!! Ootsuka with a drive to right center! Ketashiro running back to the wall and he looks up!


Shimabukuro gives up his 2nd homerun of the day, this time to captain Ootsuka and it's a one run ball game! 5-4!

Suzuki with a bloop to right. Tairiku running it down, but it bounces off of him and gets away from both him and Mekaru!! Suzuki flies around the bases and ends up at 3rd!! An unlucky break means they tying run is just 90 feet away!!

Gakiya-kantoku calls a conference. Are they really going to give up the lead right after they get it?


Kobayashi shows squeeze at the last minute! Shimabukuro over to get it, but he can't even throw to 1st as everyone was running in! All safe and Nichidai-san has indeed come back to tie the game! It's 5-5!!!

Ogihara up and now Nichidai-san is looking to take the lead! But Shimabukuro has Kobayashi caught off the bag! He breaks for 2nd, throw is dropped by Tairiku! But Kobayashi breaks contact with the bag and Tairiku tags him for the out! 2 down!

Grounder to 3rd by Ogihara, throw to 1st... offline!! Another error by Kounan!!

Shimabukuro gets Hiraiwa on a high fastball to end the inning, but once again Shimabukuro looks more than human here in the 6th and we're all square!

Top 7th
Ketashiro with a liner over Yoshizawa and into left center for a leadoff double! Kounan looking to strike right back!

Gakiya not bunting here. He's having Ganeko swing away! Oooo... That was a big cut there at 2-1. Hits one down the left field line... goes foul!

And Yamazaki gets a flyout to left! One down.

Maehira with a shot downt he 1st base line! But Ootsuka is there to get it and make the 2nd out. Ketashiro advances to 3rd, but they'll need a hit for Mekaru.

But he grounds back to Yamazaki! He makes the toss to 1st and Yamazaki is out of the inning!

Bottom 7th
Yokoo with a comebacker right at Shimabukuro. He gets out of the way as Kouji runs over to get it! Throw to 1st is in time!

Yamazaki with a slow grounder to short! Kouji running in, barehands, makes the throw but it's high! Maehira leaping to get it, but gets down just in time to beat the runner. 2 down!

Yoshizawa with a grounder to the right side. Tairiku with a diving stop and makes the throw to 1st to end the inning. Some hard work being turned in by the infield here in the 7th.

Top 8th
Yamazaki finally gets the 1st batter out as Yamakawa goes down swinging. Then Irei flies out to right. And Shimabukuro flies out to left on the first pitch.

The teams may be grinding to a halt as we enter the late innings... Each team will want to push in the go-ahead run, but will either of them be able to?

Bottom 8th
Shimabukuro racks up his 8th K as Azegami waves at a pitch outside. Ootsuka hits a lazy fly to center for the 2nd out. And Suzuki flies out to the same spot.

We head to the 9th inning with the score tied at 5. Can anyone break through in regulation?

Top 9th
Kouji with a chopper to left. Yokoo reaches down and snags it! Throw to first for out number 1! Nice play by Kouji!

Tairiku with another grounder to Yokoo. He gets this one as well and makes the 2nd out!

Ketashiro with a grounder to short. Yoshizawa with the play and Kounan is quickly down here in the top of the 9th!

Bottom 9th
Kobayashi bunting! But he pops it up! Ganeko next to Shimabukuro makes the catch - then telling him that I'll take those ones, you just go pitch. Well, maybe not exactly that, but close.

Shimabukuro turning on the jets once again on Ogihara, hitting 139 then 140.

Liner by Ogihara! Ganeko leaps and makes the catch! 2 down!!

And after going 3 straight offspeed pitches on Hiraiwa, he blows by him with a 140 kph fastball!

延長戦!!! (Enchousen!!!)

Top 10th
How is it that the championship game is almost always either a blowout or a nailbiter?

Ganeko weakly grounds out to 2nd to start off the extra frame.

But then Maehira earns a walk! What will Gakiya-kantoku do now?

Mekaru squares to bunt. Lays it down and advances Maehira into scoring position for Yamakawa. Suzuki out to the mound to talk strategy.

Swinging away and pops it up! Ootsuka running to the fence, but can't make a play on it. And Yamazaki hits 140 for strike 2! One pitch away from getting out of the inning, but suddenly the count goes full!

And he loses him! That brings up Irei to try and break the deadlock!

Suzuki back out to the mound to talk with Yamazaki - and Gakiya calls back Irei! #16 Agena is once again in to pinch hit!

But he hits a short chopper back to Yamazaki! He tosses to 1st and that's the inning!

Bottom 10th
Agena stays in the game to play LF.

Shimabukuro records his 10th K in Yokoo here to start the bottom half of the 10th.

And he continues to keep the heat on, throwing fastballs in the low 140's - and getting a popup by Yamazaki to Ganeko in foul territory.

Oy. Shimabukuro is already at 160 pitches for the game! And he's still hitting 140!

Pop up to shallow right. Tairiku under it, then struggles with looking at the ball, and it's off his glove! Yoshizawa winds up at 2nd on the 5th error by Kounan!

Gakiya calling for a conference on the mound, and this time Ogura-kantoku calls for a pinch hitter! #17 Shimizu comes in for Azegami looking for the sayonara hit.

Shimabukuro starts him off with 2 sliders the 2nd fouled off. Then hits 141 for strike 2. Now he's pounding him with fastballs, but misses! Count goes full! Now Shimabukuro hits 143 and 142!!

And Shimizu hits a grounder back to Shimabukuro! Underhands to 1st and the inning is over! Both teams with opportunities here in the 10th but neither can bring them home! To the 11th!

Top 11th
#9 Takayama comes in for PH Shimizu and takes over in RF. Hiraiwa moves to LF.

Shimabukuro works the count full against Yamazaki, but can only hit a chopper to Yokoo who once again makes a good play for the 1st out.

Kouji first pitch swinging pops up to Ogihara for the 2nd out.

Tairiku gets a two-out base hit to right. But Ganeko flies out to Hiraiwa and Kounan is held scoreless.

Bottom 11th
Uh oh. Shimabukuro walks Ootsuka to start the inning. Suzuki will surely be bunting here.

Does, but it's too hard! Shimabukuro fires to 2nd. Kouji is there for one, his throw to 1st is high and pulls Maehira off the bag. But they get the lead runner - one down.

Kobayashi bunting as well! Again it's too hard! Shimabukuro firing to 2nd and they get the lead runner again!

Shimabukuro minding Kobayashi a LOT as he throws over repeatedly. Meanwhile he's firing gas to the plate (well his version anyways) hitting 139-140 and getting ahead 0-2. Starts to nibble and the count goes even.

Runner goes! Ogihara fouls the 142 kph pitch off. Again! And Ogihara fouls it off again.

SANSHIN! Ogihara slams the bat down after he swings at a pitch on the outside part of the plate for strike 3! Through 11 and we are still tied at 5!

Top 12th
We're approaching the part of the game where the teams either get desperate or just run out of gas and move towards a draw at 15.

Ganeko gets good contact, but flies out to right.

Maehira with a grounder to 1st. Stopped by Ootsuka! Flip to Yamazaki... and he drops it!! Maehira slides in safely! E1!

AH!! And a wild pitch to Mekaru lets Maehira go to 2nd!

And now Ogura-kantoku is calling time and waving his arms! He's calling for a pitching change!

Eh?? Everyone's moving around!



Okay, I think I have it now.

So Yoshizawa goes from SS to the mound. Ogihara moves from 2B to SS. #15 Negishi comes in for Kobayashi and takes over at 2B. Hiraiwa goes from LF to CF. Takayama goes from RF to LF. Ootsuka goes from 1B to RF. And finally Yamazaki goes from the mound to 1B.

Got it? Well, that seems like a lot of movement for a pitching change.

And it doesn't start well. After a strike, Yoshizawa walks him.

Ogura calls time and calls for a conference.

Yoshizawa is easily hitting the low 140's but he can't find the plate! #11 Yoshinaga gets up and starts throwing. And Yoshizawa walks Yamakawa on 4 straight! It's manrui for Kounan!!

Running change at 3rd. #17 Koura comes in for Maehira.

Agena up... shows squeeze!! Pulls it back. Again! Infield in for Nichidai.

SQUEEZE!!!!!!!!! The pitch is low but he fouls it off! It's 1-2. Now what??

Agena slaps one to 3rd. Yokoo up with it, throw home...


Yokoo throws it short and it gets past Suzuki! Koura scores! Mekaru rounding 3rd going for home! Suzuki's throw back... not in time! Ironically enough it's an error between the only two players who didn't move that allows Kounan to take the lead! It's 7-5!!

あれ? Are they intentionally walking Shimabukuro? Two pitchouts and it's 2-0. But then he throws one in for a strike. Fastball up though and Shimabukuro swings. Looks like they were looking for the squeeze earlier.

Shimabukuro with a drive to center!! Hiraiwa running to the wall and that falls in! Yamakawa scores! Agena all the way from 1st, he comes in to score! Shimabukuro with another big hit and it's 9-5 Kounan!!

Kouji with a grounder through to right! Ootuska with the throw home and Shimabukuro has to hold at 3rd.

あら? Another change by Ogura? #13 Nomura comes in for Ootsuka and takes over in RF.

Kouji takes off on the 1st pitch and takes 2nd easily.


Tairiku attempts the squeeze, but the ball goes off the bat and hits him! Count goes to 1-1.

Hard shot to 1st! Yamazaki with it, but can only go to 1st. Shimabukuro scores and it's now 10-5!

Ketashiro the 9th batter to come to the plate here in the 12th.

And he grounds out to short to end the inning.

But in an inning where a lack of focus for one play and 2 bad pitches lead to a pitching and major fielding change, the flood gates open for a 5 run inning. It's hard to see Nichidai-san coming back from this.

Bottom 11th
Defensive changes for Kounan. #4 Yamashiro comes in for Tairiku and takes over at 2B. #18 Ooshiro Satoshi comes in for PR Koura and takes over in RF while Mekaru moves to 1B.

Hiraiwa grounds out to short to start the inning.

Yokoo with a drive to right center! Ketashiro running to the wall leaps, but it bounces above him! Yokoo in with a stand up double!

Shimabukuro not messing around anymore. He's firing at 140 and 141 once again at Yamazaki. Nothing but fastballs... He's jammed by fastball down and in and grounds out to short!

One more for Shimabukuro and Kounan!

And perhaps to get the seniors out on the field, #14 Oowan comes in for Ganeko and takes over at 3B. Only #10 Sunagawa has not entered the game, and I doubt Gakiya-kantoku will pull Shimabukuro now.

Yoshizawa the last chance for Nichidai-san.

Pop fly to left! Agena running to the line... Makes the catch!!

And that does it!! Shimabukuro not only has broken the 1st round curse, he has gone on to win it all!!! The players rush to Shimabukuro on the mound!

This makes the 2nd spring championship for Okinawa in the last 3 years! (Okinawa Shogaku - Higashihama-kun)

It's certainly heartbreak for Nichidai-san, who jumped out to a lead against Shimabukuro but was unable to hold it. And perhaps were an error away from having a chance of holding the game. Yamazaki had pitched a great game until he was pulled, and perhaps the huge change put undue pressure on the team. Hopefully this won't discourage Yamazaki come the summer.

For Shimabukuro, his status as a dominating pitcher is confirmed here at senbatsu. He may cement his spot as the #1 draft pick next year if his team can come back this summer and repeat the performance. But for now, he and his team will enjoy the school's first championship!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 11 - Semifinal #2 - Kounan (Okinawa) vs. Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu)

Well, after a rather rainsoaked afternoon and early morning, the officials have decided to go ahead with the 2nd semifinal at a bit of a later start (14:00) perhaps to allow the field to dry a bit.

This semifinal though is one worth waiting for. Kounan and ace Shimabukuro have not only broken the 1st round curse, but have progressed to the Best 4 with some convincing victories over Chiben Wakayama and Teikyou. In 3 complete games so far, he has given up 25 hits and struck out 32, while just walking only 9 batters! Certainly he has shown that his stuff is for real.

But perhaps what has been real surprising has been the offense. In the past, Shimabukuro would throw a gem on the mound. But with the offense unable to do anything he would still be tacked with the loss. No more though. In what probably was a favorable matchup against Kanzei the offense was able to put several runs across and put their ace at ease. They may have also been fortunate in that they faced a Chiben Wakayama squad that did not have a standout ace, then faced a Teikyou squad that decided to not throw 2nd-year ace Itou onto the mound. Ketashiro and Ganeko have been the primary sparks in the offense.

But that will probably change here in the semifinals as they will certainly face Oogaki Nichidai's ace Kassai.

The Meiji Jingu Taikai champions seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. After a nailbiter against Kawashima in the first round where they won in 10, they turned around and ran circles around Osaka Touin's staff belting out 2 homers in the process. Finally in the quarterfinals, they actually rested Kassai and put #10 Achira on the mound. Didn't matter. I felt so bad for the Hokushou kids in that game as they would go down 10-0 after just 3 innings. But it serves to prove that the team is more than ready to beat teams that they should.

Kounan will have to watch out for Koo and Andou as they have provided much of the offense for Oogaki Nichidai.

Kounan (Okinawa) - Kyushu 3/4
2B Kuniyoshi Tairiku (#6)
CF Ketashiro Kai
3B Ganeko Moritsugu
1B Maehira Daiki
RF Mekaru Keisuke
C Yamakawa Daisuke
LF Irei Shinya
P Shimabukuro Yousuke
2B Ooshiro Kouji (#15)

Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu) - Tokai Champions
CF Morita Shouken
SS Kojima Takuya
RF Gotou Kenta
1B Takada Naohiro
3B Koo Takudai
LF Andou Yoshirou
2B Nagaoka Yoshiki
C Tokimoto Ryou
P Kassai Yukiya


14:02 - First pitch!

Top 1st
After falling behind 2-0, he fires two fastballs in to even the count. Count goes full and Tairiku lines one, but right to Andou.

Kassai keeping his pitches low, but the Kounan batters are making him work. Ketashiro runs the count full, fouls a couple of pitches off and earns a walk.

And Gakiya-kantoku sends Ketashiro to 2nd! Tokimoto with the throw, it's there in time, but Kojima doesn't go over far enough to put the tag on! Ketashiro slides in and he's safe!!

Kassai continues to keep the balls down, but they're not in the zone! Ganeko earns a walk!!

Sakaguchi-kantoku immediately calls a conference.

Maehira swings away as if he was hitting one out, but gets caught in a curve.

Ooo.... Kassai throws it way outside and Tokimoto has to dive over to get it.

And Maehira is jammed! Grounder to 2nd! Nagaoka to Kojima for one, relay to Takada... TWO! A timely double play ends the threat and Oogaki Nichidai will head into the dugout to pick up the sticks!

Bottom 1st
Looks like Oogaki is implementing the same strategy. Count goes 2-2 on Morita and he starts fouling off pitches, then takes ball 3, then continues to foul off more pitches. They're getting closer to the left field foul line.

But he gets caught looking at a fastball inside!

Kojima up, this time falls behind 0-2, and strikes out on a pitch outside! Shimabukuro quickly with 2 K's!

Gotou looking to break the streak of K's, and he does, but it's a jammed dribbler up the 1st base side that Shimabukuro tosses to 1st for the 3rd out. Extra day's rest may have helped him.

Top 2nd
Mekaru falling behind early in the count once again but works it full, then has to just walk away on a pitch on the outside part of the plate.

Yamakawa up, gets ahead 2-1. Then hits a drive down the right field line! Gotou back to the pole...


Yamakawa this time bringing the braun as he hits a homerun to right!! It's 1-0 Kounan!!

Irei up.. and he's hit on a 2-2 pitch! Shimabukuro wastes no time in bunting him over to 2nd. 2 down now for Kouji.

And he hits a drive to center! Morita trying to run it down, but can't get it! Irei rounds 3rd, and he scores! Irei with an RBI double and it's 2-0 Kounan!!

Back to the top of the order and Tairiku. And he walks! Runners on 1st and 2nd now for Kounan! Things could be getting out of hand quickly!

Ketashiro with a liner to left! That's in for a base hit! Kouji comes around to score and it now 3-0!! What the heck is happening??

Sakaguchi calls for another conference. They cannot let this game get further away from them, especially with Shimabukuro on the mound.

Fortunately, Ganeko grounds to 3rd to end the inning, but Kounan has put a 3-spot on the board... 3 runs could easily look like 10 against Shimabukuro...

Bottom 2nd
So now what? Oogaki suddenly finds themselves down 3-0!

Cleanup batter Takada pops one up to Tairiku.

Koo reaches down, but hits a lazy fly to left.

Andou falls behind 0-2, lays off a ball outside and a curve in the dirt to level the count. Lays off another fastball just outside. And a high pitch sends him to 1st!

Runner on with 2 down for Nagaoka. Again Shimabukuro gets ahead 0-2. Hit-and-run, but Nagaoka just waves and misses for strike 3.

Top 3rd
Maehira crushes a curve that Kassai leaves up! Gotou running back, but it one-hops to the wall! Maehira's in with a double!

Mekaru now with a liner to left! Gotou up with it and Maehira holds at 3rd! But runners at the corners for Kounan with no out!!

Yamakawa first pitch swinging crushes another one!!!!!!!

Gotou running back, and that's over his head! The runners takes off! Maehira scores!! Mekaru rounding 3rd and he scores! Yamakawa slides into 3rd with a 2-run triple!!! It's now 5-0!!!

And that's it for Kassai. Sakaguchi-kantoku pulls him for #10 Achira...

Irei with a drive to center!!! Morita running back to the wall! That's lands at the base!! Yamakawa scores on the double and it's 6-0!!

OH GOD!! Shimabukuro hits a high pitch just right of the right field foul pole!! They're just teeing off now!

But Shimabukuro goes down swinging.

Kouji with a looper to center. Kojima running out from short, leaping... makes the catch! 2 down.

Tairiku looking to keep the inning going, but he flies out to left. Inning is over, but Oogaki takes more damage. They're down 6 and taking on a lot of water.

Bottom 3rd
Tokimoto with a fly to shallow center and Ketashiro runs it down.

New pitcher Achira up. Grounder to 1st and Maehira has it. Tosses to Shimabukuro for the 2nd out.

And Morita gets fooled on a pitch away and hits a soft comebacker to Shimabukuro for the 3rd out.

Oogaki can't seem to find anything against Shimabukuro.

Top 4th
Achira gets Ketashiro to hit an infield fly to Kojima.

...but then falls behind 2-0 to Ganeko.

OW. Ganeko hits a comebacker that goes off Achira and through the gap at short!

Maehira with a grounder to 1st. Takada with the throw to 2nd for 1, relay from Kojima not in time.

2 down, runner on 1st for Mekaru...

And he singles to left center! Runners on 1st and 2nd.

Yamakawa up, already with a homerun and triple...

He lines one to right!! That's in for a single! Maehira scores and it's 7-0!

Runners at the corners for Irei.

First pitch down the 3rd base line! Koo dives but can't get it! Mekaru rounds 3rd and scores on Irei's 2nd double! IT'S 8-0!!!

Shimabukuro with a hard shot! But Takada snags it for the 3rd out! But Kounan is just wailing on the Oogaki pitching!

Bottom 4th
Shimabukuro with the big cushion just continues to throw away. Kojima hits a high fly to left center that Ketashiro runs down. Gotou goes down swinging, and Takada flies out to right.

It really shouldn't be mentioned, but Shimabukuro is throwing a no-hitter...

Top 5th
Achira might be getting his first easy inning!

Kouji grounds to 2nd for the first out...

Back to the top of the order and Tairiku grounds to short for the 2nd out...

But Ganeko proves to be stubborn. He works the count full and continues to foul off pitches. Achira though gets his 1-2-3 inning as Ganeko grounds to 2nd.

Bottom 5th
Koo with a grounder back up the middle. Tairiku running it down,, makes a sliding backhanded grab! Throw to 1st for the out!

Andou with a sharp shot right at Kouji, but he corrals it and makes the 2nd out!

Nagaoka with a roller up the right side. Maehira charges, can't get it - but Tairiku backing up has it. Tosses to Shimabukuro... OUT!

Shimabukuro just beats Nagaoka to the bag for the 3rd out! Oogaki tried their best to get that first hit, but the Kounan defense is proving to be stubborn!!

Top 6th
The barrage of Kounan seems to have subsided as Ganeko weakly grounds out to 2nd.

Maehira gets up 3-1 and is given the green light - but grounds to 1st.

Achira gets his 2nd consecutive 1-2-3 inning as he flies out to Morita.

Bottom 6th
1-2-3 innings are nice and all, but down 8-0, they'll need to get the sticks going quite a bit to get back in this one...

Heck, I think they'll just take one hit at this point.

Shimabukuro is out to prevent that from happening keeping pitches on the edges of the zone.

But it also means he's throwing a lot more pitches. It's 2-2 on Tokimoto and he's fouled 2... make that 3 off...

And hits a high popup. Ganeko coming in, Maehira also coming in. Shimabukuro staying out of the way. It's Ganeko who takes charge and moves in for the catch.

Achira up, but he just pops up to Tairiku.

3rd time through the lineup now for Shimabukuro, and he gets ahead of Morita 0-2.

Morita with a dribbler to the right side. But Maehira isn't going to get it! Tairiku has to hurry over to cover, and he won't get there in time! Morita's on with an infield single!

Perhaps if Maehira had gone to get it, Shimabukuro would have been able to cover and keep the no-hitter alive.

Instead the inning continues with Kojima. But he goes down swinging for only Shimabukuro's 5th K.

Oogaki Nichidai was able to prevent the no-hitter, but now what about the shutout?

Top 7th

Yamakawa steps up to bat just a double away from the cycle!!

Falls behind 1-2, but evens the count. Can he do it?

Curve high, full count...

And a curve ball freezes him! He strikes out looking! Will he get another AB?

Irei with a sharp shot at Kojima. He fumbles with the ball! Picks it up, throw to 1st... just beats Irei!

And Shimabukuro fouls out to Koo to end the inning. Another 1-2-3 inning for Achira.

Bottom 7th
Gotou with a hard grounder at Kouji! He dives, but it's off his glove and into left for a leadoff hit!

Takada with a drive to left! Irei backpedaling quickly... makes the catch!

Oogaki finally making some good contact with the ball.

Koo hits one to left in foul territory and Irei has enough room to run it down for the 2nd out.

And Andou can only look at a pitch on the outside corner for strike 3...

Another base hit, but little consolation.

Top 8th
Defensive change for Oogaki as #15 Takamura is in for Andou in LF.

Kouji with a grounder past a diving Takada, but Nagaoka backing up dives and gets it. Throws to Achira... OUT! Nice play on both ends on that one!

Tairiku though hits a liner to center for his 1st hit of the game.

Achira gets Ketashiro to fly to left for out number 2.

And Gakiya sends Tairiku! Tokimoto's throw to 2nd is in time for the out!!


Achira's called for a balk! Tairiku is given 2nd!


Ganeko drives a ball to deep left center, and that's all the way to the wall. Tairiku comes around to score on the double and it's 9-0.

Maehira up and it looks like Achira is a bit out of sorts. He falls behind Maehira 3-1, then he lines one hard foul.

Achira does get him to fly out to right, but that extra run probably hurts Oogaki even more.

Bottom 8th
Oh? Gakiya-kantoku looks to give Shimabukuro a break. Shimabukuro moves to right while #10 Sunakawa takes Mekaru's spot and takes the hill.

Sunakawa is a lefty who throws in the low 130's.

And it seems business as usual. Nagata flies out to center.

But Tokimoto gets Oogaki 3rd hit with a bloop to shallow right just out of the reach of Tairiku.

That's quickly erased as Achira hits a grounder right to Kouji who starts the 6-4-3 double play!

Top 9th
So we will indeed see Yamakawa and another attempt at the cycle.

First there's Sunakawa who just took the hill last half-inning.

And he drives one to center?!! That's over Morita's head and he's in with a double!

So now Yamakawa steps up needing a hit just like that for the cycle!

Curve outside 1-0... Fastball inside 2-0... Fastball low, but he fouls it off...

And he's jammed! Pop up right to Achira and he has it for the 2nd out. No cycle for him.

Now #16 Agena pinch hits for Irei.

And he hits one back up the middle! Kojima unable to get it and Sunakawa scores making it double digits. 10-0.

Shimabukuro quickly grounds out to short for the 2nd out.

Kouji with a hard liner to right, but Nagaoka leaps up high and snags it! Nice play to end the inning!

Bottom 9th
Agena stays in to play LF.

Last ups for Oogaki Nichidai.

Morita fighting hard at the plate and slices one down the left field line... fair! Agena runs it down, but Morita's in with a leadoff double!

Kojima looking to drive him in. He hits a grounder to 2nd which advances Morita to 3rd.

Sac fly from Gotou gets the job done, but he pops it up! Ganeko over in foul territory to get it and there 2 down!

Can Takada get the runner home? He's up 2-0...

But he hits a grounder right to Tairiku! Throw to 1st is in time for the final out and Kounan has the shutout and a spot in the finals against Nichidai-san!!

This should be fun!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 10 - Semifinal #1 - Koryou (Hiroshima) vs. Nichidai-san (Tokyo)

After the whirlwind that was the semifinals, all teams come back today on no rest to battle it out. This means the that champion will have to win 3 games in 3 days to claim the title. And if you're Oogaki Nichidai, 4 wins in 4 days!

But that's for later. Our opening semifinal is an interesting matchup. In the recent cycle of Hiroshima baseball, it was Jyousuikan who faded into the sunset while Kouryou took the lead spot. Ace Arihara has been waiting to take the hill at Koshien, and so far has proven to be up to the task with his most recent win a convincing 5-1 victory over Chuukyoudai Chuukyou.

Now when Nichidai-san was selected as the Tokyo/Kanto At-large bid, my first though was, "What?" Nichidai-san had lost to Teikyou in the semifinals, and there were some good teams in the Kanto Best 8 such as Urawa Gakuin, Touin Gakuen (who had lost to Yokohama Hayato in the prefectural finals last summer). Yet it was the well-known Nichidai-san that was selected.

I thought perhaps it was bias, allowing a big-name school to enter the tournament. They've been to Koshien many times, and would get some draw and attention. Looking at the team, there was nothing about it that screamed top tier. The hitting was a bit above average, they had multiple pitchers that they threw out there on the mound. It certainly didn't feel like a powerhouse team.

But at Koshien anything can happen, and Nichidai-san has proven me wrong. Now, their first 2 games were against 21st century teams, and while I will NOT pull a Nonomura, I will say that generally the 21st century teams are not of the same caliber. Now ace Fujita from Kouyou did give the team a fight, but they were able to move on. And against what I thought was an above-average Tsuruga Kehi team, they just annihilated 10-0.

And now here they are in the semifinals, and just 2 games away from the title. But they're facing by far their hardest test in Kouryou...

So let's pull the curtains on the penultimate day and let the games begin!

Kouryou (Hiroshima) - Chuugoku At-large
2B Fukuda Shuuhei
SS Toyota Takamitsu (#9)
RF Sanda Tatsuya (#6)
1B Maruko Tatsuya
CF Mikoshiba Daiki
LF Kuramasu Takahiro
3B Tokuda Shinyuu (#13)
P Arihara Kouhei
C Shintani Atsushi

Nichidai-san (Tokyo) - Kanto/Tokyo At-large
RF Takayama Shun
1B Ogihara Tatsurou (#4)
CF Hiraiwa Takuji
3B Yokoo Toshitake
P Yamazaki Sachiya
SS Yoshizawa Shougo
LF Azegami Shou
1B Sano Tomohito
C Suzuki Takahiro (#12)


11:02 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Fukuda starts off the game with a liner to center for a base hit!

Toyota showing bunt, but fouls it off. Tries again, but misses. 0-2 now... still showing bunt!

Pulls it back and slaps it into right! Fukuda rounding 2nd and reaches 3rd easily! Runners on 1st and 3rd right for Kouryou!

Sanda looking to put Kouryou on the board quickly.

Boy the stadium is EMPTY. Where IS everyone??!

Oh, this isn't good. Yamazaki behind 3-1 to Sanda! And he hits him! Manrui for Kouryou!!!

Ogura-kantoku calls time and calls a conference.

Maruko with a comebacker to Yamazaki! Home for one, throw to first, double play!! Maruko disastrously grounds into the 1-2-3 double play and there's 2 outs!

Mikoshiba hoping to salvage something out of this inning...


Yamazaki with a wild pitch that gets away from Suzuki! Toyota comes in to score and Kouryou does indeed get on the board! 1-0!

Mikoshiba walks putting runners at the corners again.


Another wild pitch by Yamazaki that Suzuki can't block!! Sanda walks in and it's 2-0 Kouryou!!

Kuramasu grounds out to short to end the inning, but after seeming to be on his way to getting out of an early mess, Yamazaki's 2 wild pitches negate it all!

Bottom 1st
Arihara starts Takayama with a steady diet of sliders, and strikes him out swinging.

Ogihara swings on Arihara's first fastball and grounds it to short. Toyota can't get a grip on it though and Ogihara reaches safely!

Arihara records his 2nd K as he gets Hiraiwa on an outside fastball.

Now it's Arihara with a wild pitch advancing Ogihara to 2nd!!

AH! The wild pitch immediately becomes damaging as Yokoo drives a fastball the opposite way to right center! Sanda gets the ball in, but not before Ogihara scores to make it a 2-1 ballgame!!

Yamazaki with a ball back up the middle! Mikoshiba throwing the ball home as Yokoo is waved home! Shintani with the tag, but not in time! Yokoo is called safe and just like that Nichidai-san has leveled the score!! 2-2!!

And Arihara walks Yoshizawa! After what seemed like a good start, he has looked erratic on the mound.

Count goes full on Azegami and the runners will be taking off again. Azegami grounds to 1st to end the inning.

Some inconsistent pitching on both sides to start the game. Is the back-to-back games affecting them?

Top 2nd
Yamazaki settling down here in the 2nd. He gets a 1-2-3 inning as he retires the bottom of Kouryou's order in a mere 7 pitches:

- Tokuda grounds to 2nd
- Arihara flies out to center
- Shintani pops up to short

We'll see if he's back to normal next inning.

Bottom 2nd
Some umbrellas come out behind home plate. Guess the rain's coming down a bit more now.

Arihara has a similar inning to Yamazaki:

- Sano grounds out to 3rd
- Suzuki grounds out to short
- Takayama grounds back to Arihara

He needed a couple more pitches than Yamazaki, but again, we'll see if he's back to normal as well...

Top 3rd
Fukuda leads off the 3rd with a base hit to left. Toyota looking to bunt him along but Yamazaki isn't letting him.

So on the 1-2 pitch he pulls it back and swings away! It's a hit-and-run! Toyota hits a grounder to short and Yoshizawa's only play is to 1st.

Sanda with a grounder back to Yamazaki! It hits his feet and deflects to the right of 2nd! But Ogihara is there to pick it up and make the out at 1st. Fukuda advances to 3rd, but there's 2 down.

Yoshizawa falls behind Maruko 3-0 but manages to work the count back full. Eventually he induces a groundout to 2nd to end the inning.

Yamazaki has another relatively short inning, but his inability to throw strikes is still a bit concerning.

Bottom 3rd

Ogihara with a drive to left!!! Kuramasu running back to the wall!!


Ogihara drives a hanging curve into the left field stands!!! Nichidai-san takes the lead just like that 3-2!!

And then he loses Hiraiwa after being ahead 1-2!

Yokoo isn't bunting here, Ogura's letting him swinging away! And he drives one to deep center! Mikoshiba a couple of steps in front of the wall makes the catch!

Now Arihara loses Yamazaki as well! Arihara doesn't look sharp at all again!

Shintani out to the mound to try and calm Arihara down.

Doesn't work!! Yoshizawa with a grounder through the gap to left! Manrui for Nichidai-san!!

Conference on the mound now. This game can slip out of control quickly if Arihara's not careful.

Chopper to 2nd! Fukuda with it, tags Yoshizawa! Throw to 1st for the double play and Arihara gets out of the inning giving up only the homerun!

It certainly could have been worse, and while Arihara got out of the mess, his lack of control is also disconcerting.

This could be a wild game if this keeps up...

Top 4th
Mikoshiba leads off the 4th with a grounder up the middle that sneaks by Yoshizawa!

Kouryou's oen-dan is playing Dash Keio! (Although perhaps a tad slow...)

Kuramasu not bunting, and hits a grounder to 1st! Sano throws to 2nd for one, relay back to Yoshizaki, two!! The double play wipes out the opportunity!

(AUGH!! Kuramasu, run THROUGH the bag!!!!!)

Tokuda earns a two-out walk.

Arihara up now. And Yamazaki's 1-2 pitch is in the dirt and Tokuda takes off for 2nd!

Chance for Arihara to even the score, but he's frozen on a fastball inside to end the inning.

Bottom 4th
Sano with a high chopper back to Arihara who snags it and throws to 1st for the out.

Suzuki goes down on a slider down and outside.

Hm? Ogura-kantoku pinch hits for Takayama. But he also goes down swinging.

He looks good this time around, but how long will that last?

Top 5th
Ootsuka says in the game and plays RF.

Pitching change for Nichidai-san! Ogura-kantoku will look to the bullpen to hold the game now.

Yamazaki is relieved for the first time by #10 Kumasaka. He moves to 1st while Kumasaka comes in for Sano to take the hill.

And he starts his appearance by hitting Shintani. Then he walks Fukuda! Oy, this isn't looking good...

Toyota immediately looking to bunt the runners over. But he fails twice and falls behind 1-2.

And he's still trying! But pulls it back for ball 2. 5th pitch, and he lays it down! Suzuki gets it and goes to 1st, but that's a risky call there by Nakai-kantoku.

Looks like Ogura doesn't like what he sees and replaces Kumasaka with #11 Yoshinaga.

...and he proceeds to strike out Sanda swinging. Yoshinaga has a huge speed difference (high 130 fastball, high 110 slider).

The control on those offspeed pitches though is lacking a bit, and he walks Maruko to load the bases!!

But Mikoshiba swings at the first pitch and grounds to 1st! Yamazaki has it for the 3rd out and Nichidai-san is out of the inning!

I don't know about the bullpen for Nichidai-san. It looks a bit shaky - but at least they have Yamazaki still in the game in case things go awry.

Bottom 5th
Ogihara grounds out to 3rd to start the inning as Nichidai-san plays their own rally music again (I really like it, but I don't know if any of the Koshien music CD's would have it...)

Hiraiwa goes down swinging, and Yokoo quickly fouls out to Shintani.

We head to the break with Nichidai holding a 1-run lead. The pitching has been a bit sloppy and with the weather conditions as they are, it might stay that way.

Top 6th
Kuramasu back from the break with a shot over Azegami's head! It one-hops the wall and he's in with a leadoff double!

Eh? Nakai-kantoku is pinch hitting for Tokuda. #14 Ninomiya is coming in.

And he's bunting??

He lays it down and Yokoo throws to Ogihara for the out, but it's still strange to see a person pinch hit just to bunt.

Tying run 90 feet away now for Arihara... but he goes down swinging on a change inside!!! 2 down for Kouryou!

Up to Shintani now...

Eh? After the first pitch to Shintani, Ogura-kantoku makes a defensive change???

#16 Kobayashi comes in for Ootsuka and goes to CF. Hiraiwa goes to RF.

How does this make sense, and why now at 1-0?

And after all that on a 3-0 count, Shintani is hit again! Runners on the corners for top batter Fukuda.

Count goes full on Fukuda runners take off, but he just fouls it off. 7th pitch, runners take off again, and it's ball 4! Manrui for Kouryou!

Ever since the defensive change, it seems like Yoshinaga's all out of sorts.

Toyota up now and I'm pretty sure he's not bunting this time.

Liner to right!! That's over Ogihara's head! Kuramasu scores, Shintani with the wide turn at 3rd, he's being waved home! Hiraiwa with the throw home, but Suzuki is up the first base line and can't make the tag! Toyota with a 2-out timely hit and Kouryou takes the lead! It's 4-3!!

Sanda steps in looking for another timely hit to extend the lead! The oen-dan is playing much louder urging the team to go.

And after a pitch above Sanda's head, Yoshinaga falls behind 3-1! Suzuki goes out to settle him down.

Sanda with the green light, but fouls it off!

And Yoshinaga gets him swinging on another changeup! Suzuki loses the handle on the ball, but makes the throw to 1st to end the inning.

But walks by Yoshinaga wind up hurting him as he relinquishes the lead here in the 6th!

Bottom 6th
Ninomiya stays in the game and takes over at 3B.

Yamazaki leads off the 6th with a single through the infield to right.

Yoshizawa with the bunt, Arihara's throw to 1st just beats out a running Yoshizawa.

Azegami with a grounder through Arihara's legs and into center!! They're sending Yamazaki home!! Mikoshiba fires it in but the relay from Toyota is wide and Yamazaki scores! We're all tied at 4-4!!

Yoshinaga slices one past Maruko into right!! Azegami holds at 2nd, but Nichidai-san is threatening!

Arihara trying to shut it down, but Ogura is looking for a bunt! Suzuki fouls the 0-1 pitch off and he's probably swinging away now.

But he pops it up! Fukuda next to 2nd makes the catch as the infield fly rule is called and there's 2 down.

EH? Kobayashi trying for the safety bunt, but misses on a pitch down and outside.

Arihara pitching him away, and Kobayashi bites on a change. 1-2.

Kobayashi swings on another change and grounds out to 2nd. But Nichidai-san has come back to equalize and it's a new ballgame!

Top 7th
Maruko with a drive to right!! Hiraiwa running to the fence but stops!


A no-doubt-about-it home run by Maruko and just like that Kouryou has the lead again!! It's 5-4!!

And Ogura-kantoku makes another pitching change! Yoshizawa comes in from short to take the hill. Ogihara moves across the bag to short, and #15 Negishi comes in for Yoshinaga to play 2nd.

Yoshizawa gets Mikoshiba on a slider for the first out.

The rain seems to be picking up now at Koshien as umbrellas are popping up all over the stadium.

However, he too has control issues as he walks Kuramasu,

Ninomiya showing bunt again, but pulls it back for ball 1. Shows bunt again, but pulls it back to swing! Does it again, and fouls it off. One more time, but this time he hits it back to Yoshizawa! He goes to 2nd for one, relay by Ogihara, double play!

Yoshizawa gets the last two outs here in the 7th, but Maruko's homerun gives Kouryou the lead once again!

Bottom 7th
Arihara firing sliders at Ogihara gets him looking.

Hiraiwa up as Arihara breaks the 100 pitch mark. He hits a sharp grounder to 1st. Maruko backhands it and runs to 1st for the 2nd out.

And Yokoo goes down swinging to end the inning! Kouryou still hanging on to their one run lead!

Top 8th
Arihara with a grounder to short, but Ogihara's throw is high! It goes into the camera well as Arihara is given 2nd! Chance for Kouryou to extend the lead!

Shintani a given to bunt here. His first attempt goes foul. After a pitch low, he tries again but fouls that one off down the 3rd base side too! 1-2 now, and he's bunting again! But he fouls that off to and is retired! One down!

Back to the top of the order and Fukuda. Will he be bunting too?

Doesn't look like it. But he goes down looking! 2 down now and Arihara is still at 2nd!

But Yoshizawa hits Toyota! He extends the inning? Will it come back to hurt him?

Sanda up, but he pops it up! Yamazaki under it in foul territory for the catch to retire the side!! Kouryou with a runner on 2nd and no out can't get the runner home! They'll have to settle for the 1-run lead once again!

Bottom 8th
Yamazaki with a swinging bunt that slowly goes up the left side! Ninomiya comes in gets it, double clutches and his throw is high! Yamazaki on base with an infield hit! Yoshizawa immediately bunts him over into scoring position.

The rain is coming down harder now...

And Arihara walks Azegami on 4 straight!! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Nichidai-san!

Negishi up for his first AB and Arihara's first pitch goes way outside! He evens the count though.

Negishi shows bunt! Lays it down. Arihara with it, throws to first!!!!!!!!!!!

He throws it away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The ball goes up the line as Yamazaki scores! We're tied at 5-5 and Nichidai has runners at 2nd and 3rd!!

#17 Shimizu comes in to pinch hit for Suzuki.

Arihara's first pitch is a fastball way in front!

Shimizu with a hard shot that Maruko cannot get his glove fully on! The ball dies as it rolls into the outfield allowing both Azegami and Negishi to score as Sanda has to run it down!! It's 7-5 Nichidai-san!!

Kobayashi with a bunt down the third base line! Ninomiya running in throws it first... SAFE!!! Kobayashi's dives just beats out the throw and everyone's safe!!

Ogihara up now, and Arihara seems to be a bit rattled. He looks down on the mound after his 1-0 pitch perhaps worried about his footing.

And Ogihara with a single back up the middle! That's past a diving Fukuda into center! Shimizu rounds third and he will score! It's now 8-5 Nichidai!

Hiraiwa up, and Arihara seems to continue having issues with his footing on the mound after his delivery... He continues to work the mound to try and find some thing comfortable.

But he must still be having issues as he walks Hiraiwa!

Shintani goes up to him to have a few words. As he leaves, Arihara is looking around.

Then there's a shot of Arihara looking towards the dugout as Nakai-kantoku is folding his arms. Arihara goes back and tries to work on the mound moving dirt/mud around.

He doesn't look comfortable out there at all and it seems like he's trying to find a way to get the mound fixed, for the umpires to call a rain delay, or to just get off the mound....

2-1 on Yokoo and Arihara continues to work the mound...

And Yokoo with a liner to left for a base hit! Kuramasu bobbles the ball!! 2 runs come in to score and it's now 10-5!

Finally Nakai-kantoku puts Arihara out of his misery. #10 Ueno comes in to relieve him.

But Arihara's feelings are written all over his face. As if he felt frustrated and almost helpless as the inning unfolded before him.

It's not just the mound. The infield is looking pretty bad too.

Yamazaki up for the 2nd time this inning. He hits a grounder to the right side past a drawn in Maruko and into right for a base hit. Hiraiwa scores and it's now 11-5.

Yoshizawa swinging at a pitch way up and in hits a grounder though the left side! That scores another and it's now 12-5.

Azegami up and Ueno is having trouble getting the ball to the plate, and he seems like he's having mound issues. He throws 3 in front before getting one across.

But Azegami hits the next pitch back up the middle past a diving Fukuda into center! Yamazaki holds at 3rd and the bases are loaded again.

Man, you have to feel bad for Kouryou now. The rain has totally eaten them alive here in the 8th...

Negishi the 13th batter up this inning. Grounder to 1st. Maruko has it. Throw to 2nd....

Oh boy...

His throw is way wide and goes into the outfield...

Yamazaki and Azegami come in to score making it 14-5...

And Nakai makes another pitching change. #11 Kawasaki comes in for Ueno who wasn't able to retire a single batter in the hopes of getting out of this inning.

Shimizu now up for his 2nd AB with runners on 1st and 2nd.

He hits a grounder to Maruko who goes to 1st for the out.

Kobayashi up with 2 down and runners at 2nd and 3rd. Tries the bunt, but fouls it off.

Kawasaki strikes him out to mercifully end the inning...

The rain has taken it's toll on Kouryou. 3 pitchers, 15 batters, 10 runs.

While they'll certainly get their last ups and Yoshizawa may have the same problems, 9 runs is a lot to ask for...

Top 9th
#18 Katou comes in for Shimizu to take over at C.

Maruko is called out on a check swing to start the 9th.

Mikoshiba tries to bunt, pulls it back, but after appealing to 3rd is called for a strike.

And Mikoshiba goes down looking. 2 down.

Kuramasu the last chance for Kouryou and Yoshizawa's first pitch goes all the way to the backstop. He eventually earns a walk.

Kuramasu's replaced by #16 Okamoto at 1st while #5 Yamauchi pinch hits for Ninomiya.

Yamauch singles to left, and there's runners at 1st and 2nd for Kawasaki.

Oh wait. #12 Naruhashi comes in to pinch hit for Kawasaki.

Count goes to 2-2 and they're down to their last strike. But Yoshizawa throws two pitches high, the 2nd going all the way to the backstop and the bases are loaded.

More changes. #18 Ueda goes in to pinch run for Naruhashi while #15 Eguchi pinch hits for Shintani. This leaves #17 Shimizu as the only bench player left for Kouryou.

Yoshizawa can't seem to get the ball down and he walks Eguchi to force in a run making it 14-6.

Back to the top of the order and Fukuda is swinging away.

Grounder to short, throw by Ogihara is wide! 2 runs come in to score making it 14-8.

Yoshizawa continues to have issues as he walks Toyota on 3 straight to load the bases again.

Ogura-kantoku calls a conference on the mound. While it'll take another run or two before he gets really concerned, he really doesn't want to get to that point.

Yoshizawa puts two in the zone and Kouryou is once again down to their final strike.

Sanda fouling a pitch off now having to protect the plate.

And Yoshizawa sails one to the backstop again and Eguchi comes in... make that slides in... to score making it 14-9.

Still 5 runs is a lot, and even a base hit to score the other 2 wouldn't make me that concerned if I were Nichidai-san.

And Sanda strikes out on a high fastball to end the game.

Nichidai-san advances to the championship game, and for Kouryou it seems the weather gods do not like Hiroshima for some reason as it has played a part in the last 2 Koshien tournaments - Jyousuikan vs. Kochi last summer and Kouryou here today. Perhaps you could call it bad timing, but if I were managing the team coming out of Hiroshima for the summer Koshien, I'd consider giving an offering wishing for good weather. It's really too bad Arihara had to end his tournament this way.

Day 10 Games

Unfortunately I probably won't be able to live blog the first semifinal between Nichidai-san and Kouryou due to my bowling league. I should be able to get the 2nd semifinal between Kounan and Oogaki Nichidai live though.