One might look at the early schedule of games and wonder how exciting these games will be. Realistically, most first-timers when facing established teams have a hard time advancing.
For Hasami 's first Senbatsu, it almost can't get any harder as they have to face Yokohama.
Hasami's road included a win over Seihou in the Sasebo regional final. Then they defeated Nagasaki Nichidai (who if you remember almost defeated Kikuchi Yuusei and Hanamaki Higashi not too long ago), and would have faced Seihou again in the final had Souseikan not rallied in the bottom of the 9th. With the main competition out of the way, Hasami blitzed Souseikan 12-0 to win their 7th fall title.
They drew a favorable bracket, defeating Oita and Ryuukoku before having to face Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku in the semis. They actually held a lead against them, although it wound up being short-lived as they fell 4-2, but they already had a Senbatsu bid pretty much wrapped up.
Yokohama won its fall title avoiding most traps, although they did face Touin Gakuen (7-1), was caught in a tight one versus Yokohama Shoudai (2-1). and outlasted Toukaidai Sagami (5-2).
If there was a case to be made for being concerned about the Yokohama squad, you only had to look at the super-regionals. Yokohama got out to big leads against Takasaki Shougyou and Kasumigaura before letting both teams pull within one late in the game. And then against Urawa Gakuin that collapse came sooner as Urawa Gakuin outplayed Yokohama 8-3.
So while Yokohama is certainly a strong team, it doesn't seem as strong as it has been in prior years, so perhaps this is the best opportunity for them to pull an upset. On the other hand, the close wins and the loss to Urawa Gakuin could have pushed the team to work even harder and Hasami is in a load of trouble.
Yokohama (Kanagawa) - Kanto 3rd/4th Place
CF Haizaki Ryou
LF Date Naoki
RF Otosaka Tomo
C Kondou Kensuke
1B Hashimoto Kentarou
2B Higuchi Ryuunosuke
P Saitou Kenta
SS Shishikura Kazuma
3B Takahashi Ryouken
Hasami (Nagasaki) - Kyushu 3rd/4th Place
2B Yamaguchi Yuudai
3B Hashiguchi Hayato (#15)
1B Komine Fumiya
P Matsuda Ryouma
RF Shida Hiromasa
LF Matsuo Ryousuke
SS Shibayama Jyunpei
C Kanzaki Takuya
CF Tanaka Yuuya
11:36 - Game start!
Matsuda throwing mid 140's to start, getting Haizaki to ground to 2nd.
Man, Matsuda continues to throw gas! He strikes out Date looking an a 147 kph fastball!
And while Otosake bloops one over Hashiguchi, he was jammed doing so.
Cleanup batter Kondou up, and we see a slider in the 130's. Oooo~~~ and a curve that drops in for a strike in the mid 110's.
Otosaka takes off for 2nd on a high fastball, and Kanzaki makes no throw. But Matsuda gets Kondou to fly out to right to end the inning.
Leadoff batter Yamaguchi wants a dead ball, but he didn't get out of the way. "Never mind", he thinks, he just grounds one past a stumbling Shishikura into left.
Yamauchi having control issues to start the game, as after running the count full walks Hashiguchi.
あ！ The ball gets away from Kondou and the runners advance!! And then Yamauchi walks Komine on 4 straight! Manrui for Hasami with no down!
Perhaps realizing the gravity of the situation, Yamauchi bears down. He gets ahead of Matsuda 0-2.
Matsuda grounds one to 3rd! Takahashi goes home for the force and now a double play can end the inning.
あああああああああ！ Yamauchi hits Shida on the first pitch! Hashiguchi comes home and Hasami takes a 1-0 lead!
Now Yamauchi walks Matsuo! That forces in another run and it's 2-0 Hasami!!
Watanabe calls time. This certainly isn't the start he was expecting.
The conference seems to have helped as Yamauchi gets ahead of Shibayama 0-2. Shibayama grounds to 1st. Hashimoto throws home for the force, and again that's all they get. 2 down.
Kanzaki bails out Yamauchi taking the first pitch to 2nd. Higuchi makes the toss to 1st to end the inning, but not before Hasami finds themselves up by a pair of runs!
One down for Yokohama and Higuchi squeezes a shot past Hashiguchi and down the left field line for a double.
Matsuda doesn't seem fazed as he gets Yamauchi to take a curve to 2nd for out #2. Higuchi advance to 3rd.
Shishikura grounds out to 2nd, and Yokohama is retired here in the 2nd.
Yamauchi settling down here in the 2nd. After a routine grounder by Tanaka, Yamauchi fools Yamaguchi on a slider for his first K.
Another grounder by Hashiguchi ends the inning, and Yokohama will go back on offense.
Takahashi leaning in to bunt gets hit, but is called a ball since he didn't try to get out of the way.
The Yokohama batters still are struggling with Matsuda. Takahashi grounds out to 2nd to start the inning.
Oh. That'll help Haizaki takes a hanging fastball and lines it down the right field line for a double.
あら？ Date goes for a safety bunt! Kanzaki is quickly out of the box and fires to 1st! The throw beats a diving Date for the out! Another death by sliding.
Otosaka up now looking for a one-timer... and he's hit!
Wait! He wasn't hit! The ball just bounced off the C's glove! Yokohama got away with one there.
And Otosaka is off on the first pitch! Kanzaki drops the ball and there's no throw!
With a base hit able to tie the game, and a base open, Matsuda gets careful. 4 balls later and now it's Matsuda in a manrui pinch.
There's nowhere to put Higuchi, and Matsuda seems to be having issues with control. He manages though to get Hashimoto to ground out to 2nd to end the inning.
Komine with a comebacker under Yamauchi and off the mound into center for a leadoff hit!
Matsuda goes first pitch swinging and flies out to Haizaki in right-center.
Oh, about Yamauchi. He throws in the mid-high 120's with a slider and curve in the 110's and 100's respectively. Not really your prototypical ace from Yokohama...
Shida with a comebacker to Yamauchi. He goes to 2nd for one, but Shida beats out the throw at 1st.
Yamauchi's control continues to be erratic as he walks Matsuo on 4 straight. But he does get Shibayama to fly out to Date down the left field line to retire the side.
Matsuda with a 142 kph 2-seamer hits the outside corner to get Higuchi looking.
Yamauchi though grounds one through the left side for a base hit... And Shishikura follows that up with one through the other side! Yokohama building an opportunity here with the bottom of the order!
AH! After Takahashi pulls back a bunt attempt, Kanzaki throws to 2nd and has Yamauchi picked off! He's run down 2-6-5 and there's 2 out for Yokohama!
And Takahashi hits the ball off the end of the bat and softly lines out to Yamaguchi to end the inning!
Yamauchi has finally settle down it seems, and without the benefit of walks, Hasami's offense is well... derelict. 3 groundouts and Yokohama is back on the sticks.
Top of the order for Yokohama, and Haizaki is looking to get on base any way. He runs the count full, and perhaps swings at a high ball, but fouls it off.
Haizaki with a drive to right center! Tanaka on a good sprint runs it down!
Yokohama might be trying to work the count now on Matsuda. Date works the count full and hits a slow grounder to short. Shibayama double clutches the ball and it costs him as Date slides in safely!
Otosaka tries to surprise with a bunt, but he pops it up! Hashiguchi charges in and catches it in foul territory!
Cleanup batter Kondou up to try and extend the inning. Kanzaki though almost picks Date off 1st with a snap throw!
Now Date goes for 2nd! Throw for Kanzaki is low and he's in safely!
And for the 3rd batter this inning, the count runs full for Matsuda. He can't get the call on a low slider and there's runners at 1st and 2nd.
Hashimoto, with 2 grounders on the day looks to deliver a timely hit.
Before that though, Kanzaki makes a good block on a ball in the dirt to keep the runners from advancing.
Hashimoto with a short grounder to the left side. Shibayama can't secure it and it goes in front of him! Matsuda picks it up, sees Date off 3rd and makes a throw! But it's offline and off Hashiguchi's glove! Date runs home on the double error and Yokohama cuts the deficit in half! 2-1!
Higuchi goes down on a check swing to end the inning, but compounding errors by Hasami make their lead razor thin.
Hashiguchi with a grounder to 1st. Hashimoto dives and it's off his glove. The ball bounces towards 2nd as Hashiguchi goes in safely.
Meanwhile, Hashimoto looks hurt. His left arm is hanging down and he can't move it. It looks at first glance like a separated shoulder. Eventually Watanabe-kantoku comes out as Hashimoto has a lot of trouble reaching the dugout. And right after #13 Miyakawa comes out to play catch ball, Watanabe-kantoku comes out of the dugout and tells him to get in the game. It probably is a separated shoulder.
And Komine immediately tests him as he hits a sharp grounder at him! Miyagawa dives but it's by him! Runners at 2nd and 3rd with no out and it looks bad for Yokohama!
Wild pitch from Yamauchi and Hashiguchi comes home! Hasami reclaims the two-run lead at 3-1!
Matsuda though grounds to short. Shishikura holds the runner and there's 1 down.
Uh oh. Shida walks and now Watanabe-kantoku sends #11 Yanagi out to the bullpen.
Matsuo looking to open up the game. Hits a grounder to the left side! Takahashi with the ball, throws home! Kondou with the great block and Komine is out at home! 2 down! Can Yamauchi get out of the jam?
Not if he can't find the strike zone. He walks Shibayama to load the bases once again. And Kanzaki makes Yamauchi pay! He grounds one through the left side for a base hit, plating Shida and giving Hasami a 4-1 lead!!
Tanaka hits a lazy fly to center to end the inning, but this is a shocker heading into the break. Senbatsu first-timers Hasami leads storied Yokohama 4-1!
The Yokohama offense needs to get going quickly, but they can't get anything started on Matsuda. Yamauchi watches a slider go by for strike 3 for out #1.
Shishikura manages a walk, and Takahashi follows that up with a single to right! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Yokohama as the lineup rotates back to the top.
Now it's Matsuda that is having a hard time finding the zone. He falls behind 3-1 and on a full count can't get the ball to come back towards the plate! Manrui for Yokohama!
Tokunaga-kantoku calls a timeout. Is this Yokohama's chance?
Date comes up to bat. Matsuda instead attacks with two curves and Date is swinging! 0-2, and Matsuda wastes a pitch.
Date swings at an inside fastball and hits a high chopper! Matsuda snags it and throws home for the force! 2 down!
Matsuda will not back down from the inside! He gets ahead of Otosaka 0-2 then decides to go high and in! Otosaka sits down, but gets up and fouls off two more inside pitches!
And Otosaka swings on another inside pitch! The ball hits him, but the umpire calls the play dead and the inning over! Matsuda with a lot of guts pounding inside on the Yokohama batters gets himself out of the jam!
Watanabe-kantoku seeing the situation his team is in sends in #11 Yanagi to relieve Yamauchi. A righty, he throws downhill with a fastball in the high 130's, with what looks like a slider at the high 120's and a curve in the high 100's.
Yamaguchi golfs a ball to center where Haizaki is there to field it. And then Hashiguchi is plunked in the shoulder.
Komine, perfect on the day, works the count full after falling behind. Yanagi successfully retires him as he grounds into a fielder's choice at 3rd.
Matsuda gets fooled on consecutive curves and outside of the hit batter has a quiet inning. Certainly a welcome sight for the team from Kanagawa.
I wonder if Matsuda and Tokunaga-kantoku are pitching around Kondou. That's his 3rd walk this game.
Infield is in for a bunt, but Miyagawa swings away! He fouls off the first pitch, and has no sign of bunting at all! Which is too bad because he pops out to Komine at 1st!
Outside of Kondou, Matsuda seems to be going after the batters.
No, I didn't mean it that way. A pitch up and in hits Higuchi on the lower part of the arm and he's in considerable pain. Even after the "itai spray" he's still grimacing.
Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity for Yokohama.
And Watanabe-kantoku elects to have Yanagi bunt the runners along! He does so, but now there's two down and they have to have a base hit.
Matsuda is going low on his pitches and walks Shishikura on 4 straight! Manrui again for Yokohama here in the 7th! Last batter Takahashi up hoping to get Yokohama close, if not level.
First pitch in the dirt. Nice block by Kanzaki. Matsuda pounding Takahashi with shuutos and gets ahead 1-2.
Matsuda with a shuuto on the outside corner, and Takahashi isn't prepared! He lunges out, but can't make contact! Matsuda out of another jam!!!!!
Shida running the count full, has a called 3rd strike that may have been low. Matsuo picks him up with a grounder back up the middle past Yanagi.
Pitch to Shibayama goes to the back! Matsuo advances to 2nd!
Shibayama laces a ball to right-center! That's between the fielders and all the way to the wall! Matsuo is in on the RBI triple from Shibayama and it's 5-1 Hasami!!!!!!!
Kanzaki lunges over home on a pitchout but Shibayama is back at 3rd.
And after a pitchout, there are a lot of throws over to 3rd.
Kanzaki is retired on an outside curve, and there's 2 down.
Tanaka goes down swinging to end the inning, but Hasami is 6 outs away from shocking the kokoyakyu world!
Top of the order for Yokohama, and they are dangerously low on time.
Haizaki goes down on a shuuto on the outside corner.
Date desperate to get on base tries a safety bunt, but Hashiguchi charges in and makes a fine play!
And Otosaka swings on the first pitch and flies out to center to end the inning!
Yanagi retires the first two batters via looking K's, and Komine is quickly retired on a foul fly to left.
Matuda takes the mound for what he hopes will be the last time this game...
Does Yokohama have a rally in them?
Matsuda pitches to Kondou! He hits a grounder to short and Shibayama boots another one!
Matsuda is unfazed though, and gets ahead of Miyagawa 0-2. He tries to nibble the outside, but no call. 2-2 count. Goes higher up the ladder and Miyagawa fouls it off. Back down and outside again, and the count goes full!
Matsuda gives in with a fastball over the plate and Miyagawa sends that through the left side! No outs, runners on 1st and 2nd!
Once again, Matsuda gets ahead of Higuchi 0-2.
This time, he catches the outside corner! Higuchi is called out on strikes and there's one down.
#12 Kinbara up for Yanagi. Goes low instead of inside, but falls behind 2-1. Another pitch way low and it's 3-1.
Green light! Kinbara with a grounder to short! Shibayama to Yamaguchi for one! Throw to Komine at 1st....
Double play!!!! GAME SET!!!!!!!!!
Hasami does it! They pull off the upset and defeat Yokohama 5-1!!!! I don't think anyone saw this one coming!
After the game, I get word that the injured player I had heard of was Yokohama's starting SS, Kondou Kensuke who fractured a finger during a workout. As a result they lost one of their better hitters and perhaps threw off their offense.
Yokohama seemed to have all the bad luck, losing their starting SS before, then their 1B during the game. But Hasami is the beneficiary and they move on to the next round!
Haizaki Ryou - 1-4, 2B, BB, K
Yanagi Yuuya - 3 IP, ER, 2 H, 6 K, HBP
Komine Fumiya - 2-4, 2B, R
Matsuo Ryousuke - 1-2, R, RBI, 2 BB
Matsuda Ryouma - W, CG, 8 H, 8 K, 6 BB, 2 HBP