So 2 days in and I bet a lot of people are shocked at what has occurred so far. A team not even 1 year since inception almost takes down a perennial team from Hokkaido. Yokohama looks, well... ordinary against Hasami and exits early. And a team that truly did receive an invite quietly dominates the Hokushinetsu champions who have a pro yakyuu quality ace.
What will be in store today?
Well, you'd better get up for this game, because we've got 2 well-established teams ready to square off here for your breakfast game.
Nichidai-san is probably the definition of an annual contender. Doesn't matter if the roster turns over, you can figure they're a team that can reach each and every Koshien tournament. Last year they reached the championship game before falling (like everyone else) to ace Shimabukuro and Kounan.
After cruising through block play, they did the same in the Tokyo super-regional. Oddly enough, they didn't face any of the other Tokyo powerhouses as they all stumbled somewhere along the line. No Teikyou, no Obirin, no Kokushikan, no Kanto-Daiichi - and Waseda Jitsugyou was eliminated in block play!
And in the Meiji Jingu Tournament, they never trailed, defeating Hokkai, Urawa Gakuin and Kagoshima Jitsugyou to win it all. Now, the case can be made that out of all the teams, the only true test was Kagoshima Jitsugyou, but really defeating all 3 teams should be considered quality wins.
For Meitoku Gijyuku, their first real test came in the prefectural semis when they played Kochi Shougyou. They defeated them, then lost to Kochi in the final. Then in the super-regionals, they had a good win against Sangawa in the quarterfinals and was on a collision course to face Kochi yet again, except Kagawa Nishi got in the way and defeated Kochi in the semis. With them out of the way, Meitoku Gijyuku had the inside track to take the super-regional title and did so with authority.
Having won the super-regional, they went to Meiji Jingu where they handled Kanzei before losing to Kagoshima Jitsugyou.
Despite the lack of quality opponents, Nichidai-san still looks to be one of the front-runners to win the title. Meitoku Gijyuku is certainly a solid team from Shikoku, and this should be a decent game to watch, but Nichidai-san should expect to advance.
Of course, I said that of Yokohama and look where they are now.
Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) - Shikoku Champions
2B Umeda Tsubasa
3B Imazato Seima (#6)
1B Sakida Genki
LF Kitagawa Kentarou
RF Oonishi Teruyuki (#10)
SS Iyota Kazuki (#14)
C Sugihara Kengo
P Omatsu Yoshiki
CF Yamaguchi Reimon
Nichidai-san (Tokyo) - Tokyo Champions
RF Takayama Shun
LF Taniguchi Yuuta (#4)
CF Azegami Shou
1B Kaneko Ryouya
3B Yokoo Toshitake
SS Shimizu Kouki
2B Suganuma Kenichi (#7)
P Yoshinaga Kentarou
C Suzuki Takahiro
9:00 - Game start!
Yoshinaga a bit shaky to start the game, walking Umeda on 5 pitches. Then Mabuchi-kantoku puts on the hit-and-run! Imazato hits a grounder back up the middle, and it's past a diving Suganuma! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Meitoku!
Mabuchi-kantokou has Sakida bunt the runners and there's a great chance for Meitoku!
Kitagawa up, runs the count full stays alive with a couple of foul balls...
Yoshinawa gets him on a slider for the 2nd out!
Up to Oonishi now. Count goes to 2-2...
Yoshinaga strikes out Oonishi on a curve to end the inning! Not the best opening to a game, but no damage either.
One down for Nichidai-san and Taniguchi hits a grounder to the left side! Iyota with the stop, but has no throw.
Azegami up, no bunting here.
And Taniguchi is picked off 1st!! He was close to being picked off in the last attempt, but this time he's caugh hopping the wrong way and is thrown out! 2 down for Nichidai!
Azegami grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, and I'm sure Taniguchi will here a little about that baserunning mistake.
Yoshinaga giving a steady diet of fastballs to the opposition. They seem to be getting some contact though. Iyota flying out to center, and Sugihara to right.
Then Omatsu drives one to center. Azegami running back can't get there and Omatsu is in with a double!
Last batter Yamaguchi up, and now we're seeing more curveballs. He turns on one, but Kaneko playing down the line makes the grab and takes it to 1st to end the inning.
Yokoo bloops one into left to start the inning for Nichidai-san. Kaneko successfully bunts the runner along for Shimizu. He hits a chopper to 3rd. Imazato charging in makes the pick and completes the play with a running throw to 1st. Yokoo advances to 3rd, but there's 2 down.
Suganuma hits another ball to Imazato and he completes the play to end the inning.
Back to the top of the order, and Yoshinaga once again walks Umeda to start the inning.
Imazato is looking to bunt but has pulled the bat back in all cases, running the count to 2-2. But he tries to do it now... and fouls out...
I can't tell some of his pitches. He has something that sits in the upper 130s, something straight in the low 130s, then a slider in the 120s and a change in the 110s.
おっと。 Yoshinaga walks his 3rd batter in Sakida and there's runners at 1st and 2nd.
Kitagawa with a hard shot, but Shimizu snags the liner for the 2nd out! Runners have to scramble back to the bag.
Oonishi hits a lazy fly to center to end the inning, and Meitoku can't capitalize.
Yoshinaga with a sharp grounder to 3rd. It's off Imazato! Iyota there to back it up, but has no throw. Suzuki promptly bunts him along.
Now it's Omatsu with some control issues, walking Takayama on 4 straight. Time for a conference by Mabuchi-kantoku.
おいおい！ Now Taniguchi walks and it's manrui for Nichidai-san!
And now it's 3-0 to Azegami!
押し出し！ Omatsu walks in a run! Not the thing you want to do already being the underdog! 1-0!
Yokoo looking to break open the game attacks the pitches as he probably figures they want Omatsu to throw a strike.
Count goes 3-2, and he gets Yokoo on a slider down and in for what would have been ball 4!
Kaneko with a liner to shallow center! Yamaguchi charging in makes the catch to retire the side - but not before Omatsu's lack of control costs his team a run!
One down and Sugihara singles through the right side. Mabuchi-kantoku elects for the bunt again, but it'll be up to last batter Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi gets ahead 3-1 and drives a ball to center! Azegami running back has it go over his head! It takes a hop to the wall and Sugihara scores! Yamaguchi slides in safely to 3rd and just like that Meitoku has tied the game! 同点, 1-1!!
Umeda up for Meitoku, and he's hit! Runners now at the corners for Meitoku!
But Imazato with a chopper back to Yoshinaga. He goes to 1st to retire the side, but not before a timely hit from the last batter levels the game!
Shimizu with a slicing liner to left! Kitagawa sprinting over and makes the running catch! He throws it in, but seems to be in some discomfort. He stretches it out a bit and is ready to go again.
And it's a quick inning after that as Suganuma flies out to center, and Omatsu gets Yoshinaga to foul out to Imazato.
Sakida with a shot down the 1st base line... fair! Takayama hustles to get to the ball, but not before he's in with a leadoff double!
This time around Mabuchi-kantoku isn't bunting! But Yoshinaga is being careful with cleanup batter Kitagawa falling behind 3-1.
But he leaves one over! Kitagawa drills it down the right field line! Sakida rounding 3rd scores easily on the RBI double and Meitoku Gijyuku leads 2-1!!
Now Mabuchi calls for the bunt and Oonishi obliges. Iyota up to try to get the run in.
Mabuchi calls for the squeeze on the 1-1 count, but Iyota fouls it off!
And Yoshinaga gets him on a curve down for strike 3! 2 out! Sugihara, with one hit on the day looks for another.
Instead, Yoshinaga walks him on 5 pitches bringing up Omatsu who earlier hit a ball almost to the wall for a double.
Unlike some bottom of the order hitters, Omatsu is willing to swing away.
Unfortunately, he doesn't make contact and bails on a ball out of the zone for strike 3, ending the inning. Thanks to the back to back doubles by Sakida and Kitagawa though, Nichidai-san finds themselves behind heading into the bottom of the 5th!
Suzuki with a drive down the left field line! Kitagawa spring over makes another great catch near the wall!
Takayama quickly swings and grounds out to 2nd, and Taniguchi grounds out to short to bring us to the break. And surprisingly, the Meiji Jingu Champions have been held to just 1 run on 3 hits!
And it's not like Omatsu is a fireballer either. His fastball is only in the upper 120's, and he primarily relies on his offspeed stuff (slider, curve) which sits in the mid 110s.
Behind 0-2, Yamaguchi singles past Suganuma! He's successfully moved over by leadoff batter Umeda.
Imazato working hard at the plate fouling off a couple after falling behind 1-2, but he swings at a curve and weakly hits one back to Yoshinaga for the 2nd out.
Sakida up, and Yoshinaga gets ahead 0-2. Sakida managers to work the count even, and just fouls a high fastball. Change outside and count is full. Ooo... just gets a piece of a 140 kph fastball.
Liner down the right field line.... foul!!! Yoshinaga left that up, but doesn't pay for it!
Single to center! Azegami has to play the hop and Yamaguchi slides in to make it a 3-1 lead for Meitoku Gijyuku!!
Kitagawa up now, and Yoshinaga pitching cautiously. Count goes full and he walks him.
Oonishi first pitch hits it to short. It's off Shimizu and ricochets off into center! They run down the ball, but not before Sakida scores from 2nd! 4-1 Meitoku Gijyuku and Ogura-kantoku calls a conference.
#12 Kawai comes in to run for Oonishi.
Iyota grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but the lead continues to extend for Meitoku! Will Nichidai ever get the offense going?
Azegami starts it off with a low liner past the glove of Omatsu and off the mound into center. Yokoo follows that up with a single to left and Mabuchi-kantoku quickly calls a conference.
Kaneko bunts the runners along hoping that either Shimizu or Suganuma can drive the runners home.
Shimizu hits a grounder to short, but Iyota has no play at home since Azegami was running on contact. He gets the out at 1st and it's 4-2 Meitoku.
Suganuma with a liner down the 3rd base line! Imazato leaps, but can't get it! Kitagawa quickly gets it in, but not before Yokoo scores making it a 1-run game once again! It's 4-3!!
Yoshinaga pops it up! Imazato and Omatsu coming in, and Omatsu last minute makes the grab! A bit scary there, but the side is retired. However the lead is razor thin once again.
Yoshinaga gaining a bit of confidence it seems as he retires the 7-8-9 batters quickly in order culminating in Yamaguchi flailing at an offspeed pitch. There's still plenty of time for Nichidai-san, can they find the equalizer?
Sasaki with a scorcher past a diving Imazato down the left field line! But he's limited to a single as Kitagawa quickly sends the ball back in.
Top of the order for Nichidai-san. No bunt! Ogawa has Takayama swing away, but he falls down 0-2!
But Takayama singles through the gap into left! No out and runners at 1st and 2nd for Nichidai!
Now Ogawa will ask Taniguchi to bunt.
It's too hard! Omatsu fields it and throws to 3rd for the force! One down!
Azegami with a slicer down the left field line! Kitagawa over to get it, but Nichidai-san has comeback to tie the game! 同点, 4-4!!
Yokoo with a blast to left! But he's just under it and Kitagawa moves over to make the catch. 2 down!
Kaneko looking to give Nichidai the lead.
Nice block by Sugihara, but he's slow to get out from the plate and Taniguchi takes off for 3rd! No throw! Heady play by Taniguchi!
Kaneko with a grounder to 1st. Sakida with it, flips to Omatsu for the out to end the inning. But Nichidai-san has tied the game with plenty of time left. What will Meitoku Gijyuku do?
Umeda with a grounder to 3rd. Yokoo up with it, throws to 1st, and it's off Kaneko's glove! The throw was wide enough to glance off the glove and he's on safely!
Pitch in the dirt bounces off Suzuki. He loses it for a second and Umeda takes off for 2nd! He's in safely!
Imazato lays down the bunt! Yoshinaga charges in throws to 3rd... SAFE!!!!!
Umeda beats the throw and now there's runners on the corners!
Sakida up, hits a grounder to 2nd! The runners take off! Suganuma with the throw home! あ！
The ball bounces and hits Suzuki in the face! He goes down as Umeda scores making it 5-4! Suzuki stays down as the coach and umpires come over to him. They bring a towel over to him and he's escorted off.
As backup C Nakahira comes out, one of the teammates asks to check the area. The umpire obliges and it looks like he picks up something. Probably Suzuki lost a tooth. Ow.
Eventually Suzuki comes out, probably with gauze in his mouth.
Kitagawa up and it looks like the battery has hunkered down. Kitagawa goes down swinging on a sinker for the 1st out.
Nakadaira up for his 1st AB.
Mabuchi calls for the squeeze, but Nakadaira pops it up! Perhaps fortunately he pops it up high so the runners can scramble back. 2 now down for Yoshinaga.
Iyota with a hit to center! But it's right to Azegami and the inning is over. Meitoku however retakes the lead, and Nichidai-san finds themselves suddenly running out of time!
Shimize with a deep fly to left, but Kitagawa near the pole makes the catch.
Suganuma takes the first pitch and singles to left!
Yoshinaga up, and Omatsu can't get those offspeed pitches over the plate. He had issues with this last inning too. And he winds up walking Yoshinaga.
Mabuchi-kantoku calls a conference as Suzuki comes to the plate.
AND HE FEELS FINE!!!!
He drives a ball to deep left center! No one's going to get that ball! It goes all the way to the wall and the runners are flying around the bases! Suganuma comes in, 同点！ Yoshinaga rounds 3rd, he scores!! 逆転！！！！！！
Suzuki making that face feel much better as he gives his team the lead!! It's 6-5 Nichidai-san!!
And Omatsu certainly is out of gas. While he gets the count full against Takayama, he walks him and things are not looking good.
But Taniguchi flies out to right for the 2nd out. And Azegami strikes out to end the inning. However, now Meitoku must find a way to score a run in the 9th.
Sugihara with a sharp hit to 2nd! Suganuma with the snag and his throw beats a sliding Sugihara! One down.
#15 Yoshimoto up for Omatsu. But he can't check his swing on a 2-2 slider and they're down to their final out.
Yamaguchi the last chance now for Meitoku. Count goes full... and he walks! Yamaguchi keeps the game alive! It's back to the top of the order and Umeda!
Hit-and-run! Umeda grouds to Yokoo! Throw to 1st beats a diving Umeda and that completes the comeback! Nichidai-san outlasts Meitoku Gijyuku and earns a comeback win 6-5!
You have to feel bad for Omatsu as he just didn't have the stamina to go the full game. He pitched brilliantly for 5 innings, but the numerous offspeed pitches must've caught up to him. If he can work on his stamina, Meitoku could have a team that could make a run in the summer. As for Nichidai-san, they avoid a scare in the 1st round, but will need to pick it up going forward.
Sakida Genki - 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI
Yamaguchi Reimon - 2-4, 3B, R, RBI, K, BB
Kitagawa Rintarou - 1-4, 2B, RBI, 2 K, BB
Azegami Shou - 2-4, R, RBI, K, BB
Yokoo Toshitake - 2-4, R
Suganuma Kenichi - 2-4, R, RBI
Suzuki Takahiro - 2-3, 逆転 2-RBI 2B