Well, yesterday's games save for the first were a bit of a disappointment. It would seem that the games I don't expect to be interesting are, and the ones I do expect to, aren't. Go figure.
Today's opener should be a warmup. Chiben Wakayama, who probably holds the biggest monopoly in any prefecure is back yet again.
But their road was pretty short. Having been part of the Best 4 last summer, they automaticall moved past the block stage and into the prefecturals (which only consist of 8 teams). They breezed through those 3 games easily and moved onto the super-regionals. There they defeated both Kyoto Gaidai Nishi and PL Gakuen before falling to Tenri.
As for Sado, they had some success. After getting through the prefecturals and losing to Nihon Bunri, they lost to Saku Chousei in the 1st round of the super-regional 6-0.
But with no quality wins, it's hard to see Sado winning this matchup.
Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama) - Kinki 3rd/4th Place
RF Yamamoto Ryuuta
SS Ogasawara Tomohiro
C Michibata Shunsuke
CF Miyagawa Yuuki
1B Hiroaka Yukihiro
3B Shima Naohiro
LF Nakamura Kousei
2B Kawasaki Kousuke
P Miyagawa Yuuki (#10)
Sado (Niigata) - 21st Century Team
2B Iwami Shou
SS Wada Hiroyuki
LF Suzuki Shuntarou
RF Iwami Masato
CF Aida Kento
P Kamata Yuuki
C Watanabe Testuji
1B Nakagawa Atsushi
3B Arai Shouya
9:00 - Game start!
After getting off to an 0-2 start on Yamamoto, Kamata plunks Yamamoto. Takashima-kantoku has Ogasawara bunt the runners along, which he does.
Michibata with a grounder that just goes past Arai into left. Yamamoto holds at 3rd, but immediately Sado is in a pinch.
Miyagawa with a grounder to the left side. Wada over to get it, but drops the ball! Yamamoto comes in to score and it's quickly 1-0 Chiben Wakayama!
Kamata gets Hiroka looking on an outside pitch and there's 2 down.
Kamata is a righty that throws in the low-mid 130s with a slider in the 120s and a curve in the 110s.
But he continues to have issues with control walking Shima, and loading the bases.
Nakamura takes the first pitch and grounds back to Kamata! He tries to field it, but it gets by! Shou and Wada both converge, but it sneaks into center! Michibata comes in to score and it's now 2-0 Chiben!
Kawasaki pops out to Wada to end the inning, but Chiben is quickly on the board at 2-0.
Sado's batters having a hard time locating Aoki's pitches. After Shou grounds out to 2nd, Wada K's swinging, and Suzuki watches a pitch on the outside corner for the 3rd out.
Well, Kamata seems to have settled down quickly. He retires the 9-1-2 batters on just 8 pitches and they're back on the sticks to try and close the deficit.
Except that their batters are going down just as quickly. Masato pops up to Michibata, Aido goes down swinging on 4 pitches, and Kamata pops out to short. 7 pitches and Chiben is back on offense.
Boy things are going fast. Before I can get settled, Michibats takes the first pitch and grounds to 3rd. Miyagawa takes it and grounds to 2nd. Then Hiraoka takes his and lines one over Wada's head and into left center. Suzuki is able to get in front of it, but can't field it cleanly. As a result Hiraoka takes 2nd!
Shima allows me to take a breath as he doesn't swing on the first pitch. In fact, the count goes full on him, and then Kamata gets him looking on an inside fastball.
Watanabe goes down swinging, but the ball gets away from Michibata! He K's but reaches 1st safely!
Fukai-kantoku immediately calls for Watanabe to bunt the runner along, which he does. That brings up Arai to try and send the runner home.
Instead, he just advances him to 3rd with a grounder to 2nd. It'll be back to the top of the order and Shou to get the one-timer.
Shou manages to work the count full. But he kneels down when he's called out on a slider on the outside corner! Aoki denies Sado a run and maintains a 2-run lead!
Nakamura up for Chiben, and after the count runs 2-2, Kamata plunks him on the back knee. Kawasaki moves him over for Aoki.
But Aoki chases a slider and goes down swinging.
Yamamoto grounds to 2nd and outside of the 1st inning, Sado looks solid on defense.
It's interesting how people on Twitter are noting that Sado's oen-dan actually rivals that of Chiben Wakayama. And in terms of people making a design, it certainly does.
Wada finally gets Sado their first hit with a liner over Shima's head! Suzuki showing no bunt.
Then on 2-0 he shows bunt, pulls it back and drives one to deep left center! The outfield is in and they're racing back! It goes all the way back to the wall! Wada rounds third and scores! Suzuki heading to 3rd, but Ogasawara makes a fine throw to gun him at 3rd. But the base hit gets a run back and makes it a 2-1 ballgame!
Sado a bit more confident perhaps, but Aoki continues to get them. Both Masato and Aido go down looking and the inning is over.
Ogasawara manages to draw a walk from Kamata. Takashima-kantoku elects not to bunt from his #3 hitter, and Michibata flies out to center.
Miyagawa with a liner to left! Suzuki sprinting over to the foul line, reaches down and makes the running catch!
And a weak grounder by Hiroka to end the inning and Sado will look to take the momentum and tie the game.
Kamata with a shot to the left side! Shima dives to his left and makes a great stop! Throw to 1st beats out the dive!
Watanabe with another hard hit to 3rd. This time it bounces off Shima! But it's right to Ogasawara! His throw to 1st beats out a diving Watanabe for the 2nd out!
Nagagawa finally catches a break for Sado when his dribbler to the left side results in Aoki and Shima colliding (well, running into each other more than an actual collision) preventing a throw to 1st!
However Aoki gets Arai to softly line to Kawasaki right at the 2nd base bag for the last out.
The game is going at a good clip as we head to the break. Early on it looked like Chiben Wakayama would be running away with it, but Sado has settled down and has actually closed in on Chiben Wakayama!
Shima with a grounder past a diving Nakagawa into right.
Takashima-kantoku puts on the hit-and-run, but Nakamura lines it right to Nakagawa! He steps on the bag for the double play!
Kamata looking for a quick inning doesn't get it. Kawasaki singles to center.
Aoki stubborn at the plate, works the count full and draws a walk. Runners on 1st and 2nd now.
AH! Ahead 1-2 on Yamamoto, Kamata hangs a slider and Yamamoto singles to right! Kawasaki heads home and Aoki heads to 3rd on the RBI single! It's 3-1 Chiben!
Ogasawara up now, fouls a pitch off himself and hit he's down on the ground, and not getting up. I didn't really see where it hit him but.
It looks like he fouled the ball off of um... his family jewels...
He's still down, but eventually gets up and returns to his AB. Wonder how ok he really is.
Good enough I guess because after falling behind 0-2, Kamata nibbles around and winds up walking him! Manrui for Chiben!
Michibata takes a hanging two-seamer and sends it to right center! Outfielders heading back, but won't be able to reach it! Everyone scores on the bases clearing RBI triple! Chiben blows it open at 6-1!
Miyagawa goes down swinging on an outside slider, but Sado will need a lot of help now.
No answer for Sado as Aoki retires the top of the order in order...
One down for Kamata and he gets into trouble. Shima singles to center, and Nakamura sends one through to right.
Kawasaki makes it 3 hits in a row as he singles to center. Shima scores to make it 7-1 Chiben.
Kamata manages to get Aoki to fly out to center, and Yamamoto to hit a comebacker to him, but I think people are starting to realize that Sado's time at Koshien will be short.
Sado's batters are just no match for Aoki. He strikes out the side in order giving him 10 K's on the day.
Ogasawara earns his 3rd walk of the day to leadoff the 8th. After a fly to center by Michibata, Miyagawa hits a grounder to short. Wada bobbles the ball, and only has a play at 1st. 2 down.
Hiraoka then fists one towards short! Wada scrambling back, leaps up, but it's just over his head! He gets it, but Ogasawara scores to make it 8-1.
Shima with a base hit to right. Runners at the corners, and Kamata in trouble again.
But Nakamura flies to left and the inning is over.
#14 Numakura is in for Yamamoto in RF for Chiben Wakayama.
Aoki yields his first walk to Watanabe here to leadoff the 8th. #12 Furuta warming up in the bullpen.
But as Nakagawa pops up to short, Furuta is called back to the dugout.
Arai grounds out to 3rd as Watanabe advances to 2nd.
Aoki closes the door as he gets Shou swinging on a slider down and in.
Takashima-kantoku getting his bench players in. #13 Nishitani comes in to hit for Kawasaki. Meanwhile Furuta is up again in the bullpen.
Nishitani buzzes one past Arai down the left field line for a double.
#15 Takagaki comes in to hit for Aoki, which means that Furuta will come in for the 9th inning.
Takagaki with a grounder to short, but it's under Wada's legs into left. Nishitani holds at 2nd as Fukai-kantoku calls a conference.
Numakura bunts the runners along and Chiben looks to play add on.
But Kamata shuts it down by striking out Ogasawara on 3 straight, and getting Michibata to ground to 2nd.
#12 Furuta comes in for Takagaki and takes over on the mound. Nishitani stays in the game to play 2B.
Wada with a slow chopper to the left side. It gets by Furuta and Shima and Ogasawara bump into each other! The throw is late and Sado has a runner on!
And now Suzuki walks to give runners on 1st and 2nd. Going to need a lot more of that.
Whoops. For some reason Suzuki is caught off 2nd. Eventually both runners end up on 2nd and Suzuki is called out.
Masato up, but he goes down looking on a slider down the heart of the plate.
Aida the last hope for Sado...
But he grounds out to 3rd. Arai throws to 1st as Aida ceremoniously slides in to signify the end of the game.
Sado was just no match for the Chiben Wakayama squad. But they didn't commit too many errors and played respectably, especially for losing 8-1.
As for Takashima-kantoku, he collects yet another win (and another victory baseball) in his coaching career and will face Kousei Gakuin for a spot in the Best 8. Aoki looked good on the mound, and while Furuta wasn't all that good they still have ace Uenoyama and Oojino. The bats were fairly solid so it'll be a good 2nd round matchup.
Aoki Yuuto - W, 8 IP, ER, 3 H, 12 K, BB
Ogasawara Tomohiro - 0-3, K, 3 BB
Michibata Shunsuke - 2-6, 3B, 3 RBI
Hiroka Yukihiro - 2-5, 2B, RBI
Shima Naohiro - 3-4, K, BB
Kawasaki Kousuke - 2-3, R, RBI
Suzuki Shuntarou - 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Wada Hiroki - 2-4, R, K
Nakagawa Atsushi - 1-2