Not much has gone as expected - either teams have been upset, or games that I thought would be close wound up being blowouts (although last game went as expected).
The matinee game should be one-sided, but given my track record I expect something else to happen. Not sure what, but we'll see.
Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu may have been the beneficiary of the fact that 2 Okayama schools finished in the top 2.
Now in the prefecturals, Gijyutsu didn't face any competition until Onomichi railroaded them 16-6 in the semifinals. They recovered in the 3rd place game to defeat Kouryou 4-3 to advance into the super-regional. In that super-regional, they defeated Taisha (Shimane 2) soundly, which setup a rematch with Onomichi. And when it really mattered, Gijyutsu defeated Onomichi 4-2 to advance. However, against eventual super-regional winner Kanzei they managed just 4 hits. Ida kept them in the game, but they lost 1-0.
Riseisha managed to avoid all the pitfalls in the Osaka prefecturals, missing all tough teams until the finals where they couldn't hold a 4-3 lead against Osaka Touin, culminating in a sayonara 3-run HR in the bottom of the 9th to lose 6-4.
Right off the bat Riseisha was thrown in against Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku. They jumped ahead 3-0 and managed to hold on winning 3-2. After a break against Murayama, Houtoku Gakuen lay in wait for the semis. While close the entire game, they never trailed, and Iidzuka would yield just 3 hits in a 2-1 victory.
That setup a finals rematch with Tenri. Remember back in the summer when Riseisha defeated Tenri 4-1 in the first round? Tenri would break out Nakatani to start the game, and he would hold off the Riseisha offense for the majority of the game, Tenri would score the go-ahead run in the 8th as Riseisha would lose 2-1.
It would appear that Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu would be in for the fight of their lives, but I guess I'd better just let the game play out.
Hm. Okada-kantoku starting southpaw #18 Watanabe against a L-heavy lineup. Interesting strategy.
Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu (Hiroshima) - Chuugoku/Shikoku Floating Bid
RF Date Shuuto
2B Rikida Youhei
3B Nakayama Takahiro
CF Goma Hironobu
1B Maeda Kazuhei
LF Arimura Yuuya
C Omoya Rui
P Ida Yuuki
SS Ishida Yuuma
Riseisha (Osaka) - Kinki Runner-up
CF Kaifu Hiroto
2B Masaki Kentarou
RF Hirada Ryouhei
SS Ishii Gen
1B Masui Shouta
C Sakamoto Seishirou
3B Kumamoto Hayato (#16)
LF Oonishi Kouhei
P Watanabe Masaya (#18)
11:35 - Game start!
Well, the LHP strategy looks good to start. Date flies out to right, Rikida strikes out looking, and Nakayama (a righty) flies out to left.
Perhaps a bit of nerves for Ida as he walks Kaifu to start the inning. Masaki bunts the runners over.
Harada looking for a one-timer, but waves at a slider outside for strike 3.
おっと。 Ida hits Ishii.
But Masui flies to center. Goma backpedals to the ball, reaches back and it's off his glove! Both runners come in to score in the error by Goma, and Riseisha is up 2-0!
Sakamoto pops up to 2nd, Rikida has trouble with that one too, but secures it to end the inning. A costly error though puts Gijyutsu behind the 8-ball immediately!
Looking at Watanabe, he seems like a serviceable pitcher. His fastball is in the mid 130's, with another pitch in the 120s, a slider in the mid 110s and a curve in the high 100s. And he throws 3/4's so he gets what the announcers call a crossfire effect.
Gijyutsu can't figure him out so far. Goma goes down swinging, Maeda pops out to Sakamoto, and Arimura (a righty) softly lines to short.
Ida still having control issues as he grazes Kumamoto. Oonishi with the bunt, but pops it up! Ida dives and makes a great catch! Kumamoto was off on contact and is easily doubled off!
Watanabe grounds to 3rd to end the inning.
Omoya with a liner back at Watanabe. That hits off of him, but lands nearby. Watanabe makes the play, but the replay shows that we almost had a 2nd batter hit in the nether region.
After a groundout by Ida, Watanabe yields his first runner as he hits Ishida. Gijyutsu has been known to steal a lot of bases, so will they send Ishida?
Yes! He takes off on the 1-2 pitch and slides in safely!
But Date watches a fastball hit the outside corner for strike 3! You gotta swing if it's close man!
Back to the top of the order for Riseisha, but Ida seems to have settled down:
Kaifu flies out to right, Masaki pops out to Nakayama, and Harada hits a lazy fly to left for Ida's first true 1-2-3 inning.
Gijyutsu continues to struggle against the southpaw. None of the batters are making good contact, which means not getting on base which also means no stealing bases.
Riseisha testing the fielders again. Ishii with a can of corn to Ishida, he backpedals and backpedals and makes the catch, but it's not for the faint of heart.
Masui flies to center, and Goma manages to make the catch. Sakamoto with a grounder to short, and that they can do without scaring the kantoku.
The game is whirring right along as the batters continue to swing away with little success. Maeda and Arimura suffers the sankyu-sanshin fate (3 pitch K), and Omoya weakly grounds to 2nd.
Ida is your average lefty with a fastball in the low 130s, a slider in the low 120s, and a curve in the low 100s.
And if not for that one error in the 1st, the game would still be scoreless as Ida retires the bottom of the order in order to bring us to the break.
The question will be if any of the Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu batters can figure out lefty Watanabe (as he is actually carrying a no-hitter so far) or if they're doomed to lose on one play.
Ida makes good contact, but flies out to center.
Ishida does it! He breaks up the no-hitter with a liner to left! He was on base in the 3rd, will he steal another base?
Doesn't seem like it. Count runs to 2-1 and still no movement.
Hit-and-run, but Date misses! Sakamoto throws to 2nd and Ishida is in a big mess now. He's run down at 1st and the bases are clear again.
Well, for a little while anyways. Watanabe ends up walking Date.
But no problem. Rikida backs away from a pitch over the plate, and is called out.
So does not only having a LHP on the mound combat Gijyutsu's 6 LHB, but it's harder to steal against.
Kaifu with a grounder past Maeda. Rikida there to back it up, but they can't get the ball to 1st in time and Kaifu has a hit.
I didn't even notice, but even though Ida was down 0-2, he hadn't given up a hit either until just now!!
Masaki bunts the runner along for Harada, but Ida gets him to pop it up. Omoya on the 3rd base side makes the catch for the 2nd out.
And Ishii goes down swinging on a ball outside to end the inning.
Nakayama with a shot to 3rd. That hits off of Kumamoto, but bounces to Ishii! He tries to make the throw to first but it's late.
Hit-and-run! But he hits the ball back to Watanabe! He goes to 2nd for one, Nakayama tries to take out Ishii, but his throw to first beats a diving Goma!
Nice double play turned by Risei, but it's equally another case of robbing oneself of a hit.
Maeda pops out to Kumamoto to end the inning, and things are not looking good for Gijyutsu.
Masui with a blast to center! Goma running back, leaps and makes the catch!! Nice play from Goma, but where was that earlier in the 1st when the team needed it?
The innings are going by quickly. Sakamoto hits a ball back to Ida, and Kumamoto grounds out to short to retire the side.
Time running out for Gijyutsu, and the outs are ticking off quickly.
Arimura grounds out to 3rd, Omoya to short, and Ida watches strike 3 go by.
Oonishi collects Riseisha's 2nd hit of the day as he singles under a diving Rikida into center. Watanabe moves the runner along.
Kaifu with a liner to center! Goma there to field it as they send Oonishi home! Throw is way late as Riseisha takes a 3-0 lead!
Oda-kantoku calls time as #14 Morita warms up. (He's not listed as a P?)
And Okada-kantoku has Masaki bunt, which he does.
#5 Kobone comes in for Harada, and works a walk. #14 Kishimoto comes in to run for Kobone.
Another conference for Oda-kantoku...
Ishii with a single to right. Kaifu comes in to score and it's 4-0 Riseisha!
Ida not able to find the plate, throwing 2 balls to Masui before being bailed on a high fastball. Another slider high and outside makes it 3-1... ball low and in and it's manrui.
Sakamoto pops out to Maeda to end the inning, but trying to score 4 runs after getting just 2 hits all day? Not looking good...
Kishimoto stays in the game to play right.
Ishida swings at a slider down and away, and is thrown out at 1st for out #1.
Date bails on a ball down and pops up to Kumamoto.
Rikida with a grounder to 3rd. Kumamoto with it, throws to 1st where Rikida's dive signifies the end of the game.
The game would have been a true pitcher's duel if not for the error by Goma in the 1st inning as neither pitcher gave up a hit until the 6th inning, and combined the teams managed just 6 hits.
Instead, it was Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu and their futile attempt to try and scrape back. Give them credit though, if not for that one error (perhaps because of nerves), and the game could have had a different tone. To play along with Kinki runner-up Riseisha and limit them to just 4 hits? Perhaps they can make a run this summer!
Riseisha should be happy to advance, but the lack of offense is a concern. They'll need to find their bats in the next couple of days if they want to get to the Best 8.
Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu
Ida Yuuki - L, CG, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP
Ishida Yuuma - 1-2, HBP, SB
Nakayama Takahiro - 1-3
Watanabe Masaya - W, CG, 0 ER, 2 H, 8 K, BB, HBP
Kaifu Hiroto - 2-3, BB, 2 R, RBI
Ishii Gen - 1-3, R, RBI, K, HBP