We're starting to head into the last set of 1st round games today culminating with Oogaki Nichidai versus a Tohoku squad that has gone through a lot in recent weeks.
Houtoku Gakuen, who made a deep run at Natsu Koushien, is back again here in senbatsu. Having won the summer bid, they were able to bypass the regional qualifying and go straight to the prefecturals. They were doing fine until they shockingly lost to the plucky Kakogawa Kita squad 5-1. They qualified for the super-regionals with a 9-1 win over Shinkou Gakuen.
There, they started with games against Kyoto squads, first against surprise winner Tounan then against Kyoto Seishou. After that was a game against fellow summer participant Riseisha. Iidzuka would limit them to just 1 run on 3 hits, ending their run, but solidifying a spot at senbatsu.
Jyounan is a bit of a surprise. Having been given a seed in the prefecturals, they had no issues save for a 6-5 nailbiter against Komatsushima. Then against Kagawa Nishi in the super-regional quarterfinals (they actually get a bye), they hung toe-to-toe until late.
So we kind of know what to expect out of Houtoku Gakuen, however Jyounan is a complete wild card. I was having a discussion with Westbay-san about how he said a conference he attended showed how strong the Kochi teams were, and I will say that for one of the more "rural" areas that the Shikoku teams have unusually strong baseball teams that always have the ability to at least win a game or two, but I don't know that I could give Jyounan a shot to beat Houtoku Gakuen.
Jyounan (Tokushima) - 21st Century Bid
CF Tada Kouki
2B Degucuhi Shouichirou
C Matsubara Naoyuki
P Takeuchi Yuuta
RF Okuura Kouhei
1B Iwamoto Shouta
LF Gotou Ren (#11)
SS Yanagawa Keita
3B Orihara Takashi
Houtoku Gakuen - Kinki 3rd/4th Place
CF Takeuchi Kazuma
2B Taira Tomoya (#14)
SS Nagaoka Shunji
LF Koshii Yuuki
3B Ikeda Kouken
P Tamura Ichirou
1B Koshii Genki (#13)
C Sadotomo Reo
RF Tachiwaki Shouji (#18)
9:00 - Game start!
Tamura strikes out Tada to start the game. But when Deguchi hits one back up the middle, Nagaoka airmails it to 1st. Koshii tries to reach out and tag the bag, but with no luck.
Then Mori-kantoku starts the hit-and-run! Matsubara dribbles one in front like a bunt. Sadotomo throws to 1st for the out, 2 down.
Takeuchi grounds to 1st, Nagaoka with another high throw! Takahara gets it, but Takeuchi collides with him! Takahara holds onto the ball for the out and the side is retired!
Takeuchi with a single to right to start the inning for Houtoku! Taira immediately bunts him along for Nagaoka. And while he works the count, he softly lines to 2nd. 2 down.
Yuuki with a grounder to left. That's past Orihara into left! Gotou with the ball quickly and Takeuchi holds at 3rd! I don't know if he would have been able to score anyways.
Ikeda with a fly to center, and Tada is there to secure it to end the threat!
Okuura with a grounder to 2nd. Nagaoka ranges over, makes the backhanded stop, pops and makes a solid throw to 1st for the out.
Looking at Houtoku's ace, Tamura is a 2nd year righty with a fastball in the upper 130s-low140s, a slider in the upper 120s, and what might be a change in the low 120s.
Back to the game, Iwamoto weakly grounds to 1st, and Gotou grounds to short (Nagaoka makes another somewhat high throw and makes Takahara have to stretch to get it).
Takeuchi takes a different tack. Fastball in the mid 130s, change in the 110s and a slow curve in the 100s.
Seems to work so far. Tamura Ks swinging, Genki flies out to center, and Sadotomo Ks on 3 straight, swinging way ahead on a change.
Jyounan still having trouble with Tamura's pitching even though he's not really hitting his spots.. Yanagawa softly lines to 2nd, Orihara flies to center, and Tada hits a comebacker to Tamura.
Same goes for Houtoku. 6 pitches for 3 outs retires the 9-1-2 batters and the game is humming right along.
おっと。 Tamura hits Deguchi to start the inning. Matsubara moves him along to 2nd.
Takeuchi with a grounder to 2nd. Taira with the ball, but he bobbles it! It juggles around, and by the time he gets it again, it's too late! All safe!
Okuuchi with a grounder to the right side! It's not hard, but the infield is in and they can't cut it off! Deguchi scores and it's 1-0 Jyounan!
Now runners at the corners for Iwamoto and a base hit could make it 2-0! But he pops it up behind home! Sadotomo there to make the catch for the 2nd out.
And Gotou goes down swinging to end the inning. But a timely hit for Okuuchi gives the 21st century team the lead!
Okuura with a great catch by the right field foul wall on a fly by Nagaoka to start the inning.
Yuuki with a grounder up the middle past a diving Yanagawa for a single. Then he takes off for 2nd! Throw from Matsubara is late!
But Ikeda can't drive him in! He pops out to Deguchi for the 2nd out!
And Tamura grounds to 3rd! Orihara takes a little more time, but he makes the out to end the inning!
Tamura seems to not have let the error get to him. He gets Yanagawa to ground to 2nd, and gets Orihara swinging on 3 straight.
But then Tada blasts one to left center! Yuuki running back, but that's over his head! Tada's in with a double!
Deguchi with a blooper down the right field line, and that falls in! Tada rounds 3rd and scores! It's 2-0 Jyounan!
Hit-and-run! And Marsubara grounds one through the left side! Runners on 1st and 2nd!
And now Takeuchi with Jyounan's 4th consecutive hit! He singles to center and that plated Deguchi! It's 3-0 Jyounan!!!!!
Tamura finally ends the inning when he gets Okuura to strike out, but Jyounan is shocking hometown Houtoku Gakuen!
Genri looks to rally the team as he sneaks one back up the middle for a leadoff singe. Nagata-kantoku has Sadotomo bunt the runner along.
Last batter Tachiwaki up, but he grounds to 3rd. Orihara looks the runner back and makes the play at 1st.
2 down now for Takeuchi (Kazuma). But Takueuchi (Yuuta) winds up walking him to put runners on 1st and 2nd.
And Taira reaches out and pulls an outside fastball down the left field line! Genki scores! Takeuchi rounding 3rd, he's being waved home! The throw missed the cutoff man and Taira's double makes it a 3-2 ballgame!!!!
Yuuta gets Nagaoka grounds out to 3rd to end the inning. But just when Jyonan started taking it to Houtoku Gakuen, Houtoku fights back making it a 1-run ballgame again!
Tamura ahead 0-2 on Iwamoto and a fastball down the middle is just called low by the umpire. That stings as Iwamoto drives the next pitch to right center! It falls in between them and Iwamoto is in with a double!
Gotou bunts him along to 3rd and now a sac fly will get the run home.
Yanagawa does one better! He bloops one to center for a base hit! Iwamoto scores and Jyounan leads 4-2!
Now Mori-kantoku calls the hit-and-run! Orihara grounds to 3rd. Ikeda to Tairi not in time, but Tairi's relay to 1st gets Orihara. 2 down.
Tada with a shot at Nagaoka! He blocks it, throws to first, and beats out a diving Tada to end the inning.
But Jyounan's batters are not afraid of the 2nd year ace and are taking the game to them!
How will Houtoku respond?
Yuuki with a blast to left center, but he got under it and Tada is there for the out.
Ikeda with another blast to center, but Tada seemed to have been playing back and is there easily for the catch.
And Tamura grounds out to 2nd to end the inning. Time starts to be their enemy...
A quick 1-2-3 inning for Tamura capped off by a running catch by Tachiwaki near the wall on a strike from Yuuta. That'll put Houtoku back on the sticks.
Oh, a bit of a chink in Yuuta's armor? He walks Genki to start the inning. Mori-kantoku looking to prevent a situation, calls a conference.
Sadomoto bunts the runner over, and Nagata sends in #3 Takahara to hit.
Shot to short! Yanagawa with the stop! Looks the runner back and makes the play at 1st! 2 down!
Kazuma with a shot to 3rd! Orihara dives but it deflects towards short! Yanagawa there to retrieve it, but Genki advances to 3rd!
Taira with another hit to 3rd. Orihara there, but loses the ball! He gets it, but it's too late! Genki scores and it's a one-run ball game again at 4-3!!
Nagata with a ball up the middle! Deguchi there to snag it, flips to Yanagawa for the 3rd out! Nice play by the boys up the middle to end the inning!
#15 Machida in for PH Takahara and takes over in RF.
Tamura clamping down now that his team is keeping him in it.
He strikes out Okuura and Iwamoto, and almost strikes out the side but Gotou instead grounds out to 2nd.
One down for Houtoku and Ikeda scoots one past Orihara for a base hit!
あ！ Now Yuuta hits Tamura! Runners on 1st and 2nd with only 1 down!
Genki swinging away, but flies to center! Tada there for the 2nd out!
And Yuuta gets Sadotomo to pop up to the left side! Yanagawa and Gotou converge, but it's Yanagawa with the catch to end the inning!
Yanagawa leads off the 9th with a single to center! Eager to get an insurance run, Mori-kantoku calls for and gets the bunt.
Back to the top of the order and Tada.
Grounder to 2nd... Nice diving stop by Taira! He goes to 1st for the out but Yanagawa advances to 3rd.
Wild pitch from Tamura!!! Yanagawa comes home and it's 5-3 Jyounan!!
And now Deguchi walks. Things aren't looking good...
And with 2 straight balls to Matsubara, another conference...
おい。 Now Tamura walks Matsubara.
Yuuta with a first pitch blast to left! Yuuki running back to the wall....
Yuuta with a 3-run homerun to put Jyounan comfortably up 8-3!!!!
Okuura strikes out to end the inning again, but Jyounan is just 3 outs away from advancing!
#16 Yafuso in to pinch-hit for Machida. Grounder to short, under Yanagawa's glove into left! E6, and #17 Mitsuda comes in to run for Yafuso.
Takuchi follows that up with a grounder back up the middle! Oh, are the nerves getting to them??
Taira with a grounder to short. Yanagawa stumbles, but makes the stop. Goes to 2nd for one, throw to 1st is late. Mitsuda scores making it 8-4.
Nagaoka with a hit to left! Taira advances to 2nd and it's looking shaky for Yuuta!
But cleanup batter Yuuki pops it up! Orihara in foul territory makes the catch! 2 down!
Houtoku refuses to give up! Ikeda singles to center! Taira comes around to score and it's now 8-5! Is there a comeback for Houtoku Gakuen?
No! Tamura pops it up! Yanagawa under it, makes the catch to end the game!
Jyounan comes to senbatsu and defeats last year's Best 4 team Houtoku Gakuen! Houtoku's ace Tamura looked very hittable today and Jyounan's bats took full advantage of it! And outside of the slight stumble in the 9th, ace Takeuchi Yuuta looked good both on the mound and at the plate. They certainly earned every part of that win.
For Houtoku, I guess it'll be back to the drawing board. They'll certainly be a favorite to win the summer prefectural, but there's still some work to be done it seems.
Takeuchi Yuuta - W, CG, ER, 10 H, 2 K, 2 BB, HBP
Takeuchi Yuuta - 2-5, HR, R, 4 RBI
Deguchi Shouichirou - 1-3, 3 R, RBI, BB, HBP
Yanagawa Keita - 2-4, R
Takeuchi Kazuma - 3-4, R, BB
Taira Tomoya - 1-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Ikeda Kouken - 2-5, RBI