Heading into our matinee game, we enter into the 2nd round of games. First up will be Nihon Bunri vs. Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku.
Nihon Bunri challenged Kagawa Nishi with runners in just about every inning, winning 8-1. However Kagawa Nishi also had their fair share of runners, although many were via the walk versus making contact. Ace Tamura will need to be a bit more sharp against the Kyukoku squad.
Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku totally outmatched Maebashi Ikuei, with ace Miyoshi allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, and facing just 6 over the minimum. Offensively, the display of power was stunning. Cleanup batter Takagi got things started with a homerun in the 1st inning. Then right before the break, Andou and Miyoshi would go back-to back with Ryou capping it off 2 batters later with one of his own. Kyukoku wins 7-1 going away.
It seems that Kyukoku would be the favorite, especially considering the path Kyukoku itself has taken in recent years. However, teams from Fukuoka have generally not done that well, and until they prove that their level has improved otherwise, I think this could be an even matchup considering that Nihon Bunri has been so good for so long, even in a weaker region.
Nihon Bunri (Niigata) - Hokushinetsu Runner-up
CF Karasawa Tomoya (#13)
2B Noguchi Tatsuyoshi
LF Yumoto Shouta
C Murakami Masashi
RF Nanba Masaya
1B Usuda Tomoya (#15)
SS Akiyama Masaki
3B Takahashi Kou
P Tamura Yuuma
Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Fukuoka) - Kyushu Runner-up
2B Hirabaru Yuuta
CF Andou Akito
P Miyoshi Takumi
C Takajyou Shuuto
RF Ryuu Kounosuke
1B Hanada Shun
LF Katou Ryou
3B Tokiyoshi Seiya
SS Ishisaki Yuuma
11:10 - Game start!
Karasawa at the siren takes the first pitch past Ishisako into left. Noguchi will move the runner along and Ooi-kantoku will look to strike first.
But Yumoto strikes out swinging and Murakami hits a fly to center to end the inning.
Hirabaru with a liner past Akiyama into left. And instead of going for the bunt, Hirabaru goes for the base himself! Throw is late and he's in safely!
Andou through strikes out, so it's all the same.
Miyoshi with a drive to center, but Karasawa is there for the catch.
Takajyou with a ball back up the middle! It's through to center and Hirabaru scores! Kyukoku strikes first here in the 1st, 1-0!
Ryuu grounds out to 1st to end the inning, but Kyuoku strikes 1st!
Nanba with a hit near the right field line! He in with a stand-up double!
Ooi-kantoku doesn't have Usuda bunt, but he flies out to left. Akiyama swinging away too, and is caught looking on a slider on the outside corner.
Takahashi trying to drive in the douten run, but he swings at a slider way outside to end the inning.
Tamura gives Kyukoku another leadoff runner as he hits Hanada to start the inning. Katou tries to bunt the runner along but it's right at Tamura and he calmly goes to 2nd for the force (although the play itself was a bit close for comfort)
Tokiyoshi pushes the offense going with a grounder through to left.
Ishisako with another grounder to the left side, but Takahashi picks it up and makes a running throw to 2nd for one. Relay to 1st, not in time.
Tamura still in a pinch with the top of the order up, but he strikes out Hirabaru on a slider to end the inning.
Tamura with a scorcher down the 1st base line, but Hanada dives and makes the stop! He runs to the bag to complete the play!
Back to the top of the order and Karasawa flies out to left, with Noguchi strikes out looking to end the inning.
One down for Kyukoku and Miyoshi singles to left. But that's wiped out my Takajyou as he grounds into the 4-6-3 double play!
Miyoshi's control a little off has he walks Yumoto to start the inning. After a sac bunt by Murakami, Nanba hits a ball down the 1st base line... fair! Ryuu runs over to get it, but Yumoto comes in to score! Timely hit from Nanba ties the game! 同点！ 1-1!
Usuda with a single through the right side! Nanba advances to 3rd and Nihon Bunri is challenging for the lead!
Akiyama grounds it to the right of 2nd! Hirabaru there to take it, steps on 2nd for one, throw to 1st... double play!
Miyoshi gets out of the inning without anymore damage, but Nihon Bunri has tied the game!
Ryuu with a shot through the infield to right for a base hit! Wakui-kantoku immediately has Hanada move the runner over as Kyukoku threatens to take the lead again!
Tamura gets Katou to fly out to center, so he's just one out away from getting out of the jam.
But then he throws a wild pitch to Tokiyoshi! Ryuu heads to 3rd, and they're not out of it yet!
Now Tokiyoshi walks. Still 2 down, but it's a bit tenuous.
Ishisako with a drive to right center! Karasawa running over... but it's off his glove! Ryuu and Tokiyoshi score on the RBI double and Kyukoku retakes the lead at 3-1!
To the top of the order and Hirabaru, and he singles back up the middle! Ishisako comes in to score, making it 4-0!
Andou with the 3rd straight hit for Kyukoku as hits one hard through to left. Hirabaru books it for 3rd and reaches safely!
Ooi-kantoku has seen enough and pulls Tamura for #11 Hatano. It was a hard day for the 2nd year ace as he was hit hard and hit often.
Hatano gets Miyoshi to ground out to short to end the inning, but Kyukoku's offense is out in full force.
Meanwhile, Miyoshi enters cruise control with his slider, striking out the side swinging.
Takajyou with a another lined shot past the infield into left. Ryuu bunts him along as Kyukoku offense continues to chug along.
Hatano though gets Hanada to fly out to left, and Katou goes down swinging on an inside pitch.
Nihon Bunri heads back to the dugout for the break, and probably asking where are they going to find 3 runs against Miyoshi?
Hatano starts off the inning by walking Noguchi, although he had to work the count full before doing so. Yumoto not bunting, but strikes out swinging.
Kamimura flies out to left, and Nanba K's to end the inning...
Hatano retires the first two batters then gives up a base hit to Hirabaru.
Andou with a hit to center! Hirabaru heading for 3rd and he's heading home! Throw from Akiyama is on line and he's out at the plate! Nice play by the Nihon Bunri defense!
One down for Bunri and Akiyama hits one back up the middle. Takahashi tries for the safety bunt, but settles for a regular one.
Hatano though goes down looking on yet another offspeed pitch and time is running out.
Hatano doing an excellent job in relief, striking out Miyoshi AND Takajyou looking.
His repertoire is a 130's fastball and a high 110-low 120 slider .
Ryuu can't figure it out either as he grounds to 2nd to end the inning.
One down for Bunri, and Noguchi hits one into the left center field gap! He hustles to 2nd and has a double!
The heart of the order is up for Bunri, but Miyoshi once again shuts the door. He gest both Yumoto and Murakami to fly out to center to end the inning.
Hatano doing work earning his 2nd straight 1-2-3 inning. Nihon Bunri will be back on the bats one more time to try and rally.
Well, Nanba starts it off with hit down the right field line fair! He's in with a double!
Everyone has to swing away now. Usuda grounds to 2nd, advancing the runner.
Akiyama up to try and drive in the run, but Miyoshi walks him instead.
#8 Komata in to hit for Takahashi. He hits a deep fly to left. Katou under it, and Yoshina tags up to make it a 2-run deficit. But there's 2 down now and they're down to their last batter.
#3 Yoshida will come in for Hatano to extend the game.
But instead hits a chopper to the left side. Miyoshi gathers it in and throws to 1st to end the game!
Kyukoku, with the combined 1-2 punch of ace Miyoshi and their offense proved to be too much for Nihon Bunri. Miyoshi time and time again fooled batters - especially with his slider, while the offense got a runner on base each of the first 6 innings.
Tamura for Nihon Bunri looked very hittable today, and while Hatano came in for triage work the offense just couldn't support them. The team looks solid in all aspects, but will probably need more work by the pitching staff plus improved hitting to really challenge in the summer.
Kyukoku wasn't about to rack up the runs, but exerting pressure on the pitcher works well too. They'll face a league champion next no matter who wins, but they do look really strong in their first 2 games.
Hatano Yousuke - 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 K
Nanba Masaya - 3-4, 2 2B, R, RBI, K
Noguchi Tatsuyoshi - 1-2, BB, K
Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku
Miyoshi Takumi - W, CG, 2 ER, 7 H, 12 K, 3 BB
Hirabaru Yuuta - 3-4, R, RBI
Andou Akito - 2-4, K
Takajyou Shuuto - 2-4, RBI, K