So one semifinal matchup has been set, and today we'll determine our other matchup.
The first game will be an all regional affair as Chiben Wakayama and Riseisha square off. The teams were on different sides of the fall super-regionals, so these particular squads have not meet in competitive play.
Chiben Wakayama makes it to the Best 8 for the 4th time in the past decade. However, in all those prior appearances that was as far as they were able to go.
This year though, the team appears to have both the pitching and hitting to break through.
Interestingly, the team has not yet used their ace pitcher Uenoyama. Instead they have used #10 Aoki Yuuto for all but 1 inning. Against Sado and Kousei Gakuin, he has put up the following numbers:
17 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 20 K, 6 BB for a 1.59 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 10.588 K/9, 3.17 BB/9
Offensively, the team is hitting 0.328, which is impressive considering that Chiben's offense has been a bit starved as of late. Shima Naohiro leads the team hitting 0.714/0.750/0.714. The team seems to have gotten the majority of their hits in the latter stages of the game, which possibly means that either they finally hone in on a pitcher after a couple of ABs or they take advantage when the starter begins to tire. If it's the latter, then that could prove to be an issue as they face tougher competition (although at the same time they could be more fatigued because they have less rest time between games).
Riseisha has been a bit more of a mixed bag. An error in the first by Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu helped them win 4-0, then turned the offensive switch on against Kyushu Gakuin winning 8-2.
After positing just a 0.167 against Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutusu, they then hit 0.361 against Kyushu Gakuin for a combined team average of 0.283. It's even odder consider that Kyushu Gakuin was probably the better team and they hit better against them. Possibly could be a matter of playing to one's level, but you can't say for sure.
Their most consistent hitter is leadoff hitter Kaifu Hiroto who is 0.500/0.555/0.625 so far.
Riseisha has used 2 different pitchers so far in #18 Watanabe Masaya (9 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 8 K, 2 BB) and ace Iidzuka Takafumi (9 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 5 K, 5 BB). Not sure who they'll use today, but whomever takes the mound will have their hands full (perhaps they'll use a tandem).
I don't know who would be favored in this matchup, but it should be a great game (much like the first game yesterday!).
Riseisha (Osaka) - Kinki Runner-up
CF Kaifu Hiroto
2B Masaki Kentarou
SS Ishii Gen
1B Masui Shouta
LF Oonishi Kouhei
C Sakamoto Seishirou
3B Kumamoto Hayato (#16)
RF Hirada Ryouhei
P Iidzuka Takafumi
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 Aoki Yuuto (#10)
11:00 - Game start!
Kaifu leads off the game with a single to left! Masaki bunts the runner along for the heart of the lineup.
Ishii falls behind though, and grounds out to 2nd. It'll have to be up to Masui.
Wild pitch from Aoki! It goes behind Masui and off Michibata's glove! But Kaifu doesn't go! Michibata recovers quickly and the run doesn't score!
And Aoki gets a foul fly from Masui! Nakamura and Yamamoto converge, and it's Yamamoto who catches it for the 3rd out! Riseisha unable to take advantage of the leadoff hit!
Yamamoto starts off their 1st inning with a basehit through the right side! Ogasawara bunts him along and Chiben Wakayama hash their own scoring opportunity!
2-2 to Michibata and he hits a fly down the right field side! Masui and Hirada converge in foul territory, but neither can make the catch and they almost collide!
Now it's a show down the 3rd base line foul!
Iidzuka, considering the thought "discretion is the better part of valor" throws a 3-2 slider outside for ball 4.
That only works though if you can get the next batter out. He falls behind Miyakawa 2-0.
Miyakawa with a shot back at Iidzuka! He fields it, goes to 2nd for one, throw out first.... double play!
Masui had trouble securing the ball, but got it just in time to get Miyakawa to end the inning!
One down, Aoki issues his first walk to Sakamoto.
Kumamoto drives a ball down the left field line... just foul! Wow, that had HR distance there I think.
But Aoki gets him to reach down on a slider and hit a fly to deep left for the 2nd out.
Hirada, very patient at the plate, works the count full. He makes good contact, but it's a liner at Ogasawara to end the inning.
Hiraoka hits a hard grounder to short. Ishii gets in front, but doesn't pick it cleanly! He doubles back, but it's too late.
Shima tries to lay down the bunt, but he pops it up! Sakamoto gets out of his crouch and makes the catch!
Nakamaura with a grounder to short. Ishii can't field that one cleanly either! He does get the lead runner at 2nd though.
Iidzuka gets Kawasaki to pop out to 2nd to end the inning.
Both pitchers entrenching themselves in a pitcher's battle now.
Iidzuka is caught looking on a fastball on the outside corner, and both Kaifu and Masaki ground out to 2nd for a 1-2-3- inning.
Iidzuka hangs a slider to Aoki and he drives it to right! That's over Kaifu's head! Aoki in at 2nd with a double!
Yamamoto bunts him along for Ogasawara.
But he swings at the first pitch and grounds it to 3rd! Kumamoto with the ball, goes to 1st and the runner has to hold!
Michibata up in another key situation, and again Iidzuka does not directly challenge him. Tries a 3-1 pitch inside, but misses for ball 4.
Runners at the corners with 2 down for Miyakawa.
Grounder to short! Ishii up with this one, flips to 2nd for the out! Chiben Wakayama can't score on the leadoff double by Aoki!
Ishii rips a slicer down the left field line... foul!
三振！ Aoki gets Ishii to swing at a fastball down and away for strike 3!
まだ三振！！ Masui with an excuse-me swing on a high fastball goes down on strikes!
Oonishi refuses to be the 3rd K victim this inning and lines one over Shima down the left field line! Nakamura gets the ball in, and Oonishi is in with a 2-out double!
Sakamoto with a grounder to the left side. Ogasawara ranging to his right, but the ball takes a high bounce and goes past him!
They're sending Oonishi home! Nakamura double clutches with his throw, and it comes in late! Sakamoto with the timely single makes it 1-0 Riseisha!
Kumamoto goes down swinging and that's 3 K's for Aoki this inning, but 2 base hits in the middle give Riseisha the lead!
Iidzuka continuing to show good command of the zone. A nice snag by Ishii of a Shima liner highlights Iidzuka's 1-2-3 inning.
Hirada grounds one back at Aoki! He has his glove there, but can't find the ball! It's into center for a leadoff hit!
Iidzuka bunts him along for the top of the lineup.
Odd... At 1-0, Takashima-kantoku pulls Nakamura from LF and puts in #14 Numakura. I seem to remember him doing this before, but couldn't figure out why then either.
And Kaifu walks on 4 straight to put runners on 1st and 2nd.
Tamaki with a shot to 1st! Hiraoka fields it and goes to the bag for out #2. Runners advance into scoring position.
Ishii up now for Riseisha, 0-2 on the day.
Pitch from Aoki goes off Michibata's glove, bounces off his mask and goes away! Hirada comes in to score on the battery miss and Riseisha leads 2-0! It looks like the signs were mixed up and Michibata was late to react!
Now Ishii walks on 4 straight! What is happening here in the 5th?? #12 Furuta warms up in the bullpen.
Aoki hits Masui to load the bases! Takashima-kantoku calls for a conference as Oonishi comes to the plate.
Aoki still can't find the zone falling behind 2-0 before throwing a strike. But a change down and away makes it 3-1.
Grounder to the left side! Ogasawara running to his right... can't get to it! Kaifu scores! Ishii is being sent home! Throw from Numakura not in time! Oonishi with a 2-out RBI single makes 4-0 Riseisha!!
Sakamoto with a shot to center! Miyakawa running back, and it's over his head! It takes a bounce to the wall! Oonishi and Masui scores and it's now 6-0!!
Takashima-kantoku has seen enough and has called in #11 Oojino to replace Aoki on the mound.
But Oojino can't stop the bleeding! Kumamoto with a single through the left side and there's runners at the corners!
Hirada up again this inning! He singles through the right side! That scores Sakamoto! 7-0!!!
Iidzuka with a ball that sneaks through to right! Kumamoto scores and it's 8-0 Riseisha!!!!!!!
Kaifu lines out to left to end the inning, but what the heck happened??!! Chiben Wakayama implodes for 7 runs this inning and find themselves down 8-0!!
Two quick outs for Iidzuka this inning, but then the lineup turns over and Yamamoto singles to right! Ogasawara follows that up with his own hit to right!
And now Michibata walks for the 3rd time giving Chiben Wakayama a manrui situation!
Miyakawa with a fly to right! The outfield was in a no-doubles situation and the ball falls in! 2 runners score to make it 8-2.
Hiraoka with a hard shot at 1st, but Masui is there for the stop. He takes it to the bag to retire the side.
Chiben Wakayama manages to get a couple of runs back, but as we head into the break a complete meltdown by Chiben in the 5th finds them behind by 6 runs with 4 innings to go!
I get a good laugh as someone on the #koshien feed says that it's okay, and recalls the Chiben Wakayama-Teikyou comeback in 2006 (which I was there in person for).
Oojino gets 2 quick outs. And while Masui gets his first base hit of the game, Oonishi pops up to Ogasawara to end the inning.
Iidzuka, who had been cruising right along until the 5th, seems to be laboring a bit more as his pitches aren't finding the plate as much. While he retires the side in order, each batter takes at least 5 pitches in their AB.
A few words on Oojino. He's a 2nd-year righty with a fastball that is in the 130s, and a slider in the low 120s, and a curve in the 110s.
With one down Kumamoto hits one to left center! That takes a bounce in front of the wall and Kumamoto is in at 2nd.
Takashima-kantoku makes another pitching change, sending in Uenoyama for Oojino.
As noted in the preview, Uenoyama is a sidearm pitcher who can hit the mid 130s.
His pitches to start are a bit low, and he winds up walking Hirada.
Uenoyama falls behind Ootsuka too 3-0, but Okada has Ootsuka bunt the runners along.
Back to the top of the order and Kaifu, and Uenoyama manages to even the count at 2-2. Uenoyama finally goes up on Kaifu and he goes down swinging.
Uenoyama holds on as long as he can at the plate, but grounds to short on the 9th pitch of the AB.
Iidzuka looks to be hitting his spots again now though, and that's a good sign for Riseisha.
Yamamoto goes down looking on what looks like a two-seamer on the inside part of the plate.
Iidzuka with another sharp two-seamer on the outside part of the plate gets Ogasawara looking to end the inning! He looks in full control now!
One down for Risei and Uenoyama hits Ishii. Masui bunts the runner along to 2nd for Oonishi who is 2-4 on the day.
But Oonishi hits a dribbler in front of the plate. Uenoyama fields it and throws to 1st for the out.
Michibata, perhaps irked he's been walked 3 times, goes down and takes a slider from Iidzuka to deep left! Kaifu has to run it down at the wall, and Michibata is in with a leadoff double.
Miyakawa with a single to left! Michibata's being waved home! Throw from Oonishi is just late! It's 8-3 on the RBI single by Miyakawa.
Hiroka with a fly to right, and Hirada is there for the 1st out.
With Shima at the plate, Okada-kantoku sends #18 Watanabe to the bullpen.
Shima now with a ball though to right puts runners at the corners.
Iidzuka with a shuuto on the outside corner strikes out Numakura for the 2nd out!
#15 Takagaki comes in to hit for Kawasaki.
Iidzuka freezes Takagai on a shuuto that catches the inside part for strike 3!
#13 Nishitani comes in for PH Takagaki and takes over at 2B.
Sakamoto is hit to start the inning. Kumamoto three-bunts, but goes down on strikes.
Uenoyama walks Hirada for the 2nd time today putting 2 runners on.
Iidzuka squaring to bunt, even at 2 strikes. Successfully lays it down.
Kaifu with a high chopper down the 3rd base line. Shima makes a play at it and then realizes he doesn't have one! Everyone's safe as Sakamoto scores to make it 9-3.
Masaki with a single to right, and Hirada scores to make it 10-3.
Ishii goes down swinging to end the inning, and Riseisha is just 3 outs away from the Best 4!
Uenoyama puts a charge into the ball, but Oonishi in front of the wall makes the catch.
Yamamoto singles to right.
Ogasawara with a liner right at Oonishi for the 2nd out.
Iidzuka with the rare pitch inside to Michibata, and it jams him! He pops out to Iidzuka for the 2nd out.
On a side note, I had completely forgotten about Chiben Wakayama's "Jock Rock" since they couldn't have a band!
That as Miyakawa flies out to center to end the game!
Riseisha, already further then they had gone before, now reaches the Best 4!
Early on, the teams were locked in an expected pitchers battle. Riseisha managed to break the deadlock in the 4th, but it was the 5th inning where things just went awry. I seemed to remember a mid-AB defensive substitution made before, but I can't recall if it was Takashima-kantoku who had done it.
But the odd substitution of #14 Numakura for team captain Nakamura seemed to throw the entire team off. 6 of the next 7 runners would reach base safely and it seemed like game over after that. Come to think of it, I didn't realize that the substitution had been for their captain until just now.
Pulling your captain mid-game is rather unusual as it would seem doing so would indicate loss of face for Nakamura. So I wonder what happened there.
So Chiben Wakayama is denied a spot in the Best 4 yet again. Meanwhile Riseisha, already with the deepest run in school history, advances to the Best 4 with a chance to reach the title game!
Iidzuka Takafumi - W, CG, 3 ER, 10 H, 4 K, 3 BB
Oonishi Kouhei - 2-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Sakamoto, Seishirou - 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, K, BB, HBP
Hirada Ryouhei - 2-3, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB
Aoki Yuuto - L, 7.1 IP, 8 ER, 11 H, 6 K, 2 BB, HBP
Michibata Shunsuke - 1-2, 2B, R, 3 BB
Yamamoto Ryuuta - 3-5, R, K
Miyakawa Yuuki - 2-5, 3 RBI