The last Best 8 game will pit cross-country powerhouses in what should be a great matchup.
Kagoshima Jitsugyou opened with a tough matchup against Kanto champions Urawa Gakuin. They exchanged runs early before Kajitsu scored 3 runs in the 5th and 6th innings and Noda shut the door. Then against 21st century team Jyounan, the offense was relentless putting runners on every inning in a 7-2 win.
Ace Noda Shougo has seemed to have a "bend but not break" mentality that has allowed him to be effective despite allowing baserunners:
18 IP, 4 ER, 16 H, 19 K, 10 BB for a 2.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 5 BB/9
The team has supported him by hitting 0.369 in the first 2 games, led by the following:
Toyozumi Kouta - 0.444/0.500/0.444
Agemura Kyouhei - 0.555/0.600/0.777
Sasaki Daisuke - 0.571/0.625/0.571
They get another Kanto team in runner up Toukaidai Sagami who has been nothing but exactly what people expected out of them - an offensive explosion.
Against the Chuugoku champion Kanzei and Tokai Champion Oogaki Nichidai, the team has won by a total of 22-6 with a slash line of 0.411/0.476/0.589 with Usuda Tetsuya (0.636/0.636/0.909) and Satou Hirotsugu (0.555/0.555/0.778) leading the way.
At first I had thought that Toukaidai Sagami hadn't skipped a beat losing Hifumi Shinta, and that perhaps they were better.
After seeing the 2nd game, I'm not so sure anymore. Ace Kondou Masataka seems to be an ace in number only, even though he was the pitcher used in the super-regionals. He's a pitchers who will depend heavily on the defense to support him.
Now, looking at all the pitchers used, none really stands out as a true ace, but out of the three the real ace appears to be #17 Shouji Takuya who didn't pitch for them at all in the fall tournament and was added to the Koushien roster. But while he has given up just 1 run on 6 hits in his 9.2 innings of work, he has K just 5 batters and walked the same number.
So there does appear to be a bigger void than I originally thought at the ace position, but having faced the teams they have, it may not be as big as others think it might be.
So... I expect this to be a very good, offensive, high-scoring ballgame. I realize it could be a blowout as well, but it should be interesting nonetheless.
Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa) - Kanto Runner-up
RF Watanabe Masaru
CF Usuda Tetsuya
2B Tanaka Shunta
C Satou Hirotsugu
LF Sugano Tsuyoshi
1B Morishita Shouhei (#3)
3B Isoami Yuuto (#15)
P Kondou Masataka
SS Hashimoto Takuma
Kagoshima Jitsugyou (Kagoshima) - Kyushu Champions
SS Hirayama Taikai
2B Sugiyama Tadashi
RF Toyozumi Kouta
3B Hamada Ryuunosuke
1B Agemura Kyouhei
P Noda Shougo
C Kuroki Kentarou
CF Maruyama Tetsuhiro
LF Sasaki Daisuke
14:04 - Game start!
Noda already issues his first walk to Usuda with one down.
Tanaka hits a ball to 3rd! Hamada goes to 2nd for one, relay to 1st, double play! Just like that Noda and Kajitsu will be on the sticks!
Hirayama with a grounder past a diving Morishita into center! Sugiyama bunts the runner along to 2nd.
Toyozumi hits a fly to right Watanabe with the catch as Hirayama tags up to 3rd.
But Kondou, who gets the start today, gets Hirayama to hit a grounder to 1st. Morishita takes it to the bag for the out to end the inning.
Grounder from Satou to 3rd. It takes a higher bounce and goes off Hamada's chest! He has no play and Toukaidai Sagami has the lead batter on. Sugano three-bunts, and successfully lays it down.
Morishita reaches down and hits a blooper into center! Satou holds at 3rd, but Toukaidai Sagami threatens to take the early lead!
おっと！ Noda almost tumbles over and is called for a balk! The runners advance, and Satou scores to make it 1-0 Toukaidai Sagami!
Isoami with a hit to the right side! Sugiyama ranges over and makes a good play to 1st for the out, but Morishita advances to 3rd.
Now Noda walks Kondou on 4 straight to put runners at the corners!
Hashimoto swings at an outside pitch for strike 3, but it's a balk that opens the scoring!
Kuroki gets a two-out hit back up the middle on a curve. Hirayama follows that up with a single to left.
Sasaki hits a grounder up the middle! Hashimoto dives and makes the grab! Goes to 2nd for the out and he prevents the tying run from scoring!
Outside of that untimely balk, Noda looks strong. Watanabe strikes out on a slider away for the first out. Usuda flies out to center for the 2nd out, and Tanaka K's looking on a curve to end the inning.
Hirayama reaches base for the 2nd time today drawing a leadoff walk. Sugiyama once again lays down the bunt. Another chance for Kajitsu.
Except that Toyozumi swings on the first pitch and pops it up! Hashimoto behind the mound makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Hamada runs the count full but swings on a high change flying out to right to end the inning!
Noda continuing to breeze along. Satou hits a dribbler in front of home that Kuroki handles, Sugano grounds out to 1st, and Morishita flies out to 1st.
Kondou also surprisingly breezing along. Agemura goes down swinging, Noda flies out to right, and Kuroki lines out to 3rd.
Where was this pitching last game?
Noda running up the pitch count a little this inning. Isoami grounds out to 3rd and Kondou goes down swinging for 2 outs, but it takes 11 pitches.
Hashimoto goes down 1-2 quickly after some questionable calls, but counters when he takes an outside pitch to left! Sasaki going back, suddenly sprints back! He misjudges the ball and it goes over his head! Hashimoto in with a double, except Sasaki's throw in gets away from Hirayama! Hamada has to go retrieve it as Hashimoto advances to 3rd!
Chance for Sagami to pad their lead, but Watanabe grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Kondou really impressive on the mound. He gets Maruyama to ground out to 3rd, gets Sasaki looking at a fastball on the inside corner, and induces Hirayama to weakly groundout to 2nd.
Kondou is really surprising me right now. Didn't think he would be stopping an offense like Kajitsu in this manner.
Noda gets 2 quick outs before yielding a base hit to Satou. But Sugano grounds up the first line. Agemura with the tag to end the inning.
One down, Toyozumi hits a slow roller to short. Hashimoto charges in, throws to 1st, but Toyozumi beats it out! Great hustle from Toyozumi!
But Hamada hits a ball to 3rd! Morishita goes to 2nd for one, throw to 1st... double play! Just when they were able to get a runner on, it's wiped out!
Morishita with a grounder past Sugiyama into left! Leadoff batter on for Toukaidai Sagami!
And Monma-kantoku pushes for the 2nd run! Morishita takes off for 2nd! Throw from Kuroki is late!
Now Isoami singles through the right side! Toyozumi up throwing and Morishita stops at 3rd. Big chance for Toukaidai Sagami.
But Kondou hits it to 3rd! Morishita was running on contact and Hamada easily throws him out at home! One down, runners at 1st and 2nd for Hashimoto.
He hits a blooper to left! That falls in front of Sasaki and it's manrui for the top of the order! 大ピンチ！
Watanabe with a fly to left! Sasaki has to back up to catch the ball and has no chance at the runner going home! Isoami scores to make it 2-0 Toukaidai Sagami!
Usuda hits a high fastball to center! Maruyama charging in, makes the catch to retire the side! Noda should feel fortunate that he only gave up one run, but at the same time his team is now down 2 runs with 3 innings to go.
Kondou showing good command of his pitches, being able to throw any of them for a strike.
Agemura pops it up behind home as Satou catches it for the 1st out.
Noda with a grounder to 2nd, Tanaka ranging over, but whiffs on the play!
Kuroki not bunting here, but goes down swinging on a fastball up! 2 outs!
And Sasaki pops it up! Watanabe under it for the 3rd out, and the side is retired!
Tanaka with a chopper up the middle, Sugiyama grabs the ball behind 2nd, makes what looks like a blind throw to 1st, and almost gets him!
After a popout by Satou to Sugiyama, Sugano tries his luck with him. Sugiyama takes the slow grounder, goes to 2nd for one, but the throw to 1st is late.
Sugano takes off for 2nd, but stops when he realizes he's going to be thrown out tries to get back, but is rundown to end the inning. (I need to rewatch that part to figure out who was involved).
One down for Kajitsu and top batter Hirayama gets his 3rd hit on a single through the left side!
And Miyashita-kantoku has Sugiyama bunt again? That doesn't make sense down 2.
Toyozumi grounds out to 2nd and Kajitsu's condition becomes critical.
Morishita with a liner behind Noda for a base hit! Isoami lays down the bunt, but Kuroki misses the handle! His throw to 1st is late and now there's runners on 1st and 2nd with no out!
Kondou though is hitting! But he flies out to shallow left and the runners can't advance!
Hashimoto up, and it's a hit-and-run! Hashimoto reaches down and lines one to center! But Maruyama is there for the catch! It's an easy toss to 2nd for the double play to end the inning!
Hamada looking to get the offense started pops it up! Tanaka with it for the first out!
Agemura swings on the first pitch and pops it up! Isoami with with catch in foul territory, and Kajitsu is down to their last out!
It's up to Noda to continue the game...
But he is jammed by Kondou! Tanaka just in the infield grass, catches it and that's the game!
Ace Kondou Masataka skillfully pitches a shutout against the Meiji Jingu runner-ups. I must admit, I am surprised at his performance considering how he did when coming in relief last game. He threw both his offspeed and fastballs for strikes and rarely fell behind.
Noda for Kagoshima Jitsugyou wasn't that bad himself as he only gave up 2 runs. It just so happened that the Toukaidai Sagami batters were able to get timely hits to bring the runs in. It also appeared that Noda began to tire near the end - understandable considering that he had pitched 2 days prior.
Even though Kagoshima Jitsugyou was eliminated today, like many of the teams I have mentioned, it would not be surprising to see them come back in the summer to make another run.
For Toukaidai Sagami, they're one game away from reaching the finals, and a chance to claim a championship!
Kondou Masataka - W, CG, 0 ER, 6 H, 3 K, BB
Morishita Shouhei - 3-4, SB
Hashimoto Takuma - 2-4, 2B, K
Satou Hirotsugu - 2-4, R
Noda Shougo - L, CG, 2 ER, 9 H, 4 K, 2 BB
Hirayama Taikai - 2-3, BB