Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 11 - Semifinal 1 - Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Fukuoka) vs. Nichidai-san (Tokyo)

We're in the homestretch now, and all teams left can see the finish line up ahead. But to win the race, there's just a little more work to be done.

Semifinal number 1 not only features 2 outstanding pitchers, but 2 very very hot hitters right now.

Takajyou Shuuto (Kyukoku) and Azegami Shou (Nichidai-san) went 5-5 and 6-6 respectively in their quarterfinal games completely getting the attention of the fans and probably the scouts as well. Their lines now look that much more impressive:
  • Takajyou - 9-13, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, K - 0.692/0.692/1.000
  • Azegami - 9-12, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB, HBP - 0.750/0.786/1.000
But of course, one person a team does not make - although in kokoyakyu, one person can sure affect how a team does.

And it's not those guys above, it's the staff ace(s).

Once you get to this point, it's all about the stamina of the pitchers. You can have the best ace in the country, but if they can't pitch on 1 or 2 days rest and you don't have a backup, you might as
well just mail it in.

Miyoshi against Hokkai two days ago gave up more runs (4) than in the first 2 games combined (3). He gave up more hits and walked more batters, while striking out less batters. That was all in just 2 days rest. Now he'll go on 1 days rest against a Nichidai offense that continues to hit from top to bottom. There will be no easy innings for him today.

Nichidai-san had probably the easiest matchup of the Best 8 matches, which allowed Yoshinaga to pitch "only" 7 innings giving up just 4 hits. He'll be a bit more rested than Miyoshi, which in these stages is extremely important. That isn't to say that Yoshinaga is any less closer to hitting the wall, we just know he's thrown less innings.

Personally, (and I've tried to be as objective as possible) I'd like Kyukoku to reach the finals. But combine the factors together, and I can't see how Nichidai-san isn't favored in this matchup.


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 Ishisako Yuuma

Nichidai-san (Tokyo) - Tokyo Champions
RF Takayama Shun
LF Taniguchi Yuuta (#4)
CF Azegami Shou
3B Yokoo Toshitake
SS Shimizu Kouki
2B Suganuma Kenichi (#7)
1B Kaneko Ryouya
P Yoshinaga Kentarou
C Suzuki Takahiro


11:01 - Game start!

Top 1st
Yoshinaga walks Hirabaru on 4 straight to lead off the game.

Andou tries to bunt the runner along, but is called out on batter's interference!

So now 1 down with Miyoshi coming to bat.

He falls behind 0-2, but works the count full.


Miyoshi with a drive to deep left center!


Miyoshi absolutely crushes the ball in a no-doubt about it 2-run HR! He gives Kyukoku the early 2-0 lead!

Takajyou with a grounderback to Yoshinaga, and he boots it! Yokoo backing up the play can't double back to field it! That's Takajyou's 6th consecuctive hit and Yoshinaga looking shaky early.

Full count to Ryuu, and he gets him looking on a fastball! Takajyou was taking off for 2nd, but Suzuki nails him to end the inning!

Bottom 1st
Takayama with a drive of his own down the right field line! Ryuu towards the wall, fair! It falls in fair in front of the foul pole! Ryuu gets it in, but not before Takayama is in with a leadoff stand-up triple!

Taniguchi looking for at least a sac fly to cut the deficit in half.

But instead, Miyoshi gets him swinging on a slider down and away! One down!

Azegami up in perfect spot to drive in a run.

And he does!!!!!

He gets his 7th single in a row with a base hit to left! Katou charges in, but it just falls in front! Takayama comes home and the throw is cut off! Another hit by Azegami makes it a 2-1 ballgame!

Cleanup batter Yokoo up, and he's caught looking on a slider on the outside part of the plate.

Shimizu grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but Azegami gets a run back for Nichidai-san!

Top 2nd
Hanada goes down swinging on a sinker in the dirt for out number 1.

お! Katou with a line shot that almost takes off Yoshinaga's head! He gets out of the way as it goes into center for a base hit. Wakou-kantoku elects to have Tokiyoshi bunt the runner along for a one-timer from Ishisako.

Ishisako with a grounder to 2nd. Suganuma bobbles the ball, but has plenty of time to recover and throw out Ishisako to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Suganuma with a grounder to short, and Ishisako loses the handle on the ball! E6, and the douten run is on base. Kaneko bunts him along to 2nd.

Yoshinaga grounds to short, but it still allows Suganuma to advance to 3rd.

Dangerous Suzuki at bat to tie the game...

Hits a fly to deep left center! Katou comes over and makes the catch to retire the side! Ishisako's error almost costs him, but they keep the runner stranded!

Top 3rd
Yoshinaga not letting Hirabaru get on base easily again, strikes him own swinging on a curve in the dirt.

Andou with a short liner up the middle, Suganuma to his right dives, but it's by him into center!

Miyoshi up again. Can he deliver again?

SANSHIN! Miysohi swings and misses on a fastball outside! Andou taking off on the pitch slides in in front of the throw!

2 down for Takajyou, and Yoshinaga not taking any chances with him. He throws nothing close to the plate and walks him.

There might be a lot of that as Nichidai-san might make Ryuu do all the hard work,


Ryuu rips one down the right field side as Takayama has to chase it back up to the wall! Andou comes around to score! Takajyou being sent home! Relay home... not in time! Ryuu makes Nichidai pay for the walk as he makes it a 4-1 ball game!

Hanada with a drive to center! That's over Azegami's head! Ryuu scores to make it 5-1!

Hanada is picked off 2nd to end the inning, but Kyukoku is ripping the cover off the ball against Yoshinaga.

Bottom 3rd
Nichidai-san back on its heels early. Miyoshi getting help as the batters are trying to attack early in the count - but to no avail.

Takayama grounds out to 1st, Taniguchi tries a safety bunt but Miyoshi fields his position superbly and throws out a diving Taniguchi.

And Miyoshi gets Azegami! He flies out to center to end the inning!

Top 4th
Katou leads off with a single through the left side. He's bunted to 2nd by Tokiyoshi, then advanced to 3rd on a groundout by Ishisako.

Back to the top of the order and Hirabaru.


Pitch from Yoshinaga goes under the glove of Suzuki and gets away! Katou scores to make it 6-1 Kyukoku!

Hirabaru flies out to left to end the inning, but Nichidai-san is slowly losing control of the game!

Bottom 4th
Yokoo is hit by Miyoshi and Nichidai-san has another leadoff runner.

Shimizu with a liner back at Miyoshi! It hits him and deflects to 2nd! Hirabaru is in the right place and starts the 4-6-3 double play! But is Miyoshi okay?

He appears to be as the replays showed it hit his wrist on the glove hand.

He takes a couple of throws and is ready to go.

And he gets Suganuma to ground to 2nd to end the inning.

Top 5th
Yoshinaga issues his 3rd walk to Andou to start the 5th.

Miyoshi up, but while he makes good contact, it's right to Takayama.

Takajyou with a grounder past a diving Yokoo to left! He's now reached base safely in his last 8 AB's!

Ryuu pops it up behind home, Suzuki makes the catch for the 2nd out.

Hanada swings and misses on a sinker to end the inning and Yoshinaga finally gets a scoreless inning. But it still wasn't easy.

Bottom 5th
Kaneko fouls out to Tokiyoshi to start off the inning.

Yoshinaga with a grounder to 3rd, Tokiyoshi charging in throws to first, Hanada stretching out makes the great pick as he falls on his back!

And Suzuki flies to to right for a 1-2-3 inning!

Miyoshi easily looking like the better of the 2 pitchers today as Yoshinaga was hit hard in the first couple of innings. That has costed him dearly so far as his team finds itself down 6-1 heading into the break

Top 6th
Katou with another base hit! He hits another grounder through the left side! And again Tokiyoshi lays down his 3rd sac bunt.

Ishisako with a single past a diving Shimizu! Katou holds up at 3rd, but Kyukoku is threatening again as the lineup flip to the top of the order!

Hirabaru though is 0-2 on the day.

Make that 0-3. He is jammed and hits a foul fly to Yokoo for the 2nd out.

And Yoshinaga gets Andou to hit a weak grounder to 3rd! Yokoo makes the play at 1st and Nichidai-san is out of the jam!

Bottom 6th
Takayama with a hard shot at Tokiyoshi and it bounces off of him. He's on with a leadoff single.

No bunting for Taniguchi, but he hits a grounder to 2nd. It's slow enough though that Hirabaru can only go to 2nd.

Azegami with a hard chopper into the ground, Kaneko can only watch as it goes over his head and down the line! Double for Azegami puts 2 runners in scoring position for Yokoo with just 1 down!

Yokoo tries to foul a ball off, but reaches down and pops it up instead! Hanada in foul territory makes the catch for the 2nd out.

Shimizu is hit by Miyoshi and it's manrui for Nichidai-san!

Count goes to 2-0 and Takajyou goes out to talk to Miyoshi.

Another ball high and it's 3-0!

Pumps one in for a strike, then another... finally called by the umpire! Full count, runners will take off!

Fouls it off!

Slider! Suganuma starts his swing and barely fouls it off! Another foul!

Pops it up! Hanada in foul territory, makes the catch! Manrui for Nichidai-san and Miyoshi slams the door shut!

Top 7th
Miyoshi with a 4 pitch walk to start the inning.

Takajyou up, showing bunt? And he lays it down to advance Miyoshi! Miyoshi then advances to 3rd on a groundout to 1st by Ryuu.

Hanada pops out to short though to retire the side.

Bottom 7th
Kaneko first pitch flies out to left. Yoshinaga pops out to Ishisako and there's quickly 2 down.

Suzuki finally gets a hold of one and drives one to center! Andou running back, leaps and it's just over his glove! Takes a bounce to the wall and he's in with a 2 out double!

Takayama with a grounder into the gap at short! Katou coming in as Suzuki is being sent home! Throw is cutoff and Nichidai-san scores their 2nd run of the game! It's now 6-2.

Takayama then takes off for 2nd! Throw is late and he's in scoring position!

Taniguchi with a fly to left! Katou goes back, then comes in to make the catch! 3 outs!

Nichidai-san can only get one run in the lucky 7th. Still a lot of work to go.

Top 8th
Katou with his 4th hit of the day! This time he hits a grounder the opposite way!

Tokiyoshi is, yes, bunting again. At least we know he can lay it down.

Ishisako can't advance the runner as he grounds out to short.

Hirabaru up, still hitless on the day.

Grounder to 2nd, and he's still...


The throw to first by Suganuma is low and Kaneko can't field it! Hirabaru is safe! Snap throw home is wild and Katou scores! Nichidai-san struggling in all aspects as the score is now 7-2! (Hirabaru is still hitless though.)

Andou grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but Nichidai-san is in that much bigger of a hole.

Bottom 8th
Two quick outs by Miyoshi and he's about to get a 1-2-3 inning when Shimizu singles to left.

No matter though as he gets ahead of Suganuma1-2 and induces a flyout to left to end the inning.

Top 9th
Miyoshi with his 2nd straight walk. And Wakou-kantoku has Takajyou bunting. He lays it down.

Ryuu with a drive to right! Takayama going back to the wall, and it's over his head! It falls in just short of the wall! Ryuu with an RBI double makes it 8-2!

Hanada with a blooper to shallow center! Shimizu, Suganuma and Azegami all converge, but it falls in between all of them! Ryuu taking off early scores on the play and it's 9-2 Kyukoku!

Ogura-kantoku calls a conference, but it's far too late now.

Hit-and-run! Katou goes down swinging, but Hanada takes 2nd safely (though just). Katou is retired for the first time today.

Tokiyoshi, not knowing what to do now that he has to swing away (kidding), strikes out swinging to end the inning. But 2 more runs make it all but a formality now.

Bottom 9th
Last ups for Nichidai-san. Kaneko flies out to center for out #1.

#18 Hirata, hitting for Yoshinaga, goes down swinging on a fastball outside.

Suzuki flies out to center and that's the ballgame!

Yoshinaga got into trouble early as Miyoshi shocks the Tokyo squad with a homerun to take a quick lead. He would continue to pitch in high-stress situations early and Kyukoku would get timely extra base hits to bring all the runners home.

Meanwhile, Miyoshi was a cool customer on the mound despite giving up leadoff runners early. The Nichidai batters just could never make good contact on the ball the entire game. A surprise given how well the team had hit in the game prior.

So Wakao-kantoku brings a 2nd team to the championship game as just 2 years after taking the team to Natsu Koushien!

Notable Players
Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku
Miyoshi Takumi - W, CG, 2 ER, 7 H, 3 K, BB, HBP
Miyoshi Takumi - 1-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Takajyou Shuuto - 2-2, R, BB
Ryuu Kounosuke - 2-5, 2 2B, 3 RBI, K
Katou Ryou - 4-5, 2 R, K

Yoshinaga Kentarou - L, CG, 8 ER, 13 H, 7 K, 5 BB
Takayama Shun - 3-4, 3B, R, RBI
Azegami Shou - 2-4, 2B, RBI


Deanna said...

I could deal with Sanko's loss so much better if this had been the final game. And yes, Azegami and Takajo are both awesome and both their respective teams' captains, btw. So I hope Kyukoku wins the finals dammit.

I had a feeling Yoshinaga wasn't going to make it the entire way through. I saw Miyoshi's HR while I was watching on my cellphone on the way to Jingu. It made me sad. I had a feeling that was going to be the early shot that took them down (kinda like when the first pitch of the game against Tohoku was a homerun, you just knew that there was no way they were winning it).

Goro Shigeno said...

Yeah, it's just nuts how those guys helped lead the way for their offense.

As for the game itself, I'm beginning to understand that it's not necessarily the better team that wins, it's the team that can truly last the longest. You can win your first couple of games handily, but if your aces can't recover on 1 or 0 days rest, forget about it.

That HR by Miyoshi was a shock to even me. I didn't expect Yoshinaga to give up a HR, especially not that early. I thought there might be some hope still for Nichidai-san if Miyoshi too was fatigued, but after the first couple of innings it was obvious that wasn't the case.

It sounds like most of the JapaneseBaseball crew (minus one) is rooting for Kyukoku. I would love to see a team from Fukuoka win it all. We'll just have to see in a couple of hours.

Deanna said...

It has nothing to do with Fukuoka for me. In that very first game of the tournament when I saw Kyukoku, I said "I like this team. I like Miyoshi, I love Takajo, I hope they go far and lose to Sanko in the finals." I just didn't understand the brackets :)

The other thing is... I managed to see 16 out of 32 teams, and none of the teams I saw in person are in the finals, so that also makes me sad. Well, technically. I did see Kyukoku in person... in 2009.

Actually a quick scan shows me the roster from that year:

The only two guys who were freshmen on that team that are on this Senbatsu team are... Miyoshi and Takajo :) So maybe I did see them in person. I'd have to dig into my photos though.

But, yeah. I'm going to the charity game at Jingu again today. I'll check my cell TV a few times to see how the Koshien game is going, though. I wonder how long MBS will keep up the videos if I want to watch the game afterwards like I did for Sanko's games that I couldn't be home for.