Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 11 - Semifinal 2 - Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa) vs. Riseisha (Osaka)

The second matchup is much like the first - a new powerhouse establishing themselves versus a team that has a long history in the tournament. Riseisha reaches the semifinals having shocked Chiben Wakayama (although it probably was more of an implosion than anything else). And outside of the 5th inning, the team did not get many hits off of the Chiben Wakayama pitchers.

Iidzuka for Riseisha gave up just 3 runs to Chiben Wakayama despite allowing 13 baserunners. Pitching on back-to-back days against a strong offense such as Toukaidai Sagami may be too much for him. They may start Watanabe in a pitching tandem system or have Watanabe ready in the bullpen to take over.

I am sure to be called a flip-flopper on Toukaidai Sagami. But to be honest I never really liked them, and never really thought they were a contender with Hifuma Shinta as their ace. So when he graduated and the team made it to the super-regional finals, I figured that they made it because the offense stayed and they improved their pitching.

It was then strange that they not going to their ace after the 1st game (LHP vs. LHB made sense). And then when I did see him, he didn't look sharp at all.

But after yesterday's game I can see why he was the ace. He's not the average pitcher I thought he was. Now, he is dependent on his defense to be successful, but that's not necessarily a bad thing at all.

Having pitched yesterday's game though, I wonder if he'll take the mound again, given that Monma-kantoku has not shied away from using other pitchers - specifically #17 Shouji Takaya.

Both teams do have a backup option on the mound should their aces falter, so it's not an all-or-nothing proposition. The game though I think will come down to the quality of the bullpens.

Looks like Watanabe is starting after all for Riseisha.

Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa) - Kanto Runner-up
RF Watanabe Masaru
CF Usuda Tetsuya
2B Tanaka Shunta
C Satou Hirotsugu
LF Sugano Tsuyoshi
1B Morishita Shouhei (#5)
3B Isoami Yuuto (#15)
P Kondou Masataka
SS Hashimoto Takuma

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 Watanabe Masaya (#18)


13:34 - Game start!

Top 1st
After a routine grounder by Watanabe, Usuda lines one past Kumamoto down the left field line! Oonishi gets the ball right at the foul pole.

Tanaka with a ball up the middle! Usuda coming around and he scores to make it 1-0 Toukaidai Sagami!

Satou fouls out to Masui, but it's far enough away that Tanaka can advance to 3rd.

And Sugano with a cueshot past Ishii into center! Tanaka scores and it's quickly 2-0!

Morishita flies out to right to end the inning, but Toukaidai Sagami taking advantage of the relief start for Watanabe here in the 1st!

Bottom 1st
Kaifu with a deep drive to left! Sugano running back to the wall, twists and makes the catch for the first out.

Masaki hits a one-out single to left.

Ishii follows that up with a single through the left side! Runners on 1st and 2nd!


Masui with a ball to right center! That falls in front of Usuda and Watanabe! Masaki, thinking it might be caught only advances to 3rd, but it's a douten/gyakuten chance for Riseisha!

And Oonishi with a grounder that sneaks by Tanaka and into left! Masaki scores! Ishii coming around, he scores! Just like that Riseisha scores the 同点 run! It's 2-2!

Sakamoto with a hard liner! But it's right at Hashimoto! He catches it and steps on 2nd for the double play! Kondou gets out of the inning, but not before Riseisha strikes back!

Top 2nd
One down for Kondou and he drives one to deep left!! Oonishi back to the wall, and it bounces off the wall! Kondou in with a double!

Masaya certainly trying to hang in there against the Sagami offense. #10 Hara is warming up just in case.

He gets Hashimoto to pop it up! Masui in foul territory again makes the catch for the 2nd out!

But now it's back to the top of the order and Masaru.

And Masaya hangs a change to Masaru! He drives it to right center! That gets by the outfielders! Kondou comes home on the RBI triple and Sagami is back in front at 3-2!!

Usuda then walks on 4 straight and it could be a developing situation for Riseisha.

Usuda gets greedy though and tries to steal 2nd, but Sakamoto throws him out to end the inning! However, it does appear that we're in a barnburner this afternoon!

Bottom 2nd
Kondou facing the bottom of the order gets a respite from the offensive assault. Kumamoto K's on a slider away, Hirada flies out to left, and Hashimoto makes a fine play at 2nd base to throw out Masaya to end the inning.

Top 3rd
One down for Sagami when Satou hits a ball to right! Hirada there to get it, but Satou goes for 2nd and reaches!

Oh! And now Watanabe hits Sugano! Runners on 1st and 2nd with just one down!

And it appears that Okada-kantoku will be nursing his pitching staff through the game. #10 Hara comes in for Watanabe and takes the hill.

With disastrous results!

Morishita with a drive to right center! That goes all the way to the wall! Both runners will easily score on Morishita's triple, making it 5-2!

And now Isoami lines one to right for a hit! It's 6-2 Toukaidai Sagami and Riseisha's bullpen can't stop the barrage!

Monma-kantoku slows the pace with a sac bunt from Kondou (perhaps as a way to rest him).

Hashimoto goes down swinging to end the inning, but it's clear that the Riseisha bullpen is in over their heads against the Toukaidai Sagami offense!

Bottom 3rd
Kondou collects two quick outs, with Morishita making a nice diving stop and throw to get Masaki. Ishii rips a single to left, but Masui grounds to Morishita ending the inning.

Top 4th
Watanabe with a grounder to short. Ishii makes a fine pick and throw to 1st to beat the runner.

But then the offense comes alive again...

Usuda singles to right... Tanaka singles to left...

After Hara gets Satou to flyout, Sugano gets plunked for the 2nd time! Manrui for Sagami!


Morishita hits a towering drive to left. Oonishi going back to the wall...

...and it's gone!

Morishita with a manrui homerun makes this game a formality now!! It's 10-2 Toukaidai Sagami!

#11 Hoshida comes in for Hara, and with the game all but over might as well get your P's some experience.

Isoami goes for a "bunt hit" but I think it's more trying to get practice in. No need to extend the game any longer than you have to.

Bottom 4th
One down for Riseisha and Sakamoto earns a 4-pitch free pass.

Kumamoto then singles through the left side.

But Hirada flies to right, and #17 Hamaishi who hits for Hoshida grounds to 2nd.

Top 5th
Ace Iidzuka in the game now, but way too late.

Kondou singles to left to start things off. But on a hit-and-run by Sagami, Hashimoto hits it back to Iidzuka. He quickly fires to 2nd for one and Ishii throws to first to finish the double play!

Watanabe pops up to Sakamoto behind the plate to end the inning.

Bottom 5th
Kaifu with a hard hit liner, but Hashimoto times his jump perfectly and makes the snag!

Masaki goes down swinging and there's 2 down.

He can't get a 1-2-3 inning though as he walks Ishii, followed by a base hit to left by Masui.

Oonishi pops out to Hashimoto to end the inning, and as we head into the break it's clear that Riseisha should have started Iidzuka first, then gone to the bullpen if he was too tired.

As for Toukaidai Sagami, with their spot in the finals almost set, it would behoove them to move Kondou off the mound to rest him. And if they wanted to keep him in the game, send him to RF or something.

Top 6th
Usuda comes off the break and singles down the left field line. It goes to the wall for a leadoff double.

Tanaka with a fly down the right field line that just falls in fair. He doubles to score Usuda to make it 11-2.

Satou follows that up with a sharp hit up the middle. Ishii is there, but the ball bounces off his glove, high into the air and into center. Tanaka scores to make it 12-2.

Monma-kantoku tries for the hit and run, but Sugano swings at a high fastball and strikes out. Throw to 2nd by Sakamoto in plenty of time for the double play.

Morishita grounds to 3rd to end the inning.

Bottom 6th
A quick 1-2-3 inning from Kondou keeps the game moving towards it's ultimate end...

Top 7th
Iidzuka racks up 2 K's but can't get a clean inning as Hashimoto singles back up the middle.

Then Watanabe singles to left, and Usuda to center. Manrui again for Toukaidai Sagami.

Tanaka goes down and rockets a ball to right. Hirada's body language tells it all as Toukaidai Sagami has hit their 2nd grand slam home run in as many innings. It's now 16-2.

Satou strikes out to end the inning, but the game if it wasn't a blowout then, is one now.

But buyer beware for those teams that rack up the runs...

Bottom 7th
Riseisha ready to ride off into the sunset now as they go down in order.

Top 8th
Sugano starts the inning with a rip single to right. Morishita swings away, grounds to 2nd beats double play attempt.

Morishita steals 2nd on the 1st pitch to Isoami, then advance to 3rd when Masaki fumbles a grounder.

Kondou walks and the bases are loaded again.

Thankfully for Riseisha, Hashimoto grounds into the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Bottom 8th
One down and Masui hits a grounder that goes off Tanaka's glove and takes a high bounce into right.

Oonishi then singles to right.

After a fly by Sakamoto, Okada-kantoku sends #15 Matsuyama to run for Masui as #5Kobone comes in to hit for Kumamoto. He flies out to right and that's the end of the inning.

Top 9th
Matsuyama stays in and goes to 1B, #13 Nomura comes in for PH Kobone and goes to 3B.

Toukaidai Sagami's batters go quickly in order, and we're down to the final half inning.

Bottom 9th
#10 Kasama comes in to pitch the final inning.

#14 Kishimoto comes in for Hirata and flies to left. So does Iidzuka.

Kaifu draws a walk and the last bench player, #12 Nagata comes in to hit for Masaki.

Nagata draws a 4 pitch walk.

Ishii hits a drive to deep center, but much like their game today, the park holds it as Usuda makes the catch to end the game.

Oddly enough, the games today turned out to be nothing like what we were expecting from these teams. Instead of 2 close games, it was 2 blowouts.

Even if Iiduzka had started, it seems unlikely that they would have stopped the Toukaidai Sagami Express train from reaching the finals.

Riseisha, even with the blowout loss, should be proud of their run this Haru Koushien. They should be proud to reach the Best 4 among some of the strongest teams in the country.

Toukaidai Sagami todays flexes its offensive might here in the semifinals. But while it may have intimidated the opposition, the team should be forewarned...

When a team scores a blowout such as this one when they scores more then 15 runs...

...the next game, the team's offense short circuits...

Notable Players
Toukaidai Sagami
Kondou Masataka - W, 8 IP, 2 ER, 9 H, 4 K, 2 BB
Tanaka Shunta - 4-6, 2B, GS HR, 4 R, 6 RBI
Morishita Shouhei - 2-5, 3B, GS HR, 2 R, 6 RBI
Usuda Tetsuya - 4-5, 2 2B, 4 R, BB

Ishii Gen - 2-4, R, BB
Masui Shouta - 3-4
Oonishi Kouhei - 2-4, 2 RBI

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