So we are finally here at the championship game, and the final participants are truly worthy of being here today.
Toukaidai Sagami probably had the entire fall/winter season to stew about their Natsu Koushien loss. And having lost their ace pitcher to the NPB, one wondered if they had missed their chance.
But instead of thinking that they lost out, the instead moved forward. Using a battery of pitchers led by Kondou Masataka, they used their overwhelming offense to force their way back to 2nd place in the Kanto super-regionals, then through the first couple of rounds here at Senbatsu led by captain Satou Hirotsugu.
To win a title though, a team must still be able to show that their pitchers can hold the line. And against Kagoshima Jitsugyou they did just that, shutting them out 2-0.
For Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku, since coming onto the scene in the 2009 Natsu Koushien led by Wakou-kantoku, it was just a matter of time before the team would be a powerhouse in baseball.
Well, it seems to have taken just 2 years.
We saw then an team with offensive potential, but with pitching that still lagged behind. Now, they have a battery in Miyoshi and Takajyou than can rival any in the nation. They seem to have the whole package, offense along with dominant pitching.
It appears that Wakou-kantoku is everything advertised and more. Kyukoku is here, and is here to stay.
(I had the team total stats calculated, but then it got overwritten somehow, so I'm a bit pissed about that. All I have now are game stats. Bah.)
It appears that Nagata will take the hill for Toukaidai Sagami. Certainly in some ways it will be to rest Kondou a bit should they need him. In another way, we've seen that Monma-kantoku isn't afraid to start any pitcher and perhaps this is the matchup he wants.
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)
SS Hashimoto Takuma
P Nagata Ryuuto (#11)
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
12:34 - Game start!
Before the game, Toukaidai Sagami's players were eager to start, lining up outside the dugout. Kyukoku on the other hand waited for the umpires to come out before they exited the dugout...
Miyoshi looking okay out of the gate. The offspeed pitches are missing, but not by much.
Toukaidai Sagami though appears to be looking in the air for their offense.
Watanabe hits a fairly deep fly to center that Andou handles. Usuda pops it up to Ishisako in shallow left.
Tanaka hits a grounder up the middle. Ishisako makes a great snag, but the distance he had to travel was just too long and the throw is late.
Satou though flies out to right, and there's no harm.
Hirabaru starts off a games with a single through the right side for a base hit. Wakou will play for the sensei (first) run.
Miyoshi with a sharp liner, but it's right at Hashimoto! Hirabaru scrambles back to the bag.
Takajyou with a grounder to 2nd! Tanaka dives and makes the stop! Looks at 1st, then home! Hirabaru is being sent home!
But despite some confusion, Tanaka makes a good throw home and Satou makes the easy tag for the 3rd out. Doesn't seem like that was the right thing to do in that situation despite the apparent feeling that getting the 1st run is important in the battle.
Sugano gives Toukai a lead runner with a single to right. Morishita immediately showing bunt, but whiffs on a 1-2 pitch and what will he do?
Morishita successfully lays down the bunt, and now it's Toukai with a scoring chance.
Hit-and-run! Sugano takes off on the 1-1 pitch, but Isoami must play defensively on a low pitch and foul it off!
Sugano takes off for 3rd! Throw from Takajyou is a bit off and Tokiyoshi had no chance at a tag.
Isoami walks now, and there's runners at the corners. Wakou-kantoku sends someone out to talk with Miyoshi.
Hashimoto with a comebacker to Miyoshi! He immediately looks to 3rd and Sugano is caught off the bag! He's run down and there's 2 outs!
But one wonders if he could have started the 1-6-3 double play to end the inning instead. Now, there's 2 outs, but runners at 2nd and 3rd.
Doesn't matter! Nagata hits an easy comebacker to Miyoshi! He tosses to 1st and gets out of the jam!
Ryuu gets fooled on a slider outside for Nagata's first K.
Hanada does the same on a slider down for out number 2.
But Katou is not easily fooled and takes the 1st pitch strike to right. That's past Watanabe and to the wall. Katou settles in with a double.
However Nagata gets Tokiyoshi to groundout to Hashimoto to end the inning. The longer this game lasts with both teams scoreless, I think the game will favor Toukaidai Sagami as Miyoshi may start to tire.
Watanabe with a hit to deep left center! That bounces and goes to the wall! Watanabe in with a double.
But the throw from Andou bounces in front of Ishisako and gets away from him! Watanabe alertly sees this and takes 3rd! Big pinch for Kyukoku!
Usuda swinging away, hits a grounder down the first base line! Hanada gets it, looks the runner at 3rd back, then goes to the bag for the out! One down!
Miyoshi can't hold off the middle of the lineup! Tanaka with a ball to right center! That's past Ryuu to the wall! Watanabe scores on the RBI double and Toukaidai Sagami scores the opening run! It's 1-0!
Satou with a single to left! The throw in is cutoff and Toukaidai Sagami now leads 2-0!
Morishita grounds out to 2nd to retire the side, but the first cracks in Kyukoku's armor begin to show.
Ishisako earns a leadoff walk to get the counter going for Kyukoku. Hirabaru bunts him along for Andou.
Andou hits a grounder to the left side. Hashimoto cuts it off and makes a quick throw to 1st for the 2nd out.
Miyoshi up again with a scoring opportunity. Nagata pitching Miyoshi away looking to take away his power zone.
But Miyoshi takes an outside pitch the other way! Watanabe running back towards the foul pole... and makes the catch in front of the wall! Monma taking advantage of the fact that because of the winds, the ball doesn't travel to right! 3 down and 2 opportunities have been lost for Kyukoku!
Miyoshi trying to keep his team in it now.
Isoami with a flyout to right, but Ryuu almost loses the catch! He recovers for the out.
Nagata with a sac bunt. And Hanada throws to 3rd! Hashimoto never stopped running around 2nd as the bunt was towards 3rd and Tokiyoshi came in for the play! Miyoshi, covering 3rd, can't make the tag! Some impressive running by Toukaidai Sagami gives them an extra base!
And Watanabe pays it off! He drives a ball to the right center gap! That'll be down for extra bases as Hashimoto scores on the triple by Watanabe! It's 3-0!
Usuda with a grounder down the 3rd base line! Tokiyoshi bobbles it a bit! Throws to 1st... just in time to get Usuda and end the inning!
But more alert baserunning by Toukaidai Sagami extends their lead!
Nagata meanwhile has completely shutdown Kyukoku's offense. Takajyou grounds out to 3rd, Ryuu makes good contact but flies to center, and Hanada is fooled on yet another slider to retire the side.
Tanaka starts off the inning with his 3rd hit of the game, a single through the right side.
Satou connects on a ball and sends it to deep left center! Katou and Andou converge at the wall...
Satou with his first homerun at Koushien gives Toukaidai Sagami a commanding 5-0 lead!
Miyoshi gets 2 quick outs but then Isoami singles to center.
The inning finally ends when Hashimoto grounds out to 3rd. But Miyoshi is unable to stop the Toukaidai Sagami offense now.
Katou with a groundball back up the middle gets things started for Kyukoku.
Wakou-kantoku still asking for the bunt even down 5. Although if they score a run an inning they could tie the game up (assuming Toukaidai Sagami doesn't score).
Tokiyoshi does lay it down. But the struggles with runners in scoring position continue. Ishisako grounds to short for the 2nd out, and Hirabaru hits a deep drive to right but the ballpark once again holds it as Watanabe makes the catch against the wall for the 3rd out.
Nagata allowing some deep balls, but to the "deepest" part of the ballpark where most fly balls go to die.
Toukaidai Sagami in full control of the game now as we head to the break.
Monma-kantoku decides that Nagata has done enough for his team. #3 Mitsui comes in to pinch hit for him as ace Kondou warms up in the bullpen.
Mitsui first pitch flies out to center.
Miyoshi retires Watanabe on a grounder to short for the 2nd out, but Usuda breaks up the 1-2-3 inning by hitting a scorcher past a diving Tokiyoshi down the line for a double.
Tanaka pops out to Takajyou to end the inning, and Kondou comes in from the bullpen to close things out against Kyukoku.
Kondou will come in with the middle of the lineup on the horizon.
Good start as Andou grounds out to 2nd.
Miyoshi finally collects his 1st hit with a single to center. Takajyou coming to bat, and I can't imagine him bunting now.
Takajyou with a high chopper back to Kondou. He throws to 1st and Mitsui makes the tag for the 2nd out.
Ryuu hits a sharp liner, but right at Tanaka and the side is retired.
Quick out for Miyoshi as Satou flies out to right.
Sugano reaches down and drives one to right! Ryuu running back to the wall...
Wow, I was not expecting that especially after he reached down to get that ball. Sugano collects a home run to make it 6-0!
Isoami laying down a safety bunt! Catches Kyukoku napping! Tokiyoshi comes in but the throw is way too late! However, he gets too greedy and tries to steal 2nd. Takajyou guns him down to end the inning.
Hanada leads off the inning with a base hit back up the middle.
Katou though wipes it off as he grounds into the 6-3 double play.
And perhaps in a sign of resignation, #12 Ayukawa comes in to hit for Tokiyoshi. He goes down looking on a fastball inside to end the inning.
#16 Kitagawa comes in for PH Ayukawa and takes over at 3B.
Miyoshi retires the first two batters, but back to the top of the order and Watanabe collects his 3rd hit, a grounder that sneaks past Hirabaru into right.
Usuda flies out to right and the side is retired.
Hirabaru draws a one out walk, but once again Kyukoku cannot do anything with it. Andou flies out to left, and Miyoshi strikes out end the inning.
Miyoshi retires the heart of the Toukaidai Sagami order in order, and they'll have one last chance to mount a rally.
Takajyou to lead off the inning for Kyukoku, but he is jammed and hits a soft liner to Tanaka for the first out.
Ryuu with a hard lined shot, but right at Watanabe. Toukaidai Sagami just one out out away from the senbatsu title!
Hanada won't let it go that easily in the 9th! He drives a ball to deep center that goes off the wall for a double!
#18 Yamasoto comes in to run as Katou comes to the plate.
Count goes to 2-2 and they're down to their last strike.
He hits a high fastball up the middle! That's in for a base hit! Usuda with the throw home, but Yamasoto scores to break up the shut out! 6-1!
#13 Uchikawa in to hit for Kitagawa.
He's quickly down 0-2...
Uchikawa strikes out and the game is over! No big celebration from the players and they just converge on the mound just as if it was a regular victory instead of the senbatsu title. Just another day at the office - which in reality it was.
Toukaidai Sagami outscored their opponents here at Koushien 46-11 utilizing all 4 pitchers on their staff. Outside of their 2-0 game against Kagoshima Jitsugyou, the games were never in doubt. The offense continued to deliver game after game making life for that staff easy.
The reaction of that team after the game was over I think gives a sense of what this Koushien was all about to Toukaidai Sagami. That this was their goal all along this year. That after that loss to Kounan, the team just picked up their Koushien dirt, went home, and looked at it as a reminder that there was unfinished business left to attend to. Captain Satou, along with Tanaka, Usuda, Watanabe, and Sugano led the team on a mission, perhaps one much like Kounan walked last year, that no team was going to stop them this time, not this year.
Give Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku credit. Their program has gone from on the cusp of being a contender to a full contender in just 4 years. They will in all likelihood join the ranks of new teams that may very well be mentioned with teams such as Osaka Touin, Chiben Wakayama and Yokohama.
But this Koushien, this year - Toukaidai Sagami has made it clear that they will be the team that the Natsu Koushien title will run through. If they can conduct their business much like they did here, we may very well see back-to-back haru-natsu renzoku-yuushou.
Nagata Ryuuto - W, 5 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 3 K, BB
Kondou Masataka - 4 IP, ER, 4 H, 3 K, BB
Satou Hirotsugu - 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI
Watanabe Masaru - 2-5, 2B, 3B, R, RBI
Tanaka Shunta - 3-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI
Sugano Tsuyoshi - 2-5, HR, R, RBI, SB
Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku
Miyoshi Takumi - L, CG, 6 ER, 14 H, 0 K, BB
Hanada Shun - 2-4, 2B, R, 2 K
Katou Ryou - 3-4, 2B, RBI