Day 8 started off great for me as I was able to sit in the Narashino oen-dan again before retreating to the shade of the infield.
Game 1- Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) vs. Narashino (Chiba)
So the game was pretty much all Narashino from start to finish. They scored 3 in the first, 2 in the 2nd and never looked back. Oono was on the mound today for Narashino and was dominant outside of a homerun he gave up to Kitagawa in the 4th.
About the only downside to the game was that there were 4 hit batters - the #3 and #4 batters Fujii and Minagawa, last batter Koyama, and pitcher Oono.
I know there's little retaliation in Japan baseball, though if you watched Mr. Baseball you'd think otherwise. But that's an odd bunch to hit.
Game 2 - Hachiman Shougyou (Shiga) vs. Teikyou (Higashi Tokyo)
The problem with leaving the alps section was that I needed to buy a ticket to get back in (they sell tickets based on sections, not individual seats).
Problem was, it was Obon and when I walked out there were lines everywhere. If I had ANY hope of getting back it I had to hop into the shortest line, which was the 3rd base alps.
By the time I had gotten back into the stadium, the game was entering the 4th inning. It was hot and miserable outside (as with every single day - when did it stop raining in Japan?) so about the top of the 7th inning I had to retreat into the concourse.
But what struck me about the game was that Itou wasn't starting for them for some reason. I can't read minds nor have I done any research since the game to figure out why this wasn't the case.
I did say before that Teikyou will never win Koushien until they get a true ace, and I didn't think Itou qualified, but he certainly seemed like their best option.Now that's not to say it was a bad decision per se, after all through 8 innings starter Watanabe had just given up 2 hits.
But as I watched on the monitors and heard the crowd outside, I saw with one down the next 3 batters for Hachiman reach base.
And then when Matsumoto bobbled that ball which brought in a run, well I though it was intersesting sure, but still down 2 and needing a base hit it didn't seem likely.
By this time many of the younger kids had run outside. I was a little lightheaded still so I watched on TV the amazement of Endou's ball just clearing the right field fence. Right field! Hitting a HR there is almost like hitting one to LF at Safeco, it rarely ever happens!
But more importantly, it was a manrui homerun that gave Hasshou the 5-3 lead!
Masano would come in to relieve Watanabe, but not before the big damage had been done. Instead of winning the game by 2, they were now trailing by 2 with just 3 outs left to go!
And I watched in amazement as the Teikyou batters went fairly quietly in the bottom of the 9th
as Hachiman Shougyou pulled off the upset!
So first it was Kyukoku, now Teikyou. Who would be next?
Game 3 - Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) vs. Karatsu Shougyou (Saga)
Looking at this game, did I think Karatsu Shougyou have a chance to win it all? Not especially, and when you think about Kitakata Yuujyou's control, it seems like they may have little at all.
But I did think they stood a better chance than Sakushin Gakuin. In most cases, a pitcher's control issues will usually fail them a little later (though in Teikyou's case it was much earlier).
And early on in the game, it was Karatsu Shougyou who was leading the way with a run inthe 1st and another in the 3rd.
Sakushin would finally get a run thanks to a wild pitch on a strikeout no less.
And then one inning later, a hit batsmen combined with a relay throw error by Matsumoto led to the tying and the gyakuten run in the 5th! This while ace Ootani was shutting down the Karatsu offense.
With time running down, Karatsu did start creating scoring opportunities. The 7th they had the tying run in scoring position with 2 outs, then in the 8th with just one, and in the 9th with none! But in every single case, both Ootani and reliever Iino would shut down the threat meaning that Sakushin Gakuin advances to take on to face the aforementioned Hachiman Shougyou.
Game 4 - Jyosuikan (Hiroshima) vs. Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara (Osaka)
Each of the teams playing here defeated an opponet who has pulled off an upset in their prefectural taikais. Jyosuikan in Seki Shoukou (Oogaki Nichidai) and Shigakukan (Aikoudai Meiden) for Higashi-Osakadai.
Again, I went and favored the team that had the experience, which would be Jyosuikan.
As the game started though, it was a lot closer. Jyousuikan had the early opportunity in the 1st, but it was Kashiwara who scored the first run on a double by Matsunami in the bottom of the 2nd. An RBI triple by Kanao though the very next inning tied it right back up again.
Once again, in the 5th Kashiwara would retake the lead on a double by Matsumoto Taiki.
And with the score still at 2-1, things would start to get really weird in the 7th.
With 2 down for Jyosuikan, Kanao gets hit, Shimazaki doubles, and then Tanaka walks to load the bases.
Kimura then hits a groundball right to 2B Nakagawa...
...except it goes right through the wickets! 2 runs come in to score on the error and now Jyosuikan leads 3-2. Add in one more when Yasuhara singles and it's a 2-run lead! Kashiwara's own Shirane comes in to record the final out, but Jyosuikan might be finally hitting it's stride.
Bottom 7 now and the top of the order is due up for Kashiwara. Izumi comes in to PH for Mochidzuki and promptly singles to center. After a bunt and another single, there's runners at the corners for Ishikawa.
Ishikawa hits a grounder to 3rd. Higuchi's throw causes a collision between 1B Kanao and Ishikawa. Izumi scores on the error, but unbenounced to Kanao, Taiki had been running from 1st the whole time and was heading home! By the time Kanao realized this it was too late and it was a tie ball game!
But though it was a tie game, the pressure was on Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara. Jyosuikan was putting undo pressure on Shirane. If Kashiwara was going to win this, they'd have to do it in regulation. And they had that chance in the 9th. 2 outs, runner on 1st, Ishikawa singles then Nishida gets an infield single when no one was covering 1st. The winning run 90 feet away, Yamazaki stands in to get the run home. But he strikes out looking to end the inning.
And by this time it was too late. Jyosuikan would put 3 on the board in the 10th and that was all she wrote for the newcomers.