And that doesn't bode well for them at all...
Ishinomaki Kougyou had the unfortunate fate of facing Natsu Koushien runner-up and Meiji Jingu champion Kousei Gakuin in the Tohoku Super-Regional and was mercy-ruled 8-1.
The team is probably the type of 21st century team that Nonomura-kantoku (now back coaching at Kaisei) was referring to when he railed (incorrectly) on Rifu. There is very little about the team that suggests they can make a run - the pitching is to contact, the batting is decent but appears to be devoid of big power.
Kamimura Gakuen won the Kyushu Super-Regional, but something seems a bit suspect about them, despite some of the ratings they've been given by magazines and the like.
The biggest thing that stands out is that their BA during the tournament was rather low for a championship squad, yet they put out decent power numbers - 50 XBH in 135 hits for a 0.144 ISO, which is almost equivalent to a double every other hit. So they don't necessarily make a lot of contact, but when they do it can go for extra bases.
Kamimura's strength lies with their ace, Hirayabu Jyunichirou. He averaged less than 1 H+BB per inning while striking out 1 batter an inning. He depends on his control and mix of pitches to fool batters as his fastball only tops out in the mid-high 130's. Hirayabu will have to keep that control at a high level if Kamimura is to challenge for the title.
Chances are Kamimura Gakuen will move on to the next round. However how they do going forward will be more of an issue.
Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima)CF Niiro Shinya
2B Tanaka Koudai
P Hirayabu Jyunichirou
RF Koga Iori
1B Ootsubo Naoki
LF Seguchi Takuya (#11)
3B Nakazono Fumitaka
C Nakano Daisuke
SS Nikou Takuma
Ishinomaki Kougyou (Miyagi)SS Okutsu Yousuke
LF Saitou Hiroaki
C Abe Shouto
P Miura Takumi
RF Kihara Kouhei
1B Endou Yamato (#13)
2B Abe Katsuki
CF Ise Chihiro
3B Kimura Ryouya
14:00 - First Pitch!
First ball from Miura hits Niiro, second pitch Niiro steals 2nd and it begins...
Tanaka gets under a ball and pops out to left for the first out.
Hirayabu hits a ball back up the middle. Okutsu ranges over, and the ball goes off his glove and deflects into center! Niiro scores easily on the error and immediately Kamimura is up 1-0!
Miura limits the damage done as he gets Koga and Ootsubo to fly out to end the inning, but Ishinomaki will play from behind.
Hirayabu retires the first two batters for Ishiko before Shouto takes the first ball and drops it into left-center.
That brings up cleanup batter (and ace) Miura, who is the team's only power hitter really. Hirayabu is particularly careful with him given that, much like Ootani for Hanamaki Higashi, he's the only one that could really hurt them.
But Hirayabu gets Miura to wave at a slider away letter high and the inning is over.
Miura gets himself into trouble again as he gives the leadoff batter in the inning a free pass. Yamamoto-kantoku goes for the quick run with the sac bunt.
This time around Nakano earns a base hit instead of the error, but the result is the same. Seguchi comes home, and Shouto being in front of the plate instead of on it wastes too much time reaching for the tag. 2-0.
And much like the 1st, Miura retires the next 2 batters. New inning, same story.
Meanwhile, the Ishinomaki batters are having trouble recognizing pitches. Kihara and Endou both strike out on pitches outside the zone. And while Katsuki makes contact, it's right at 1st. While Tanaka can't field it cleanly, it bounces back to Hirayabu who tosses it back for the third out.
Kamimura Gakuen gets their 3rd leadoff runner on as Tanaka hits a ball to left center. Saitou gets to the ball, but Tanaka is heading for 2nd! He throws it in, but it's strangely cut off as Tanaka slides in safely!
But Tanaka returns the favor! He's caught off 2nd and Shouto guns him down as he scurries back!
Still, the troubles remain for Miura. He walks Hirayabu to put a runner back on base, then they take advantage of Shouto's reaction time and he steals 2nd.
And on the 7th pitch of the AB, Miura's slider inside is just too much in and they're back in a mess.
After 2 balls, Shouto goes out to talk with Miura.
Miura isn't a terrible pitcher. He throws in the low-mid 130's with a slider in the 110's. His control isn't bad, but the pitches get too much of the plate.
However, finally Miura gets out of a jam as Ootsubo grounds into a 4-6-3 inning ending double play!
Hirayabu continues to feel no stress on the mound. Ise and Kimura both ground out, and Okutsu can't get around an inside slider and strikes out.
Hirayabu isn't much different from Miura. A lefty, he throws a fastball in the high 120's-low 130's, with a slider in the low 120's and a curve in the 100's.
Seguchi gives Kamimura their 4th leadoff batter with a seeing-eye single through the left side. Nakazono executes his 2nd bunt.
Ishinomaki does itself no favors in this game. Routine grounder to 2nd is thrown wide left of 1st. Endou snags it but has to vacate the bag.
Kamimura continues to run on Ishinomaki and they're not contesting them anymore (well, maybe not with a runner at 3rd). Nikou then singles to center and again the throw is cutoff seemingly unnecessarily. 2 runs score and they're back to a run per inning pace.
Niiro tries to improve on that with a base hit to left. Saitou throws it in, Kimura relays it home, and this time they do have him! 2 out!
To top it off, Miura records his first K on Tanaka and they keep it limited to a run/inning.
Just when I tell Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times that the chances of an Ishinomaki comeback are low, Saitou hits a ball to right center. With the outfield drawn WAY in, it goes all the way to the wall! Saitou's in with a triple!
And now Shouto lines the first pitch to center! Saitou scores and it's 4-1!
Miura's hit by Hirayabu! The inning continues! But it looks like Miura's going out to work on his hand.
Kihara tries to lay down the bunt, but Hirayabu is able to get the lead runner at 3rd. One down.
Endou with a grounder to 3rd, Nakazono falls down and the ball glances off his glove and it deflects behind Nikou covering! All safe! Manrui for Ishinomaki!
And Katsuki gets in on the act! He lines one back up the middle and Saitou (running for Miura), scores! It's 4-2!
Ise hits a grounder to short. Nikou is there...
The ball goes under Nikou's glove and into left center! Not only that, it gets between the outfielders and they have to chase it down! ALL THREE RUNNERS SCORE ON THE ERROR!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????!!!!!
THAT MEANS THAT ISHINOMAKI KOUGYOU HAS TAKEN THE FREAKING LEAD! IT'S 5-4!!!!!!
Kimura though can't keep the momentum going as he strikes out swinging.
But Okutsu singles through the left side! THEY'RE SENDING ISE HOME WHY???????
Seguchi comes up throwing and Ise is out by a good margin to end the inning... WHY THE HECK DID YOU SEND HIM HOME??????
Nevertheless, in the most WTF inning I've seen in a while, Ishinomaki Kougyou scores the gyakuten run and leads over the Kyushu champions!!
Miura throws a couple of pitches and seems fine to go.
Hirayabu though starts work on getting that run back with a single to right. No bunt from Koga? He hits a chopper to 2nd and they get the lead runner.
But then Miura can't seem to find the plate. He walks Ootsubo on 4 straight.
A fly to left by Seguchi puts them one out away from getting out of the mess.
But then he walks Nakazono on 4 straight. A wild pitch then advances the runners. Manrui for Kamimura.
Try as he might though, Miura can't retire Nakano. On a full count, he walks him and thus the douten run. It's 5-5.
That forces Matsumoto-kantoku's hand. #10 Abe Tsuyoshi comes in for Endou and takes the hill. Miura goes to 1st.
But a wild pitch for Tsuyoshi scores one more... Kamimura re-takes the lead right back at 6-5.
Then Nikou hits a grounder to short. The ball is picked cleanly by Miura, but his arm takes it in the path of Nikou who inadvertantly knocks it out! Miura doesn't realize it and both Ootsubo and Nakazaono score to make it 8-5. Oy.
Niiro continues the inning with a comebacker that Tsuyoshi can't field. Runners at the corners.
Tanaka hits a grounder to 2nd, but Katsuki boots the ball! His throw to 1st is late and one more run scores to make it 9-5...
Finally Hirayabu, who started the inning grounds into a fielder's choice at 3rd.
But Ishinomaki Kougyou gives back all 5 runs and trail again by 4..
Shouto tries to give the Ishinomaki team life with a one-out single to left, but Miura strikes out on a off-speed pitch and Kihara grounds back to Hirayabu. Onto the break, but does Ishinomaki have any magic left?
So apparently, the Ishinomaki pitchers need time to settle down. Because Tsuyoshi is pitching well after the break. Koga lazily flies out to right, Ootsubo strikes out swinging, and then Seguchi grounds out to short! It's a 1-2-3 inning!
So does Ishinomaki have a reply?
And Kamimura makes their own change on the mound! Hirayabu goes to left, while #7 Kakizawa comes in for Seguchi and takes the hill!
Kakizawa is a righty who can hit 140 and has a slider that goes as slow as the high 100s!
Ishinomaki can't adjust to the change in pace as Tsuyoshi and Katsuki go down swinging. Ise avoids the 3 strikeout inning, but weakly grounds out to 1st.
Tsuyoshi is really doing work now. He gets another 1-2-3 inning and puts his team back on the sticks again. Perhaps too Kamimura Gakuen wants to speed up the tempo.
Well, this is the lucky 7. But perhaps things don't go as expected.
Kimura goes down on 3 straight... Okutsu flies out to right...
Well Saitou gets his 2nd hit, a liner over Nakazono for a single.
Now it's Shouto's turn at Kakizawa. He's 3-3 so far.
Should I be mentioning that?
Yeah, I shouldn't have. Kakizawa climbs the ladder on Shouto and he strikes out swinging to end the inning. It was a worthy try, but coming back once was hard enough and required help. Coming back twice is asking for too much.
Tsuyoshi encounters some trouble in the 8th. He walks Hirayabu on 4 straight, then a hard hit ball by Koga isn't fielded properly and there 2 runners on. But Ootsubo grounds out to 1st to end the inning.
Defensive changes for Kamimura. #14 Nagao comes in for Ootsubo and plays 2B. Tanaka goes to SS, and Nikou goes to 1B.
Miura starts off the inning with a single to right. Kihara fights to get on base, but winds up looking at strike 3 on a full count.
Tsuyoshi hits a hard liner, but right at Nakazono.... and Katsuki pops out to Tanaka to end the inning.
New P Kakizawa takes the stick for the first time, but flies out to center. #12 Yamashita comes in for Nakazono but grounds to short. And Tanaka pops up to short to give Tsuyoshi his 4th consecutive inning of scoreless work. But they're still down 4 with 3 outs to go...
More defensive changes for Kamimura. ##15 Matsuki comes in for Hirayabu in LF, and #16 Fujita comes in for PH Yamashita and takes over at 3rd.
Ise goes down swining, and there's one down... Kimura put a charge into one, and Koga tumbles backwards but makes the catch.
And finally Okutsu pops up to short.. and that's the ball game.
Hey, Ishinomaki may have still lost by 4 runs, but man did they ever give us fans the ride of our lives for one half inning. There was hope, and while it didn't last, just having it means something.