And in the first game, life at Koushien can be rather unfair at times. In what might be a schedule match between teams during the year due to their close proximity, the Hokkaido and Tohoku champions square off to begin day 4.
Hokkaido hasn't had a successful team at Koushien since Komadai Tomakomai. But that was in 2006 and still counting. Sapporo Dai-ichi, Hokkai, Komadai Iwamizawa have all tried to bring prominence back to the northern territory, and this time around, it's Otaru-shi's Hokushou.
Hokushou actually defeated Hokkai and Sapporo Dai-ichi on their way to the title, though they did need 10 innings to defeat Sapporo Dai-ichi in the title game.
Offensively, on paper the team looks like a juggernaut. I mean, 0.392 batting average? But put it in the context of Hokkaido, and you realize that about the only games you can really count are the ones in the super-regional itself. Unfortunately, I don't have that data.
Pitching-wise Ooguchi may be the ace, but his numbers look rather bad considering they were playing teams in Hokkaido. Despite posting a 1.62 ERA, his WHIP stood at a high 1.36, while almost only striking out one batter every 3 innings. THREE!
Reliever Miura's numbers look a lot better than that, but then again, he wasn't really tasked with the super-regional games outside of Kushiro Kougyou. So again, it's all about context.
And now there's the context of their opponent - Natsu Koushien runner-up Kousei Gakuin.
This fall Kousei Gakuin was out for blood. Or so the scores would suggest. In their 11 games, including the Meiji Jingu tournament, they scores 6 or less runs twice.
That's right, in 9 of 11 games they scored 7 or more runs. One game was the Tohoku Super-Regional final against Seikou Gakuin, and the other was the Meiji Jingu Final against Aikoudai Meiden. Of C Tamura's 24 hits, 9 were doubles and 3 were HR's. That is a slash line of 0.522/0.577/0.913. Yes, there's context in that it's Tohoku. Yes there's context in that they defated Oominato 21-3 in the prefectural final. No mercy rule in the final, Oominato had to take it all.
Still, that's just sick. Why even pitch to him if you were facing him?
The key for Kousei though, like every other team will be the guy on the mound. Kanazawa takes over the reins, and his numbers are... well.... huh?
So, 46 K's in 39.2 IP? Very good. 19 H in the same innings? Even better. 18 BB in those innings... Um... what?
Yes, that's right. He issued almost as many walks as hits. And yet when combined it STILL averages to less than 1 H+BB per inning!
So what does that mean? Well, it could mean he's effectively wild. It could mean that against better competition those walks will come back to bite him. I really have no idea because I've never remembered seeing numbers like this before. And even if Kanazawa is ineffective, Jyouma might be able to come in and not embarrass himself.
Hokushou, I don't envy your position at all. There appears to be very few holes in your opponent. Perhaps be patient and you can get to Kanazawa. Or you'll be sitting on 3 straight. I have no idea.
Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)RF Ameku Shouto
LF Murase Daijyu
C Tamura Tatsuhiro
SS Houjyou Fumiya
3B Oosugi Akinobu
1B Takeda Toshiki
P Jyouma Ryuuhei (#4)
CF Sekiguchi Takayoshi (#17)
2B Kishigawa Kenta (#14)
Hokushou (Hokkaido)CF Yoshida Yuuto
RF Takayama Nobuyoshi (#18)
LF Takayama Daisuke
1B Kobayashi Eitarou (#9)
SS Satou Sena
3B Tomita Kaito
C Wada Kouta
P Oogushi Kazuya
2B Nishiya Keisuke
08:30 - First Pitch!
The field looks a lot better, and more importantly the sky looks a lot better too. No cancelled games today.
Ameku immediately gets the offensive ball rolling with a deep drive down the right field line! Nobuyoshi runs towards the foul pole and it bounces off the fence for a leadoff double!
Murase trying to lay down the bunt, but instead Oogushi walks him!
Their best batter is up next in Tamura, and he's not swinging away.
And Oogushi throws a pitch wide and the runners advance! Tamura takes full advantage on the next pitch and hits a deep fly to center. Yoshida is easily under it for the catch, and the run is conceded. Kousei quickly on the board 1-0! After cleanup batter Houjyou is retired, Murase tries a delayed steal to 2nd, and well... is out by a wide margin.
Not sure what to say about Hokushou's first half inning except that Houjyou got a workout that inning. Three straight assists, and Kousei is quickly on the bats again.
Oogushi records his first K a little ahead of schedule, freezing Takeda on a curveball no less.
Starting pitcher Jyouma drills a ball to right center, Nobuyoshi runs and makes a dive, but can't come up with it. Jyouma's in with a double.
Sekiguchi grounds out to short and the small threat is over.
Kobayashi continues the whole "working the shortstop" theme by hitting another ball to him.
Satou finally breaks that trend, softly lining out to right. Tomita grounds out to 1st and we're moving right along.
Ooguchi's fastball must not be as fast as I thought. It's sitting in the mid 120s, with a slider in the low 110s and a curve in the 100s. That would explain the 1 K/3 innings thing.
Kishigawa and Ameku both with routine grounders for the first two outs, but when Murase hits one to the right side, Nishiya runs over, but doesn't slide or dive to make the grab. It leaks into the outfield for a base hit!
Tamura rips a ball past Tomita for a double! Murase stops at 3rd, but Kousei threatens again!
Cleanup batter Houjyou up, and Oogushi gets ahead 0-2! Hm. He hit 129 on that waste pitch.
Meanwhile, Oogushi is challenging Houjyou inside, and he's able to foul off the pitches.
He finally goes outside, and Houjyou hits a short fly to left! Daisuke charges in and dives, but can't make the catch! Houjyou's 2-RBI double makes it 3-0!
Oosugi flies out to center to end the inning, but Kousei extends their lead. That had to go on Nishiya. When you have a pitcher that puts as many balls in play as Oogushi does, you're going to have to play excellent defense. While it was a hard play, he needed to keep that in front of him instead of letting it go. It arguably cost them 2 runs.
Whoops, almost forgout the bottom of the 3rd. This time around, the bottom of the order takes pitches against Jyouma, but unfortunately none are about to get on base. Jyouma with 3 1-2-3 innings to start!
Hard grounder to 1st, bounces off Eitarou! He can't recover and Kousei has a man on yet again!
Jyouma is unable to bunt the runner along, and goes down swinging on a fastball inside! Nakai-kantoku elects to have Jyouma bunt anyways with 1 down for Kishigawa. If he gets a base hit, they probably score. If not, they're back to the top of the order next inning.
But Kishigawa gets under one and pops out to Nishiya to end the inning.
Yoshida taking a fastball outside the other way like he should and gets Hokushou their first hit! Nobuyoshi bunts him over for Daisuke. But while he makes good contact, he flies out to left.
That leaves it to Kobayashi. But he strikes out on a slider and Hokushou gets their first hit, but now their first run.
That was quick. Trying to keep myself awake after eating too much, and before I know it, Oogushi retires the side in order for his first stressless inning!
Hokushou was quickly on their way to the break before Wada bloops one in down the right field line.
But they try to push the issue with Wada trying to steal 2nd, but it's not close. We hit the break with Kousei able to string hits together for base hits against the light tossing Oogushi.
Oogushi gets Houjyou to fly out to right, but then gives up a gapper to Oosugi. Daisuke can't get a hand on the ball and that allows Oogushi to reach 3rd! Chance for Kousei right after the break!
It looks like the intentionally unintentionally walked Takeda to setup the DP. Kawakami-kantoku calls time as #11 Miura warms up.
Jyouma up and it doesn't look like the squeeze is on here.
But Oogushi pops him up foul! Wada goes back the the screen, and it just gets out of play!
Jyouma instead with a slow nubber back to Oogushi! He catches Oosugi off the bag at 3rd and runs him down, but not before the other baserunners advance to 2nd and 3rd. So Oogushi still in a bit of a pickle here as Sekiguchi is up next.
(Also, does Kousei's band know anything else other than the same 2 rally songs??)
The music stops as Oogushi gets Sekiguchi to swing and miss on a slider away!
Ooguchi goes down and gets a base hit to right center! Leadoff man for Oogushi!
Nishiya compounds his effort earlier by striking out bunting...
Yoshida advances the runner along, but when #16 Murakami comes in to PH, he swings on the first pitch and fouls out to Takeda to end the inning.
Murakani stays in the game at RF.
And the lucky 7 comes and passes as quickly as... as quickly as... the sunshine in Seattle. Oogushi needs just 4 pitches to record 3 outs and now it's their turn for the lucky 7.
Oh geez, I forgot to mention about Jyouma on the mound. He seems to have a fastball in the mid-high 130s, shuuto in the low 130s, slider in the mid 120s, and change in the 110s.
Cleanup batter Kobayashi with a drive to center! Sekiguchi running back, but it's just over his glove! He's in with a double!
Satou follows that up with a drive to right center! Ameku taking a bit of a jagged route, but runs it down. Kobayashi advances to 3rd, but there's 2 down.
And Tomita grounds out to 2nd. He just is beaten out by the throw, but another key opportunity lost.
Tamura with a big swing, but he just a tick quick and it goes foul. He winds up getting under one and flying out to left.
I thought Oogushi would have a 1-2-3 inning, but instead he walks Oosugi on 4 straight. Takeda makes it not that much longer as he hits one right to Kobayashi for the 3rd out.
Hokushou is running out of time, but so far have been rendered ineffective by 2B Jyouma.
Wada tries the safety bunt, but it dies right in front and Tamura throws him out.
Somehow, it's Oogushi who's making the hits! He drives one to left center for a stand up double!
#3 Obata comes in to PH for Nishiya and quickly falls behind 0-2.
Sanshin! But the ball gets away from Tamura! Obata reaches first, goes for 2nd when the ball goes around some equipment on the 3rd base side! The throw goes to 2nd... SAFE!
Chance for Hokushou as #17 Gotou comes to run for Obata.
Now it's the top of the order and Yoshida...
Grounder to short, and Oogushi is heading home! The throw goes home and Oogushi is out by a good margin. 2 down and it's down to Murakami.
But he pops it up! Jyouma walks in front of the mound and make the catch to end the inning!
*sighs* no need to go home on that grounder to short, but I guess it wouldn't have mattered in the end.
Defensive changes for Hokushou as Gotou stays in the game at RF, and #14 Igarashi comes in for Murakami and plays at 2B.
And Oogushi retires the side in order once again. He's done a great job this game, but has received no offensive support.
Daisuke quickly flies out to center for the 1st out.
Cleanup batter Kobayashi workes the count full and gets a walk. Going to need a couple more of those as Satou steps in.
Chopper up the middle... Kishigawa and Houjyou bump into each other and neither makes the play! All safe for Tomita! Nakai-kantoku calls time. Satou with a base hit through the right side!
THEY'RE SENDING HOME KOBAYASHI WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?????????
Ameku makes the throw home, and Tamura can sit and wait for Kobayashi. 2 down.
And Wada grounds back to Jyouma, and that's game.
Hokushou can blame themselves for losing the final opportunity there. That first run doesn't matter as you're still down 2 even if you score.
But Kousei was the better team today and their march towards the title will continue. You have to give credit to Oogushi for pitching a great game despite his lack of velocity.
Jyouma Ryuuhei (Kousei Gakuin) - CG, 0 ER, 7 H, 2 K, BB
Houjyou Fumiya (Kousei Gakuin) - 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Oogushi Kazuya (Hokushou) - 2-3, 2B
Kobayashi Eitarou (Hokushou) - 1-3, 2B, BB