Our matinee game now poses a serious challenge to a newcomer to Koushien.
I'm not going to lie here, I was really happy that Chikyuu Kankyou made it to Koushien. Just like I liked Nihon Koukuu Koukou for making it years back because they're an aviation school, I like Chikyuu Kankyou because they are an environmental school (lit. Chikyuu Kankyou = Global Environment).
Objectively, they got really lucky to get here. In the prefectural brackets, they only notable team they needed to beat was Matumoto Dai-ichi. And in a weak super-regional their only roadblock was fellow Nagano school Matsushou Gakuen.
The offensive numbers bear out how weak the region was. The team batted a shade under .300 (literally - 0.299), which is actually poor for a HS team. Only 19 of their 102 hits were for extra bases. Defensively, their SS Iwata committed 9 errors in 12 games, which may mean in bigger competition it could get worse. On the mound ace Urushido actually carries a low 1.21 WHIP, but doesn't strike out a lot of batters (~5 K/9).
Chikyuu Kankyou's opponent is Riseisha. They've been to Kousien in recent years and have had a modicum of success. Their bookmark win was over Houtoku Gakuen in the first round of the super-regional. They eventually wound up losing 4-2 to Chiben Gakuen in the semis.
Riseisha's offense is a tick better than that of Chikyuu Kankyou, but they don't steal bases. So it's mainly a hit-based offense. Ace Higashi strikes out more batters (~8 K/9) and allows few baserunners (<1/inning) and the defense behind them commit few errors.
This is a relatively short preview of the game, but then again the expected result is fairly predictable.
Sorry Chikyuu Kankyou, I'm glad you're here, but you're in all likelihood going home today.
Chikyuu Kankyou (Nagano)SS Iwata Hiroya
LF Naruse Koudai
RF Nakajima Taiki
CF Ootaki Yuusuke
1B Mutou Ren
P Urushido Suguru
3B Nobe Shouta
C Iwata Masashi
2B Kudou Gaku
2B Miyazaki Shin
3B Shouno Yuuto
RF Harada Ryouhei
1B Kobone Makoto
SS Kumamoto Hayato
LF Okita Katsutoshi
CF Hasegawa Seiya (#15)
C Inui Hayato
P Higashino Ryuuji (#17)
10:49 - First Pitch!
So they're sending their non-ace to the mound. Can't be because he's a lefty because so is Higashi. My guess? They're not taking Chikyuu Kankyou seriously (though I can't blame them).
Though #11, righty Sakamoto is warming up.
Hiroya is proving difficult at the plate, even getting to one a good part inside and down. In the end he puts one in play grounding to 2nd. Naruse flies out to right.
Higashino has a fastball that touches 130 and a slider in the high 110s and a fork in the low-mid 110s.
Nakajima gets Chikyuu's first hit, and opposite field single to the left side!
Ootaki follow that up with one of his own and there's a small chance here in the first!
Mutou gets a hold of one!!! But he just a little early on it and it goes foul! Slider on the outside couner and he's going to have to be defensive.
Grounder to 3rd... Shouno goes to 2nd... and barely gets the force.
Wow, it may be against their non-ace, but their hitting looks good to start. Wasn't expecting that.
Urushido's main nemesis, the walk comes into play immediately as he walks Miyazaki. Shouno bunts him along, though Urushido has to chase it down a bit down the 1st base line.
Nerves may be getting to Urushido as he still can't find the strike zone. He falls behind 3-0 to Harada before throwing a strike, but then walks him anyways. Chance now for Riseisha and cleanup batter Kobone.
Kobone with a comebacker! Urushido can't get to it and it goes through! Miyazaki scores to make to 1-0 Riseisha!
Hatori-kantoku calls time at 0-1 to Kumamoto. Urushido needs to limit damage right now.
And Kumamoto helps him out! He grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning!
Urushido fouls off some pitches inside before getting caught on a fastball inside. Nobe gets jammed inside and grounds to short. And Masashi hits one back to Higashino for the 3rd out.
It would seem that Urushido has a fastball that can hit 141, but can be as low as 133. His slider is in the 110s and a slow curve in the 90s.
Okita gets hold of one, but it dies in the crosswind. Hasegawa quickly grounds out to 3rd and Urushido almost gets that 1-2-3 inning but Inui gets one past Mutou. And in almost a instant replay, Higashino does the same! Perhaps Mutou should dive for those...
The lineup comes back up to the top of the order and Miyazaki.
Miyazaki with a grounder to the right side again. And this time Mutou dives! And guess what? He makes the stop! Tosses to Urushido and the inning is over! (You could have done that sooner and saved your ace a couple of pitches, y'know.)
Kudou grounds out to short and the lineup cycles back to the top of the order.
Hiroya is jammed, but bloops one into left for a base hit! But Naruse, trying for a safety bunt pops it up! 2 outs now for Nakajima.
So Hiroya takes matters into his own hands and steals 2nd!
Camera pans to outfield and they're all drawn in.
Nakashima swings and misses on a slider down and away though and the opportunity is lost.
I can see why he's at least somewhat effective. His delivery puts the ball directly behind him and thus makes it hard to see when it comes out. Combine that with the huge difference in speeds I can see how he could be effective (if only he had good control).
Urushido gets a late wakeup call when Harada hits a quick comebacker and he has to block it with the glove. Makes the play at 1st though for the 2nd out. Kobone is retired with a grounder to short, and it looks like..
Okada is changing it up with #11 Sakamoto in at P for Higashino.
Ootaki with a comebacker to Sakamoto that he actually snags, but when he brings his glove in, he loses it! The throw is late and Chikyuu has a baserunner!
Mutou, though fails to bunt him along and is behind 0-2. He shows bunt on a throw to 1st, so it looks like he's free bunting! And since that's the case, they pitch out... Now it's bust-and-run, but the ball is low to even the count...
Wild pitch! Ball is inside and gets past Inui! Ootaki takes 2nd!
And Mutou lines out to right, but its enough to get Ootaki to 3rd for Urushido.
(Please no squeeze bunt...)
Gah, Urushido shows bunt, takes ball 1. Then takes strike 1. And a pitch out.
(Don't do it!)
Ball 3! (Still don't do it!)
Fastball and he fouls it off! He knows he should have had that one! Full count!
Whoo. Just fouls that one off the C and the umpire. And another foul!
Leaves that one over, but again is a little late!
And this time he take the pitch inside and gets the call! Runners at the corners with 1 down! #1 Higashi warming up now as Nobe steps in.
(Please still no squeeze.)
Shows it, takes strike 1.
(DON'T DO IT!)
Offers and misses on a safety squeeze and falls behind 0-2...
Okay, looks like it's off. Ball outside.
Nobe strikes out and there's 2 down now for Masashi. At least Hatori-kantoku wears his emotions on his sleeve. He shows his displeasure about the AB.
But Masashi falls behind 0-2. Manages to even it up, but don't expect an easy pitch here.
Masahi puts it into play, but flies out to Harada to end the inning.
Kumamoto times a slow curve outside and manages to pull it to left center. Okita moves him along for Hasegawa.
And after falling behind 3-0 to Hasegawa, he works it full, but doesn't get the call on the pitch (Where was that pitch??!)
And once again, after falling behind 2-0, evens the count to Inui. Though his pitching from the stretch loses a couple of kph.
Inui with a grounder to 3rd. Nobe steps on 3rd for 1, throw to 1st... Nice pick by Mutou! Double play! Urushido gets out of the inning with no damage done!
So if I understand it correctly, Chikyuu Kankyou is borrowing Amagasaki Koukou's band?
Kudo goes down swinging on a slider for the first out. Back to the top of the order and Hiroya.
Hiroya with a blast to left!! Okita running back to the wall, and it's just over his head! And his momentum accidentally bats the ball away! Hiroya makes it to 3rd! Douten chance for Chikyuu!
Naruse up now.
(DON'T DO IT!)
It seems like they're doing safety squeezes but it's so hard to tell.
And Naruse fouls it backwards! Now the count is 2-2! And he's now swinging away, fouling one off. Ball low and the count runs full.
Grounder to 2nd! Miyazaki with the ball, but they give up the run! Chikyuu Kankyou scores the douten run! It's 1-1!
Nakashima with a hot shot down the 3rd base line... just foul!
Sakamoto makes Nakashima screw down with his swing to end the inning, but the underdogs from Nagano have tied it up!
Sakamoto is taking his spot in the lineup, which might suggest he's staying in the game for now at least.
Grounder up the middle, Hiroya with a great pick! Makes the play at 1st for the out!
Miyazaki with a hard grounder to 1st, and Mutou makes a nice pick of his own for the 2nd out!
And Urushido gets in on the act snoconing a chopper for the 3rd out! We head to the break with Nagano's Chikyuu Kankyou holding their own against Riseisha!
Sakamoto throws in the high 130s with a slider in the low 120s (so far as I can tell).
Mutou with a blooper to short left center! Hasegawa dives, but can't make the play! Man on!
Urushido tries to bunt the runner along, but fails to do so. Maybe that's why they don't suicide squeeze... they can't bunt?
The cameras show that Higashi's not warming up anymore. It's Sakamoto's game for now.
Chopper by Nobe, Miyazaki charges in, makes the nice snag and throw for the 3rd out.
Post-break Urushido's control goes missing as he walks Harada to lead off the inning. Kobone moves him along.
But Urushido jams Kumamoto and he fouls out to Nobe. 2 down! Up to Okita to extend the inning or get the run in.
But a wild pitch by Urushido sends Harada to 3rd! Need that out!
But Okita crushes one! Naruse going to the wall, but he hangs his head...
2-run homerun by Okita gives Riseisha a 3-1 lead!!
Hasegawa grounds out to short, but the damage has been done. Chikyuu Kankyou will have trouble coming back with just 3 innings to go.
Lucky 7 time for Chikyuu if they ever needed one... except that ace Higashi is in the game now to close it out.
But Masashi grounds out to 3rd, and Kudou flies out to center.
Top of the order and Hiroya, but he grounds out to short.
Except that Kumamoto airmails the throw! Man on with 2 down! And now Naruse singles to right! Hiroya heading to third and Harada goes firing! The throw is wide and now Naruse goes for 2! Throw to 2nd and he slides in there!
Nakashima up, gets ahead 3-1... pops it up (WHY ARE YOU SWINGING!!!!!)! Kobone makes the catch and the inning is over.
One down, and Higashi's first AB is a success as he leaks one through the middle for a one-out single.
Miyazaki follow that with a solid hit to right and Urushido's in a bit of trouble here in the 7th.
Shouno flies out to center and there's 2 down.
But up 0-2 on Harada and Urushido hits him and now it's manrui for Kobone.
Grounder to the left side, and that's past a diving Hiroya! Two runs score on the play, and perhaps the dream is over now for Chikyuu Kankyou.
Kumamoto grounds to 2nd for the 3rd out, but Riseisha may finally be pulling away here in the late innings.
Ootaki earns a leadoff walk, but they're still a bit of a ways away. Ootaki takes off for 2nd, and Inui's throw is high.
Mutou flies out to center and there's 1 down.
Ootaki gambles stealing 3rd, and somehow slides in safely! Not sure why'd you would do that, he's not the tying run.
Urushido drives one down the left field line. Okita makes the catch and concede the run. 5-2.
Nobe with a drive to left center. Hasegawa ranging to his right, stretches, and makes the catch to end the inning!
Chikyuu Kankyou gets a run back, but still trails by a wide margin.
It's a quick 1-2-3 inning for Riseisha, and now Chikyuu has one last chance to try and extend their stay.
8-9-1 batters up to face ace Higashi, looking for the save (though we don't really track that stuff most don't have a 2nd good pitcher).
Masashi makes good contact, but flies out to center.
Kudou first pitch swinging singles through the left side! Back to the top of the order and Hiroya.
Hiroya with a grounder to 3rd, and Shouno flubs it! Kumamoto gets to it, but it's too late. 2 men on and the tying run comes to the plate in Naruse as Okada-kantoku calls time.
Tying run at the plate with one down, but nothing hasty should be done just yet.
But Naruse hits a grounder to short! Kumamoto to Miyazaki to Kobone and the game is over.
Chikyuu Kankyou put a better effort than other teams I've seen. Gotta commend them for their effort. But in the end, what in all probability was the better team won the game. Riseisha will move on to face the winner of the next game.
Ootaki Yuusuke (Chikyuu Kankyou) - 2-3, R, BB, 2 SB
Iwata Hirota (Chikyuu Kankyou) - 2-5, 3B, R
Okita Katsutoshi (Riseisha) - 1-3, HR, 2 RBI
Kobone Makoto (Riseisha) - 2-3, 3 RBI