First up today is a matchup of big names, Yokohama and Kochi.
Yokohama was fortunate enough to receive the floating bid from the selection committee. Otherwise, they'd be watching on TV wondering what might have been.
It's been a lackluster year so far for Yokohama. First was the 9th inning debacle at Natsu Koushien when they allowed Chiben Gakuen to score 9 runs en route to a 9-4 win. Then in the fall tournaments they won the Kanagawa prefecturals, but lost 6-2 to Best 4 team Sakushin Gakuin (who, until recently was a fairly known team, but with little success).
It would seem that problems still persist with the pitching staff, though to what extent I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that Watanabe-kantoku has been under a bit more pressure as their team continues to struggle.
Kochi, and the Shikoku region for that matter are struggling a bit as well. Once known for the baseball (and still are to some extent), teams from this region have not fared as well in recent years. Kochi has been one of those teams. They made it by avenging a loss in the prefecturals to Meitoku Gijyuku, though they lost a thriller to Naruto.
I'd like to see the rise of Shikoku again, and perhaps a game against Yokohama might do it. But I'm not so sure.
Kochi (Kochi)CF Horio Chigaya
2B Doi Yuuga
3B Wada Ren
SS Norikane Shun
RF Okazaki Kenya
1B Masa Yuuma
LF Matagawa Ryouyuu (#18)
P Sakamoto Yuuta
C Komatsu Tomohiro
Yokohama (Kanagawa)CF Haizaki Ryou
LF Shishikura Kazuma
RF Tahara Keigo (#11)
1B Yamauchi Tatsuya
2B Higuchi Ryuunosuke
C Ozeki Ikki
SS Aoki Rikito (#16)
P Yanagi Yuuya
3B Takahashi Ryouken (#6)
09:00 - First Pitch!
Wada with a two-out single off Higuchi's glove, but he's picked off shorty thereafter and the inning is over.
Haizaki with a lines just above a leaping Norikane to lead off Yokohama's 1st.
After a bunt by Shishikura, Tahara goes up 3-0 before finally drawing a walk. So Sakamoto is in a bit of trouble, and it gets worse as he falls behind Yamauchi 3-1.
Yamauchi with a liner to left center! That gets between the fielders and all the way to the wall! Both runners score and Yokohama leads 2-0!
Oy.. and now Sakamoto hits Higuchi! And now Ozeki! Manrui for Yokohama, and now the game could get away from Kochi here in the 1st!
But he Sakamoto comes back to strike out Aoki for the 2nd out! It's up to Yanagi now...
But the strikes out too! Sakamoto prevents any further damage being done!
Kochi's batters don't look too comfortable. Norikani is frozen on a fastball, Okazaki makes a bad swing on a change and grounds out to first.
Masa manages a single through the right side, but Matagawa flies out to right center and the inning is over.
Sakamoto slight better this inning. He's still having control issues, but Yokohama's batters are swinging any almost anything in the zone, so he racks up 2 quick outs, then runs the count full before inducing a foul out for a 1-2-3 inning.
Yanagi's control isn't good either, but better than Sakamoto's right now. He manages to retire the side in order, though with a little more difficulty. Though, top batter Horio seemed to make good contact but still fly out to right.
Sakamoto looking much better now. He records his second straight 1-2-3 inning and is throwing more balls in the zone.
Yanagi puts up a 1-2-3 inning without much objection from the Kochi batters. 2 above the minimum after 4.
Aoki with a 2-out base hit to break the string of 9 straight retired by Sakamoto. Yanagi bunts him over for Takaahashi.
However, Takahashi is fooled on a slider outside, does manage to make contact. But it's right to 2nd for the out.
Okazaki gets their first leadoff baserunner on as he singles through the right side. Masa tries to lay the bunt down, but instead fouls out to a charging Aoki.
Neither of the next 2 batters are able to do anything, and once again Kochi comes away scoreless.
Sakamoto's control looks much better, getting Haizaki to strike out looking, and getting 0-2 on Shishikura before he hits a slow dribbler up the right side that Doi is unable to field cleanly (it would have been a close play).
Shishikura takes off for 2nd on the first pitch to Tahara and slides in safely!
Tahara with a base hit through the right side! Okazaki with a throw home! Komatsu's got it, but the tag is just a touch behind and he's called safe! (The replay is inconclusive other than Shishikura may have missed the plate).
Yamauchi with a soft hit to center! Tahara, who took 2nd on the throw stops at 3rd!
Highuchi chases a fastball outside and there's 2 down.
Ozeki strikes out looking to end the inning, but at the break Yokohama holds a good 3-0 margin.
I'd talk to you about Yanagi's pitching, but he supposedly has 4-5 different off-speed pitches it's hard to tell which one he's throwing when. About the only thing I can say is that his fastball is in the high 120-low 130 range.
Yanagi rings up two K's on bad swings before not getting a call on a full count pitch to Doi.
Shimada-kantoku tries the hit-and-run, but Wada lines out to right to end the inning.
Post-break, Sakamoto still looks good on the mound. Despite giving a 2-out walk to Takahashi, he retires Haizaki on a fly to center. Now if only the offense could get going...
Okazaki makes good contact, but it's just not carrying as he flies out to center.
Masa strikes out, and Kochi continues to struggle.
Shishikura collects his 2nd hit as he doubles over Okazaki.
#17 Ariizumi comes in to PH for Tahara. But Komatsu catches Shishikura off 2nd! Shishikura makes a dash for 3rd, the throw from Norikane is there, but Wada can't field it! Safe!
And now Watanabe-kantoku pulls back Ariizumi for #13 Itou! He hits a ball to left, and Matagawa charging in, can't get there! Shishikura scores to make it 4-0!
#9 Nakase comes in to PR for Itou.
Yamauchi can proabably put the nail in the coffin with a base hit, but he can't do that, grounding out to 2nd.
Neither Higuchi or Ozeki can bring Nakase home, but 4-0 already looks near impossible to come back from for Kochi.
#16 Okuda coming in to PH for Sakamoto, meaning that his day is done.
Grounder to the right side, goes past Yamauchi and under Higuchi's legs!
#7 Kitadai hits for Komatsu, tries a pop safety bunt, but it's not high enough and Yamauchi catches it.
Our first balk of the tournament is called on Yanagi, but it's of no consequence as Horio hits a chopper back to Yanagi for the 3rd out.
#11 Tagashira comes in for PH Okuda to take over on the hill. #13 Isshiki comes in for Matadai and takes over at C, whiles Kitadai stays in the game at LF.
Aoki immediately tests Tagashira with a bunt. Tagashira fields it, but short hops the throw. E1.
Yanagi pays back the favor by popping his bunt up. Wada catches it for the out. Aoki gets the base anyways by stealing it with not much from the throw by new C Isshiki.
Oof. Hiazaki takes a dead ball right in the ribs as he turns into it.
But Tagashira gets out of the jam striking out Shishikura.
The game has gone at quite the quick clip here and we're already in the 9th, just 100 minutes since the start.
And Kochi keeps it quick by going 1-2-3 in the 9th.
A great performance by ace Yanagi, and probably Kochi is left wondering if they couldn't have done anything more.
Wada Ren (Kochi) 1-3
Yanagi Yuuya (Yokohama) - CG, 0 ER, 3 H, 4 K, BB
Shishikura Kazuma (Yokohama) - 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 SB
Yamauchi Tatsuya (Yokohama) - 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI