Hayatomo won the Yamaguchi prefecturals then got fortunate in some ways to be paired in the same quadrant as Tottori. They defeated Yasu, then fellow Yamaguchi school Nanyou Kougyou before losing to Kurashiki Shougyou 6-3.
The team relies heavily on their starting 9 as only 3 other players have any ABs (and they all have 1 each). The team batting average as a whole is poor (0.279) but they do have a lot of extra base hits.
Ace Aidzu strikes out a batter per inning, while allowing <1 H+BB per inning at the same time. But you'll have to remember the context of the Chuugoku region as well.
Opposing them is the new reigning team in Nara, and for this year at least Kinki - Chiben Gakuen.
I remember last year when they came back on Yokohama to win, and while that may have been fluky, they have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with now.
This fall they defeated Tenri twice, last year's representative from Osaka - Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara, and Riseisha.
Chiben's numbers aren't that impressive on paper. A 0.315 batting average with some extra base hits. Ace Aoyama's K rates are about average, but he doesn't allow many runners.
Hayatomo's going to have a hard time in this game against the Kinki champs.
CF Nakamura Nozomu
LF Nagahisa Kimiharu
SS Miyazaki Ryuunousuke
3B Kimura Yuuma
RF Aidzu Yuusa (#1)
1B Fujita Shouki
2B Yamamoto Tatsuya
C Harada Shouji
P Horita Taiki (#10)
Chiben Gakuen (Nara)C Nakamichi Katsushi
CF Urano Jyunya
P Aoyama Daiki
RF Ono Youhei
LF Komeda Shintarou
1B Koike Masahiro
3B Uenishi Ryouki (#12)
2B Yamaguchi Yuuki (#6)
SS Takeda Ichiya (#13)
13:42 - First pitch!
It was drizzling earlier, but now it's raining enough people are evacuating for higher and more importantly covered ground.
Hm? Hayatomo has no band?
Aoyama off to a good star, getting an infield groundout and pop fly to Yamaguchi at 2B.
Finally, there's the band but it soon stops when Miyazaki pops out to 2nd.
Interesting Ookoshi-kantoku is going with Horita to start.
Nakmichi with a blast to left. Nagahisa running back, reaches up and makes the running catch!
But they give it right back when Yamamoto throws away the ball on a routine grounder from Urano. Urano takes 2nd on the play.
Horita walks ace Aoyama on 4 straight, and now it's cleanup batter Ono.
And now I've seen the second instance of the ball hitting the end of the bat. This time it goes foul.
Horita gets Ono swinging on a ball in the dirt! 2 outs!
Both runners take off! The ball is in the dirt and they have no play! Now a base hit scores 2!
But Komeda grounds to 2nd! Yamamoto's throw is good this time and they're out of the jam!
So I get to see Hayatomo's oen-dan, and we have the battle of the letters! Of course if you know kokoyakyu, you know if Chiben's red "C" on a white background. Well, Hayatomo has a white "H" on a blue background!
Kimura up just lines one foul down the right field line. But he is caught looking with some good framing to boot on a fastball outside.
Aoyama retires Aidzu on a grounder to 1st and Fujita, after a few stubborn foul balls, flies out to left.
Koike is frozen on a slider for strike 3. Horita is showing good control for someone who was only used for 2 innings in one game this past fall.
According to the announcers, he has a fastball in the mid-upper 130s with a slider, curve and shuuto.
Yamaguchi reaches on a dead ball, but is stranded when Takeda flies out to left.
Hayatomo's bottom of the order are stubborn, but all three are retired. Still no baserunners for Hayatomo yet.
Nakamura making a great running catch in left-center to rob Urano of extra bases! A groundout by Aoyama makes it a 1-2-3 inning. Through 3, neither team has a hit.
Nakamura with a grounder to the right side! Yamaguchi with the great diving stop, but the throw is late! 1st base hit for Hayatomo!
And predictably, a sac bunt to move him into scoring position for Miyazaki and Kimura.
Aoyama gets him to bite on a ball in the dirt for the 2nd out.
Kimura with a first pitch blast to left center! Urano running back, but that's against the wall! Nakamura scores easily and just like that Hayatomo has not only the first hit in the game, but the first run! 1-0!!
And Aidzu is hit in the back by Aoyama! Fujita now to try and get another run in.
Fujita makes contact with a pitch low, but grounds out to 3rd to end the inning. But I'm sure the Chiben oen-dan is a bit shocked to see Hayatomo leading 1-0!
But I'm also sure they know that their team can score runs too.
Yet while Chiben's batters make contact, they're fly balls that are caught by the defense. Two flyouts to Aidzu and a K mean that Chiben is still without a hit!
Man, it looks like some of the Hayatomo players are mad at times. When Aidzu got hit it looked like he stared Aoyama down. And when Aoyama pitched inside to Harada, he kinda did the same.
I like that.
Though Harada goes down looking. And then Horita as well to end the inning.
Bottom third of the order for Chiben.
Huh, Uenishi goes down swinging on three straight off-speed pitches.
And the no-hitter is gone. Yamaguchi revenges getting hit by blowing one past Kimura into left for a single. Takeda bunts him over as the lineup cycles back to leadoff hitter Nakamichi.
Wild pitch! Harada can't find it and fortunately for him it went out of play. Yamaguchi has to hold at 3rd.
Nakamichi can't hold his swing and falls behind 1-2!
K, wild pitch? No, foul! 2-2 on Nakamichi...
And now he hits Nakamichi! (Though he really didn't get out of the way). The task of getting the runners home falls to Urano now.
Horita falls behind Urano 3-0. You don't want to go manrui with Aoyama up.
But he does! He loses him on the 3-1 pitch and now Ookoshi-kantoku calls time.
Key AB here. No place to put Aoyama.
Continues to pitch down in the zone, but after getting the first strike, falls behind 2-1.
Inside, and now it's 3-1! Does he give in?
Yes! And Aoyama singles through the left side! Nagahisa's throw is cut off and 2 runs score! Gyakuten Chiben Gakuen! They lead 2-1!
And they continue to apply the pressure! Double steal on the first pitch and both are safe!
And with the count 2-2, they show Horita's face. It looked like the one of someone who was rattled.
And just as I think that... Ono connects on a ball.
And I don't have to think about it.
HA-I-TA. Nagahisa barely gives chase.
5-1 Chiben Gakuen and even though it's early, that's a backbreaker.
Komeda grounds out to 2nd, but the damage has been done several times over. Hayatomo will have to pull off one heck of a comeback to overcome this deficit.
But playing from behind against a better team is never easy. Hayatomo goes down in order and they'll need to relax.
The rain seems to coming down a bit more now, but not affecting play.
Nakamura makes a great dive on a ball hit by Koike for the first out.
#15 Oosaki comes in to hit for Uenishi and goes down swinging.
And after a balk by Horita, I finally hear the first playing of "Jock Rock".
But Horita's struggling a bit. He walks Takeda now and the lineup turns over. Fortunately, for Horita, he finally strikes out Nakamich to end the inning.
Kimura leads off the lucky 7 with a single to center. However, Aidzu grounds into a fielder's choice. Furthermore, he tries and unsuccessfully steals 2nd.
(Why? That run doesn't even matter!)
Fujita flies out to center and that's the inning.
Horita shuts down the Chiben offense again in order, but they need help.
Yamamoto pulls a ball down the left field line... fair! He in with a leadoff double.
Harada tries to bloop one in up the middle, but Yamaguchi runs it down.
#9 Yamahito comes in to hit for Horita. His day is done. Horita strikes out swinging.
Nakamura with a ball back up the middle, goes through! Yamamoto scores and Haytomo has one of the runs back! 5-2.
But Nagahisa pops out to short, and that's the inning.
Kawahito stays in and goes to right, and ace Aidzu takes the mound.
After a routine grounder to start, Koike lines one over Miyazaki for a base hit. #5 Odahara comes to pinch run.
Oosaki grounds into a fielder's choice, and Yamaguchi to 3rd, and it's a smooth inning for Aidzu.
But they need at least 3 to extend the game.
Defensively, Odahara goes to 3rd, and Oosaki to 1st.
Miyazaki with a blast to right center! That falls in at the base of the wall for a double! But that's just one runner. You need a couple more.
Kimura with a ball to the left side. Takeda makes a nice grab and throw to get Kimura out.
It abruptly comes to an end as a liner by Aidzu is caught by Yamaguchi, and he tosses to Takeda to double off Miyazaki.
Hayatomo may have lost 5-2, but their pitchers combined to give up just 4 hits. 3 of those came in that fateful 5th inning. If not for that when Horita lost his composure, Hayatomo may have had a chance.
Hayatomo gave a great effort today and has nothing to be ashamed about. They easily earned their invitation here today. Hopefully they'll make a run in the summer.
Chiben Gakuen will have to wait until tomorrow to see who their opponent is, but 4 hits today has to be a bit concerning going forward.
Horita Taiki (Hayatomo) - 7 IP, 5 ER, 3 H, 6 K, 6 BB
Nakamura Nozomu (Hayatomo) - 2-4, R, RBI, K
Kimura Yuuma (Hayatomo) - 2-4 RBI
Aoyama Daiki (Chiben Gakuen) - CG, 2 ER, 7 H, 8 K, BB
Ono Youhei (Chiben Gakuen) - 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, K
Yamaguchi Yuuki (Chiben Gakuen) - 1-2, R, BB, HBP