Osaka Touin and ace Fujinami easily handled what had to be one of the more weaker Hanamaki Higashi teams we've seen in recent years. Now, they were baffled for a majority of the game, but I think that had to do more with the erratic control of Hanamaki ace Ootani than anything else. Once he started leaving pitches over the plate more often did they rack up the runs.
Kyushu Gakuin too had a big inning against their opponent Memanbetsu in the 1st inning and pretty much cruised from there. They were put in check by ace Nikaidou for the most part thereafter, so that part of it could be concerning against a better ace in Fujinami.
Both teams handled their opponents, but mostly via the big inning. Otherwise their offenses struggled a bit. So due to Fujinami's better pitching, I'd have to side with the representative from the Kinki region to advance.
Osaka Touin (Osaka)C Mori Tomoya
2B Oonishi Tomoya
RF Mizumoto Gen
1B Koike Yuuya (#5)
3B Kasamatsu Yuuya (#15)
LF Yasui Kouki
SS Mizutani Yukiya (#14)
P Fujinami Shintarou
CF Hakusui Kenta
Kyushu Gakuin (Kumamoto)SS Mizowaki Hayato
2B Yamashita Yuuma
CF Hagiwara Hideyuki
3B Oota Kouhei
1B Okayama Shirou
LF Yonei Kenta
C Asakawa Ryou
RF Shimada Kairi
P Ootsuka Takahito
12:45 - First pitch!
A quick 1-2-3 inning for Ootsuka to start. Always good to get off to a good start, especially against a team like this.
I don't remember Fujinami hitting 145+ and yet here he is hitting 149 (though at times not controlled). Where was this in his first game?
And he blows by Misowaki for his first of what may be a lot of Ks.
A 109 curve followed by a 150 fastball inside? That's kinda not fair.
Still though we know from past history that a fast fastball is no good if you can't control it, and Yamashita draws a walk.
Fujinami continues to have some control issues still as he goes full on Hagiwara before getting him to chase. But the ball is in the dirt and that allows Yamashita to advance!
And now a wild pitch sends the runner along!
Again, he goes full on cleanup batter Oota. But Oota hits a harmless grounder to short and is retired. Not a great start for Fujinami, but he gets away with no damage.
Kasamatsu gets Touin's first hit with a one-out single back up the middle.
And he takes off for 2nd! Asakawa's throw is a bit off and he's in safely! Yasui though goes down swinging for the 2nd out.
Ootsuka gets behind 3-0 on Mizutani, but gets him to ground out to 3rd.
After an lineout to left, Fujinami's control issues persist. Yonei and Asakawa get deep into counts with Fujinami, and while both are retired they're making him throw a lot of pitches early.
Top 3rdOotsuka easily retire the bottom of the order, but then yields a 2-out slicer to left from Mori.
Oonishi follows that up immediately with a slicer down the right field line! Shimada has to run it down and it's a double! Pinch for Ootsuka here as Mizumoto steps in!
But Ootsuka gets him to ground out to short! Mizowaki makes the throw to 1st and he's out of the inning!
Kyushu's batters are stuggling with Fujinami's fastball and then are off-balance when he throws his slider, change, etc.
Shimada can't catch up to the fastball and strikes out. Ootsuka is ahead of the pitch and bails, flying out to right-center.
Mizowaki is fouling pitches off, but he's just surviving at the plate. Fujinami ends his misery by freezing him on a slider.
Ootsuka not as dominating as Fujinami, but he is still effective. Against the 3-4-5 batters, he gets an infield fly, a soft liner and a routine grounder. We are in for a pitchers' duel for sure.
Yamashita with a chopper to 1st. Koike can't play the hop! He gathers the ball and dives toward 1st, but is short! Yamashita on base on the error!
Hagiwara up, but not bunting! The count goes full and he starts fighting at the plate. And he wins! Fujinami throws it low and Kyushu has a big chance here with no down!
Oota up, and he's bunting now. He lays down a beauty to the 3rd base side and Fujinami's only play is to 1st. 2 runners in scoring position for Okayama.
And there's going to be no squeeze here (good for you!)
However, he falls behind 1-2. Expect a lot of outside junk.
And yes! Okayama swings on a fastball down and away for strike 3!
Yonei up to try and extend the inning at the minimum,
Yonei with a blast to center! Hakusui running back, running back, and he's misjudged it! The wind takes it away from him and it falls in! Yamashita scores! Hagiwara scores! Yonei heading for 3rd, and he's in! He breaks the deadlock and Kyushu Gakuin takes a 2-0 lead!
Asakawa strikes out to end the inning, but they'll have to play from behind again!
Ootsuka continues to stifle the Osaka Touin batters. The bottom of the order can not do anything against him and are retired in order. The key will be if he can keep it up the whole game...
Developing situation for Osaka Touin! One down Oonishi draws a walk. Then Mizumoto singles down the right field line and Oonishi takes 3rd!
Koike with a grounder to 3rd, and Oota catches Oonishi off 3rd! They run him down and now there's 2 out, runners on 1st and 2nd!
Kasahara up, and Ootsuka gets ahead 2-2. Fastball down the middle, just low!
Next pitch, Kasahara connects! Yonei running back to the wall. Still running, looks up!
Kasahara with the gyakuten 3-run homerun! What a turn of events here after the break!
Ootsuka manages to strike out Yasui to end the inning, but Kyushu Gakuin finds themselves behind!
The action is fast and furious now!
Yamashita with a seeing-eye single back up the middle! Hagiwara then takes the next pitch and loops that over Mizutani's head! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Kyushu Gakuin!
But Oota's bunt is too hard! Fujinami picks and wheels to 3rd, and they get Yamashita! Now Kyushu Gakuin is backed into a corner!
Okayama almost certainly have to swing away here. But he holds off on a pitch just outside and manages to work the count full!
But he hits one to short! Mizutani goes to 2nd for one, throw to 1st... beats a diving Okayama!
(WHY ARE YOU DIVING, YOU JUST COST YOURSELF ANOTHER AB AAARRRRGGGG #@*&!@)
Ootsuka gets a routine groundout and...
OH MY GOD..... FUJINAMI JUST CRUSHED THAT BALL.
Hagiwara running back towards the fence, but it's no good.
WOW. 4-2, OSAKA TOUIN!
That may just break Kyushu Gakuin's will right there.
Mizunami strikes out looking for the 2nd out.
Mori with a liner to center! Hagiwara charging in, dives and makes the catch!
Ootsuka and co. head back to the dugout, but that HR is deflating.
One down and Asakawa earns a walk. Sakai-kantoku elects to go for the one-timer by having Shimada bunt.
Wild pitch from Fujinami! Asakawa now 90 feet away!
Ootsuka up, and he's jammed! But it's going to fall in! Ootsuka gets one of those runs back! It's 4-3! Kyushu Gakuin is not going to give up!
Ootsuka delivers on his end of the bargain to his team. He goes after the Touin batters and retires them 1-2-3. Now it's his offense's turn to deliver!
Yamashita takes one too many pitches. He holds off on one just outside, but falls victim to one on the outside corner.
Man, Fujinami never showed the 149 fastball until today, and he's still throwing it here in the 8th!
The Kyushu batters are patient if nothing else. Hagiwara holds off on another outside pitch to get ahead 3-1, but swings away and flies out to left.
Oota gets a single to center, but there's 2 down. They're going to have to string together some hits if that runner is going to score.
But Okayama swings at the first pitch and grounds to short. They'll be down to their last 3 outs so long as Ootsuka can hold them here.
Kasamatsu with a blooper down the left field line! It's Mizowaki that is running it down! He reaches out and makes the catch in fair territory!
But Touin is looking for the insurance run! Yasui singles through the right side and advances on the hit-and-run groundout to 3rd.
Fujinami stands in. What will Ootsuka do?
He's going after him!
After falling behind 2-0, he throws two fastballs inside!
But he tries one too many times! Fujinami fists it to shallow left-center! Mizowaki running out, as Yonei and Hagiwara come in, but Mizowaki tries to reach up for it, bu can't make it! It falls in and Yasui scores! 5-3 and that might do it this time!
Why neither Yonei or Hagiwara (Probably Yonei, he was closer) didn't call him off as they had an easier play for it, I have no idea...
And a wild pitch from Ootsuka sends Fujinami to 3rd!
Hakusui with a liner, but Oota snags it for the out! Three outs, but Kyushu will have to score 2 now!
Yonei down 1-2, grounder to the right side just past a diving Oonishi! He's on!
Asakawa representing the tying run, but no need for the homer. #17 Masuda comes in to run for Oonishi.
He's up 3-1.
He swings! Liner to 1st! Koike has it! Yonei dead meat! Double play! I told you not to swing!
#14 Sonoda comes in as the last chance for Kyushu Gakuin!
He's ahead 3-1.
I'd say don't swing, but he already did, and popped it up. Fujinami makes the catch and the game is over!
Osaka Touin comes back in spectacular fashion with 2 HR's and takes out the Kyushu runner-ups! What an exciting game! Ootsuka had Osaka Touin stifled early, but it's not how you start against them - it's how you finish. That's because they generally are one of the offensive powerhouses in the country (much like Teikyou). You have to be able to go 9 innings against them or suffer the fate that Hanamaki Higashi and now Kyushu Gakuin fell under.
Interestingly, Osaka Touin have scored all 14 runs in the tournament after the break. Is it slow starting, or is it an adjustment they're able to make at the break, or is it the breakdown of the opposing pitchers, or a mix of all of them? Wonder if it's something that Urawa Gakuin can key in on.
But as it stands Osaka Touin looks as a legitimate challenger for the title this year.