Naruto survived their first round game against 21st century team Sumoto... just. A hit batsmen with a single was all the scoring in the game. And this was while Sumoto actually had more opportunities in the game than Naruto! So, for being the Shikoku champion, the prospects don't look to good.
Especially when they face last summer's Best 4 team Sakushin Gakuin.
But they did not have a smooth ride in the first game. In fact, Kurashiki Shougyou jumped out to a 3-0 lead on ace Ootani before the offense rocked Nishi for 4 runs in the second, never looking back. The team definitely had some hits, but was the beneficiary of bad defense too. Also, the top of the order was unable to produce much offense for the team either, which is concerning if you're depending on cleanup batter Takayama to drive in runs.
Naruto looks like they'll have a lot on their hands when they take the field today.
Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)CF Tsuruta Kouya
LF Haneishi Hiroki
SS Ishii Kazunari
1B Takayama Ryousuke (#9)
C Yamashita Yuuto
RF Fuse Kyouhei (#16)
3B Takashima Shouma
2B Asano Shouya
P Tsutsui Shigeru (#11)
Naruto (Tokushima)SS Kawano Yuuto
CF Shimada Jyukito
LF Inaoka Kenta
2B Sugimoto Keita (#3)
RF Yamato Taira
3B Matsumoto Takanori
C Kusaka Hiroki (#12)
P Goutouda Shuusaku
1B Ise Hayato (#16)
11:20 - First pitch!
It's a relatively quiet inning for Goutouda to start. Sakushin's batters are going after the ball early in counts as Tsuruta and Ishii first pitch swinging in a 1-2-3 start for Goutouda.
Tsutsui on the mound instead of Ootani, but it wouldn't make sense in the handedness as both are lefties and the Naruto lineup today is right heavy.
One down Shimada draws a 4-pitch walk then Inaoka singles through the left side.
Control issues for Tsutsui as he can't find the zone and walks his 2nd batter on 4 straight! It's manrui with one down for Yamato!
Grounder to short! But Ishii doesn't field it cleanly! They get the out at 2nd, but the relay to 1st is late! Shimada scores and Naruto is on the board here in the 1st! 1-0!
Matsumoto grounds out to short to end the inning, but Naruto gets their first run this time much sooner!
Takayama gets a good pitch at 3-2, but hits a hard grounder to 2nd.
Yamashita and Fuse are retired thereafter for a 1-2-3 inning, but Goutouda had to work a little harder for that one.
Tsutsui appears to have a fastball in the high 120s with a slider in the mid 110s that he throws A LOT.
New 1B Ise, in the game today because Nakano has a injury to his finger, gets a 2-out single to right.
But Kawano grounds to a fielder's choice at short and the inning is over.
Cameras go to the flags above the scoreboard and they're blowing as usual from RF to LF.
Sakushin's batters trying to work the count and get on, but Takashima and Asano fly out. It's Tsutsui who gets on with a little help from Matsumoto who can't field his grounder cleanly!
Hit-and-run by Kobari-kantoku and Tsuruta singles to right! Yamato is there quickly and keeps Tsutsui at 2nd.
Haneishi grounds into a fielder's choice at short, but Sakushin finally gets a baserunner on as well as their first hit.
Another clean inning from Tsutsui. Two quick outs to 2nd, and a 3-2 knee buckler to Sugimoto to end the inning.
Chance for Sakushin as Ishii slices one down the left field line fair! He's hustles to 2nd and is in safely!
Takayama hits one down the right field line and that's fair! But Ishii think's it's foul and only advances to 3rd! Will that cost them later?
Well Yamashita gets under one and pops it up! Sugimoto secures it for the out!
But Fuse hits one to center! Shimada prepares to throw home, and Ishii takes off on the catch! The throw home is cut off, no! It bounces off Sugimoto and deflects to the 3rd base dugout! Kusaka gives chase but Takayama advances to 3rd! But anyways, Sakushin has tied the game at 1-1!
But no further damage is done as Takashima grounds out to short.
Tsutsui has settled down since the first as Naruto's batters can't make contact on his pitches. He racks up two more K's in a up and down inning.
Outside of that last inning, Goutouda has looked smooth as well, hitting his spots and if missing generally missing low. He too gets a 1-2-3 inning thanks to a nice backhanded stab by Ise on a scorching ball by Tsuruta.
Routine grounder to short by Goutouda and Ishii gets ahead of himself and allows the ball to deflect off of him!
Ise not bunting, swings and his a grounder to short! This time Ishii doesn't miss, starting the 6-4-3 double play!
Kawano reaches out on a ball and grounds out to short. We hit the break with some errors on both sides, a few hits and a 1-1 tie.
Haneishi turns on a ball inside and rips it down the left field line to the wall for a double!
Kobari-kantoku electing not to have Ishii bunt. Goutouda freezes him on a fastball on the inside corner! 1 down!
Cleanup batter Takayama up and Goutouda falls behind 3-0! But Takayama gets the green light, swings on a slider and grounds back to Goutouda! 2 down and Haneishi still on 2nd!
And Goutouda gets Yamashita to swing under one! Popup to shallow center, and Kawano makes a scary catch, reach up with his back turned. Makes the catch, but perhaps someone else should have had that?
Shimada tries for the safety bunt, but Takashima throws him out by a good margin.
Inaoka lines one over Ishii and into left for a single!
Kobari-kantoku calls time and that's the day for Tsutsui. But #10 Mizunuma comes in instead of Ootani.
Sugimoto greets him with a drive to left center! Haneishi and Tsuruta running back to the fence and it's Haneishi who makes the catch in front of the fence!
Mizunuma is a righty who appears to have a fastball that touches 130 with a slider in the mid 110s and some type of change in the 100s
Yamato with a hard base hit down the left field line! Haneishi up with it quickly to prevent the Inaoka from going to 3rd! Kobari-kantoku calls time again.
Matsumoto slices one up the middle! Inaoka getting the green light Tsuruta throwing home, but it's not in time! Naruto takes a 2-1 lead!
Now Kusaka with a first pitch single to left! Haneishi up with it and Yamato's being sent home! Throw is up the 1st base line and he scores! 3-1 Naruto!
Goutouda with a hard hit to 1st, but Takayama has it. Goes to 1st for the out, but Mizunuma's relief stint is anything but as he gives up both RBI singles!
3-1 count to Fuse and he's green-lighted. He singles past a diving Sugimoto into right.
Takashima takes a hanging slider and laces that to right! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Sakushin as Moriwaki-kantoku calls for time!
Now Kobari-kantoku is calling for the bunt. Asano lays it down, but it's right in front of the plate! Kusaka takes it and throws to 3rd, easily getting Fuse out!
Now #13 Wakui is PH for Mizunuma meaning his day is done. He may not have lasted long if he stayed.
But Wakui goes down swinging on an inside shuuto! 2 down!
And Tsuruta first pitch swings! Pops it up! Ise and Sugimoto converge and it's Ise with the catch! Sakushin's opportunity in the lucky 7 goes to waste!
As expected #1 Ootani takes the hill, but his team is behind with just 2 innings left.
Brimming with confidence, Ise takes the first pitch he sees and lines it to left!
Having done his job for the day, Muriwaki-kantoku sends in #17 Hayashi to run for him. Leadoff batter Kouno sends him on his way to 2nd.
Ootani gets Shimada to ground out to 1st and Inaoka to bite on a slider away. Naruto's been denied, but it won't mean anything if they can't score.
#15 Bandou comes in for PR Hayashi and takes over at 2B. Sugimoto goes back to his normal position of 1B.
Haneishi with a grounder to 3rd, that takes a high hop and almost hits Matsumoto in the face!
Naruto's looking for baserunners so no bunting here.
But they are sending Haneishi? Throw from Kusaka is barely not in time!
Ishii follows that up with a liner through the infield into left! Runners at the corners for cleanup batter Takayama!
Goutouda not giving in to Takayama and goes behind 3-1. And the curve for the outside corner doesn't get the call! Manrui for Yamashita as the Keio chance plays!
Goutouda tries to get Yamashita to chase with two balls away, but no dice! Fastball inside gets him to 2-1.
Another fastball in there and now he's ahead! Watch for the junk!
But Yamashita's able to lift one to center! Shimada catches it and they concede the run! They've narrowed the deficit to 3-2!
Fuse with a grounder down the 3rd base line, Matsumoto dives... FAIR! They call it fair as it goes down the left field line! Ishii rounds 3rd and he scores! DOUTEN! Fuse with his 2nd hit ties the game at 3-3!!
Takashima up and now a deep enough fly ball ties the game.
BUT THEY SQUEEZE!
Kobari-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but it's a ball away! Takashima dives, makes contact, but pops it up! Kusaka catches it and doubles off Takayama at 3rd to end the inning!
Sakushin ties the game, but they could have had more!
Ootani was about to get a 1-2-3 inning it seemed, but then wound up walking Matsumoto. Kusaka with a hard hit ball at Asano, but he's able to field it and make the out at 2nd! Ootani holds the line here in the 8th!
8-9-1 batters up for Sakushin. Asano and Ootaki should be focused on getting on base instead of just a hit.
But Goutouda doesn't allow that possibility, getting ahead of Asano 1-2. But two balls out of the zone and the count is full. Still Asano has to swings away at anything close, and ends up grounding to short.
Ootani's showing patience at the plate, getting ahead 3-1. Will he wait still? Nope, swings and fouls one away. Now it's a mind game, what pitch? Fastball, but Ootani hits a weak chopper back to Goutouda for the out.
Top of the order, but they're going to have to string together some hits.
Tsuruta with a gronder to the right side. Sugimoto makes the diving stop but Tsuruta beats out Goutouda to the bag! Man on!
Kobari-kantoku tries for the hit-and-run, but Haneishi hits a comebacker to Goutouda to end the inning! Now they have to hold for enchousen!
8-9-1 batters up for Naruto too. How will they approach it?
Goutouda tries to work the count, but is can't check his swing! One down. Bandou too falls on a fastball inside. And Kawano pops up to Asano and we're headed to enchousen!
One pitch, one out. Ishii pops it up to short.
Takayama with a blast to left!!! Inaoka running back to the wall....
Goutouda leaves a ball up in the zone and Takayama knows what to do with it! He gives Sakushin Gakuin their first lead of the game here in enchousen, 4-3!
Yamashita with a blast to center! Shimada running over, makes the running catch!
Now Fuse with a blast to center! That's over Shimada's head! He's rounding 2nd, going for 3! Throw is late and Goutouda's being shelled!
Moriwaki-kantoku sees that too and pulls Goutouda for #10 Kobayashi...
He retires Takashima on a comebacker, but Takayama gives his team the lead in a big way! Now can Ootani hold it?
2-3-4 batters up for Naruto. If Sakushin could do it, maybe Naruto can?
Shimada with a fly to shallow left. Haneishi calls off Ishii and makes the catch. One down.
Inaoka with a grounder up the middle. Ishii ranging over, can't field it! Then makes a terrible throw that misses everything and goes into the dugout! Inaoka at 2nd with one down! What a terrible decision by Ishii! He should have eaten that!
Kobari-kantoku calls for time.
Sugimoto with a liner to center! Tsuruta with it quickly and Inaoka has to hold at 3rd!
#14 Koari to hit for Yamato. And Ootani hits him! Manrui for Naruto! Kobari-kantoku has to call for time again!
#13 Koumoto runs for Koari.
Matsumoto up now, and he falls behind 1-2... SANSHIN! Fastball up and in and he can't catch up to it! 2 outs!
Kusaka up. Drive to left! Haneishi running back, running back...
CAN'T GET IT!
Inaoka and Sugimoto score on the sayonara hit bu Kusaka! Naruto comes back again in extra inning to defeat Kanto runner-up Sakushin Gakuin!
Two games now Naruto has won in sayonara fashion in extra innings! The baseball gods must be looking down on them this tournament! They find a way after giving up a 2-run lead, then giving up the lead in the 10th to come back and win!
Now, some of it was Sakushin lapses of judgement. The decision by Ishii to throw to first on that one out grounder was a big mistake. It may not have made the difference, but it may have given a different feel to the inning had it been an error with a runner on first rather than an error and a runner on 2nd. It may not have been as much pressure on Ootani to hit PH Koari if it was runners on 1st and 2nd instead of at the corners.
You have to play all 27 outs. Or in this case, all 30. And Naruto played to that saying more than Sakushin Gakuin here today, and they are the ones to advance to face Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi.