Kousei Gakuin has been the favorite to win since the fall when they won the Meiji Jingu tournament. They hadn't lost a step after losing their seniors who led the run to the championship game last summer. After a bit of a slow start against Hokkaido champion Hokushou, they handled Oumi with ease, and then put no question who was the better team in the rematch against Aikoudai Meiden, winning 5-2 in much the same way as the fall. They are poised to win it all.
Standing in their way is a Kanto Dai-ichi squad that has clawed their way through all 3 stages. First, against a game Beppu Aoyama squad they eked out a 1-0 win. Then they held off Kinki champions Chiben Gakuen despite what seemed like a tired Nakamura.
And yet they threw him out there again against a strong Yokohama squad, and with the help of a crucial call in the 5th that took back a run, looked strong in a 4-2 win!
But the burden is squarely on Nakamura to stand and deliver the next two days. If he can't Kanto doesn't have a chance.
Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo)3B Isobe Yuuta (#9)
RF Kishi Naoya (#16)
2B Kiuchi Jyunshou
CF Akiyama Shouta
LF Itou Hiroki
SS Yoshie Masakazu (#5)
1B Anzai Kouyou
C Matsutani Tsubasa
P Daigo Shunpei (#10)
Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)RF Ameku Shouto
LF Murase Daijyu
C Tamura Tatsuhiro
SS Houjyou Fumiya
1B Takeda Toshiki
3B Oosugi Akinobu
P Jyouma Ryuuhei
CF Kimura Takumi
2B Kishigawa Kenta
13:20 - First pitch!
Isobe gets Kanto's offense going with a base hit in front of Ameku. Afer a sac bunt, Kiuchi gets ahead 3-0 but Jyouma manages to fill up the count. But he loses him a ball low! Runners on 1st and 2nd now as Kanazawa warms up in the bullpen!
But cleanup batter Akiyama swings on the first pitch and hits one to 2nd! Kishigawa starts the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning!
Well, as you can see, Yonezawa-kantoku is rolling with reliever Daigo to start the game. Can he give his team effective innings, or will it backfire?
So far so good. Ameku hits one to Anzai for the 1st out, Murase grounds one back to Daigo.
And Tamura grounds out to short for the 3rd out! Daigo gets the first inning under his belt with no hiccups!
Hm. As Kanto takes their AB's, #11 Uehara is warming up in the bullpen. Looks like Nakamura may be a last chance option for Kanto.
After a quick groundout by Itou, Yoshie and Anzai go deep in counts against Jyouma, but he retires them both for a 1-2-3 inning. Despite perhaps not being a natural starter, he's been doing a great job on the mound.
Oh? Daigo records his first K in Houjyou. I say that because Daigo's fastball touches 130. He has possible 3 change pitches, one sitting each in the 110s, 100s and 90s.
Takeda with a dying liner to left, but Itou makes a shoestring catch!
And Oosugi with a weak grounder to 2nd means he has another 1-2-3 inning!
One down and Daigo hits a low liner past Houjyou! Isobe follows that up with a ball past Oosugi into left as well! Chance for Kanto!
Kishi after falling behind 0-2, takes some really close pitches and fills up the count!
Slicer to left! Murase charging in, but it falls in! Manrui for Kanto for #3 batter Kiuchi!
Jyouma once again gets ahead 0-2 on Kiuchi. Kiuchi fouls one off. Waste pitch, 1-2. Slider up and in, 2-2. Ball inside, fought off by Kiuchi. High slider, popped up! Kishigawa and Takeda converging in foul territory, both dive.. neither has it! Will that cost them?
NO! Kiuchi is caught looking for strike 3! 2 down!
Akiyama swings on the first pitch again! And he bails out Jyouma by flying to left! Big chance for Kanto goes begging!
Jyouma goes full on Daigo before delivering Kousei's first hit, a liner to left.
Kimura lays down the bunt, but Daigo quickly picks it up! Yoshie saves the high throw and they get the lead runner. Nakai-kantoku has Kishigawa bunt as well, and this time they advance the runner for top batter Ameku.
But Ameku grounds out to 2nd and the inning is over. I'm surprised a bit that Daigo is doing this good of a job against the tournament favorites.
Itou grounds out to short for his 2nd time today.
Yoshie with a drive to center! Kimura running back, turning right, then back left! He's turned around as the ball falls in front of the wall! Yoshie in with a double!
Jyouma gets ahead of Anzai 0-2, and doesn't get a call on a ball at the knees. Anzai hits a chopper to short. Houjyou makes a great pick and throw for the out, but Yoshie advances to 3rd.
But #8 batter Matsutani is up, and he's had struggles at the plate. They continue as he flies out to right toend the inning.
Daigo falls behind Murase 3-0, gets one back, and almost gets the out when Murase hits a foul fly. Anzai doesn't sell out at the fence and it falls in.
Instead he hits a liner right at Isobe, who puts the glove in front of his face and makes the catch.
He falls behind Tamura 3-1 and..
He blasts one to left! Itou running back! Looking up!!
That ball is easily 10 rows up in left as Kousei finally gets to Daigo! They open the scoring at 1-0!
And no Houjyou with a first pitch liner to left center for a base hit! And after Takeda hits a hard foul ball, Nakamura heads to the bullpen.
And Houjyou with a big lead takes off when the ball goes in the dirt! Matsutani can't get anything on the throw and he's in safely! Takeda walks on the next pitch prompting Yonezawa-kantoku to call time, perhaps to buy Nakamura time to warm up.
Daigo meanwhile gets ahead of Oosugi 0-2. Oosugi though takes on the other way! Itou up with it, but his throw home is cut off! Houjyou scores to make it 2-0!
Daigo still on the mound as Jyouma steps in. Can he perhaps deliver a crippling blow early? Not sure Daigo's going to let him as he falls behind 3-1. But Jyouma takes one over the plate to fill up the count.
He pops him up! Kimura in center makes the catch for the 2nd out!
And now Nakamura is being recalled to the dugout! But the crisis isn't over just yet as Kimura steps in.
But he hits a grounder to 1st. Anzai makes the out to retire the side, but Kousei gets to the relief starter!
Daigo with a swinging bunt! Oosugi charging in, but can't field the ball! Daigo gets his 2nd hit of the day!
Isobe 2-2 on the day, bunting??! He hits it too hard and Jyouma goes to 2nd for the force! Why was Isobe not swinging away there??
And now they send Isobe, but Tamura with a great throw to 2nd and they have Isobe for the 2nd out!
Kishi battles with Jyouma, but on the 10th pitch of the AB he's frozen for the K!
Kishigawa showing some power with a ball down the left field line! That goes all the way to the wall for a double! Ameku trying for a safety bunt still moves him to 3rd.
Murase with a ball to left! Itou camping under it, makes the catch, throws for home, but the relay is no good! Kishigawa scores to make it 3-0!
Cameras go to Yonezawa-kantoku who is telling Itou to move back for Tamura.
Tamura blasts one to left! Really? Is he really?? Itou running back and to his right, turns himself around going left, and makes the sliding catch at the wall for the 3rd out! Whoa that was a close one! Looks like the kantoku was right after all!
But Kousei adds on a run and as we hit the break Kanto finds themselves down 3-0!
Kiuchi leads off the inning with a single down the right field line. Cleanup batter Akiyama tries to bunt, but falls behind 1-2. Akiyama with a ball up the middle. Houjyou in front of it, but can't field it cleanly! He barely gets the toss to Kishigawa for the out.
Itou lines out to right for the 2nd out.
Akiyama takes off for 2nd! Throw from Matsutani is wide and goes into center and Akiyama eases into 3rd! Chance to narrow the margin for Kanto!
But Yoshie hits a grounder to 2nd! Kishigawa's throw beats out a diving Yoshie for the 3rd out!
Nakamura takes the hill now for Kanto. But is it too late?
Well, at least he holds down the Kousei offense. The 4-5-6 batters come and go as Kanto takes the sticks again.
Bottom third of the order up for Kanto. Anzai quickly grounds out to 2nd. Matsutani hits a foul fly to Houjyou.
Nakamura with a grounder to short, but it's off Houjyou's glove and goes to left! Still some life in the Lucky 7 for Kanto!
Isobe though, grounds to short. Houjyou goes to 2nd for the 3rd out.
On 0 days rest and in relief, Nakamura looks good! Jyouma with a grounder to short. He freezes Kimura on a fastball inside, and gets Kishigawa to swing on a fastball on the outside corner for the 3rd out!
Time quickly running out on Kanto. Kishi with a high chopper up the 3rd base line. Oosugi with it, but the throw is high! Leadoff man on from the error!
Kiuchi rightly hitting as they need 3 runs. But Jyouma pops him up! Houjyou in shallow left makes the catch!
Akiyama with a grounder up the middle. Houjyou there, but doesn't have it! It goes through! Kishi booking it for 3rd! Throw from Kimura, not in time! Akiyama going for 2nd, throw from Oosugi, not in time!!
Runners on 2nd and 3rd now with just one down!
Chance for Kanto as Itou steps in!
He hits a fly to right! Ameku ready for the throw home! He throws it as Kishi charges for home! It's a liner right to Tamura...
And they get him a the plate! Kishi is gunned down at home for the 3rd out! Great defensive play by Ameku denies Kanto a run!
Ameku with a blast to center! Akiyama running back to the wall, slides, but it bounces off the base of the wall! He's in with a double!
Murase trying to bunt him over instead free bunts and fouls off to Matsutani.
Tamura with a base hit through the left side puts runners at the corners for cleanup batter Houjyou!
Houjyou launches one to left! Itou climbing on the fence! FOUL!!!! Nakamura breathes a sight of relief.
But not for long! Houjyou shoots one up the middle, and its through to center! Ameku scores, Tamura being waved around! Akiyama throwing home... Cut off! Nakamura cuts the ball off and tries to get Houjyou at 2nd! Safe!! Houjyou's timely hit gives Kousei a commanding 5-0 lead!
Takeda goes down on a failed check swing for the 2nd out.
Oosugi with a booming hit to right center! Akiyama running to the wall, and it's off the base! RBI triple for Oosugi makes it 6-0.
Jyouma grounds to short to end the inning, but Kousei appears to be on cruise control finally to a matchup against Osaka Touin.
#17 Sekiguchi takes over for Murase in LF.
Yoshie not giving up, ripping one into the right-center field gap for a standup triple!
Anzai follows that up lining one through the infield past Kishigawa into center! Yoshie scores to make it 6-1!
#6 Kishida comes to run for Anzai and #13 Hino hits for Matsutani.
Matsutani with a single to left! Runners on 1st and 2nd, no out!
What will Yonezawa-kantoku do? Will he leave Nakamura in to hit? He will! He won't gamble!
Nakamura falls behind 1-2, and holds off a borderline pitch. But he eventually goes down swinging for the first out.
Isobe to try and continue the momentum...
But he hits a grounds to 2nd! Kishigawa goes to 2nd for one, Houjyou's throw to 1st, in time! Kousei Gakuin wins!
Jyouma in a complete game effort gives up just the one run in the 9th as they advance to their 2nd finals!
And as I continue writing, the Kanto players are collecting the dirt from the grounds.
Kousei Gakuin has looked strong in all their games so far and ace Kanazawa will be rested for the championship game thanks to Jyouma. The offense continues to look strong as well, and it should make for a great game.
For Kanto Dai-ichi, Yonezawa-kantoku perhaps realized that they couldn't start Nakamura on 0 days rest. But Daigo couldn't prevent Kousei from getting on the board and playing from behind is not the place where they wanted to be.
But they played very well throughout the tournament, perhaps surprising some despite being the Tokyo champions. It'll be a hard road to navigate in the summer though. But they'll have time to work on the pitching before then.