Iidzuka finally returns to Koushien after several years of struggling within the prefecture (thanks to schools like Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku). It was also in part thanks to the fact that they didn't have to face any of the stronger teams in the prefecture either.
Despite averaging just a shade over 5 runs a game in their title run, the team batted a strong 0.359. Again though, it will depend now on how good Hiroshima Kougyou's ace is. Though as usual, look at the 3-4-5 batters of Hinoki-Ishida-Shiraishi to generate a good part of the offense.
On the mound, Yoshida-kantoku depended on a combination of ace Koga and reliever Nishi (who is the RF) to carry the last couple of games. Expect more of the same here should the situation warrant.
Hiroshima Kougyou's exploits were mentioned earlier as both favorites Kouryou and Jyosuikan were eliminated. They had offense for days hitting a blistering 0.352 and scoring at least 8 runs a game. Look out for leadoff batter Kohira and cleanup batter Kubota.
On the mound, Okimoto-kantoku will rely heavily on ace Tsujikoma Yuuta throughout the tournament as they do not appear to have many other options on the mound.
Hiroshima Kougyou (Hiroshima)
LF Kodama Takaya
RF Ezaki (#10)
12:56 - First Pitch!
Kohira, after working the count full lines one down the right field line for a leadoff double!
Imanaka, not bunting swings away, but goes down looking for the 1st out.
Usami grounds a 3-1 pitch just foul down the 3rd base line, though Hinoki had it stopped.
He tries a sharp liner past Hinoki, but he snags it instead for the 2nd out. That brinds up cleanup batter Kubota.
But Koga gets him to pop it up! Hori camps under it in foul territory for the 3rd out!
Kitano showing patience at the plate, working the count full without even swinging. He tries to foul one off, but it stays in play as Kodama catches it at the wall for the first out.
Iidzuka is doing the opposite of Tokoha Tachibana in that it is sitting back on Tsujikoma's pitches, swinging only when the pitch seems good or when they have to. Marumoto works the count full and this time earns the walk.
Yoshida-kantoku calls for the hit-and-run! Hinoki hits one to short. Kinoshita dives, blocks, but can't secure the ball and everyone's safe. The hit-and-run got Kinoshita hopping the wrong way and as a result was just out of position on that ball.
Ishida hits a slider to the right side. That takes a hop and gets past a diving Shigemori! Marumoto rounds 3rd and scores easily giving Iidzuka the early 1-0 lead! Heads-up running by Hinoki allows him to take 3rd.
And Shirashi booms a first pitch strike to center. Kohira is under it, but it's deep enough to score Hinoki easily to make it 2-0 Iidzuka.
Huh, Iiduzka's oen-dan plays a faster tempo version of Chiben Wakayama's "Jock Rock"...
Kuroiwa looks to have connected hard on a ball from Tsujikoma, but it turns out to be a lazy liner to right to end the inning.
But much like the first game, Iidzuka jumps out early here in the 1st.
One down, and Kinoshita hits a swinging bunt to 3rd. Hinoki charges, but his throw is late and there's a man on. Takata follows that up with a single just in front of Ishida, putting the douten runner on base.
And now on a 2-2 count to Tsujikoma, the pitch from Koga gets past Hori and the runners advance!
Tsujikoma with a liner back up the middle! Kinoshita scores! Takata rounds for home, and Ishida's throw is high! Tsujikoma's gotten the runs back and we're level at 2-2!
Shigemori tries for the safety bunt but is thrown out at 1st. Koga gets out of the inning inducing a flyout from Kohira, but the damage is done. We're back to even!
Hori is able to inside-out a fastbal and single to center leading off the inning. Koga is looking to bunt as usual. But he takes a strike and fouls a bunt off. A high fastball finishes him off.
Tsujikoma is not much of a fireballer throwing in the low-mid 130's, along with a shuuto roughly in the same range, and a change in the 100-110s.
After a heavy diet of shuutos, Ezaki is retired on a fastball away.
Kitano doesn't wait for a pitch this time around and hits one that lands just in front of Imanaka. Hori advances to 3rd on the play and Tsujikoma is in another pinch.
Ah! The pitch gets away from Takata, but the ball doesn't go far. Hori can't score, but Kitano advances to 2nd.
And wouldn't you know it, after a wild pitch - this time by Tsujikoma, Marumoto singles past Usami into left. Hori and Kitano both score easily giving Iidzuka back their 2-run lead at 4-2!
Yoshida-kantoku presses the inititative, sending Marumoto! Takata double-clutches and Marumoto is in easily!
But Hinoki hits a ball back up the middle which is easily fielded by Kinoshita for the 3rd out. Still, Iidzuka reclaims the lead.
Imanaka with a routine grounder to 2nd, but while the throw from Marumoto is not ideal, Shiraishi can't make the routine play and the leadoff runner is on!
Usami with a comeback to Koga, he whirls to throw to 2nd, but it's high and in between both fielders! Everyone's safe as Yoshida-kantoku calls for time.
Come to think of it, I haven't seen the southpaw Koga get over 130 kph. His fastball seems to be on the high 120s with a curve in the 110's and change in the 100's.
Cleanup batter Kubota steps in, but he hits a grounder to short! Kitano starts the 6-4-3 double play and there's 2 down!
But Takaya cues a ball to the left side! Hinoki stumbles as the ball sneaks into left! Imanaka scores to make it a 4-3 game!
Yoshida-kantoku in a bold move goes to his bullpen early, sending Nishi out to relieve Koga!
And while Hinoki has trouble fielding the grounder from Kinoshita, he makes the play to get out of the inning. Still, Hiroshima Kougyou has narrowed the margin.
Cleanup batter Ishida collects his 2nd hit on a clean base hit to left. Shiraishi is allowed to swing away. And while he hits a comebacker to Tsujikoma, he can't field it cleanly and has to go to 1st for the out.
Clearly though, Tsujikoma is pitching backwards, throwing his off-speed stuff for strikes and using his fastball for the hammer.
But another wild pitch from Tsujikoma allows Ishida to advance to 3rd!
Kuroiwa bails Tsujikoma out as he can't hold off on the 2-2 pitch and is rung up for the 2nd out.
However, he doesn't escape damage as Hori collects his 2nd hit with a single the opposite way to get the 2 run lead back once again. It's 5-3!
Nishi grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but Hiroshima Kougyou continues to spin it's wheels here making no progress against Iidzuka!
Nishi appears to be a right-handed, slightly faster version of Koga. Just add about 5 kph to everything and you have Nishi.
After a lineout by Takata, Tsujikoma gets his 2nd hit, a solid liner to left.
And apparently Hiroshima Kougyou has their own "Jock Rock" in that instead of the notes ascending in the beat, they're descending??!
Shigemori not bunting this time around with 1 down, but winds up striking out leaving it up to Kohira. However, he grounds out to Kitano and they stay down 2 runs.
Ezaki connects on a fastball and singles to center for another leadoff runner on. Kitano showing bunt, but Tsujikoma not finding the zone, falling behind 3-0! Kitano waits it out and earns a walk, which earns Tsujikoma a conference from the dugout.
But he'd better find it out quickly, because he's pretty much all Okimoto-kantoku's got.
And Ezaki almost bails him out at 2nd by being caught off base. He scurries back, just in time.
Marumoto lays down a great bunt and almsot beats out the throw from Usami. Up to Hinoki to plate the runners.
Tsujikoma resorting to throwing fastballs earlier in the count, and catches Hinoki on a 1-2 pitch which catches the inside corner for the 2nd out!
A pitchout to Ishida is followed by a ball outside, and it looks like they're unintentionally intentionally walking him.
And they are to load the bases.
But it's not much better as Shiraishi steps in...
Slider just catches the outside corner, and then a fastball inside jams Shiraishi to get ahead 0-2. Shiraishi defends one pitch, and hits a liner back at Tsujikoma that he backhands for the 3rd out!
A great play by Tsujikoma gives him his first 0! Can his offense capitalize?
Imanaka with a grounder to 2nd, but Marumoto makes another error with the ball and he's on safely! (I couldn't switch to the ABC feed fast enough to figure out what the error actually was... doh.)
And Usami drives one to deep left center! That's off the base of the wall! Imanaka rounds the bases and scores to make it 5-4!
Nishi with a wild pitch and now the douten run is 90 feet away!
But Kitano catches Usami off 3rd on a grounder and throws him out! Worse yet, Takaya grounds into the 4-3 double play to end the inning! Hiroshima Kougyou gets one run back, but could have had 2!
Tsujikoma is finally able to retire Hori as he grounds out to 2nd. In fact, Tsujikoma works a quick 1-2-3 inning (his first one!) and as we hit the break his team find themselves just down by a run.
Not to be outdone, Nishi gets his own quick 1-2-3 inning thanks in part to a great stop in the hole by Kitano on a hard hit ball by Tsujikoma. Kitano denies him his 3rd hit of the game, and Iidzuka is back on the bats.
The game seems to have settled down after the frenetic first couple of innings. Tsujikoma gets 3 flyouts, albeit the third had to be run down by Imanaka, nevertheless he gives his team a chance again in the lucky 7.
Despite just a 1-run lead, Nishi goes after last batter Shigemori betting he can't hit the fastball, and is proven right as he gets the K. However, Kohira gets a hit past Hinoki who is slightly drawn in.
But Okimoto tries to press the initiative, sending him, but Hori makes a great throw to get him out by a good margin. Imanaka grounds out to 3rd, and the lucky 7 for Hiroshima Kougyou dissapates in a flash.
After ringing up Hinoki, Tsujikoma lets 3 balls fly to Ishida before pumping in 2 strikes to fill up the count. Now Ishida is the one fouling it off before Tsujikoma uncorks a high pitch for the 2nd walk to Ishida.
And while he gets a popup from Shiraishi, it is evident by the pitches way up and away, and the subsequent wild pitch that Tsujikoma is running out of steam. So they elect to walk Kuroiwa while behind 3-0 and pitch to Hori - which is questionable given his success today.
And true to form he singles through the left side. The runners can only advance 90 feet, but it is manrui for Nishi with 2 down. A base hit here can be deadly.
Nishi makes great contact, but it's a fly ball to right! Imanaka running to his left is able to track it down and Tsujikoma is out of the jam!
Temporarily at least. He's quickly running out of gas and there's still 2 innings to go...
Usami had worked the count in his favor, but ends up getting jammed and popping up to 2nd. Kubota continues his struggles at the plate, also getting jammed and popping up to 2nd.
And finally, Nishi gets Takaya to get under a low pitch and harmlessly fly out to left for the 3rd out. No runs, 3 outs left and a tiring pitcher on the mound.
#15 Yamada comes in for Takaya and goes to RF. Imanaka shifts to LF here in the 8th.
After getting 2 relatively quick outs, he once again loses control, throwing 3 way out of the zone to Marumoto before eventually walking him.
Yoshida-kantoku is looking for an insurance run and immediately sends Marumoto, who successfully takes 2nd.
And Hinoki drives one to left! Imanaka goes back, then turns around and sprints! The ball is over his head! Marumoto scores easily on the play, and while Hinoki is thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a triple, Yoshida-kantoku gets the key insurance run and lead 6-4 heading into the 9th!
Kinoshita quickly falls behind 0-2 and winds up flying out to 3rd for the 1st out.
Takada with a comebacker, knocks Nishi's glove off, but the ball stays put and Nishi makes the putout! It's down to Tsujikoma to keep the game going!
And despite his desparate attempts to keep the game going fouling off several pitches, he is caught looking for the final out.
And so, after a 20 year absencse, Hiroshima Kougyou's stint at Koushien ends on day 1 at the hands of Iidzuka 6-4. And much like the first game, the team behind couldn't come back from the early deficit in the very first inning.
Meanwhile, Iidzuka despite 4 errors on the day, earn their first victory at Koushien. However, they'll need to clean it up if they want to advance for a chance at the Best 8.
Ishida Kenta (Iidzuka) - 2-2, R, RBI, 2 BB
Hori Yuuki (Iidzuka) - 3-4, R, RBI
Tsujikoma Yuuta (Hiroshima Kougyou) - 2-4, 2 RBI, K