Day 10 starts fielding our teams for the Best 8.
First on the docket is a team desperately looking to return to the finals, and win this time.
Kousei Gakuin has returned to their 3rd consecutive calendar Koushien, and unfortunately did not look as dominant in their 4-0 defeat of Yuugakukan, with two of those runs being scored on a late HR by Houjyou. Offense has been by far their biggest weakness (hello Sanko and Osaka Touin) and this summers' version is pretty much the same. They have been able to beat the teams they need to beat, but not the big game.
And with the offense not all-star calibur, it has been Jyouma and Kanazawa that have helped carry the teams. Jyouma has shown to be above all else a contact pitcher who thrives on weak contact, but is not a soft-tosser either. This year though, he has emerged as the ace of the staff as he is heavily used, this despite still wearing the #4.
Kamimura Gakuen defeated an offensively challenged Chiben Wakayama squad. However, as Chiben's pitching showed, their own offense is not overpowering as well.
What was perhaps a bit surprising is that while ace Kakizawa is one of the harder throwers out there (~mid 140s), he doesn't rack up a lot of strikeouts. If you remember he had just 3 against Chiben Wakayama. So I suspect then that he uses his speed, control and willingness to be in the zone to get bad contact.
So what do I expect out of this game? Probably a lot of the pitching staffs trying to control the game as both offenses will try to manufacture runs. I think it'll be a tough game all around, with a lot more pressure on the Kousei squad to repeat last year's performance.
Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)
Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima)
LF Seguchi (#11)
8:01 - First Pitch!
Ameku swings on the first pitch and hits it the opposite way to left.
Seguchi running towards the foul pole. Eases up...
What? Ameku hits the first pitch for a home run (while the siren is still blaring)???
The announcers are going crazy, while I'm just speechless! 35th HR this tournament is a leadoff HR to give Kousei the 1-0 lead!
One down now and Tamura goes full befofe drawing a walk.
Houjyou with a drive to left center! Seguchi running towards the fence again!!
Are you kidding me??!!
Ameku with a leadoff homerun, and now cleanup batter Koujyou hits a 2-run HR? Where is this offensive output coming from??!! It's 3-0 Kousei Gakuin!
Takeda and Oosugi trying to get Kakizawa while's he stunned, but they can only manage groundball outs. Kakizawa gets out of the inning, but his team has sustained disabling damage right from the start.
Nothing doing early on for Kamimura Gakuen. Niiro grounds to 2nd, Tanaka hits a foul fly near Kousei's dugout, and Koga makes good contact, but it's right at Oosugi who fields it for the 3rd out.
After a quick flyout by Jyouma, Kimura gets a single through to right. Kanazawa tries to lay down the bunt, but Kakizawa calmly fields it, throws to 2nd for one and the relay to 1st in time to get a not so speedy Kanazawa for the double play.
Bottom 2ndKakizawa with a grounder that sneaks under Jyouma's glove into right for a leadoff single.
Just as quickly, the runner is erased as Seguchi grounds into the easy 1-6-3 double play.
Nagao flies to right and the inning is over.
Top of the order and Ameku. He lines one up and pulls it past a diving Nagao for a base hit. Murase tries to lay down the bunt, but it's right in front of home. Nakano makes the quick throw to 2nd for the out.
Nakai-kantoku replaces Murase at 1st with #18 Sekiguchi. Wonder what that was about.
Tamura with a drive to left center!! Seguchi and Niiro running back to the wall! Still running!! NO WAY!!!
I'm completely speechless! What the heck is going on here! That's now 3 HR's by Kousei Gakuin!!! 5-0!!!
And Yamamoto-kantoku has seen enough. #7 Hirayabu comes in for Seguchi and takes the hill, pushing Kakizawa to left.
First up, cleanup batter Houjyou. And you wouldn't blame Hirayabu for being careful and walking him on a full count.
Takeda first pitch tries to get in on the HR parade, but his swing is more of a golf swing and he flies out to left.
Nakai-kantoku goes with the hit-and-run, Oosugi singles to left to put runners at 1st and 2nd.
But Jyouma puts another golf swing on the ball, flies out to center, and Hirayabu prevents further damage. Still yet another HR contributes 2 more runs to Kousei's good.
Well, I think Kamimura's in shock a bit. Nakazono can't connect on a slider over the plate and strikes out.
Nakano reaches out on an outside fastball and grounds to 2nd. And Nikou can't get level on a high slider and flies out to center.
Kimura with a grounder to 3rd. Nakazono's throw is off line and Kimura avoids the tag. Kanazawa tries the safety bunt, but the infield is crashing in and they retire the lead runner yet again.
Hirayabu works around Ameku, to pitch to Sekiguchi. Once again they try the bunt, but again, a crashing Nikou fires to 3rd to get the lead runner in Kanazawa for the 2nd out.
(Gotta keep them honest with the bust-and-run).
Again Hirayabu is careful with Tamura, and he walks him too.
But now it's manrui for Houjyou, who also hit a homerun, and there's nowhere to put him.
Houjyou with a drive to center, but it's off the end of his bat, and Niiro camps under it (still near the wall!) for the 3rd out. Hirayabu works out of the pinch and can breath a slight sigh of relief for next inning.
One down and Tanaka draws a 4-pitch walk. But Koga hits one right to Jyouma who goes to 1st and doubles off Tanaka to end the inning!
After Hirayabu strikes out Takeda, Oosugi singles to left on the next pitch. Jyouma standing in, gets hit in the back by a Hirayabu fastball.
Runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 down, and Kimura takes another uppercut hack that results in a fly to right.
Kanazawa swinging all over the place, chases a slider in the dirt for strike 3.
Kanazawa unable to find the plate against Kakizawa and gives him the leadoff walk. Hirayabu then hits a chopper up the middle right in-between Jyouma and Houjyou. Nagao lays down a successful bunt, and now a base hit can score 2!
Nakazono with a grounder to 3rd. Oosugi with it, throws home!
Ball bounces out of Tamura's glove and Kakizawa slides in safely! Tamura just didn't close the glove on that one and Kamimura Gakuen is on the board! 5-1!
Hit-and-run for Kamimura! But Nakano pops it up! Houjyou under it for the the 2nd out.
Kanazawa freezes Nikou on a slow curve and the side is retired. Kamimura Gakuen gets one back right before the break, but still find themselves down by a good margin.
It's obvious now that Hirayabu and Kamimura are pitching out the HR hitters.
Ameku decides to swing away anyways and grounds to 2nd.
After hard-hit groundout to 1st by Sekiguchi, Tamura walks on 4 straiight. Houjyou too draws a 5-pitch walk.
They're going to make #5 batter Takeda beat them.
He hits a ball right at Nagao, who flips to Tanaka for the out.
Niiro stars the 6th with a liner back up the middle.
Now Kanazawa on a pickoff throw throws it away! Niiro advances to 2nd, and that gets Nakai-kantoku to call time. For Kousei, this is no time to be complacent. They may not score any more runs as they're walking their big hitters.
But the home plate umpire calls Tanaka on a swing and he's down on strikes (I don't get what they call as "going around" as some of the check swings that are called for strikes look like they held up).
Koga with a chopper back up the middle! It's off Kanazawa's glove and deflects to short! But Houjyou was headed for the center and has to redirect! By the time he gets to the ball, he has no play!
Bad luck for Kousei turns into a run as Kakizawa hit a fly to left! Sekiguchi easily there, but it's deep enough to score Niiro to make it 5-2!
2 down for Hirayabu, and Kanazawa is struggling with the zone, he falls behind Hirayabu and walks him!
Situation now for Kousei as this could become an issue. Yamamoto-kantoku passes a message to Nagao as #10 Itou warms up for Kousei.
Nagao fouls two pitches and is quickly behind.
Reaches down and pokes one to the right side! Jyouma dives, but can't get to it! Koga scores on the single and it's now 5-3!!
Only now does Nakai-kantoku make the pitching change. He sends in Jyouma to take the hill while #14 Kishigawa comes in for Kanazawa to play 2nd.
Jyouma comes in with 2 down and runners at the corners. Nakazono drives a ball to center, but it's not deep enough! Kimura there with the catch and the side is retired! But what was a comfortable 5-1 lead, has become a hand-wringing 2-run lead! And with 3 innings to go, they cannot be giving up runs every inning.
Especially since the Kamimura side has decided to take the bat away from their 3 best hitters.
Oosugi slices down a ball deep down the left field line fair. He slides into 2nd, but notices too late the throw was wild.
Jyouma with a grounder to short, Tanaka misses it! He whiffs on the ball and now Oosugi is being waved around! Throw from Murase not in time! Nakano goes to 2nd to try and cut down Jyouma, but the throw is way high! Jyouma advances to 3rd on the 2nd error! 6-3 on the error!
Wild pitch from Hirayabu! It goes away from Nakano and Jyouma comes in to score! 3 straight errors by the Kamimura defense/battery and just like that Kamimura has given back those 2 runs they just scored. 7-3!
Hirayabu aftewards has no trouble retiring Kimura and new 2B Kishigawa. But back atop the lineup Ameku singles to left for his 3rd hit on the day.
And another way too high pitch from Hirayabu sends Ameku to 2nd.
Sekiguchi with a carbon copy single to left, and Ameku is waved home!
Boy, that's going to end bad...
And it predictably does as Ameku is easily thrown out at home for the 3rd out.
There is not so smart bunting and baserunning on Kousei's part here in this game. Not smart at all...
Nakano trying to re-start the Kamimura offense with a single to center.
Nikou with a drive to right! Ameku running back, running, jumps.. and makes the catch! Nakano has to go back on the catch!
Niiro with a slow chopper to the right side. Kishigawa charging tries to make the tag on Nakano, but can't, so he has to toss to 2nd for the out.
Jyouma having problems with Tanaka, but Tamura throws to 3rd on a ball in the dirt?
AH! Niiro was going on the wild pitch, but froze when he realized it wasn't far enough! He's run down 2-5-4-1-6 (I think) for the 3rd out!
And as expected Tamura walks for the 4th time (don't be surprised if Kousei's next opponent does this).
So Tamura takes off for 2nd, and Nakano's throw is high! He takes 2nd!
They still pitch to Houjyou for some reason, and he slices one down the left field line for an easy double, scoring Tamura and making it 8-3.
With a runner on, Takeda can do something... bunt. And so he does.
Oosugi with his 4th hit on the day! He singles to center scoring Houjyou to make it 9-3.
That'll be it for Hirayabu as he and Kakizawa switch places once again.
On the first pitch, Oosugi takes off for 2nd, and gets no throw.
But Kakizawa gets Jyouma to fly out to center, and Kimura to go down swinging to retire the side.
Two quick outs for Kamimura before Kakizawa singles past Kishigawa. Hirayabu hits one up the middle, but Houjyou makes a great grab behind 2nd, and throws to 1st for the 3rd out!!
One down, and Ameku hits a grounder to 2nd. It takes a very high hop, but Nagao makes a quick leap and snocones it. Throws to 1st for the second out.
I looked up after typing and saw 4 straight balls, but it wasn't Tamura, it was the in-between batter Sekiguchi!
They finally pitch to Tamura, and he lines out to Koga without him having to move. So he's finally retired, and so is the side.
So it's the last chance now for Kamimura.
Nagao after hitting one just foul, he hits a no doubter to center for a leadoff single.
Nakai-kantoku calls for a quick conference.
Nakazono goes down swinging for the first out.
Nakano tries to keep the inning going with a base hit past Kishigawa the opposite way.
And now a snap throw by Tamura trickles past Takeda and Nagao goes to 3rd. Why are you even throwing it to 1st when that run doesn't matter??
Now Nikou with a copy of Nakano's single and Nagao scores to make it 9-4!
Niiro with a short grounder to 2nd! Kishigawa charging in fields it and collides with Nikou! Kishigawa holds onto the ball for the out, but that was pretty hard.
2 down now for Kamimura as Tanaka steps in.
Comebacker up the middle! Jyouma kick-saves it! It deflects right to Oosugi who throws to 1st for the 3rd out!
A bizzare play to ends a game that was bizarre in it's own right. 3 early HR's from a team not known for one. Subsequent shutdown of the offense by basically pitching around those batters, a possible comeback when the ace quickly tires, only to see that lead expand back when they lose all sense of fielding. And then the final out.
Kamimura was certainly in shock after that first inning and had to find a way to regroup. But the deficit was just too much for them to come back from. They're eliminiated, but there's more promise in this team each year we see them, I think,
For Kousei Gakuin, they've cleared the first part where they could have tripped themselves up, and now will need to play for their lives starting in the Best 8.
Tamura Tatsuhiro (Kousei Gakuin) - 1-2, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 4 BB
Houjyou Fumiya (Kousei Gakuin) -2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB
Ameku Shouto (Kousei Gakuin) -3-5, HR, R, RBI, BB
Oosugi Akinobu (Kousei Gakuin) - 4-5, 2B, R, RBI
Nagao Ryou (Kamimura Gakuen) - 2-3, R, RBI
Kakizawa Ryou (Kamimura Gakuen) - 2-2, R, RBI, BB