Our early afternoon game features the last two teams from their respective regions remaining in the tournament.
Niigata Meikun is looking to continue the uptrend in Niigata of teams going deep into Koushien. Up until 2009, only 3 teams had made it into the Best 8. Then in back-to-back years Nihon Bunri and Niigata Meikun both achieved the same feat. Should they advance today, that would be 3 in the last 4 years! This from a region not known well for baseball.
In their first game, Niigata Meikun simply built a lead over several innings versus Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou en route to a 6-1 victory. Now some those runs were self-inflicted mistakes by their opponent, but they had some solid hits throughout the game.
As for ace Takeishi, he didn't overpower Kengifushou, but he just pitched effectively, walking none in his complete game effort.
Meitoku Gijyuku barely eked by Sakata Minami in their 2nd round matchup. Early walks by opposing ace Aita led to 2 runs, and as he ran out of gas a pair of hits led to the decisive 3rd run.
A 3-2 win over a team from Yamagata though doesn't inspire too much confidence though, and it's hard to translate any of ace Fuku's performance over to this game against Niigata Meikun.
Because it's one thing when you defeat a team that you're supposed to by a wide margin. It's another when you barely beat said team.
Niigata Meikun (Niigata)
Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
3B Itsuzaki (#11)
2B Iyota (#5)
RF Kishi (#12)
P Fukunaga (#10)
13:05 - First Pitch!
One down, and Komiyama draws a walk. Instead of the bunt, Satou-kantoku has him try and steal it instead. He takes off on the 2-1 pitch, and while Sugiwara's throw is there, it's a bit short and Imazato can't field the ball.
Ikeda though goes down swinging for the 2nd out. Up to cleanup batter Miyajima.
He has the green light at 3-1, but grounds to short to end the inning.
Quick inning for Takeishi to start. Gouda strikes out on a fastball inbetween two groundouts to 2nd for 1-2-3 inning.
Oonobu starts off the inning with a 8 pitch walk. Ishiyama bunts him into scoring position.
Takeishi is able to inside-out a pitch and slice it to left for a single. Runners at the corners for Satou.
Satou hits it to short, Oonobu was going on contact, but stops. Well, he's caught in the rundown now for the 2nd out.
Takeuchi runs the count full, then Fukunaga throws a pitch way wide to load the bases. Manrui for Kaneko as Mabuchi-kantoku calls for time.
Kaneko with a ball to right, but it's not far enough and Kishi is there for the catch to end the threat.
Two quick outs for Takeishi as Kishi and Suguwara fly out. Nishioka works the count full, but is eventually retired, when his attempt to foul a ball off fails as Miyajima makes the catch at the 3rd base dugout to end the inning.
Fukunaga still struggling a bit with his control as he goes 3-0 to Komiyama. He comes back to get a groundout from the AB, and after that looks fine as Ikeda grounds to short on his first pitch, and Miyajima pops out to Imazato.
After yet 2 more quick groundsouts, Imazato delivers Meitoku's first hit as he reaches down on an outside slider and singles to center.
However, Itsuzaki can't take advantage of the 1st it and flies out to left to end the inning.
One down for Niigata and Ishiyama singles past a diving Matsumura. Fukunaga goes full on Takeishi, but then plunks him.
Mabuchi-kantoku looks to be preemptive here and relieves Fukunaga. Kishi comes in from right to take the mound and #9 Oonishi heads out in Fukunaga's spot in the lineup and goes to RF.
Grounder to 2nd. Iyota goes to 2nd for one, but Imazato has to double clutch as Takeishi is in the way. The throw then is subsequently late.
No runner interference is called despite the appeal from Meitoku and the inning goes on. Doesn't matter as Takeuchi flies out to right to end the inning
Gouda reaches down and bloops a ball into shallow center. Iyota already showing bunt. Takes the pitch, then doesn't show bunt. Then shows and lays down the bunt.
Kishi goes after the first pitch from Takeishi, but flies out to center.
Sugiwara unable to make good contact, grounds to short to end the inning.
One down and we have another weird play. Well, it's actually the same as an earlier game. Komiyama hits a comebacker up the middle that deflects off of the inside of Kishi's left leg and to 3rd. Itsuzaki fields it and makes the out at 1st.
After some spray and a couple of pitches, Kishi says he's good to go, but walks Ikeda.
Miyajima with a screaming liner down the left base line.. foul!
That was a close one for Meitoku, and Kishi goes away on the next two pitches, and Miyajima, not on the uptake obliges by swinging and missing both of them to end the inning.
Nishoka opens the inning with a base hit past a diving Oonobu.
After a sac bunt, Oonishi can only advance the runner with a grounder to 2nd.
Now, Takeishi its Imazato and there's runner on 1st and 3rd. The control problems persist to Itsuzaki where he walks him on 4 straight. It's now manrui for Gouda.
He hits a fly ball to right center! Kaneko trying to over and chase it down, but it falls in! Nishoka and Imazato both score on the play and Meitoku Gijyuku has a 2-0 lead!
Iyota with a liner to left center! Komiyama has to turn around and chase it to the wall! Itsuzaki scores, and so does Gouda all the way from 1st! It's now a 4-0 lead for Meitoku!
Oy, now a ball gets away from Takeishi and goes off Kishi's helmet. It's a glancing blow, but for now he's replaced by Gouda on the basepaths.
And Sugihara is now hit by Takeishi. Manrui now for Meitoku again.
Nishioka back up at the plate, hits a grounder up the middle. Ishiyama makes a great diving stop. The ball leaks away, but he grabs and tosses to Takeuchi to retire the side. But Niigata Meikun heads into the break down 4-0 and with a sputtering offense that has managed just 2 hits.
Niigata Meikun's offense is just unable to make solid contact on the ball. Oonobu pops out to Imazato at short, while Ishiyama and Takeishi weakly grounds out for a 1-2-3 inning.
Takeishi about to get a 1-2-3 inning but Imazato with an excuse me swing singles to center.
He takes off on the 1-0 pitch and the pitch to Itsuzaki is low making the throw difficult.
And he can't find the plate again and walks Itsuzaki to put runners at 1st and 2nd.
Takeishi with a pickoff throw to 2nd, but it offline and Imazato advances to 3rd.
After a strike, Itsuzaki takes off for 2nd. The ball is foul tipped into Miyajima's glove and he has no throw.
Gouda with a high pop. Ishiyama under it, but now coming in, coming in and makes the catch! There are storms going around but not at Koushien, and the wind was coming in from right at 10 m/s.
The ABC wind graphic now shows 17 m/s at the RF foul pole.
After a 3 pitch strikeout to Satou, Takeuchi hits one right back at Kishi and it deflects off his arm and drops in front of him. He picks it up and throws to 1st, but he's getting battered at the plate.
He says he's ok, so the game continues.
And apparently with thunder about, the umpires call the teams in for now. Though why the people in the stands aren't moving, I don't know.
14:37 - Thunder(?) Delay (2 outs, 1-1 count to Kaneko)
They're even bringing out the tarps just in case, though it's not raining.
Though now at 14:40 I can see lightning bolts come down from the clouds in left.
At 14:51 the rainfinally comes and people if they haven't already head up in the stands.
15:23, the rain continues to fall and I know the forecast didn't look too good. But, we're so close to an official game, that I think the umpires will wait it out as long as possible.
16:00 and the Metitoku players are outside the dugout. That's a good sign. They'll have to prep the field a whole lot even if they start now.
16:04 Nope, more rain.
16:08 The groundscrew emerges to applause, though they're just trying to mop up the puddle areas, as they try to keep the field in playable condition.
16:20 The groundscrews are out in full force now with big applause as they try to tend the field.
16:40 The stadium lights turn on while the players play catch ball again
16:54 - Game Resumes
Well, as expected, it'll probably take a while for Kishi to get warmed up again, and Kaneko gets a walk.
Satou-kantoku calls for a bunt even with 2 outs gambling on the ground condition. Kishi goes full on Komiyama as well, but he swings and flies out to center to end the inning
Takeishi with his own troubles restarting after the rain delay, walk Iyota on 4 straight. Mabuchi-kantoku decides to test Niigata Meikun's battery by having Iyota go for 2, which he takes successfully.
Kishi though, can't advance the runner as he pops out to Takeuchi.
Sugawara with a fly foul down the right field side, Ikeda makes the catch, but that allows Iyota to advance to 3rd.
And while Takeishi has some control problems leaving the pitches high, he gets Nishioka to strike out to end the inning.
Ikeda with a routine grounder to short, but just loses out on the dive to 1st.
After a popup by Miyajima, Oonobu gives the ball a ride to right. Oonishi running back towards the wall makes the catch for the 3rd out.
It's a routine 1-2-3 inning for Meitoku Gijyuku as I bet that after a 2+ hour rain delay, they probably wanted to finish the game and head back to rest.
Last chance for Niigata Meikun.
Ishiyama grounds out to short. Takeishi swings on a high fastball and strikes out.
And Satou with a hard grounder to 2nd. It's off Iyota, but he regroups, gets the ball and makes the play at 1st for the final out.
So, it may have taken a couple of hours longer than expected due to the rain, but Meitoku Gijyuku becomes the 3rd team to put their spot in the Best 8.
Unfortunately it was just one bad inning for Tateishi and Niigata Meikun that resulted in all 4 runs and thus their defeat. It's a hard loss to take, being one step away from the Best 8, going down and then having to think about it during a rain delay. But while they may have not lived up to their expectations, and they are certainly disappointed, they did well for their school and their manager (who I think was leaving after this season ended).
For Meitoku Gijyuku, having one good inning generally won't be enough going forward, so the offense will need to shore itself up for the stretch run. Today though, head back to the hotel and rest.
Kishi Jyunichirou (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 5.2 IP, 0 H, 3 K, 2 BB
Iyota Kazuki (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
Gouda Satoru (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 2-4, K
Imazato Seima (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 2-3, R, SB
Tateishi Tomoya (Niigata Meikun) - 1-3, HBP