Unfortunately yesterday's games kicked my butt in that the rain delay caused me to say up later, and I wound up falling asleep twice and had to rewatch the games. So pre-game writeups will unfortunately be at a premium.
Sendai Ikuei if they're going to advance, need a better start from Watanabe. Continually spotting the opposition runs early cannot continue to be a recipe for success.
For Sakushin Gakuin, there is the matter of a baseball player accused of robbery that may be a distraction to the team. I had seen this during the broadcast, but was wondering what it was all about since I didn't quite understand the story due to my poor Japanese. They're not pulling out of the tournament, and have received clearance to play, but still It's not a good thing.
On the field, Tsutsui needs to continue having a good start like he did against Risshoudai Shounan. They do have some offense to speak of, but much like his counterpart, a good start will be key.
Because it comes down really to the aces on the mound, and I only have 2 games of data to go off of, it's really hard to say which one has the better probability of pitching a more consistent game.
Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
SS Takahashi Ryuunosuke
Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
CF Tsuruta (#7)
1B Yamashita Yuuto (#13)
LF Yoshida (#16)
P Tsutsui (#10)
8:01 - First Pitch
Ryuunosuke with a hard liner to center, but right at Tsuruta for the first out.
Kashiwagi swings early as well but singles to center.
Hoshi with a drive deep down the left field line! Yoshida running back towards the foul pole and the ball lands at the fence! Kashiwagi running to third, being waved home! Throw from Yoshida is cutoff and Sendai Ikuei takes the 1-0 lead!
Uebayashi and Hayasaka both ground out to end the inning, but Sendai Ikuei has struck first in this battle of East Japan!
Ishii with a slow grounder to 2nd. Kashiwage charging in, but doesn't get anything on the throw and the douten runner is quickly on. And then in scoring position as Tsuruta hits a hard grounder to 3rd that Takashima takes behind the bag and goes to 1st.
Shinhara, who has had a good Koushien so far has a chance to drive in a run, but Watanabe catches the insider corner with his fastball for strike 3!
Two down for Takayama, and he too like Shinohara takes the count full. This time, he gets the call on the inside corner for walk. That puts runners at the corners for Yuuto.
And he takes a change off the end of the bat into left! Hoshi running back to the fence... It bounces off the padding! Ishii scores! Takayama being waved around 3rd, he scores! Sakushin Gakuin replies right back scoring the douten and gyakuten run! 2-1 Sakushin!
Now Yoshida with a high chopper to 3rd. Inazawa has to wait for it and his throw to 1st isn't in time!
Sasaki-kantoku calls for time. This wasn't the kind of start he was imagining.
Takashima with another high chopper, but this time to Watanabe. He makes the play at first to retire the side, but not before he gives up the lead!
Watanabe crushes a 2-0 pitch from Tsutsui! That looks good for Sendai Ikuei!! Tsuruta giving up at the wall!!
Watanabe puts the deficit on his own back and gets the douten run himself as it lands just right of center! It's 2-2!!
Tsutsui settles down after the HR, getting 3 groundouts from the bottom of the order - and a great stop by Ishii in the gap to rob Tanaka of a hit.
But he couldn't stop Watanabe from tying up the ballgame on a HR and it seems both pitchers are in for it today!
Yamanashi tries the safety bunt, but Watanabe comes in and makes a good throw to get him.
Tsutsui draws a walk from Watanabe, but the leadoff batters fritter that away as Ishii swings on the first pitch and fouls out to Tanaka, and Tsuruta flies out to center.
Ryuunosuke with another liner, this time to Hayasaka in right. Kashiwagi goes down swinging on a slider, and Hoshi uppercuts one that Ishii gets behind 2nd for the 3rd out.
One down for Sakushin and Takayama hits a ball past the glove of Watanabe and a diving Kashiwagi for a base hit.
Yuuto up for Sakushin, goes 2-2, Watanabe shakes him off a couple of times, throws a change inside and gets the call for the 2nd out.
Yoshida quickly flies out to left and the side is retired.
Huh, just when I thought that both pitchers would be having issues, neither seem to be. Facing Sendai's 4-5-6 batters, Tsutsui gets two routine grounders from Uebayashi and Watanabe, and Hayasaka hits a high fly to center.
Takashima is the one in the bottom of the lineup to try a safety bunt. His rolls up the 1st base line. Itou runs in to field it, but the throw is late and its wild going past Kashiwagi. Takashima can't advance.
Yamanashi bunts him along for Tsutsui, but he falls behind 1-2. Evens the count, but throws a two seamer that goes back over the inside corner for the 2nd out.
Ishii is fooled on a slider and weakly grounds to 2nd for the 3rd out.
It looks like we've entered the stage of the game now where the teams are just in a holding pattern as all they can do is put up 0's.
Of course, I type that and Tsutsui walks Inazawa on 4 straight.
And now Kobari-kantoku sends in Mizunuma in to relieve Tsutsui. Might seem preemptive, but we've seen many managers take out a pitcher way too late as opposed to too early.
Plus there's that question of #1 Ootani...
Itou starts off by golfing a ball way up. Yuuto in foul territory makes the catch for the 1st out.
Tanaka lays down the sac bunt and they'll look to Ryuunosuke to get the timely hit.
But he can't quite get to a shuuto on the outside half and grounds to 2nd to retire the side.
One down for Sakushin, and Shinohara registers his first hit on a ball back up the middle for a single.
Compounding the situation now for Watanabe, he walks Takayama.
Yuuto up, but he can't deliver another timely hit, and instead grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to send the game to the break.
The game as mentioned earlier seems to have entered the lull stage in the middle. Now the battle will be to see which ace holds out the longest.
Mizunuma quickly racking up the outs in relief. Kashiwagi and Hoshi both fly out to right on 3 total pitches, and then freezes Uebayashi on a forkball for a 1-2-3 inning post-break
Yoshida with a grounder that a diving Itou can't field! He's on with a single!
Tanaka with a pickoff throw to 1st, but it goes off of Yoshida into foul territory! He takes off for 2nd and the ball goes into the dugout!
And since he would have been going to 2nd, he gets that plus one and is awarded 3rd!
Sasaki-kantoku asks for an explanation (as that rule can be confusing), and then calls a conference.
Takashima up and he hits a comebacker to Watanabe! He looks Yoshida back then goes to 1st for the out.
Yamanashi with a grounder to 2nd! Kashiwagi goes home with the throw and Tanaka makes a great blokc for the out! 2 down!
And now Yamanashi tries to steal 2nd, but is thrown out to end the inning. Runner on 3rd and no outs and they can't score the run. That could prove to be costly.
Defensive change fore Sakushin as #14 Asano comes in for Takashima at 3B.
Mizunuma continues to work quickly getting contact from the Sendai Ikuei batters. Hayasaka flies out to left, Watanabe grounds out to Yamanashi, and Inazawa flies to right. All in 6 pitches.
One down (why did they steal when they had the #9 batter up??) and Ishii singles past a diving Ryuunosuke into center! And Uebayashi misplays the ball! Ishii advances on the error!
Tsuruta witha grounder, that's past Itou into right! Ishii being waved around! Throw in is cutoff and Sakushin takes the lead here in their Lucky 7! It's 3-2!
Tsuruta takes off for 2nd! Ball in the dirt and the throw is late!
Shinohara with a liner right to Itou! Goes to 2nd, but the throw is low and Tsuruta is in pain on the ground. He's holding his ribs there.
OH. The ball was low and Tsuruta dived on the ball. That's gotta hurt.
So he's helped off as Shinohara, who hit that liner is on 2nd. No... the umpires determine the injury runner is Ishii and not Shinohara.
Anyways, Takayama steps in and hits a ball to deep left! Hoshi running back, makes the over the shoulder catch near the fence for the 3rd out!
Now there's a delay to see if Tsuruta can come back out after diving on the ball.
And he does.
But it's more of the same from Mizunuma. Itou first pitch flies to center. #12 Kobayashi, hitting for Tanaka grounds to 3rd on 2 pitches.
Ryuunosuke finally scores the first hit off of Mizunuma with a single to center.
Kashiwagi with a single past a diving Yuuto into right! Ryuunosuke advances to 3rd and Sendai Ikuei has a scoring chance as Kobari-kantoku calls for time.
But Hoshi hits a hard grounder to 2nd! Yamanashi fields it and throws to 1st for the 3rd out! Mizunuma gets out of the 2-out pinch and retains the lead!
#13 Takahashi Yuuta comes in for Itou at 1B. Kobayashi stays in at C.
Yuuto finally with his 2nd hit as it goes past Yuuta into right.
Yoshida gives the ball a ride to center! Uebayashi back to the fence... makes the catch as he collides into the wall!
Sasaki-kantoku will now go for the insurance run as Asano bunts him along.
Yamanashi grounds to 2nd though, and it's hang on time for Sakushin Gakuin!
Mizunuma will have to face the 4-5-6 batters for Sendai Ikuei.
Uebayashi pops it up! Asano, Ishii and Tsuruta converge on it, and it's Ishii in foul territory making the catch! One down!
Hayasaka stepping in, no luck so far today. Slow comebacker to Mizunuma! He goes to 1st, two down!
It's down to Watanabe, who hit the HR way back in the 2nd.
Mizunuma working away from Watanabe on all 3 pitches so far, going behind 2-1. Inside at the knees for strike 2!
Grounder to short! Ishii with the throw, 3 out! Sakushin Gakuin moves on with a close 3-2 win over Sendai Ikuei!
The game went about how I expected, with both teams scoring early against the shaky aces, but settling down afterwards. It was then a matter of who would get to the aces in the later stages, and in this game it was Sakushin Gakuin.
It's pretty painful for the Sendai Ikuei team, as for the 3rd straight Natsu Koushien, they are denied once again a spot in the Best 8. 4 years ago it was Yokohama. 2 years ago it was Kounan. And now it is Sakushin Gakuin.
They probably caried a lot more on their shoulders than most teams considering the prefecture they play for. But I think the people of Miyagi will be proud of their efforts, even though they weren't able to progress any further.
For Sakushin Gakuin, they're one step away from another Best 4 apperance, but the question will be if they have a chance to go all the way.
Mizunuma Kazuki (Sakushin Gakuin) - W, 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, K
Ishii Kazushige (Sakushin Gakuin) - 2-4, 2 R
Yamashita Yuuto (Sakushin Gakuin)- 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Watanabe Fumiya (Sendai Ikuei) - 8 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 3 K, 3 BB
Watanabe Fumiya (Sendai Ikuei) - 1-4, HR, R, RBI
Kashiwagi Yuuto (Sendai Ikuei) - 2-4, R