Our brunch-time game features a school who had one of the more sadder, yet inspirational story and a school that denied many the ability to see arguably one of the better pitchers in action.
It seemed like it would be a given that Hanamaki Higashi would qualify out of Iwate and get back to Koushien, perhaps setting up a rematch of the two tall aces in Ootani and Fujinami. However, that was not to be as Moriokadai Fuzoku jumped all over Ootani in the final and held on for the 5-3 win.
The numbers look great - a 0.413 batting average and a pitching staff that allowed just 5 runs, but again it was predominantly against the weaker teams of the prefecture. Neverthelesss, look for Mochizuki and Satou to set the table for the offense, while ace Deguchi will probably be tasked with holding the opposition down for as long as he can.
The last time (and the only other time) Risshoudai Shounan was here, their kantoku had passed away in an accident and they had played that year for him. To compound things, several players got sick right before Koushien, forcing them to play with reserves and a shorter bench. Despite all that, they won two games and was a step away from the semifinals before running out of gas against Nihon Bunri.
This year, their run was no cheapie as they defeated Taisha, Kaisei and Iwamichisuikan in order for their 2nd Shimane title. Offensively, they batted a mere 0.306 with the bottom of the order producing more for the team, while ace Yamashita fatigued late - which doesn't bode well considering he doesn't strike out many batters to begin with (6 K/9) and Oota-kantoku did not go to anyone else for help.
The matchup appears to be a push as Risshoudai Shounan did defeat the tougher teams of their prefecture, while Moriokadai Fuzoku upset the heavy favorite in their prefecture for the title. Prefectural strength is also a push. So going to press, I have no favorite in this game.
Risshoudai Shounan (Shimane)
Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)
P Deguchi Shinkai
10:29 - First Pitch!
After a lengthy AB, Ogawa draws the leadoff walk and is bunted along to 2nd for Shiromoto, and he further advances the runner with a grounder to 2nd leaving it to Wanda to drive him in.
But Deguchi jams him and he pops out to 2nd.
One down and Mochizuki singles to center. After a
After two ground outs Miyata singles to left. However, he tries to steal 2nd during Yamashita's AB and is thrown out to end the inning.
Fujita with a grounder to short see the throw get away from Ogawa! But Shiromoto is backing up the play and fires to 2nd where they get Fujita! Kobune is able to single to right, but despite stealing 2nd, Chiba flies to center to end the inning.
Deguchi is settling down here in the 3rd, racking up 2 K's in a quick 1-2-3 inning
Nothing doing here for Morioka as Mochizuki gets his 2nd hit, a 2-out single through the left side. That's all they'd get this inning.
Kawasaki starts off the inning with a leadoff walk, but jumps for 2nd too early and is run down.
2 down now for Risshoudai Shounan and Wanda drives a ball over Yagi's head! It one-hops to the padded wall and he's in with a double!
Watanabe with a drive to left! Fujita running back towards the foul pole...
The balls are leaving the park in droves here as Watanabe hits a gyakuten 2-run HR! Risshoudai Shounan leads 2-1!!
Yokoyama lines out to center to end the inning, but Watanabe HR put his team ahead!
One down for Moriokadai Fuzoku and Yagi reaches after a wild pitch on a strikeout. The control issues for Yamashita continue as he walks Fujita.
Kobune makes him pay! He slices one down the left field line scoring Yagi and tying the game at 2-2!!
Yamashita is able to retire the next two batters, but the control problems cost Risshoudai Shounan the lead!
Miyata with a routine grounder to 3rd, but Nihashi whiffs with the glove and the leadoff runner is on!
Yamashita with the bunt and Miyata tries to gun down the lead runner, but is late! All safe! Miyata makes 2 critical errors and the go-ahead run is in scoring position with no down!
Miyata returns the favor! He is caught leaping away from 2nd and Deguchi picks him off! One down!
Uda flies out to center and now there's 2 out for Risshoudai Shounan.
Ogawa grounds out to short. Mochizuki takes it to the bag at 2nd and they get out of the self-imposed jam.
Top of the order and Chida collects his first hit, a single through the right side. Mochizuki, despite being 2-2, lays down the sac bunt.
Satou advances the runner to 3rd, but at the expense of grounding out to 2nd. Nihashi will have to get the one-timer to give his team the lead.
He doesn't need to! Yamashita throws a wild pitch allowing Chida to score from 3rd! Another control problem costs Yamashita once again! It's 3-2 Morioka!
Nihashi pops out to Yokoyama in foul territory for the 3rd out, but self-inflicted mistakes are costing Risshoudai Shounan here in the 1st half of the game.
Now that I'm caught up after my computer inconveniently updated itself during the game, Deguchi features a slider, curve and forkball to go along with his mid-130's fastball.
Kawasaki starts the post-break action with a single to left. Deguchi is paying Kawasaki a lot of attention, and deservedly so as with Wanda up, he successfully takes 2nd.
But Wanda chases a high fastball and pops out to 2nd. That brings up Watanabe who hit the HR his last AB.
And now Deguchi throws the ball away on a pickoff throw to 2nd! The douten run is now 90 feet away!
But Deguchi gets Watanabe to chase a fastball away! He goes down swinging and leaves the tying run on base!
As for Yamashita, he has the same arsenal as Deguchi, just about 5-10 kph slower.
One down for Morioka and Ogawa lets a Fujita grounder go right through the wickets for an error.
Yamashita gets Kobune to ground to 2nd. And despite a double clutch from Ogawa, he completes the double play to end the inning.
The deficit is only 1, can Risshoudai Shounan find the douten run here in their half of the Lucky 7?
Yokoyama with a ball to 3rd, and Nihashi is caught between hops and is all turned around! The ball deflects off his glove as Yokoyama reaches on the error. On the sac bunt by Miyata, Deguchi things about 2nd, but goes for the sure out at 1st.
But he puts another runner on immediately on a dead ball to Yamashita.
Uda with a single to left! Yokoyama goes for home and Fujita's throw is up the 1st base line! We're tied at 3-3!! Runners are at the corners with just one down.
Ogawa goes for the squeeze, but he pops it up! Chiba easily fields it and the runners hold their positions. Safetly squeeze is that it appeared to be.
Kawasaki goes down swinging, but the ball gets by Chiba! He fumbles with the ball, but his throw to 1st is just in time to retire the side! But the Lucky 7 is indeed lucky for Risshoudai Shounan as they tie the game up!
But there's the home half of the 7th to deal with...
Chiba manages to work the count full, but has to defend the plate and grounds out to 2nd.
Deguchi is jammed, but manages to fist one over Ogawa for a base hit. Back to the top of the order and Chida. Yamashita leaves one a bit over the plate and Chida pulls it through the infield to right.
2 on now for Mochizuki - he won't be bunting here...
They getting a reliever warmed up, but Yamashita pumps 2 strikes to get ahead of Mochizuki. Yamashita finally retires him on a chopper to 1st. But now there's 2 runners in scoring position.
Good news is that Satou is up, and he's been 0-fer so far today.
And Satou hits a chopper to 3rd. Watanabe picks it up on the hop and makes the throw to 1st for the 3rd out! Yamashita keeps the game level with just 2 innings to go!
Deguchi leaves a ball over the plate and Wanda just crushed it. I mean Yagi tried at the wall, but really he had no chance. It goes several rows deep into the seats despite a strong headwind! Rishhoudai Shounan takes a 4-3 lead late here in the 8th inning!
Deguchi manages to get the next couple of batters out, but his team will have to fight from behind yet again.
Nihashi gets things started with a single through the left side.
But Sekiguchi-kantoku elects not to bunt, and Yagi grounds into the 6-4-3 double play! Fujita flies out to right to end the inning and they'll be down to their final 3 outs to score 1 run.
If Deguchi can hold things here in the top half of the 9th.
Yamashita gets on base as his ball sneaks by Mochizuki's glove and into center. Uda grounds to 1st, advancing the insurance run to 2nd. If Ogawa can get a timely hit here, it might put the game out of reach.
Instead he lines out to right, and it's hold on time for Yamashita and the boys from Shimane.
It'll be up to the bottom third of the order to try and deliver for Moriokadai Fuzoku.
Fortunately, Kobune is 2-3 on the day, and as I write that, singles back up the middle. Chiba stands in, will they bunt?
Well, first of all, #18 Ishida comes in to run for Kobune. Chiba then lays down the bunt to advance Ishida to 2nd.
Deguchi grounds out to 2nd, but it's slow enought to bring the douten runner to 3rd.
It's all up to Chida, who has collected his 2 hits in his last 2 AB's.
HE DOES IT!!!
Chida takes a hanger from Yamashita and laces it to right, scoring Ishida and tying the game at 4-4!
Now Moriokadai Fuzoku can go for the sayonara run!
But Mochizuki can't deliver as he flies out to right and we have our first enchousen game of the tournament!
#15 Takahashi comes in for PR Ishida and takes over at 1st.
Kawasaki with a chopper to the left side, takes a high hop over Nihashi. Mochizuki snags it from the air and while the throw is high, Takahashi's height allows him to stretch up for the out!
After a quick out by Shiromoto, Wanda steps in.
And almost gives Risshoudai Shounan back the lead! Deguchi hangs another one, but this time Wanda pulls it just foul!
But Deguchi comes back to freeze Wanda for the 3rd out, and Morioka dodges a big scare.
3-4-5 batters for Moriokadai Fuzoku, but combined they've collected just 2 hits, and they both belong to Nihashi.
Satou remains without a hit as he grounds out to 3rd.
Nihashi is working it at the plate, fouling off several pitches before taking a close one to fill up the count. However, Yamashita gets him to ground out to short.
Yagi gets a hold of one, but Uda is able to run it down for the 3rd out. To the 11th we go.
Two quick outs for Deguchi, but Miyata is stubborn at the plate and after 9 pitches takes a borderline pitch for a ball and a walk.
However, Yamashita hits a swinging bunt right in front of the plate and Chiba throws him out to end the inning.
Deguchi seems to have found his second wind. What about Yamashita?
Well, the Morioka batters are making it easy as they are swinging early. Fujita first pitch grounds to 2nd. #13 Takada comes in to hit for Takahashi, but flies out to center.
And when Chiba grounds out to short on the 1st pitch, it's a 4 pitch inning for Yamashita - a great help here in extras.
Takada stays in the game in right, pushing Yagi to 1st.
Uda represents the go-ahead run as he takes one back up the middle. Ogawa immediately bunts him along into scoring position.
It's a race against time now with Wanda just 2 batters away.
But Kawasaki refuses to wait that long! He drives a ball down the right field line all the way to the wall! Takada runs it down, but not before Kawasaki has a triple! More importantly, Risshoudai Shounan has the lead here in the 12th!
Shiromoto with a hot shot to the left side! Nihashi catches the ball and beats Kawasaki to the bag for the double play!
BUT! Risshoudai Shounan is just 3 outs away from advancing!
Does Moriokadai Fuzoku have another rally left in them?
Deguchi first pitch grounds out to 2nd.
Chida gets his 4th hit with a grounder through to right. And Chida presses for 2! Throw in from Miyata... not in time! He just dives in there before the ball and now Morioka is threatening once again!
Can Mochizuki find the stroke from the beginning of the game?
Mochizuki lines out to 2nd and Chida is doubled off to end the game!
Moriokadai Fuzoku comes back twice, but can't muster a third rally in the 12th. Risshoudai Shounan survives the ordeal and advances to face Sakushin Gakuin!
The game was about as level as you could expect. The momentum constantly swung back and forth, and while it wasn't a clean game, it was an entertaining one nonetheless. Moriokadai Fuzoku has nothing to be ashamed about in their performance, while Risshoudai Shounan will have to rest up a bit before their next game as their spirit 3 years ago surfaces yet again in another hard fought contest.