I don't know how the last game of the day will live up to the previous game. Though I suppose they'll try.
Kitsuki had a favorable draw in the Oita prefecturals, avoiding most of the tougher competition, and pulling ahead of Touin with 2 in the bottom of the 8th for their 1st ever title.
The team batted a neat 0.362 during the prefecturals while Abe Tomomi-kantoku used a combination of reliever Nagano and ace Shiotani to get the job done. Only Saga Kita has been successful in recent years using a pitching tandem, so it'll be interesting to see how they fare.
Jyousou Gakuin had two scares in their road to the title, both against former Koushien participants. They were down 3-0 to Fujishiro in the quarterfinals before scoring 6 unanswered in the final 3 innings to win 6-3. Then in the finals, they limited Suijyou to 3 hits en route to a 3-0 win. As a team, they batted 0.372 - but watch out for the 2-3-4 batters for Jyousou Gakuin. As for the pitching staff, Sasaki used a triumvirate of pitchers throughout the Ibaraki taikai, all of whom he was comfortable with.
As much as I like Kitsuki making it to Koushien, it'll be tough even to defeat Jyousou Gakuin.
1B Tanaka (#2)
C Kimoto (#12)
P Nagano (#3)
Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki)
P Sugawara (#3)
1B Ishii (#13)
16:26 - First Pitch!
Iwao with a routine grounder to short, but Yoshizawa throws it wide and Iwao reaches safely! After a sac bunt, Kai is called out on a check swing the home plate umpire.
But then Sugawara creates his own jam by issuing Shirai and Tanaka back-to-back walks.
However, the patience they showed is wasted when Yano swings on the first pitch and grounds out to short to end the inning.
Oozaki hits a blooper down the left field line. Kai gives chase, but it's just out of his reach and Oozaki is in with a leadoff double!
Takashima lays the bunt down, and Nagano throws it back all the way to Hiroshima! Oozaki scores and Abe-kantoku's hope of being down 1 or 2 runs at the break looks shaky at best here in the 1st.
Uchida follow that up taking the ball the other way through into right.
And now a throwing error by Kimoto to 2nd allows both runners to advance.
Sugimoto follows Uchida's lead, singles to right and plates another run to make it a quick 2-0 lead. He then takes off for 2nd and on a slow curve makes it easily.
Nagano finally records his first out as he freezes Sakai on a curveball on the outside corner.
But the respite is short lived. Yoshizawa pokes one down the left field line for a double, plating 2 and making it 4-0.
Nagano makes a good play on the comebacker by Sugawara as he runs down Yoshizawa for the 2nd out.
Tayama grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but it's about as bad as an opening inning could go for the first timers.
Sugawara settles down after the shaky 1st inning and quickly retires the bottom of the Kitsuki lineup in order.
Ishii hits a slow curve off Nagano's left ankle and into the gap at short for a base hit. He's bunted to 2nd.
Looking at today's starter Nagano, he doesn't throw particularly fast (mid-120s), and throws a <100 curve="curve" p="p" reguarly.="reguarly." slow="slow">
Anyways, he gets a harmless pop fly from Takashima and Uchida grounds to 3rd where Satou tags Ishii for the 3rd out.
After Sugawara quickly retires Iwao, he struggles to find the zone and walks Satou. He still hasn't given up a hit yet.
Sugawara throws in the low 130's with a slider in the high 120s, a change in the high 110s and a curve in the low 110s.
He then proceeds to get Kai to hit into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
Nagano plunks Sugimoto to start the inning and then when Kimoto tries to make a pickoff throw hits batter Sakai.
Sakai lays down the bunt and Kimoto's throw one hops 2nd, Kai can't handle it and everyone's safe.
Then Yoshizawa lays down bunt down the 1st base line, and a charging Tanaka whiffs on the ball! Nagano runs over, glove tosses the ball right over Yano who was covering 1st! Sugimoto scores to make it 5-0 on the error.
Abe-kantoku makes a pitching change sending ace Shioya Yuusuke to the mound to replace Nagano, whiles Tanaka and Kimoto switch positions.
It doesn't help as Sugawara drives a ball to the right center field gap for a bases-clearing triple. 7-0 now for Jyousou.
Tayama follows that up taking a ball the opposite way making it 8-0.
Ishii lasers one down the right field line all the way to the wall for a triple, 9-0.
Oozaki with a triple over Sugiura's head, 10-0.
Kitsuki gets its first out as Takashimag grounds out to short. Barring a DP, Jyousou will bat around here in the 3rd.
Uchida singles to right, 11-0.
And now Sugimoto is up again here in the 3rd. Wild pitch sends Uchida to 2nd. Sugimoto flies out to left for the 2nd out.
Sakai doubles into the right center gap to make it 12-0.
Yoshizawa singles past a diving Kai, 13-0.
And Abe-kantoku finally puts Shioya out of his misery. #10 Aoi Yuuta comes in to pitch.
No help. Sugawara hits one off the base of the right-center field wall, stops at 2nd. 14-0 and finally some mercy.
Tayama gets plunked. Oy.
Ishii flies out to left, and the inning is finally over. 15 batters and 10 runs later, the crushing 3rd inning is over...
If Jyousou knows what's good for them, they'll go station to station to save energy. Generally teams that put up large numbers tend to struggle in the next game. That doesn't mean swing badly, because that can equally hurt by creating bad habits.
Kitsuki goes down with 3 straight groundouts.
After Aoi records his first K, Takashima tries a safety bunt. Satou charges but bobbles the ball. Takashima then advances to 2nd on a subsequent wild pitch.
Uchida pops out to short, and Sugimoto fouls out. Aoi records a 1-2-3 inning, though perhaps Jyousou will try to control cruise the rest of the way.
Before the TV goes to break, it sounds like the Kitsuki oen-dan is playing Komdai Tomakomai's rally song from back in their title runs.
Wouldn't you know it, Aoi gives his team their first base hit with a grounder past Uchida into left.
Sugiura with a base hit to right! Aoi stops at 2nd as Takashima apparently has the ball slip from his hands and flies into left!
Now Iwao with a single over Yoshizawa into left! Aoi is going home! But Sakai's throw home gets Aoi by a good margin. Aw.
Satou grounds out to 3rd and the run of good feelings is over.
Aoi gets his first 1-2-3 inning and as they head to the break it looks like we'll be cruising to the end. Hopefully Kitsuki can avoid the shutout.
After a one out HBP on Shirai, he takes 2nd on a wild pitch from Sugawara.
However, neither Tanaka or Yano can drive in the run, and they remain shutout.
Not surprising, Aoi gets another 1-2-3 inning.
After Sugawara retires PH #13 Ogawa via the K, Sasaki-kantoku sends in #11 Iida for 1B Ishii and takes the hill with Sugawara heading to his numbered position at 1B.
And while Aoi is in mop-up duty, he does record his second hit, a comebacker past a diving Tayama.
Sugiura beats out the DP attempt after he grounds to 2nd. Iwao pops out to 2nd and there goes the lucky 7 for Kitsuki,
#14 Etou comes in for PH Ogawa and takes over at 1st.
Outside of an error by Satou, Aoi gets another scoreless inning on the board.
Defensive changes for Jyousou as #15 Shindou comes in for Uchida at 3B, and #11 Iida takes the hill.
But his stint isn't long as after he K's Satou, #10 Takimoto comes in to retire the next two hitters.
Aoi finishes his 5.2 innings of scoreless relief by facing 3 more than the minimum as he records his 3rd 1-2-3 inning.
Last chance for Kitsuki to prevent the shutout as ace number Itou takes the hill.
But after an error by Tayama allowing Yano to reach, Etou leaves Aoi on deck as he grounds into the game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
And so the last game of the day finished. Kitsuki should be praised for reaching Koushien, but sadly ran into a buzzsaw against Jyousou Gakuin. Still, they can at least say that for one year, they were the best team in Oita - and that can never be taken from them.
For Jyousou Gakuin, it was an easy game, but they must not get too lazy or else they could find themselves on the losing end sooner rather than later.