Yesterday was a mixed bag of games. You had a team finally complete a comeback win in Sakushin Gakuin, a closely contested match between Risshoudai Shounan and Moriokadai Fuzoku, records set by Toukou Gakuen's ace Matsui Yuuki, and the guilty blowout (sorry Kitsuki, I really wanted you to put up a good performance).
Today, we open the action with 2 teams who could be contenders to the title, and if nothing else are favorites to advance out of Block B - Urasoe Shougyou and Aikoudai Meiden.
Urasoe Shougyou is definitely more of the unknown quantity here in the matchup. Looking at their historical performance, they don't make it to Koushien as often as other schools, but they make their appearances count.
This year, they had 4 hotly contested games against Kounan, Kadena, a game Maehara squad, and finally Okinawa Shougaku to win their 4th ever summer title. In fact the total run differential between all 4 games was a mere 7 runs.
So carrying a 0.307 team batting average isn't necessarily as bad as it might seem. I don't have information on individual games, so I can't really key in on certain players to watch. As for the pitcher(s) on the mound, Miyara-kantoku uses a combination of ace Miyazato (who features a good curveball) and #10 Teruya (who can supposedly hit 150 kph) in all their games. It didn't work for Kitsuki, but no offense to Kitsuki, Urasoe Shougyou is no Kitsuki.
That's not to say the tandem doesn't have issues. Against Futenma, they gave up 7 runs. And in the final against Okinawa Shougaku they conceded 5 more runs. So it's certainly far from perfect.
And they'll be tested early as they face an Aikoudai Meiden squad looking to improve on the quarterfinal appearance in the spring when they faded late against runner-up Kousei Gakuin.
Meiden early on wound up drawing last year's Aichi representative, Shigakukan, and scored all their runs in the middle innings for an 8-5 win. After yet another scare against relative unknown Aichi Sangyoudai Kougyou, they eventually made it to the finals where they were 3 outs away from being eliminated by Touhou. That's when Touhou experienced an almost fatal self-destruction as they gave up both runs. The damage suffered would prove to be fatal 2 innings later, and thus Aikoudai Meiden finds themselves back at Koushien.
The offensive issues Meiden had in the spring still persist as they hit a sub-average 0.316. They'll need their 2-3-4 batters to step up and carry the squad as Hamada, though strong, may have issues with fatigue should they make a deep run.
Aikoudai Meiden (Aichi)
RF Matsuoka (#15)
Urasoe Shougyou (Okinawa)
CH Ooshiro Rishuu
RF Teruya (#10)
9:01 - First Pitch!
Meiden's batters are making contact on Miyazato's pitches, but aren't making solid hits. Kimura and Nakano both softly fly out to center, and Satou grounds out to 1st.
Hamada with a quick inning. First pitch groundout to Agarie, Rishuu goes down swinging on 4 pitches, and Touma hits a routine grounder back to Hamada.
Much of the same for Miyazato. Torii, Matsuoka and Matsui all ground out to the left side of the infield.
Miyazato with a drive to right center. Araki running back to the wall!!!
Ace Miyazato gets a hold of a hanger and drives it opposite field for a home run! Urasoe Shougyou takes the 1-0 lead!
Now with one down Goya hits a hard single back up the middle. Hamada getting hit hard here in the 2nd.
Teruya with a swinging bunt up the 3rd base line, Nakano takes his time to get to the ball, and his throw is late... and high! It gets past Torii and now Goya takes 3rd!
Kise with the squeeze bunt! It's perfectly placed and Torii can only go to 1st! Goya scores to make it 2-0 Urashou!
Uchima fouls out to right field and the inning is over, but not before Urasoe Shougyou gets to Hamada for a pair of runs!
After 2 more routine outs, last batter Nakamura gets Meiden's first hit on a ball back up the middle past Uchima into center.
Kimura though flies out to right as Teruya makes a leaping catch while jogging for the 3rd out. Meiden missing on making good contact with the ball.
Agarie leads off the 3rd with a roller that shoots through the infield into right. Rishuu bunts him along for Touma.
Hamada's numbers haven't changed really - fastball in the mid-upper 130s, slider in the high 120s and a curve in the high 100-low 110s.
Touma with a routine grounder to short, but Satou misses the ball! Everyone's safe, and Miyazato's coming to bat!
He hits a slow chopper back to Hamada, and now Hamada misses fielding it! It deflects to the left side and by the time he can get to it everyone's safe!!
Iraha tries the squeeze on the 1-1 count, but pops it foul. He'll have to swing away... and goes down swinging on a high fastball for the 2nd out.
Goya with a drive to right center! Araki and Matsuoka running back to the wall, still running!!
It's off the fence and bounces back to the infield! Matsuoka gets the ball in, but not before Goya clears the bases on a triple, giving Urashou the 5-0 lead!!
Hamada finally ends the inning by jamming Teruya, but Hamada is getting killed on the mound. A 5-0 deficit for Meiden will be hard to make up, but they do have time.
Nakano with a bid for a base hit to the right side, but Touma makes the great diving stop and throws him out!
Satou manages to scoot one past Touma this time and into center for a hit.
Torii connects hard, but hits a liner right at Rishuu for the 2nd out.
Matsuoka bloops one to right allowing Satou to advance to 3rd. Miyara-kantoku calls for time.
Matsui with a hard grounder to short. Uchima makes a diving stop, but can't find the ball! He finds it, makes a snap throw to 1st... but it's over everyone!! Satou scores! Matsuoka scores on the play and Meiden's on the board at 5-2!
There's time on the field as Uchima got dirt in his eye and had to get it cleaned out. He sprints out squinting a bit, but otherwise fine.
Araki with a grounder to 1st, Agarie gathers it on a tricky hop and goes to the bag for the 3rd out. Meiden cuts into the deficit, but there's still work to do!
Hamada settles down, at least against the bottom of the order, quickly retiring the 8-9-1 batters in order which included 2 K's. Now if only he can do that against the heart of the order.
Hamada leads off with a solid single back up the middle. Miyara-kantoku decides this is a good time and switches pitchers sending Teruya to the mound and Miyazato to right.
Nakamura despite getting a hit in his last AB bunts, but Teruya fields it quickly and guns down Hamada at 2nd!
Kimura hits a ball back up the middle, but right at Uchima! He underhands to Touma who fires to 1st for the double play!
Well, that's a first. 2 down, Miyazato up, he swings and loses the bat! It flies and lands in front of the Meiden dugout. Miyazato goes to gather it , then goes back to his dugout and changes gloves.
And then goes down swinging on the next pitch... Hamada has 6 K's, but more importantly has given up 5 runs and his team trails heading into the break,
One down and Satou draws a walk. Then Torii drives one deep in the left center field gap! Goya and Rishuu converge on the ball , but it falls in behind them right in front of the wall! Satou scores all the way from first and Meiden gets another run back! It's 5-3!
Teruya's problems continue as he walks Matsuoka, putting the douten runner on base! Miyara-kantoku calls for time, as the momentum is starting to swing to Meiden.
Matsuoka takes off on the first pitch and Iraha's throw is late! Now a base hit could tie the game!
And it's a wild pitch! No! The umpire (rightly) claims a dead ball! While it's manrui, the wild pitch would have scored a run! Will it be a good break for Urashou?
Araki hits a fly to center, but it's too shallow and Torii can't tag up! Teruya about to get out of the jam!
But he hits Hamada on the first pitch! Oshidashi dead ball as Torii finally comes home to make it 5-4!
Last batter Nakamura up to try and get the douten and perhaps gyakuten runner in.
SANSHIN!!! Teruya blows a high 147 kph fastball by him for the 3rd out! Meiden gets another pair of runs, but still finds themselves behind Urashou!
Well that was an uneventful half inning. Hamada still isn't looking sharp, but at least he's missing in the right places. He gets an easy popup (as long as Araki and Matsuoka don't collide), and 2 routine grounders.
So Hamada has settled down, and Meiden has scored 2 pairs of runs. Do they at least have one more run left in them?
One down and Nakano singles just in front of Goya. Satou showing bunt, but not offering so far....
Instead he swings away and is jammed! He flies out to left for the 2nd out.
Torii gets way under one and pops it up! Touma has plenty of time and secure the ball for the 3rd out.
After a long AB that saw C Nakamura get hit by another foul ball, Kise draws a walk.
Uchima lays a hard drag bunt to 2nd, and no one is there! By the time Kimura is there to field it, everyone's safe! Big pinch for Hamada!
But Nakamura catches Kise way off base on a bunt play, throws to 2nd and Satou makes a great diving tag to get Kise out.
Agarie, behind 2-2, thows his bat at the ball and it manages to hit it towards 1st! Torii makes the tag, but it advances the runner.
Rishuu gets around on a ball and hits a ball to shallow right! Matsuoka charges in but can't get to it! Uchima comes home as the throw is cutoff and Urashou leads 6-4!
Rishuu is subsequently picked off, but they get the insurance run!
Teruya's control problems persist as he walks Matsuoka on 4 straight. Miyara-kantoku elects to bring Miyazato back onto the mound to get the final 6 outs.
Matsui showing bunt down 2 this late? He lays it down, but it dies right in front of the plate! Iraha is able to fire to 2nd and cut down Matsuoka!
Now Oofuji-kantoku sends in #9 Touda in to hit for Araki. But he grounds to 2nd. Touma makes a great flip to 2nd for the 2nd out.
It's up to Hamada who drives one to deep center! Rishuu running back, still running back... stops in front of the wall and makes the catch for the 3rd out! Hamada hits it to the deepest part of the park and it just falls short. Miyazato breathes a sigh of relief as the side is retired.
Touda stays in the game in center.
Iraha draws a 2-out walk, but that's inconsequential Hamada get the final out.
#9 Tamaki comes in for Teruya and takes over in RF as a defensive replacement.
Meiden finds themselves down to their last 3 outs again down 2 runs, much like the Aichi final.
Nakamura first pitch grounds to 3rd. Back to the top of the order and Kimura.
And on a full count, he drives the ball into the right center field gap for a double!
Nakano with a hard hit to right, but Tamaki is there for the catch. Kimura advances to 3rd, but what matters is the run at the plate as that is the douten run.
It's up to Satou to keep the game alive.
But two swings and he falls behind 1-2! Down to their last strike!
Ball in the dirt for ball 2... Satou hits one to left center, but it hangs up! Goya running over makes the sliding catch and that's the ballgame! Urasoe Shougyou does indeed show their strength here in the first game defeating ace Hamada and Aikoudai Meiden! They stand poised now to be the favorite to advance out of Block B.
As for Aikoudai Meiden they only have to look at themselves for this one. There were mental erros made early on that cost the team several runs. Because of that, Hamada's final summer ends as quickly as it started here at Koushien.
Miyazato Taiyuu (Urasoe Shougyou) - SV, 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 K, 0 BB
Goya Yoshihiro (Urasoe Shougyou) - 2-4, 3B, R, 3 RBI
Matsuoka Daisuke (Aikoudai Meiden) - 1-2, R, 2 BB, SB