Our final game of the day pits 2 teams struggling to get a foothold at Koushien.
Tottori Jyouhoku is rather new to the whole Koushien experience. They reached their first Natsu Koushien tournament in 2009 and then under current kantoku Yamaki Hiroyuki earned a trip to this year's senbatsu where they lost to Mie 6-5.
This year, they needed just 4 games to win Tottori's bid - it just goes to show how the population drain to rural areas have resulted in lower enrollments in rural prefectures such as Tottori. Offensively, most of the punch can be found in 3B Abe and CF Kimura. Meanwhile, #11 Idzi is used in tandem with ace Hirata in games.
Kagawa Nishi makes their 4th trip to Natsu Koushien - all since 2000. However, their only win came during my first trip there in 2006. Of their 5 games, the two notable was a 5-4 sayonara win in 13 innings against Kanonji Dai-ichi where they tied the game in the bottom of the 9th, and a 3-2 win over Marugame in the final.
The team averaged 0.352 overall, but a 0.271 in their final two games seems more accurate. Iwagami-kantoku also uses a tandem pitching staff using #10 Nishisaka along with Hayashi whenever the situation warrants. Neither are strikeout pitchers either, so expect a lot of balls in play on both sides.
With both sides probably having an eye to the future and possible recruitment (I mean more of appeal to the middle schooler as opposed to actual recruiting), there is incentive to win and advance. This should be a highly competitive game, with the advantage probably going to Kagawa Nishi partially on strength of prefecture and a deeper pool of players to draw from.
Kagawa Nishi (Kagawa)
2B Funakoshi (#14)
Tottori Jyouhoku (Tottori)
15:22 - First Pitch!
Oota leads off the game slicing over short for a base hit. Watari tries to bunt him along to 2nd, but instead he free bunts and fouls out.
Hirada hangs one for Oozaki and he drives one deep to left! Kobayashi running back to the fence, waits... as it bounces off the actual fence! Oozaki in with a double and Kagawa Nishi threatens early!
Yamamoto can't get around on Hirata's fastball and he goes down swinging for the 2nd out.
And Hirata freezes Yanagi with a slider on the outside corner to get out of the jam!
Two down for Tottori and Kimura hits a ball that short hops Funagoshi and goes into right for a base hit.
Cleanup batter Satou though hits an easy comebacker to Hayashi who tosses to 1st to end the inning.
Hirata settles down, retiring the side in order as neither Nishioka, Shirakawa or Funakoshi can make good contact on the ball.
It's a quick 6 pitch inning for Hayashi as Kawano pops up to 2nd, Kobayashi first pitch swings and grounds to 2nd, and Kinoshita decides to play golf instead of baseball and flies out to left.
Sorry, the lack of sleep has been kicking my butt. I'm still keeping score, but it's hard to keep my eyes open. Nonetheless, there hasn't been much save for a great diving catch by Oozaki on a liner by Komai.
One down and Yamamoto gets Kagawa's 3rd hit of the game with a single to left. Hayashi with a ball back up the middle, takes a weird hop and gets away from Komai and Yamamoto advances to 3rd! Chance for Kagawa Nishi to break the draw.
But Nishioka pops his bunt up! Kawano catches it in foul territory and quickly flips it to Komai to double off Hayashi!
2 quick outs for Hirata but when Satou grounds to 1st, it takes a high irregular hop. Yanagi makes a leaping snag, takes his time, but throws it behind Hirata!
Kawano up and he lines one down the right field line.. fair!! That goes all the way to the wall as Satou heads for 3rd and is being waved around! The throw in from Watari is late and Tottori Jyouhoku opens the scoring and takes a 1-0 lead!
Kobayashi with another laser down the right field that, that's fair too! Watari scrambles back to the wall to retrieve it, but Kawano scores too making it 2-0 Tottori!
Kinoshita next lines one to left, Kobayashi is being waved home as the throw is cutoff. Totori now leads 3-0!!
Hirata continues the hit parade with a single through to left. Komai flies out to end the inning, but Tottori takes a good lead here in the 4th.
One down, Funagoshi hits a shallow fly. Satou charging in late, dives and makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Hayashi then hits a shot down the left field line for a double, but is stranded when Oota grounds out to short.
One down and Abe singes down the right side for a base hit.
Kimura with a grounder to 3rd, Nishioka with the ball, hesitates for a second, then throws it to 2nd base when Abe already had slid in safely!
But Satou bails out Hayashi as he grounds into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play!
We head to the break with Kagawa Nishi down 3 runs, which is certainly not impossible, but they'll need to capitalize on the opportunities they do get.
Watari tries for the drag bunt up the right side, but a charging Komai makes a great throw to just beat Watari to the bag.
Two down and Yamamoto gets his 2nd hit of the day going inside out and hitting a ball to center.
Hey, Kagawa Nishi's oen-dan plays "Jock Rock" too!
Hirata ends the inning though when he strikes out Yanagi on a slider.
Kawano catches a hanging curve and lines it down the right field line for a leadoff double!
Iwagami-kantoku has seen enough from Hayashi and sends in #10 Nishisaka.
After a flyout, Kinoshita hits a grounder to 3rd. Kawano is caught in between bases, but then Nishioka throws the ball away, allowing Kawano to advance after all!
Hirata tries for the safety bunt, but Kawano makes another base-running mistake in not reading thte stop sign! Nishisaka runs him down for the 2nd out! Komai grounds out to 2nd to get out of the pinch.
Nishoka with a routine grounder to 3rd, but Abe airmails the throw, allowing Nishioka to reach 2nd. Shirakawa follows that up with a grounder through the left side and now Kagawa Nishi has a good chance to get on the board.
#16 Kawako comes in to hit for Funagoshi, but grounds to 1st. Kawano alertly tags 1st and throws home! Nishioka is caught between bases and is run down for the 2nd out!
Nishisaka grounds to 3rd and Kagawa Nishi is turned away.
Kawako stays in at 1B, with Yanagi going to 3B and Nishioka going to 2B.
Taniguchi collects his first hit of the game with a safety bunt up the 3rd base line. He gets advanced twice on a bunt and groundout, but is left stranded when Satou grounds out to 2nd
Once again, Kagawa gets a runner on with 2 outs as Oozaki slices one down the left field line for a double.
This time though, Yamamoto delivers a base hit through the right side! They wave Oozaki home, and the throw frm Satou is taken up the line! Oozaki scores to make it 3-1 and they avoid the shutout! Yanagi grounds out to end the inning, but Kagawa Nishi is on the board!
2 down and Kinoshita is hit by a pitch. But he's subsequently picked off 1st and run down to end the inning.
Last chance for Kagawa Nishi. Nishioka first pitch grounds to 3rd. Shirakawa pops out to Komai, and Kagawa is down to their final out!
But Kawako keeps the game alive with a double to the left field wall! He's replaced by #17 Sakamoto.
Now #11 Itou comes in to hit for Nishisaka, and he hits a seeing eye single to left! Sakamoto has to hold, but the douten runner is on base!
The lineup turns over to the top and Oota.
He hits a low liner! Kobayashi charging in, makes the running grab to end the game!