Onto our first afternoon game and we have a matchup of two newcomers to Natsu Koushien - Ube Koujyou and Toyama Kougyou!
Ube Koujyou did appear in the 2003 senbatsu, but were shutout by Heian (now Ryuukokudai Heian). This year, they had to defeat not only senbatsu participant Hayatomo, but regular seeded teams Iwakuni and Ube Shougyou culminating with a gyakuten win over Yamaguchi Koujyou for their 1st ever summer title.
With the exception of their first round game, all of Ube Koujyou's games were contested. What's more, they struck out a combined 8 times in their 6 games. That is an impressive feat by any measure and gives a little more credit to their team 0.352 batting average.
What will be the most problematic for the team will be its pitching. Sasanaga and to a smaller extent Kanemaru were always in stressful situations on the mound, either defending a small lead or holding a deficit. They'll certainly be put to the test against tougher competition, but perhaps they get a break by facing a fellow first-timer.
That team would be Toyama Kougyou. But first, a question:
How does a team put up an amazing 0.456 team batting average??!! Because that's the number Toyama put up while averaging just over 11 runs per game! I mean, I know that we've seen batting averages close to 0.400, but 0.456 is ridiculous by any stretch of the imagination! Even if we were to adjust it due to prefectural strength, it'd be hard to envision the offense completely falling off a cliff.
On the mound, Suga-kantoku uses a mix of ace Kamezawa and #10 Murobayashi which was effective until the final where Toyama Shougyou roughed up reliever Murobayashi for at least 5 runs (I don't have full box scores). It certainly does indicate though that Kamezawa is the better option.
This will certainly be an interesting game. Competitive? Not sure. But it may very well be entertaining. If I was pressed to choosing a team, I'd probably go with Toyama Kougyou.
Toyama Kougyou (Toyama)
C Nishino Seita
Ube Kougyou (Yamaguchi)
C Nishino Koutarou
13:03 - First Pitch!
Okamoto starts the offense flicking the pitch the other way for a base hit. Atoshi bunts the runner along.
Moritake puts a good bat on the ball, but the wind coming down at 4m/s accoring to the graphic knocks it down for Kanemaru. Okamoto does tag up on the play, 2 down.
Sanshin! Araki can't catch up to the inside fastball and Sasanaga starts off on the right foot!
Koutarou goes down swinging and is thrown out 2-3. Well, that's 1 K of a limit of 2.
Yamaoka is laying off some close pitches, and hits a swinging bunt down the 3rd base line! Okamoto's throw to 1st is offline and Araki's attempt to field it almost clotheslines Yamaoka! Yamaoka gets up and goes to 1st while Araki has his hand worked on a bit. (It was more of a knockdown than a clothesline).
Ozaki-kantoku starts the hit-and-run! But Hinoguchi fouls it off. He manages to work the count full and hits a slow grounder to 2nd. Hyougo's only play is to 1st.
Kanemaru seings on the first pitch and pops it up. Atoshi secures it for the 3rd out.
Mukoujima with a liner to right to get another leadoff runner on base. Hyougo looks to bunt the runner along, but after getting up 3-0, Sasanaga fills up the count.
Hit-and-run! Hyougo hits a single past 1st and into right! Runners at the corners for Yamamoto! Ozaki-kantoku calls for time.
Hyougo takes off for 2nd on the 2-2 pitch and Yamamoto strikes out. The throw goes to 2nd and Yamaoka starts the rundown, cognizant of the runner on 3rd. But the rundown is executed very poorly with the ball thrown too early, and when Sugita throws the ball back to Yasuda at 2nd, Mukoujima breaks for home! The throw is wide and Mukoujima slides around the swipe tag and is in safely! Toyama Kougyou take the lead on the trick play 1-0!
Sasanaga retires the last two batters without trouble, but true to their form in the prefecturals, they get on the board first!
Oono works the count full and singles to left for a leadoff single. Sasanaga lays down the bunt putting the runner in scoring position for Sugita.
Hey, it's the Eva theme!
After working the count in his favor, he swings away, but flies out to right.
Yasuda goes down swinging for the 2nd K on the team. They've hit the limit from the prefecturals.
Okamoto gets his 2nd hit in as many AB taking the curve the other way for another single.
Atoshi not bunting, instead it's a hit-and-run! Atoshi hits it to Oono whose only play is at 1st.
Moritake with a soft liner over a leaping Sugita into right!
Araki with a drive to left center! Tomonaga running back to the fence! Looking up!!!
The ball lands at least 10 rows up as Araki pumps his fist in the air! Toyama's offense comes in full display here are the 3-run HR gives them a 4-0 lead!
Mukoujima with a grounder to 2nd. It takes an irregular hop and deflects off of Yasuda and into center!
It's a bit late to mention, but Sasanaga has a cutter, slider and changeup in his arsenal to go with his high 120s-low 130s fastball.
Anyways, Sasanaga retires Hyougo and Yamamoto to end the inning, but Toyama Kougyou is starting to pull away in this matchup.
Tomonaga up for Ube Koujyou and he hits one just past the outstretched glove of Hyougo.
After a soft liner to short, Yamaoka works the count to 3-1 before Kamezawa plunks him.
Suga-kantoku calls for time as Hinoguchi is due up next.
Hinoguchi with a base hit to right! Tomonaga scores as the throw comes in from Mukoujima. Seita then fires to 2nd to try and get the trailing Hinoguchi, but the throw is high and goes into center! Yamaoka breaks from 3rd and scores on the error! It's 4-2!!
Kanemaru with a hit to shallow left center. Moritake and Yamamoto charge in, Yamamoto dives AND MISSES IT!
The ball is out of his reach and falls in! Hinoguchi rounds 3rd and the throw goes into the infield! They concede the run as Ube Koujyou pulls within 1! They get the 3-run homer back and it's 4-3!!
Oono with a drive to deep left! Moritake back towards the wall... and makes the catch right in front for the 2nd out! Kanemaru tags up to 3rd. He's stranded when Sasanaga flies out to center to end the inning.
One down, Kamezawa hits a ball to 2nd, but Yasuda flubs it! Okamoto tries the safety bunt, and Oono has to rush his throw thanks to a speeding Okamoto. Sugita makes a great pick on his end on the short hop.
Atoshi is retired when Oono makes a great catch near the camera well.
One down and Yasuda hits a ball back up the middle. Hyougo runs it down, but that's all he can do.
Tomonaga up and Yasuda breaks on the 0-1 pitch. The throw leads Atoshi into the runner and he bails on it giving Yasuda the stolen base.
Meanwhile Tomonaga chases a fastball high and away and becomes the 3rd strikeout victim. That's more than in any individual game during their prefecturals. (That's just a testament to how good you have to be to achieve that).
Koutarou grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Moritake gets a lucky hit when a ball back up the middle deflects off of Sasanaga and dribbles towards Yasuda who has no play.
Araki up and he's jammed! Yasuda starts the 4-6-3... yes! They get the double play!
The runners are erased as Mukoujima is jammed as well and lines out to right to end the inning!
For the 2nd straight AB, Yamaoka is hit by Kamezawa.
Will Ozaki-kantoku have Hinoguchi bunt? Doesn't look like it as he checks his swing, but the ball finds the bat and fouls off anyways.
Then he shows bunt and takes it back. And now it's the hit-and-run, but Hinoguchi only fouls it off!
The hit-and-run is on again! Hinoguchi with a scorcher past Araki into right! Yamaoka easily into 3rd! Runners at the corners with nobody out for cleanup batter Kanemaru!!
Down 0-2 he takes a pitch just outside for a ball. Hinoguchi goes for 2nd on the next pitch and there's no throw!
Now Kanemaru with a base hit to right! Yamaoka scores and we're all tied up at 4-4 with runners at the corners!
Ozaki-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but Oono misses! Hinoguchi is hung out and is run down for the 1st out.
Another hit-and-run! Kanemaru breaks for 3rd, but Oono pops it up! Atoshi near the mound makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Sasanaga flies out to right to end the inning, and while the inning seemed promising to score more than one run, they at least get the douten run and we have a new ballgame at the break!
Sasanaga paints the outside corner on Hyougo for the first out. Yamammoto reaches on a slider way down and outside and rolls it to Sugita for the 2nd out.
Sasanaga can't seem to find the plate againt Seita and walks him on 4 straight. Now to Kamezawa he's thrown 2 more balls prompting Koutarou to go out and talk to him.
The talk works as Kamezawa grounds to short to end the inning.
I think what has allowed the Ube Koujyou batters to strike out so few times is the fact they all have a good vision of the strike zone which allow them to take pitches other might swing at.
Kamezawa starts the inning getting Sugita to grounds out to short. Yasuda becomes the 4th K though he had to try and make contact with a good fastball inside.
Tomonaga down 0-2 connects on a ball and singles to center. He then takes off on a low pitch from Kamezawa and there's no throw! Then on a ball in the dirt that gets away from Seita, he takes 3rd!
Meanwhile, Koutarou takes the 3-2 pitch for ball 4!
Now he takes off for 2nd on the 0-1 pitch and there's no throw there either! Now a base hit could net 2 runs!
Yamaoka though grounds out to 2nd to end the inning. Now, the inning may have yielded no runs, but I think it's a good example of the smart baseball they're playing.
Lucky 7 time for Toyama. Okamoto first pitch flies out to center. Atoshi grounds out to 2nd after falling behind 1-2.
Moritake though breaks the clean inning by hitting a single to center. That brings up Araki.
And you know, I just noticed that the "TK" letters remind me of Tokoha Kikugawa's hat.
Back to the game and Araki takes his helmet off in frustration as he can't connect on a fastball outside for strike 3!
Hinoguchi golfs a slow curve and pops out to Atoshi for the first out. Kanemaru gets under a pitch too and hits a routine fly to center.
We're seeing a bit more of the slow curve in the 90s as his fastball only reaches the upper 120s.
On one of the few times a Ube Koujyou batter is really fooled, Oono turns his back on a pitch inside, but is rung up for Kamezawa's 5th K.
Mukoujima runs a long AB against Sasanaga, but on the 10th pitch, Sasanaga wins with a line out to center.
After a routine grounder, Yamamoto takes the first pitch and singles to center.
Now Suga-kantoku tries the hit-and-run on the 2-2 pitch, but Seita fouls it off Koutarou, who needs a minute.
Next pitch to Seita is a slider away that he misses for strike 3! Koutarou tosses to 1st to complete the out and the game remains at 4!
Sasanaga remains hitless on the day, rolling a grounder to 2nd.
Behind 1-2, Sugita puts a level swing on the ball and singles to right.
Yasuda, who already has 2 K's on the day, is asked to bunt, but he can't lay it down and falls behind 1-2. Hit-and-run, but Yasuda fouls it off!
Yasuda gets the last laugh with a liner back up the middle for a single! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Tomonaga!!
But Kamezawa gets him to pop it up! Infield fly is called as Araki waits for it to come down.
So it's back to the top of the order and Koutarou.
Kamezawa gets ahead 0-2. He fists the 1-2 pitch, but it's in play! Okamoto running into foul territory has it go off his glove! New life for Koutarou!!
But Kamezawa jams him! He hits a grounder to 2nd and Kamezawa is out of the pinch! We head to the 9th inning still tied at 4!!
The numbers look almost identical 4-10-1 for Toyama, 4-11-1 for Ube.
Kamezawa levels those numbers as he slices one to left for his first base hit! Go-ahead runner is on as Ozaki-kantoku calls time.
Kamezawa takes off for 2nd on the 1-1 pitch, and slides in safely! Go-ahead runner in scoring position!
But Okamoto bends his knees and takes a slider over the plate for strike 3! One down.
Atoshi with the bunt! Sasanaga fields it and throw just beats out Atoshi for the 2nd out! Kamezawa on 3rd with 2 outs for Moritake - and he's 3-4 on the day!
Sasanaga gets ahead 1-2 after Moritake chases and fouls off a ball outside the zone.
Moritake drives one to left! Tomonaga runs back, but is there to make the catch and the side is retired!
Ube Koujyou now with the opportunity to achieve a sayonara victory. Yamaoka-Hinoguchi-Kanemaru due up.
Yamaoka gets caught looking for the 6th K on a fastball just on the outside corner.
Hinoguchi with a ball to deep center! Yamamoto running to get the ball, it goes off the base of the fence! Hinoguchi rounding 2nd, takes too big of a round! The throw comes into 2nd, but I think the 1B Araki doesn't realize it's a tag out and Hinoguchi dives back safely! Sayonara run in scoring position!
Kanemaru with a grounder to AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The grounder to 2nd goes under Hyougo's legs and unto the outfield! Hinoguchi rounds 3rd and dives in for the sayonara run!!
It's a scene of exhilaration for Ube Kougyou, but you have to feel bad for Toyama Kougyou. It was a hard fought game for 8-and-a-half innings, and for it to end on two mental errors is just too bad. Not to make light of the other losses, but this one really felt like a truly hearbreaking loss.
You can understand if I feel really bad for Tomikou. We saw the best of two teams here in this game, and it's sad to see one team leave now like Toyama Kougyou is. Hopefully we'll see them at Koushien next year.
As for Ube Kougyou, they really do have a good sense at the plate and rarely cheat themselves out of any AB. Combine that with level swings and you have a really solid team representing Yamaguchi. Good job to the boys from Ube.
Hinokuchi Yoshio (Ube Koujyou) - 3-5, 2B, 2R, RBI
Kanemaru Susumu (Ube Koujyou) -2-5, 2B, 2 RBI
Araki Eiji (Toyama Kougyou) - 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 K
Moritake Yuuya (Toyama Kougyou) - 3-5, R