Day 5 is a small respite as 3 games are on the docket. This will be the 2nd of 3 days where there are 3 game (Day 9 is the last one).
We have had great games for the most part in Round 1. Hopefully the trend will continue today.
Waking up this morning will be a team looking for just a little more this year in Ryuukokudai Heian versus a team looking to get their prefecture some respectability in Asahikawa Kougyou.
Ryuukokudai Heian in their last two Natsu Koushien appearances have exited in their first game (2009 vs. Chuukyoudai Chuukyou and 2011 vs. fan favorite Shin-Minato).
This year, they were not challenged at all, not in the semifinals against Fukuchiyama Seibi and in the finals against surprise Kyoto Ryouyou (though they did give Heian their biggest "roadblock").
The problem was the problem they had last year. Their offense.
According to the data, they batted a cool 0.344. That's nice. But in their last 3 games, they batted 0.157.
0.157!! That's worst than Brendan Ryan at his worst this year (sorry Brendan). How they scored 19 runs batting that is beyond me (Actually, it's not. They worked 19 walks for an OBP of 0.314).
But depending on walks for a win isn't a great formula.
What that means then is that the team will be dependent on the pitching. Ace Tamura will need to shoulder the responsibility. Luckily, he seems to get a fair share of his K's so it might be possible.
But you're basically asking a Seattle Mariners style offense to win 6 games in a row.
Opposing Ryuukokudai Heian will be Asahikawa Kougyou.
It was in interesting year in Kita Hokkaido. A lot of the favorites fell by the wayside, and I thought it would be little Engaru's year to make it. But one favorite team remained and denied Engaru the title. That was Asahikawa Kougyou.
Their team basically had 2 sides, either complete blowouts or holding on for dear life. Of course, that kind of inconsistency can be a very bad thing when asked to win multiple games in a row.
The good news is that even in the closely contested games, they were all low scoring, so that means at least the pitching was consistent.
That task will fall to ace Kanno. He pitched just about all of the inning for Asahikawa Kougyou, giving up just 5 runs over approximately 6 games. However, he is not a strikeout pitcher, so his defense must hold the day.
Offensively, the team bats a cool 0.385, and 0.378 in their final 3 games. So at least the offense appears consistent , though they didn't face any of the normal prefectural powerhouses.
So combine the terrible offense from Ryuukokudai Heian and the relative weakness of the Kita Hokkaido region this year, this too should be a low scoring affair. One which I think both sides have a shot to win.
Asahikawa Kougyou (Kita Hokkaido)
Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)
8:01 - First Pitch!
Tamura gets off on the right foot with a quick inning against Asahikawa Kougyou. A lineout and 2 easy flyouts put his team on the bats.
Izawa with a ball to center. Honda running back, still running back!
Izawa with a leadoff homerun for Heian to right center gives them the quick 1-0 lead! That was unexpected!
And now Kanno walks Umeda. Not a very good start for Asahikawa here..
But they get a break as Kanno has Umeda picked off first! He chased to 2nd where he's tagged for out number 1!
Kanno gives the runner right back as he hits Kubota though, and he's causing his own problems.
Takahashi now with a single through to right puts runners at 1st and 2nd.
Arita up, and he's caught looking! Iketa fires to 3rd as the runners were taking off, and they get Kubota for the 3rd out! Strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play limits the damage to just 1 run!
Still nothing from the Asahikawa batters. Iketa and Yanagawa both ground out, and Kanno gives the ball a good ride, but Izawa runs it down in right center for the 3rd out.
Kanno's control problems persist as he walks Shimada to start the inning. Kimura moves him along to 2nd.
Hiraki with a grounder through to the right side! Shimada being sent home and the throw is cut off! It's 2-0 Heian!
Harada-kantoku will go for another one-timer as he has Tamura sacrifice again.
But no booming HR from Izawa. Instead, he harmlessly fouls out to Kurisu to end the inning.
Kurisu finally gets Asahikawa Kougyou their first baserunner, earning a walk to lead off the 3rd.
Kanke with a first pitch drive to right center!! Takahashi chasing it to the wall can't get there in time as it lands in front of the wall! Kurisu scores on the RBI triple and Asahikawa gets back a run at 2-1!
Matsuhashi trying to get the douten runner home, but goes down swinging on 3 straight for the 1st out.
Back to the top of the order and Kishimoto.
He hits a chopper back up the middle! That's through into center and Asahikawa Kougyou has tied the game up at 2-2!!
Satou-kantoku tries to send Kishimoto to 2nd, but he's thrown out easily by Hiraki for the 2nd out.
Honda then strikes out to end the inning, but Asahikawa Kougyou strikes back here in the 3rd to level the field!
So apparently, Kanno is the first pitcher I've heard to carry not a slider or curve, but a screwball and a knuckleball??!! I don't think I've seen the knuckle yet. His fastball, by the way, sits in the top 120s.
Heian's working on the pitch count, trying to get their walks when the can. Umeda goes 2-2, but grounds out to short. Kubota goes 3-1, but flies out to center. Takahashi runs the count full, but is frozen on a fastball on the outside corner!
Kanno has his first 1-2-3 inning!
Asahikawa can't capitalize on the momentum as Suzuki grounds out to Kubota, Iketa flies out to left, and Yanagawa first pitch pops out to Kimura to end the inning
Kanno has settled down after the first 2 innings. Arita can't check his swing on an outside fastball and goes down on 3 pitches. Shimada and Kimura both hit routine grounders for another 1-2-3 inning.
So from what I can gather, Tamura has a fastball in the mid-upper 130's and some sort of off-speed, doesn't look like a slider in the mid 120s.
One down for Asahikawa and Kurisu almost takes Tamura's head off with a liner back up the middle!
Kanke up for Asahikawa, who earlier hit the triple.
Balk! Tamura is called for a balk and Kurisu goes to 2nd!
Kanke with a short liner to left! Arita running in, slides, but the 3rd base umpire calls no catch! Kursu advances to 3rd on the hit. Looks like it was a trapped ball there.
Last batter Matsuhashi up with just one down.
Matsuhashi lays down the perfect squeeze up the 1st base line and Kubota's only play is to 1st! Kurisu scores and Asahikawa takes the 3-2 lead!!
AH! Wild pitch from Tamura sends Kanke to 3rd! Harada-kantoku calls for time.
Doesn't help!! Kishimoto with another single to center scores Kanke and he has his 2nd RBI hit of the game! Asahikawa Kougyou leads 4-2!!
Honda grounds out to short to end the inning, but Asahikawa Kougyou squad has a lot of fight in them!
Hiraki goes down swinging on what might be a knuckle, but I can't tell.
Tamura hits a ball to 3rd, but Matsuhashi makes a great pick and throw for the 2nd out.
Izawa decides that if you want to get the ball past Matsuhashi, just hit it harder. Matsuhashi can't field it and it deflects back towards center for a single.
But Kanno has him picked off 1st! Kurisu runs him down, but his throw to 2nd is high and Izawa slides in safely! Big mistake by the defense!
And it costs them! Umeda with a liner past the stab of Kanno into center! Honda comes up throwing, but Izawa scores to make it a 4-3 ballgame!
Kanno alertly cuts off the throw and fires to 2nd where they get Umeda trying to advance on the throw. 3 outs, but as we head to the break Ryuukokudai Heian pulls within 1!
Suzuki is hit by Tamura to start the inning. Iketa bunts him over for 1st year Yanagawa.
But he gets fooled and golfs one up. Hiraki in foul territory make the catch for the 2nd out.
Kanno is jammed by Tamura and fouls out to Shimada to end the inning. Nothing after the break, so Kanno will need to continue shutting the Heian offense down.
Kubota with a drive to right center. But Honda isn't running to the ball! Kanke sprints over, but it falls in as Kubota rounds 2nd and easily has a triple! What happened there?
Don't know what it is, but Satou-kantoku has immediate pulled Honda and put in #17 Satou.
Too late!! Takahashi hits one past Matsuhashi into left and Heian has scores the douten run! We're at 4-4!!
Harada-kantoku going for the lead has Arita bunt Takahashi to 2nd. But Kanno quickly fields it and goes to 2nd... and gets the force!
So Harada goes for the hit-and-run with Shimada, and he does advance the runner, though he grounds out to Kurisu.
Kimura flies out to right, but whatever happened in center on the first batter leads to a run and it's a 3-inning ballgame!
Why is Kanke at the bottom of the order! He swings on the first pitch and lines it to right for his third base hit of the day! One down and the go-ahead runner is on.
Satou has Kanke take off on a hit-and-run! Matsuhashi misses, and rightly so as Kanke takes the base! And now Matsuhashi walks to put runners on 1st and 2nd for leadoff batter Kishimoto, who's gotten 2 base hits inhis last 2 ABs.
He gets his 3rd! Another hot shot to the right side! Kanke has to hold up, but it's manrui for Kyokko! (Kyokko is what they have on their unis, I don't know how they came up with that).
And Harada-kantoku makes a pitching change! #10 Takemoto comes in for Tamura. What a pinch to come in for!
And Satou-kantoku makes a corresponding move! He pinch-hits #17 Satou - a lefty, with #12 Takahashi - a righty! He's playing the platoon situation!
But Takahashi goes down 1-2. Was this the right call?? Takemoto bounces one 45 feet and Hiraki makes a great block!
Curve low fills up the count! Decision time here... what will happen??
The ball is way down and in and he walks Takahashi! Kanke scores to make it 5-4 Asahikawa!
And that's it for Takemoto. Harada-kantoku sends out #11 Sugimoto to relieve him. Sugimoto supposedly carries a forkball.
Suzuki up now with the bases loaded with just 1 own. But he has no hits on the day.
He hits a liner to left! Everyone moves up a base and Matsuhashi scores to make it 6-4!!
Iketa with a hard ball to 1st! Kubota quickly with it, fires home for the force, but they can't double up Iketa!
Yanagawa first pitch singles to right!! Takahashi scores, Suzuki being waved around! Throw from Takahashi on line, Hiraki with the tag... SAFE!!! Suzuki just gets in there and 1st year Yanagawa comes through in a big way with a 2-RBI single to make it 8-4!!
Kanno can't check his swing and goes down for the 3rd out, but Asahikawa Kougyou sends 9 men to the plate and double their run total!
Takahashi Ryou stays in the game and goes to left, pushing Yanagawa to center.
Hiraki with a grounder to 3rd, but it takes a bounce off of Matsuhashi and into left! E5 and the leadoff runner is on for Heian!
Wild pitch from Kanno sends Hiraki to 2nd!
Kanno though gets his first hit when Sugimoto can't get high enough on a fastball and flies out to center. Back to the top of the order and Izawa.
Izawa rips on another fastball!! Takahashi Ryou runs back to the wall, but it's more like a jog! That ball has to be over 20 rows up in left field!
That's Izawa's 2nd HR of the game and cuts the deficit in half! We're at 8-6!!
And now Satou makes his own pitching change. #10 Oota comes in for Takahashi and takes over on the hill. Kanno moves to left.
Whoa. Oota is a sumbariner.
And Umeda can't stay level on a rising fastball and grounds out to 2nd.
Kubota though hits a ball to left for a 2-out single.
Takahashi Taiki with a grounder to the left side. Kishimoto makes a great diving stop in the gap! Throw to 1st... not in time! Taiki just beats out the throw and the inning continues!!
Arita with a blast to right! Kanke going back, going back!!
Makes the catch in front of the wall!! 3 outs!!
With all the HR's hit to right his Koushien, Arita just falls short!
The inning is over and Oota limits the damage, but it's an 8-6 game and both teams with not so strong bullpens in play - this will be a very interesting last 2 innings.
Sugimoto is about to retire Kurisu, who now has been retired for the 2nd time after he reached safely twice. That brings up Kanke who is 3-3 on the day.
And after a long AB, Sugimoto is able to retire Kanke as he grounds out to 2nd!
Matsuhashi hits a comebacker to Sugimoto who easily makes the play at 1st for a 1-2-3 inning! Can Heian now come back via the bats?
With both bullpens in play I wonder if the best way to attack it would be to be patient. If neither sides used their bullpens much in the prefecturals, there has to be a reason why.
Shimada swings on an inside pitch and bloops one over the infield into left! Now the douten run will be at bat.
Hit-and-run! Kimura dropping the bat almost to the ground, hits a ball to the right side! The defense wasn't expecting the contact and it trickles past a diving Suzuki into right! Shimada advances to 3rd on the play! Runners at the corners with no down as Satou-kantoku calls time.
Now two sac fly's can potentially tie the game!
On a 1-2 pitch, Harada-kantoku calls for the squeeze! Hiraki lays it down! Oota charging in makes the glove toss home! Tag by Iketa... OUT!!!
Iketa, blocking the line with his foot forces Shimada to go around, but his swipe of home misses and he's out! So runners at the corners with one down!
Hiraki then takes off for 2nd! Throw from Ikuta to 2nd and Hiraki stops! He turns around back to 1st with Kishimoto in chase! He makes the tag and it doesn't appear to have been a decoy! 2 down!!
And Sugimoto hits a fly to center! Yanagawa under it for the 3rd out! A disasterous turn of events turns a no-out, runners on 2nd and 3rd situation into no runs!!
Two quick outs for Sugimoto before he plunks Suzuki in the butt. He then walks Iketa on 4 straight to bring up Yanagawa.
But he doesn't get a chance to bat! Suzuki is picked off at 2nd to end the inning!
Hang on time for Asahikawa Kougyou!
The good news is that with Izawa up to start the inning, he can't tie the game, and so you can go after him.
And he pops it up! Suzuki under in and makes the catch for the 1st out!
Umeda works the count full, but grounds to short! Kishimoto takes his time and makes the out at 1st! 2 down with captain Kubota coming to bat!
And he keeps the game going as he draws the walk. He passes the torch to cleanup batter Takahashi.
And he delivers! A sharp base hit through to right puts the douten runner on for Arita! He had that big fly last time up!
Now a ball gets away from Iketa and the runners advance on the passed ball! Now a base hit can tie it!
Arita with a grounder to the right side! Suzuki dives but can't get it ! Kubota scores! Takahashi rounds 3rd and Kange boots the bal! Takahashi scores the douten run! Heian has come back from 4 down in 3 innings to tie the game!! It's 8-8!!!
Now going for the sayonara run Harada-kantoku puts in #18 Murakami in for Arita.
First pitch he takes off and there's no throw!!
Satou-kantoku, realizing that Murakami can steal a base on the submariner, sends in #11 Kurokawa Ryuugo to replace Oota.
Shimada with a grounder to the left side. Kishimoto makes a great stop in the gap! Throw to 1st.... IN TIME!!!
Ryuugo gets out of the pinch, but not before Heian ties up the game sending the game to enchousen!!
Murakami stays in the game in left. Yanagawa leads off the inning, but goes down swinging in a bad way for the 1st out. Kanno hits another fly ball, but it's another out to Murakami this time.
Kurisu takes one for the team and is hit. Kanke is hit too, but made to attempt to move out and is called a ball. He grounds out to 1st as Kubota tosses to Sugimoto for the retirement.
The longer this game goes, I think the advantage goes to Heian. A bad bullpen, hot weather and fatigue will probably take their toll faster on the boys up north.
And Ryuugo walks Kimura to start the inning. Hiraki bunts him over. That brings up Sugimoto as Iketa goes out to talk with Ryuugo and Satou-kantoku makes it a a full conference. And then he takes out Yanagawa, puts in #18 Hirama in right and moves Kanke to center.
Sugimoto with a grounder to 3rd! Matsuhashi checks the runner and goes to 1st for the 2nd out.
That brings up Izawa, and with a base open I expect them to walk him.
NO, THEY'RE PITCHING TO HIM. WHY????????? YOU HAVE A BASE OPEN AND...
Izawa almost ends the game with a liner just foul down the left field line!!
Now a passed ball sends the runner to 3rd!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! Ryuugo throws a pitch 55 feet and way away and Ikuta makes a game saving block!
Pitch inside, ball 3. Full count...
Izawa swings and miss on a slider away and Asahkiawa Kougyou someway, somehow gets out of the inning!
I think I just gained a couple of white hairs...
One down and Kishimoto gets his 4th hit of the game, a single past Shimada to left. Satou-kantoku will go for the one-timer as Ryuugo bunts him along.
Suzuki with a hard hit ball to Kubota, but he fields the ball and goes to the bag to retire the side!
Umeda with a drive to left! Kanno going back, going back, turns around and chases the ball at the wall! Umeda is in with a leadoff double!
Harada-kantoku calling for the bunt from Umeda and but Ryuugo gives him very little to hit and walks him. No matter, creates a force and his run doesn't matter anyways.
Problem is if you let him bunt, you could have walked Takahashi, who's 4-5 on the day.
Takahashi with a fly to left! Kanno again going back, going back.. makes the (awkward) catch!!! One down!
Murakami up. Bunts! Ryuugo with the ball, but looks to 3rd! Throw to 1st... LATE! Ryuugo needed to go to 1st immediately for the out! Manrui for Heian with Shimada at the plate!
Ryuugo with a first pitch strike. Next pitch fouled off for strike 2! He's ahead! But now there's a nibble for ball 1.
Shimada with the hit to right! Hirama running back, but even if it's caught it's good enough! It falls in and Umeda scores the sayonara run to win 9-8!!
So Ryuukokudai Heian does outlast Asahikawa Kougyou in extras and advances in a surprisingly high-scoring game.
Up by 4 runs with just 3 innings to go, then up by 2 with just 1 out to go, Asahikawa couldn't close the deal. And it's too bad because the team had done all it could to win the ballgame. But perhaps the moment got to them, perhaos Heian rose to the occassion. Either way, once the game went into extras, it was a race against time for Asahikawa as the advantage would swing over to Heian.
But a round of applause for Asahikawa Kougyou. They fought Ryuukokudai Heian tooth and nail the entire game, but in the end it was just not enough.
For Heian, it was a well-earned win and a display of offense that is certainly a sight for sore eyes. But it won't get any easier for them going forward.
Izawa Ryouichirou (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 3-6, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, K
Kubota Masaya (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2-3, 3B, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP
Murakami Taku (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 1-1, SB
Kishimoto Taishi (Asahikawa Kougyou) - 4-6, 2 RBI
Kanke Yuuta (Asahikawa Kougyou) - 3-5, 3B, 3 R, RBI