Our middle game today features another newcomer to Koushien facing a team whose last appearance almost saw them reach the finals.
Seiritsu Gakuen has been an above average team in Tokyo for a while now, but they had just not been able to get over the hump and win their 1st ever summer title and a ticket to Koushien.
That changed this year, when they defeated senbatsu semifinalist Kanto Dai-ichi early on, and survived a a couple more scares before defeating Kokushikan 4-3 for their first ever trip.
Now, numbers-wise this may be one of the weakest representatives to come out of Higashi Tokyo. The team collectively batted 0.268 for the prefecturals (0.265 over their last 3 games), 4 of their 6 games were decided by 1 run, and another decided by 2. Tanioka, while giving up few runs, doesn't look overpowering either, so there will be a lot of pressure on him and the defense to hold serve.
So it's quite possible that with Nichidai-san already eliminated Seiritsu's chances may not look so good either.
Toukaidai Koufu was last at Koushien back in 2004. Then they beat familiar teams like Tenri and Seikou Gakuin before losing to Komadai Tomakomai in the semifinals.
This iteration of the team didn't have to face the team that had won 2 of the last 3 years in Yamanashi Gakuindai Fuzoku. Still they did face Koufu Kougyou and Koufu Shougyou. Still, they batted an impressive 0.406 (and 0.359 in their last 3 games). The heart of the order is where the bulk of the offense lies, so look there for the run production.
On the mound, Muranaka-kantoku has gone to his primary reliever #10 Honda in some important games, so don't be surprised if we see him relieving or even starting a game in place of ace Kanbara. The only issue is that as the prefecturals progressed, the pitching staff yielded more and more runs. So the question will be against tougher competition, how will they fare?
I think the matchup presented looks to be a push as the prefectural strength of Tokyo is somewhat mitigated by the weakness presented by Seiritsu. Should be a close game.
Seiritsu Gakuen (Higashi Tokyo)
CF Kitahara (#7)
LF Saitou Misaki (#17)
Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)
CF Saitou Keisuke
RF Saitou Hirouki
11:37 - First Pitch!
First pitch to Kitahara he pops out to 2nd. Kenmoku up and he hits a routine grounder to 3rd. And Kanbara finishes off the 1st with Iwanari chasing a fastball high and outside.
Tanioka matching him step for step. Watanabe with a weak comebacker to Tanioka. Keisuke hits a hard liner but right at Suzumura.
But Yamamoto breaks it up. He hits a ball back up the middle. Kenmoku runs it down but his throw back across is off line. Nice try from the captain.
Ishii with a drive to center! Kitahara running back, running back, running back!!!
Makes the catch against the padding!! Ishii gives it a drive but just falls short for the 3rd out!
Shinozaki steps in to face Kanbara, who can reach 140, and throws a slider and changeup.
Shinozaki makes good contact, but flies out to left. Then Kimura and Suzuhara swing on back-to-back pitches and are retired for a quick 5 pitch inning!
Akiya up and the announcers state that it's his birthday. Well, お誕生日おめでとう！ ... as you ground out to short.
The game is going at a rapid pace I can't talk about Tanioka right now. Aihara grounds out to short as well, and Hiroki grounds out to 3rd, though the throw from Suzumura is a bit short and Shinozaki makes a mich pick.
Saitou grounds out to short. Tanioka works the count a little, but pops out to Shinkai on the RF line. And Koyanagi grounds out to 2nd. Another quick 1-2-3 inning for Kanbara.
Ok, so about Tanioka. He throws in the high 130s-low 140s with a slider, fork, and changeup.
Things going at ludicrous speed as Kanbara grounds to 3rd, Shinkai fists a slow roller to Shinozaki who stands on the bag for the 2nd out, and Watanabe also grounds to 3rd on his first pitch, and that's a 5 pitch inning.
3 innings in 22 minutes. This is fast.
Kitahara becomes Kanbara's 2nd K victim chasing a slider way out of the zone.
Kenmoku almost laying the bat on the ball, and hits a grounder to short.
And it's 1st year Iwanari who gets the first base hit, a solid ball past Aihara into left.
But that doesn't last long as Shinozaki swings on the first pitch and pops out to Watanabe.
The graphic has Tanioka at 25 pitches through 3. Yeah, this is fast.
Keisuke breaking the trend of fast ABs fouling off several and getting a full count! 9 pitch AB results in a chopper right at Shinozaki for out number 1. That almost increases his pitch total by 33%!
Yamamoto gets his 2nd (and his team's 2nd) hit with a blooper into left.
Ishii with a grounder past a chasing Kenmoku into center. Runner at 1st and 2nd for the birthday boy.
Akiya flies out to right, but it's enough to send Yamamoto to 3rd.
Aihara with a drive to right center! Kimura, playing in turns around and gives chase as it falls in and goes to the wall! Aihara with a 2-run triple and Toukaidai Koufu takes the 2-0 lead!
Hiroki with a soft liner to Suzumura to end the inning but Toukaidai Koufu strikes first!
Kanbara is listed at a mere 38 pitches through 4.
Kimura with a grounder to the left side. Shinkai with the ball, glove tosses to Watanabe!! He fires to 1st... and just misses out on Kimura!!
WOW!! It's like they practiced that play how well they executed that!
Suzumura bunts him to 2nd, and Saitou's grounder to Shinkai moves him to 3rd.
But Tanioka's hard hit ball to the right side is gathered by Shinkai and he goes to 1st for the 3rd out.
Kanbara first pitch flies out to right. Shinkai is frozen on a forkball for the 2nd out.
Watanabe gets his first hit on a ball just past a diving Kenmoku into center.
And now he takes off on the first pitch and Koyanagi's throw is offline and into center! Watananbe goes to 3rd! Base hit can score another run.
But Keisuke grounds out to 1st to end the inning. We're at the break in 41 minutes with Toukaidai Koufu holding a 2-0 lead!
Koyanagi with a slow roller to the right side, but he runs slowly himself and is thrown out.
Kitahara goes down swinging on 3 straight for the 3nd out, and Kenmoku chops one to Kanbara for the 3rd out.
They're approaching plaid.
In a rare full count, Yamamoto grounds out short.
Ishii with a full swing bunt sees it go up the 3rd base line. Tanioka charges to the ball, falls on his seat, but wouldn't have had a play anyways.
Hit-and-run! Akiya with a short liner that just falls in front of Kimura!
Now it's Aihara with a chopper up the middle and into center! Ishii rounding 3rd is sent home! Throw from Kitahara is cutoff and it's 3-0 Toukaidai Kofu!
Hiroki in with Toukai's 4th consecutive hit! Akiya has to hold at 3rd and it's manrui for Toukai! The hits are coming in bunches!!
But Kanbara hits one to Suzumura! He goes home for one, Koyanagi to 1st... double play! They turn the 5-2-3 double play to end the inning!
Lucky 7 starts well for Seiritsu as Iwanari singles to left. Sugasawa-kantoku elects for the bunt to try and score 1 here.
Kimura with a blooper to left. Watanabe and Yamamoto chase after it, but it falls in! Iwanari, stuck trying to figure out if it was going to be caught has to return to 2nd. No fault there, was just in between.
But still a chance for... never mind.
Suzumura first pitch grounds into the 4-6-3 double play.
Tanioka doing his best to keep the deficit at 3 as he gets Shinkai to ground to short. Watanabe booms one to left, but Saitou runs it down, and Shinozaki makes a great stop on a grounder from Keisuke for a 1-2-3 inning.
Kanbara only at 65 pitches through 7 innings. Y'know someone should tell Seiritsu that just beacuse the first game went long doesn't mean you have less time for your game.
I type that as Saitou first pitch flies to left.
Tanioka the only one who is taking pitching, working the count full before popping out to Shinkai.
Koyanagi chases a fastball up and goes down to end the inning.
Defensive changes for Seiritsu. #8 Kyouda comes in for Saitou and goes to center. Kitahara goes to his numbered position of LF.
One down and Ishii gets his 3rd hit of the game, driving a ball deep to center that one bounds to the wall for a double.
Akiya with a short liner to right. Kumura coming in, sliding and can't make the catch! Ishii has to hold off on the double by Akiya.
Aihara with a hard grounder to 1st, and Shinozaki blocks it front of him. He checks the runner and tosses back to Kenmoku covering 1st.
Hiroki grounds to 3rd, and the side is retired.
Last chance for Seiritsu here.
#13 Miyoshi with a ball back up the middle, but Watanabe makes a great running grab, throws to 1st and makes the out!! That infield up the middle is strong.
Kenmoku grounds out to 2nd, and tosses in a dive for good measure.
Iwanari finishes it off as he grounds to 2nd, and tosses in a dive.
76 minutes for a game. Is that a record?
If the goal for Seiritsu was to attack pitches early to save strength, sure they did it. But they're also going home. I didn't get a chance to see them during the prefecturals much so I can't say. But I wonder if any of the players even broke a sweat, or if any of the pitches threw anywhere close to 90 pitches.
Uh... I don't know what to say. Um... Good job Toukaidai Koufu? Um... thanks for playing Seiritsu Gakuen?
I mean, I'm speechless. And not really in a good game.
And no it wasn't a record for a game. That was 72 minutes between Kokura Shougyou(?) and Gifu Shougyou.
Kanbara Yuu (Toukaidai Koufu) - CG, SHO, 4 H, 4 K, 0 BB
Aihara Kousuke (Toukaidai Koufu) - 2-4, 3B, 3 RBI
Ishiii Shinjirou (Toukaidai Koufu) - 3-4, 2B, 2 R
Iwanari Ryousuke (Seiritsu Gakuen) - 2-4
Kimura Yoshinori (Seiritsu Gakuen) - 2-4