So our first game of the day are between two regulars at Koushien now. - Chiben Wakayama and Kamimura Gakuen.
Chiben Wakayama's story is more of the usual... kind of.
You see, they've now represented Wakayama now for the 8th straight year, and since 2000 have only missed Koushien in 2001 and 2004. That's domination that almost rivals that of Tenri and Chiben Gakuen in Nara.
But if you look at their Koushien results since 2000, it's actually gone downhill. In 2000 & 2002 they reached the finals. From 2003 to 2008, they for the most part reached the Best 8 and Best 4. But since 2009, they have not been able to progress reach the Best 8.
Is that because of better competition from other prefectures? Is it perhaps the loss of managing skills by Takashima-kantoku? Is it the loss of talent to other schools or perhaps other prefectures?
It's hard to say really. But what is obvious is that their foothold in the prefecture is slipping.
In 3 of their 5 games, they were at risk of losing. 1st round against Tanabe, they did 1-hit them, but only won 2-0. In their next game they trailed Minabe 4-3, but rallied for 2 to win the game. And in the final against Naga, they had to go 14 innings to win the title by the score of 4-2.
The team batted just 0.263 in their 5 games (0.250 in the last 2). That really isn't that good at all.
The good news is that the pitching staff does average a K/IP. Though again, given it's still against a Wakayama field that is still catching up, it's may not be surprising. Takashima-kantoku relies on a pitching staff to carry the team. Not just ace Oojino, #10 Doi, #11 Yoshikawa and to a lesser extent #13 Hara.
Opposing Chiben Wakayama is Kamimura Gakuen. They appeared in recent years as evidenced by the fact that all 3 Natsu appearances have happened since 2007 - and all combined appearances have happened since 2005.
They were challenged twice during their run, a 2-0 won over Ei, and a 6-3 win over Kagoshima Kougyou in the quarterfinals. Offensively, they batted 0.368 in the prefecturals (0.382 in their last 3 games).
On the mound, Yamamoto-kantoku uses a tandem of ace Kakizawa and reliever (and LF) Hirayabu. However Hirayabu is only good for about 2 innings per game, so it's not a true timeshare. Neither are really strikeout pitchers, so the defense will need to be above par.
Chiben Wakayama's domination shouldn't be underestimated. However, it's possible that the dominance may be coming to an end, and sooner rather than later. Will Kamimura Gakuen send them home? Hard to say. Chiben's pitching staff may limit Kamimura Gakuen's offense, but their own offense may prevent them from scoring themselves. It may be a close game.
Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima)
LF Matsuki (#17)
Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama)
P Yoshikawa (#11)
8:00 - First Pitch!
One down and Tanaka singles past a diving Tanaka into center. Koga grounds to 3rd, but avoids the double play. Kakizawa though looks at a fastball for strike 3 to end the inning.
Numakura with a hard it to center. Niiro ranging to his left, makes a spectacular diving catch!
Sakamoto though continues the hard hitting with a solid base hit up the middle.
Ookura with a hard grounder to 1st, and it's off Nikou and defects towards 2nd! Nagao retrieves it, but the glove toss is too late!
Trouble for Kamimura early!
Shima though grounds to 1st. Nikou tries for the 3-6-3 double play, but they can't turn the back end.
Now things get as bad as it can get as Yoshikawa works a walk to load the bases!
But Takagaki chases a slider away for strike 3 and the inning is over!
Matsuki becomes Yoshikawa's 3rd K victim as he goes down swinging.
Kamimura's batters are really working the count on Yoshikawa. Nagao goes full against him, and hits a line to left! Takagaki running back, but it's over his head! He runs it down as it goes to the wall, but Nagao's in with a triple!
Nakazono too works the count a little to 2-1, but pops out to Noyama for the 2nd out.
That leaves it to catcher Nakano.
He goes ahead 3-0, but Yoshikawa fills up the count. Chopper to 3rd, Ookura goes to tag Nagao, but he misses and the umpire calls safe! Nagao isn't called for going too wide off the baseline!
Wow. Will that cost them?
#9 batter Nikou drives a hanging change to left! Takagaki back, going back...
It's off the wall! Nagao scores, Nakano from 1st being waved around 3rd and he scores! 2 out, 2-RBI double for Nikou gives Kamimura Gakuen the 2-0 lead!
Back to the top of the order and Niiro, he tries to sell a HBP, but the home plate umpire isn't buying it as he didn't move.
However, Yoshikawa walks him on 4 straight and now there's runners at 1st and 2nd for Tanaka who hit a sharp single in the 1st.
Tanaka though lines out to right, and the inning is over. But a bad decision for what would have been the 3rd out costs Chiben Wakayama a pair of runs!
Amano slices one past a diving Tanaka into center for a leadoff single. Noyama swinging away grounds to short but Tanaka has no one at 2nd, so he makes the play at first.
After a flyout, Kakizawa throws a wild pitch allowing Amano to advance to 3rd.
But Numakura hits an easy grounder to 1st and the side is retired.
So for the info on Yoshikawa. He a southpaw throws in the upper 130s and has a slider (high 120s), curve (110s) and forkball (low 120s).
After a quick out by Koga, Kakizawa works the count full, but strikes out again, this time swinging on a slider in the dirt.
Matsuki goes down on a slider to strike out for his 2nd time and Yoshikawa seems to have settled down.
Kakizawa for throwing mid 140's doesn't generate a lot of Ks. He uses his variety of offspeed pitches (cutter, slider, curve, sinker and change) to get his outs. If you're watching, don't even ask me to try and figure out which pitch is which.
After a routine grounder to Nagao, Ookura hits one back up the middle on the 2nd base side. Nagao makes a great sliding stop, pop and throw to retire Ookura.
Shima goes down swinging on a sinker down and away for Kakizawa's 2nd out and first 1-2-3 inning.
Nagao becomes Yoshizawa's 6th K swinging on a slider down and away.
Nakano with the team's 4th hit a solid single past Shima to center.
With 1 down, the graphic comes up on bunting for Kamimura Gakuen.
Seriously, no sac bunts. A #5 batter once attempted one but apparently missed. Or maybe feinted one and got called at offering.
And so Nakazono on a hit-and-run flies out to right. 2 down.
Nikou with his 2nd base hit! He gets around on an inside pitch and singles to left! Runners on 1st and 2nd!
AH! Now Niiro is hit by Yoshizawa! Manrui for Kamimura and Tanaka!
Yoshikawa gets ahead 0-2 though, and looks to get out of the pinch. But he steps off twice, odd.
0-2 pitch is your traditional waste pitch, not even close. Next one is buried away.
Tanaka reaches down and hits one to the right side! That's past Noyama into right! Nakano scores! Amano up with the throw as they send Nikou... and he's thrown out with relative ease. Not sure why you'd press there especially on a short ball like that one, but Kamimura Gakuen does extend their lead to 3-0.
Yoshizawa gets on for the 2nd time without the benefit of a hit. He's hit in the foot.
Takagaki with the grounder up the middle, Nagao there for the AH!!!!!!!!
The ball takes a bad hop and gets past Nagao to center! Yoshizawa advances to 3rd! Nagao probably would've had it anyways if he hadn't been setting himself up for the double play!
Yamamoto-kantoku calls for time.
Amano with a drive to left! Matsuki turns out and runs back! Still running! It's over his head and to the wall! Yoshikawa scores! Takagaki from 1st is waved around! Throw home... not in time! The HBP and error cost then a pair of runs, Amano narrows the deficit to 3-2!
Noyama not bunting with one down, grounds out to short and is unable to advance the runner. Kawasaki does with his grounder to 2nd, but there's now 2 outs.
Numakura hits a hard liner, but right at Niiro for the 3rd out. Still Chiben Wakayama has pulled to within 1.
Koga with a single to left-center. Wait! He's running through to 2nd! Numakura fires the ball in and he's SAFE!!
The throw looks like it beat him, but either he slid around the tag or it wasn't made fast enough!
Kakizawa moves the runner along with a grounder to 2nd.
And playing a lefty/righty matchup or just replacing Matuski, Yamamoto-kantoku sends in #7 Hirayabu to hit. But he hits it straight to Sakamoto who checks the run before going to 1st. 2 down now for Nagao.
He draws a walk, and so there's runners at the corners with Nakazono up next. But flies out to 2nd and the threat is gone.
Hirayabu stays in and goes to LF.
Quick out for Kakizawa as Sakamoto flies out to left.
Ookura with a dive to left! Hirayabu running back towards the foul pole... makes the running catch at the fence for the 2nd out! Nice play!
Shima flies out to right and we hit the break with Kamimura Gakuen leading Chiben Wakayama 3-2! Yoshizawa has settled down after the 2nd inning and has 6 K's. Kakizawa has pitched very well, but an error leads to a pair of unearned runs.
Nakano swings at a fastball letter high and way away for Yoshikawa's 7th K.
Two down, and Yoshikawa issues his 2nd walk to Niiro.
Yamamoto-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run, but Tanaka hits a ball back up the middle where Shima is waiting and tags 2nd for the out.
Hirayabu now goes to the mound as Kakizawa goes to left.
And he does a great job in his first inning of relief, inducing 3 groundouts for a 1-2-3 inning.
One down, and Kakizawa slices a ball past a diving Shima into left.
Hirayabu up and they do the hit-and-run!
But Hirayabu swings and misses for the K! Kawasaki throws to 2nd and they get Kakizawa for the strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play!
Noyama hits a grounder to short, Tanaka makes a great backhand on the ball, and he makes a strong throw to 1st for the out!
Kawasaki with a base hit to center and Chiben has their first runner since the 4th. Back to the top of the order and Numakura.
Grounder to short! Tanaka starts the 6-4-3 double play and they're out of the inning.
#12 Nakatani is in the game now for Takagaki in left.
Well, Yoshizawa is keeping his team in the game, not letting a ball leave the infield in a 1-2-3 inning.
#14 Nakanishi to hit for Sakamoto and he pops out to Nagao.
Ookura draws a walk and the douten run is in scoring position.
But Shima hits a grounder to short! Tanaka starts the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and Chiben Wakayama has just 1 inning left!
Crap, there's defensive changes all over the place and the broadcast did a non-existent job of saying any of them.
Ok, got it:
- PH Nakanishi stays in and plays 2B.
- #15 Ikezoe comes in for Numakura and goes to RF.
- Amano goes from RF to CF.
- #1 Oojino comes in for Yoshikawa and takes the hill.
Anyways, Nikou draws a 4-pitch walk, and for the first time Kamimura Gakuen does a bunt for the first time and succeeds!
Uh oh, now Oojino hits Tanaka. He's creating his own pinch.
Wild pitch from Oojino! Nikou goes to 3rd! And on the next pitch Tanaka steals 2nd wih no throw!
Now a base hit can put the game almost out of reach!
Koga with a chopper in front of the plate! Oojino with the ball, throws to 1st, and hits Koga! Everyone's safe!!
No, wait. Koga is called out for not getting out of the throwing lane. 2 down.
Kakizawa work the count full for the 2nd time and draws a walk. Manrui for Kamimura!
But Hirayabu hits a fly to center! Amano there for the catch and Kamimura is denied a run!
Down to their last 3 outs, is there a rally in them?
#16 Yamaguchi to hit fo Oojino. But he first pitch flies out to center.
Nakatani in for his first AB and he grounds out to 2nd.
Last chance for Chiben Wakayama, but Amano grounds to 2nd! Nagao with it, throws to 1st, and Kamimura Gakuen advances!
As expected, it was a close game with Kamimura's offense for the most part slowed down by Yoshizawa, but not completely stopped. And while some help from the defense allowed Chiben to make it close, they couldn't get the douten run across.
So Chiben Wakayama's summer ends in the first round, and the slide at Koushien continues. For Kamimura Gakuen, their drive for respectability will continue as they must face runner-ups Kousei Gakuin for a spot in the Best 8. The pitching staff was not challenged by the Chiben batters, so it'll be intersting to see how Kousei's offense fares. As for their offense, the certainly had some solid hits, but Yoshikawa was effectively wild, striking out and walking his fair share of batters. Jyouma and Kanazawa will not be that way.
Kakizawa Takahiro (Kamimura Gakuen) - W, 5 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 2 BB
Hirayabu Jyunichirou (Kamimura Gakuen) - SV, 4 IP, 0 ER, H, BB
Nikou Takuma (Kamimura Gakuen) - 2-3, 2 RBI, BB
Tanaka Koudai (Kamimura Gakuen) -2-4, RBI, HBP
Yoshikawa Yuudai (Chiben Wakayama) - L, 8 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 8 K, 4 BB
Amano Yashuhiro (Chiben Wakayama) - 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI