This summer we had the possibility of either seeing our 7th back-to-back Natsu Koushien champions in Nichidai-san, or our 7th haru-natsu renzoku yuushou (Spring-summer champions) in Osaka Touin. Sanko has been eliminated, so the eyes at Koushien turn to Fujinami and his quest.
In the Osaka prefecturals, Osaka Touin was not challenged save for 2 instances. First in the 4th round against Minoo Higashi, where the tandem of Murata and Sugita gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks to the vaunted Osaka Touin offense. Unfortunately for them, they were 2-hit themselves and fell 2-0.
Then there was the final against Riseisha. Up 10-1 going into the 8th, Fujinami flat out ran out of gas. Sawada had to come in and even then was not able to immediately stop the bleeding. by the time Riseisha's 8th inning was over, the score was 10-8. Fortunately Sawada shut the door in the 9th, securing Osaka Touin's ticket, but it highlights the one and only weakness - pitching depth.
Might be hard to fathom given Fujinami and all, but Nishitani-kantoku already had it in mind during the summer:
- 22nd - 3rd Round vs. Kadoma Nishi: #10 Sawada - 9 IP
- 23rd - 4th Round vs. Minoo Higashi: Fujinami - 9 IP
- 25th - 5th Round vs. Ikuno Kougyou: #11 Hirao - 5 IP (called game)
- 26th - Quarterfinals vs. Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara: Fujinami - 9 IP
- 28th - Semifinals vs. Kinkidai Fuzoku: #10 Sawada - 7 IP (called game)
- 29th - Finals vs. Riseisha: Fujinami - 7.1 IP, Sawada - 1.2 IP
Chiba's Kisaradzu Sougou has a real tough task ahead of them. But I'm sure they'll give it their best. They weren't necessarily challenged late, but instead were challenged early. First off they met Narita and won 4-3. Then in their very next game, they faced Funabashi Shibayama and won by the score of 1-0. Finally in the quarterfinals, they gave up 6 runs in the final 3 innings to Seibudai Chiba to send the game into enchousen. They would win one inning later.
Narita in fact was Kisaradzu Sougou's only known competition this year. So saying they batted 0.341 (and 0.348 in their final 3 games), doesn't really say a whole lot. On the mound Kimoto got the bulk of the work in the big games, with Chiba working in relief in some of the middle rounds. They don't really strike out a lot of batters, so unfortunately against Osaka Touin it's not a good sign.
So I don't think I'm saying anything new in that Osaka Touin should win this matchup handily.
Osaka Touin (Osaka)
Kisaradzu Sougou (Chiba)
13:05 - First Pitch
Kimoto's 1st pitch, 145. His second pitch, 40 feet. Heh.
Mori with a hit down the right field line, fair! He's running through to 2nd! Throw from Sugisaki not in time!
Bunt from Oonishi, Kimoto's throw to 1st, cut off by Akiba who tries the swipe tag??!! Umpire calls safe and what the heck was that?! Did Akiba not think Takahashi was covering? Did he accidentally get in the way of the throw and had to improvise?
And now Mizumoto takes the full count pitch for ball 4! Manrui for Osaka Touin with Tabata up! Oh boy...
Kimoto falls behind 2-0, blows 145 kph fastball by him for strike 1. 143 fastball for strike 2! 147 is fouled off! And then he pulls the string on a 129 slider for strike 3.
Kimoto not backing down, throwing the heater at the batters. He goes to 2-1 to Yasui.
But he hits Yasui with a slider! Oshidashi! Osaka Touin takes the 1-0 lead with Hakusui up to bat.
And it's all fastballs all the time as Hausui swings on a high 145 fastball for strike 3!
Kasamatsu still getting the fastballs, but takes one the other way! It's past Takahashi into right! One run scores! Mizumoto rounding 3rd, the throw is cut off! 2-run single from Kasamatsu makes it a 3-0 game!
Mega flies out to center, but Osaka Touin puts the foot down in the first inning with 3 runs. Though it was not without some help from Kisaradzu Sougou.
Kunihiro goes down swinging as Fujinami hits 149 on the radar gun.
Sugisaki scoffs at that and hits a ball to the left side. Kasamatsu tries to field the ball, but it goes past his glove for a base hit!
But Mikuni gets frozen for a K, and Mori throws out Sugisaki who was trying to steal 2nd to end the inning.
One down and Mori this time goes the opposite way with the ball and goes down the left field line for a double!
But this time around Kimoto shuts the door, getting Oonishi to fly out to left and Mizumoto to popout.
Takano with a hit to center. Hakusui running back, running back. At the wall??!
Takano with a homerun to straight away center puts Kisaradzu Sougou on the board! It's 3-1!
Proabably miffed about the prospect of doing such a thing he strikes out the next two batters on fastballs before gettin Sakusai to fly out to left.
It would have been a 1-2-3 inning for Kimoto with all infield groundouts, but the grounder to 1st from Hakusui was booted and so the inning continues.
Kasamatsu with a blooper to center. Mikuni charging in, but it falls in! Hakusui going for 3rd and Mikui comes up firing! Throw is in time and... Hakusui's slide knocks out the ball! He's safe! Kasamatsu advances to 2nd on the throw. So 2 runners in scoring position for Mega. Kimoto falls behind 3-0, but fills out the count.
Sanshin! Mega tries to sell the walk, but he's easily rung up for the out to retire the side! Akiba's error doesn't cost them (for now).
Outside of the HR, Kisaradzu's batters have done very little. They go down 1-2-3 though Kunihiro makes solid contact but lines out to Mega.
Fujinami leading off goes down and singles to left. Mori follows that up with a first pitch single to left center! Oonishi bunts them over for Mizumoto.
Comebacker to Kimoto! It goes off of him and deflects towards left! Sakasai has to chase it down as Fujinami and Mori both score making it 5-1!
Tabata up, but he chases after a high fastball for the 2nd out.
Yasui hits a laser right at Takahashi for the 3rd out.
Sugisaki gets hit to start off the inning. Down 4, Kojima-kantoku is electing not to bunt. He goes down swinging on the slider.
Takano trying to put the team on his back, hits a grounder that bounds by Mega into center for a base hit! Sugusaki advances to 3rd on the play.
Takano goes for 2nd on a straight steal, but Fuijinami hand't pitched the ball yet! Fujinami turns to throw, but throws it away! Sugisaki scores and it's 5-2! Base hit here can make it a managable deficit!
But Takahashi goes down swinging for the 2nd out! Akiba behind 1-2, and grounds out to Mega to end the inning. Kisaradzu Sougou gets a run back, but they're falling behind.
One down Kasamatsu hits a no doubt about it HR down the left field line. It's 6-2 now for Osaka Touin.
Mega draws a walk and Fujinami bunts him over. Top of the order, and Kimoto hits Mori in the butt.
Kimoto limits the damage striking out Oonishi, but the deficit grows back to 4 runs.
Sakasai makes good contact, but lines out to Mega. Two down, Fujinami issues his first walk to Okada.
Odd, Kojima-kantoku sends a player to talk to Kunihiro to talk with the plate umpire about something.
Well, on with the game and Okada takes off for 2nd and Mori's throw is high!
Doesn't matter though as Kunihiro goes down swinging for the 3rd out. We hit the break with Osaka Touin holding a commanding 6-2 lead over Kisaradzu Sougyou.
Mizumoto makes a bid for a HR to lef tcenter, but Mikuni is there to run it down. Tabata then tries for one down the left field line, and wouldn't you know it, he does it. So 2 HR's for the senbatsu champions as the margin widens to 5 at 7-2.
Maybe they're all going for it? Yasui hits a fairly deep ball to center, though Mikuni is there again to catch it.
Hakusui with a hard hit ball to 1st and it squibbles by Akiba for an E3.
The error doesn't hurt as Kasamatsu goes down swinging to end the inning.
Yet another 1-2-3 inning for Fujinami as no one can hit a ball out of the infield.
Huh. Lucky 7 for Osaka Touin is probably lucky for Kimoto as he gets his first 1-2-3 inning.
One down and #17 Fujimaki comes in to hit for Kisaradzu Sougou. He hits a ball the deflects off of Fujinami's glove into center for a base hit!
Sakusai hits a grounder to 2nd and Oonishi elects to go for the lead out and gets it.
#16 Oozawa come in to PH for Kimoto and that means his day is done.
Oozawa with a drive to left. Yasui running back towards the left field foul pole. Still running! Still running!!
Catches it at the fence for the 3rd out! He just missed a homerun by feet!
Fujimaki stays in to play 1st. #10 Chiba takes over on the mound.
Oonishi checks his swing, but the ball hits the bat and goes into Kunihiro's glove for the out.
Tabata grounds into the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
About a formality now. Kisaradzu goes down in order swinging.
#14 Higa replaces Okada at 3rd.
Yasui singles to center then steals 2nd. Hakusui swings on a slow curve and misses for the 1st out.
Kasamatsu works a walk and Nishitani-kantoku sends out #13 Kinden to bat for Mega, and he singles to center scoring Yasui making it 8-2. Kasamatsu tries to stretch to 3rd, but is thrown out. #15 Takai comes in to run for Kinden.
Fujinami strikes out to end the inning and Fujinami's 3 outs away from advancing.
#14 Mizutani comes in for Takai and takes over at SS.
Mikuni goes down looking on 3 straight.
Takano with agrounder to the left side, Mizutani makes the stop in the gap, but his throw is late. Takahashi follows that up with a single to left.
But Fujimaki goes down swinging and Sakasai pops out to Mizutani (#16 Nishi had come in for Kasamatsu right before then).
And so it goes. Sorry for being so boring, but the game was never in doubt really. They'll advance to face Seiseiko.
For Kisaradzu Sougou, it was a lot to ask for to upset Osaka Touin, but at least they can say they go to Koushien.
Fujinami Shintarou (Osaka Touin) - CG, 2 ER, 4 H, 14 K, 2 BB
Kasamatsu Yuuya (Osaka Touin) - 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, K, BB
Mori Tomoya (Osaka Touin) - 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, HBP
Tabata Yoshiki (Osaka Touin) - 1-5, HR, R, RBI, 2 K
Takano Yuuto (Kisaradzu Sougou) - 3-4, HR, R, RBI