Rounding out today's action, it's a battle of teams who have shown success at Koushien in their most recent appearances.
Niigata Meikun in their last 2 appearances in 2007 and 2010 have won their first 2 outings before bowing out of Koushien.
But they almost didn't make it this year. In their first game against Niitsu, they actually trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the 9th. They scored 2 runs for the sayonara victory. After that game, they cruised until the finals where the ace Takeishi gives up 10 hits, but doesn't break yielding just 2 runs.
Takeishi was the only pitcher used for Niigata Meikun, so it may be a problem later on if he struggles. But for a team like them, focusing on a game at a time is more important. He did only yield 3 runs after that first game.
Offensively, the team batted a neat 0.390 (and 0.444 in their final 3 games). But again, no major competition outside of Chuuetsu in the finals.
In the 3rd base dugout is Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou. After years of mediocrity at Koushien, in 2009 they reached the semifinals before losing a close game to Nihon Bunri.
This time around, they were not challenged until the semifinal and finals where they needed all 9 innings to defeat Chuukyou 6-5 and Seki Shoukou 2-1. In those two games they batted 0.303 as compared to the 0.368 overall.
On the mound, it's a combination of ace Mamiya with SS Fujishiro, with #11 Fujita in reserve. None of them really strike out any batters though.
Both prefectures have had success in recent years, partly because of their own doing. But with as well as they and Nihon Bunri have been doing, I think they may have the slight advantage.
Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu)
RF Nishida (#18)
LF Andou (#17)
CF Takahashi (#9)
Niigata Meikun (Niigata)
15:50 - First Pitch!
No problems for Takeishi to start as he gets 3 infield outs for a 1-2-3 inning.
Kaneko with a drive over Andou's head and one hops to the wall for a double! Komiyama tries to lay down the bunt, but can't. So instead he hits one past a diving Mutou into right! Kaneko has to hold up at 3rd.
Ikeda trying to get the run in does so as his Kenrgifushou concedes the run for the 4-6-3 double play. 1-0 Niigata Meikun
Mamiya walks Miyajima, but gets Takeishi to ground to 3rd to end the inning. It's a bit rocky, but he only gives up the one run.
It's another clean inning for Takeishi as he needs just 10 pitches to retire the side. Takahashi was able to hit the ball out of the infield, but Komiyama is there for the catch.
Oonobu gets hit on a full count pitch and gets on base. Ishiyama bunts him along to 2nd.
Satou with a ball hit to the right side, but Mutou is there for the stop and throw to 1st for the out.
Takeishi with a hot shot to 3rd, but Azuma is there for the catch.
Takeishi looks to throw in the mid 130s with a slider and curve.
Azuma with a ball past Satou and into left. He's bunted along by Mamiya looking for a one-timer from Mutou.
Mutou though pops it up! Ishiyama is there in foul territory for the out.
Mamiya really settling down here as he gets two more groundouts and one fly ball to left from Kaneko in a 1-2-3 inning.
Nishida leads it off with a single to center. Horiuchi bunts him to 2nd. But he's quickly stranded there as Andou grounds out to 2nd, unable to advance him. And Takahashi grounds to 2nd to end the inning.
Miyajima with a single to right to lead off the inning. Takeishi goes for the bunt and Mamiya can't field it! He panic tosses to 1st after running it down and throws it away! Miyajima heads for 3rd on the error.
Satou-kantoku calls for the squeezeand Oonoby lays it down perfectly! It quickly goes up the 1st base line and everyone converges on the ball leaving no one to cover 1st! Everyone's safe and Niigata Meikun takes the 2-0 lead!
Ishiyama tries to advance the runners, but the bunt is too hard and Mamiya goes to 3rd for the force.
Mamiya then induces a flyout to left from Satou, and freezes Takeuchi for the 3rd out, but Meikun increases their lead!
Kengifushou's batters seem to be able to do nothing against Takeishi right now.
Tougou first pitch grounds out to 2nd. Tanaka can't check his swing on a high fastball.
Azuma though tries to start something as his 9-pitch AB results in a single to center.
Mamiya with a grounder to Takeuchi, but me misses it and it goes to center! Azuma advances to 3rd and Kengifushou threatens to score in the 5th!
Alas Mutou swings on the first pitch and fouls out to Satou to end the inning.
Kaneko with a drive to deep left! Andou running back to the wall, and the ball hits the padding! Kaneko up with the easy double as Komiyama bunts him along to 3rd.
AH!! Mamiya throws a wild pitch and Kaneko scores from 3rd to make it 3-0!
He retires the next 2 batters, but another misplay causes another run for Niigata Meikun heading into the break.
The break doesn't seem to help Gifushou's offense. Nishida strikes out swinging, Horiuchi flies out to left. and #8 Takenaka PH for Andou flies out to right.
Takenaka stays in the game at LF, and Fujita-kantoku's son #11 Ryouji enters the game and relieves Mamiya.
And he walks Takeishi to start the inning. Oonobu moves him over for Ishiyama, but he bellows that he didn't need to! Ishiyama with a blast to right that Nishida runs back to the wall! That scores Takeishi to make it 4-0!
Satou not bunting, hits it through the drawn in infield and into center! Ishiyama scores to make it 5-0. Takeuchi bunts Satou along for Kaneko. However, Ryouji is careful with Kaneko and walks him.
It works out as he flies out to right to end the inning.
Takahashi with a drive to left center! Komiyama running back to the wall!
Well, that was unexpected. For all the struggles Kengifushou had been having, Takahashi out of the blue hits a solo HR to put them on the board at 5-1!
One down, and Tanaka hits a seeing-eye single to right!
But the rally is dashed when Azuma grounds into the 4-6-3 double play.
Ryouji settles down after his first inning of work and retires the side in order.
Fujita's work is done as #7 Watanabe hits for him. And he hits one down the right field line fair as he sprints to 2nd for a double!
He's replaced by #10 Ooyama as Mutou steps in. But he flies out to right.
Nishida can't get him in either as he flies out to center.
And Horiuchi grounds out to 1st. He tries to beat Oonobu to the bag, but is unsuccessful. 3 outs.
Tougou takes the hill for Kengifushou, while #16 Noda comes in for PR Ooyama and takes over at SS.
Oonobu with a single past a diving Noda into center. He's bunted over for Satou.
He hits a shallow fly to center! Takahashi charges in, but can't there there in time! Oonobu advances on the hit.
Takeuchi with a grounder to 2nd. Mutou's only play is to first and Oonobu makes it a 6-1 game.
Kaneko grounds to 2nd and Niigata Meikun is 3 outs away from advancing.
Takenaka with a grounder to short, throw to 1st and he's safe! Oonobu stretch pulled himself off the bag!
Takahashi tries to get two runs back with one swing, but winds up with a deep fly to center.
Tougou gets rung up on a slow curve on the outside corner.
Last chance as Fujita-kantoku sends in #15 Yamamoto to hit for Tanaka, while #14 Tsuchida comes in to run for Takenaka.
Slow chopper to the left side. Satou up with the ball, throw to 1st, in time! Niigata Meikun advances with a 6-1 win!