Kurashiki Shougyou literally had to the the cardiac kids. At least, if you were a fan of them, you probably had to be resuscitated several times.
- 3rd round game vs. Okayama Shoudai Fuzoku - Led 6-0 after 2, gave up 5 in 3rd. Scored 2 runs in 7th and 8th, gave up 5 runs in bottom of 8th. Wins 13-11 in 12 innings.
- Quarterfinals vs. Koujyoukan - Scores 1 in 1st, makes it stick through 9.
- Semifinals vs. Okayama Ridai Fuzoku - Down 5-2 going into final 3 innings, scores 1-2-1 to win 6-5.
- Finals vs. Soushi Gakuen - Closely contested game which they win 4-3 in 10.
Matsusaka was kind of the same way, though not as badly:
- 1st round vs. Yokkaichi Minami, 3-0 win
- Quarterfinals vs. Shiroko, 3-2 win
- Semifinals vs. Yokkaichi Kougyou, scores only run in top of 9th
- Finals vs. Inabe Sougou, hold on for 3-2 win
So, hello... ace Takeuchi. Outside of an early round game where Matsuba-kantoku went to #10 Matsue, the reins are his. But it's odd. He supposedly has a fastball which can reach 148 kph and carries a two-seam, slider, fork and curve. Yet his strikeout numbers are not indicative of someone who throws hard. So perhaps he's the type of pitcher that tries to induce bad contact to cut down on his pitch count?
This game is a tough call. Both prefectures have pretty much struggled in recent years to get out of the first round (outside of Kanzei last year from Okayama). Mie's struggles go way back - outside of a win by Mie in 2009, the last time they advanced out of the first round was Kaisei in 1998.
Matsusaka may have the better ace though, and a good pitcher will always keep a team in the game (assuming the defense isn't poor). So I expect Matsusaka to make it more interesting, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Kurashiki Shougyou advance out of this game.
Kurashiki Shougyou (Okayama)
RF Nakamura (#18)
10:30 - First Pitch!
Takeuchi's first pitch is a eephus pitch, I mean slower than a slow curve, for a ball.
Fujji swings on the 2nd pitch and hits a comebacker to Takeuchi. It's off his glove and deflects towards right. Jyoutou has to change direction, and by that time it's too late! Harukawa bunts him along to 2nd.
Sakada though though can't drive in the run and pops out to 2nd.
Michishita can though! He hits a liner down the right field line just fair! Fujii easily scores on the single and Kurashou takes a 1-0 lead!
Okada goes down swinging to end the inning, but Kurashou strikes first against the newcomers!
So, the announcers were saying about Nishi that he carries a curve, slider, sinker, curve and forkball, and I may have even missed one while writing it down.
Well, whatever his repertoire is, Matsusaka struggles early. Manabe swings on a sinker up and away, Nishikawa with an excuse me swing fouls out to 3rd near the press box, and then Takeuchi swings and misses on a high fastball.
This is strange. Takeuchi, despite the reports of a 148kph fastball mark, is throwing in the 130s...
Still though he settles down, getting Katayama to fly out to center, and Fukumori and Shimizu to hit ground balls to retire the side.
Ah, I apparently missed a cutter in his pitch selection.
Well, Takahashi hits a soft liner to Katayama for the 1st out. Kishi gets fooled on a sinker and goes down.
But Goutou takes a curve and singles through the left side! Jyoutou with a hit off the end of the bat and into right for a single! Goutou takes the extra base and the douten run is 90 feet away!
But there's 2 down for Sakamoto.
Skamoto gets the green light at 2-0, but swings an a slow curve low! He grounds to 1st and the threat is over!
One down, and Fujii is hit by Takeuchi. Harukawa grounds to 1st, Okada tries to run the 3-6-1 double play but can't turn the backend.
Sakada with a hard hit to the left side. Goutou makes a spectacular diving catch! Throw to 1st ends the inning!
Nakamura unable to solve Nishi as he swings over a forkball for the first out.
Manabe with a dying liner to center, but Sakada running in makes the catch!
And Nishikawa is in front of yet another off-speed pitch and hits weakly back to Nishi for the 3rd out. They're just unable to figure him out right now.
I'm still wondering where the reports of 148 kph came from for Takeuchi. He's just not throwing that fast, not even close.
One down, Okada with a grounder to short. Sakamoto with it, but his plant and throw is way over everyone and into the camera well! Okada is awarded 2nd and Kurashou threatens again.
Now Takahashi mishandles the pitch from Takeuchi! Okada advances to 3rd!
Katayama with a foul fly down the right field side. Nakamura running over, makes the sliding catch, but that allows Okada to score easily extending the lead to 2-0.
Perhaps he should have let it go to try and get the out without giving up the run?
Well, Fukumori up and he singles past a diving Sakamoto to center. Not to say that would have scored the run anyways because the pitch sequence might have been different, but I guess you get your outs when you can.
Shimizu grounds to short and Sakamoto takes it to the bag for the 3rd out, but an error by the aforementioned Sakamoto costs them a run.
Two quick and easy comebackers for Nishi and he's about to have another quick inning.
Kishi denies him that with a hot shot down the 1st base line that Okada can't quite keep in the glove.
But the struggles against Nishi's off-speed pitches continue as Goutou swings and misses on a sinker for his 5th K.
Takeuchi with just his 2nd K as Nishi throws a 136 fastball past him on the outside (that's his fastest pitch so far).
Fujii flies out to center, and Jyoutou handles a tricky hop for the 3rd out. Kurashou is making some good contact, but Takeuchi is handling himself.
Jyoutou a little surprised as he draws ball 4 on a 3-1 pitch. But he'll gladly take his base. Sakamoto up and he's squaring to bunt. He lays it down the 1st base line and gets the job done.
Large oen-dan section for Matsusaka cheering them on, hoping for something good.
Nakamura tries to bunt, but can't lay it down! Instead he hits a slow grounder to the left side! Nishi though is late getting to the ball and Katayama charging in has no play! Runners at the corners for Matsusaka as Morimitsu-kantoku calls time.
Top of the order and Manabe. He's not showing squeeze and he gets ahead in the count 2-0.
Gets the fastball and sends it back past Nishi into center for a base hit! Jyoutou scores to make it 2-1, and Matsusaka is still threatening!
Nishikawa with the safety bunt! Fujii up with the ball, and the throw beats a diving Nishikawa!
*sighs* Stop diving into 1st...
Takeuchi with a shot to the right side! Shimizu dives, but it goes through! Nakamura scores! Manabe rounding 3rd, throw from Harukawa offline! Takeuchi hits a hanging off-speed pitch and delivers a gyakuten 2-run single that gives Matsusaka the 3-2 lead!!
Takahashi waits patiently on Nishi, works the count full and draws the walk! Morimitsu-kantoku calls for time as things seem to be going awry here.
Kishi stepping in looking to continue the inning.
And he's hit! Nishi hits him on the first pitch and it's manrui for Matsusaka!!
Goutou the 9th batter to come to the plate, and he has a base hit on the day.
Gives a good swing, but misses. Can he be patient? Not really as he can't check his swing on a sinker for strike 2. He does even the count on an outside pitch, but goes down swinging on another change. However, Matsusaka scores 3 to take the lead as we head to the break!
So, how will Takeuchi fare now that his team, well - to be more precise, he has given his team the lead?
Sakada with a high pop fly, Sakamoto fighting the sun a bit, makes the catch in shallow left.
Michishita inside outs one to right for a base hit.
Okada with a drive to left! Nishikawa running back towards the foul pole! He's at the left field opening!
Makes the catch at the fence for the 2nd out! ABC shows the wind graphics and it's blowing in from left at 5m/s. Unlucky!
Katayama tries to vie for a deep ball, but it's a routine fly to Nishikawa.
Takeuchi needed the break as it's given him time to settle down. It's a quick retirement of the bottom of the order and Kurashiki is back on the bats.
Well, Kurashou has made a living on close game, and I guess it doesn't change here at Koushien! One down and Shimizu flicks one to right for a base hit. Nishi lays down the bunt, but Takahashi tries to go for 2nd! The throw is high and it's off Sakamoto's glove - all safe!
The situation gets worse as Takeuchi hits Fujii. Now it's manrui with just one down for Kurashou!
But Harukawa hits a grounder to 2nd! Jyoutou starts the 4-6-3 double play and Takeuchi is out of the jam!!
Nishi trying to keep the game close, is back to inducing bad contact. Manabe and Nishikawa ground out, while Takeuchi hits a liner - but right at Shimizu for the 3rd out.
Well, I'm expecing comeback attempts from Kurashou as they seem to have a flair for the dramatic.
Sure enough, Sakada singles back up the middle putting the douten runner on base. Morimitsu-kantoku is calling for Michishita to bunt, but instead Sakada takes off for 2nd, and Takahashi's throw is high. He's in safely!
Takeuchi not giving Michishita much, but winds up walking him! Okada sure to bunt and he lays it down! Now the douten and gyakuten runs are in scoring position!
Katayama steps in and hits a hits a fly to shallow center! Manabe running in, then holds up, and the ball falls in in front of him! Sakada scores on the single and it's 3-3!
I don't get it! He was charging in and had he continued on could have had the catch, and yet let it fall in!
Now Katayama goes for 2nd and Takahashi's throw is high! He's in safely!
Fukumori with a ball to right! Nakamura charging in, but he holds up and lets it fall in! Michishita scores and now it's 4-3! What is with the fielding out there?
Shimizu up now and SQUEEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He lays down the safety squeeze and Kishi charges in past the ball! He has to double back and everyone's safe! Katayama scores and now it's 5-3!
Takeuchi gets a much needed 2nd out as Nishi hits a hard grounder to 3rd for the 2nd out.
But Fujii singles to left! Fukumori scores! Shimizu being waved home, and he scores! Things are falling apart for Matsusaka here in the 8th! It's 7-3!
Harukawa with another single to left. That scores Fujii and now it's 8-3.
Sakada up for the 2nd time this inning, and he lays down the safety bunt! Kishi there to get it, but Jyoutou isn't covering! Sakada beats both to the bag and he's safe!
The inning continues as Michishtia delivers a single to left! They send Harukawa home as Nishikawa comes up firing! Throw in is caught by Takahashi and they get him out!
But some questionable fielding leads to a big inning and almost no hope for Matsusaka.
Down 8-3 and probably with their best inning behind them, Matsusaka goes down 1-2-3.
#15 Miyahara in for Nakamura in right.
Kurashou more than happy to take the lead into the bottom of the 9th as they go down in order.
#15 Oosugi in to play LF for Fukumori.
#11 Matsumoto hits for Jyoutou and goes down on another off-speed pitch.
#14 Kawaguchi in to hit for Sakamoto and draws the walk.
#13 Yamaguchi comes in to pinch run for Kawaguchi while #12 Hashimoto hits for Miyahara.
Hashimoto goes down swinging and the pitch gets away from Michishita. Sadly, Hashimoto can't take first and there's 2 down. Yamaguchi does advance to 2nd.
#16 Ogura hits for Manabe at the top of the order.
But he goes down swinging and the game is over.
Kurashiki Shougyou advances with an 8-3 win, but the impression I will be left with is that top of the 8th inning fro Kurashiki Shougyou. It was just an odd inning because I'm used to seeing the outfielders go all out and dive for balls that are as important with the douten run at stake. Unlike a foul ball you can let go and have another shot at an out, a fair ball you have to play. And yet with two fly balls that the outfielders appeared to have a beat on, they held up and let them fall in. Yes, the wind was blowing in, but was it really a case of misjudging it?
Not being there and having a good view, it'll be hard to say, but sadly that's the impression I'll be left with. Kurashiki Shougyou indeed fought hard like all the close games they've had and they will move on. I'm just left with more questions after this one.
Fujii Shouri (Kurashiki Shougyou) - 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 HBP
Michishita Kouta (Kurashiki Shougyou) - 3-4, R, RBI, BB
Fukumori Yasumasa (Kurashiki Shougyou) - 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
Takeuchi Ryou (Matsusaka) - 1-34, 2 RBI, K