Our first afternoon game features the last team to take the field.
The first thing that sticks out about Akita Shougyou, is that their team batting average was 0.226.
How does a team win 5 consecutive games with a team batting average that low? I mean their batting average in the last 3 games was 0.167 and averaged 3.4 runs per game.
So it's up to ace Kondou Takuya. A righty who throws in the low 140s with a slider and curve. His K and BB numbers aren't impressive though (5.46 and 3.21/9 respectively). The only key game was against Noshiro Shougyou though in the final, but still, a poor hitting team and a pitcher who isn't overpowering isn't necessarily a recipe for success - though it was here.
Fukui Koudai Fukui was not challenged by Tokoha Tachibana in their first round game. Ace Sugahara struck out 10 while scattering 5 hits, and the 2 runs he gave up were both due to back-to-back battery errors.
Offensively, it was a quick start with some base hits from the middle of the lineup thrown in. There was enough solid hitting to think the offense could stick, but I doubt they'll be able to jump out early and cruise like their opening game.
But, against an offensively inept team like Akita Shougyou (in a weak prefecture to boot), they shouldn't have a problem advancing to the next round.
Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)
LF Oozaki (#14)
Akita Shougyou (Akita)
C Miura Kentarou
RF Satou Sou
12:54 - First Pitch!
One down and Fujimura draws a walk.
Ueda with drive to left center and that falls in front of the wall. The relay throw in is offline as Fujimira scores on the RBI triple, quick 1-0 for Fukui Koudai Fukui.
Yamashita with the immediate squeeze! Kentarou's only play is to 1st and Fukui takes a 2-0 lead!
Kondou gets Baba to strike out looking on an outside fastball, but they're down already with a poor offense.
Yanagida with a single back up the middle! A good start for Akitashou.
Sugahara hits Oozeki! Now there's runners on 1st and 2nd with no down!
Sugahara throws 2 more balls to Sugiya before finally recording a strike. Then a knuckle curve for a strike.
But Sugiya gets the better of the battle. Well, if he had to record an out. He chops one to 3rd and Ueda records the out at 1st, advancing the runners.
Cleanup batter Kondou up now and 2 straight balls to him too before getting a strike. Again a knuckle curve in for a strike to even the count.
Kondou with a chopper to 3rd. Ueda charging, changes his mind to throw home and concedes the run for the out. Perhaps he double clutched.
Wada is brushed with a pitch and is awarded 1st! Sugahara giving up runners early, Akitashou better take advantage of it!
And Wada takes off on the first pitch! No throw from Manabe as he anticipates a delayed double steal.
One again, Sugahara falls behind, this time 3-0 to Ootomo. Throws a fastball as Ootomo feigns the bunt.
Ball inside and it's manrui for Akitashou! They have to take advantage as Oosuga-kantoku calls for time.
Sakaya the 7th batter to come to the plate. If I were him, I'd be patient to see if he walks me too.
Of course I say that and he finally throws a first pitch strike...
But two balls after that and I'd still wait if I were Sakiya...
Ball high for ball 3! There's no place to put him! Gotta take, no matter what.
OSHIDASHI! Sakiya feigns bunt and it's ball 4! Oozeki scores and we're tied at 2-2!!
Kentarou up, and again you gotta wait and make him pitch.
Sure enough, Sugahara throws 2 strikes. He takes a fastball just outside for a ball.
And he hits the ball back up the middle. Past Baba into center! Wada scores! No throw home as Ootomo scores! It's 4-2 Akitashou!!
Where is Sugahara's control?
Sou the 9th batter to come to the plate, and he's walked! Manrui again for Akitashou! Back to the top of the order and Yanagida!
Everything Sugahara's been missing has been high. Dunno if it's still the flying shoulder or an early release point, but he's really struggled in the 1st.
He manages to get to 2 strikes to Yanagida, but again goes full!
This time he finally gets the third out as Yanagida can't hit the knuckle curve. But Akita stays patient and scores 4 of a struggling Sugahara to take the lead!!
Itou weakly grounds a slider to 1st for the first out.
Sugahara putting bat on a slider and hits a seeing eye single back up the middle.
Oozaki swings at the first pitch and hits it to 1st. Sakaya goes to 2nd for one, but can't get the back end of the double play.
No matter though as Ootomo handles a hard grounder from Manabe and makes the retirement at 1st for the 3rd out.
So, how will Akitashou build on this momentum?
Sugahara continuing to struggle at the plate. Count goes full on Oozeki.
He reaches down and hits one to left. Oozaki running back? He's running back to the wall?? He's looking up??!!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!
Oozeki makes an innocuous swing in my opinion, and it goes down the left field line for a home run??!! What the heck??!! It's 5-2 Akitashou!!!
Sugiya up, and he succombs to the high fastball for Sugahara's 1st K.
Kondou up and he connects on the high fastball! That's hit to deep center! But Itou is waiting near the fence for the 2nd out.
Wada grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but a shocking HR extends Akitashou's lead! And they'll probably need it for later.
Sugano with a hard grounder to 3rd. Ootomo makes another nice grab and on the other end Sakaya with the great pick on the bounce for the out.
Fujimura with a chopper over Kondou's head, Yanagida with the great pick and throw for the 2nd out.
Ueda fouls out to 3rd and it's a 1-2-3 inning for Kondou!
Akitashou's batters still content to wait out Sugahara. Ootomo goes ahead 3-1 before a questionable inside pitch is called a strike. But the knucklecurve on the next pitch misses for ball 4.
Sakaya showing bunt his first couple of pitches, but takes them for balls. And another makes it 3-0! Will he wait for ball 4? Yep! 4 pitch walk puts runners at 1st and 2nd now with no out as Oosuga-kantoku calls time while #11 Ueno warms up.
Kentarou stepping in, and you bet he'll be waiting. Shows bunt, but again just takes the pitch. Sugahara bounces one for ball 2. Up and in for ball 3 sending Kentarou to the ground. Again, he's got the red ligh. And he walks Kentarou on 4 straight.
And that's going to be it for Sugahara. #11 Ueno comes in to relieve him.
Still, even with a new pitcher, Akitashou needs to score as they probably need all the runs they can get.
Last batter Sou in now. He checks his swing on the frst pitch, then gets a fastbal up on the inside corner for a strike. Then he can't check his swing for strike 2!
Sou goes for the three bunt squeeze, but he fouls it off for the 1st out!
Yanagida up now and the first pitch is way high. They should still wait for Itou to prove himself, but Yangitda swings on a slider for strike 1. And another for strike 2.
Oota-kantoku calls for another one! And Yanagida lays it down! The out is made at 1st and there's 2 down, but it's 6-2 now.
Oozeki swings at the first pitch and rockets it through the gap in left! Sakaya scores to make it 7-2!
Wild pitch from Ueno! Oozeki advances to 2nd!
And another one! But Manabe keeps it close.
Sugiya gets the green light on 3-1 and hits a short fly to left center! Oozeki charging in, dives... and makes the saving catch! He rolls over a couple of times, but makes the great catch to save more runs! But still Akitashou with 7 runs!
Fukui Koudai Fukui swinging away as two pitches lead to 2 weak groundouts.
Itou takes a couple, but hits one back up the middle. Kondou makes a great grab (help to have his wingspan), and tosses to 1st to end the inning.
Fukui must be shocked at what's happening here, and I wouldn't blame them,.
Akitashou has taken advantage of Fukui's wildness and put up crooked numbers each inning. Will they stay patient?
Kondou takes the first pitch strike and then swings on what probably would have been a strike. However, he chases a slider in the dirt for strike 3.
Wada waits for 1-1 to swing away, but at a bad slider away. Levels the count, but fights off a pitch. But he goes down swinging on a slider for the 2nd out.
Ootomo behind 1-2, but hits a ball to right center! That gets by Itou to the wall! Ootomo in with a 2-out double!
Sakaya though is aggressive at the plate and winds up striking out to end the inning. That the first 0 Fukui has managed to put on Akitashou.
Ueno K's on three strikes to for the 1st out.
Oozeki with a drive to left! Sugiya running back to the wall!
Oozeki starts the slow road back driving a hanging pitch from Kondou out to left to make it 7-3!!
Kondou comes back to get two quick infield outs to end the inning, but now you know why I said they need all the runs they can get.
Ueno starting to pitch enough strikes to keep the batters honest it seems as Kentarou goes down swinging.
Sou though hits a dribbler to the right side. Baba charges and makes the throw, but it pulls Yamashita off the bag.
Top of the order and Yanagida first pitch singles to right!
Oozeki feigns bunt, but the ball bounces off the bat and Manabe makes the easy catch for the out!
Sugiya grounds out to 2nd to end the inning sending the game to the break. Akitashou leads 7-3, but I don't think - nor should the Akitashou players, that a 4-run lead is comfortable. Ueno's found his stride on the mound, and Fukui Koudai Fukui's working on chipping away at the lead - and there's still plenty of time.
Fujimura with a chopper back up the middle that Kondou snags and throws to 1st for the out.
Ueda fights off an inside pitch and sends it past Ootomo into right.
A wild pitch from Kondou sends the runner to 2nd.
Now it's Kondou who seems to be missing the zone. A wild pitch followed by one up in the zone.
Yamashita with a comebacker off Kondou's glove and deflects back to the right side! Yanagida running to 2nd changes course, grabs the ball, and throws it away! Runners advance to 2nd and 3rd and here comes Fukui Koudai Fukui!
Oosuga-kantoku rightly calls for time. It was already dangerous for Akitashou before the beginning of this inning, even more so now.
Baba hit, but the plate umpire won't allow the HBP as he didn't move.
That's a big break as he chases a fastball away for the 2nd out!
That leaves it up to Itou to try and narrow the gap.
He swings on the first pitch! Sou coming in from right, makes the catch and Akitashou can temporarily breath a sigh of relief as they dodge one bullet.
It won't be the only one though.
Kondou with good contact, but it's a fly right to Sugano in right.
Wada gets patient at the plate and works the count full, but takes a fastball on the inside part of the plate for strike 3.
Ueno almost has a 1-2-3 inning, but he hits Ootomo with 2 down.
Sakaya grounds out to 1st to end the inning. Ueno right now has 6 K's in relief, so I don't expect Akitashou to get more runs at this point. So they'll need to make the 4-run lead stick.
Pitching change for Akitshou. #10 Abe comes in for Sou at the bottom of the lineup. Kondou goes to right.
#13 Oota comes in to hit for Ueno as his relief appearance is done?
Grounder up the 3rd base line is grabbed by Ootomo before it hits the bag and makes the play at 1st.
Abe throws in the upper 130s with a slider, curve, and change.
Oozaki though is frozen on the fastball down the middle for the 2nd out.
Abe hits 141 with his fastball against Manabe, but Manabe gets the final word with a single to right.
Sugano gets one on the end of the bat, and his a fly to center. Wada is there to make the catch and the side is retired. Not bad from Abe to start.
#10 Sugaya in now to pitch for Fukui Koudai Fukui.
Kentarou welcomes him with a bounder past a diving Fujimura into left.
Abe up now and showing bunt, but continues taking until 2-1 where he fouls it off. Abe bounces one in front of the plate and everyone freezes! Then everyone takes off! Manabe goes to 2nd, but Kentarou was running and slides in. Fujimura goes to 1st and gets Abe.
Yanagida swinging on the first pitch and flies out to center, though not deep enough to advance Kentarou.
So Oozeki up to try and get another run in.
But he swings on an outside slider for strike 3 and the side is retired.
Fujimura with a grounder to 3rd., Ootomo with another nice grab and throw for the out.
Ueda grounds to 2nd, Oozeki there for the ball and there's 2 out.
Yamashita looks to get something going with a first-pitch single to right.
But Baba hits a short fly back to Abe and the side is retired. They're down to their last 3 outs.
Sugiya with a single through the left side and Akita will look to play add on.
Kondou is hit by Sugaya and now there's runners on 1st and 2nd with no down for Wada who shows bunt.
He pops up the first bunt! Manabe scrambling in foul territory dives, but it's just out of his reach! He then takes a 2nd strike, yet is three bunting!
Wada lays down the bunt and now a base hit from Ootomo can really add some breating room.
The runner from 3rd on a dead sprint as Ootomo lays down the squeeze bunt! Sugiya almost home when Sugaya gets the ball, so he has to go to 1st for the out! 8-3 Akitashou!
Sakiya K's to end the inning, but Akitashou adds one more run for the 9th.
Last ups for Fukui Koudai Fukui. Itou with a slow grounder to short. Yanagida there, but he can't field the ball! E6 to start the inning.
#12 Takai to hit for Sugaya. But he goes down swinging on a slider.
Oozaki with an early swing, but keeps in the zone enough to take the slider over Ootomo's head! He's in with a double and there's runners at 2nd and 3rd with just one down.
#16 Sawada to run for Oozaki at 2nd.
Manabe up. He pops it up! Oozeki with it, throws to 2nd?!
Sawada was running and had to come back, and is doubled off to end the game!
Though his run didn't quite matter in the sense that it was the douten run, that's a bad mistake to make even if you're down 5.
But it wraps up a lot of self-inflicted wounds for Fukui Koudai Fukui in the game, enought that there was no recovery from. For against an offense who managed just a 0.226 team average, Sugahara let them score runs without the benefit of hits, which is a big help.
Combine that with Kondou and a timely change to Abe, and Fukui was lost.
It might be a tale of what might have been if they had just played a little better to start this game.
For Akita Shougyou, it's a pleasant surprise for them to score as many runs as they did. But they stuck to their gameplan and executed perfectly for a much needed win for their school and for the prefecture.
It'll only get tougher against Kurashiki Shougyou.
Oozeki Shouta (Akita Shougyou) - 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, RBI, K
Ootomo Kousei (Akita Shougyou) - 1-1, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP
Miura Koutarou (Akita Shougyou) - 2-3, 2 RBI, BB
Ueda Teppei (Fukui Koudai Fukui) - 2-4, 3B, R, RBI
Oozaki Keisuke (Fukui Koudai Fukui) - 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI