Next up on Day 8 is a matchup people want to see - because of one person.
That would be ace Matsui Yuuki of Toukou Gakuen.
I don't think I need to tell you, but I will anyways. A 9-inning strikeout record of 22 batters in a 2-hit complete game shutout of Imabari Nishi.
Now, Imabari Nishi this year wasn't the Imabari Nishi of prior years. But still, 22 is 22 no matter how you look at it.
So the question will be, how many will he strike out this time around?
But the question really should be, can they win?
Obviously, if he strikes out 22 again, of course there's a good chance they will. But I did notice he was effectively wild, kinda like Hifumi Shinta with better control. Offensively, the team looked fairly solid right from the get-go, but they turned it on in the middle innings.
Jyousou Gakuin should be a stronger opponent than Imbari Nishi. A 14-0 wiping of Kitsuki would seem to indicate this. But it's really hard to say because they scored their runs early then just cruised the rest of the way to probably lessen the time they spent on the field under the baking sun. I can say this with relative certainty because near the end of the 10-run 3rd inning, baserunners were not taking extra bases.
So it's hard to still to gauge Jyousou Gakuin's competitive level with one good baseline game to go off of. Plus, from my experience teams that score a lot of runs in a blowout struggle in the next game.
I'm pretty sure Toukou is still the favorite in the matchup, but Matsui will probably revert back down to the low double digits in Ks.
Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki)
P Sugawara (#3)
1B Ishii (#13)
Toukou Gakuen (Kanagawa)
2B Suzuki Takumu
RF Mizukai (#8)
LF Uekusa (#9)
CF Sakamoto (#15)
10:40 - First Pitch!
First batter, Oozaki, watches a fastball on the outside corner... for a K.
Takahsima hits a grounder to the right side. Tanaka flips it to Matsui who just beats a stride-for-stride Takashima to the bag.
And Uchida... frozen on a slider for another K.
Grounder to 1st by Takumu. Yoshizawa fumbles with the ball and his throw to 1st is late! E6 right off the bat. Ukawa bunts the Takumu into scoring position.
Sugihara trying to work out of the jam, gets the call on the inside slider to Mizukai. 2 down for cleanup batter Uekusa.
He takes 3 straight balls. Does he have the green light? Nope. Takes ball 4, bringing up Sakamoto.
But he grounds to 3rd. Uchida takes it to the bag for the out and Sugawara is out of the early pinch.
Matsui hasn't missed a beat. Slider to Sugimoto is waved at and missed for a K. He falls behind Sakai 3-1, fills up the count, but loses him on a high fastball.
Matsui gets him back! He catches him off 1st and he's run down 1-3-6-1. 2 down.
1-2 pitch to Yoshizawa looks good but called a ball. Count goes full...
...and he goes down on a fastball outside for the 3rd out.
Sugawara walks Tanaka on 4 straight, but Matsui not bunting and winds up fouling out to Tayama in foul territory.
Take tries for a bunt, but can't lay it down, has to swing away and goes down for the 2nd out. Wild pich to Nomura though advances him to 2nd.
Ball to 2nd. Tayama with it, throws to Ishii who's sidestepping back towards 1st, and the throw is wide! He has to reach back to his left and the tag of Nomura isn't in tim! Tanaka, on a dead sprint rounds 3rd and scores on the play! The defense lapse leads to the opening run! It's 1-0 Toukou Gakuen!
Takumu up and he takes what is called ball 4 (though that looked good too), and that puts runners on 1st and 2nd for Ukawa as Sasaki-kantoku calls for time.
Ukawa with a grounder to 3rd. Uchida also fumbles the ball, throw to 1st... just in time for the 3rd out!
A very shaky 2nd inning both on the mound and on the defense. They should be lucky it's only 1 run.
Sugawara becomes Matsui's 5th victim with a slider outside.
Tayama waves on a high fastball for K #6.
#18 Hisamichi to hit for Ishii. He chases the high fastball too - that's 7 K's. Oy.
#1 Itou enters the game for PH Hisamichi. But he goes to 1B and not the mound.
After a grounder to 3rd by Mizukai, Uekusa reaches base again, this time with a single to right center.
Sakamoto with a liner to right for the 2nd out as Uekusa scrambles back to 1st.
Tanaka with a ball to the right-center field gap! Takashima up with the ball as Uekusa is being waved home. Tanaka meanwhile going for 3rd and Tayama decides to go there with the throw. But the throw goes by Uchida and to the fence! Tanaka walks home on the error and now Toukou leads 3-0!!
Matsui grounds to 1st to end the inning, but he has some breating room to work with.
Oozaki chases yet another high fastball and becomes the 8th K.
Takashima down 0-2 makes contact, but it's a grounder right to Tanaka who waits at 1st for the out.
Matsui goes 0-2 for the 3rd straight batter, tries the outside fastball, no dice. But on a slider, Uchida waits for it and sends it through the opposite side for a base hit.
Sugimoto hits the ball in the air, but it's an easy fly for Mizukai for the 3rd out.
Take tries an unsuccessful safety bunt for the 1st out. Nakano meanwhile shoots a ball through the infield into left for a base hit.
Lineup flips back to Takumu.
Noro-kantoku puts on the hit and run, but Takumu fouls it off himself. He winds up unable to get around on an inside fastball and is retired.
Ukawa with a grounder to 3rd. Uchida with the nice pick and throw to retire the side.
Jyousou's batters at least making contact the 2nd time through as Sakai grounds out to 2nd.
Yoshizawa though can't help but chase the fastball down and away for the 2nd out.
Sugawara too chases a slider out of the zone. That's the 10th K for Matsui through 5.
Itou now takes the mound as he switches places with Sugawara.
Mizukai records his first hit as he sends a ball the other way to right for a base hit.
Uekusa up 2-0 and showing bunt, but pulling back for ball 3. Up and in for ball 4 and that gets Sasaki-kantoku to call a conference.
Sakamoto wait for a couple of pitches then lays down the bunt to advance the runners.
SQUEEZE!!!! Pitch down and away and he just puts the bat on the ball though it rolls foul!
Now down 0-2, he has to swing away, but is able to take a couple of pitches to level the count.
Grounder to the left side! Uchida, playing in dives, bu can't get to it! Mizukai scores and Uekusa is being waved home! Throw from Sakai is up the 1st base line a little and they have no play! Toukou Gakuen now leads 5-0!
And now Matsui draps a walk which brings up Take. Itou falls behind him 3-0 before taking a strike. Another one was right there for strike 2, and then Take goes down swinging for the 2nd time.
Nakano grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but Toukou Gakuen increases the margin as we head to the break. Can Jyousou stop Matsui?
Tayama certainly can't right now as he swings and misses on a slider for strike 3.
Itou sits and waits, walking on 4 straight. Sasaki-kantoku has Oozaki bunt him along for a one-timer.
Takashima reaches down and lines one to left center! Sakamoto takes a bad route and the ball scoots by him! Itou scores easily as Takashima eases in with a triple! Jyousou on the board at 5-1!
AH!!! Wild pitch from Matsui bounds away towards the 3rd base dugout and Takashima comes in to score making it a 5-2 ballgame!
Uchida goes down swinging to end the inning, but they are on the board and get the two runs they gave up in the 5th back!
Takumu with a first pitch single to center. Ukawa not bunting quickly turns around on one and shoots it through into left as Toukou prepares a counterattack.
Mizukai lays down the bunt, Itou there quickly, but loses the handle when going to 3rd. Had to change and go to 1st for the out.
Uekusa with a grounder to 1st! Sugawara with it, but double clutches going home! Throw in is high and late and everyone's safe! 6-2 Toukou as Takumu scores.
Sakamoto with a liner to right. Takashima with it and Ukawa breaks for home! Throw from Takashima not on line and he scores easily to make it 7-2!
Itou finally retires Tanaka with a fastball on the outside corner to retire the side, but Toukou reclaims the two runs yet again!
Sugimoto starts the lucky 7 with a single to right. Down 5 they're not bunting, but Sakai gets caught looking on a slider over the plate for Matsui's 13th K.
Yoshizawa too falls victim to the 2 strike slider and goes down swinging.
Sugawara gets behind 2-2. He makes contact, but right to Tanaka who takes it himself for the 3rd out. Matsui still averaging 2 K's an inning.
One down and Take is grazed by a pitch. Nakano bunts him over for the top of the lineup and Takumu.
After falling behind 3-1, Itou throws a 143 kph fastball to fill the count. Two pitches late his fastball is just low and inside for a walk.
Sasaki-kantoku sees Itou laboring on the mound and sends in #11 Iida to take the mound. Iida enters into Sakai's spot in the lineup while Itou moves from the mound to LF.
Iida gets Ukawa to ground to short. Yoshizawa tosses to 2nd for the 3rd out.
Tanaka backs away from a slider over the plate for yet another K.
Itou out in front of a slider, but dribbles the ball up the 3rd base line! Matsui running to it, turns and throws, but not in time.
Matsui now walks Oozaki on 4 straight, prompting Noro-kantoku to call time.
Itou takes off for 3rd! Throw from Ukawa not in time! Runners at the corners now.
Takashima falls victim to a slider way down and away for his first K, and Matsui's 16th.
Oozaki takes off on the 1-0 pitch to Uchida and there's no throw as the ball is in the dirt.
Uchida with a chopper back up the middle! That's by Matsui into center! Itou scores! Oozaki rounding 3rd... he scores! Uchida makes it 7-4!
Sugimoto with a shallow fly to center! Sakamoto charging in... can't get there! Now it takes a high hop and gets past him! He has to double back as Uchida flies around the bases! The throw in is cut off as Uchida's run makes it just a 2-run deficit! It's 7-5 as Sugimoto is able to reach 2nd on the overrun!
Iida up, but he foul tips into Ukawa's glove to retire the side! Matsui records his 17th K, but the game just got a little more interesting!
Mizukai with a comebacker that Iida blocks with his glove. He gets the ball and goes to 1st for the out.
Iida picking up the tempo perhaps throwing the Toukou batters off a bit. Uekusa grounds out to 3rd for the 2nd out.
Sakamoto with another grounder to 3rd and the side is retired. He's done what he can.
Matsui showing signs of fatigue in the last couple of innings here as he's starting to throw more and more balls.
But Jyousou's batters perhaps pressing. Yoshizawa earns the golden sombrero swinging on a 50 foot pitch for the 1st out.
Sugiwara with a replay of Yoshizawa's AB, swinging on a pitch in the dirt for Matsui's 19th K.
Last chance for Jyousou in the 9th in Tayama.
He makes contact, but lines out to Mizukai to end the game!
Matsui is able to hold out until the end and give his team the 7-5 win over Jyousou Gakuin! He ties the old record of K's in a 9-inning game, the one he broke in his first game. It also makes 41 K's over 2 games.
Yet the problems for Toukou Gakuen are becoming appparent. Already in game 2, he started to fatigue allowing the opposition base hit and more importantly runs. If not for the extra runs they put together in the 5th and 6th, they may have been in trouble. So Matsui's stamina will be put in question in the next game.
For Jyousou Gakuin, they certainly gave it a good fight despite the 19 strikeouts. They still managed to put rallies together and make the game interesting. It was certainly frustrating, but they can at least be proud of their efforts today despite the loss.
Matsui Yuuki (Toukou Gakuen) - CG, 5 ER, 6 H, 19 K, 3 BB
Tanaka Yorito (Toukou Gakuen) - 2-3, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, K, BB
Uchida Yasuhito (Jyousou Gakuin) - 2-4, R, 2 RBI, 2 K
Sugimoto Tomoya (Jyousou Gakuin) - 2-4, RBI, K