Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 10 - Games Postponed

As you may have noticed, there have been no posts today.

That's because rain has cancelled the games today.  Which means that the championship is pushed to Tuesday and during my bowling league...


Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 9 - Quarterfinal #2 - Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi (Gunma) vs. Naruto (Tokushima)

Our 2nd quarterfinal features 2 surprise teams.  Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi has used the running game to wreak havoc on opposing teams.  They take a radical tack in that they take walks and aggressively take bases.  Combined with Miki's performance on the mound and you have a potential contender.  This despite establishing their baseball program at the turn of the millennium.

Naruto has looked anything but a contender for the title.  Struggling against 21st century team Sumoto.  They win in 10 and move on despite getting just 4 hits.  Then against Sakushin Gakuin, they blow a 2-run lead, then give up a HR in the 10th.  Yet they come back to win that one and find themselves here in the Best 8. About the only thing that Naruto has going for them is that they've found a way to win when it seems like they shouldn't have.

So if Naruto can somehow carry that trait throughout they have a chance.

But I just can't see a team be able to do that for 5 straight games, much less 3.  Chances are the last public team to remain will fall today.

Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi (Gunma)
CF  Takeuchi Tsukasa
2B  Nakayama Keita
C  Nagasaka Kenya
3B  Uchida Ryouta
1B  Oosawa Yoshiyuki
RF  Kanbe Kazuki
LF  Kobayashi Ryuutarou
SS  Akiyama Kousuke
P  Namai Shintarou (#10)

Naruto (Tokushima)
SS  Kawano Yuuto
CF  Shimada Jyukito
LF  Inaoka Kenta
2B  Sugimoto Keita (#3)
RF  Yamato Taira
3B  Matsumoto Takanori
C  Kusaka Hiroki (#12)
P  Kobayashi Naoto (#10)
1B  Ise Hayato (#16)


13:36 - First pitch!

Once again, we see the relievers coming in to start for both teams.  How will it play out this time around?

Top 1st
Like I was saying in an earlier game, people have gotten on base via dead ball for less.  Takeuchi gets hit on a one bounder and he's awarded 1st despite not moving out of the way.

And of course with Takeuchi on, he takes off for 2nd.  Throw from Kusaka not in time.  The wheels start turning for Kendai.

Nakayama with the sac bunt, but Ise fields it and throws to 3rd??!

Takeuchi is there in plenty of time and that's just a bad decision by the Naruto 1B.

Nagasaka just pulls a ball foul down the 3rd base line.  But he takes the next pitch and singles to right!  Takeuchi scores.  But as the throw comes to 3rd, Matsumoto catches Nagasaka off 1st base!  He runs him down for the first out!  The wheels there just moving a tad too fast, but Kendai takes a 1-0 lead!

Uchida with a blast to center!!! Shimada sprinting back to the wall, but it falls in in front of dead center!  Nakayama scores on the double and Kendai now leads 2-0!!

Moriwaki-kantoku calling for time.  Naoto getting hit early and often here in the 1st...

Oosawa with a comeback to Naoto and he catches Uchida off 2nd!  He's run down for the 2nd out. Oosawa then tries to steal 2nd, but Kusaka throws him out to end the inning.  A lot of running, a lot of getting caught off base, and 2 runs for Kendai to start the game.

Bottom 1st
Kawano with a ball to the right side.  Nakayama ranging to his left, dives and snags the ball!  Throw to 1st is in time for the out!  Nice play!

Shimada first pitch grounds to 3rd for the 2nd out, but Inaoka after falling behind in the count works a walk.

But Namai gets Sugimoto to swing in front of a slider for the 3rd out.

Top 2nd
Kanbe steps back on a full count pitch, the reaches down and hits one off the bat just over the infield into center for a leadoff single.  Ryuutarou hits a hard grounder to 1st which bounces off Sugimoto, and his only play is to 1st.

Akiyama with a single back up the middle!  Kanbe is being waved around 3rd!  Shimada comes up throwing and it's right to Kusaka!  He makes the tag Kanbe's out at home!  2 down!

But Akiyama takes the base back as he steals 2nd on the 2-2 pitch!

Naoto though, gets fellow starter Namai to swing on an outside fastball for the 3rd out!

Bottom 2nd
It's a quick inning for Namai as he uses 7 pitches to retire the side in order.

Top 3rd
It's a small victory for Naruto as Naoto retires leadoff batter Takeuchi.

Naoto then uses slow curves and a change to freeze Nakayama for the 2nd out.

Naoto appers to have a fastball in the high 120s-low 130s, with a change in the 110s and a slow curve in the 90s.

Nagasaka ruins Naoto's clean inning by drawing a walk.

Uchida with a shot at Matsumoto!  He's able to get a glove on it to keep it in front of him, and he goes to 2nd for the 3rd out.

Bottom 3rd
Kawano with a drive to right!  Kanbe chases it to the wall, but Kawano's in with a 2-out triple!

But Shimada goes down swinging for the 3rd out.

Top 4th
Two down for Kendai, and they again work a walk.  This time it's Ryuutarou.

Kobayashi goes for 2nd on the 3-1 pitch, and while the ball gets there before him, Kawano can't make the grab and tag.  And on the next pitch, Akiyama walks bringing up last batter Namai.

But he swings on the first pitch and hits a routine fly to center for the 3rd out.

Bottom 4th
Inaoka chases a change in the dirt for Namai's 4th K. Sugimoto follows that with a hard hit ball to short.  It pops out of his glove temporarily, but he quickly grabs it and fires to 1st for the out.

Namai has a fastball in the low 130s, a slider in the 120s, curve in the 110s and apparently a palmball in the 90s.

Yamato with a hard ball to the right side.  Nakayama makes a great sliding stop, but he hurries his throw to 1st and it gets by Oosawa.  Yamato continues on to 2nd on the error.

Matsumoto with a grounder to the left side.  Akiyama ranging over, but it's just out of his reach!  Yamato rounding 3rd, being waved home!  Ryuutarou firing home, and it's right there to Nagasaka who applies the tag for the out!

Top 5th
Takeuchi with a drive to right center!  Yamato playing in tries to cut it off, but has to chase it back!  Takuechi showing some gap power with a leadoff triple!

Nakayama reaching out and poking a ball to right!  Takeuchi scores to make it 3-0 Kendai!

#1 Goutouda now warming up in the bullpen.

Nakayama taking off for 2nd!  Throw from Kusaka, and Nakayama slides in just before the tag!  (I think)

AH!  Now the pickoff throw from Naoto is low and goes into center!  Nakayama takes 3rd!

Nagasaka drives the next pitch to left!  That's easily over Inaoka's head to the wall!  Nakayama scores on Nagasaka's triple to make it 4-0.

Moriwaki-kantoku calls time.

Uchida with a grounder to 3rd.  Matsumoto up with it, notices Nagasaka off the bag and runs him down for the first out.

Oosawa hits into the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, but Kendai doubles their lead over Naruto.

Bottom 5th
One down and #11 Mizushi comes to PH for Naoto.  His day is done.  And Mizushi first pitch singles to right!

Ise though chases a ball low and lifts it to right for the 2nd out.

Kawano goes down and pulls a ball down the left field side!  Kobayashi has to chase it to the wall and Mizushi scores from 1st!  Naruto is on the board at 4-1!

Shimada flies out to center for the 3rd out, but Naruto gets a run back before the break!  Is another comeback in the works?

Top 6th
As expected, ace Goutouda comes out to start the 6th.

Kanbe again steps back, perhaps anticipating taking one the other way, but instead he takes strike 3!

Kobayashi too watches a change down the middle for strike 3.

Akiyama makes contact, but pops out to 3rd to end the inning.  Goutouda gets Naruto their 1st 1-2-3 inning this game!

Bottom 6th
2 down and Yamato lines one down the left field line for a double!  But Matsumoto can't get around on a fastball inside and goes down to end the inning.

Top 7th
#16 Takasugi hitting for Namai, meaning that his day is done.  And Takasugi singles back up the middle!  He's replaced by #15 Moriyama.

Takeuchi reaches down and hits one into the gap in left center!  Again the outfield is in and has to chase it back!  Moriyama scores easiliy on Takeuchi's second triple of the game!  5-1 Kendai!

Nakayama with a bunt, but Goutouda with it goes home with it!  But he doesn't close the gap to Takeuchi and that allows him to get back to 3rd safely!

Nakayama going for 2nd again!  Nagasaka tries the bunt, but misses, as the ball is wide.  However, Kusaka has no throw to 2nd.

And Nagasaka hits a drive to left!  Inaoka back to the wall??!


That certainly didn't look like he got all of that one, but that somehow carries out to left!  Nagasaka with a 3-run HR to make it 8-1!

Uchida keeps the hit parade going with a single through the right side.  After a sac bunt, Kanbe singles through to left.

And while he doesn't get a hit, he hits a sac fly to left.  Both runners advance and Kendai leads 9-1.

Akiyama singles through to right, and that brings up PR Moriyama.  Except he's not.  Aoyagi-kantoku calls for his 2nd PH this inning as #12 Momoi comes in to hit.  First pitch though he grounds out to 3rd to end the inning.

Bottom 7th
#11 Kuramoto comes in to pitch with the game seemingly in hand. Kusaka welcomes him with a leadoff double down the right field line. Goutouda flies out to right and Kusaka advances to 3rd.

Ise with a hard grounder to 3rd and Uchida makes a great pick!  Kusaka has to hold as Uchida throws to 1st for the out.

Up 1-2 to Kawano, Kuramoto hits him in the calf.  Runners now at the corners.

But Shimada gets under one.  Oosawa with the catch and Naruto's lucky 7 comes and goes with no runs.

Top 8th
#4 Nakano comes in for Ise and takes over at 2B.  Sugimoto moves to his position of 1B.

Nakayama gets his 2nd hit a light single to left.  That brings up Nagasaka who needs a double for the cycle.

Nakayama meanwhile tries for his 3rd stolen base, but is thrown out by Kusaka.

Nagasaka follows that by hitting a fly to shallow center!  Shimada charges in, dives.. and makes the catch!  Shimada prevents the cycle with a great catch!

Bottom 8th
#14 Kouno comes in for Kuramoto and takes over in RF.  Kanbe moves from right to the mound.

Inaoka strikes out for his third time here in the 8th.  Sugimoto quickly flies out to right.

Kanbe though can't get a clean inning as he walks Yamato. But he does strike out Matsumoto to end the inning.

Top 9th
Uchida with a ball to 3rd.  Matsumoto leaps, but can't close the glove on the ball.  He gets it, but his throw to 1st is just a step behind a diving Uchida.

Goutouda retires the next three batters, and they'll be up for their last at bats.

Bottom 9th
#17 Tsukagoshi comes in for Nakayama and takes over at 2B.  #18 Shimoda comes in for Kobayashi and heads to the mound.  Kanbe returns to RF and Kouno goes to LF.

#2 Marumiya comes in to hit for Kusaka and singles to the left side.  He's replaced by #17 Hayashi.

Goutouda turns on a ball and singles also though the left side.

#18 Kishi comes in to hit for Nakano, and goes down swinging.

Kawano with a hard hit ball to 3rd.  But Uchida's been a vacuum all day and starts the game-ending 5-4-3 double play.

Hey, Naruto fought hard their first 2 games to advance to the Best 8, but their luck runs out at the hands of the upstart Kendai squad.  Interestingly enough, of the 13 times they've been to Koushien (Haru + Natsu), only 5 times have they lost in the first game, and once did not advance past the 2nd round.  So the fact they made the Best 8 is testament to their abilities once they do reach Koushien.

(And Naruto's players, knowing that they may not be here again, grab their memento of Koushien dirt.)

This time around, it wasn't speed, but power that Kendai showed, with 5 extra base hits (though that may have been a byproduct of a drawn in outfield).  Still though, they showcased their speed, running circles around their opponents yet again.

The question will be whether they can get on base against Fujinami to be able to put pressure on Osaka Touin.  For now, they'll rest up tomorrow for their impending clash.

Day 9 - Quarterfinal #1 - Osaka Touin (Osaka) vs. Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)

We're now into the Best 8 and our first game features a team who has moved to one of the front-running contenders to win it all.

Osaka Touin came in with some questions.  People know they could hit, but their pitching was suspect.  This year, Fujinami has come in as the ace and has been more than serviceable on the mound.

However, one thing that may be concerning is that in their two games so far, all their runs have been scored from the 6th inning onwards.  If they require their opposition to tire down the stretch, or the break to make their adjustments, they could be in trouble if they face a strong pitcher who can last the entire game.

I'm not convinced that ace Satou for Urawa Gakuin is that person.  Yes, he's given up just 2 runs in his 2 games so far, but the opposition has not proven to be strong, or at least as strong as Osaka Touin anyways.

Furthermore, their offense stagnated tremendously against Mie, managing just 2 runs on 2 hits.  And this time around they'll be facing Fujinami.

Urawa will have their hands full in this game as Osaka Touin has emerged as a contender for the senbatsu title.

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
RF  Mizumoto Gen
C  Mori Tomoya
2B  Oonishi Tomoya
1B  Koike Yuuya (#5)
3B  Kasamatsu Yuuya (#15)
LF  Yasui Kouki
SS  Mizutani Yukiya (#14)
P  Fujinami Shintarou
CF  Hakusui Kenta

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)
SS  Takemura Haruki
C  Rinzaki Tatsuya
CF  Satou Takuya (#8)
RF  Sasagawa Ryouhei
LF  Yamane Yuuta
1B  Akashi Hyuuma
3B  Yoshikawa Tomoya (#15)
P  Yamaguchi Rui (#11)
2B  Midorikawa Koutarou


11:00 - First pitch!

Interesting.  Both managers decide to go with relievers.  I'm pretty sure that both will also be ready at the instant things go awry as you'd like to save your ace at this point, but not at the expense of losing the current game.

Top 1st
Let's see how Yamaguchi handles the start.

Mizumoto takes a couple to see Yamaguchi, but hits a comebacker to him in the end.

Oonishi first pitch flies out to right, and Mori flies out to center for a smooth 1-2-3 inning for spot starter Yamaguchi!

Bottom 1st
Not so smooth for Sawada as Takemura starts off the Urawa offense with a single to left!  Rinzaki tries to bunt him to 2nd, but Sawada calmly throws out Takemura at 2nd!

Satou with a grounder to the right side, Koike dives but it bounces off his glove and deflects behind Oonishi!  Rinzaki heads for 3rd, and there's runners at the corners now for Urawa!

Sasagawa with a comebacker up the middle!  That's clear to center and Rinzaki scores the first run in favor of Urawa!  It's 1-0!

Yamane stepping in and Fujinami quickly up in the bullpen.  Perhaps the gamble backfired?

But Sawada gets Yamane to ground to 3rd!  Kasamatsu tags 3rd for one, throw to 1st for the double play!

Top 2nd
Yamaguchi probably given the mandate not to nibble and go after the Touin batters.  How else would you explain the strikes he's throwing and getting ahead?  Koike and Yasui both grounds out, and Kasagawa strikes out swingin and it seems like early on in the battle of relievers.

Bottom 2nd
Akashi first pitch singles past Sawada into center!  But once again the following batter cannot bunt the runner over as Yoshikawa free bunts and fouls out.

So Yamaguchi does it as Mori-kantoku looks for a one-timer from Midorikawa.

But he hits a comebacker to Sawada and that's the inning.

Top 3rd
One down, and Mizutani finally gets Osaka Touin their first hit as he singles to center. Nishitani-kantoku elects to have last batter Sawada bunt the runner along, and while he pops it up, it falls in fair and gets the job done.

Nishitani-kantoku will be trying for the timely hit from the top of the order.

But Mizumoto reaches out and pops it up!  Yamane calls off Takemura and makes the catch for the 3rd out!

Bottom 3rd
Sawada finally gets his 1-2-3 inning as he retires the top of the order in just 6 pitches.  A stressless inning is probably what he and Nishitani-kantoku wanted.

Top 4th
Mori with their second 1-out single, this time shooting one to right.

But Koike hits it right to short!  Takemura starts the 6-4-3 double play and the inning is over!

Bottom 4th
Now that I have time to look at the starters today, Sawada appears to have a fastball in the high 130s touching 140, a slider in the high 120-low 130s, and a change in the 110s.

Sasagawa and Yamane both get on top of a Sawada offering and groundout to short. Akashi gets under one and Yasui waves off Mizutani and makes the catch for the 3rd out.  He's looked good after the first inning.

Top 5th
Yasui after a 7 pitch AB, hits a ball to fairly deep center, but Satou is there for the catch.

For Yamaguchi, he has a fastball in the low 130's, a two-seamer (?) in the high 120s and a change/curve in the 100s.

Kasamatsu with a liner to right and Osaka Touin gets a man on!

Hakusui follows that with a ball to left! But Yamane is there for the catch!  Kasamatsu running back, but Yamane's throw lands in front of Kasamatsu as if to tell him he has to chance!  Double play, and the inning is over!!

Bottom 5th
With the 6th coming up, and Osaka Touin seemingly scoring runs in the 2nd half, I wonder when Satou's coming in?

Well, I get my answer!  One down and #8 Ishibashi pinch hits for Yamaguchi!  Satou will in fact come in to close out the last 4 innings!

Meanwhile Ishibashi hits a seeing-eye single through the right side!

Midorikawa not bunting, and goes down looking for the 2nd out.

Takemura at 2-2, and Ishibashi takes off!  Throw from Mori and Mizutani makes a fine swipe to get Ishibashi.  Urawa will have the top of the order in the 6th.

So we hit the break, and perhaps Mori-kantoku was thinking the same thing I was.  Save your ace for the later innings and use your reliever to hold off the early innings since Osaka Touin is a bit of a slow starter.

However, Urawa has only scored one run on spot starter Sawada.  That lead will be tentative for the next 4 innings.

Top 6th
As expected #1 Satou takes the mound, and PH Ishibashi takes up over in CF.

And aftter Mizutani grounds out, Nishitani-kantoku matches Mori-kantoku!  #18 Morishima comes to hit for Sawada, which means that Fujinami will be coming in the game, and indeed he is warming up in the bullpen.

Meanwhile, Morishima is battling Satou at the plate.  8th pitch Satou finally gets him to ground out to 1st for the 2nd out.

Mizumoto with a 2-out single up the middle.

Oonishi, looking to extend the inning, works the count full, but hits a fly to left!  Yamane easily under it for the 3rd out and Osaka Touin puts up another 0.

Fujinami is headed to the hill now, so Urawa has won the first half of the battle.  How will the 2nd half fare?

Bottom 6th
Takemura up, looks to strikeout on a slider outside, but the umpire calls foul?  It didn't look like he touched it?! As a result, Fujinami has to throw 2 extra pitches, but gets his K.

Rinzaki with a grounder to short.  Mizutani's up with the ball, but his throw to 1st pulls Koike off the bag!  E6!

But Mizutani makes up for the error!  Satou grounds one up the middle, Mizutani steps on 2nd for one, throws to 1st for the double play!

Top 7th
This pitcher's duel is flying by as we've averaged 10 minutes an inning.  Can Osaka Touin finally start their 2nd half rally?

Mori on a full count hacks at a shoulder high fastball and lines it over Midorikawa for a base hit!

Nishitani-kantoku has cleanup batter Koike bunt the runner along for Yasui.

Two slow curves from Satou and he's behind 2-0.  The count goes full again, but this time Yasui can't get around on a fastball inside and strikes out.

Mori-kantoku calls time as Kasamatsu stands in.  It looks like they're going to be careful with him as he's not throwing anything in the zone.

But as I say that, Kasamatsu reaches down on a ball and lines one back up the middle to center!  Ishibashi charging, but his throw won't make it in time!  Mori scores and Kasamatsu strikes again!  Osaka Touin scores the douten run!  We're at 1-1!

Hakusui with a hard ball back to Satou!  He fields it and throws to 1st to retire the side.  But Osaka Touin finally gets their offense going tying the game here in the lucky 7th!

Bottom 7th
Sasagawa says to Kasamatsu, "You're not the only one who can do that!" and takes a high fastball and lines it to right center!

Yamane trying to bunt has to get out of the way, but the bat makes contact with the ball!  Mori finally realizes it and makes a last second dive for the ball, but can't get it!  Foul ball!

And that works out for Urawa!  Yamane takes the next pitch and singles through the left side!  Runners on 1st and 2nd with no down!

Akashi tries to lay down the bunt, but fouls it off!  Mori-kantoku calls him over but he can't lay it down again!  1-2 and he pops it up!  Koike over near Urawa's dugout, falls and doesn't catch it!

And wouldn't you know it, Akashi takes the next pitch and hits it past Mizutani into left!  Two fortunate events for Urawa and it's manrui with no down!

Nishitani-kantoku calling time.  What to do?

Well, Yoshikawa is swinging away!  But he falls behind 0-2!

Sanshin!!  Fujinami takes it into his own hands and gets Yoshikawa on a slider out of the zone for the first out!

Nishitani-kantoku calling for time again.  Certainly the infield will be playing in for a play at home.

Ishibashi now up for Urawa, and first pitch Fujinami wheels wide at 154 kph.

After that he goes after him, getting ahead 1-2.  No squeeze from Mori-kantoku, but you've got to hit the ball!


Ishikawa swings and misses on a 150 kph fastball down and away for the 2nd out!

Nishitani-kantoku calling time one more time.  2 bullets dodged, one more to go in Midorikawa...  He's 3-8 so far, but 0-2 today.

Swing and a miss on a ball in the dirt.  0-1... another slider in the dirt, another swing and miss, 0-2...  Waste pitch outside, 1-2...  Slider in the same place, but no call!  2-2...


Midorikawa goes down on a 3rd slider and Fujinami, after giving up three singles, strikes out 3 batters to get out of the inning!  That's a bad sign for Urawa Gakuin.

Top 8th
Mizutani pops out to Midorikawa for the first out.  Fujinami is jammed and grounds out to short.

Mizumoto with a gapper to right center!  Ishibashi runs it down, but not before Mizumoto reaches 2nd!  Small chance here for Osaka Touin!

Ootani with a hard shot to left!  But it's right at Yamane for the 3rd out!

Bottom 8th
If Urawa Gakuin is to win this, it needs to do it in regulation.  If they go into extras, they risk Satou tiring and giving up the winning run...

To that end, the top of the order is due up for Urawa.

Takemura with a grounder to 2nd, but Oonishi can't field the ball!  By the time he makes the throw, Takemura's dives into 1st!  E4 and the go-ahead runner is on base!

Fujinami giving nothing for Rinzaki to bunt, and he free bunts and fouls out!  One down!

Satou up, and he's looking to get on base as he works the count full.  Makes good contact but pulls it foul!

But he takes the next pitch and takes it the other way for a base hit!  Runners at 1st and 2nd for cleanup batter Sasagawa!

Sasagawa with a slicer to shallow left center!  Yasui charging in, slides... and makes the catch!! 2 down for Urawa!

It's down to Yamane.  They can't let this opportunity pass them by again.

Grounder to 3rd.  Kasamatsu with the ball, throws.. And it's wide!!!

Koike has to leave 1st to field it and everyone's safe!  Manrui for Urawa with Akashi coming up!  He's 2-3 on the day.

Fastball outside and low for ball 1...  Fastball inside for ball 2!  Fastball high swung and fouled off!


Takemura comes home and it's 2-1 Urawa Gakuin!  Mori couldn't handle the 150 kph ball and Urawa takes the lead!

Akashi flies out to right to end the inning, but it's an Osaka Touin error that gives Urawa the lead late!

Top 9th
#18 Yasumuro comes in for Ishibashi in CF.

Mori up trying to get his offense started.

He reaches out with one arm and whips a single to right!  Sasagawa playing back charges in, and Mori is headed to 2nd!!

Sasagawa with the throw to 2nd...  Mori slides in...


It almost looked like the umpire was about to call safe, but then tilted his head as if to say, "Nope, you didn't get in there after all", and rings him up!

Mori kneeling at 2nd can't believe it!  One down for Osaka Touin here in the 9th!

Koike up and Satou is careful with him.  But he winds up walking him and putting the douten runner on!


Yamane and Yasumuro running back to the wall chasing it down!  Koike being waved around 3rd... he scores!!!  Douten Osaka Touin!!  We're tied at 2-2!!!!

Mori-kantoku calls for time as Kasamatsu steps in. Two slow curves from Satou and he's up 0-2.  Kasamatsu can't hold his swing and goes down for the 2nd out.


Yasumuro with the throw home, but it's not in time!! Gyakuten 3-2 Osaka Touin!!!

Mizutani goes down swinging, but Osaka Touin waits until the last possible moment to tie and take the lead!

Bottom 9th
From one up to one down, Urawa Gakuin now has to fight from behind!

#5 Kigure hits for Yoshikawa, but he grounds out to 3rd, one down!

Yasumuro steps in, but he's down on three straight!  2 down!  Last chance in Midorikawa!  He falls behind 1-2, fouls off a pitch, then singles back up the middle!  Douten runner on!

And now Takemura with a ball back up the middle!  Mizutani can't get to it and there's runners on 1st and 2nd now!

Rinzaki to keep the inning going, but he swings at the first pitch and grounds to short!  Mizutani with it, goes to 2nd, and Osaka Touin comes from behind in the 9th to advance to the Best 4!

What a finish!!!!!

Just when you though that Osaka Touin had perhaps gotten their offense going, Urawa Gakuin seemed to finally cash in on an opportunity... only to see Osaka Touin's offense come back and take the lead.  Urawa Gakuin tried to make one last rally, but it just falls short.

I think Urawa Gakuin came in with the right strategy.  Send in your reliever to survive the first couple of innings, then bring in your ace to hold off the impending Osaka Touin assault.  And it almost worked.  But Osaka Touin still found a way to turn on the offense at the end and claim victory.  About the only thing you could critisize would be the outfield playing no-doubles depth once Koike had gotten on base.  Otherwise, Urawa Gakuin's Mori-kantoku and his team should be commended for their efforts, and they definitely feel like a team that can challenge in the summer!

A few quick notes...

Of the Best 8 Teams...
  • Naruto is the only public school remaining, the only school west of Hanshin Koushien Kyuujyou, and the only one to have played extra inning games (twice!).
  • Half the field is from the Kanto area (Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi, Urawa Gakuin, Kanto Dai-ichi, Yokohama).
  • There is the possibility if Urawa Gakuin, Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi, Kousei Gakuin, and Kanto Dai-ichi all win, that we will have a first-time winner.  Of those, the first two have never reached the championship game (kesshou).
  • Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi's team was founded in 2001.  They have now gone to a summer and spring Koushien tournament.  3 teams have won a Koushien tournament in that timeframe (Osaka Touin, Aikoudai Meiden and Yokohama)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 8 - Game 3 - Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo) vs. Chiben Gakuen (Nara)

We end the 2nd round with a high-profile matchup.  Though several years ago you may not have been able to say that.

Chiben Gakuen had won the Kinki super-regional, and did defeat Hayatomo 5-2, but their offense was all generated in one inning.  And outside of the 5-run 5th inning, they managed just one hit with 3 walks and a hit batsmen.  Now, this was against Hayatomo, and for the most part against a pitcher who had only pitched a couple of innings.  So perhaps their preparation for ace Aidzu threw them off when Horita started the game.

Kanto Dai-ichi was given a surprise when facing Beppu Aoyama.  They scored just 1 run on 6 hits, and that run was in part because the Beppu defense failed to recognize the speed at the top of the order.  And 7 K's against the Beppu pitching staff may not be a good sign either.

And yet, this was the team that wound up winning the Tokyo regional.  So either Beppu Aoyama's pitching was above average or the Tokyo Regional was sub-average this year.

Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo)
3B  Isobe Yuuta (#9)
RF  Kishi Naoya (#16)
2B  Kiuchi Jyunshou
CF  Akiyama Shouta
LF  Itou Hiroki
SS  Yoshie Masakazu (#5)
1B  Anzai Kouyou
C  Matsutani Tsubasa
P  Nakamura Yuuta

Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
C  Nakamichi Katsushi
CF  Urano Jyunya
P  Aoyama Daiki
RF  Ono Youhei
3B  Komeda Shintarou
1B  Koike Masahiro
LF  Uenishi Ryouki (#12)
2B  Yamaguchi Yuuki (#6)
SS  Takeda Ichiya (#13)


14:45 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
After two quick outs by the Kanto offense, Kiuchi hits a single through to left.  Akiyama follows that up slicing a ball the opposite way to left.

But Itou winds up looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the inning.  May have been some framework there, but with the angle it's always hard to tell.

Bottom 1st
Nakamura looking sharp to start, getting Nakamichi to chase a slider inside for the first out.  And after an Urano flyout, Aoyama goes down on 3 pitches, watching the last one hit the outside corner for strike 3.

Top 2nd
Aoyama's good control early hitting the outside corners are forcing the batters to chase the ball.  And such was the case with Anzai for the 2nd out.

Matsutani scares the crap out of Aoyama by drilling a ball deep to left, but just is a little early.  Instead he grounds out to short to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Ono starts the inning with a gapper to right center.  Akiyama runs it down but not before Ono's in with a double.  Komeda bunts him over for Koike.

And the oen-dan starts playing Jock Rock a lot sooner than usual.

Nakamura walks Koike and Yonezawa-kantoku calls for time.

Uenishi works the count full, but winds up chasing a fastball up and away for the 2nd out.

And Yamagichi too cannot hit Nakamura's fastball and Kanto is out of the jam!

Top 3rd
Nakamura with a popup to left.  Takeda and Komeda run to get it, Komeda calls Takeda off, but makes a last second correction and misses the ball!  E7 and Kanto has a runner on!

Isobe can't lay down the bunt, and winds up grounding one back to Aoyama!  He goes to 2nd for one, but Takeda double clutches then sails the ball into the camera well!  It winds up being just like a bunt as Isobe is awarded 2nd.

Aoyama winds up walking Kishi on 4 straight, prompting Kosaka-kantoku to call for time.

Kiuchi with a grounder up the 3rd base line, and Uenishi makes a great stop!  He tags 3rd to get the force.  2 outs.

And Aoyama gets Akiyama to pop it up!  Ono takes a bit of a circuitous route to the ball, but runs down the right field line to make the catch.

Bottom 3rd
Nakamura with a 5 pitch inning , retiring the side in order in part thanks to a great snag by Isobe and a nice reach on a high throw by Anzai.

Top 4th
Defensive change for Chiben as #5 Odahara comes in for Uenishi and goes to 3B.  Komeda moves to LF.

Itou reaches out and hits a soft ball to the right side.  Yamaguchi charges, tries to make the barehanded throw but throws it away!  Infield single by Itou!

Yoshie lays down the bunt, Aoyama with it, but his throw to 2nd short hops Takeda and he can't pick it.  All safe!

Anzai lays down a great bunt which advances the runners.  It'll have to be up to Matsutani or ace Nakamura to get the runners home.  Infield playing for a throw home.

Matsutani jumps on the first pitch and lines it to left!  Itou comes home!  Yoshie is right behind him!  He chases him all the way home!  Matsutani puts Kanto up here in the 4th, 2-0!

Nakamura follows that up with a single through the right side!  Runners on 1st and 2nd with still 1 down!

Back to the top of the order and this could be bad for Aoyama.

Isobe with a slow chopper up the 3rd base side!  Uenishi charges, throws to 1st, beats a diving Isobe!

[Insert rant here]

The runners advance so that a base hit almost guarantees 2 runs, but there's also 2 outs.

Kishi standing in falls behind 1-2, but takes a couple of pitches, works the count full, and starts fouling off pitches.

(And someone has a vuvuzela??!)

Sanshin!  Kishi can't get around to the fastball and Aoyama is out of the inning!  But Kanto strikes first for a pair of runs!

Bottom 4th
Aoyama hits a ball to shallow right trying to jumpstart the Chiben offense. Ono not bunting, but gets under a Nakamura offering and flies out to left.

Komeda scorches a ball down the 1st base line, but it just goes foul.  He falls behind 1-2, but works the count full.  Ball inside winds up high instead and now runners are on 1st and 2nd for Koike.  Looks either like Nakamura is having control issues or is overthrowing the ball.

Ahead 0-2, Nakamura throws another one way high.  And another high fastball.  This could be concerning for Kanto.  Outside, and now the count is full once again.

High fastball, but close enough that Koike swings and fouls it off.  Fastball outside and it's manrui with one down.

Yonezawa-kantoku calling time, but he'd better be finding someone to warm up in the bullpen.

Odahara up to bat, and he bails Nakamura out by popping one up!

Two down for Yamaguchi and he's bailing out Nakamura by swinging at the high fastballs!

And he strikes out swinging!  For some reason the bottom of the order didn't wait to see if Nakamura would continue throwing balls!  Chiben wastes a great opportunity to tie or take the lead!

Top 5th
Kiuchi with a drive to left!  Komeda running back, but it's over his head!  He's in with a double!  However, Akiyama can't advance him via bunt and grounds out to Aoyama.

Itou flies out to center, and it's deep enough to advance Kiuchi.  Up to Yoshie to deliver.

He works a long AB but Aoyama finally gets the better of him on the 10th pitch inducing a grounder to 2nd to end the threat.

Bottom 5th
Takeda trying for the safety bunt, and while Anzai vacates 1st to field the ball, Kiuchi is there to cover just in time to record the out.

Nakamichi gets on base the old-fashioned way, he gets a hit (though the left side). Urano with a base hit the other way and now a situation is developing as Aoyama steps in.

But Aoyama is jammed and flies out to right.  2 down runners now at the corners for Ono.

The Kanto battery is being careful with Ono, and fall behind him 3-1.  Nakamura doesn't give in, but he sails one high and it's manrui for Komeda.  It's fine to walk Ono, but know that there's no room now for Komeda.

First ball from Nakamura goes high again.

But the next pitch Komeda flies to center!  Akiyama there for the catch, and Kanto is out of the jam!  Kanto Dai-ichi holds on to a tentative 2-0 lead.  However, Yonezawa-kantoku should be concerned that Nakamura is tiring a bit and may be opening his body and leaving his pitches up in the zone.  He's been lucky the last couple of innings, but it could come back to get them later.  They may want to tack on a couple of extra insurance runs just in case.

Top 6th
Anzai takes the first ball and drives it to right!  Ono sprinting back, but it's over his head!  It goes to the wall as Anzai goes for 2!  But Ono fumbles with the ball!  Anzai heads to 3rd and is in easily!  Chance immediately after the break of Kanto!

Matsutani works the count full and takes a ball down and away for ball 4.  Runners now at the corners with no down for ace Nakamura.

Comebacker by Nakamura!  But Aoyama gloves it, and re-secures it when it pops out!  He goes to 2nd for the force and there's one down.

Isobe with a small chopper up the 1st base side!  Aoyama hurries to it, throws home...


Nakamichi blocks home as he makes the tag on Anzai for the out!  2 down!  Kishi up, but he struck out last AB.

This time around, he softly lines out to short and Kanto's leadoff "triple" (it was a 2B + error) goes for naught.

Bottom 6th
One down and Odahara hits a fly to deep left!  Itou chases it down as it hits the base of the wall.  Odahara in with a double.

Nakamura is definitely in a pinch.  If he tries to throw it his normal speed, he overthrows it.  If he throws it with conrol, it's a tick slower than usual and can be hittable.

As a result he's behind 3-2 to Yamaguchi, and the pitch outside, while hitting the glove this time, is wide.

But instead of keeping the pressure completely on Nakamura, Kosaka-kantoku has Takeda bunt the runners over for Nakamichi.

Nakamura though manages to get ahead 1-2.  But another pitch high and taking a change low fulls the count.

He hits a fly ball!  Nakamura gets him to chase a high fastball!  Akiyama under it and they get the 3rd out!  Kanto continues to play with fire and not get burned!

Top 7th
Aoyama finally get an uneventful inning in the lucky 7 no less as he retires the 3-4-5 batters with almost no issue at all.

Bottom 7th
Oddly enough, with all the troubles Nakamura has had recently, he too gets a quiet 1-2-3 inning as he seems to be finally pitching instead of overthrowing.

Top 8th
Yoshie with a grounder to the right side, and it's off the glove of Yamaguchi as he dives for it!  Leadoff man on for Kanto!

But Chiben gets a break when Anzai's bunt is mishandled by Aoyama!  Yoshie thinks it's caught and he's easily thrown out at 2nd.

Aoyama gives it right back when he throws a wild pitch allowing Anzai to advance to 2nd.  However, Matsutani swings up 2-0 and pop put to short, and Nakamura flies out to right to end the inning.

Bottom 8th
But the decreased velocity does allow for big hits!  Komeda drives a ball to deep right!  Kishi runs back as the ball hits the base of the wall!  Komeda rounding the bases and he's in at 3rd with a leadoff triple!

Koike now with his own drive to right!  Kishi running back again, leaps, and makes the catch!  What a great catch by Kishi!

But that of course yields the run, and Chiben Gakuen trails by just 1!  It's 2-1!

Odahara up now, and he strikes out looking on a 129 kph fastball!  2 down!

Yamaguchi trying to keep the inning going singles past Nakamura into center.  Douten runner on base!

But Nakamura gets Takeda to pop it up. Matsutani secures it for the 3rd out.  Chiben gets one back and now the deficit seems much more managable.

Top 9th
Two pitches, two outs for Aoyama as he gets a popup and a safety bunt attempt.

Kiuchi takes a little longer, but he fouls out to Koike near the camera well.

Bottom 9th
Nail-biting time if you're Kanto.  Top of the order up for Chiben with a fatigued Nakamura on the mound.

Of course, the first pitch to Nakamichi is a 136 fastball down the middle.  Natch.

He gets ahead 0-2, but throws two wide again and levels the count.

And Nakamichi takes the next pitch and returns it back up the middle for a base hit.  Douten runner on, and Urano successfully bunts him to 2nd.

Aoyama up, and Nakamura gets him to fly out!  Itou under it for the 2nd out!

It's down to Ono, and he fouls off the first pitch.  0-1...  He pops it up!  Anzai to the fence in foul territory and it's out of play.  0-2...

Overthrows high for ball 1...  Overthrows high again for ball 2!   High fastball fought off by Ono!  Another letter high fastball fouled off!  Outside fastball fouled off again!  Fastball inside!  Ono ducks but it goes off his bat!  It pops and rolls down the first base line... goes foul before anyone can get to it!  Fastball, this time fouled straight back!  Does he have the timing down?

Fastball high again!  Full count!  High fastball fouled off one more time!!!

He hits it foul again!  But this time is it playable?  Matsutani running towards his dugout, running out of room...


Matsutani makes the catch!  Ono fouls out to end the game!  Kanto Dai-ichi holds on to a 2-1 victory over the Kinki champions Chiben Gakuen!!!


Kanto Dai-ichi ace Nakamura finds a way to hold on despite showing obvious signs of fatigue and mechanics breakdowns in the middle of the game finds a way to make 2 runs stick!

Both teams had scoring opportunities throughout the game, but it was obviously in favor of Chiben Gakuen as the game progressed.  But due to strategies or plain unluckiness, they were never able to take advantage of them.  Aoyama only gave up the 2 runs when the bottom of the order delivered, but it proved to be enough.

A well fought game on both sides as Chiben Gakuen I think proves to everyone that they are power to be reckoned with going forward.

However, while Kanto Dai-ichi advances to face Yokohama in 2 days, they'll have to face the reality that Nakamura may not be 100 percent for that game.  Such is the case when you pitch on day 6, then day 8, and now day 10.  For them to win senbatsu, Nakamura will have to pitch on days 11 and 12 as well.  This could prove to be too much for Kanto Dai-ichi to overcome.

Day 8 - Game 2 - Yokohama (Kanagawa) vs. Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)

Next on the docket may prove to be a good game.

Yokohama and ace Yanagi completely made Kochi look like a normal ordinary team in a 4-0 win.  Of course, it could also be Shikoku in general (though looking at Naruto yesterday it may not be the case).

Even still, Yokohama's offense may be of some concern as the bottom of the lineup failed to do a whole lot against Sakamoto/Tagashira.  That'll probably mean that Yanagi will need to shoulder a bit more of the load for them to make a championship type run.

Seikou Gakuin meanwhile got a good challenge from Toba in that they were limited to 2 runs.  However, ace Okano at the same time limited Toba to just 2 hits.

Now, Okano's not really that much different from other pitchers other than perhaps having better control than others.  I don't think I can really say that he's the pitcher the statistics bear him out to be, so it'll be interesting how he will do against Yokohama.

But in terms of pressure, I think the onus will be more on Okano than Yanagi to carry their respective teams.  Seikou's offense appears to be a bit weaker than Yokohama.

Yokohama (Kanagawa)
CF  Haizaki Ryou
LF  Shishikura Kazuma
RF  Tahara Keigo (#11)
1B  Yamauchi Tatsuya
2B  Higuchi Ryuunosuke
SS  Aoki Rikito (#16)
C  Ozeki Ikki
3B  Takahashi Ryouken (#6)
P  Yanagi Yuuya

Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)
CF  Saitou Yuuki
SS  Hirano Yuuma
C  Nagai Ryou
1B  Sonobe Satoshi
RF  Anzai Satoshi
LF  Kawai Shoutarou (#17)
3B  Kyouda Seiki
2B  Minowa Masato
P  Okano Yuuichirou


12:00 - First Pitch

Top 1st
One down for Yokohama and Shishikura singles to left.

Shishikura tries to steal 2nd, but Nagai calls for the pitchout and they get him easily.  Too bad as Tahara singles past a diving Sonobe.

Yamauchi also singles to right and is Yokohama's rare hit parade going to start?

Saitou-kantoku calls for time.

Higuchi with a liner to right!  Anzai running back, leaps!  It's off his glove!  He gathers it in, but Tahara scores to give Yokohama the early 1-0 lead!

Aoki follows that up with a liner to left!  Kawai sprinting to his right dives, and makes the catch!  He faceplants as his body bends uncomfortably above him, but he makes the catch save 2 more runs!

Bottom 1st
Hirano with a comebacker, off Yanagi's glove and into center for a one-out single!

And he goes for 2nd!  Throw is short and he's in safely!  Nagai follows that up with a single through the left side and Seikou Gakuin looks to strike back!

But when Sonobe grounds back to Yanagi, Hirano is caught off 3rd!  He's run down but then there's no one covering 3rd so he's back safely!  But Nagai didn't notice and head back to 2nd, so now he's caught!  He goes to 3rd, but then Hirano vacates 3rd.  Eventaully Hirano is run down as orginally done and the trailing runners advance as far as they can go.

Anzai hits a comebacker to Yanagi, and while he doesn't field it cleanly, he has plenty of time to make the out to end the inning.

Top 2nd
Ozeki with a hard grounder to short that bounces off Hirano.  But his throw beats out a diving Ozeki for the out.  Because diving at first for outs is the cool thing to do.  (No, no snark to see here, move along.)

Takahashi with a liner to left.  Kawai leaps and has it, no he doesn't!  He scurries back to get it and Takahashi's on with a 2-base error!

Yanagi follows that on the next pitch with a single to left!  Runners at the corners!

Haizaki with a liner to center!  Saitou makes th catch, and Takahashi holds!  Saitou's throw hits home on the fly!  2 down!

Shishikura up and gets locked into a battle with Okano going the full count and pulling some hard hit balls foul.  9th pitch of the AB he hits one to short.  Hirano double clutches and his throw short hops 1st!  Sonobe can't make the pick and Shishikura is safe! Takahashi scores to make it a 2-0 Yokohama lead!

Tahara grounds to short, but Yokohama tallies another run on the board.

Bottom 2nd
Kyouda gives Seikou another one-out baserunner when he works a walk on Yanagi.  But Minowa grounds into the 4-6-3 double play.

It would appear that Yanagi does not necessarily have his off speed pitches going for strikes unless the batter swings.  May want to key in on the straight.

Top 3rd
Higuchi connects for his 2nd hit, a liner to left.

Aoki with a short fly to center.  Saitou charges in, slides, but can't make the catch!  Higuchi advances to 2nd on the play.

Ozeki pops it up in the infield, but no one's calling for it!  Okano makes the catch though finally and there's 2 down.

Takahashi with a grounder to 1st, and it gets by Sonobe!  How did he miss that?!  Higuchi scores on the error and it's 3-0 with runners at the corners.

Yanagi grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but while Yokohama earned their 1st run, Seikou has given them the next 2, digging themselves a bigger hole to get out of.

Bottom 3rd
Okano with a grounder to Aoki.  He has to hurry his throw a bit to get the hustling Okano out.

Saitou connects on a fastball and singles to right.  It does look like if you're looking for a pitch to hit, hit the fastball.  His changes are connecting.

And Saitou is picked off 1st!  Yanagi catches him in between hops and throws him out!  He's definitely not happy.  Even more so probably when Hirano singles to right.

Hirano takes off on a slow curve and he takes 2nd!  2nd stolen base of the game!

Nagai though grounds to short, no, make that 3B as Hasegawa cuts in front to make the play at 1st.

Top 4th
Shishikura makes a bid for his 3rd hit, but Minowa makes a great stop and throw to just beat out a diving Shishikura!

Kawai secures a foul fly from Tahara to give Okano his first 1-2-3 inning and more importanly, keep Yokohama off the board.

Bottom 4th
Sonobe leads the 4th taking a slow curve through the left side.  Let's see if the can't get one back here.  Anzai tries the safety bunt, but it becomes a regular one.

But Kawai can't even advance the runner as he grounds to short.

Kyouda works the count full and takes a change high to put runners on 1st and 2nd.  That prompts Watanabe-kantoku to call for time.

It'll be up to Minowa again to try and score the runs or extend the inning.

However, Minowa doesn't listen to my advice to look for only a fastball, and strikes out on a slider.  Two more runners left on base.

Top 5th
#7 Sekine in for Kawai in LF.

Yamauchi connects on a ball left up in the zone by Okano!  Sekine to the wall, and it bounces off the top of the wall!  He's in with a double!  Higuchi bunts him to 3rd and Yokohama is threatening again.


Aoki tries for the squeeze, but pops it up!  Okano running to the 3rd base line dives, and makes the backhanded catch!  Yamauchi's meat at 3rd and Okano calmly tosses to Kyouda for the inning-ending double play!

Bottom 5th
Can Seikou capitalize on this momentum?

Okano starts it off taking a hanging curve back up the middle!  Man on and the top of the order up!

Saitou up and he gets ahead 3-0.  Will he try for the walk?  Takes a fastball just high enough for a strike.  Swings at the next one, and Yokohama gets the leading runner.

Hirano tries for the safety bunt, but that goes foul!  So he hits a single past a diving Higuchi to right!

Nagai with a scorcher!  But Hasegawa makes the lunging catch!  Saitou is meat at 2nd and the inning is over!  We head to the break with Yokohama leading by 3, but most of that was of Seikou's own doing.

Top 6th
Two quick outs for Okano, but he hangs one to Yanagi!  He connects and sends one to left!  Sekine back to the wall...


Yanagi helps his own cause with a homerun!  It's 4-0 Yokohama!

Haizaki with a ball up the middle.  Hirano over to field it, but can't cleanly get it!  He eats it as Haizaki reaches first.

Shishikura chops one back to Okano for the 3rd out, but Yokohama adds to their lead.

Bottom 6th
Seikou is trying to get runners on any way possible.  Sonobe works the count full, but strikes out swinging.  Anzai gets plunked, but it's called a ball because he didn't make an effort to get out of the way (not that people have gotten on for less).

And Sekine grounds back to Yanagi to end the inning.

Top 7th
Tahara does something the Seikou batters were unable to do last half-inning... walk.

Yamauchi is swinging away instead of bunting and drives one deep to center!  Saitou runs back to his right, then back to his left... and makes the catch!

Higuchi and Aoki are also retired via fly balls to Anzai and their lucky 7 comes and goes.

Bottom 7th
Minowa finally gives them a baserunner with a liner past Aoki to center.  Saitou-kantoku calls for Okano to bunt looking for a one timer.

But even though he's successful, Saitou swings on the first pitch and flies out to 1st to end the inning.

Top 8th
Ozeki connects on a slider and it one-hops to the wall for a leadoff double.

Takahashi pulls back the bunt, reaches out and stabs one over the infield to right for a single!  Runners at the corners for ace Yanagi!

Yanagi singles to right!  That sends home Ozeki.  5-0 and runners at the corners again for Haizaki.

Saitou-kantoku calls time, but it probably won't help anymore.

He hits a fly to right.  That'll get Takahashi home to make it 6-0.

Shishikura with a liner to center to put runners at the corners.

Saitou-kantoku mercifully pulls Okano out for #11 Iitaka.

But Tahara lines one to right to the wall!  Watanabe-kantoku seemingly puts the brakes on and only Yanagi scores to make it a 7-0 game.

Iitaka retires the next 2 batters, and the game seems well in hand.

Bottom 8th
Hirano up and he drives a ball deep to right!  Tahara chases the ball down near the foul pole as Hirano has a leadoff triple!

Nagai singles to center and Seikou avoids the shutout, making it 7-1.

However the struggles in the middle of the order continue.  Sonobe is caught looking on a fastball, and Anzai grounds into a 5-4-3 double play.

Top 9th
#12 Nomoto in for Sonobe at 1B.

And while Nomoto yields a single to Takahashi, he strikes out Yanagi looking to end the inning.

Bottom 9th
#9 Nakase in at RF for Yokohama.

Sekine and PH Nakata (#18) are retired before PH Sakatani (#16) singles back up the middle.

Captain Ujiie (#15) comes in to PH next.  And he works a walk.

Still a long ways to go for Seikou as Watanabe-kantoku calls time.

And indeed, Saitou looking for a hit instead of trying to get on base, grounds into the fielder's choice at 3rd to end the game.

Seikou Gakuin was under pressure from Yokohama's bats the entire game and with timely hitting and some errors from the defense scored 7 runs.  However, they had their own opportunities and were unable to convert on them until it was far too late.

No scare this time around for Yokohama as they advance to the best 8 to face the winners of our final game of the day.  However, Yanagi didn't look particularly sharp today, and he may need to be if they want to win senbatsu this year.

As for Seikou Gakuin, Okano's stellar ERA was a bit deflated due to perhaps the region and the like, and while he wasn't terrible, he wasn't as good as perhaps the statistics showed.  They'll pack up and work on improving for the summer.

Day 8 - Game 1 - Aikoudai Meiden (Aichi) vs. Riseisha (Osaka)

Day 8 represents the 2/3rd's mark of the tournament, the filling of the Best 8, and the last day of 3 game sets (Thank God, I need the sleep).

First up is Riseisha (Kinki 3/4) vs. Aikoudai Meiden (Tokai Champs).

Riseisha received a challenge from Chikyuu Kankyou in the first 5 innings, but managed to pull away late in part perhaps due to Urushido's tiring on the mound.  They won 5-2, but was not terribly impressive.

As for their pitching, I don't know if using a triumvirate of pitchers is what they will be using going forward, but each of them brought something different and perhaps were used in an effective manner to prevent fatigue and perhaps prevent getting hard hit as some of them weren't as effective as others.

Aikoudai Meiden had no trouble with Miyazaki Nishi, winning 8-0 thanks in part to a 14K effort by ace Hamada.  That certainly won't continue, but seeing the hits spread around the players in the lineup is promising for future games.  Other than that, there's little to take away from the game.

I would say that Aikoudai Meiden has the advantage in the matchup, but we've seen before that a combination of pitchers can be effective (darn you Saga Kita!)

Aikoudai Meiden (Aichi)
2B  Kimura Toshiki
CF  Matsubara Fumiya
LF  Araki Yuuto
SS  Satou Daisuke
RF  Matsuoka Daisuke
1B  Torii Tatsunori
3B  Nakano Yoshiki
P  Hamada Tatsurou
C  Nakamura Yuutarou

Riseisha (Osaka)
2B  Miyazaki Shin
3B  Shouno Yuuto
RF  Harada Ryouhei
1B  Kobone Makoto
SS  Kumamoto Hayato
LF  Okita Katsutoshi
CF  Hasegawa Seiya (#15)
C  Inui Hayato
P  Higashino Ryuuji (#17)


09:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Kimura with a ringing double down the left field line to start the game against starter Higashino!

Matsubara with the bunt, Higashino fields, throw to 1st is not in time!  Runners at the corners immediately for Meiden!

Araki looking to cash in.  But he goes down swinging on a slider and there's one down.

Kurano-kantoku decides to get the running game going and sends Matsubara!  Throw to 2nd by Inui not in time!

Higashino gets Satou to pop it up!  Okita with the catch and the runners have to hold.  2 down!

All he needs now is to retire Matsuoka and he's out of the jam.  He gets ahead 1-2, check swing? 2-2.


Meiden can't capitalize on the early runners and Riseisha will look to take advantage in their half of the inning!

Bottom 1st
Miyazaki with a ball up the middle.  Satou dives, but can't quite field it.  Shouno sends him along to 2nd.

However, Harada and Kobone are retired quickly and the opportunity fizzles.

Top 2nd
Higashino having a much better 2nd.  Retires the first two batters before Hamada just about sneaks one through the right side.  Miyazaki is there to field it, but can't quite get a handle on it.

Nakamura though goes down swinging and he's settled down for now.

Bottom 2nd
Hamada gets two quick groundouts before Hasegawa singles through the left side.

Inui with a grounder that gets past Torii, but Kimura is there and makes the play to Hamada covering for the 3rd out.

Top 3rd
Back to the top of the order and Kimura blasts one to left again!  Okita running back and it bounces to the wall!  Kimura with his 2nd double of the game!

Matsubara lays down the bunt again, and though he's out at first, Kimura advances to 3rd once again.  Can someone get him in this time?

Araki tries for the safety squeeze, but he pops it up!  Shouno charging in makes the diving catch and there's two outs.

Against Higashino I would have expected them to still be aggressive instead of choosing for the traditional path.

The Riseisha battery elects to unintentionally intentionally walk Satou to get to Matsuoka who K'd in his last opportunity just like this in the 1st.

This time Matsuoka delivers, driving one to right and scoring Kimura!  1-0 Meiden!

Torii reaches down and gets a ball at the end of the bat, and Okita is running back?!  He's still running back??!

That's over his head!!??

It bounces to the wall!  Satou scores!  Matsuoka easily scores as Torii has a stand up triple!  How the heck did that ball go all the way to the wall??!  Either way, it's 3-0 Meiden!

Nakano with a grounder to the right side.  Somehow that gets by a diving Miyazaki and goes into right scoring Torii!  It's 4-0 Meiden!

And this time Higashino doesn't make it to the end of the 3rd.  Okada-kantoku sends in #11, RHP Sakamoto.

Sakamoto gets out of the inning when Nakano tries to steal 2nd and is thrown out by Inui.  But Meiden with 3 timely hits take a 4-0 lead over Riseisha!

Bottom 3rd
Hamada looking very good early, hitting the catcher's spots fairly close if not hitting it exactly. Sakamoto falls victim to a fastball on the inside corner.

Not afraid to back down either, as on a full count to Miyazaki he goes inside, but misses to issue his 1st walk.

Shouno chases a ball outside for the 2nd out.  And Harada suffers the same fate as he is fooled on a ball high and away.  3 Ks for the inning for Hamada.

Top 4th
He turns around now and picks up the bat and is frozen on a change down the middle.

After retiring Nakamura, Kimura fists a ball to the left side.  Shouno takes it in front of Kumamoto, but bobbles the ball!  Kimura on again with an infield hit!

Matsubara goes down on a fastball down the middle to end the inning.

Bottom 4th
Huh, must be a new thing to mimic Chiben's "C".  Riseisha has a yellow R on a blue background whose size actually rivals that of Chiben's.

Kobone takes a pitch away through the right side for a leadoff single.  Kumamoto appears to show bunt as Okada-kantoku may play for 1 at a time.  Though I'm immediately proven wrong as he swings away and fouls one off.

Kumamoto with a great eye takes a couple of pitches inside, working the count full.

Hamada gives in with a fastball down the middle and Kumamoto blasts it to center!  Matsubara stops as to play it off the wall, and it lands at the base!  Kobone scores on the double and it's 4-1 Meiden!

More importantly, no one down!

Okita grounds out to 2nd, allowing Kumamoto to advance to 3rd.

Hasegawa lines one to right!  Matsuoka there for the catch and his throw catches too much air.  Hamada cuts it off and Kumamoto scores easily to make it 4-2 Meiden!

Inui flies out to right and the inning is over.  But Riseisha cuts the deficit in half!

Top 5th
One down and Satou gets his 2nd walk.  Matsuoka with a chopper up the 1st base line and Kobone goes to Miyazaki at 1B for the 2nd out.

And Sakamoto gets Torii looking on a fastball down the middle for the 3rd out!  Sakamoto holds serve right after they gets 2 runs back!

Bottom 5th
Now can Riseisha close the gap further before the break?

Miyazaki with a slow chopper up the 3rd base side.  Nakano charges in, but can't handle the bounce!  Miyazaki with an infield single!  (Though the scorers charge an error)

Shouno bunts him over as Okada-kantoku will look for a one-timer to cut the deficit to 1.

But Hamada falls behind Harada 3-0 with Kobone on deck.

And he loses him!  Hamada will have to deal with Riseisha's cleanup batter! Kurano-kantoku calls for time.

Hamada jams Kobone!  Torii under it for the catch and Hamada preserves the lead at 2 as we head to the break.

Top 6th
Nakano leads off the 6th with a double to left center.  As expected, Hamada is showing bunt, but fouls his first attempt.

He pulls it back and swings on the next ball, but pops up to Kumamoto in shallow center, though the catch is a bit scary.

Nakamura tries to bunt, but he fails and falls behind 0-2.  And so he fouls off a couple before reaching down and putting one just over the infield to right for a base hit!

Runners at the corners for top batter Kimura!

Nakamura takes off for 2nd and he's in there safely with a delayed throw!

SQUEEZE!  Kimura lays down the squeeze!  Sakamoto's only play is to 1st!  One run scores!

Miyazaki at 1st fires home!  They were sending Nakamura!  The throw is in plenty of time to get Nakamura at home.  They were trying for the 2-run bunt!  However, Riseisha is prepared for it and gets the trailing runner to end the inning.

But Meiden tacks one back on to lead 5-2.

Bottom 6th
Kumamoto with a comebacker that Hamada doesn't field!  Satou charges late, but makes the play at first for the out.

Okita gets on the board with his first hit, lining one to center.

Hasegawa follows that up with a liner to left and Riseisha's got 2 runners on.

Okada-kantoku tries the hit-and-run, but Inui pops it up!  Satou on the outfield grass in center makes the catch.

#13 Uji pinch hits for Sakamoto as Higashi will as planned enter the game for the final 3 innings.

He falls behind 2-2, and fouls off a couple of hard pitches before working the count full.

But Hamada gets him to ground to 3rd!  Nakano goes to 1st and the inning is over!

Top 7th
Ace Higashi does enter the game to hold the fort while the offense regroups.

One down, and right before Araki grounds out to 1st, I notice that Meiden's oen-dan has a small golden "M" on a purple background.  It's much smaller than Riseisha's, that despite Meiden having more students (though Riseisha IS closer to Koushien than Meiden).

And Satou with a defensive swings on a ball inside lines out to 2nd for Riseisha's first 1-2-3 inning!

Bottom 7th
Why is Riseisha playing the graduation song at most graduations here??!

Miyazaki with good contact, but gets under it and Matsubara can camp under it in deep center for the out.

#14 Miyamoto comes in to hit for Shouno, but goes down on 3 straight pitches.

Hamada gets his first 1-2-3 inning as Harada hits a high fly to right to end the inning.

Top 8th
Miyamoto stays in the game at 3B.

Higashi issues his first walk to Matsuoka.  Torii bunts him to 2nd.

Nakano with an opposite field drive!  Okita running back and that's over his head again!  Matsuoka coes to score on the double and Meiden regains their 4-run margin.  It's 6-2!

Hamada pops one out to new 3B Miyamoto for the 2nd out.  And Nakamura lines out to Miyazaki to end the inning.  But the gap widens with just 2 innings left to go!

Bottom 8th
Kobone gives a good fight, fouling off 4 pitches before missing on a high fastball for the first out.

Kumamoto with a grounder that hops over the glove of Nakano into left for a base hit.  Now, Hamada grazes Okita and Riseisha has two runners on!

Hasegawa hits a short fly down the right field line!  Matsuoka running in strafes the line and makes the catch for the 2nd out!

Hamada perhaps laboring a bit falls behind Inui 3-0 before filling up the count.  Runners will take off, but Inui flies out to right!  Matsuoka there for the catch and Riseisha is retired!

Top 9th
Kimura with his 4th hit of the day, a single through the right side!

And he takes off for 2nd!  Throw by Inui, and he's safe!  (Dunno about that one.  Looks like Kumamoto may have had the tag there)

Compounding things is that Matsubara works a 9-pitch walk!

Araki with a grounder to 3rd.  Miyamoto's throw to 1st is high!  It goes over Kobone and into foul territory!  Kimura scores!  Matsubara being waved home!  Throw in and Matsubara gets around the swipe tag! 2-run error makes it 8-2 Meiden!

 Okada-kantoku pulls Higashi and brings in #10 Suzuki to finish the inning.

Full count to Satou and he's hit right on the knee.  Runners on 1st and 2nd as Okada-kantoku calls time.

Passed ball by Inui advances the runners.

Matsuoka crushes a liner to right!  Harada with the catch and Araki scores to make it 9-2.

Nakano collects his 4th hit with a single past a diving Kobone.  Runners at the corners for Hamada, though I'd just take him out at this point.

But he grounds out to short and the inning is over.  Meiden adds 3 more runs to what is now a mere formality.

Bottom 9th
#18 Oosuka takes over for Matsuoka in RF.

 #8 Fujiyama in to get his hacks as he PH for Suzuki.  Instead he goes down looking on 3 straight.

Miyazaki flies to right, and #16 Ueda grounds to 3rd to end the game.

A fairly dominating performance by the Meiji Jingu runner-ups as they rout Riseisha 9-2.  The battery of pitchers were unable to hold back the Meiden offense, and while they made it close in the middle innings, they couldn't keep it up.

Perhaps given some more time with their pitching, Riseisha may have something for the summer.  For now, they'll head home and continue to build on their Koushien experience.

As for Meiden, we have the Meiji Jingu rematch in the quarterfinals!  While revenge is not necessarily a Japanese trait, I don't think they'd mind giving one back to Kousei Gakuin here at senbatsu.

We'll get that game in 2 days time!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 7 - Game 3 - Kousei Gakuin (Aomori) vs. Oumi (Shiga)

Our final game of the day brings up to the other side of the bracket and Kousei Gakuin versus Oumi.

Oumi had a bit of a false start against Takasaki on day 3 when it rained and cancelled the game.  In the replay, Oumi would pull away from the cinderella team and win 7-2.

Kousei Gakuin had a bit of trouble against the neighbors to the north in Hokushou.  Jyouma was on the mound for Kousei Gakuin and shutout Hokushou, yet the offense just managed 3 runs in the win.  The lack of offense is concerning, especially from the Meiji Jingu champions.

The rain has come down again, perhaps it's Oumi's doing because they've had rain on the days they should be playing.  And it may play a factor before the game is over.  No predictions here.

Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)
RF  Ameku Shouto
LF  Murase Daijyu
C  Tamura Tatsuhiro
SS  Houjyou Fumiya
1B  Takeda Toshiki
3B  Oosugi Akinobu
2B  Jyouma Ryuuhei
CF  Kimura Takumi
P  Kanazawa Yuuki

Oumi (Shiga)
RF  Kume Masashi (#8)
2B  Fukui Shingo
LF  Hashimoto Daiki
3B  Fujiwara Ryuuji
CF  Yamaguchi Kenta (#9)
1B  Namazue Jyunki
SS  Hayashida Yuusuke (#15)
C  Tsusaka Jyun
P  Murata Teito


13:48 - Rain Delay.  The rain is falling down again at a hard enough rate that they're covering the mound and batters box.  We're officially in a rain delay.

13:55 - This was the starting time of the game, and as quickly as the rain started pouring down, it has stopped, but the tarps have not been taken off just yet.

13:57 - They have announced that the game will begin at 14:10.

14:10 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
For it raining not too long ago, it looks too sunny.  Almost like Seattle weather that is.

Ameku turns on a ball and shoots past Namazue into right!  Leadoff batter on, and now moved to 2nd by Murase.

Tamura though takes 3 straight balls.  And then one more inside and runners on 1st and 2nd for Houjyou.

Houjyou swings at the first pitch fastball and lifts it to left!  Hashiimoto running back, running back... and makes the catch in front of the wall!  Both runners tag up and advance!

Takeda looking for a one-timer.  But he falls behind 1-2 and has to play defensive!  And Murata induces a grounder to 2nd!  Fukui makes the play at 1st and Oumi is out of the inning!

Bottom 1st
Kume goes down on a check swing for the first out.

Seeing Kanazawa live for the first time, (well, live in the sense of watching him live, not necessarily being there), I can see how Kanazawa was effective.  His windup is close to the body and well hidden.  He has a fastball so far that is in the high 130s touching 140 and has a slider, curve and shuuto.

Fukui and Hashimoto are retired with little trouble, and we're onto the 2nd inning.

Top 2nd
Oosugi falls for a low curveball for Murata's first K.  Jyouma first pitch grounds to short.  And Kimura blows a fastball inside Kimura for the 3rd out.  An easy inning for Murata.

Bottom 2nd
Kanazawa looking really good on the mound, hitting the spots Tamura's putting out there.

Also getting help from his defense as Oosaugi makes a nice backhanded stop and throw to 1st in another 1-2-3 inning for the Kousei ace.

Top 3rd
One down, and Ameku collects his 2nd single, taking a high fastball past a diving Fukui to right.

Murase follows that up with a ball off the end of his bat, sending it to right-center!  Men on for Tamura!

And Tamura is patient, getting ahead 3-1 in the count.  He's green-lighted, but is a bit fast and pulls it foul.  Full count now...  fouls it off himself.  Ow.  And it's inside!  Manrui for cleanup batter Houjyou!

Tsusaka comes up to talk to him quickly.

Two high curves that force Houjyou to duck, and a high fastball mean that Houjyou is up 3-1!

Murata gives in and Houjyou makes him pay!  He drives a ball to deep left!  Hashimoto running back sees it land at the base of the wall!  Ameku scores with Murase right behind him!  Tamura is being waved home and he scores!  Throw to 3rd isn't in time and it's a bases clearing triple for Houjyou!  3-0 Kousei Gakuin!!

Taga-kantoku calls for time after Murata loses Takeda as well to put runners at the corners.

Squeeze!  Nakai-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but Oosugi whiffs!  Houjyou is left out to dry and is run down, though lasting long enough to allow Takeda to advance to 3rd.

And after an 9 pitch battle, Oosugi strikes out swinging to end the inning, but a mistake by Murata costs Oumi 3 runs!

Bottom 3rd
Tsusaka gives Oumi their first hit on a ball the opposite way.  Murata showing bunt, takes 3 pitches and goes ahead 2-1... now 3-1.  He tries to bunt 3-1, but misses!  Full count and he lines back to Kanazawa!  Tsusaka has no chance to return back to base and the inning is over!

Top 4th
Murata issues his 4th walk of the game in Jyouma to lead off the 4th.  And on a ball in the dirt, he takes off for 2nd and reaches safely!

Meanwhile, the cameras show #10 Hirose warming up in the Oumi bullpen.

Kimura once again is caught looking, this time on a curve inside.  Kanazawa advances the runner with a grounder to 2nd.

And Murata finally retires leadoff batter Ameku with a flyout to left!

Bottom 4th
The reporters from the Oumi stands say that it's not just Oumi band playing, it several chuugaku schools playing as well.  No wonder it sounds very loud.  That, and they have more than half the oen-dan filled with supporters in Oumi blue with thundersticks.  HUGE THUNDERSTICKS.

Sadly, it's not helping the team any.  Kanazawa rings up his 2nd and 3rd Ks while retiring the top of the order.

Top 5th
Tamura gets on base for the 3rd time today as he laces a ball to center for a one-out single.

Houjyou with a ball back up the middle just past a diving Hayashida puts runners on 1st and 2nd for Takeda.

I think I hear the trombones in Kousei's oen-dan...

Takeda reaches down and truly bloops one over Hayashida just onto the outfield grass!  Manrui for Kousei!

Oosugi with a grounder to 2nd!  Should be, NO!

The ball bounces off Fukui and goes into center!  Tamura scores!  Houjyou scores!  It's 5-0 as Oosugi slides into 2nd!

Taga-kantoku calling time.

Jyouma first pitch drives it to  to left!  Hashimoto running back!


Jyouma's ball his the left field foul pole and it's a 3-run HR!  Kousei leads now 8-0!

Kimura and Kanazawa are both retired to end the inning, but the damage has been done as 5 runs come in to score.

Bottom 5th
One down for Oumi and Kanazawa gives up first walk to Yamaguchi.  The offense shows a bit of life as Namazue turns on an inside pitch and lines it to right for a single.  That brings up Hayashida.

But he hits a grounder to 3rd!  Oosugi steps on 3rd for one, throw to 1st for the double play to end the inning.  We hit the break with Kousei holding a commanding 8-0 lead.

Top 6th
Changes for Oumi.  #10 Hirose comes in for Namazue and takes the hill.  #13 Miyai comes in for Murata and takes over at 1B.

Hirose almost gets a 1-2-3 inning, but Tamura would like to get on base everytime he's up as he singles to center.

Houjyou with a blast to left center!  Did he really?  Hashimoto running back, watches it hit the top of the padded fence and bounce back into the field!  Yamaguchi runs it down and throws it in, but not before Houjyou's in with a triple!  9-0 now for Kousei.

Make that 10-0.  Takeda singles to center.

Oosugi has not joined in on the hit parade as he pops out to Tsusaka to end the inning.

Bottom 6th
Kume finally breaks out of his K funk with a single pas a diving Oosugi.  Fukui follows that one up with a single back up the middle and Kume takes 3rd. Maybe they can avoid the shutout at least?  That'd be a start.

Hashimoto grounds to 2nd though and they're turned away again.

Top 7th
Kimura gets in on the hit parade as he drives a ball to right!  Kume turns to his left, then his right, and is all turned around as the ball falls in front of the wall!  Kume is in with a triple!

Kanazawa is living up to the true hitting potential of a pitcher by striking out to go 0-4 on the day.

Hirose retires Ameku on a grounder to 1st and they're back on the bats to at least prevent a shutout.

Bottom 7th
Two down and #17 Miyakita hits for Hirose.  He hits a sharp grounder to 3rd and it bounces off a diving Oosugi and takes a 90 turn into foul territory.  He goes for two and slides in safely!

#16 Tsuji Kouhei comes to run for him, but he doesn't go far.  Hayashida fouls out to Tamura to end the inning.

Top 8th
#11 Yamada comes in for Kouhei and takes the hill.

The subs are coming out now as #18 Furutera hits for Murase, and strikes out on 3 straight.

And it's Yamada who finally puts an end to Tamura's on base adventures!  Yamada grounds out to short!

Houjyou with a high fly to left center.  Hashimoto and Yamaguchi converge, Hashimoto goes for the ball... and misses!  It falls in front of him and Houjyou's on with a 2 base error.

Takeda with a single to center and there's runners at the corners with 2 down.

Takeda tries his hand at a stolen base and just slides in safely.

Sadly for Yamada, he has to suffer like the pitchers before him.  Oosugi finally gets his first hit, driving a ball to the left center wall for a triple.  12-0 Kousei.

That leaves only ace Kanazawa without a hit.  He still has one AB left.

Jyouma grounds out to short and that's the inning.

Bottom 8th
#17 Sekiguchi comes in for PH Furutera and goes to left.  #14 Kishigawa comes in for Oosugi and plays 3B.

Miyai gets a one out single to center.  Kume follows suit to put runners on 1st and 2nd.

Fukui puts a good charge into one.  Kimura running back, leaps and just catches the ball in the webbing!

Unfortunately Hashimoto kills the rally again by grounding out to 2nd.

Top 9th
Kimura goes down, and that brings up Kanazawa.  Can he get a hit?

Oh.  Instead he gets hit.  And either on the hands or on the head or both.  That's the only thing with leaving your ace in the game in a blowout.

And after Ameku is retired, Taga-kantoku sends in #6 Taga to take the hill to get the last out.

First pitch Kimura (running for Kanazawa) takes off for and steals 2nd.

Sekiguchi with a single to center.  Kimura sprinting around 3rd and scores to make it 13-0.

Sekiguchi gets caught off 2nd and is run down to end the inning.

Bottom 9th
#16 Matsuura in for Kishigawa at 3B.  #13 Nozaki in for Takeda at 1B.

Fujiwara with a blast to center!  Kimura back to the wall!  He looks up!


Fujiwara is not cheated on this one!  He hits a home run to dead center!  Oumi avoids the shutout, it's 13-1!

After a flyout by Yamaguchi, #18 Murase comes in to PH for Taga and grounds out.

And now with one out remaining, Nakai-kantoku pulls Kanazawa for #10 Itou.

#12 Umetani comes in to hit for Hayashida.  Only #14 Tsuji Kento remains on the bench.

And unfortunately he will stay there as Umetani fouls out to Nozaki to end the game.

Unfortunately for Oumi, things just went awry in the 5th inning and they could never recover.  They did however manage to avoid the shutout, and almost get everyone some playing time.  It will remain to be seen if leaving Kanazawa in has any repercussions going forward.

Day 7 - Game 2 - Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) vs. Naruto (Tokushima)

Our brunchtime game features a best 4 finalist last year, and a team that hasn't been here in 32 years.

Naruto survived their first round game against 21st century team Sumoto... just.  A hit batsmen with a single was all the scoring in the game.  And this was while Sumoto actually had more opportunities in the game than Naruto!  So, for being the Shikoku champion, the prospects don't look to good.

Especially when they face last summer's Best 4 team Sakushin Gakuin.

But they did not have a smooth ride in the first game.  In fact, Kurashiki Shougyou jumped out to a 3-0 lead on ace Ootani before the offense rocked Nishi for 4 runs in the second, never looking back.  The team definitely had some hits, but was the beneficiary of bad defense too.  Also, the top of the order was unable to produce much offense for the team either, which is concerning if you're depending on cleanup batter Takayama to drive in runs.

Naruto looks like they'll have a lot on their hands when they take the field today.

Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
CF  Tsuruta Kouya
LF  Haneishi Hiroki
SS  Ishii Kazunari
1B  Takayama Ryousuke (#9)
C  Yamashita Yuuto
RF  Fuse Kyouhei (#16)
3B  Takashima Shouma
2B  Asano Shouya
P  Tsutsui Shigeru (#11)

Naruto (Tokushima)
SS  Kawano Yuuto
CF  Shimada Jyukito
LF  Inaoka Kenta
2B  Sugimoto Keita (#3)
RF  Yamato Taira
3B  Matsumoto Takanori
C  Kusaka Hiroki (#12)
P  Goutouda Shuusaku
1B  Ise Hayato (#16)


11:20 - First pitch!

Top 1st
It's a relatively quiet inning for Goutouda to start.  Sakushin's batters are going after the ball early in counts as Tsuruta and Ishii first pitch swinging in a 1-2-3 start for Goutouda.

Bottom 1st
Tsutsui on the mound instead of Ootani, but it wouldn't make sense in the handedness as both are lefties and the Naruto lineup today is right heavy.

One down Shimada draws a 4-pitch walk then Inaoka singles through the left side.

Control issues for Tsutsui as he can't find the zone and walks his 2nd batter on 4 straight!  It's manrui with one down for Yamato!

Grounder to short!  But Ishii doesn't field it cleanly!  They get the out at 2nd, but the relay to 1st is late!  Shimada scores and Naruto is on the board here in the 1st!  1-0!

Matsumoto grounds out to short to end the inning, but Naruto gets their first run this time much sooner!

Top 2nd
Takayama gets a good pitch at 3-2, but hits a hard grounder to 2nd.

Yamashita and Fuse are retired thereafter for a 1-2-3 inning, but Goutouda had to work a little harder for that one.

Bottom 2nd
Tsutsui appears to have a fastball in the high 120s with a slider in the mid 110s that he throws A LOT.

New 1B Ise, in the game today because Nakano has a injury to his finger, gets a 2-out single to right.

But Kawano grounds to a fielder's choice at short and the inning is over.

Top 3rd
Cameras go to the flags above the scoreboard and they're blowing as usual from RF to LF.

Sakushin's batters trying to work the count and get on, but Takashima and Asano fly out.  It's Tsutsui who gets on with a little help from Matsumoto who can't field his grounder cleanly!

Hit-and-run by Kobari-kantoku and Tsuruta singles to right!  Yamato is there quickly and keeps Tsutsui at 2nd.

Haneishi grounds into a fielder's choice at short, but Sakushin finally gets a baserunner on as well as their first hit.

Bottom 3rd
Another clean inning from Tsutsui.  Two quick outs to 2nd, and a 3-2 knee buckler to Sugimoto to end the inning.

Top 4th
Chance for Sakushin as Ishii slices one down the left field line fair!  He's hustles to 2nd and is in safely!

Takayama hits one down the right field line and that's fair!  But Ishii think's it's foul and only advances to 3rd!  Will that cost them later?

Well Yamashita gets under one and pops it up!  Sugimoto secures it for the out!

But Fuse hits one to center!  Shimada prepares to throw home, and Ishii takes off on the catch!  The throw home is cut off, no!  It bounces off Sugimoto and deflects to the 3rd base dugout!  Kusaka gives chase but Takayama advances to 3rd!  But anyways, Sakushin has tied the game at 1-1!

But no further damage is done as Takashima grounds out to short.

Bottom 4th
Tsutsui has settled down since the first as Naruto's batters can't make contact on his pitches.  He racks up two more K's in a up and down inning.

Top 5th
Outside of that last inning, Goutouda has looked smooth as well, hitting his spots and if missing generally missing low.  He too gets a 1-2-3 inning thanks to a nice backhanded stab by Ise on a scorching ball by Tsuruta.

Bottom 5th
Routine grounder to short by Goutouda and Ishii gets ahead of himself and allows the ball to deflect off of him!

Ise not bunting, swings and his a grounder to short!  This time Ishii doesn't miss, starting the 6-4-3 double play!

Kawano reaches out on a ball and grounds out to short.  We hit the break with some errors on both sides, a few hits and a 1-1 tie.

Top 6th
Haneishi turns on a ball inside and rips it down the left field line to the wall for a double!

Kobari-kantoku electing not to have Ishii bunt.  Goutouda freezes him on a fastball on the inside corner!  1 down!

Cleanup batter Takayama up and Goutouda falls behind 3-0!  But Takayama gets the green light, swings on a slider and grounds back to Goutouda!  2 down and Haneishi still on 2nd!

And Goutouda gets Yamashita to swing under one!  Popup to shallow center, and Kawano makes a scary catch, reach up with his back turned.  Makes the catch, but perhaps someone else should have had that?

Bottom 6th
Shimada tries for the safety bunt, but Takashima throws him out by a good margin.

Inaoka lines one over Ishii and into left for a single!

Kobari-kantoku calls time and that's the day for Tsutsui.  But #10 Mizunuma comes in instead of Ootani.

Sugimoto greets him with a drive to left center!  Haneishi and Tsuruta running back to the fence and it's Haneishi who makes the catch in front of the fence!

Mizunuma is a righty who appears to have a fastball that touches 130 with a slider in the mid 110s and some type of change in the 100s

Yamato with a hard base hit down the left field line!  Haneishi up with it quickly to prevent the Inaoka from going to 3rd!  Kobari-kantoku calls time again.

Matsumoto slices one up the middle!  Inaoka getting the green light Tsuruta throwing home, but it's not in time!  Naruto takes a 2-1 lead!

Now Kusaka with a first pitch single to left!  Haneishi up with it and Yamato's being sent home!  Throw is up the 1st base line and he scores!  3-1 Naruto!

Goutouda with a hard hit to 1st, but Takayama has it.  Goes to 1st for the out, but Mizunuma's relief stint is anything but as he gives up both RBI singles!

Top 7th
3-1 count to Fuse and he's green-lighted.  He singles past a diving Sugimoto into right.

Takashima takes a hanging slider and laces that to right!  Runners at 1st and 2nd for Sakushin as Moriwaki-kantoku calls for time!

Now Kobari-kantoku is calling for the bunt.  Asano lays it down, but it's right in front of the plate!  Kusaka takes it and throws to 3rd, easily getting Fuse out!

Now #13 Wakui is PH for Mizunuma meaning his day is done.  He may not have lasted long if he stayed.

But Wakui goes down swinging on an inside shuuto!  2 down!

And Tsuruta first pitch swings!  Pops it up!  Ise and Sugimoto converge and it's Ise with the catch!  Sakushin's opportunity in the lucky 7 goes to waste!

Bottom 7th
As expected #1 Ootani takes the hill, but his team is behind with just 2 innings left.

Brimming with confidence, Ise takes the first pitch he sees and lines it to left!

Having done his job for the day, Muriwaki-kantoku sends in #17 Hayashi to run for him.  Leadoff batter Kouno sends him on his way to 2nd.

Ootani gets Shimada to ground out to 1st and Inaoka to bite on a slider away.  Naruto's been denied, but it won't mean anything if they can't score.

Top 8th
#15 Bandou comes in for PR Hayashi and takes over at 2B.  Sugimoto goes back to his normal position of 1B.

 Haneishi with a grounder to 3rd, that takes a high hop and almost hits Matsumoto in the face!

Naruto's looking for baserunners so no bunting here.

But they are sending Haneishi?  Throw from Kusaka is barely not in time!

Ishii follows that up with a liner through the infield into left!  Runners at the corners for cleanup batter Takayama!

Goutouda not giving in to Takayama and goes behind 3-1.  And the curve for the outside corner doesn't get the call!  Manrui for Yamashita as the Keio chance plays!

Goutouda tries to get Yamashita to chase with two balls away, but no dice!  Fastball inside gets him to 2-1.

Another fastball in there and now he's ahead!  Watch for the junk!

But Yamashita's able to lift one to center!  Shimada catches it and they concede the run!  They've narrowed the deficit to 3-2!

Fuse with a grounder down the 3rd base line, Matsumoto dives... FAIR!  They call it fair as it goes down the left field line!  Ishii rounds 3rd and he scores!  DOUTEN!  Fuse with his 2nd hit ties the game at 3-3!!

Takashima up and now a deep enough fly ball ties the game.


Kobari-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but it's a ball away!  Takashima dives, makes contact, but pops it up!  Kusaka catches it and doubles off Takayama at 3rd to end the inning!

Sakushin ties the game, but they could have had more!

Bottom 8th
Ootani was about to get a 1-2-3 inning it seemed, but then wound up walking Matsumoto.  Kusaka with a hard hit ball at Asano, but he's able to field it and make the out at 2nd!  Ootani holds the line here in the 8th!

Top 9th
8-9-1 batters up for Sakushin.  Asano and Ootaki should be focused on getting on base instead of just a hit.

But Goutouda doesn't allow that possibility, getting ahead of Asano 1-2.  But two balls out of the zone and the count is full.  Still Asano has to swings away at anything close, and ends up grounding to short.

Ootani's showing patience at the plate, getting ahead 3-1.  Will he wait still?  Nope, swings and fouls one away.  Now it's a mind game, what pitch?  Fastball, but Ootani hits a weak chopper back to Goutouda for the out.

Top of the order, but they're going to have to string together some hits.

Tsuruta with a gronder to the right side.  Sugimoto makes the diving stop but Tsuruta beats out Goutouda to the bag!  Man on!

Kobari-kantoku tries for the hit-and-run, but Haneishi hits a comebacker to Goutouda to end the inning!  Now they have to hold for enchousen!

Bottom 9th
8-9-1 batters up for Naruto too.  How will they approach it?

Goutouda tries to work the count, but is can't check his swing!  One down. Bandou too falls on a fastball inside.  And Kawano pops up to Asano and we're headed to enchousen!

Top 10th
One pitch, one out.  Ishii pops it up to short.

Takayama with a blast to left!!!  Inaoka running back to the wall....


Goutouda leaves a ball up in the zone and Takayama knows what to do with it!  He gives Sakushin Gakuin their first lead of the game here in enchousen, 4-3!

Yamashita with a blast to center!  Shimada running over, makes the running catch!

Now Fuse with a blast to center!  That's over Shimada's head!  He's rounding 2nd, going for 3!  Throw is late and Goutouda's being shelled!

Moriwaki-kantoku sees that too and pulls Goutouda for #10 Kobayashi...

He retires Takashima on a comebacker, but Takayama gives his team the lead in a big way!  Now can Ootani hold it?

Bottom 10th
2-3-4 batters up for Naruto.  If Sakushin could do it, maybe Naruto can?

Shimada with a fly to shallow left.  Haneishi calls off Ishii and makes the catch.  One down.

Inaoka with a grounder up the middle.  Ishii ranging over, can't field it!  Then makes a terrible throw that misses everything and goes into the dugout!  Inaoka at 2nd with one down!  What a terrible decision by Ishii!  He should have eaten that!

Kobari-kantoku calls for time.

Sugimoto with a liner to center!  Tsuruta with it quickly and Inaoka has to hold at 3rd!

#14 Koari to hit for Yamato.  And Ootani hits him!  Manrui for Naruto!  Kobari-kantoku has to call for time again!

#13 Koumoto runs for Koari.

Matsumoto up now, and he falls behind 1-2... SANSHIN!  Fastball up and in and he can't catch up to it!  2 outs!

Kusaka up.  Drive to left!  Haneishi running back, running back...


Inaoka and Sugimoto score on the sayonara hit bu Kusaka!  Naruto comes back again in extra inning to defeat Kanto runner-up Sakushin Gakuin!

Two games now Naruto has won in sayonara fashion in extra innings!  The baseball gods must be looking down on them this tournament!  They find a way after giving up a 2-run lead, then giving up the lead in the 10th to come back and win!

Now, some of it was Sakushin lapses of judgement.  The decision by Ishii to throw to first on that one out grounder was a big mistake.  It may not have made the difference, but it may have given a different feel to the inning had it been an error with a runner on first rather than an error and a runner on 2nd.  It may not have been as much pressure on Ootani to hit PH Koari if it was runners on 1st and 2nd instead of at the corners.

You have to play all 27 outs.  Or in this case, all 30.  And Naruto played to that saying more than Sakushin Gakuin here today, and they are the ones to advance to face Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi.