Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 15 - 決勝 - Kousei Gakuin (Aomori) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka)

And so about 4½ months later, we find ourselves back at Koushien with the weather warmer, the crowds even fuller... but the participants have not changed.

If you think about it, it really is remarkable.  For two teams to go through their Aki (秋 - fall) prefecturals to reach the super-regionals, get invited to Senbatsu, reach the finals.  Then only a couple of months later participate in the Natsu prefecturals and win, then at Natsu Koushien reach the Best 8, avoid each other in the draw, win, then avoid each other again and then meet in the finals.

Such a rematch has never happened in the history of Koushien, and for that it certainly will have the nation's attention.

There are some differences though between this final and the Senbatsu final.

First, because of rainouts, Osaka Touin got more rest than Kousei Gakuin before the finals on 4/4:
  • Osaka Touin (準々決勝 - 3/30, 準決勝 - 4/2)
  • Kousei Gakuin (準々決勝 - 4/1, 準決勝 - 4/2)
So at the start of the game, Osaka Touin was able to go to Fujinami, while Kousei started Jyouma.  And in the finals Jyouma only went 2.1+ innings before being pulled for Kanazawa, but by then it was too late.

This time around, their schedules mirrored each other - almost down to the game:
  • Kousei Gakuin (8/12, 8/18, 準々決勝 - 8/20, 準決勝 - 8/22)
  • Osaka Touin (8/13, 8/18, 準々決勝 - 8/20, 準決勝 - 8/22)
And in the semfinals, Kousei Gakuin went to Jyouma while Osaka Touin sent out Fujinami.

That brings up the 2nd point.  Weather.

This summer, field temperatures at times has broken 40C (104F!).  I don't care how much you hydrate, you are going to fatigue to some extent.

Since the game will be at 10:30, it will start out cooler on the field - probably around 37C (98.6F) but will probably get close to 40 near the end of the game.  We already saw the effect that pitching on back to back days can do to an ace - just ask Toukou Gakuen's Matsui Yuuki.

Fujinami was not worked especially hard by Meitoku Gijyuku as he allowed few baserunners early on and then was comfortable after extending the lead after the mid-game break.

But, the more important thing was that he was on the field the entire game, and did show signs of being hittable in the 9th (or losing his control if nothing else).  If you show signs of fatigue in the last game, chances are you're going to see it and sooner the next one.

Kanazawa on the other hand, was on the bench for the whole game.  Which means he'll be on 2 days rest.

Offensively, the advantage continues to lie with Osaka Touin.  About the only time you can rest on the lineup may be in the last batter, SS Mega.  Other than that, there are pitfalls everywhere starting from leadoff batter C(!) Mori, all the way down to Fujinami who has displayed homerun power at Koushien - even if he is retired more often than not.

Compare that to Kousei Gakuin, whose top 5 definitely can be scary, but from Jyouma down, the offense pretty much disappears.  Which means that you're possibly looking at throwing away at least an inning trying to cycle through the bottom of the lineup.  And you can't afford to just give away outs easily to a team like Osaka Touin.

Objectively, this has to be a "show me" game to Kousei Gakuin.  There still doesn't seem to be enough there talent-wise for them to pull off an upset of Osaka Touin and they haven't proven so far to win the big game.  Circumstances may level out part of the playing field as Fujinami may not be 100%, but his offense is there to pick him up.  If Kousei is planning on using a tandem like in Senbatsu, Nakai-kantoku must not be hesitant to change pitchers at the first sign of fatigue.  As many managers have learned the hard way, it's a lot easier to remove a pitcher one batter too late than one batter too early.

Not to mention the fact that this is not Kousei Gakuin's 2nd consecutive finals appearance, but their 3rd!  And I'm pretty sure they'd set a historical record if they lost by being the only team to lose in 3 consecutive calendar Koushien tournaments (Summer 2011 v. Nichidai-san 0-11, Spring 2012 v. Osaka Touin 3-7).

There have been 2 other instances where a team has gone to 3 consecutive calendar Koushien finals:
  • Chuukyou Shougyou (now Chuukyoudai Chuukyou) went to the 14th Spring (lost), 23rd Summer (won) and 15th Spring (won).
  • PL Gakuen went to the 65th Summer (won), 56th Spring (lost), and 66th Summer (lost).
So yes, they would set a record by reaching 3 consecutive calendar finals and losing all 3.  And thus there may be some pressure to win that game.

Osaka Touin is going for the 7th ever 春夏連続優勝 (haru-natsu renzoku yuushou or Spring-Summer Consecutive Champion).  Just two years ago, Shimabukuro Yousuke set the country on fire with his performance, and now Fujinami and his team are on the verge of adding their names to the heralded list.  They may be the favorites, but they still have to win the game.

There is a lot of historical significance in this game.  And a lot of pressure on both sides.  Osaka Touin should be the favorites to win this, but there are a lot of factors that will come into play in the game.

(I almost wish I was at this Koushien instead of last years'.  Man my sense of timing is god-awful.)

Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)
RF Ameku
LF Sekiguchi (#18)
C Tamura
SS Houjyou
3B Oosugi
1B Takeda
2B Jyouma
CF Kimura
P Kanazawa

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
C Mori
2B Oonishi (Tomoya)
RF Mizumoto
1B Tabata
LF Yasui
3B Kasamatsu
CF Hakusui
SS Mega
P Fujinami


10:31 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
First pitch in for a strike.  And another slider it looks like for strike 2. Ameku has to swing away, just makes contact and grounds to 2nd.

After a couple of balls away, Fujinami puts a fastball just out of the zone that Sekiguchi chases for Fujinami's first K.

Tamura up, and Fujinami attacks the zone.  He can only walk away as he looks a slider on the outside corner for strike 3.

It's a good start for Fujinami.

Bottom 1st
The thing with Kanazawa is that his other pitches tend to be a bit on the slow side.  Which can make them fat targets.

Mori with a hard grounder to 3rd.  Oosugi right there and makes the play for the out.

Kanazawa though having issues with his control to start.  Winds up walking Oonishi, who if you had to get an out somewhere, he'd be the one to get.

Which unfortunately means you're now in the heart of the Osaka Touin lineup starting with Mizumoto.

Kanazawa throwing a lot of off-speed pitches early - I'd be concerned they'd start keying in on that later on.  Mizumoto gets way under one and fouls out to Tamura.

Grounder to 2nd, Houjyou throws to Jyouma, throws it away!  Somehow the easy play at 2nd is missed and the inning continues for Osaka Touin!

First unforced error goes to Kousei Gakuin.  Will it cost them as Yasui comes to the plate?

Well, the problems start compounding on themselves.  Kanazawa hits Yasui to load the bases!  That brings up Kasamatsu, and Osaka Touin can put their foot down on Kousei early!

Kanazawa gets ahead 1-2, but the AB isn't over yet. Another curve in the dirt.  Where is the fastball?

Another curve fouled off.  Fastball inside fouled off.

Grounder to 3rd!  Oosugi with the snag.  Sets, throws to 1st... side retired!

Kanazawa gets out of the pinch, but that's an extra 10 high-stress pitches he had to throw that he didn't have to.

Top 2nd
Big swing on a 150 kph fastball.  And another.  I think see 3 swings.

Nope!  Fujinami pulls the string on a fork and freezes Houjou for the out!

Fujinami throws away from Oosugi and walks him.  Takeda up, and he's still throwing away.  Doesn't want to challenge him?  He finally goes inside, but way inside.  Count goes to 3-1.

Takeda with a hard grounder to the left side!  Mega diving to his right, makes a great backhanded grab!  Throw to first... just misses out on a diving Takeda!

Jyouma up, and he's bunting on 0-1??  He's fouled it off and now it's 0-2!  He's in a corner now!

And he does swing on a high fastball for the 2nd out.

Kimura up now to try and and keep the inning going, but at the bottom of the lineup it seems unlikely.

Fujinami with a wild pitch!  It bounces in front of Mori and back to the 1st base side.  Runners advance!

And Kimura swings on 3-1!  Why??  He hits a high fly to left.  Yasui backs up a little, camps, and makes the catch to retire the side!

I say "Why?" because now you're starting at the #9 batter.  You'd like to start at the top of the lineup if you could.

Bottom 2nd
Kanazawa's throwing predominantly his off-speed stuff as Hakusui looks at a curve for strike 3.

Now on Mega, he seems to varying his selection more.  But he goes full to Mega before he gets him to go around on an off-speed pitch for strike 3.

That brings up Fujinami who isn't your regular hitting pitcher.

Kanazawa goes 2-2 to Fujinami before he makes him twirl like a ballerina on yet another curve for strike 3.

Top 3rd
So Kanazawa goes from the mound to the plate as he has to face Fujinami.

Chopper to the left side.  Kasamatsu takes it, sets and throws HIGH!!!

It goes to the fence as Kanazawa takes off for 2nd!

Ameku up and he's not bunting (to start).  Can't check his swing for strike 1.  He's not bunting at all and goes behind 1-2!

Sanshin!  Ameku spins himself into the ground on a slider inside.

Sekiguchi up and he is showing bunt.  Lays it down, but it's very poor!  Fujinami quickly to it and throws to 3rd where Kanazawa is out by a mile!

Tamura up, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Sekiguchi try to steal 2nd.

He does!  Tamura behind 0-2 and he takes off for 2nd!  Throw from Mori is high and he's in safe!

Sanshin!  Tamura can only do a slow-motion spin as he tries to, but fails to, make contact with an outside slider for strike 3!  Kousei has had their chances, but they just can't do anything right now.

Bottom 3rd
Temperature on the field is 38.6C.  That's just about 3F higher than I was anticipating.

Top of the lineup and Mori punishes a curve with a shot past Takeda into right for a single.  This is what you have to be careful for throwing so many off-speed pitches.

Oonishi up and as expected he's bunting.

Hit-and-run!  Nishitani-kantoku tries the hit and bunt, but Oonishi fouls it off!

Oonishi with a grounder to 3rd! Oosugi has it, throw to 2nd, HIGH!

Mori runs to 3rd and the throw back in from Kimura not in time!  Another unforced error by Kousei!

And with no down, it will take a miracle to prevent a crooked number from being put on here.

Now a 4 pitch walk to Mizumoto makes it manrui to Tabata.

This is the WORST situation you can put yourself in.

Two curveballs, Tabata takes both to get ahead 2-0.

Grounder to 3rd!  Oosugi tags 3rd!  Goes home!  Mori backs up!  Tamura throws to 3rd, Oosugi tags Mori for a 5-2-5T double play?!?!

2 down and Kanazawa is almost out of the jam!

But they try to pitch to the corners to Yasui and walk him on 4 straight!  Manrui again for Kasamatsu!

Nishitani-kantoku sends a message to Yasui.

Swings on the first pitch!  Pops it up!  Takada under it just in foul territory... makes the catch!

Once again Kousei Gakuin finds a way to snake its way out of the pinch, but that is high stress you are putting on Kanazawa.

Top 4th
Houjyou up and he tries to be a little more patient.  But a slider on the outside corner puts him down 1-2.  He swings away makes great contact, but the outfield is back and Hakusui is there for the catch.

Oosugi is patient and works the count full, but goes down swinging.  And Takeda swings on the first pitch and fouls out to left.

Fujinami just isn't facing the same amount of pressure as Kanazawa is here to start.

Bottom 4th

Hakusui swing makes that ping sound that when you hear it you know the ball's been crushed...

Kimura runs back to the fence... looks up...


Yep, that ball cleared the fence just right of dead center where the bleachers begin.  Osaka Touin leads 1-0!!

Mega now with a seeing eye single back up the middle for a base hit.  As expected the constant off-speed stuff is speeding up the bats of Osaka Touin.

Fujinami lays down the bunt to advance Mega into scoring position.

Mori in a great chance to drive in a run, hits a comebacker to Kanazawa! He blocks it, picks it up and goes to 1st for the 2nd out.

Things continue to be difficult for Kanazawa as he hits Oonishi and brings up Mizumoto.

Kanazawa comes back to freeze Mizumoto on a curve ball to get out of the inning, but the powerful Osaka Touin offense finally strikes here in the 4th!

Top 5th
Jyouma with a high pop fly that Tabata fields just outside 1st for the out.

Kimura tries his best to get on base, but chases a full count slider inside for a K.

And Kanazawa... well... he's what a normal hitting pitcher would look like... kinda feeble as he hits a routine chopper to 3rd for the out.

Bottom 5th
For Kousei, the clock is ticking on Kanazawa.  The pressure is now even more on him to hold the deficit at 1.

Tabata leads off the inning.  Down 1-2, he almsot throws the bat at the ball, softly lining it at Kanazawa's feet and he can't field it!  Houjyou runs it down behind 2nd, but had no play!

Yasui tries to lay the bunt down, but bounces it off the plate!  Tamura would have a clear play at 2nd, but it's foul.

Now it's a bunt up the 1st base line!  Kanazawa hesitates thinking it might go foul, but quickly realizes it won't!  Throw to 1st, not in time!!

Oh, another mental error by the Kousei defense puts 2 runners on with no down!

Time for Nakai-kantoku.

Bunt again to 3rd.  Oosugi with it, throws to 1st HIGH AGAIN!!!!

This time it's costly!  Tabata scores!  Yasui being waved around 3rd, he scores!  Kasamtasu on 2nd from the error by Oosugi and it's 3-0 Osaka Touin!

Hakusui with the sac bunt and they threaten to really blow this open.


Nishitani-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but it's a pitchout... err pitchdown.  Mega can't lay down the bunt and Kasamtasu is run down for the 2nd out.

Mega grounds to 3rd to end the inning, and we reach the break.

And looking at the game so far, it feels like the pressure has been all on Kousei.  3 actual errors and a couple more mental ones have finally costed Kousei Gakuin in the 5th.  Facing a 3-run deficit, with just one hit to their name, the pressure may be too much for Kousei to overcome.

Top 6th
Top of the order for Kousei, this is probably a pivotal inning for them.

Ameku hits a hard liner to 1st, but Tabata fields it and goes to 1st for the out.

Sekiguchi with a quick fly ball to left.  And Tamura again with a fly ball to left.

6 pitches, 3 outs.  There's a lot of trying to hit the ball hard, where they should be trying to get base hits however possible (much like Tabata's single).

That 6th inning looked very bad for Kousei.

Bottom 6th
Osaka Touin looks fine to speed up the tempo of the game, after all they are ahead.

Fujinami goes down on 3 pitches, kinda swinging his bat on a slider.

Mori first pitch grounds to 2nd, while Oonishi first pitch flies to right.

Top 7th
Houjyou stepping in.  Fujinami not directly attacking him and works the count full.

Another uppercut swing from Houjyou almost results in a foul out.

Instead he goes down swinging on a slider down and away.

Up comes Oosugi, who I'm sure wants to get a run back for his team.  He waits for his pitches and works the count full, but can only start walking to the dugout after a fastball goes by him for strike 3.

2 down for Takeda.  Fujinami not challenging him with strikes though and walks him on 4 straight.  Shouldn't be a problem though I think he believes because he's facing the bottom of the order.

And indeed Jyouma falls behind 0-2.

Oh?  #10 Sawada is warming up for Osaka Touin?  Well, I think he's being recalled after Fujinami went 1-2 to Jyouma.

And as expected Jyouma goes down swinging for the 3rd out.  With the 8-9-1 batters due up for Kousei, they are probably down to their 9th inning.

Bottom 7th
Kanzawa facing the 3-4-5 hitters walks Mizumoto on 4 straight.  Tabata bunts him to 2nd.  I guess for Kousei it's beter to have a runner on 2nd with one down than trying to pitch to them both.

Well, Yasui walks at least putting the force on, but with now 13 H+BB to Kanazawa's name, it's no wonder they're behind.

Kasamatsu connects with a ball but is just a bit ahead of it hitting it foul.

Kasamatsu with a chopper up the 1st base line.  Kanazawa late getting there, tosses to 1st where Takeda was going in!  He tries to back up to the bag, but the umpire calls Kasamatsu safe!

Manrui again for Osaka Touin for Hakusui.

Liner!  But it's right to Houjyou for the 2nd out!

And now Nishitani-kantoku is going for the KO punch.  He's sent in #13 Kinden to hit for Mega.

He's just ahead of the first two pitches grounding them foul.

But Kanazawa places a fastball down the middle that Kinden freezes on!  No runs added on...

Top 8th
...but no runs to their name either.

#14 Mizutani in for Kinden at SS.

Kimura leads off the 8th.  And gets a little bit of a late call by the umpire on an outside fastball for the 1st out.

#17 Furutera in to hit for Kanazawa.  His day is done.

First pitch slicing down the left field line... foul!

So close and yet so far it seems, and he goes down swinging on a slider.  Doesn't know that the ball got away until it was too late and is thrown out at 1st.

Ameku quickly grounds to 1st and Kousei Gakuin is about out of time.

Bottom 9th
#10 Itou makes his appearance at Koushien for the first time replacing PH Furutera and taking the mound.  He's a lefty who throws 3/4 it looks like, not quite sidearm.  And not particularly fast.

Fujinami though flies out to center.

Next Mori displays his flexibility as he arches his back forward to avoid a curveball behind him.  Needless to say he earns a walk.

And so that experiment ends.  Jyouma takes the hill while #15 Sunago comes in for Itou and takes his place at 2nd.

Oonishi goes down looking on 3 straight.  Mizumoto grounds to new 2B Sunago who makes the play at 1st for the 3rd out.

Top 9th
And so Fujinami is just 3 outs away from achieving the 8th ever haru-natsu renzoku yuushou.

Sekiguchi, Tamura and Houjyou are the three who will try to stand in the way.

Or rather #7 Murase, as he comes in to hit for Sekiguchi.

Down 0-2, he watches a borderline fastball outside for a ball, then takes a 153 high for ball 2.

He makes contact, but right back to Fujinami who goes to 1st for the out.

2 more to go.

Tamura jammed and the ball goes to shallow center!  Hakusui coming in can't get there and Kousei has a runner on.  Still not enough yet as Houjyou is not the tying run.

But Fujinami falls behind him 2-0.  Houjyou swings away anyways and skies it!  Oonishi is there for the out!

1 more to go!

Nishitani-kantoku calls for time.

Oosugi the last chance for Kousei.  Fujinami can't find the zone though and buries it.  Then gets Oosugi to chase and foul one off.  Slider over the plate is whiffed.


Fouled off!  Just.

Fastball way outside for ball 2.

Fastball inside, fouled off again.


Oosugi goes down swinging!  Osaka Touin has done it!  Haru-Natsu Renzoku Yuushou!  The players mob Fujinami on the mound as they become the 7th team to ever complete the feat!

After Osaka Touin sings their school song and the teams go out to their oen-dans, Osaka Touin's players are rejoicing, while Kousei Gakuin's players aren't crying.  It makes sense though - by this time they've reached here and lost again.  It's not painful in that they lost, it's just a look of - we've tried three times to eclipse the summit and all 3 times we were rebuffed.  We tried all we could and we just couldn't do it, and for us it's all over now.  What more can we do?  It's a look of resignation and unfulfillment.

But I don't think they should look at it that way.  Yes, you've reached 3 straight finals, and lost all 3.  But you are also one of only 3 teams to have reached 3 straight calendar finals joining the ranks of Chuukyoudai Chuukyou and PL Gakuen to do so.

And it's unfortunate that they had to run into 2 teams as strong as Nichidai-san and Osaka Touin.  But in the end, they should be proud of the accomplishments they were able to achieve in one calendar year.  Three 2nd place finishes at Koushien, and a Meiji Jingu title.  It's not quite the ending they got, but it's still impressive nonetheless.

For Osaka Touin, they join the names of Sakushin Gakuin, Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, Minoshima, PL Gakuen, Yokohama and Kounan as the 7th team to win both the spring and summer Koushien tournament.  It was hard to argue that they weren't the best team in the country with the combination of the high-powered offense with the powerful pitching of Fujinami - who if he wants to will be the 1st overall pick of the draft.  Teams that faced Osaka Touin knew full well that there was little room for error.

But even then it still takes effort as an any point in time - like the Osaka final against Riseisha, it can all fall apart.  So the fact they were able to fulfull what they set out to do, despite the odds and possible traps is something to be applauded.

And so we've reached the end of the 94th Natsu Koushien.  The tournament was very competitive for the most part and storylines developed all over the place.  From Toukou Gakuen's Matsui striking out 22 and 19 batters in consecutive games, to Ube Koujyou almost reaching the Best 8, to 2 possible matchups in the semifinals and finals, and to that finals rematch that cemented Osaka Touin as the best team in the country, this was a very entertaining tournament from start to finish.

But there's no time to rest.  For there are already teams that have started down the road of the fall taikais for next spring.  There's always baseball to be had, and for the players remaining - it's back to work.

Notable Players
Fujinami Shintarou (Osaka Touin) - CG, SHO, 2 H, 14 K, 2 BB

Hakusui Kenta (Osaka Touin) - 1-3, HR, R, RBI, K
Yasui Kouki (Osaka Touin) - 1-1, R, 2 BB, HBP
Kanazawa Yuuki (Kousei Gakuin) - 7 IP, ER, 6 H, 6 K, 5 BB, 2 HBP
Takeda Toshiki (Kousei Gakuin) - 1-2, BB. K

94th Natsu Koushien - Brackets and Rosters

Rosters and brackets are now available.  They will be updated when time permits.  Please note that these are best guesses and will be adjusted as I get actual names.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 14, Game 2 - 準決勝 - Kousei Gakuin (Aomori) vs. Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)

Well, one half of the Senbatsu kesshou (決勝) has advanced to the final.  Now it's time for the other half to try and punch their ticket.

Their path looks a lot like last years.  A lot of good pitching with enough offense to win - though their quarterfinal against Toukou Gakuen was probably the highest-stress game that the pitching staff had to face.

And that's why Jyouma is starting today, so that Kanazawa can rest for the final.  Jyouma's done a good job the first couple of games at Koushien, so he should at least give Kanazawa some innings off.

But they'll be facing an nontraditional team in Toukaidai Koufu.

At first it was easy to see where they deviated from most teams - a frenetic pace that lent itself to making opponents create errors/opportunities.  Yet against Sakushin Gakuin they didn't do that.  Instead, they just played a different style of baseball which included a hit-and-run with a runner on 3rd base.

So I think what Toukaidai Koufu tries to do is to make the opponent off-balance in some way, whether it be through tempo, base-running, etc.  I wonder what will be the strategy they implement this time around.

The offense for Toukaidai was on right off the bat, hitting hard liners around the field putting Sakushin Gakuin on their heels early.  Unlike Sakushin Gakuin though, Kousei Gakuin does have a little more offensive firepower (though certainly nothing like Osaka Touin), and thus can put up more of a fight.  Still, the scales should tilt in their favor in any high-scoring affair.

So, who will join Osaka Touin in the finals?

Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)
RF Ameku
LF Sekiguchi (#18)
C Tamura
SS Houjyou
3B Oosugi
P Jyouma (#4)
1B Takeda
CF Kimura
2B Kishigawa (#14)

Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)
SS Watnanabe
CF Saitou Keisuke
LF Yamamoto
C Ishii
3B Aihara
RF Tanaka (#15)
1B Akiya
P Honda (#10)
2B Shinkai


11:29 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Ameku with a drive to center-right-center!  Keisuke running back to the fence, not in time!  He plays if off the bounce as Ameku is in with a leadoff double!

Sekiguchi lays down the bunt, Honda looks to 3rd, but goes to 1st for the out.

Now a sac fly can score the run.

Even better!  Tamura hits a hard liner to left and with the outfield playing back near the wall, it falls easily!  1-0 Kousei!

Houjyou swings on a high pitch and sends it to deep center!  Keisuke running back, running back!  Jumps at the padding!!


Houjyou at 1st looking out in center in disbelief!  Even he can't believe he hit that one out!  He starts jogging as his shocking HR makes it 3-0!!

I mean, I can see what he's thinking.  That ball was like almost at his shoulders it was that high.  How he managed to hit it out he doesn't know.

Honda comes back to strike out Oosugi and get Jyouma to fly to left.  But once again the big bats out early for Kousei!

Bottom 1st
Jyouma doing what he normally does - get contact.

Watanabe softly lines out to Houjyou.  Keisuke grounds also to Houjyou.

Yamamoto with a harder hit to the right side.  Kishigawa makes the stop heading towards 2nd.  But his throw to 1st pulls Takeda off the bag for a base hit.

Tamura with the snap throw to 1st and they nail Yamamoto to end the inning.

Top 2nd
Takeda hits a hard liner on the first pitch, but it's right to Yamamoto.

Kimura swings early and also flies out to Yamamoto.

Kishigawa works the count a little to 2-2, but... flies out to Yamamoto.

So it's a good 1-2-3 inning for Honda's confidence.  But Takeda's liner should be a notice that they're seeing the ball decently early.

Bottom 2nd
Ishii up again, swings on the first pitch and grounds to Houjyou.

Aihara turns on an outside pitch from Jyouma and sends it past Oosugi down the 3rd base line!  Sekiguchi retrieves it, but Aihara is in with a double!

That's the first extra base hit for a batter against Kousei Gakuin!

AHHH!!!!!  Jyouma picks off Aihara at 2nd!  That's the 2nd pickoff by Kousei this game!

Sanshin!  Tanaka swings and misses on an ouside fastball and the side is retired!  There are a lot of mental errors being made on the Toukaidai side instead so far!

Top 3rd
Back to the top of the order and Ameku.  He flies out to left.

Sekiguchi does not continue the trend of flying to left.  Instead he foul tips into Ishii's glove for a K.

Tamura with a grounder to short, and it's a quick inning for Honda.  He seems to have settled down since the 1st.

Bottom 3rd
The ground balls continue as both Akiya and Honda hit grounders over to Kishigawa.  He's playing a bit back and can easily reach both balls.

Shinkai goes twirling on an outside slider and the side is retired. 9 up, 9 down (kinda).

Top 4th
2-1 and Houjyou gives a ball another run.  Very far, but very foul.


Houjyou with a blast to center!  Keisuke running back!  Running back!!!!


Houjyou with another homerun to center!!!!!  WOW!

4-0 Kousei!!!

Oosugi trying to jump on a probably shaken Honda swings on the first pitch and pops out to Watanabe.

Jyouma grounds to 3rd for the 2nd out as #11 Kinoshita warms up in the bullpen.

Takeda doesn't let Honda get out the inning that quickly afterwards sending a single back past Shinkai into center.

Kimura though flies out to center to end the inning, but not before Houjyou hits his 2nd HR on the day!

Bottom 4th
Watanabe can only head to the dugout after being rungup on a strike at the knees(? I thought it was low).

Keisuke swings early and flies out to shallow left.  Cameras focus to the bullpen where ace Kanbara is throwing.

And Yamamoto with a bounder to 2nd.  Kishimoto up with it and makes the easy throw to 1st to retire the side.

Top 5th
#11 Kinoshita, not Kanbara takes over for Honda on the mound.  He has not taken the mound at all, not even in the prefecturals.

And he starts by freezing Kishigawa on an inside 133kph fastball.

Ameku goes down swinging on a curve down and in for the 2nd out!

But Sekiguchi ruins the party with a seeing eye single up the middle!  He subsequently tries to steal 2nd and is thrown out and ends the inning.

Bottom 5th
Ishii with a leadoff runner for Toukaidai as he singles through the left side.

Hit-and-run!  Aihara can't check his swing and is rung up!  Throw to 2nd by Tamura as Ishii scurries back!  Throw to 1st is wide and he gets back safely.

Hit-and-run again!  This time Tanaka singles past Takeda into right!   Ishii advances to 3rd!

Comebacker to Jyouma!  Goes to 2nd for one!  Throw is a bit wide, but Houjyou makes it to the bag, throw to first... SAFE!!!!

The diving Akiya beats out the throw and that lets Ishii score to make it 4-1!

I don't know about Akiya being safe, and the replay seems to confirm my suspicions, though I'm not sure.

Kinoshita with another hit-and-run!  This time though he grounds to short for the 3rd out.  But a slight execution miss by Jyouma gives Toukaidai Koufu a run right before the break!

Top 6th
Tamura reaches out the bat and lines a ball back up the middle for a base hit.

And that brings up Houjyou.  They can't be pitching to him, can they?

Well they are!

The announcers are talking about the only 3 HR game done by Kiyohara back in 1985 for PL Gakuen,  But his weren't consecutve.

Grounder to short.  Watanabe to, THROWS IT AWAY!!!!

He tries to go to 2nd, but misses completely as it goes towards the fence on the 1st base side!  Tamura scores all the way from first on the 3 base error and it's now 5-1!

Muranaka-kantoku calls for time to get his team to regroup.

But Kinoshita may still be rattled as he walks Oosugi, then hits Jyouma to load the bases!

Manrui for Takeda!  And no out!!

Takeda gets frozen on a curve on the outside corner for the 1st out!

Kimura is able to lift a ball to center and it's deep enough to score Houjyou to make it 6-1.

Kishigawa up, and I think Kousei would be better of just ticking off the outs.  He grounds out to 3rd to end the inning

Bottom 6th
Shinkai swinging early in the count, pops up to Takeda.

Watanabe with his first hit, a grounder back up the middle.

Keisuke with a liner to the left side, Houjyou clims the ladder and makes the great catch!

Muranaka-kantoku continues to press as he issues another hit-and-run order.  Yamamoto hits a soft liner back up the middle for a base hit and there's runners at the corners.

Ishii now with a grounder back up the middle! Jyouma can't kick save it and that scores Watanabe to make it 6-2!  They haven't given up yet!

But Aihara pops it up!  Houjyou running it, but it's Sekiguchi running in, running, in!!  Dives... and makes the catch!  Kousei almost has a misplay in the outfield but Sekiguchi bails them out!

Top 7th
Ace Kanbara enter the game here in the 7th.  Ameku first up hits a hot shot to 3rd, but Aihara fields it and makes the play at 1st.

Sekiguchi tries to poke one to left, but hits it just a bit too hard to Yamamoto.

Tamura has his 3rd hit of the day, a single past a diving Watanabe to center.

That brings up Houjyou again, who apparently could set some records with another HR, one of which is HR's in a Natsu Koushien (5, also by Kiyohara in 1985).

But he goes down swinging on a slider and the side is retired.

Bottom 7th
Time for the Toukaidai bats to start heating up if they want to make a comeback.

Instead it's the opposite.  5 pitches and Jyouma has retired the side.

Top 8th
Kousei, much like Osaka Touin quite content to tick off the outs.

Oosugi with a routine grounder to short.  Jyouma hits a hard liner, but also to short.  And Takeda goes down swinging for the 2nd AB for a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 8th
Shinkai way ahead of a pitch, rolls one to 3rd.  Watanabe works the count full, but hits a chopper to 3rd that Oosugi fields for the 2nd out.

And Keisuke grounds to 2nd to retire the side.

Top 9th
Kimura goes down looking on a slider.  Kishigawa gets his first hit of Koushien when he singles past a diving Aihara into left.  Ameku follows that up with a grounder to right and just like that 2 runners are on for Sekiguchi.

Sekiguchi tries to lay down the bunt, but Kanbara fields it quickly and goes to 3rd for the easy out.


Tamura demolishes a pitch from Kanbara, and there's no doubt about that one.  Yamamoto can only turn around a couple of times before it flies out to left.  3-run HR from Tamura makes it 9-2.

And now Kanbara hits Houjyou.  I'd like to believe that wasn't intentional.

Oosugi then decides to line a ball to center.  Houjyou presses to 3rd, makes it safely and Oosugi goes to 2nd and is safe!  Guess they figure if that was intentional, they'll just score more?

But Jyouma reaches out and rolls one to 2nd to end the inning.

Bottom 9th
Yamamoto leads off the 9th with a full extention swing and base hit to right.

Ishii with a more traditional inside out swing, singles to right.

Aihara with a slow chopper to the right side.  Jyouma gets there, but the safe play is to 1st and he takes it.

Tanaka grounds to 3rd.  Oosugi again takes the easy play and gives up the run for the out.  9-3.

Akiya with a ball back up the midle.  Houjyou with the great stop, spins, throws, and gets Akiya to end the game!

Kousei Gakuin comes out with the bats again and secures a rematch with Osaka Touin!

(The person broadcasting the game starts singing the Sakushin Gakuin song over the Kousei Gakuin one after they win.  I didn't Japanese could be that disrespectful, but I guess I was wrong.  And I think he's a Sanko fan too, which may explain his "dislike" of Kousei.  I really hope Kousei Gakuin beats Osaka Touin tomorrow so he can shut his yap.  Or sing the Sakushin song again in vain as Kousei stands proudly.)


Toukaidai Koufu was not their normal selves in the game.  Mental errors on the basepaths and the offensive output from Kousei were just too much.  It certainly hurts more, on the loss since they certainly could have played better, but they shouldn't be disappointed with their Koushien this year.  It was a great run to the finals, and I had a great time watching them play.

So as expected, we have our final.  Though once again, I'm surprised by the offensive output by Kousei Gakuin.  They're going to need some of that tomorrow if they're going to defeat Osaka Touin.

Jyouma was his normal self in the game, lots of contact, lots of groundball outs.  More importantly, he rested Kanazawa for tomorrow's rematch.

Expect a full house tomorrow, and I'll be waving the Kousei Gakuin flag in defiance of the broadcaster (not that I wasn't going to root for Kousei Gakuin despite the odds anyways).

Notable Players
Jyouma Ryuuhei (Kousei Gakuin) - CG, 3 ER, 9 H, 4 K
Houjyou Fumiya (Kousei Gakuin) - 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, HBP, K
Tamura Tatsuhiro (Kousei Gakuin) - 4-5, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI
Yamamoto Shun (Toukaidai Koufu) - 3-4, R
Ishii Shinjirou (Toukaidai Koufu) - 3-4, R, RBI

Day 14, Game 1 - 準決勝 - Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka)

Our semifinals almost seem to be "regional" battles.  This first one being a meeting of the "West", while the second one can be a battle of the "East".

Meitoku Gijyuku is running into the same problems Tenri did in their game against Osaka Touin - 0 days of rest and an ace who went the full 9 innings.  As we've seen with Toukou Gakuen ace Matsui, it's generally just too hard to ask your ace to go back to back 9 innings but more importantly be effective.  It can be done, but the cases are fewer and far between.  Even Fujinami during the spring was susceptible.

Meitoku Gijyuku at least can turn to #10 Fukunaga to help out.  But both P's profile somewhat like Tenri as low-K pitchers.  And against a high-powered offense, it requires precision and some luck to be successful.

They'll have to be because their offense will just not be able to keep up with Osaka Touin in a head-to-head battle.  So to have the highest chance of success, they will need to keep the score as low as possible.  Anything over say 4 runs for Osaka Touin, and I think their task becomes near impossible.

Osaka Touin is starting Fujinami for this game.  I wonder if he's really going to pitch a full game or save him by sending in Sawada at some point.

For the outright favorites, I don't think anything else changes.  Continue to stick to the game plan and let the offense do their thing.  Pitching wins titles, but offense gives the pitching breathing room.

Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
3B Itsuzaki (#11)
CF Gouda
2B Iyota (#5)
RF Kishi (#12)
LF Son
C Sugihara
1B Nishioka
P Fukunaga (#10)
SS Imazato

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
C Mori
2B Oonishi (Tomoya)
RF Mizumoto
1B Tabata
LF Yasui
3B Kasamatsu
CF Hakusui
P Fujinami
SS Mega

9:01 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
An expected start from Fujinami.   Itsuzaki goes 9 pitches but strikes out looking.  Gouda and Iyota both ground out to end the inning.  They make Fujinami throw 17 pitches though, so perhaps they're looking to tire him out.  Which is just about one of the few things you can do.

Bottom 1st
Fukunaga being careful with Mori to lead off as he does have power.  He winds up walking him.

Oonishi puts down the bunt leaving the rest to the cleanup batters.

Mizumoto with a hard single to right!  Kishi gets the ball in quickly and Mori has to hold at 3rd.

Tabata though hits a fly to center.  Gouda backing up secures it, but Mori scores easily giving Osaka Touin the sensei run! 1-0!

Mizumoto tries to steal 2nd, during Yasui's AB, but is thrown out to end the inning.  Again, Osaka Touin has taken the lead early.

Top 2nd
One down, Son with a hard grounder up the middle.  Mega stops the ball, but can't field it to make the throw.  E6 and douten runner on.

Hit-and-run!  But Sugiwara fouls it off!

Again!  But now Sugiwara hits a fly to right!  Mizumoto makes the catch, and Son is dead to rights at 1st, but the throw is offline!!

That brings up Nishioka and more pitches for Fujinami.  In fact, he throws 4 straight balls to Nishioka to bring up pitcher Fukunaga - no doubt to get an easier out.

And he does strike out Fukunaga to end the inning.  That's another 17 pitches for Fujinami.

Bottom 2nd
Well, another leadoff runner on for Osaka Touin.  Yasui singles to left.  Kasamatsu with an excellent bunt moves him to 2nd.

Hakusui works the count full, but flies out to Son in left center.

And Fujinami twirls around on a slider for the 3rd out.  A needed 0 spot for Fukunaga and Meitoku Gijyuku.

Top 3rd
It's another quiet inning for Meitoku.  Imazato tries the safety bunt to no avail, Itsuzaki grounds to 2nd, and Gouda grounds to 3rd for a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 3rd
One down, Mori hits a short at 1st.  Nishioka blocks it and goes to the bag for the out.

Fukunaga is trying to live on the edges of the strike zone using his natural movement on his side arm action to get the ball to hit the corners.  He's also keeping the ball low for the most part.

Oonishi swings on a two-seamer away and Fukunaga gets his first 1-2-3 inning!

Top 4th
One down and Kishi gets a walk, but Son is swinging away and ends up popping out to Oonishi for the 2nd out.

Sugiwara goes down swinging on a forkball, and the inning is over.

Bottom 4th
Fukunaga looked to have a quick 1-2-3 inning as he retired both Mizumoto and Tabata on 1 pitch each.  But then he walks Yasui to continue the inning.

It's not for much longer as Kasamatsu grounds to short to end the inning.  He's been effective in keeping the ball down and getting grounders to keep his team in the game.

Top 5th
Boy it looks bad for Meitoku.  Nishioka swings and misses on a slider for the first out.  Then Fukunaga watches a 151 kph fastball down the middle for another K.

But Imazato gives hope!  He hits one back up the middle past a diving Mega into center!  1st base hit for Meitoku!

Itsuzaki though grounds to 2nd and the inning is over.  But there is progress!

Bottom 5th
Mega proves to be a bit troublesome for the 3rd out, but Fukunaga puts up another 0 for his team!  We head to the break with Osaka Touin making the opening run in the 1st stick!

Top 6th
Fujinami continues to frustrate the Meitoku batters post-break.

Gouda flies to shallow right center where Hakusui is there to make the sliding catch.  Iyota walks away in frustration as he strikes on 3 straight pitches.  And Kishi hits a routine grounder to short and that's the inning.

Bottom 6th
One down and Oonishi finally has Osaka Touin's first hit since the 1st inning as he singles to right!  No bunt for an insurance run by Nishitani-kantoku and Mizumoto puts a bit of an uppercut on the ball and flies to left.

Fukunaga looks to get out of the inning, but then he hits Tabata!

Runners on 1st and 2nd for Yasui, and it looks like Fukunaga is leaving the ball up a little.  Count goes full as Yasui fouls a couple off...

Drive to right center!  There's no chance for the outfielders as it lands at the wall!  Both runers come in to score on the double by Yasui!  3-0 Osaka Touin!

And a batter too late, Kishi comes in from right field to take the hill.  #9 Oonishi Teruyuki comes in for Fukunaga and goes to right.

Kasamatsu with a ball through the left side!  Yasui is waved around and scores on the play, and Kasamatsu takes 2nd on the throw!  4-0!

Hakusui flies out to center, but the Meitoku pitching has finally cracked and Osaka Touin broke through for what has to feel like a commanding 4-run lead!

Top 7th
Meitoku continues to be able to do nothing against Fujinami.  Son with a routine grounder to 3rd.  Sugiwara hits a soft chopper back to Fujinami, and Nishioka chases a slider.  A spot in the finals really looks imminent now for Osaka Touin.

Bottom 7th
Osaka Touin is fine to just play out the last 3 innings.  They're swinging away early in the count, as Kishi has a 9 pitch inning.

Top 8th
Oonishi quickly grounds out to short.

Imazato actually having a quality AB, fouling off some good pitches, but in the end, flies out to deep right.

#13 Takahashi in for Itsuzaki, but he grounds to 2nd.

Bottom 8th
#4 Matsumura comes in for PH Takahashi and takes over at 3B.

Tomoya goes down swinging on a forkball on the first out.  Mizumoto can't check his swing and becomes the 2nd K.

And perhaps to get it over with, Mizumoto just kinda makes a swinging motion on a slider to strike out and end the inning.

Top 9th
Well, just 3 more batters to go for Fujinami and a spot in the finals.

Just for fun, Fujinami throws a 152 kph fastball to Gouda.  He hits a ball to the right side as Tomoya makes a great sliding stop and throw for the out.

Ow.  Fujinami extends the game by hitting Iyota.

Kishi chases yet another slider for the 2nd out.

Last chance in Son.  Liner!  Down the first base line fair!  Iyota stops at 3rd!

But still, the douten run isn't in sight as Sugiwara steps in.

High chopper!  Fujinami moves to his left and fields it!  Throw to first, game set!


So Fujinami and Osaka Touin does it!  They're in the finals with a chance for the Spring-Summer Consecutive Titles (春夏連続優勝)!

With perhaps a blemish in the 9th inning, Fujinami pitch a masterful game allowing just 5 runners in all.  His pitch count was relatively low which should help his staming in the finals.  As for the offense, they just bided their time until the Meitoku pitching presented an opportunity and pounced.  And that was all they needed for the win.

For Meitoku Gijyuku, the loss certainly hurts.  The cameras focus on Gouda and Fukunaga who are the most visably distraught of the team.  But they honestly played a great tournament, and just had the bad luck of the draw to have to play back-to-back games with the Senbatsu champions on the back end.  A Best 4 finish is certainly nothing to be fully disappointed about, yet I'm sure as they get their "ありがとう!" from the stands, they'll still wonder what might have been.

Notable Players
Fujinami Shintarou (Osaka Touin) - CG, 0 ER, 2 H, 8 K, 2 BB, HBP
Yasui Kouki (Osaka Touin) - 2-2, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Son Ho Kyun (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 1-4, 2B
Imazato Seima (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 1-2

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 13, Game 2 - 準々決勝 - Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) vs. Kurashiki Shougyou (Okayama)

Our final quarterfinal is an all western matchup (well, west of Koushien at least).  These are the last 2 teams in that direction left here.

Kurashiki Shougyou has advanced mostly in part due to a rather weak schedule.  First was a comeback win against Matsusaka that included balls inexplicably dropping into play when it seems like they should have been caught.  Then they faced arguably the weakest offense at Koushien in Akita Shougyou (not by runs scored during per se, but by thinking about how an offense would do against the same average level team's pitching/defense).

And those two wins have put them here in the Best 8.

Their offense has scored runs for them, but again given the competition, it is not a good indicator of how the team will be going forward.

What luck for them too, as they are facing another offensively challenged team in Meitoku Gijyuku.  They haven't set the world on fire in their two games against again, not so good prefectures in Yamagata and Niigata.

They do take walks though, and at least have that in their favor.  The Fuku/Fukunaga pair continue a trend of low strikeout/low walk pitchers who live on the edge.

Meitoku Gijyuku profiles as a stronger opponent against Kurashiki Shougyou, but to what extent I'm not sure.  I see this game as a 50-50 for either side (yeah, it's a copout, but I really don't know).

Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
3B Itsuzaki (#11)
CF Gouda
2B Iyota (#5)
RF Kishi (#12)
LF Son
C Sugihara
1B Nishioka
P Fuku
SS Imazato

Kurashiki Shougyou (Okayama)
3B Fujii
RF Harukawa
CF Sakata
C Michishita
1B Okada
2B Shimizu
SS Katayama
LF Kataoka Hiroyuki (#17)
P Nishi


11:40 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
One down for Meitoku, Gouda singles through the left side.

And no bunt, he takes off for 2nd and reaches safely!

But the sinker appears again as Iyota swings and misses for the 2nd out!

Nishi having trouble with location and they walk cleanup batter Kishi (he's a 1st year btw!).  Michishita goes out to talk to Nishi as Son steps to the plate.

But Son goes down on a sinker and the side is retired with no harm done.

Bottom 1st
Fujii with a grounder to 1st.  Imazato with a great stop, but a bad throw as it goes way high and into the stands.  He's awarded 2nd.

Bunt by Harukawa, Fuku quickly turns and throws to 3rd!  It's a great throw right at the legs of Fujii as Iyota makes the tag for the out!

And then Sakata grounds into the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Top 2nd
Sugiwara is hit by Nishi to start the inning.  Nishioka not bunting, singles through to right!

2 runners on with no down as Morimitsu-kantoku calls time.  Afterwards, Fuku lays down the bunt and advances the runners for Imazato.

But the sinker shows it's face once again!  Imazato swings and misses for the 2nd out!

That makes it up to Itsuzaki.  As Mabuchi-kantoku relays a message to him.

Nishi gets out of the pinch!  Itsuzaki pops it up to right!  Harukawa is there for the catch and the side is retired!

Bottom 2nd
Ball back up the middle, takes an irregular high bound, but Imazato has it!  Throw to 1st is high again, but this time Nishioka has it and tags Michishita for the out.

Okada gets Kurashou's first hit as he hits a solid single through the left side. And now they're going for the one-timer as Shimizu bunts him to 2nd.

But Katayama swings and misses on a forkball to end the inning.

Top 3rd
Meitoku still can't figure out the sinker.  Gouda goes down swinging on one, Iyota rolls a ball to 2nd.

And Kishi throws in another strikeout for free as he swings and misses on another sinker.

Bottom 3rd
Fuku crusing along, getting a groundout from Hiroyuki and Nishi to strike out swinging.

Fujii with a blast to left!  Son running back to the foul pole... still running!  Pulls up!


Fujii breaks the deadlock in a big way!  1-0 Kurashou!

Harukaw grounds out to 1st, but now Nishi is pitching with the lead!

Top 4th
Son with a drive to center!!  Sakata running back!  He's at the fence!!


Son emphatically returns fire for Meitoku Gijyuku with a homerun to center!  We're all tied at 1-1!!

Now Suguwara with a base hit through the left side.  Is Nishi becoming hittable?

Well, they're making contact.  Nishioka hits a towering fly to shallow center that Katayama has for the 1st out.  So Mabuchi-kantoku has Fuku bunt Sugawara ahead for Imazato.

But Nishi freezes Imazato on a sinker in the zone for strike 3 and the side is retired!  But Son comes back to tie the game for his team!

Bottom 4th
Fuku almost gets a 1-2-3 inning as he gets 2 quick ground outs beofre he walks Okada.  But they try to press the initiative and instead Okada is thrown out at 2nd to end the inning.

Top 5th
Itsuzaki battles Nishi to an 11-pitch AB only to strikeout swinging on another sinker.

Gouda is able to make contact, but ground to short.  Iyota fares no better, rolling one to short as well for the 3rd out.

Bottom 5th
One down, Katayama hits a single to center.  They elect not to have Hiroyuki bunt, and he pops out to Iyota.

Nishi goes down swinging on the slider and we hit the break.

Each pitcher has basically shut down the other's offenses outside of the HR's they gave up.  Fuku get bad contact, Nishi uses the slider for the K.

Top 6th
Kishi stars off the inning pulling a ball through the gap for a base hit.

Son standing in, immediately shows and lays down the bunt.

Sugihara with a ball to right.  Harukawa charging in, charging in, just misses making the catch by inches!  Kishi advances to 3rd and there's a situation brewing for Meitoku as Morimitsu-kantoku calls for time.

Nishioka up, swings away at the first pitch.  But he's hit by Nishi!  Manrui now for Meitoku Gijyuku ace ace Fuku steps in.  Having sacrificed twice, what will he do now?

He swings away on the first pitch and fouls it off!

Now he hits a ball to the left side!  Fujii can't field it and it's into left!  Kishi scores and it's 2-1 Meitoku!


Mabuchi-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but Nishi buries it!  Imazato can't hit it and Michishita fields it and tags Sugawara for the out!  2 down!

SANSHIN!  Imazato goes down for the 3rd time, this time looking on a fastball on the outside corner.

But Meitoku Gijyuku takes the lead right after the break!

Bottom 6th
Being careful with Fujii, Fuku gives him a walk.  Harukawa not bunting, becomes a victim of the slider.

Sakata hits a ball to 3rd.  It's slow enough Itsuzaki's only play is to 1st for the 2nd out.

And Fuku gets the better of Michishita as he pops up to right to retire the side!

Top 7th
One down Gouda singles to left.  No bunt, but Iyota still advances the runner despite grounding to short.  But Kishi can only manage a grounder to 3rd to end the inning.

Bottom 7th
Okada is called going around by the home plate umpire as the ball gets away from Sugiwara, but no one notices.  Eventually everyone does, and Okada is thrown out at 1st.

Shimizu cannot do much better grounding out to 2nd.


Katayama down on an inside fastball and the side is retired!

Top 8th
Nishi with 119 pitches on the day, the 120th to Son is singled back up the middle for a leadoff single.  Sugahara bunts him along for Nishioka.

He hits it to short!  He looks to 3rd and makes a gesture then throws to 1st for the out.  Wonder if he was saying that Fujii was to cover 3rd to throw him out.

Fuku with a ball to right, that falls in!  Son scors to make it a 3-1 ball game!

Imazato with the safety bunt!  Fujii charges in, but the throw is late and everyone's safe!

So back to the top of the order and Itsuzaki, who is hitless for far this Koushien.

He gives it a ride to right, but Harukawa is there for the catch.  But Fuku with his 2nd timely hit this game extends his lead on the mound!

Bottom 8th
Now the tables are turning as now Kurashou's batters can't hit against Fuku!

Hiroyuki goes down swinging.  #7 Fukumori hits for Nishi and he grounds to 1st.

Fujii finally gets their first hit since the 5th with a single to left.

Harukawa with a single through the right side and the douten runner is on base!  Mabuchi-kantoku calls for time.

Sakata stepping as the gyakuten runner.

Grounder up the middle.  Imazato blocks it, and it leaks away from him!  He grabs it and tags the base with the glove for the out!  Side retired!

Top 9th
#13 Oonaka comes in for PH Fukumori to take the hill.

Gouda welcomes him with a single through the right side.  Iyota bunts him into scoring position as an insurance run never hurts.

Kishi lines one at Gouda who has to duck to avoid being hit before heading to 3rd.

Son with a hard hit to 3rd.  Fujii is able to field it, and seeing no play at home quickly fires to 2nd where they get Kishi.  But it's now 4-1.

Sugiwara goes down swinging to end the inning, but they have one more run to make up now...

Bottom 9th
Michishita leads off the inning.  He pops it up though, and while Iyota fights off the sun, he makes the catch.

Okada laces one at Itsuzaki and it bounces off of him and into foul territory!  He's on for Shimizu.

Shimizu with another hit at Itsuzaki!  It deflects off his glove and into left!  2 on for Kurashiki as the douten run comes to the plate in Katayama!

Mabuchi-kantoku calls for time.

They go to the well one too many times!  Grounder to 3rd this time Itsuzaki does have!  He tags 3rd for one, throw to 1st... double play!!  Meitoku Gijyuku holds off a potential late rally from Kurashiki Shougyou for the win!

Meitoku Gijyuku advances to the semifinals on the back of a great pitching performance by ace Fuku!  Offensively, they were able to reply to Kurashou's opening HR with one of their own and then started to pull away in the latter half of the game.  They were able to do just enough today to advance to the semifinals, and a date with Osaka Touin.  No time to rest boys, you've got a game tomorrow!

For Kurashiki Shougyou, it's the 2nd consecutive year now a team from Okayama has made it to the Best 8 only to fall.  Last year it was Kanzei againt Nichidai-san, this year it's Kurashiki Shougyou against Meitoku Gijyuku.  Nishi's understandibly crying over the loss, but he's proven to be a good pitcher in a Koushien that had a lot of the same types of pitchers.  He didn't reach the ultimate goal, but he helped carry this team a long ways.   And he should be proud of that.

Notable Players
Fuku Takeyuki (Meitoku Gijyuku) - CG, ER, 8 H, 7 K, 2 BB
Fuku Takeyuki (Meitoku Gijyuku) -  2-2, 2 RBI
Son Ho Kyun (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, K
Gouda Satoru (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 3-5, R, SB
Fujii Shouri (Kurashiki Shougyou) - 3-3, HR, R, RBI, BB
Okada Seiji (Kurashiki Shougyou) - 2-3, BB, K

Day 13, Game 1 - 準々決勝 - Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) vs. Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)

Today is our second pair of quarterfinal games.  And while the big names headlined the first day, today the teams that compose the supporting cast will take the field.  It's not to marginalize what they've done.  It's just that right now there are 2 teams that everyone else has to beat.  And it's been the same 2 teams since this spring.

For Sakushin Gakuin, this is getting personal.  They're one step away from a 2nd consecutive Best 4, and now with the draw, one step away from facing Kousei Gakuin - again.

Talk about story lines.  What were the odds that going into the Natsu Koushien qualifying, we would have the possibility of a rematch of last year's semifinal AND a rematch of last spring's final??!!

But first thing's first, they have to get past Toukaidai Koufu to do so.

Toukaidai Koufu is a rather bizarre team.  None of their games so far has gone longer then 100 minutes.

That's right.  Longer.  Don't believe me?
  • Round 1 vs. Seiritsu Gakuen - 86 minutes
  • Round 2 vs. Ryuukokudai Heian - 98 minutes
  • Round 3 vs. Ube Koujyou - 95 minutes
It's unheard of.  You may have one game that takes 2 hours, and in a rare occasion one game last 100 minutes.

But all 3?!

It can't be a coincidence.  But what would be the reasoning behind it?

Well, I mentioned a theory last game, but I think it has to do with throwing off the opponent.

By running a faster paced game, and committing no errors in doing so,  it might make the opposing team play faster (swing at pitches earlier in the count, rush plays on the field, etc.).  And that in turn could cause errors or lapses of judgement.  Which could lead to runs, and a win.  And since their pitching is used to the tempo and used to getting contact, it only quickens the pace.

And that's pretty much what they've done.  Win - to the tune of 3-0, 4-2 and 3-2.

So, how does Sakushin Gakuin counteract that?

Well, if at any point they're feeling rushed on the mound, take extra time between pitches.  If it's while they're batting, call for time more often to slow it down.

Because the team seems like they can hit, though pushing them in for runs at times can be an issue.  And the pair of Tsutsui and Mizunuma don't really strike out or walk anybody either.  Which means they depend on pitch selection and location, and rushing that can only lead to disaster.

The key to the game may the time of the game.  If it's another sub-100 minute game, the odds may in fact lie with Toukaidai Koufu.  If it goes above 100 minutes and is a more normal length, Sakushin may have the advantage.

Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
SS Ishii Kazushige
CF Tsuruta (#7)
RF Shinohara
C Takayama
1B Yamashita (#13)
LF Yoshida (#16)
3B Takashima
2B Yamanashi
P Tsutsui (#10)

Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)
SS Watnanabe
CF Saitou Keisuke
LF Yamamoto
C Ishii Shinjirou
1B Akiya
3B Aihara
RF Tanaka (#15)
P Kanbara
2B Shinkai


9:00 - First Pitch

Top 1st
One down, and Tsuruta laces one back up the middle over Kanbara's glove for a base hit.

And now Kanbara walks Shinohara!  Chance early for Sakushin!

But Kanbara gets Takayama to bite on a slider down and away for the 2nd out.  And Yamashita lines out to Takashima for the 3rd out.

Bottom 1st
One down and Keisuke drives one to right!  Shinohara running it down, but it lands at the base of the wall!  Keisuke's in with a double!

Yamamoto lays down the bunt, and Tsutsui and Takashima converge late!  But they're letting it go as it looks to be going foul, still fair, still fair... and it barely goes foul!  Break for Sakushin!

Or is it??!!

Yamamoto drives the next pitch to center!  Tsutruta running back, but he has no chance!  It takes a bounce before hitting the wall!  Keisuke scores easily as Yamamoto slides ahead of the throw for a triple!  1-0 Toukaidai!

Chance now to extend it to 2 runs with cleanup hitter Shinjirou up.  But he pops it up!  Yamashita there for the 2nd out.

And Tsutsui gets out of the inning with minimal damage as Akiya grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.

But still Toukaidai Koufu takes the lead!

Top 2nd
Kanbara is going a bit slower than in prior games, but the Sakushin batters are somewhat complying with the pace.

Yoshida runs the count 2-2 before being frozen on a curve.  Takashima and Yamanashi quickly ground out for a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 2nd
Toukaidai's batters are working with what they're given.  Aihara takes another outside pitch the other way deep and over the defense again to center-right-center (That's like NNE, in compass terms, I think).

Tanaka bunts him over for Kanbara.


It's not a sac bunt, but a hit-and-run with a runner on 3rd??!!

Kanbara makes contact and grounds to short.  Kazushige's only play is to 1st and Toukaidai takes a 2-0 lead!

And now Shinkai pulls a line shot to left for a single, and it's obvious that Tsutsui is in a lot of trouble.

Yet #18 Mizumoto who has been warming up, nor #1 Ootani (whom we actually see out for the first time! and is warming up) is being put in.

Watanabe with a line shot right at 3rd!  Takashima can't field it!  It goes out of his glove and goes up the 3rd base line!!  All safe!

Kobari-kantoku calling time as the game is teetering at this point given the error just now and how hard the Toukaidai batters are hitting the ball.

Tsutsui behind Keisuke 3-1, and walks him!  Manrui now for Yamamoto!  Will they change pitchers now?

Doesn't look like it.

But Tsutsui gets out of the jam as Yamamoto hits an easy comebacker to him for the 3rd out.  But Toukaidai has added to their lead.

Top 3rd
#3 Wakui in to hit for Tsutsui.  Looks like they wanted to get a PH in there since they were going to replace him anyways, but that's a big gamble in the bottom of the 2nd.

Wakui goes down swinging though for the first out.

Back to the top of the order and Kazushige and he grounds out to short.

Kanbara back to his quick tempo working the count full on Tsuruta before throwing a ball 55 feet for ball 4.

And Tsuruta takes off for 2nd!  Throw from Shinjirou is high, but Watanabe has time to come down and make the tag for the out!  3 outs!

Bottom 3rd
Well, ace Ootani may have been out there, but it's Mizunuma pressed into early service here in the 3rd.

And Mizunuma immediately shuts the door, getting groundouts from Shinjirou and Aihara sandwiched around a foulout from Akiya for a 1-2-3 inning!

Top 4th
Shinohara with a grounder past Watanabe into center for a base hit!

Takayama follows that up with a ball on the opposite side of 2nd for another base hit!  Runners at 1st and 2nd for Sakushin to start the 4th!

Yamashita showing bunt, but takes to up 3-1.  And still up on the count, Kobari-kantoku has him bunt, which he does successfully.

So it's up to Yoshida and Takashima at the least to drive the runners in.

Yoshida reaches out for a ball way outside!  Up the 3rd base line... FAIR!  Aihara dives, but can't reach the ball as it goes up the left field line!  Shinohara scores!  Takayama being waved around... he scores!  Yoshida with an bailout swing keeps it fair, and more importantly ties the game!  It's 2-2!!

Takashima grounds to 2nd, advancing Yoshida 90 feet.

Yamanashi goes down looking to end the inning, but Sakushin Gakuin has gotten the runs back and we have a new ballgame!

Bottom 4th
Tanaka with a blooper to shallow right, and it falls in between Yamanashi and Shinohara for a base hit!  Kanbara bunts him along looking to get the lead back.

Comebacker to Mizunuma!  He turns to 2nd and has Tanaka caught in between!  He's run down 1-5-6 and there's 2 outs!

Mizunuma gets Watanabe to ground to short to end the inning and Mizunuma continues to put up 0's!

Top 5th
Mizunuma looking to help his own cause lines one into center for a base hit!

Kazushige not bunting as "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" is being played in the Sakushin oen-dan.  He goes down 0-2 and flies to right.

Tsuruta grounds to 1st.  Akiya tries the 3-6-1 double play, but can't turn the back half of it.

Shinohara goes full on Kanbara and singles the other way to keep the inning going for Takayama.

After going down 0-1, Kobari-kantoku passes a message to Takayama.

Takayama with a soft liner up the middle!  Shinkai is there, but bobbles the ball!  Everyone is safe!

Wait!  Watanabe backing up, fires to 3rd and Tsuruta over ran the base!  He gives up as he's tagged out to end the inning!  What a baserunning blunder!

Bottom 5th
Keisuke with the first real hard hit against Mizunuma, pulling a ball through the gap in right for a leadoff single.

Yamamoto lays down the bunt, but Takashima is crashing in and throws to 2nd to get the lead runner!

Shinjirou gets his hands around an inside fastball and singles to left!  Chance for Toukaidai!

Akiya too just gets his hands around one, and puts one just over a turned around Yamanashi into right!  Runners had to wait on the fly so it's manrui for Aihara.

Shot to 3rd!  Takashima has it pop out of his glove!  Kazushige fields it and makes the play at 1st, but Yamamoto scores to make it 3-2!

Tanaka with another hard ball to the left side!  Takashima dives but can't come up with it!  Shinjirou scores to make it 4-2!!

Kanbara grounds to short to end the inning, but right before the break they retake the 2-run lead!

Top 6th
One down and Yoshida tries to jump start the offense with a blooper over Shinkai into right.

But he can't hit for others as Takashima chases a slider, and Yamanashi grounds to 2nd to quickly end the 6th

Bottom 6th
Defensive change as #14 Asano comes in for Takashima.

Shinkai with a drive to left-center!  Again it's over the defence and one bounds to the wall!  He in with a double!

Watanabe with a great bunt down the 3rd base line.  Mizunuma sliding with his feet near the base line, makes a great throw for the out.  But Toukaidai threatens again.

Keisuke with a single to right! He's 4-4 as now Toukaidai leads 5-2!

Yamamoto with a grounder to short, but Kazushige can't quite backhand it and everyone's safe!

The Toukaidai batters seem to be masters of getting around an inside pitch because Shinjirou hits one off the label and still manages to hit one over Asano into left!

Manrui for Akiya!  Chopper to the left side!  Mizunuma can't get to it!  Kazushige does and fires home, and gets the out. 2 down.

Aihara flies out to left, but Toukaidai Koufu is threatening to pull away once again!

Top 7th
Mizunuma with his 2nd base hit, a bounder past a diving Watanabe.

But he's replaced at fist by Kazushige when he grounds to short.

Wild pitch from Kanbara sends Kazushige to 2nd.  Tsuruta turns on a fastball and singles through to right.  Kazushige advances to 3rd.

Shinohara doesn very little with the outside pitch, othere than shoot it through to left, plating Kazushige and making to 5-3.

Takayama with a ball just out of the reach of Aihara into left!  Tsuruta rounds 3rd and the throw is taken up the line by Shinjirou!  It's 5-4!!

#10 Honda warms up.

Yamashita though contiues to be shutout on the day as he flies to right.

But that brinds up Yoshida who had that 2-run double earlier.  He swings on the first pitch though and grounds to 2nd!  Shinkai retires him at 1st and Toukaidai Koufu holds the lead!

Bottom 7th
Oh!  Here's a surprise!  Ace Ootani enter the game and take the hill!

Tanaka lines one past Kazushige into center!  Leadoff runner on for Toukaidai!

Kanbara lays down the bunt.  Yamashita fields it, goes to 2nd, but throws it away!  Tanaka advances to 3rd and Sakushin Gakuin is in a lot of trouble!

Shinkai with another blooper that finds its way to the outfield for a base hit!  Tanaka scores to make it 6-4!

Watanabe with a ball to center, but Tsuruta is there for the catch.  Runners hold.

Keisuke is finally retired as Ootani strikes him out.  And he finally gets out of the pinch as Yamamoto grounds out to 2nd.

Top 8th
Once again though Sakushin Gakuin finds themselves 2 behind with 2 innings to go.

One down, grounder to short by Yamanashi.  Watanabe one hops the throw and Akiya can't make the pick.

Ootani looks like he gives one a ride, but it's right to Tanaka for out #2.

And Kazushige can only hit a weak comebacker to Kanbara to end the inning.

Bottom 8th
Shunjirou with a drive to left!  Yoshida doesn't even move!


Shinjirou almost seals Toukaidai's spot in the Best 4 with a leadoff homerun here in the bottom of the 8th!  7-4!

One down and Aihara hits a shallow fly to center.  Everyone converges, but no one take initiative to get it and it falls in.

Two down and Kanbara drives one to deep center!  Tsuruta running back, dives, but can't get it!  It bounces off the wall as Kanbara has an RBI triple to make it 8-4.

Shinkai strikes out to end the inning, but the book is almost closed on Sakushin Gakuin.

Top 9th
Shinohara gets a one out single to right center, his 4th on the day.

But Takayama grounds into the 1-4-3 double play and the game is over!

Well, what do you know.  The game goes a "pedestrian" 127 minutes and Toukaidai Koufu advances to the Best 4!

That was unexpected.  This game, they didn't go their quick, frenetic pace, and put an 8 spot against last year's semifinalists.  I don't know what to chalk this one up to.

But it was clear early that Sakushin Gakuin was in trouble early as starter Tsutsui was being hard hit.  Things never improved as they had to play catchup the entire game and eventually fell too far behind.  The stage seemed to be all set for a rematch, but unfortunately Tokaidai Koufu got in the way.

As for Toukaidai Koufu, they seemed to prove they could play a "regular" game as well with this performance.  Perhaps they didn't want to exert too much energy with the pace knowing full well they'd have a game tomorrow.  But hat will be the case going forward anyways.

But ti was a dominating performance by the team from Yamanashi.  They reach the semifinals for the 3rd time in school history, and will look to reach the finals for the first time if the can defeat Kousei Gakuin.

Notable Players
Ishii Shinjirou (Toukaidai Koufu) - 3-5, HR, 2 R, RBI
Saitou Keisuke (Toukaidai Koufu)- 3-4, 2B, R, RBI, K
Tanaka Ryuuta (Toukaidai Koufu) - 3-4, R, RBI
Shinohara Yuuta (Sakushin Gakuin) - 4-4, R, RBI, BB
Takayama Ryousuke (Sakushin Gakuin) - 3-5, R, RBI, K
Yoshida Koudai (Sakushin Gakuin)- 2-4, 2B, K

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 12, Game 2 - 準々決勝 - Osaka Touin (Osaka) vs. Tenri (Nara)

With the draw up and the winner not having to face Kousei Gakuin, it's a fight now for the semifinals with a little more of a breather - though they will have to play tomorrow...

Osaka Touin is next up.  Interesting in that the draw had it so that the finals from the spring would have a day off if they both won.

Osaka Touin has pretty much done what they've needed to to advance.  They've displayed their offense in both games, they were able to rest Fujinami for the stretch run, and there doesn't seem to be any chinks outside of possible fatigue from Fujinami the deeper they advance.

Tenri too has done what they've need to as well.  None of their games have ever been dominating - as evidenced by the fact that Nakatani has struck out just 9 in 24 innings.  And against an offense like Osaka Touin, whom they haven't beaten this year, it's asking a lot.  And now #11 Yamamoto will start in for Nakatani who pitched yesterday.  We'll find out how deep the bullpen is for Tenri today.

Plus add in the fact that Tenri has no rest inbetween games, and it's not a recipe for success.  That and the draw now puts Osaka Touin and Kousei Gakuin on opposite sides of the semifinals, and well, it is fate?

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
C Mori
2B Oonishi
RF Mizumoto
1B Tabata
LF Yasui
3B Kasamatsu
CF Hakusui
SS Mega
P Fujinami

Tenri (Nara)
LF Hayata
CF Higashihara
2B Watase
3B Furuta
1B Inabetsu
SS Yoshimura
RF Kimura
P Yamamoto (#11)
C Funabiki


11:30 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Oh, not good.

Mori with a drive to center!  Higashihara not giving chase...


And the Osaka Touin power shows itself early.  1-0!

Yamamoto retires the next 2 batters via the groundout, but Tabata singles to center.  He does limit the damage striking out Yasui to end the inning, but as is with starting your non-ace, you generally risk going down early.

Bottom 1st
Well, Fujinami on rest is about what you'd expect out of the blocks.  Comebacker to Fujinami, and 2 Ks.

Top 2nd
Kasamatsu with a liner to left, Yoshimura climbs the ladder for the out (all 187 cm of him).

Yamamoto just about has a 1-2-3 inning, but Mega's grounder to short is flubbed by Yoshimura.  Take one, give one.

No harm done though as Fujinami pops out to Watase on the left field line.

Bottom 2nd
Well, Mega returns the favor.  Routine grounder to short, he throws it wide and pulls Tabata off the bag!

Bunt from Inabetsu, and it's right to Fujinami!  He throws to 2nd... WIDE!

Everyone's safe!

AH!  But now Mori catches Furuta off 2nd!  Furuta can only run to 3rd in vain as he retired 2-6-5!  Inabetsu goes for 2nd and slides in just safe.

Yoshimura grounds out to 2nd, moving Inabetsu to 3rd, but now Tenri needs a base hit.

Kimura can't deliver, and he grounds out to 1st to end the inning.

Against Osaka Touin, you need to take advantage of anything you're given.  Blowing that opportunity is not a good sign.

Top 3rd
Top of the order and Mori, and I'm not surprised that Yamamoto basicaly didn't pitch to him.

Hit-and-run from Nishiani-kantoku!  Ball back up the middle off the mound and high bounds into center!  Mori advances to 3rd and Tenri is in trouble!

Mizumoto pops it up!  Watase almost doesn't move as he makes the catch.

Tabata with a grounder to 3rd!  Furuta goes to 2nd for one, throw to 1st... SAFE!

Watase's throw just pulls Inabetsu off the bag and prevents the double play!  Osaka Touin leads 2-0!

Yasui grounds out to Yoshimura, but all Tenri can to is slow down the Osaka Touin offense.

Bottom 3rd
Yamamoto hits a single through to right on his first pitch!

And now Fujinami walks Funabiki on 4 straight!  Another chance for Tenri!

Hayata tries to bunt, but pops it up!  Mori makes a dive, and catches it for the first out!

Highashihara grounds to short!  Mega goes to 2nd for one, and that's all they'll get.

Two down and runners at the corners for Watase.

But Fujinami strikes him out to get out of the pinch!  Tenri wastes another chance as Osaka Touin is poised to continue slowly pulling away!

Top 4th
Kasamatsu with a sharp liner, but right to Hayata for the first out.

Hakusui also with a liner right at Kimura.

Mega walks to bring up Fujinami.  And he singles through the left side!  Two on now for leadoff batter Mori.  Funabiki rightly goes up to talk to Yamamoto.

They're careful again with Mori, but get him to fly out to left to end the inning,

Bottom 4th

One down and Inabetsu is hit on the back by a 148 kph fastball (~92 mph).

Wild pitch from Fujinami sends Inabetsu to 2nd!

Yoshimura with a base hit down the right field line!  Inabetsu holds up at 3rd.

Chance again for Tenri, but Kimura goes chasing and hits a comebacker to Fujinami.  He goes to 1st for the out.

Yamamoto with a drive to right!  But Mizumoto backs up and is there for the catch.  3 out.  Another chance wasted against an off Fujinami.

Top 5th
After a long AB with Oonishi, Yamamoto gets him to chase a high fastball for the K.

Mizumoto checks in with a hit as he singles to left.

Oy.  A ball goes up and glances off the logo of Tabata's helmet!  He immediately says he's fine, but per rules he's lifted for an injury runner.

Yamamoto goes 3-0 to Yasui and the announcers notice that he's got blood on his pants.  Perhaps a blister or cut fingernail of some sort.  Yet he's still pitching and fills up the count.

He loses Yasui though and it's manrui for Osaka Touin.  Hashimoto-kantoku calls for time, but keeps Yamamoto in the game, possible injured hand and all.

I don't like the looks of this.

Kasamatsu with a slow grounder to short!  Yoshimura goes to 2nd for one, throw to 1st, not in time!  The grounder was too slow to turn two and now Osaka Touin leads 3-0!

Hakusui flies out to right, but that's another step Osaka Touin has taken towards the semis!

Bottom 5th
Hayata with a comebacker, but it's off Fujinami'g glove and trickles to 2nd base!  Fujinami chases it down, but the throw isn't in time!

Fujinami though comes back to strike out Higashihara and Watase swinging to end the inning.

We hit the break with Osaka Touin methodically expanding their lead over Tenri, who has had chances, but just cannot capitalize on them.

Top 6th
As expected, ace Nakatani is in to take the mound in relief of Yamamoto.

One down and Fujinami drives a ball to left!  Hayata running back to the fence!


Fujinami shows his display of power as he gives Osaka Touin another run!  It's 4-0!!

Mori meanwhile gets his 2nd walk of the day.  Nishitani-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run, and it advances the runner when Oonishi grounds to 2nd.

Mizumoto with a drive to center!  Higashihara running back, can only watch at it lands in front of him and into the wall!  Mizumoto's in with an RBI double to make it 5-0.

Tabata hits a can of corn that Inabetsu catches for the 3rd out, but 2 more runs almost make this a formality now.

Bottom 6th
Well, Fujinami, with a comfortable lead has shaken the cobwebs out.  Furuta goes down looking a slider, Inabetsu on a fastball.

Yoshimura makes contact, but grounds to 3rd for the 3rd out.

Top 7th
Yasui with a drive to center!  Higashihara running back, watches it bounce off the top of the padding and over the fence for a ground rule double!

Kasamatsu advances Yasui to 3rd with a ball to the right side.

Hakusui with his first hit (this Koushien!) as he singles through the right side!  Yasui scores to make it 6-0!

#13 Kinden to hit for Mega.  Nakatani walks him, and that's it for Nakatani. #13 Urushihara comes in out of the bullpen to take the hill.

Fujinami registers his 2nd base hit through the left side.

So now it's manrui for Mori.  Boy this could get ugly quick.

Count goes to 3-1 on Mori.  Will Urushihara give in and pitch the fastball?

Yes, but it's a comebacker to Urushihara!  He goes home for one, but that's all they get.

Still manrui with 2 down now for Oonishi.

Comebacker, through to center!  2 runs should and 2 score on the play, making it 8-0 Osaka Touin.

Urushihara finally ends the inning getting a comebacker from Mizumoto, but an 8 run lead should be comfortable (I see no Riseisha-type comeback coming).

Bottom 7th
#17 Kuroda to hit for Kimura, grounds out to 3rd.

Urushihara can only look up after he goes down swinging on an outside fastball.

And Funabiki chases a slider in the dirt for 3 outs.  Yep, its pretty much a formality now.

Top 8th
Kuroda stays in the game at RF, while #12 Yamagishi comes in for Funabiki at C.

Tabata with his 2nd hit, a single through the left side.  Urushihara next walks Yasui.  Kasamatsu tries to lay down the bunt, but goes down 0-2.  And takes a curve for strike 3.

Hakusui tries for 2 hits on the day with a line shot, but it's right at Inabetsu.

Mizuya in for his first AB, goes down swinging to end the inning.

Bottom 8th
Hayata watches a 147 kph fastball go by for yet another K. Higashihara, yep swings on a cutter down and away for strike 3.

And Watase hits a comebacker to Fujinami for the 3rd out.

Top 9th
Two down, and #12 Morishima hits for Oonishi.  He's retired 4-3, and while it's Tenri's first 1-2-3 inning, it's come way too late.

Bottom 9th
#16 Nishi comes in for PH Morishima and takes over at 2B.

Well, last hacks for Tenri.

Kumamoto up, grounds out to 3rd.

#10 Sekiya in to hit for Inabetsu.  Ks on the cutter.

Yoshimura last chance for Tenri.

And wouldn't you know it, he drives a ball to deep left center!  Hakusui watches it as it hits the netting for a HR! 8-1! Wouldn't you know it, they avoid the shutout.

Kuroda goes down looking to end the game, and there you go.

So as the announcers have been saying all game, Osaka Touin "revenges" their 8-4 loss in the quarterfinals of the fall Kinkis Super-Regionals here at the quarterfinals of Natsu Koushien.

And so their quest to be the 7th haru-natsu renzoku yuushou (春夏連続優勝) continues.  That and a kesshou (決勝) matchup with Kousei Gakuin.

It's still hard for the Tenri players to lose to the hands of a rival in Osaka Touin, but if noting else they have a happy disposition about it.  Though that in part probably comes from the "Joyous Acceptance" in Tenrikyo teachings.  It's why some people might mistake their reactions and smiles for aloofness.

As expected, Tenri really had one hand behind their back playing on no rest.  But that's how Koushien goes unfortunately.   A Best 8 finish is still good and one they haven't had in years, so at least that is progress.  Or one would hope.

Osaka Touin, will get one days rest and face yet another team with no rest.  A spot in the finals might well be waiting for them.

Notable Players
Fujinami Shintarou (Osaka Touin) - CG, ER, 4 H, 13 K, BB, HBP
Fujinami Shintarou (Osaka Touin) - 3-5, HR, 2 R, RBI
Mori Tomoya (Osaka Touin) - 1-3, HR, 3 R, RBI, 2 BB

Yamamoto Tatsuya (Tenri) - 5 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 K, 3 BB, HBP
Yoshimura Kousuke (Tenri) - 2-4, HR, R RBI

準決勝 Draw!

So, the draw for the jyunkesshou was held after the game.

And we are setup for a possible rematch in the final!

Day 14, Game 1 - [Winner of Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) vs. Kurashiki Shougyou (Okayama)] vs. [Winner of Osaka Touin (Osaka) vs. Tenri (Nara)]
Day 14, Game 2 - [Winner of Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) vs. Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)] vs. Kousei Gakuin (Aoyama)

Day 12, Game 1 - 準々決勝 - Kousei Gakuin (Aomori) vs. Toukou Gakuen (Kanagawa)

Well, we're past the flurry of games that brought us from 49 teams to 8.  And now the real test begins.  Even more so given the draw that has come out.

Our first game could have easily been a semifinal game.  But the draw is the draw, and both teams are in the fight of their lives.

Kousei Gakuin has been on course to yet another final.  After a bit of an unimpressive 4-0 win over Yuugakukan, they bats came out to play against Kamimura Gakuen.  But ace number Kanazawa lasted just 5.1 innings and as a result Jyouma had to come in relief to finish the game.  Neither have shown to be a K master, so again it's up to getting not so good contact.

But to get to the finals, they will have to face the hottest pitcher right now at Koushien - Matsui Yuuki of Toukou Gakuen.

He struck out 22, then 19, and then 12 against Urasoe Shougyou.  The last performance though was not the dominance we saw out of the first two games.  And not just because of the K's.

Urasoe Shougyou tested Matsui.  They made him throw pitches in the strike zone and rarely chased.  Batters went deep into counts and either appeared to swing at pitches they were looking for or when they had to protect the plate.

It certainly had an effect.  Batters started walking, getting better pitches to hit, and more importantly, kept Matsui on the mound.  Because in the 9th, while they were down by a good margin, they managed to get the tying run to be plate before being retired to end the game.

Now while Urasoe lost the game, it may be Toukou Gakuen that loses the war.  Because while they have advanced, they have to turn around the next day and play against Kousei Gakuin.

Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)
RF Ameku
LF Murase
C Tamura
SS Houjyou
3B Oosugi
2B Jyouma
1B Takeda
CF Kimura
P Kanazawa

Toukou Gakuen (Kanagawa)
2B Suzuki Takumu
C Ukawa
CF Mizukai
RF Uekusa
LF Yamaguchi
1B Tanaka
P Matsui
SS Take
3B Nakano


9:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Already Ameku with a drive down the left field line!  Yaamguchi right at the foul pole!  No catch!  It bounces down in front of the wall as Ameku is in with a leadoff double!

And it does look like they're waiting when they can.  Murase was down 0-2, took an inside fastball and was rung up.  Wasn't his pitch.

Unfortunately for Kousei, the plate umpire is very loose when it comes to going around.  Tamura, count full, 8th pitch of the AB, looks to have checked, but the umpire calls him going around.

Furthermore, he's calling the inside strike.

So Ameku steals 3rd on the 1-1 pitch, hoping that any base hit will get him home.

Houjyou goes down on a high inside fastball though, and Matsui has struck out the side.  Kousei is taking their pitches when they can, but the zone seems very liberal today.  And that's not a good thing for Kousei,

Bottom 1st
Well, that's strange.  #18 Sekiguchi is already in for Murase in LF.

After a routine grounder to 1st by Takumu, Ukawa works a walk.  Mizukai not bunting, but not able to at least move the runner as he goes down swinging on a slow curve.

Uekusa with a comebacker to Kanazawa, goes to 2nd (thinking he needs a DP, I assume) and gets the 3rd out.

Top 2nd
Despite the wide strike zone, Kousei is sticking to the plan.  Oosugi runs the count full, but grounds out to 1st.

Jyouma attacks early on a pitch I guess he likes, but pop sup to Tanaka in foul terrirory.

Takeda gets a 4-pitch walk as Matsui has a small loss of control.

Kimura can't hold up on a slider in the dirt, tries to make a mad dash to 1st, but is just thrown out by Ukawa to retire the side.

Bottom 2nd
Kanazawa at 2-2 to Yamaguchi, hits him to start the inning.  Tanaka with the bunt, pops it up!  Tamura right there at home for the catch, and there's 1 down!

Matsui grounds to short.  Houjyou goes to 2nd for one, but Jyouma throw is high and Matsui is safe.

Now Take hits a single through the left sdie!  Runners now at 1st and 2nd now for Toukou!

But Nakano pops it up.  Houjyou doesn't really move and makes the catch for the 3rd out.

Top 3rd
Kanazawa up and he tries to wait Matsui out, but he takes a fastball at the knees for strike 3.

Back to the top of the order and Ameku, and no dice this time around as he grounds to 2nd.

Sekiguchi up for his first AB, shows bunt a couple of times, but Matsui can't find the plate. 2-out walk.

Tamura up and takes a big swing at 1-0.  Takes the inside strike for 0-2.  But he grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.

They're trying to take pitches that's for sure, but their pitch recognition I'm not sure is as good.  Plus I don't think the umpire is giving the outside corner as much as opposed to the inside corner.

Bottom 3rd
Takumu leading off again here in the 3rd, gets fooled on a curve and goes down swinging.  Ukawa gets jammed and grounds weakly to Oosugi.

And Mizukai swings late on a fastball and grounds to 2nd.

Top 4th
Houjyou continuing the trend of K's as he goes down swinging on a bad slider.

Oosugi gets a hold of a fastball, but is under it and hits a high fly to left.

And Jyouma goes down on another slider.  7 K's for Matsui through 4.  It doesn't look good for Kousei as they can't even work the pitch count at all given they're swinging at bad pitches.

Bottom 4th
Huh, now the plate umpire isn't calling the "Go arounds" on strike 3 instead deferring to the base umpires.

Uekusa tries to check his swing, but is rung up but the 1st base umpire.  Yamaguchi tries to check his swing, but is rung up by the 3rd base umpire.

And then Tanaka decides to forgo the checking and just gets rung up on a curve.

Kanazawa strikes out the side, but he's better not get too over-confident.

Top 5th
Because his offense, while they may try to tire Matsui out, are doing a worse job than Urasoe Shougyou.

Takeda displays this point, swinging on a high 2-2 fastball for the strikeout.

Kimura, behind 1-2, has to swing away and grounds to 2nd.

And Kanazawa rightly takes a slider, but this time should tip his cap as Matsui actaully puts it over the plate for strike 3.

Bottom 5th
Matsui goes down swinging on a curve, but the ball gets away from Tamura allowing him to reach base.  Take puts down the sac bunt and the sensei (先制) runner is in scoring position.

And so does Nakano.  So runner on 3rd, 2 out.  My bet is that they're doing this to try and remove the curve from the equation.  Because a wild pitch or passed ball here causes a run.

But Takumu walks away in disgust as he swings on a slider.  The gamble doesn't pay off and we're at the break with an expected pitchers' duel on our hands.

Here's the question.  Who will give?  Will Matsui tire from going back to back?  Will they stay with Kanazawa a batter too late?  Will it be Jyouma who actaully gives up the run in relief?

Top 6th
Ameku up and he just can't hold up on the slider in the dirt.

Sekiguchi falls behind 1-2 and makes contact with a slider that just misses the dirt.  But he too falls victim.

Matsui's slider is fairly easy to figure out for the most part.  He'll generally bury it when the count isn't 2 strikes, and almost certainly bury it when it IS two strikes.

Tamura in one of the rare cases gets up 3-1, gets a good swing on it, but it's to right and Uekusa is there for the catch in deep right.  Doesn't look like the wind is blowing in from right though to knock it down.

Bottom 6th
This was the inning Kanazawa started to fail on the mound last game.

And he starts out Ukawa falling behind 3-1.  Manages to fill up the count.

OH!  The plate umpire gives a VERY LOW strike to Kanazawa and Ukawa goes down looking!  Wow.  That was ball 4.

Mizukai with a drive to right!  Ameku backing up, backing up... makes the catch near the fence for the 2nd out.

Uekusa with a grounder up the middle.  Houjyou makes a great stop, turns and throws!  And that's expectedly high and into the camera well!  Uekusa is awarded 2nd.

Will this be when one side finally cracks?

No!  Yamaguchi grounds to 2nd.  Jyouma makes the play at 1st and we're still scoreless.

But the Kousei batters are starting to hit Kanazawa hard.  It may be wise to preempt a possible late pull by putting in Jyouma.

Top 7th
Houjyou a stubborn cleanup hitter is not taking pitches and swinging away.  And once again he falls behind in the count.

But he hears me typing about him and he lines a ball to left for a leadoff single.  Oosugi obviously bunting despite his 0.500 average at Koushien.

On a 1-1 pitch he offers at a slider.  What he should've noticed is that prior to that pitch, Matsui had thrown to 1st and Oosugi had dropped his bat as if to bunt.  So they knew he was going to offer.

Anways, 1-2 and he has to swing away.  Well, he doesn't "have" to, but still.

And Oosugi just reaches out, puts the bat on the slider and pokes it over Nakano into left for a base hit!  Two on and no out for Jyouma!

He's for sure bunting, but he fouls it off at 1-2!  Now what?  Well, Nakai-kantoku sends a message to Jyouma.

It's a hit and run!  But Jyouma chases a high fastball for strike 3!  Ukawa goes to 3rd and they gun down Houjyou!

Oh, that's a bad gamble on Nakai-kantoku's part.  If you can't even hit the ball half the time, what makes you think a hit-and-run is a good thing?  Especially to 3rd??!!  Yes, you're trying for the 1 run, but that's a bad percentage play against Matsui.

Well, Oosugi advances to 2nd so there is still a runner in scoring position, but there's 2 outs.  Takeda stepping in.

He falls behind, but manages to work the count full.  At this point, just continue the inning.

But he falls to a fastball on the outside corner for strike 3.  Matsui gets out of the jam, but that's more in thanks to the Kousei Gakuin kantoku more than anything else.

Bottom 7th
Now Kousei has to be careful.  Momentum is on their side, and Kanazawa looked a bit more hittable in the 6th.

Tanaka swinging early, grounds to 3rd.  Matsui hits the ball very hard, but it's a grounder to short.  And Take hits a comebacker to Kanazawa, who goes to 1st to retire the side.

Top 8th
Kimura not doing too much with the slider, and takes it back up the middle for a base hit.  Matsui didn't quite bury that, but the count was full so he couldn't be too obvious with it.

Kanazawa trying to lay down the bunt, pops it off foul!  Nakai-kantoku with some instructions for Kanzawa, and he lays it down the next pitch.

Now it's Noro-kantoku with a conference on the mound as we're back to the top of the lineup and Ameku.

I don't think they're going to give him much to hit, but the first pitch is not far out enough and Ameku fouls it down the left field line!

After another outside pitch for a ball, they do go after him with a slider inside!  Ameku swings and misses for strike 2.  Matsui buries one, but Ameku doesn't bite.  2-2.  Slider outside, misses the corner, full count.

Fastball down and away and Ameku walks!  Ukawa goes to the mound as Sekiguchi steps in.  He's not one to shy away from a walk.

But he's showing bunt?

No, he pulls back but hits it foul away from the 3rd base side.

He does the same at 0-2 and grounds to 2nd.  Take goes to 2nd for one, but the throw is a bit off.  Takumu decides to not go for 2.

So there's 2 down with runners at the corners for Tamura, who just has been lost for the most part at the plate.

Ball hit to the left side!  There's no one in view!  It's through to left!  Kimura comes in to score and Kousei Gakuin has broken through here in the 8th!  1-0!!!

Houjyou with a drive to left center!! The outfield is in and has to run back!  It's in the gap!  Sekiguchi scores!!  Tamura all the way from 1st... he scores!!

Matsui leaves a slider up in the zone and Houjyou knows what to do with it!  Matsui can only look up with a sigh as Houjyou gives Kousei the 3-0 lead!

Oosugi goes down swinging to end the inning, but it is Matsui who gives in first!

Bottom 8th
And now they have just 6 outs to try and mount a comeback.

Nakano with a liner to left.  Sekiguchi running in, makes the catch.

Takumu with the bunt.  Kanazawa with a late start off the mound!  Throw to 1st... beats a diving Takumu!

I suppose most teams will never learn...

Ukawa chases after a curve and rolls a chopper to 3rd to retire the side.

Top 9th
All Matsui can do is to try and preserve the deficit and give his team a chance.

Two balls to Jyouma to start, but the body language is starting to look like someone running out of gas.

Jyouma with a ball down the 3rd base line, Nakano makes a great backhanded stop at the line and makes a strong throw to 1st to get the out.

Takeda also makes contact, hits the ball to the left side.  Nakano fields that one too and throws to 1st for the out.

And Kimura goes down swinging for Matsui's 15th K.

Bottom 9th
But right now the more important thing is that there's a 0 for Toukou Gakuen, and a 3 for Kousei Gakuin.

The 3-4-5 batters are due up for Toukou.

Mizukai with a grounder to 3rd.  Oosugi fumbles with the ball on the bag, makes an ill-advised throw to 1st that flies over everyone!  Mizukai advances to 2nd.

Time for Kousei as Nakai-kantoku calls time.

Uekusa with a drive to left!  Sekiguchi running to his left, goes back... and makes the catch!  Just not far enough for Uekusa!

Yamaguchi up for Toukou.


But it's on a liner right to Ameku for the 2nd out!

Kanazawa clearly approaching his last legs as Tanaka steps in.  Nakai-kantoku better be careful.

Whoo... fastball on the outside part gets called for a strike.  2-2 to Tanaka.  Curve on the corner, no go!  Full count!

Slider fouled off...


Tanaka goes down swinging as Matsui can only watch from the batters circle!

And aw man, Matsui is really taking this hard.

Matsui unfortunately is like the first iteration of Shimabukuro where he just wasn't able to fulfill what he wanted to do, despite striking out 22-19-12-15 for 68 batters.

He's just a 2nd year, but he's really distraught.  Because there's never a guarantee that you'll be able to return, especially from a prefecture like Kanagawa.

He put the team on his back for so long, for him and for his seniors, but just couldn't go 9 more innings.

But while he couldn't carry his team to victory, he helped make a mark at Koushien and his team, and especially this game will not be forgotten.

It just so happened that perhaps they tried to get in the way of a finals matchup that may be destined to be.

For Kousei Gakuin, they were able to successfully wear down Matsui and score right at the end.  Their timely hitting was just enough to pull off the victory.  It's well earned, and they get a day off before the semifinal match.

Notable Players
Kanazawa Yuuki (Kousei Gakuin) - CG, 0 ER, 3 H, 9 K, BB, HBP
Houjyou Fumiya (Kousei Gakuin) - 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
Matsui Yuuki (Toukou Gakuen) - CG, 3 ER, 6 H, 15 K, 3 BB