Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day 10, Quarterfinal #2 - Hokushou (Hokkaido) vs. Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)

So Tsuruga Kehi has once again survived and advanced (though it was just more advancing and less surviving this time around).  Who will be their opponent in 2 days?

Urawa Gakuin has yet to put a complete game together, but has still limited their opposition to just 1 run.  First it was execution issues at the plate against Tosa, then versus Yamagata Chuo it was just an offense in malaise until the 2nd half of the game.

About the only thing that has been close to solid has been their ace Ojima, and even he has his own issues.  Yet time and time again he manages to find a way out of the jam he and his team is in.  I'm not sure I understand how because when you depend on contact as much as he generally does, balls are going to sneak through and find the open gaps.

So despite a 4-0 and 11-1 victories, I am still skeptical on their overall prospects.

And while it may not be a top-level team giving them a challenge, Hokushou is probably the best competition out there they've faced.

Hokuhsou has taken care of business against fairly weaker competition and now find themselves with a chance to reach the Best 4.

But something continues to bother me really.  Ace Oogushi has put up rather strong strikeout numbers albeit against the aforementioned weaker competition.  However, Oogushi barely touches 130 on the gun (for you mph guys that's 80 mph).  That's certainly not fast and eventually it should catch up to you.  The problem is that he's going to be tested immediately against the Kanto champions.

The Hokushou offense has put up decent run production, but it has been thanks to one big inning in each case.  Otherwise, the offense has been rather limited.  Facing Ojima should give them a fighting chance since he's not perhaps a fireballer that you'd see from a Kanto champion - but it's still rather sketchy.

Does Hokushou have a better shot than in most years?  Sure.  But I don't like their chances against Urawa Gakuin despite my doubts about the team.

Hokushou (Hokkaido) - Hokkaido Champions
2B Igarashi Ryuutarou
3B Nishiya Keisuke (#15)
CF Yoshida Yuuto
C Obata Hiroki
SS Tomita Kaito
1B Domon Kanata
RF Takayama Daisuke
P Oogushi Kazuya
LF Sawada Takumi

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) - Kanto Champions
SS Takemura Haruki
2B Nie Hayato
CF Yamane Yuuta
3B Takada Ryouta
1B Kigure Naito
RF Saitou Ryousuke
P Ojima Kazuya
C Nishikawa Genki
RF Watanabe Takeru (#16)


13:40 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Well, as the siren blares, Igarashi swings and grounds right to Kigure who steps to the bag and there's 1 down.

Nishiya after fouling a couple off, hits an infield popup.  Takemura shifts to his left and makes the catch.

And Ojima makes a quick inning as Yoshida swings on the first pitch and grounds to Nie.

Bottom 1st
Good start for Oogushi as he gets ahead 0-2 on leadoff batter Takemura, who grounds back to him for out #1.

He turns around though and falls behind 3-0 to Nie and eventually walks him

Yamane with a grounder to the right side, but it hits Nie!  He's out but Yamane is credited with a hit.


Takada crushes a pitch from Oogushi.  And just like I thought, Urawa Gakuin takes advantage of Oogushi and immediately takes a 2-0 lead.

Kigure with a hard hit, but right to Yoshida for the 3rd out.  But already Urawa Gakuin has taken the battle to Hokushou.

Top 2nd
I'm still a bit puzzled as to how Ojima continues to stifle his opposition despite not throwing hard.

About the only thing I can reason is that his control in general is so good that when the opposition puts the ball in play, it's almost never hard hit, and generally results in easy fielding plays.

Case in point here in the 2nd, after Obata flies out to right, Tomita goes after a pitch down in the zone and golfs it up to left, while Domon does get around on an inside pitch, but can't put enough oomph on it and flies out to center.

Bottom 2nd
Nishikawa with a grounder to the left side where Tomita almost looks like he ole's the ball as it goes into left.  Sawada actually oles on the ball himself and Nishikawa takes off for 2nd!  Throw from Yoshida was not nearly in time.

And I doubt Oogushi's plans were to create a DP opportunity by walking Ojima, but after getting ahead 1-2, that's exactly what he did.

Hattori tries the safety bunt, but pushes it foul.  He shows it again, but this time pulls it back.

Now Mori-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run!  Hattori grounds to 2nd, but it works as Igarashi's only play is to 1st, advancing the runners.

And it's back to the top of the lineup and Takemura, but Oogushi gets him to first pitch swing and ground to short to end the threat.

Top 3rd
Hokushou's batters continue to be baffled by Ojima.  Sawada catches the ball on the inside part of the bat and pops out to Nie.  For Oogushi, despite being ahead 3-0 the count runs full and then he does a half-hearted swing and grounds to Kigure.

Okamoto fouls 2 consecutive balls off himself, which has to hurt, then takes a ball inside to fill up the count.  And the grittiness pays off as he lines one over a leaping Takemura into left.

Back to the top of the order and Igarashi, but Kawakami-kantoku tries to press the initiative by sending Okamoto!  Throw from Nishikawa is on line and Okamoto has no shot.  Inning over, but finally someone was make good contact on an Ojima offering.

Bottom 3rd
Well, Oogushi is back it seems.  He makes Nie look awfully bad reaching out and chasing a slider away for the 1st out.

Yamane makes contact, but it's a ball right back to Oogushi who has the flip to 1st for the easy out.

And Takada has several good hacks on Oogushi's pitches, but they go all foul.

On the 9th pitch of the AB, he hits a ball back up the middle, but Igarashi makes a nice smothering grab and flip to 1st for the 3rd out.

Top 4th
Igarashi back up to start the 4th tries to bunt his way aboard, but pops it foul.  He manages to get ahead 3-1, but Ojima runs it full and a pitch up and in gives Hokushou a leadoff runner!  Nishiya with the bunt up the 1st base line puts the runner in scoring position.

Yoshida rips one but foul down the 3rd base line.

But Yoshida chases a change low for the 2nd out.  2 down with cleanup batter Obata up.

Ojima though gets him to ground to 3rd!  Takada with the ball and goes to 1st for the 3rd out!

That ball looked good for Obata, but again, not good contact for the Hokushou batters.

Bottom 4th
Kigure gets frozen on a slider inside for Oogushi's 2nd K.

It's a quick inning thereafter as Kigure grounds to Igarashi and Nishikawa hits a routine grounder to Tomita to retire the side.

Top 5th
Ojima doing his best Oogushi impression, throwing just as slow and getting just as good results.

In fact, he retires the side in just 8 pitches without a ball leaving the infield none of them being hit hard.  All contact was made on pitches inside on the batters.

Bottom 5th
Ojima with a grounder past a diving Tomita into left and Uragaku has their first leadoff batter on base.  Hattori immediately showing bunt.

But Oogushi can't find the strike zone!  He falls behind 3-0 and walks him on 4 straight!  Now there's runners on 1st and 2nd with no out!  Worse yet, the lineup turns back over to Takemura!

Mori-kantoku actually has him bunt the runners over to set the table for Nie.

And now he calls for the safety squeeze, but Nie fouls it off!

What's this?  After a pitch outside, Ojima is caught in between?!  Missed sign perhaps as he's run down for the 2nd out!  Hattori does advance to 3rd, but that's a pretty bad mixup for Uragaku!

Nie still trying to get the run home, checks his swing at 2-2 to fill up the count.

Nie goes down and drives one to right center!  It splits the outfield and goes all the way to the wall!  Hattori scores on the 2-out triple by Nie to make it a 3-0 game!

Wow, outfield was in and CF Yoshida was shaded to left, which was disastrous for that particular hit.

Oogushi not out of the woods yet falls behind 3-1 to Yamane.

Grounder to short, AHH!!!!

Tomita completely flubs on the ball and it trickles behind him!  That means that Yamane reaches safely and it's a 4-0 ball game!

Takada flies out to right to end the inning, but a well placed hit to defeat the shift and an error cost Hokushou 2 more runs right before the break.  While it's only 4 runs with 4 innings to go, it doesn't look good at all for the champions for Hokkaido.

Top 6th
With Hokushou up to bat, #13 Yamada is warming up in the bullpen.  Will Oogushi not be able to finish the game?

Hokushou meanwhile is either pressing or completely lost.  Oogushi first pitch swings and grounds to 2nd.  Okamoto, who has the only hit so far gets under a slider and pops out to Hattori.  And Igarashi is jammed and softly lines out to Hattori to end the inning.

Bottom 6th
Oogushi continues to struggle finding the zone.  And after a couple of foul balls, he loses Kigure on a full count ball.

And now Obata lets a low ball deflect off his glove and towards the backstop!  Kigure advances to 2nd.  And now a sac bunt by Saitou advances him to 3rd.


Mori-kantoku puts on the squeeze, but the pitch is outside and a diving Nishikawa can't make contact!  Kigure is run down for the 2nd out and it looks like Oogushi will get out of the inning unscathed!

Nishikawa grounds to short and Tomita this time secures it for the 3rd out.

Top 7th
Hokushou swinging away at anything in the zone it seems.  It's another 1-2-3 inning for Hokushou as this time Ojima takes just 6 pitches to retire the side.

Bottom 7th
After getting Ojima to reach on a pitch and pop out to Nishiya, he winds up walking Hattori for the 2nd time this game.

Uh oh.  Back to Takemura, and Oogushi falls behind him 3-0... and walks him on 3 straight.

#13 Yamada continues to warm up in the bullpen as Kawakami-kantoku calls time.

Things continue to look worse for Oogushi as he continues to miss the zone.  He falls behind Nie 2-0 before firing his first strike.  But Uragaku isn't chasing and the balls aren't finding the strike zone.

And despite throwing a strike in this AB, he walks Nie as well to load the bases!

It's manrui, and at the worst possible time as Yamane steps in.

Oogushi finally gets a first pitch strike on the outside corner.

Oh dear...  Yamane goes down and drives one to left!  Sawada running back, but that is easily over his head!  It bounces once before hitting the wall!  It's a bases clearing double by Yamane to make it a 7-0 ballgame, effectively making Hokushou DOA.

Oogushi looks done, he continually misses low to Takada and walks him.  That's the 4th one just this inning.  Yet Kawakami-kantoku leaves him in.

And Kigure with a base hit to left.   Oh...

Sawada whiffs on the ball and it 5-holes hiim all the way to the wall.  Yoshida chases it down at the wall but by that time both runners have scored.  And Kigure is waved in!  Throw comes in and Kigure slides in ahead of the tag to make it 10-0.

That will put an end to Oogushi's day.  Yamada comes in from the bullpen to take over.  Also, Sawada is pulled and replaced by #17 Gotou.

Well, this is odd.  After taking strike 1, #17 Maeda comes in to hit for Saitou.

Yamada seems to have trouble settling in, running the count full to Maeda.  But he finally gets him to foul out to Domon near their dugout.

Nishikawa flies out to Yoshida to end the inning, and it's all elementary from here on out

Top 8th
Now we see why Mori-kantoku made the late PH change.  #10 Yamaguchi comes in for PH Maeda and takes the hill.  Ojima goes to RF.

Yamaguchi can pitch a touch faster than Ojima - upper 130's, with a slider in the 120s and curve in the 100s.

Tomita chases a slider down and away for the first out.  Domon first pitch flies out to center, and Yamaguchi climbs the ladder on Gotou for a quick inning.

Bottom 8th
Ojima is retired for the 2nd straight AB as Yamaguchi handcuffs him for the first out.

Yamada doesn't look all that bad - all things considered.

I say that and Hattori hits a ball to left.  New LF Gotou charges in, and plays it on a dangerous hop.

Oh, and then Takemura gets his first hit, a slicing single back up the middle.  Perhaps I jinxed him?

Now Mori-kantoku pulls Nie back in and sends in #13 Itou to hit.

Yamada fights back to freeze Itou on a curve for the 2nd out.  Still, that brings up Yamane...

And he singles to center.  Looks like Mori-kantoku is pulling back a little as Hattori is not sent home.

Well, despite loading the bases Yamada records all 3 outs via the K as Takada is frozen on a slider inside for the 3rd out.  Now if he could just avoid those base hits...

Top 9th
#14 Kawai comes in for PH Itou and comes in to play 2B.

#11 Murakami comes in to hit for reliever Yamada to start the inning.  He makes contact, but grounds out to Takemura.

Okamoto first pitch fouls out to Takada and Igarashi first pitch grounds to Kigure to end the game.  Urawa Gakuin advances to the semifinals for the first time since 1992!

And without really noticing it, Urawa Gakuin not only pitches a shutout, but Ojima and Yamaguchi 1-hit Hokushou!  It really puts into context how outmatched Hokushou was this game.

Not to diminish their accomplishments though, they did reach the quarterfinals and that does count for something.  But Oogushi was a bit of a glass ace in the sense that his foundation seemed more fragile than others.  He did well all things considered, but Urawa Gakuin was just too much.

I guess I should start believing in Uragaku, but I still have my doubts on Ojima.  He's proven me wrong so far though, and probably will if I continue to doubt him.

Notable Players
Ojima Kazuya (Urawa Gakuin) - W, 7 IP, 0 ER, H, K, BB
Yamane Yuuta (Urawa Gakuin) - 3-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Takada Ryouta (Urawa Gakuin) - 1-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K
Nie Hayato (Urawa Gakuin) - 1-2, 3B, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, K
Hattori Masamitsu (Urawa Gakuin) - 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
Yamada Hiromu (Hokushou) - 1.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 K
Okamoto Hyuuga (Hokushou) - 1-3

Day 10, Quarterfinal #1 - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) vs. Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)

Our first quarterfinal matchup is a gut check for one team, and an great opportunity for the other team to do what has only been done one other time in school history.

Tsuruga Kehi has reached the quarterfinals in rather convincing fashion, showing displays of offense against Kyoto Shouei and the flashes of brilliance by ace Kishimoto.  While a 3-0 win over first-timers Moriokadai Fuzoku in their prior game doesn't look too stellar, it was perhaps a good break and at the same time a check to keep them in line for the stretch run.

Going back to Kishimoto, he has pitched rather superbly in his 3 games so far.  Now, the extra game may prove to be an issue going forward in terms of his stamina, but we haven't seen it yet.  So for as long as he continues to throw good innings out there, Tsuruga Kehi has a shot.

As for their opponents, Seikou Gakuin has reached the Best 8 defeating a very game Naruto squad.  While it was just their 2nd game at Koushien, it's perhaps further than most were expecting them to go.  But the game was not easy, and if not for the efforts of Sonobe, they could have easily been going home 3 days ago instead of playing for a spot in the semifinals.

They've reached this position before, in the 2008 and 2010 Natsu Koushien tournaments.  In both cases, they've been turned away - rather rudely in fact, giving up double digit runs to Yokohama and Kounan.

So this game is key for the team that has dominated Fukushima-ken for so long.  Do they have the talent and effort to finally get over the hill and reach the semifinals and beyond?

Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) - Hokushinetsu Runner-up
CF Mine Kentarou
3B Yonemitsu Issei
1B Yamada Seiya
C Kita Ryouta
SS Asai Hiroya
LF Miyazaki Hiroya (#13)
RF Iwata Shinya
2B Yamane Takaki
P Kishimoto Jyunki

Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) - Tohoku Runner-up
LF Yaoita Hyuuma
SS Ishigaki Mitsuhiro (#16)
1B Sonobe Satoshi
RF Satou Shouhei
2B Ishino Yuuta
3B Nishimura Daiki (#6)
CF Isagi Jyun (#18)
C Hirose Kazumi
P Ishii Naru


11:01 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Ishii working quickly makes short work of Mine, getting him to chase a changeup away.  Issei gets jammed and rolls one to Sonobe.

And before you can get settled into your seat, Yamada is frozen on a slider inside and Ishii fires 2 K's right out of the gate!  About as good of a start as you would want from Seikou Gakuin

Bottom 1st
Yaoita takes a couple of pitches before going after a high fastball and grounding to Asai.

Ishigaki on the other hand takes the first ball and serves it back into center for a base hit, bringing up last game's hero Sonobe.

He's quickly behind 0-2 as Kishimoto gets a generous call on the outside corner.

And as a result, he goes after the next pitch and hits a harmless fly to right.

Cleanup batter Satou steps in but he too falls behind 0-2.  After fouling off a couple of pitches, he eventually chases a cutter outside for the 3rd out.  Not a bad start from Kishimoto and the velocity still seems to be there.

Top 2nd
Kita gets hit by Ishii, and while he didn't really move out of the way, he's awarded 1st base. Azuma-kantoku asking #5 batter Asai to bunt, and after fouling one off, successfully lays one down.

Ishii not backing down, goes after bench starter Miyazaki and gets him to chase a buried changeup for the 2nd out.

Iwata though goes down and loops one into center!  Isagi charging in, Kita being waved home!  Throw from Isagi is offline and Tsuruga Kehi strikes first in the opening quarterfinal.  It's 1-0!

Now Azuma-kantoku sends Iwata to 2nd!  Throw from Hirose is high and he's in safely!

Ishii jams Yamane inducing a grounder to 2nd to end the inning, but a hit batter comes back to get Ishii here in the 2nd as Tsuruga Kehi takes the early lead.

Bottom 2nd
Not sure what it is about the high ball that batters like recently, but Ishino swings at one and flies out to center.

Nishimura gets a hold of a Kishimoto slider and sends it over a chasing Miyazaki for a one out double!  Seikou threatening to get the run back immediately!

Line from Isagi!  But it's right at Yamane!  And Nishimura took off before the ball cleared the infield and he's doubled off of 2nd!  What an untimely baserunning mistake for Seikou!

Top 3rd
And there's a reason Kishimoto is at the bottom of the lineup as he's completely fooled on a change way outside.  1 down.

Back to the top of the order and Mine.  He grounds to Ishigaki and there's quickly 2 down.

Issei refuses to let Ishii have an easy inning and lines one down the right field line for a double.

Ishii though gets ahead of Yamada 0-2.

Looks like he left one over though as Yamada drives it to center.

Isagi chasing it back, still chasing it back.  At the wall??!


Yamada not only gets a hold of one, but sends it just over the wall for a 2-run homerun!  What seemed like an innocuous inning has now become a 3-0 lead!

Kita with a hard liner of his own, but Isagi is near enough to run it down for the 3rd out.  A 2-out 2-run HR by Yamada extends Tsuruga's lead and you have to start being concerned if you're in the Seikou Gakuin camp.

Bottom 3rd
Things continue to look bad for Seikou Gakuin,  Neither Hirose nor Ishii can get on base, and despite Yaoita getting on base with a comebacker behind Kishimoto, and his subsequent steal of 2nd Kishimoto neatly gets out of the inning with a groundout from Ishigaki.

Top 4th
Ishii meanwhile is not so fortunate.  He hits his 2nd batter to lead off an inning, prompting Saitou-kantoku to call time.

Miyazaki not bunting, but advances the runner anyways with a comebacker to Ishii.

Iwata with his 2nd base hit on a grounder to right!  Asai is held up at 3rd.

Azuma-kantoku with the hit and run!  Yamane with the grounder to 1st, Sonobe has to wait to toss it to Ishino covering 1st for the 2nd out.

Oh!  Kishimioto must have heard me the last AB!  He rips the first pitch past Ishigaki into left!  One run will score, two runs will score as Kishimoto adds on to his lead with a timely 2-out base hit!  Tsuruga Kehi now leads 5-0!!

Mine grounds out to 3rd, but Tsuruga Kehi continues to pull away from Seikou.

Bottom 4th
Defensive change for Tsuruga Kehi as #7 Kobayashi comes in for Miyazaki and takes over in LF.

And Kishimoto continues to set down the Seikou batters with relative ease!  Sonobe and Satou both hit pop flies, and you know things are going well for you when a comebacker from Ishino deflects off of Kishimoto's foot right to Issei who fires to 1st for the 3rd out.

Top 5th
It's actually a very quick inning for Ishii as Issei flies out to left, Yamada gets under a curve and flies out to center.

With two down Kita takes the first pitch through the right side for a base hit, but is immediately left stranded as Asai takes the next pitch and grounds to 3rd.

Bottom 5th
Things are not looking good for Seikou as Nishimura chases a ball outside and grounds to short.  Isagi looks at a cutter on the outside corner and goes down for Kishimoto's 2nd K.

Hirose tries to start something with a base hit back up the middle, but Ishii can't keep the inning going.  He grounds to short where Asai flips it to 2nd and just gets Hirose for the 3rd out.

So we head to the break with Tsuruga Kehi building a 5-0 lead.  It does look like Seikou Gakuin is once again outmatched and barring a major comeback will fall once again in the Best 8.

Top 6th
Tsuruga Kehi once again on the attack as new LF Kobayashi laces one into left center for a leadoff double!  Iwata with the push bunt moves him to 3rd.

Yamane with a grounder to the right side, Sonobe dives but can't get it, but Ishino dives and does stop it!  Kobayashi does not take off for home and Ishino tosses to Sonobe who's scrambling to 1st.  But it's not in time!  Eveyrone's safe!!

Kishimoto with a rip down the 3rd base line.. FAIR!  It's fair past a diving Nishimura!  Kobayashi scores as Kishimoto drives in yet another run, this time on a double!  It's 6-0!

And oddly, Saitou-kantoku pulls starter Hirose from the game and puts in #12 Hiruta.

Mine's struggles at the plate today continue as he can't even drive in a run.  He flies out to shallow right for the 2nd out.

Isse grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but the game looks well in hand now for Tsuruga Kehi.

Bottom 6th
And whether it's Kishimoto finding his groove or Seikou or the team starting to fold, Kishimoto retires the top of the order in order without much fanfare.

Top 7th

Yamada just crushed one to left center so hard, it was by far one of the - if not the, furthest HR so far.  It's now 7-0.

Kita with a drive down the left field line... for a HR??!!

Yamada and Kita go back to back and make it a 8-0 game.

And that proves to be the death knell for Ishii.  Saitou-kantoku ends his day by sending in #10 Sakuma.

Sakuma off to a good start inducing a first pitch groundout by Asai to short.

But after going 0-2 to Kobayashi, he can't get him to bite on any of his offpseed offering and winds up walking him.  And Azuma-kantoku continues to apply pressure!  He sends Kobayashi to 2nd, and the throw from Hiruta is not in time!

And then Hiruta lets a ball go through the wickets and allows Kobayashi to advance to 3rd.  Things seem to get even worse as Sakuma hits Iwata.  Saitou-kantoku calls time.

Yamane records an RBI as he grounds to short.  Ishigaki goes to 2nd for 1, but that's all they can get as Kobayashi scores to make it 9-0.

Sakuma finally ends the inning when he catches Kishimoto looking, but at this stage it really doesn't look like it matters.

Bottom 7th
Mass changes for Tsuruga Kehi.  With the game in hand, Azuma-kantoku hands the ball off from Kishimoto to #18 Misome.  Misome comes into Kobayashi's spot in the lineup (strange since Kobayashi had done well in his stint).  Kishimoto stays in the game and goes to 1B.  Yamada moves from 1B to C (?!) and finally Yamada moves from C to LF(??!).

Quite the arrangement if you ask me.

And it really doesn't seem to matter.  Satou goes down swinging, then Ishino can't pull the trigger on a fastball outside.

Nishimura breaks it up with a single to left, and Saitou-kantoku sends in #15 Kaga to hit for Isagi hoping to prevent the shutout.

He pops out to Asai though in shallow left and Seikou is still left holding the donut.

Top 8th
#8 Sakatani comes in for PH Kaga and takes over in CF.

Sakuma does issue another walk, this time with one down to Issei.  This ahead of the Yamada-Kita pair that went back-to-back just an inning before.

But Yamada flies out routinely to Satou, and while Issei tallies another SB on the Seikou battery, Kita pops out to a meandering Ishino who winds up in center field.

Bottom 8th
1st AB for Hiruta and he grounds out to Kishimoto at 1st.

Sakuma goes after a high fastball and singles through to right.  Misome leaves one up in the zone and Yaoita takes it to right center for a double.  Seikou with a great chance to avoid the shutout.

Ishigaki with a grounder to 3rd.  Sakuma running con contact gets caught in between.  Issei starts and finishes the rundown for the 2nd out.  Both runners advance on the play.

Sonobe up, and Misome leaves one up again!  Sonobe scorches it past a diving Asai into left-center.  Both runners score on the double and Seikou Gakuin avoids the shutout!  It's 9-2!

That prompts a pitching change from Azuma-kantoku.  #10 Makishita comes in for Misome and takes the hill.

Satou with a grounder up the 3rd base line.  Issei slides to cover it, but it 5-holes him and continues down the line!  Kita gets it in, but not before Sonobe scores to make it a 9-3 game.

Things are geting worse for the Tsuruga Kehi relievers as not only does Makishita start losing Ishino after getting ahead, he winds up hitting him to put him on base.

Azuma-kantoku appears to have a shorter leash on Makishita as he pulls him immediately after that HBP and puts in #11 Tamamura.

Tamamura gets the job done though, as he gets the dangerous Nishimura to ground to 2nd to end the inning.

Top 9th
It's a neat 1-2-3 inning for Sakuma as he needs just 8 pitches to retire the side.

Bottom 9th
But barring a major comeback there are the last ups for Seikou Gakuin.

Tamamura hits 146 on the gun, but also hits new CF Sakatani to start the inning.  But he comes right back and gets Hiruta on a failed check swing for the 1st out.

#5 Ihara comes in to hit for Sakuma, and Tamamura's inconsistency on the mound costs him as he walks him.

Azuma-kantoku has seen enough.  He sends Kishimoto back to the hill and puts in #16 Nakanishi in Tamamura's spot.

And with Kishimoto in the game, he closes out the final 2 batters to end the game and sends Tsuruga Kehi into the semifinals for just the 2nd time in school history!  And they did it by basically putting pressure on early and often, building an insurmountable lead.

Meanwhile for Seikou Gakuin, they once again get stymied at the Best 8.  Their pitching was no match for the Tsuruga Kehi offence and they displayed that early and often.   Their offense only managed to string hits (and subsequently runs) together after Kishimoto was relieved of his duties.  Azuma-kantoku has a short leash with his pitchers, and I'm beginning to think it's a trust issue.

So it'll look like Tsuruga Kehi will need to depend even more now on ace Kishimoto to bring them to their 1st ever finals!

Notable Players
Kishimoto Jyunki (Tsuruga Kehi) - W, 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 3 K, 0 BB
Kishimoto Jyunki (Tsuruga Kehi) -  2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K
Yamada Seiya (Tsuruga Kehi) - 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, K
Kita Ryouta (Tsuruga Kehi) - 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, HBP

Sonobe Satoshi (Seikou Gakuin) - 1-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Nishimura Daiki (Seikou Gakuin) - 2-4, 2B
Yaoita Hyuuma (Seikou Gakuin) - 2-5, 2B, R, SB

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 9, Game 3 - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka)

So both Mori and Kinden are out for Osasa Touin...  How many more injuries will they face?

Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) - Tokai Champions
LF Kawamura Renji
3B Azuma Taito (#4)
CF Aoki Shouya
1B Takenaka Hiroki
C Kouyama Takurou
SS Noda Gento
RF Hayashi Tomonori
2B Okimoto Takuya (#14)
P Fujita Ryouji

Osaka Touin (Osaka) - Kinki 3/4 seed
CF Mori Shinnosuke (#13)
2B Minemoto Takumi
3B Kasamatsu Yuuya
RF Fukumori Hiroto
1B Tsujita Daiki (#8)
SS Mizutani Yuuya
C Kume Tateo
LF Tamura Toki
P Amimoto Kousuke (#11)


14:10 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Is Amimoto their ace or something?  He's started both games.

Not that he's doing a poor job though.  After Kawamoto finally goes down swinging, Azuma and Aoki need just 2 pitches each to retire the side.

Bottom 1st
Shinnosuke with a drive to right! Hayashi running back to the fence, can't seem to get a solid beat on it and it falls in behind him!  Shinnosuke's in with a triple!

Minemoto with a hard shot to right!  Okimoto makes a great diving stop, throws to 1st and Shinnosuke can't score!

But Kasamoto fixes that in a jiffy, lining one to center.  1-0, Osaka Touin!

Fukumori with a grounder up the middle.  Noda fields it, but trips over Kasamtasu who's standing at 2nd!  Everyone's safe!

And that bad luck hurts Kengifushou as Tsujita singles to center as well, scoring Kasamatsu!  2-0 just that quickly!

Mizutani flies to center, but even without their 2 best hitters, they're still firing on all cylinders!

Top 2nd
Takenaka starts the inning with a 4-pitch walk!  Fujita-kantoku electing not to bunt, Koumoto hits it to 3rd, and it's off Kasamatsu's glove and into left!  Runners on 1st and 2nd now!

But during Noda's AB, Kume catches Takenaka standing in Kobe and picks him off!  What was the point of that lead??!

And now it's compounded when Noda singles past Mizutani into left!  Now all they have is runners on 1st and 2nd again!

Hayashi in his first start, falls behind 1-2, but starts fouling off pitches.

Grounder to the left side, gets by Tsujita... gets by Minemoto!  Kouyama rounding for home, and Fukumori forgets the ball!  He scores to make it 2-1!

Okimoto with a high chopper to 3rd! Kasamatsu goes home, tag from Kume... SAFE!!!!

The umpire calls him safe and we're tied at 2-2!!!

I guess from the replays Noda got his foot in right before the tag!

Fujita trying to help his own cause, does a bit by advancing the runners with a grounder to 1st.

Kawamoto with a short liner to left!  Kawamura charging in, reaches down, but it's off his glove!   Hayashi and Okimoto score and instead of a 2-run deficit, Kengifushou has a 2-run lead!!

Azuma flies out to left and this time Kawamura makes a great running catch in foul territory!  But that great catch is one batter too late for the score!

Bottom 2nd
Fujita having some trouble with the bottom of the lineup.  Kume goes full before flying out to center.  Tamura goes 2-2 before grounding to 1st, and then he loses Amimoto on a 3-1 fastball low.

The lineup flips back up to Shinnosuke.  Can he do something this time around too? He goes 2-2 before fouling off a couple of pitches.

But Fujita climbs the ladder and strikes him out swinging!

Top 3rd
Aoki with a liner to right center that splits the defense and goes to the wall!  He's in with a leadoff triple!!

Takenaka can't drive him in though as he grounds to short.

Koumoto with a grounder to short, AH!

Mizutani tries to backhand it for a play at the plate, but he can't field it with the glove!  It goes into left and now it's 5-2 Kengifushou!

Noda grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning, but they're one more run behind!  And now when it seemed like they weren't missing a beat with them missing, they may have needed their services after all!

Bottom 3rd
Minemoto inside outs one and bloops it down the left field line!

Nishitani-kantoku with the hit-and-run!  Kasamatsu with another timely hit lines to right!  Runners at the corners with no out!

Fukumori does his job.  He hits a sac fly to left to get a run in to make it 5-3.

Tsujita chases a ball at his shoulders and goes down for the 2nd out!

And after going 3-0 on Mizutani, he fills the count and then gets him to hit a weak grounder back to Fujita for the 3rd out!  But they get one run closer and there's still a lot of time.

Top 4th
Hayashi starts off the inning with a line shot to left.  Okimoto tries to bunt him along, but Amimoto fires to 2nd and gets the lead runner!

Fujita does move the runner along with a groundout to 2nd, but Kawamoto goes down swinging to end the inning.

Bottom 4th
The bottom of the lineup continues to struggle as bench players have been called into service.  It takes just 8 pitches to retire the bottom of the lineup, all on popups!

Top 5th
With #15 Murakami hitting for Amimoto, his day is done.  Ace Kusugawa comes in to pitch.

After retiring the first 2 batters on 2 total pitches, Takenaka denies Kusugawa the clean inning by hitting a single through to left.

But Kouyama grounds to 2nd to end the inning.

Bottom 5th
Once again, Fujita gets two quick outs from Shinnosuke and Minemoto, but walks Kasamatsu under the same circumstances as last inning!

Fukiumori with a high chopper that just deflects over Fujita's glove!  Okimoto with the backup, but by then he has no play!  All safe!

Tsujita with a liner over Azuma and down the left field line!  Kasamtasu scores on Tsujita's double and it's a 5-4 ballgame with Osaka Touin still threatening!

Mizutani with a soft liner right to Okimoto and the inning is over!  But like I said earlier there's still time and as we head into the break, Osaka Touin is just trailing by 1-run!

Top 6th
Noda almost gets unlucky with a 3-2 pitch which would have been called ball 4, goes off the end of the bat for a foul ball.  But he gets his walk on the next pitch anyways.

Fujita-kantoku electing for the hit and run, but Hayashi hits it back to Kusugawa!  He goes to 2nd for one, but Mizutani has to secure the ball after the slide by Noda.

Another hit and run!  Okimoto hits it to Kasamatsu who goes to 2nd, but Hayashi is safe!  Relay to 1st though still gets Okimoto for the 2nd out.

Oh!  Kusugawa hits Fujita on the back of the leg and has to be replaced with an injury runner.  Not a good development for Kengifushou, especially on the mound.

Fujita-kantoku probably not happy his pitcher got hit, does the hit and run!  He swings and misses but the throw from Kume not online and both runners are safe!

But Kusugawa jams him and he hits a grounder to 2nd to end the inning!  Kengiushou scores none, but more importantly, what about Fujita?

Bottom 6th
After a while, Fujita comes out and returns to the mound!  But how effective is he?  He's already in a dogfight with the reigning champs!

Kume flies out to left, which is a little different because he's been allowing grounders and popups instead of fly balls.

Tamura golfs one into the air, Okimoto and Hayashi converge on it near the foul line and Hayashi calls off Okimoto off to make the catch.

Again no 1-2-3 inning though as Kusugawa singles through the left side.  I think Fujita is leaving his pitches up now.

Back to the top of the order and Shinnosuke.

And Fujita gets him to strikeout on a pitch nowhere near the zone for the 3rd out!

Top 7th
Takenaka breaks up two groundouts to 2nd with a single to left.  Kouyama follows that up with a single past Minemoto!

But Noda's bid for a base hit loses to a jumping Tsujita for the 3rd out.

Bottom 7th
Fujita's pitch count continues to climb, but he for now is still able to retire the Osaka Touin batters.

Minemoto with a grounder to 2nd, Kasamatsu with one to 3rd.  And Fukumori chases one away and flies to right!

Top 8th
Kusugawa having no trouble with the bottom of the lineup and retires the side in order.  But there's only 6 outs left for Osaka Touin!

Bottom 8th
Oh, during Tsujita's AB, he stumbles after his delivery.  Is it the leg after he got hit?

Tsujita does fly out to center, 5 outs to go...

Mizutani with a deep fly to right!  Hayashi moving close to the fence makes the catch!  Are they making progress against Fujita!

Kume with a drive to left!  Kawamura chases it to the wall, but it's a double for Kume!

Fujita-kantoku calling time as Tamura comes in to try and score the douten run!  And the defense is leaving a large gap in left-center!

Fujita goes for a curve on 2-2 and Tamura pops it up!  Azuma in foul territory makes the catch and the side is retired!

Top 9th
Kawamoto with a short fly to right, Fukumori charging in... makes the diving catch!  Nice play by the RF!

Azuma though comes back and grounds one through to left for a base hit!

Fujita-kantoku will play for the run as Aoki bunts him over for Takenaka who is 2-3 on the day with a walk.

Nishitani-kantoku calls for time.  Will they walk him with the base open?

No!  They go after him and he hits a pop fly on the first pitch!  Tamura with the catch in foul territory and it's game time for Osaka Touin!

Bottom 9th
They have just 3 outs left in their bid to win 3 straight Koushien tournaments!

And the 9-1-2 batters are due up for Osaka Touin.

Kusugawa steps in and takes a big swing and a miss.  Another swing and a miss!  And he goes down on three sliders!  One out!

Slider for strike one to Shinnosuke.  Goes and chases another curve for strike 2!  Will Fujita ever throw a fastball?

Yes, but not for a strike.

And he fouls off another slider!

SANSHIN!!!!  He chases a slider and there's 2 outs!

Minemoto the last chance as Nishitani-kantoku calls time and has Tomoya talk to him.

Slider for strike 1, slider fouled off for strike 2!

Fastball way high and away for ball 1.

And Minemoto with an easy swing, carries a ball the other way for a base hit!

That brings up Kasamatsu with Tomoya talking to him as well...

Change in for strike 1!  Change misses for a ball.  Slider in for strike 2!!  Osaka Touin down to their last strike again!

Change high and away and Kasamtasu fouls it off!

Grounder to 3rd, and it's off Azuma's glove!  All safe!  Fukumori with a chance to tie it with a base hit!

He does!  Groundball back up the middle into center!  Minemoto sent home!  Throw from Aoki... Kouyama has it, collision!!

Ball pops out and he's safe!  No, wait!  He's called out for the collision at home!  Koumoto is in pain on the ground, but Minemoto is called out on the collision and that's the game!  Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou ends Osaka Touin's bid to win 3 straight calendar Koushien titles winning by the score of 5-4!!

It hasn't come with out a cost though, as Kouyama has to be helped off the field so he can't even stay for the school song.  And afterwords ace Fujita doesn't go to the oen-dan afterwards and is helped off the field himself!  They won the game, but may have lost their battery!

Day 9, Game 2 - Saibi (Ehime) vs. Seiseikou (Kumamoto)

Next up is a Nishi-nippon matchup between Saibi and one of my irrational teams that I like in Seiseikou.

Saibi survived the only extra inning affair so far, giving up a 3-run lead in the 9th inning before winning in 13 innings.  Anraku threw 232 pitches in that affair and thankfully he's playing on 3 days rest so he should be fairly fresh given the circumstances.

That's good, because the offense did not look all that particularly good in the game.  They managed just one extra base hit and struck out 12 times in their opening game.

Opposing them will be Seiseikou, a team who has managed to return to Koushien, but at the same time suffers from the same problem that plagued them last summer.

In their opening game against Jyousou Gakuin, they strung 3 of their 4 hits together to score 2 runs, while Ootake tossed a shutout despite giving up 9 hits and only striking out 2.

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this matchup.  Both teams offensively do not look particularly good, but in comparing the two Saibi should have a slight advantage at the plate with an even bigger one on the mound (so long as Anraku isn't fatigued from the first game).

Saibi (Ehime) - Shikoku 3 seed
CF Ueda Kyousuke
RF Yamashita Takuma
SS Usagawa Riku
P Anraku Tomohiro
3B Oota Yuuya
1B Morita Shouhei (#15)
LF Goudouji Shin
C Kaneko Kouhei
2B Machida Takahiro

Seiseikou (Kumamoto) - Kyushu Runner-up
SS Nakagawa Koushi
RF Kawahara Ryouhei
P Ootake Koutarou
C Andou Taichi
LF Hayashi Tatsuya
CF Hirashita Yuusei
1B Nishibashi Goujirou
2B Kobayashi Taichi
3B Oka Taisei


11:34 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Ueda hacks at the first pitch from Ootake and take the high fastball to right.  Kawahara charging in slides, but can't secure the ball and Saibi has their leadoff batter on.

Yamashita with the bust-and-run swings on the first pitch and grounds to 2nd.  Kobayashi's only play is to 1st.

Usagawa takes more than 1 pitch, and in fact is having a long AB against Ootake fouling off a couple before running the count full.

OH!  Ball up and in and it hits him!  He goes down to the ground!  Usagawa does get up and head to 1st, but on replay the ball seemed to hit him in the bottom of his right hand then deflect into his body, causing the reaction we saw.  Ouch.

Ootake now in a pinch with cleanup batter Anraku up.  He falls behind 2-0, but manages to even the count.

And he gets the outside corner to freeze Anraku for the 2nd out!

Double steal!!  Jyoukou-kantoku sends the runners and the throw from Andou to 3rd is wide

But Oota can't catch up to a fastball down the middle and Ootake and Seiseikou get out of the inning!

Bottom 1st
Nakagawa with a half-hearted swing ground one slowly to the right side.  Machida charges in and throws to 1st for the out.

Anraky doesn't seem too the worse for wear, and the speed doesn't seem to have taken a hit as he hits 147 on Kawahara.

Kawahara with a liner back at Anraku, and it hits him on the arm and deflects to the left side for a base hit!  He takes some practice throws, but seems fine.

Ootake takes the 1-0 pitch back up the middle for a base hit!  Seiseikou threatening in their half of the first inning!  That brings up cleanup batter Andou!

But it doesn look like Anraku is fine.  Speed hasn't taken a hit, nor does the accuracy.  He gets ahead of Andou 1-2 before firing a waste ball outside.  He just misses high on an off-speed and the count runs full.

SANSHIN!  Anraku with a change on the inside corner freezes Andou for the 2nd out!

Hayashi up to try and bring in the run.

But he's jammed!  Ball rolls to Oota who goes to 1st for the 3rd out!  A bit of a scare on the mound for Anraku in more ways than one, but it seems like he got out unscathed!

Top 2nd
It's a relatively quick inning for Ootake after the eventful 1st.  Morita tries to inside-out one the other way, but lines right to Kawahara.  Goutouji hits a chopper right back to Ootake, and Kaneko behind 0-2 grounds one to Nishibashi for the 3rd out.

Bottom 2nd
Hirashita tries to power a ball inside, but hits a routine fly to Goutouji in left center.

Anraku firing strikes meanwhile to Nishibashi gets the inside corner again on a slider for another K.

And Kobayashi becomes Anraku's 3rd K victim as he too cannot pull the trigger on a slider inside.

Top 3rd
Ootake gets his 3rd K as Machida chases a fastball outside.

Back to the top of the order and Ueda first pitch grounds right at Oka for the 2nd out.

And Yamashita, after fouling off several pitches grounds to Nishibashi for the 1-2-3 inning.  Both pitchers are settling down very nicely now.

Bottom 3rd
Last batter Oka due up first, looking to get on any way possible feigns bunt, but the count eventually runs to 2-2.  He looks at a fastball in the bottom of the zone, and that's Anraku's 4th K and all of them looking!

Nakagawa with a slow ball to the left side, but quick enough to get by Oota!  Usagawa backing it up can't field it cleanly and Nakagawa's on safely!

Kawahara trying to bunt him along can't and falls behind 0-2!  He's forced to swing away, and then he gets hit on the head!  He's okay, but as per precaution, he's replaced with an injury runner at 1st.  Meanwhile Jyoukou-kantoku, always with a smile, calls for time.

And that brings up the always dangerous Ootake.

Liner down the right field line, foul!  Wow he took a good rip at that one.  Then he checks up on a slider down in the zone.

Another slider down in the zone, and Ootake swings and makes contact!  Grounder to short, and Usagawa can't field it cleanly!  He's too focused on turning 2 that he forgets to secure the ball first!

Manrui for Seiseikou as Andou steps in!

Anraku not phased as he gets ahead of him 0-2.  He's trying to pour on the speed at 149 kph, but the count goes to 2-2.

Andou with a rip down the left side also foul!  They're just ahead of these pitches.

Whoa, Andou barely stays alive after chasing a buried slider.

SANSHIN!!  But he can't check his swing on a fastball up and there's 2 out!

Hayashi on the first pitch hits one back to Anraku!  He fields it and tosses to 1st for the 3rd out!  Seiseikou threatening again but comes up empty!

Top 4th
Usagawa can't get around on a fastball on the inner half and becomes Ootake's 4th K.

Anraku has to walk away from home again after he's caught looking on a fastball on the outside corner.

I can't seem to figure out the umpire's strike zone though as what seems like a good pitch on the outer half is called for a ball.

Oota swings and misses on a change and Ootake is matching Anraku inning for inning so far!

Bottom 4th
Hirashita with a ball back up the middle past Anraku for a leadoff hit!

Nishibashi showing bunt, but fouls off his first attempt!  He does manage to lay down the bunt though to advance the runner into scoring position.

And Anraku hits his 2nd batter in Kobayashi! Another situation developing for Anraku!  Is the arm bothering him after being hit?

Ikeda-kantoku calling for the bunt, but Oka hits it too hard up the 3rd base side!  Anraku runs over to it, spins to 3rd and gets Hirashita for the 2nd out!

And Nakagawa goes down on a pitch and tries to bloop it in, but Goutouji is there to make the catch and retire the side.  Once again Seiseikou gets runners on base, but again they cannot get the timely hit to bring them in.

Top 5th
Morita leads off the inning with a single to right.  Jyoukou-kantoku immediately has Goutouji bunt the runner along.

Kaneko with a grounder to 1st that Nishibashi has some trouble fielding, but is near the bag anyways and has time to gather it and make the out.  Morita advances to 3rd, but there's 2 out.

Machida with a blooper to right.  Kobayashi running back, leaps, but it's off his glove!  Machida scores on the base hit and Saibi leads 1-0!

Ueda grounds to short to end the inning, but Machida and Saibi has broken the deadlock!

Bottom 5th
Kawahara gets jammed by Anraku and pops out to Oota in foul territory for the 1st out.

Ootake gets the better of Anraku again, taking a pitch the other way for his 2nd hit.  He's been able to reach in all 3 plate appearances.

Andou with a slow grounder to the left side.  Oota dives but can't get to it!  Usagawa backs up the play, but double clutches and the throw to 1st is late!  All safe!  Seiseikou threatening!

But Hayashi first pitch swings and flies out to Yamashita for the 2nd out.  That leaves it up to Hirashita to drive the run in.

Hirashita is patient enough to work the count full.

Blooper up the middle!  Usagawa and Machida race behind 2nd, Machida dives... and it splits the two into center!  Ootake coming home!  Throw from Ueda is late!  Kaneko fires to 2nd, but Hirashita slides in safely!  Timely hit from Hirashita ties the game at 1-1 and they're still threatening!

After a ball to Nishibashi, Jyoukou-kantoku calls a quick timeout.

Nishibashi also runs the count full.  And is caught looking on a fastball inside for the 3rd out!   But as we head into the break, Seiseikou is hanging in there against a strong Saibi squad!  If Anraku continues to struggle and Saibi allows them to hang around like this they may have a chance to win the game!

Top 6th
Yamashita up 3-1, chases a ball up in the zone and flies out to center for the first out.

Usagawa gets caught looking on a fastball on the outside corner for Ootake's 7th K.

Anraku takes it into his own hands, and gets his first hit - a double into the left center field gap.

But Ootake will have none of it!  He gets Oota to chase a fastball outside to retire the side!  He doesn't throw fast by any means, but he has stifled the Saibi offense so far this game!

Bottom 6th
Meanwhile, the bottom of Seiseikouu's lineup continues to struggle.  Kobayashi remains hitless when he chases a ball out of the zone, while Oka softly lines back to Anraku.

Nakagawa tries to bloop one into center, but a charging Ueda makes a sliding catch fo rthe 3rd out.

Top 7th
Saibi's Lucky 7 is no match for Ootake right now.  He rings up Morita looking, then gets Goutouji to swing ahead of a change up, and then Kaneko grounds to 1st to end the inning!

Just like that Ootake is cruising along and Seiseikou is hanging in the ballgame!

Bottom 7th
Kawahara with a ball back up the middle, Anraku kick deflects it right to Usagawa who goes to 1st for the out!  It's Anraku and Saibi that gets lucky, not Seiseikou!

Anraku gets Ootake to chase a high fastball, and he hits a fly to left!  Goutouji makes the catch as he falls/trips and Ootake if finally retired this game!

Andou also skies one to left.  Goutouji easily under this one and Seiseikou's Lucky 7 also comes and goes with nary a sound.

Top 8th
Machida with his 2nd hit of the game, a liner to left for a base hit.  That resets the lineup back to top batter Ueda.  Jyoukou-kantoku wants him to bunt, but he can't execute and falls behind 1-2.

And having to swing away he can't catch up to a fastball on the outer half, and Ootake has his 11th K!

Jyoukou-kantoku has Yamashita try and bunt, but he too can't execute!  He's trying to press any initiative, and even calls for a hit-and-run, though Yamashita fouls that off too.

In addition, the pace is slowing as Ootake goes to 1st quite a bit.

But it seems to be working as Yamashita pops out to Andou behind home!

Usagawa keeps the inning going with a single past a diving Nakagawa into left!  More importantly, it brings up Anraku.

And Anraku first pitch takes it the other way!  It's quickly past Hayashi and headed towards the wall!  Anraku barely beats out the throw at 3rd, but more importantly 3 runners come in to score on his timely triple and Anraku gives himself the 3-1 lead!!

Ikeda-kantoku calling for time, but it may be too late!

Oota runs the count full on Ootake and hits a ball to left!  Again Hayashi has to run back and it falls in!  Oota in with a double making it a 4-1 ballgame!

Morita flies out to Hirashita in left-center, but back-to-back extra base hits cost Seiseikou big late!

Bottom 8th
It's all hands on deck for Seiseikou as they need 3 runs in 2 innings.  And even with Anraku at 134 pitches, he still seems to be on task here in the 8th.  Worse yet for Seiseikou, they're heading towards the bottom of the lineup, which after Hirashita in the #6 spot has been rendered ineffective.

Hayashi with a drive to right, but he gets under it and that allows Yamashita to run it down in deep right.

That brings up Hirashita and with no one on base to drive in, Anraku doesn't have to pitch to him and walks him on 4 straight.

Now can the bottom of the lineup do anything?

Ikeda-kantoku, sensing the situation also tries the hit and run, but after a foul off, he grounds to short.  Usagawa goes the short way to cut down the lead runner.

Ikeda then turns to #16 Takenaga to hit for Kobayashi, hoping to spark something.

But he grounds to 1st and Morita has no problems taking it to the bag for the 3rd out.  Seiseikou running out of time.

Top 9th
#14 Taguchi comes in for PH Takenaga and takes over at 2B.

Goutouji meanwhile collects his first hit when he grounds one through the left side.  Jyoukou-kantoku, not wanting to leave anything to chance has Kaneko bunting.  He chops one high in front of home and gets the job done.

Machida with a liner back at Ootake!  It's off his glove, but right to Taguchi!  He catches it for the 2nd out and tags 2nd to get Goutouji for the 3rd out!  It's your standard 1-4U double play!

Bottom 9th
The fact though still remains that Seiseikou has just 3 outs remaining in their Haru Koushien run.

Ikeda-kantoku sends in #12 Sakada to hit for Oka.

Liner down the right field line, but Yamashita is right there for the out!  That's some advance scouting if Jyoukou-kantoku put him there.

Back up to Nakagawa and he immediately chops one right to 2nd!  Machida goes to 1st for the 2nd out!

Kawahara the last chance for Seiseikou and he's quickly behind 0-2!


Anraku blows a 148 kph pitch past Kawahara for the final out and Saibi advances to the Best 8!

It certainly wasn't easy though.  Saibi's offense struggled against Seiseikou ace Ootake, while Seiseikou continued to put runners on and pressured Anraku.  However, Anraku beared down on several occasions to shut out his opponent and deny them home plate.  And in the end it was Anraku himself who put the team on his back and carried them to the quarterfinals.

Still, you have to give credit to Seiseikou.  If not for two mistakes in back-to-back batters in the 8th it could have been a different ballgame.  But the slowing of the pace of play seemed to indicate that Ootake perhaps was starting to labor a but under the pressure late.  If only they could have capitalized on their earlier opportunities it too could have been a different ballgame.

But as it stands it is Saibi who will advance into the next round and Shikoku is having a great tournament so far, much to my surprise.

Notable Players
Anraku Tomohiro (Saibi) - W, CG, ER, 7 H, 8 K, BB, 2 HBP
Anraku Tomohiro (Saibi) - 2-4, 2B, 3B, R, 2 RBI, 2 K
Machida Takahiro (Saibi) - 2-4, R, RBI, K
Ootake Koutarou (Seiseikou) - L, CG, 4 ER, 9 H, 11 K, HBP
Ootake Koutarou (Seiseikou) - 2-4, R
Hirashita Yuusei (Seiseikou) - 2-3, RBI, BB

Day 9, Game 1 - Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka) vs. Kochi (Kochi)

Starting our last day of 3rd round action is Tokoha Kikugawa, who's finally back after a long hiatus, versus Kochi who is riding high after an upset of the Chuugoku champions.

Tokoha Kikugawa has not done all that poorly, outslugging Harue Kougyou in their opening game, then took advantage of a fading Inui to come from behind to defeat hometown team Houtoku Gakuen.

With the key for Tokoha Kikugawa being their offense (as their pitching is weaker than most depending solely on weak contact), the last game against Houtoku Gakuen isn't all that encouraging.  4 runs, but only on 4 hits.

Now, they will be facing Kochi, whose starter - 2nd year Sakai, has had command issues as seen in their game against Kanzei.  But he time and again was able to get out of the jams he was put in.  Tokoha Kikugawa is probably not the offensive power that Kanzei was, so Sakai may have a better outing this time around if Tokoha can't get their offense started once again.

As for Kochi's offense, it warmed up as the game progressed against Kanzei, eventually culminating in 5 runs.  They were helped by walks and dead balls though, so it may not translate at all this time around since Tokoha's pitchers are so around the plate.

This has all the makings of a low-scoring game given the offensive strength and relative pitching style of both teams.

Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka) - Tokai 3 seed
CF Toji Keisuke
LF Maekawa Naoya
SS Endou Kouhei
C Matsuki Daisuke
3B Oonishi Yuuki
RF Kikuchi Shuntarou (#16)
1B Kuwahara Tatsuki
P Watanabe Naoki (#10)
2B Imasaka Ryousuke

Kochi (Kochi) - Shikoku Champions
2B Wada Yoshito
SS Doi Kouyou
3B Wada Ren
1B Ichikawa Gou
LF Matagawa Ryouyuu
CF Ueta Shunya
RF Sugimoto Daiki
C Maeda Ryuusei (#12)
P Sakai Yuuya (#10)


09:01 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Toji with a ball off the end of the bat.  Yoshito and Ueta converge on it in center, but it falls in for a base hit!

Morishita-kantoku not bunting as usual with Maekawa.

Instead Morishita-kantoku sends Toji to 2nd!  Throw from Maeda not in time!

Count runs full on Maekawa.  Grounder to 3rd, Ren with it!  Looks Toji back and makes the play at 1st.

Endou swings on a shoulder high pitch and sends it to right.  Sugimoto coming in, has it go off his glove trying to make a shoestring catch!  Everyone's safe as Toji moves to 3rd!

Sakai not looking particularly sharp in the early goings, going deep and behind in counts.

Now Morishita-kantoku sends Endou to 2nd!  Throw again not in time!  Base hit could score 2 now!

Matsuki though settles for a sac fly as he hits one to left center.  Ueta with the catch, but Toji tags up and comes in to score to make it 1-0 Tokoha Kikugawa!

What's this?  Endou tries to sneak into 3rd after the throw home, but Kochi has none of it!  They go to 3rd and get him for the 3rd out!

Sneaky, but thoughtful.  Still, Tokoha Kikugawa has the early lead!

Bottom 1st
Yoshito working the count full flies out to right.

Doi pops it back in foul territory, Matsuki tries to chase it down, but slips and can't make the catch.  Another foul ball and this time Kawahara goes near the camera well, but again can't make the catch.  He almost bloops one into left, but Maekawa runs it down.

Ren is hit on the head with a curveball.  It's a glancing blow, but the home plate umpire calls for an injury runner.  Doi comes out to run for him.

Ichikawa with a grounder past a diving Oonishi for a base hit!  Kochi threatening with 2 outs!

Matagawa with a ball to left!  Maekawa sprinting back and to his left, makes the running catch to save 2 runs!

Top 2nd
Oonishi with a liner, but right at Yoshito for the out.

Kikuchi with a swinging bunt up the 3rd base line.  Maeda fields it as it turns toward foul territory, and then falls down when he tries to spin around to make the throw!  Infield hit for Kikuchi!

After two more balls to Kuwahara, Maeda goes out to talk to him.

Kikuchi takes off for 2nd!  Throw this time is closer, and he's called out!

Oooo~  I don't know about that call.  And on replay, it looks like he gets in before Doi applies the tag.  Bad break for Tokoha.

And Kuwahara goes down looking on a fastball on the outside corner.  Sakai has his 1-2-3 inning, kinda...

Bottom 2nd
Ueta starts off the inning with a fly to left.

Sugimoto with a ball to the right side, Imasaka over to field it, but it's off his glove and into right.  E$ and Kochi has the douten runner on.

Maeda with a ball to the right side as well.  Imasaka does field it cleanly this time, spins for 2nd, thinks twice and goes to 1st for the out.

And Sakai hits a routine grounder to 3rd.  Oonishi goes to 1st and the side is retired.

Top 3rd
Sakai's pitch location looks a better to start the 3rd as he gets a fastball by Watanabe for the 1st out.

He's still missing high, but Tokoha's batter are chasing after it.

Imasaka skies one towards 3rd, Ren makes the catch for the 2nd out.

Toji also gets under one, but hits it deep to center.  Ueta though has plenty of time to get under it near the fence for the catch.

Bottom 3rd
Yoshito puts up another fight at the plate, and this time earns a walk on the full count.

Watanabe doesn't look that bad on the mound.  He's not accurate either, but not really missing badly either so far.

Doi with the push bunt up the 1st base line is retired 3-4, but advances Yoshito into scoring position.  But Ren grounds to 3rd!  Oonishi with the ball, looks Yoshito back and throws to 1st.  It's up the line, but Kuwahara makes the tag for the 2nd out.

Ichikawa pops it up on his 1st pitch and Imasaka makes the catch for the 3rd out.

Top 4th
Maekawa with a high swing somehow manages to line one into right for a leadoff hit.  Endou not bunting flies out to right.

And he takes off for 2nd!  Pitch from Sakai is in the dirt and Maeda has no chance!

Matsuki moves the runner along 90 feet with a groundout to 1st.

Sakai still having trouble with his control.  On a waste pitch high, he actually misses down and away, and Maeda has to quickly reach down and stab at it to prevent a wild pitch.  And then on a pitch that is supposed to be a little away, he misses by a wide margin.

No matter though as he gets Oonishi to swing and miss on a fastball to end the inning!

Bottom 4th
Matagawa working the count full, gets around on a ball inside and lines it into center for a leadoff hit!  Ueta showing bunt, but winds up swinging away, grounds to 3rd!  Oonishi goes to 2nd, but Matagawa is called safe as the throw takes Endou off the bag!

Sugimoto with the bunt to the left side.  Watanabe quickly fields, spins, fires to 3rd for the out!  Oonishi then fires to 1st... where they get Sugimoto for the 1-5-3 double play!!

Maeda grounds to 2nd for the 3rd out and a situation for Tokoha Kikugawa is deftly avoided!

Top 5th
Kikuchi with a blooper to right, Yoshito backing up, leaps and makes the catch for the first out!

Tokoha Kikugawa likes the high pitches as Kuwahara chases ball high for another K for Sakai.

#9 Sakakibara comes in to hit for Watanabe - his day is done. That means Hotta is coming in next half inning.  Not sure I like the prospect of that...

Sakakibara does keep the inning going with a walk, Imasaka with a grounder up the 1st base line and it gets by Ichikawa!!  Sakakibara winds up at 3rd on the base hit and it's another chance for Tokoha as Shimada-kantoku calls time.

But Toji chases after the first pitch and flies out to left!  The opportunity is lost as soon as they get it!

Bottom 5th
Ace Hotta does come in for PH Sakakibara and takes the hill.  He'll be tasked to go the distance now.

#17 Okuda comes in to hit for Sakai which means Sakai's day is done and Sakamoto will be coming in after the break.  Okuda meanwhile pops out to 3rd.

Yoshito collects his first hit of the day with a lazy single to right.

Uh oh.  Hotta misses inside on a full count pitch to Doi and Kochi is threatening with one out!  And not only that, it brings up Ren!

Hotta and Matsuki are trying to be careful with Ren without walking the bases loaded.  And gets what looks like a curve in to make it 2-2.

Fastball inside, goes behind Ren to fill up the count!

And Hotta can't get the call on a curve down in the zone and it's manrui for Kochi with cleanup batter Ichikawa up!

Ichikawa can't hold up on a buried ball and falls behind 0-1.  To which Shimada-kantoku calls time and sends a message to Ichikawa.

Ichikawa with a blast to left center!!  Toji running back to the fence, makes the catch!  Yoshito easily tags up and we're tied at 1-1 with Kochi still threatening now with runners at the corners!

And Shimada-kantoku sends Ren to 2nd!  The Tokoha battery isn't ready and there's no throw!

Now Hotta goes full on Matagawa!  And Hotta walks him!  It's manrui again for Kochi with Ueta stepping in!

Hotta having control issues all over the place as Matsuki has to leap to catch a pitch.  He's high again on a curve, and another curve and he's behind 3-1!

#11 Hodzumi is warming up, but this initial pitching change seems to be rather blunderous!

Ueta swings away, liner right to Endou for the 3rd out!

Hotta and Tokoha Kikugawa get out of the jam, but as we head into the break, the pitching situation for Tokoha is as feared.  It's only 1 IP, but already he has an ER, H, and 3 BB's.  It's not lost for them, but I think they've made it that much harder on themselves.

Top 6th
Kochi also has a pitching change with Okuda PH for Sakai.  Okuda stays in the game at LF, Matagawa moves to RF, and ace Sakamoto Yuuta comes in at Sugimoto's spot in the lineup and takes over on the hill.

After retiring Maekawa 4-3, Sakamoto has some trouble locating his pitches and walks Endou.

He's still having some problems, but gets Matsuki to chase a sinker down and in for the 2nd out.

Endou takes off on the first pitch, and it's a curve in the dirt that Maeda has no chance to throw him out on!

Sakamoto looking just as bad on the mound, falling behind Oonishi 3-0.  Gets a fastball in the bottom of the zone for strike 1.  Pumps in another on the outer half to fill up the count.  Oonishi just fouls off the next pitch.

And Sakamoto now walks Oonishi!  That brings up Kikuchi.  Sakamoto this time gets ahead 0-2, and gets him to chase a forkball for the 3rd out!

The pressure is mounting on the two aces now in the game.  Both have come out to very shaky starts and need to settle down quickly or it could be game set soon enough.

Bottom 6th
New P Sakamoto up, and he flies out to left.  Already there seems to be a difference on the mound as Hotta is firing strikes to the batters.  He's ahead 0-2 to Maeda and he takes a defensive foul.

Maeda puts a charge into one!  Maekawa, playing in, running back in left... makes the running catch for the 2nd out!

Okuda in for his 2nd AB, does no better grounding out to short to end the inning.

Hotta on the other hand, looks miles better in his 2nd inning of work.  I'm still skeptical given the numbers, but we'll see.

Top 7th
Kuwahara leads off Tokoha's lucky 7 with a single to right!  Not a bad location by Sakamoto, Kuwahara just took it the other way like he was supposed to on an outside pitch.

As expected, Hotta squares up to bunt, but fouls off his first attempt.  He fouls off his 2nd attempt and Morishita-kantoku is backed into a corner.

And Hotta tries the three bunt, but can't pull it back in time and is called out!

One down for Tokoha as Imasaka steps in.  Sakamoto can't find the zone again and falls behind 3-1.  Just gets one in the inside corner to fill up the count.

Hit-and-run!  But Imasaka fouls it off.  Looks like Morishita-kantoku is being aggressive here.

And another one!  Again, Imasaka fouls it off.

And one more time!  Imasaka misses this time, but Maeda's throw to 2nd is late.

Lineup flips up back to Toji with a runner in scoring position.

Sakamoto gets Toji on 3 straight finishing him off on a slider away!

Bottom 7th
Yoshito with a pop up behind home plate.  Matsuki up against the fence leans to his right and makes the catch for the first out.

Doi goes after the first pitch and flies out to center, and Ren on the very next pitch grounds to short!  A quick Lucky 7 for Kochi.

Top 8th
Both pitchers seem to have settled down for the most part, but it's a tenuous 1-1 game.

Sakamoto ahead of Maekawa 1-2, but can't get him to case on two consecutive balls, but gets him looking on a pitch on the inside corner as Maekawa takes off for 1st!

Endou swings on the first pitch and it's a routine grounder to Ren.

Matsuki with a big wave on a forkball down in the zone and he K's for the 2nd time against Sakamoto.

That's 7 K's (!) for Sakamoto in just 3 innings of work!

Bottom 8th
Ichikawa with a liner back up the middle past Hotta for a base hit!

And a ball gets under Matsuki advancing Ichikawa to 2nd!  Tokoha in trouble as Morishita-kantoku calls for time.

Hotta gets ahead of Matagawa 1-2 with some well placed balls.  Tries to get him to chase away, no dice.

Hotta tries to climb the ladder, but Matagawa connects with it and hits a slow roller to the right side!  Imasaka's only play is to 1st and the gyakuten run is 90 feet away!

Ueta steps in, 0-3 on the day.  After a foul off, Shimada-kantoku sends him some advice.

Ueta turns on one!  3rd base umpire looking it down the left field line... FAIR!!    Maekawa retrieves it at the wall, but Ichikawa scores to make it a 2-1 game!  Ueta in at 2nd and Kochi threatens to extend the lead now!

Sakamoto goes down swinging for the 2nd out.

Maeda with a check swing ball to 1st... WHAT??!

Kuwahara just plain misses the ball and it goes into right??!  Ueta running home, throw from Maekawa, not in time!  Matsuki fires to 2nd and gets Maeda trying to take 2nd on the throw and the inning is over!

But a costly error by Matsuki gives Kochi a crucial insurance run!  They now lead 3-1 with just 3 outs to go!!

Top 9th
Desperate times for Tokoha now as they need 2 runs instead of 1.

Oonishi trying to get one of those runs back with one of his swings.  Gets ahead 2-1 but watches a fastball right down the middle for strike 2.

He lines a ball to left!  Okuda charging in dives, misses it as he awkwardly tumbles over!  Oonishi with a leadoff double and Tokoha is in business!

Kikuchi up next, 1-3 with a single back in the 2nd.  But he aggressively goes after the first pitch and pops it up!  Doi in shallow left secures the ball for the 1st out!

Kuwahara stepping in, perhaps trying to make up for the error he made last half inning.

Chases a sinker for strike 2...

He tries to poke down the left field line, but pulls it foul.


Kuwahara chases a sinker for the 2nd out! That's 8 K's for Sakamoto!

Down to their last out #17 Kaneko comes in to hit for Hotta.  And he's quickly behind 1-2.

SANSHIN!!  Sakamoto with his 9th K as Kaneko chases a slider down and away!  Kochi advances to the Best 8 at Koushien since their Natsu Koushien appearance in 1979!!

Kochi hangs in there against Tokoha Kikugawa and comes through late for the victory!  It certainly looked like that Tokoha had the upper hand early, but the pitching changes for both team seemed to turn the tide.  For Kochi, going to ace Sakamoto helped shut down the opposition after a shaky first inning.

Alas, for Tokoha Kikugawa, going to Hotta early perhaps cost them the game.  First it cost them the lead when he was shaky in his first inning, then it cost him late as Ichikawa and Hotta put some timely hits together to put Kochi ahead for good.

So Shikoku continues to make a strong showing here at Senbatsu while Tokoha will perhaps go back to the drawing board for the summer.

Notable Players
Sakamoto Yuuta (Kochi) - W, 4 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 9 K, 0 BB
Ichikawa Gou (Kochi) - 2-3, R, RBI
Ueta Shunya (Kochi) - 1-4, 2B, R, RBI
Watanabe Naoki (Tokoha Kikugawa) - ND, 4 IP, 2 H, BB, HBP
Endou Kouhei (Tokoha Kikugawa) - 1-3, BB, SB
Toji Keisuke (Tokoha Kikugawa) - 1-4, R, K
Oonishi Yuuki (Tokoha Kikugawa) - 1-3, 2B, BB, K

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 8, Game 3 - Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) vs. Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo)

All right, we're on to the final game of the day.  This is a game in which I think I know who should win the game, but for some reason, there is something about facing a name-brand school that can completely freeze up a school.

That school is Waseda Jitsugyou.  More recently the school that Saitou Yuuki took to the title in 2006, but always known as the school that produced the beloved Oh Sadaharu.

This year, they received the Tokyo/Kanto Floating bid I think because they have brand name attractiveness.  And it's not like they're a terrible team - they did beat Ryuukokudai Heian in their opening game.

But it was 4 runs on just 4 hits.  And two of them were doubles hit by Orihara Aoi.  That's good in that we know he can hit the ball, but bad in the sense that... well... can anyone else hit?  Because I doubt that ace Niyama and company can completely stifle Sendai Ikuei.

The Meiji Jingu champs had no trouble with Souseikan, jumping ahead 5-0 after 2 innings winning 7-2.  But while most of the lineup contributed, the offense went eerily silent during the middle innings.  While their opponent is apparently offensively challenged as a whole, it would probably behoove them perhaps to continuously put pressure throughout the game.  Otherwise, they could wind up being the odd man out.

Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) - Tohoku Champions (Meiji Jingu Champions)
SS Kumagai Takahiro
2B Kikuna Yuuka
LF Hasegawa Hiro
CF Uebayashi Seiji
1B Mizuma Toshiki
C Kobayashi Ryou
3B Katou Naoya
RF Satou Seiya
P Baba Kousuke (#10)

Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo) - Tokyo/Kanto Floating Bid
2B Yamaoka Hitomi
SS Nishioka Hisayoshi
RF Kaneshiro Kento (#17)
1B Kumata Mitsumi
3B Orihara Aoi
LF Suzuki Kai
CF Yoshimi Kentarou
C Toshimitsu Kensaka
P Niyama Youhei


13:45 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Suzuki freezes Kumagai on a fastball inside for the first out!

After a flyout to left by Kikuna, Hasegawa hits a grounder that just sneaks by Yamaoka into right!

But Suzuki is on his game early, getting cleanup batter Uebayashi to climb the ladder and strike out to end the inning!

Bottom 1st
Yamaoka gets ahead in the count 3-1, hits a ball back at Baba, who can't stab it with the glove and it's into center for a base hit!  Nishioka bunts him over to 2nd.

Kaneshiro can't advance him, hitting a fly to left.

Up to their cleanup batter Kumata.  Ooh...  after getting ahead 2-0, Baba gets 2 strikes, the 2nd being a bit generous.  The Sendai Ikuei battery tests the outside corner, too far.  Full count.

Tries slider inside, but Kumata just fouls it off.

Kumata goes down and gets one inside, but it's a liner to left!  Hasegawa has it for the 3rd out!

Top 2nd
Suzuki really giving it to Sendai Ikuei.  He's throwing strikes wherever he wants.  Mizuma with a weak grounder to 1st, Kobayashi with a popup to Nishioka in shallow left, and Katou is frozen on a slider outside and can't believe it.  3 down and Soujitsu is back on the bats!

Bottom 2nd
I wonder about Sendai Ikuei continuing to ask the umpires if the batters went around.  For the most part it doesn't seem like they are and it's almost like they're trying to squeeze every out possible.  Which shouldn't be the mindset of a champion team.

And it's not like Baba is pitching badly.  He gets routine grounders from Orihara and Suzuki.  Though he might be catching more of the plate than he should.

Case in point is Yoshimi who gets under one such pitch and flies out to center.  We'll see how that progresses though.

Top 3rd
So far, the Ikuei batters have not been able to make solid contact.  Even Hasegawa's hit was a slow roller that escaped Yamaoka.

Of course I say that and with one down Baba drives one past Yoshimi in right-center for a double.

And then Niyama falls behind Kumagai 3-0.  He attacks the next pitch, but it's inside and he can only foul it off.

Inside again, and he pulls it foul.  So Niyama manages to level the count perhaps taking advantage of some aggressiveness.

Niyama wins the battle as Kumagai takes it the other way to 2nd.  They get the out, and Baba advances to 3rd leaving it up to Kikuna.

Once again, Niyama falls behind, but comes back to be even with Kikuna at 2-2.

Holds up on a buried slider and the count runs full...

Pitch inside, Kikuna can only pull it right to Kumata who makes the play to end the inning!

Bottom 3rd
Toshimitsu hits a hanging slider the other way to left center and falls in just out of a sprinting Hasegawa!  He's in with a double!

Niyama bunts him over to 3rd for the top of the lineup.

Baba hangs one again!  This time Yamaoka drives one to deep center!  Uebayashi can't get there in time and it lands in front of the wall!  They get it in, but not before Yamaoka is in with a triple!  The oen-dan plays Konpeki no Sora as Soujitsu takes the 1-0 lead!

Sasaki-kantoku calls time as Suzuki goes out to warm up.  It's like as if it was Waseda who won the fall tournament and Sendai Ikuei who is the underdog the way the game is playing out!

Does playing Soujitsu just freeze opponents or something?

Fortunately for Baba, Nishioka can't do anything as he grounds back to him for the 2nd out.  And he gets Kaneshiro to chase a slider for the 3rd out, but back to back mistakes cost Sendai Ikuei a run!

Top 4th
Hasegawa goes down swinging for Niyama's 4th K.  Uebayashi can only manager another routine grounder to 1st.  And Mizuma golfs one in the air where Mizuma comes in a couple of steps to make the catch.

Bottom 4th
After getting ahead of Kumata, they try to nibble and the count runs full!  But Baba gets him to chase a pitch up and pops it up!  Katou comes in and calls for it, but makes a last minute adjustment and it pops out of his glove and falls in play!  E5 and Soujitsu has a good opportunity here too!

Orihara though tries to bunt the runner over, but three bunts and misses for the out!

Suzuki with a check swing grounder to 2nd gets the runner over.  But there's 2 outs.

Yoshimi with a liner, but Kumagai makes a great diving catch for the 3rd out!

But man it looks like Sendai Ikuei is playing scared out there.

Top 5th
Niyama is completely shutting down Sendai Ikuei's offense!  Kobayashi with a routine grounder to 2nd.  Katou walks the count full, but hits a foul fly that Kumata catches before slow-motion tumbling into the camera well.

And Satou flies out to left!  I'm rather shocked by this really.

Bottom 5th
Baba issues his first walk to Toshimitsu and that lets Soujitsu have another chance for a run!

But Toshimitsu is straying away from 1st!  Kobayashi fires to 2nd after the 1-0 pitch and they have him picked off!  One out!

Niyama swinging away now, and flies out to center.  Yamaoka grounds to 1st and that's the inning.

We head to the break with the only scoring coming from 2 extra base hits from Soujitsu.  Meanwhile I'd say Sendai Ikuei has only had 1 good solid hit, safe or out - and that was from Baba's double.  Otherwise the contact has been poor and the defense has not been worked that hard.  I find it hard to believe looking at this game that this Sendai Ikuei team is the one that went all the way.

Top 6th
Baba chases a changeup in the dirt for the first out.  That flips the lineup back to Kumagai.

But while he makes contact on a down and away fastball, he grounds out to 2nd.

And Sasaki-kantoku seems to be playing desperate too.  He sends in #17 Sasaki to hit for Kikuna and first pitch hits a ball back to Niyama for the 3rd out!

Bottom 6th
Sasaki stays in the game to play 2B.

Nishioka can't hold off on a slider in the dirt and he goes down for the 1st out.

Baba turns around though and walks Kaneshiro bringing up Kumata.

And Izumi-kantoku sends him!  Kobayashi can't field the ball cleanly and his toss to 2nd is nowhere near in time!

AH!  A wild pitch from Baba on ball 4 allows Kaneshiro to advance to 3rd!  Big pinch for Soujitsu as Sasaki-kantoku calls for time.  Playing scared like this will only lead to bad things and we may just see it now.

Orihara with a fly to center!  Uebayashi charging in, still charging, making the catch and the runners can't advance!

Now it's Izumi-kantoku pulling all the stops?  #15 Matsumoto comes in to hit for Suzuki.

And I wonder if Matsumoto wasn't just up to try and get on base, because he hasn't swung and is ahead 3-1.

But he does swing and grounds to 1st!  Mizuma has it and makes the play at 1st for the out!  Sendai Ikuei holds onto the 1-run deficit!

Top 7th
Man, looking at the times these games today, including this one, have gone at a breakneck speed.

#9 Oka comes in for PH Matsumoto and plays LF.

Sendai Ikuei hoping to change things up plays Jock Rock.

But Hasegawa chases a high ball and grounds to 2nd.

And the Soujitsu batter is getting Uebayashi to chase a high pitch as well!  Why (are they swinging)?

With the count 2-2, they go high again and he fouls it off.  How are you going to get a solid hit if you're having to stand up to hit it?  You can't generate any power!

They try away again, but get no swing and no call.  Count runs full.

They go outside again, but Niyama misses and Uebayashi gets on base!  But what can the rest of the lineup do?

Niyama with perhaps his first real mistake, leaves one over and Mizuma lines it into center for a base hit!  Runners on 1st and 2nd for Kobayashi!  He's the man you want up.

Kobayashi though can't get solid contact on a change inside and slices a grounder to Yamaoka.  He can only go to 1st, but there's 2 outs now.

Katou up as Izumi-kantoku calls time.

And Niyama gets out of the inning!  Katou hits a grounder to 2nd and Sendai Ikuei loses a great chance!

Bottom 7th
Baba trying what he can to keep the game at 0-1.  Yoshimi quickly grounds to 1st.

Toshimitsu goes down swinging on a forkball.

Niyama does what he can, slowly works the count full and earns a walk.  That flips the lineup back to Yamaoka.

Who promptly takes a ball the other way for a base hit.

Baba trying to get out the inning gets ahead of Nishioka 0-2.  Gets him to swing at a slider outside and the side is retired!

Top 8th
But Sendai Ikuei is down to their final 6 outs!

And with Baba playing soft toss in the foreground, the camera has Suzuki in the background pitching in the bullpen.  #16 Onodera is in the on-deck circle, so his day is probably over.

Satou fights but goes down on a fastball outside as he looks up in frustration.

Onodera in fact does come in to bat.

First pitch singles to left!

Kumagai with a grounder to the left side.  Nishoka over to get it, slides but bounces off his glove and over him!  Everyone's safe!

Izumi-kantoku calls time and is this the time Sendai Ikuei finally gets it all together?

Sasaki coming in to bat.

Niyama goes too far inside and hits Sasaki!  Manrui for Sendai Ikuei!  What's happening to Niyama??!

Hasegawa steps in...


Niyama uncorks a wild pitch that bounces off the chest protector and goes up the 3rd base line!  Kawashima with his arms in the air scores and it's Niyama's unforced error that gives up the douten run!!!  It's 1-1!!!!

Hasegawa changes a slider in the dirt for the 2nd out.

That brings up Uebayashi, and with 1st base open he should get nothing to hit.

He isn't, but he's swinging anyways and goes behind 0-2 (don't you know they don't HAVE to pitch to you?  Think of the situation man!)

It's too late now, he has to swing at anything close.

Uebayashi back up the middle!!  Niyama frantically stabs at the ball in the air, but it goes by!  Kumagai scores!  Sasaki rounding 3rd, throw off line!  He scores!!

Niyama has the worst time to break down and leave one over!  Sendai Ikuei leads 3-1!!

Mizuma grounds back to Niyama, but man even with the base hits, it still required some help for Waseda.  They won't complain though.

Bottom 8th
Ace Suzuki comes in for PR Kawashima to close out the game instead of trying to hold the line.

Kaneshiro with a grounder to 2nd for the first out.  Kumata gets ahead 2-1, but hits a high chopper that Kumagai catches and throws to 1st for the 2nd out.

And Orihara chops one back to Suzuki!  He goes to 1st and Waseda is retired that quickly!

Top 9th
Kobayashi with a hard grounder past Yamaoka into right!

#15 Abe hitting for Katou, he singles past Nishoka into left!  Has Niyama just ran out of gas?

Satou standing in now, 0-3 on the day but Sasaki-kantoku not having him bunt.

1-2 on Satou and the cameras turn to #14 Tachikawa warming up in the bullpen.

Satou goes down and lines one through the infield to right!  Kaneshiro boots it in front of him!  Kobayashi comes in to score and it's 4-1 Sendai Ikuei!

Suzuki bunting, misses, and Toshimitsu throws to 2nd where Abe is caught off the bag!  He's run down for the 1st out!  He does eventually lay down the bunt, but there's 2 down.

And with that, Izumi-kantoku calls in the bullpen.  #14 Tachikawa comes in to pitch.

He gets Kumagai to ground to 2nd for the 3rd out, but it's that much farther now for Soujitsu to come back from.

Bottom 9th
Abe stays in the game to play 3B.

The oen-dan perhaps playing Konpeki no Sora for the final time to start the 9th.

Oka-Yoshimi-Toshimitsu due up.

Oka gets jammed and grounds to 1st.

Yoshimi chases a fork away for the 2nd out!

Toshimitsu the last chance for Soujitsu.


Suzuki runs one back over the inside corner and Toshimitsu goes down for the final out! Sendai Ikuei rallies and survives, defeating Waseda Jitsugyou 4-1!!

For the longest time it looked like Niyama and Soujitsu would easily shut down the Meiji Jingu champions.  He was inducing poor contact with the exception of Baba's first hit and 6 innings went by without as much as a whimper from the Sendai Ikuei offense.  Even in the 7th after walking Uebayashi and allowing a hit to Mizuma, he quickly spun out of that one too.

So it would lead one to believe that leaving him in would be the right thing to do, especially since he hadn't even hit 100 pitches yet!  (Not like that matters as much in 高校野球).  But in the 8th it all just collapsed on him.  How is that possible?

Well, looking at the fall records, Niyama only played in 3 of their 8 games.  Of those 3, he pitched 11 innings total.   And since Niiyama was always coming in relief, chances are he never pitched as many innings as he did today.

So there could be some criticism about leaving him in for as long as he did.  But remember - first he was still effective through 7 innings.  Sure he had given up his first walk, and had 2 baserunners on, but he got out of it.  Also, there really wasn't time to give Izumi-kantoku time to warm somebody up.  The sequence in the 8th went - K-Single-Single-HBP-K before Uebayashi hit the 2-RBI double.  Also, one of the hits could have been an out had Nishiyama fielded the ball cleanly.  It's certainly a tough play, and why it was still recorded a hit.  But that might be an extra out no matter how you look at it.

I suppose you could argue that after the wild pitch which allowed the douten run that Niyama could be pulled.  But was Tachikawa warmed up?  I don't really know.

But for 7 innings, Soujitsu played a great game.  They just couldn't finish.

As for Sendai Ikuei, that was pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  Baba was doing his best, but had given up the only run in the game for a while.  And as mentioned the offense looked God awful. When push came to shove though, they got the job done and they're on to the Best 8.

Notable Players
Baba Kousuke (Sendai Ikuei) - W, 7 IP, ER, 4 H, 5 K, 3 BB
Suzuki Takato (Sendai Ikuei) - SV, 2 IP, 0 ER, 2 K
Uebayashi Seiji (Sendai Ikuei) - 1-3, 2 RBI, BB, K
Onodera Shinnosuke (Sendai Ikuei) - 1-1, R
Niyama Youhei (Waseda Jitsugyou) - L, 8.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 7 K, BB, HBP
Yamaoka Hitomi (Waseda Jitsugyou) - 3-4, 3B, RBI
Toshimitsu Kensaku (Waseda Jitsugyou) - 1-3, 2B, R, 2 BB, K

Day 8, Game 2 - Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) vs. Yamagata Chuo (Yamagata)

Our sandwich game of the day features the Kanto champs Urawa Gakuin facing off against the Tohoku Friendship bid team of Yamagata Chuo.

Urawa Gakuin looked rather pedestrian in their win over Tosa in their first game.  The team managed just 6 hits and displayed an inability to move the runners over.  Not exactly a recipe for success.  They were rather patient though drawing 5 walks.  Though I suppose getting hit 7 times also helps too...

On the mound, Ojima did his job striking out 8 batters in a 4-0 victory.  But striking out that many is a bit odd really considering he manages about 7 K's per inning in the fall.  Assuming better competition, you'd think that number would get worse.

Still not to completely put down Yamagata Chuo, Urawa Gakuin should get another game to ease into play.  Facing Iwakuni Shougyou, they completely took advantage of a defensive alignment that did not match the potential of the Yamagata batters.  As a result, many a time we saw the numbers on the outfielder's uniforms as they chased the balls back.

That won't happen against their opponent this game.

On the mound it was fairly clear that even against a team like Iwakuni Shougyou, the pitching staff allowed quite a few hits and scoring opportunities.  They just so happened to snake out of the jams they got themselves into.

But again, that won't happen against this opponent.

So suffice it to say, Yamagata Chuo has their work cut out for them.

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) - Kanto Champions
SS Takemura Haruki
2B Nie Hayato
CF Yamane Yuuta
3B Takada Ryouta
1B Kigure Naito
LF Saitou Ryousuke (#9)
C Nishikawa Genki
P Ojima Kazuya
RF Watanabe Takeru (#16)

Yamagata Chuo (Yamagata) - Tohoku Friendship Bid
CF Takada Takuma (#17)
SS Konno Shouta
P Takahashi Ryouhei (#8)
RF Kumagai Hiroshi
3B Nakamura Hayate (#16)
C Haga Takahiro
2B Satou Daiki
1B Matsuzawa Shouta
LF Takahashi Ryuusei


11:14 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Ryouhei working quickly off the mound, but Takemura singles through the right side.

Nie not bunting!  Bust-and-run and he slices one to left center!  Takada shading to right can't get to it and it gets by the outfield!  Ryouhei easily coming home and it's already 1-0 Urawa Gakuin!

Yamane with a grounder to 3rd, Nakamura can't field it cleanly!  His throw to 1st is late and Nie scores to make it 2-0!

Jyouji-kantoku calling time, but the situation already looking bad for the Tohoku Friendship team.  Meanwhile #11 Takahashi Kazuki warms up.

Mori-kantoku tries the hit-and-run before having cleanup batter Takada bunt.

Kigure with a short fly to Daiki behind 2nd, and he misses it!  The terrible start continues...

But Saitou lines out to left, and Nishikawa grounds to 3rd to put an end to the inning.  Still, even before Yamagata Chuo gets a chance to pick up a bat they've spotted Uragaku 2 runs.

Bottom 1st
Takumi falling behind quickly 0-2, grounds to 3rd.  Konno swings on the first pitch, gets jammed and grounds to short.

Ryouhei works the count a little, but winds up grounding back to Ojima to end the inning.  Pretty simple to start with for the Uragaku ace.

Top 2nd
Ojima with a ball to the right side, Daiki with a great pick, turn, and throw for the 1st out.

Watanabe pops out to Haga behind the place, and Takemura follows suit soon after flying out to left.  A really quick inning for Ryouhei after the long 1st

Bottom 2nd
Cleanup batter Kumagai gets ahead 3-0, takes a strike before getting a leadoff walk.  Jyouji-kantoku plays for the run by having Nakamura bunt him over.

Haga working the count, gets ahead 2-1 but chases a fastball outside for strike 2.  He manages to check his swing on a high fastball to run it full.

And Haga earns a walk!  Runners on 1st and 2nd as Nishikawa comes out to talk to him.

Jyouji-kantoku tries the bunt and run?!  But Daiki pops it up!  Nishikawa goes back and chases it down for the 2nd out!

Matsuzawa with an odd step back while the pitch is thrown, winds up looking at strike 3 to end the inning.  A good opportunity for Yamagata Chuo to get back a run winds up with none.

Top 3rd
It's another quick inning for Ryouhei as Uragaku's batters are swinging away early.  7 pitches and he retires the side!  Now if the offense can pick it up.

Bottom 3rd
It's a quick 2 outs for Yamagata as Ryuusei grounds to short and Takada flies out to center.

Konno with a short grounder, Nie charges, but the ball deflects off his glove and Konno is safe!

But that's as far as he goes.  Ojima gets Ryouhei to chase a fastball outside for the 3rd out.

Top 4th
A routine grounder to short becomes less so as Kanno's throw to 1st is way too high advancing Kigure to the next base

Kigure, heading home on contact, winds up being thrown out by Nakamura.

Ojima grounds out back to Ryouhei for the 3rd out.  Urawa Gakuin threatening to score again, get their invitation pulled at home.

Bottom 4th
Kumagai with a ball to right, but easily handed by Watanabe.

Nakamura doing the same.  Watanabe rounding to the ball, slips!  He falls down as the ball does likewise and Nakamura winds up at 3rd base and Yamagata Chuo has a great opportunity!

Haga gets ahead 3-0, but Ojima fights back to make it full. 

But Ojima gets him to climb the ladder and strike out swinging!  2 down!

And Ojima shuts the door!  Daiki also climbs the ladder this time to end the inning and Nakamura is stranded at 2nd!

Top 5th
After a quick flyout by Watanabe, Ryouhei walks Takemura on 4 straight.  Nie grounds to 1st, and Matsuzawa elects to take the out at 1st.

Yamane flies out to center, and despite the fast start, Yamagata Chuo has not let the game get away from them.

Bottom 5th
Defensive changes for Urawa Gakuin.  #7 Hattori comes in for Watanabe and goes to LF.  Saitou moves to his numbered position in RF.

Two quick outs for Yamagata as both Matsuzawa and Ryuusei ground out.  Takada goes behind 0-2 before he is bailed out by getting hit.

Konno with a single through the right side and they now have runners on 1st and 2nd!

Ryouhei with a liner to right!  The throw from Saitou is cutoff and Takada scores to make it a 1-run ballgame at 2-1!  Mori-kantoku calls time.

That brings up cleanup batter Kumagai.  And he's hit!!  Manrui for Yamagata Chuo with Nakamura up!

#10 Yamaguchi warms up as Yamagata Chuo threatens to tie the game.

Ojima gets ahead of Nakamura 0-2.  Tries to get him to chase high, but doesn't bite.  Does it again and he fouls it off!

And as I expected, after doubling up high, they go down and away and Nakamura chases!  Ojima gets out of the pinch giving up just the 1 run and as we head to the break Urawa Gakuin holds a slim 1-run lead over underdog Yamagata Chuo.  If they're not careful Yamagata Chuo may do what Kochi did to Kanzei earlier.

Top 6th
Takada crushes a ball from Ryouhei!!  Ryuusei chases the ball, but quickly gives up!


Just when Yamagata Chuo looked to have some momentum come their way, Takada just smashes it back down with a no-doubt HR to left!  Urawa Gakuin brings their lead back to 2 and 3-1!

AH!  Hard grounder from Kigure bounds off and over Nakamura into left for a base hit!

And as quickly as that, Jyouji-kantoku makes a pitching change.  #11 Takahashi Kazuki comes in for Matsuzawa and takes the mound while Ryouhei moves to 1st.

Saitou bunts the runner over for Nishikawa, who is promptly hit by Kazuki.

But Kazuki comes back to to get the outside corner on Ojima for the 2nd out!

Ah!  A passed ball on Haga allows the runners to advance!

Hattori with a grounder to the left side!  Nakamura dives, but it goes by him into left!  Ryuusei's throw home is cutoff and both runners score to make it 5-1!

Takemura grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but Urawa Gakuin may finally be waking up.

Bottom 6th
Haga can't start the offense as he flies out to center.  Daiki quickly grounds to 2nd.

New pitcher Kazuki works the count full and draws a walk.  But Ryuusei tries the safety bunt and grounds back to Ojima for the 3rd out.

Top 7th
Nie grounds to 1st, and Ryouhei has to scramble and take it himself to the bag as Kazuki is late in covering.

Yamane singles to right as Urawa Gakuin looks for more runs.

Takada goes down and lines one to left!  Ryuusei is there, but the ball takes a high hop and gets by Ryuusei and to the wall!  That allows Yamane to score from 1st to make it 6-1!

Kigure grounds to 2nd, but advances Takada to 3rd.

However, Saitou does the same and the inning is over.

Bottom 7th
Takada bloops a ball back up the middle past a diving Nie for a base hit.

Konno chases a fastball outside and goes down for the 1st out.  Ryouhei, pops up a pitch inside and Kigure secures it for the 2nd out.

Ojima missing high with his pitches, but Yamagata's batters for the most part have been chasing them - though not this inning.

Kumagai though swings on a 2-0 pitch and pops up to a backpedaling Nie for the 3rd out.

Top 8th
Nishikawa leads off the inning by grounding to 2nd on the first pitch.  One pitch, one out.  But then he turns around to walk Ojima on 4 straight.  #1 Ishikawa warms up in the bullpen.

Hattori with a ball to the right side, gets past both Ryouhei and Daiki into right!  Ojima stops at 2nd.

Kazuki having trouble finding the strike zone, falls behind 3-1.

Takemura hits a sharp grounder past Ryouhei down the 1st base line!  Ojima comes in to score, Hattori being waved in as the throw goes to 3rd!  Takemura slides in safely and it's 8-1 Uragaku!

Nie with the safety bunt!  Nakamura charges in, throws to 1st.  As he does, Takemura breaks for home!  Nie's out at 1st, but the throw home from Ryouhei is late and Takemura makes it a 9-1 ballgame!

Yamane with a sharp shot through the left side for a base hit.

And as a result, Jyouji-kantoku pulls the plug on Kazuki.  Ishikawa comes in for Kazuki and takes the hill.

Kigure with a hot shot to Nakamura, it's off his glove!  Konno backs up the play and throws to 1st, but not nearly in time.

Oh dear.  Kigure with a blast to left center past the defense and to the wall.  Both runners easily score on the triple and it's 11-1 Urawa Gakuin.

Saitou pops up to Daiki behind 2nd for the 3rd out, but the game is well in hand.

Bottom 8th
Up 10, Ojima goes after the Yamagata batters as they go down easily in order.

Top 9th
Nishikawa starts off the 9th with a single through the left side.  Ojima bunts him along for Hattori who's 2-2 on the day after coming in for Watanabe.

Ishikawa finally retires Hattori as he hits a soft liner to Daiki who makes a shoestring catch.

A wild pitch from Ishikawa gets away from Haga, sending Nishikawa to 3rd.

No damage done though as Takemura strikes out to end the inning.

Bottom 9th
Defensive changes for Uragaku, and they're a bit strange.  Nishikawa, Kigure and Takada rotate such that Nishikawa is at 1B, Kigure is at 3B and Takada is behind the plate.  Not sure why, but ok.

Meanwhile, #10 Yamaguchi comes in for Saitou and takes the hill.  Ojima goes to RF.

#5 Takahashi Kenta comes in to hit for Ishikawa, and promptly sends one into right center splitting the defense for a double.

#15 Satou Miharu comes in to hit for Ryuusei.  But he goes down looking for the 1st out.

Takada grounds to short and Yamagata Chuo is down to their last out.

Konno the last chance and he flies out to left and that's the ballgame.  Urawa Gakuin soundly defeats Yamagata Chuo 11-1 and secure a place in the Best 8.

For a while there Yamagata Chuo held in there against the Kanto champions, despite giving up an early 2 runs.  By the break they had pulled to within 1 and had a chance to actually tie it.  But after the break Urawa Gakuin put their foot down and just blew by them and in to the quarterfinals.  A good effort, but an expected result.

Which is good for Urawa Gakuin, but the stagnation of their offense after the quick strike 1st is a bit of cause for concern.  Ojima did keep Yamagata Chuo to just the 1 run, but he walked 3 and hit 2 which is never a good thing.  Things will only get harder from here, so they'll need to continue getting support from the offense to help out Ojima.

Notable Players
Ojima Kazuya (Urawa Gakuin) - W, 8 IP, ER, 4 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP
Takada Ryouta (Urawa Gakuin) - 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Yamane Yuuta (Urawa Gakuin) - 3-4, 2 R, RBI
Hattori Masamitsu (Urawa Gakuin) - 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Takahashi Ryouhei (Yamagata Chuo) - 1-4, RBI, K
Takahashi Kenta (Yamagata Chuo) - 1-1, 2B