Next up on the docket is a first timer facing a recent regular.
For Riseisha, they were off to a roaring start in the prefecturals, but as they progressed higher up their offense continued to get baserunners - but couldn't seem to bring them home. Not surprisingly, their opponents were Osaka Touin, Kansei Gakuin and Kyoto Shouei.
The pitching though help up fairly well. But despite Sakamoto Daiki holding the ace number, it's southpaw #10 Higashino Ryuuji who actually took most of the innings during the fall. Both actually though average just about a K/IP, and rarely walk a batter. But in terms of runs given up, Higashino does a better job at preventing runs than Sakamoto.
Like most teams, the offense for Riseisha lies at the top of the order with 3 and 4 batters Miyazaki Shin and Okita Katsutoshi driving them in.
Their oen-dan today has a yellow R in a purple background.
Iwakuni Shougyou got their first bid by reaching the semifinals of the Chuugoku super-regional. It probably held some home-field advantage as the super-regional was held in their prefecture this year. In addition, they were not really tested until that semifinal game against Kouryou - where they saw their offense just generate 7 hits and struck out 13 times in a 2-0 loss.
The offense is pretty bad as they carried a batting average of just 0.249. What saves them is their ability to take walks. In fact, their OBP is over a full 110 points higher. Only ace Takahashi Yuuya and #5 batter Yokota Hiroki carry an average over 0.300. But as long as their opposing pitcher is able to throw strikes, the offense is in trouble.
This puts a lot of pressure on aforementioned ace Takahashi as is the only pitcher of record in the fall. He too is not an overpowering pitcher, instead using contact to allow less than a baserunner per inning. Only info I have is that he throws in the upper 130s.
Iwakuni Shougyou will be quickly behind the 8-ball as the offense will have to swing away.
Iwakuni Shougyou (Yamaguchi) - Chuugoku 3 seed
CF Nakamura Souichirou
2B Nakagawa Yuuki
P Takahashi Yuuya
1B Shigeoka Fumiya
RF Yokota Hiroki
C Kurisu Tooru
LF Shimizu Kouhei
SS Shigeishi Yuuji
3B Kamidera Yuu
Riseisha (Osaka) - Kinki 3/4 seed
CF Hasegawa Seiya
SS Yoshida Yuuki
2B Miyazaki Shin
LF Okita Katsutoshi
3B Miyamoto Takeshi
1B Higashi Noriyuki (#17)
RF Inoue Kazuya
P Higashino Ryuuji (#10)
C Yoshidzuka Kouhei
13:35 - First pitch!
Nakamura swings at a first pitch slider and lines out right to Hasegawa.
As expected, Higashino is throwing strikes and Gansho is swinging away. Nakagawa grounds out to 2nd.
Looks like Higashino throws in the low-mid 130s as Takahashi grounds to short to end the inning.
Takahashi is a quick worker on the mound as after a quick flyout to right by Hasegawa, Yoshida sees three quick pitches, watching a slider hit the outside corner for strike 3.
Looks like he hits the high 120s, with a slider in the low-mid 110s and a slow curve in the 90-100s. I say that then he hits 135.
But it's a quick inning for the Yamaguchi ace as Miyazaki hits an easy comebacker to Takahashi to end the inning.
Shigeoka gets the first base hit, a grounder the other way into right. Higashino looks to have a slider in the low-mid 120s.
Interestingly Chunnai-kantoku is not having Yokota bunt despite the bad offense. It comes back to bite them as Yokota hits a ball right to Miyamoto who starts the 5-4-3 double play.
It's a shame as Kurisu fists one right on the left field line for a single.
Shimizu weakly grounds to 2nd and the inning is over.
After a deep fly from Okita, Miyamoto gets Riseisha's first hit with a grounder sneaking under Nakagawa into right.
Takahashi's quick pitching gets him into a bit of a pinch as he falls behind Higashi 3-0. Het gest him to ground out to 2nd, but it was on a hit and run, so all Ganshou got was a 6-4-3 out at 1st.
That leaves it to Inoue to try and break the scoring.
Inoue takes an outside pitch the other way, but it's to shallow left and Miyamoto has to hold at 3rd.
But Takahashi gets out of the jam! Higashino waves on a 129 pitch inside and we remain scoreless!
Shigeishi is getting a good look at Higashino to start the 3rd as he fouls off several pitches, even a fastball down and outside that he reaches out for, eventually working the count full. And on the 10th pitch he's paid off as he shoots one past a diving Miyamoto into left.
That leaves it to Kamidera who immediately shows bunt. However, he can't lay it down and falls behind 0-2. Will Chuunai-kantoku call for the three-bunt? Sure looks like it.
He pops it out foul and is retired for the first out. Not good execution there for Ganshou.
That cycles the order back to the top and Nakamura.
Chuunai-kantoku tries to send Shigeyama on a hit-and-run, but Nakamura misses and Shigeyama is thrown out by a mile at 2nd.
Nakamura goes down swinging and another leadoff runner is wasted.
Takahashi does appear have good control as Kurisu isn't moving his glove a whole lot. As a result, he gest two straight groundouts from Yoshidzuka and Hasegawa before Yoshida pops out to Kamidera (who records all 3 putouts) to reture the side.
The game is moving at a brisk pace. Takahashi is hitting his spots, and Higashino is throwing strikes. So Gansho has to swing away. Nakagawa strikes out, Takahashi flies out to center, and Shigeoka goes down swinging.
The game is going faster than I can type. Miyazaki grounds out to 1st, Okita hits a liner to 1st that Shigeoka picks off the ground, and Miyamoto flies to left. 6 pitches and the sides change.
Yokota can finally wait for a couple of pitches and is ahead 3-0 before an inside fastball is called for a strike.
And instead of waiting on the 3-1, he swings away fouling the pitch off and filling the count.
But he gets a pitch up in the zone and he slices it to left! Okita runs over to the left field line, dives, but misses it as it runs to the wall! Yokota hesitates a bit at 2nd, but turns on the after burners and reaches 3rd safely!
Kurisu at bat now, and I think Riseisha is expecting a squeeze bunt. Higashino's pitches are all low but he's not offering - thus he gets ahead 3-0 before a "trick" fastball over the plate (Yoshidzuka was framed outside) makes it 3-1. Kurisu swings away, but flies to shallow left and Yokota has to hold.
Shimizu up and the Riseisha battery is still thinking squeeze as the first pitch is way outside. But while perhaps they realize there's no bunt, the pitches are still down in the zone just in case. Ahead 2-1, Shimizu swings away, but fouls it off.
There is no squeeze still as Shimizu holds up to fill the count.
And an inside fastball from Higashino is called a ball by home plate umpire Tachibana and runners are at the corners for Shigeishi.
1-0 to Shigeishi and he shows bunt, but takes it back and the runners go back to their bases.
Shigeishi sows bunt again, but this time it's a feint home allowing Shimizu to take 2nd!
And with the Riseisha battery thinking squeeze, Shigeishi gets ahead 3-0 and earns a walk! It's manru for Ganshou as Okada-kantoku calls for time.
What will Ganshou do now? They can't feint a squeeze and the bases are full. Oddly enough, I think it's Ganshou who is in a corner, not Riseisha.
I guess not! Higashino buries a ball in the dirt and it bounced away from Yoshidzuka! He can't find it and everyone advances on the wild pitch! Yokota scores to break the scoreless tie at 1-0!
#11 Sakai is heading to the bullpen to warm up...
Now can Kamidera get a base hit?
Sadly no. He hits a comebacker to Higashino who runs down Shimizu for the 2nd out. Kamidera advances to 2nd on the rundown.
That leaves it to Nakamura to try and capitlaize on the opportunity.
Higashino continues to pitch down in the zone, and Ganshou's batters are not biting. Nakamura gets ahead 3-1 before a fastball inside fills up the count.
Meanwhile, ace Sakamoto joins Sakai in the bullpen.
No need though right now as Nakamura is twisted around on another inside fastball to retire the side. But an unforced error by the battery gives underdog Gansho the lead.
Higashi looks to get the run back quickly as he singles behind Takahashi and a diving Nakagawa into center. Inoue lays down a great bunt to move the runner along for Higashino.
The Ganshou battery is being a bit careful with Higashino, with all pitches away. Higashino catches on this and swings away hoping for an opposite field base hit, but instead it's a flyout to right.
Yoshidzuka swings away on the first pitch and pops it up! Shigeishi camps under the ball near 2nd and secures it for the 3rd out! So as we head to the break, it's Iwakuni Shougyou who acatually hold the narrow 1-run lead!
Higashino post-break appears to have a 1-2-3 inning after making quick work of Nakagawa and Takahashi, but Shigeoka bloops one to shallow left-center.
The inning still ends quickly as Yokota hits a grounder right to Higashi who takes a step to 1st to retire the side.
Meanwhile Takahashi is chugging along. Back to the top of the order and Hasegawa, he first pitch grounds out to 1st.
But against Yoshida he throws 3 fastballs high before throwing a strike. The next ball grazes Yoshida though it's a free base all the same.
Versus Miyazaki, Takahashi continues to leave balls a bit up as Miyazaki just hits one into the oen-dan section foul.
Okada-kantoku gets the game in motion by sending Yoshida. The pitch is high and Kurisu's throw doesn't make it in time.
At 3-1, the Gansho battery goes for the double play by walking Miyazaki. Chuunai-kantoku calls time briefly to setup the double play.
Okita obliges! He swing on the first pitch fastball and hits a comebacker to Takahashi! He goes to 2nd for one, Shigeishi double clutches, but has plenty of time to throw out Okita to end the inning!!
Higashino is doing his best to try and keep the deficit at 1. Kurisu goes down looking, Shimizu hits a slow roller that gets past Higashino, but Yoshida backs up.
However, once again Shigeishi throws a wrench in things. He once again fouls off several pitches getting into a double-digit pitch AB. And once again Shigeishi wins the battle! He earns a 12 pitch walk! (Why isn't he higher up in the lineup?)
Kamidera looks to not waste Shigeishi's efforts this time around, but instead he hits a comebacker to Higashino to retire the side.
Time is running alarmingly short for Riseisha with just 9 outs to go. I bet they weren't expecting to be in this position.
(Why is Riseisha playing graduation music??!)
Once again, Miyamoto hits a ball back up the middle, this time on the front side of Takahashi and past a diving Shigeishi into center. Higashi tries a hard bunt, but Shigeoka beats him to the bag for the out. Does the job though. Now it's up to the bottom of the lineup to deliver.
But Takahashi's pitches are all high again. The 4th pitch is inside and it's a 4-pitch walk. Chuunai-kantoku calls for a longer conference this time. Still another double play can get Takahashi out of the inning.
Takahashican't seem to get the ball down. But after a ball, Okada-kantoku pulls Higashino back and sends in #16 Tateishi to hit?
Now we know why! Tateishi lays down the safety and dives into 1st safely! Manrui for Riseisha as Okada-kantoku plays all in! Now #12 Hatta comes in to hit for Yoshidzuka. Takahashi still has some issues with control but gets ahead 1-2.
Hatta pokes one, but it goes foul. Fastball up, and Hatta fouls that one off. Takahashi tries to bury one, but it's outside and not close.
Fastball inside isn't inside enough and Hatta fouls that off.
Another one inside and Hatta nubs it towards the mound! Takahashi charges in, almost looks like a glove toss, but gets Miyamoto at home! 2 outs!
Still not out of the jam, Hasegawa steps in. But he chases a ball low and pops it up! Nakamura is under it and makes the catch! Takahashi gets out of another jam!
As expected #1 Sakamoto comes in for Tateishi and takes the hill. Hatta stays in at C.
Nakamura hits a slow roller to 1st, and Higashi loses it on the transfer! Nakamura reaches on the error! Chuunai-kantoku will play for the run as Nakagawa bunts him along.
Takahashi quickly grounds out to 2nd, but advances Nakamura to 3rd. It's up to Shigeoka to get the timely hit for the insurance run.
But he can't get it! He chops one right to Miyamoto who makes the putout at 1st. Takahashi will have to nurse the one-run lead once again.
Oh, but Takahashi makes it difficult for himself again. He hits Yoshida a second time (this time really plunked him) to give Riseisha a leadoff batter. And he's still missing high. Even the next pitch with was a strike Kurisu framed the glove outside.
But again, Riseisha give him an assist. Miyazaki hits a grounder back to Takahashi. He stops it this time, and gets the lead runner.
Okita has "Go, Go, Summer" as his song?
Okita can't do any better! He grounds to Kamidera who also gets the lead runner.
Miyamoto looks to keep the inning going by any means. But instead he grounds to 2nd! Nakagawa goes the short way and despite a leadoff runner, Riseisha can't advance him past 1st!
Sakamoto has a fastball in the high 130s with a curve, slider and changeup. And he's doing his darnest to give his team a chance in the bottom of the 9th.
Yokota though is trying to get a leadoff runner, he fouls off a couple of pitches before hitting one past Higashi and Miyazaki into right!
Chuunia-kantoku puts on the bunt-and-run, and Kurisu lays a nice one down to advance the runner.
Shigeishi though is 3 batters away so someone has to get on base to get him up this inning.
Meanwhile Sakamoto is trying to blow away the batters, hitting 140 on the gun. It's not fast, but it's fast enough, and that's what matters. Shigeishi will get an AB, and after Shimizu strikes out swinging, perhaps the best batter Ganshou could have up is up.
Once again, Shigeishi falls behind 1-2, but this time the ace wins. Sakamoto gets a high fastball by him to retire the side.
So it's hold on time for Iwakuni Shougyou, while Riseisha finds themselves 3 outs away from going home.
And it's the 6-7-8 batters up for Riseisha, starting with Higashi. He hits a grounder to 2nd, and Nakagawa almost throws it wide but makes the out.
Inoue hits a bounding ball to the right side, Nakagawa is there again and makes a better throw for the 2nd out!
It's up to #15 Shibata now! And he hits a fly ball to center! Nakamura is under it, makes the catch, and he jumps up in the air! Iwakuni Shougyou pulls off the upset of Riseisha with a 1-0 masterpiece!
I did not see that one coming at all!
Takahashi and his defense held onto that 1-run lead by the skin of their teeth as Riseisha had several opportunities in the late innings, but just couldn't convert. And who would have figured that a wild pitch would have decided the game?! And you can't even fault Riseisha, it was probably the plan to keep the ball down, it was just in that one pitch that ultimately decided the game.
And so Iwakuni Shougyou has a chance to win a second game as they move on to face Yamagata Chuo. Meanwhile for Riseisha it has to be a disappointing loss. Probably pegged as the favorites in this matchup, the offense was nowhere to be seen in the early innings, and when they finally got baserunners, they couldn't drive them in. Takahashi in fact faced just 8 more than the minimum in his victory!
Takahashi Yuuya (Iwakuni Shougyou) - CG, W, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 K, 2 BB, 2 HBP
Yokota Hiroki (Iwakuni Shougyou) - 2-4, 3B, R
Shigeishi Yuuji (Iwakuni Shougyou) - 1-2, 2 BB, K
Higashino Ryuuji (Riseisha) - L, 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 7 K, 3 BB
Miyamoto Takeshi (Riseisha) - 2-4