Our sandwich game of the day features 2 schools whose numbers on the surface look gaudy, but may not be as great as it seems.
First of all is Komono, the Tokai Runner-up. Out of the 8 games in the prefecturals, they were only challenged in 2 of them - against Ujiyamada Shougyou in the quarterfinals, and Inabe Sougou Gakuen in the finals, then breezed through to the finals where they were soundly defeated by Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou.
Southpaw Yamanaka Kyougo is the ace for Komono. A quick worker, he doesn't throw particularly hard (low 130s). He still manages 8 K/9, and a WHIP of 1.15. Toda-kantoku doesn't really trust anyone else on the mound, so it'll be Yamanaka or bust with this team.
Offensively, the numbers look impressive. Komomo as a team had a slash line of 0.391/0.440/0.542. But again, about 75% of their games were not against top-tier competition. The telling line is the Tokai final against Kengifushou. They managed just 5 hits, struck out 10 times, and lost 9-3.
If you could focus on some batters, it would be leadoff batter Kobayashi, cleanup batter Yoshitomi, and ace Yamanaka. But it's hard to think this team hits as well as the numbers say.
Hokushou is back at Haru Koushien once again after winning the Hokkaido super-regional for the 2nd straight year. Their notable games were against Engaru and Komadai Tomakomai in the super-regionals, then Kyoto Shouei-Okinawa Shougaku-Sendai Ikuei in the Meiji Jingu taikai.
Oogushi Kazuya was covered last year, so I won't go into too much detail. But he has improved his strikeout numbers striking out 6.86 batters per 9. However, he still allows more baserunners than he should - especially as they hit the upper levels of the taikais. Kawakami-kantoku did go to reliever Saitou, who did keep Sendai Ikuei scorless for 2 innings (albeit in a blowout), and carries good peripherals for a small sample size (12.2 IP).
Hokushou's slash line also looks gaudy. At a stellar 0.369/0.432/0.506, they too look like they can storm the field. But again a lot of those numbers were probably put up early. Move on to the Meiji Jingu taikai and they score a mere 6 runs in 3 games. So it's hard to take the overall stats at face value.
So I guess it's a matter of which team is less of a pretender than the other. But I can't really tell.
Hokushou (Hokkaido) - Hokkaido Champions
RF Takayama Daisuke
2B Igarashi Ryuutarou
CF Yoshida Yuuto
C Obata Hiroki
SS Tomita Kaito
LF Sawada Takumi
1B Domon Kanata
P Oogushi Kazuya
3B Nishiya Keisuke (#15)
Komono (Mie) - Tokai Runner-up
SS Kobayashi Teruya
RF Akizu Kouki
CF Uchida Michihisa
1B Yoshitomi Daiki
3B Ogawa Arashi
P Yamanaka Kyougo
LF Jinno Hayato
2B Nishiya Keisuke (#14)
C Oono Takahiro
11:30 - First pitch!
Yamanaka looks good to start, striking out Takayama and getting a first pitch out from Igarashi. Yoshida ruins the vibe as he lines a ball to center for a base hit.
Then promptly steals 2nd easily.
Yamanaka is apparently in a bit out of sorts as he then proceeds to walk Obata.
Yamanaka has a bit of a wider selection of pitches, including a 2-seamer and a shuuto.
He gets out of the jam as Tomita swings on a curve and hits a routine grounder to Nishiya for the out.
Well, it's a good start for Oogushi. After a quick flyout from leadoff man Kobayashi, he chets both Akizu and Uchida to chase balls in the dirt for 2 strikeouts..
Sawada starts off the 2nd with a ball back up the middle. Kobayashi sprinting towards 2nd dives, but can't reach it. Man on with no outs, and Domon promptly bunts him along for Oogushi.
Ahead in the count 3-1, Oogushi swings away but pops it up to Kobayashi for the 2nd out.
Nishiya does the same on his AB as Yoshitomi catches it in foul territory for the 3rd out.
For some reason I thought Komono's jerseys were different. Also I don't think I've had a game where each team had a player of the same name. Same team, sure (Saitou Yuuki).
Holy crap Yoshitomi is huge. 181 cm, 112 kg??!!
And the ping from the bat is LOUD. Though all it is is a comebacker to Oogushi.
Ogawa gets Komono their first hit, a scooter past a diving Domon into right.
Yamanaka swinging away, hits a grounder to 3rd. Nishiya goes to 2nd and barely gets the lead runner.
Jinno takes the 1-0 fastball and singles through the left side! Small opportunity here for Komono!
Nishiya reaches down and hits a short fly to left center! Sawada sprinting over, makes the leaping catch to retire the side! Nice play by Sawada!
Takayama comes up for his 2nd AB, and once again he battles with Yamenaka. He fouls off several pitches before blooping one over Kobayashi into left.
Igarashi lays down the bunt, but it's right at Yamanaka! He goes to 2nd, but the runner is safe! The ball got there in time, but the replays show that Kobayashi wasn't on the bag!
Yoshida up and even with the extra runner he's not bunting. But he grounds to short who flips to Nishiya and that's all they can get.
Obata with a hard liner, it goes off Yoshitomo's glove and deflects high in the air into right! Takayana rounds 3rd and he scores! Hokushou opens the scoring here in the 3rd to lead 1-0!
Yamanaka retires the next two batters, but they take the lead!
Oono looks to get the run back quickly as he lines one to left for a base hit. Kobayashi bunts him over.
Akizu can't get a base hit, but does the next best thing and moves him over again after grounding to 1st.
Uchida with a liner to right, but Takayama playing in sprints to his right and makes the catch! Komono threatens, but can't bring the run home!
Domon gets his bat around on a high pitch and bloops it into right for a leadoff single!
Oogushi tries to lay down the bunt, but falls behind 0-2. Kawakami-kantoku asks him to three bunt, and he does, but right at Yamanaka! He goes to 2nd for one, but Domon's takeout slide forces a bad throw that gets away from Yoshitomi allowing Oogushi to take 2nd.
So it's pretty much the same.
But neither Nishiya nor Takayama can do anything, flying out to end the inning.
Yoshitomi steps in again, and hits a hard grounder to 3rd. Nishiya makes the diving stop, and makes a quick throw to first that beats a diving Yoshitomi.
Man, he's pretty fast for such a big guy.
Ogawa hits a fly to deep left center, Sawada and Yoshida converge on it and it's Yoshida who makes the catch.
And Yamanaka goes down swinging on an offspeed pitch in the dirt to end the inning.
Igarashi with a base hit to right to start off the 5th.
Yoshida with a drive to right center! Akizu sprinting back to the fence and it's out of his reach! Igarashi rounding 3rd, heading home, and the ball it cut off! Yoshida gives Hokushou the 2-0 lead! Looks like Yamanakai left that one in the zone.
Oobata with a ball through the infield to left and there's runners at the corners now for Hokushou! Oono comes out to have a small chat with Yamanaka.
Tomita with a fly to shallow right. Akizu charges in, slides, and just makes the catch! Runners hold at their bases.
Kawakami-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but it's a ball in the dirt and Sawada can't make contact! Yoshida is left to dry and is run down. Obata does advance to 2nd on the play. It doesn't matter though as Sawada soon after grounds out to 2nd. Nishiya makes a great charge and throw for the 3rd out. But Hokushou extends their lead thanks to a great hit by Yoshida.
Huh, I think this is the first time I've heard Cruel Angel's Thesis this tournament for a batter as Komono's Nishiya Keisuke steps in.
Anyways, Oogushi was making quick work of Komono here in the 5th with two quick groundouts to Igarashi. And while Oono makes it a little more difficult working the count full, Oogushi blows a ball by him to retire the side.
So we hit the break with Hokushou leading 2-0. Oogushi doesn't look all that different as he's getting mostly weak contact from his batters, while Hokushou's batters are getting solid knocks in against ace Yamanaka. Too many balls in the wrong parts of the zone have led to the 2 runs on the board.
Domon with a hit off the end of the bat, bloops one over Nishiya into right, and is dutifully moved along.
Nishiya with a hard hit up the 3rd base line, and Ogawa makes a great stop. But the throw to first is way high and goes to the fence! Nishiya advances to 2nd on the error!
No bunting again with Takayama up, but he grounds out to short. Runners go back to their bases.
Igarashi with a grounder to 2nd. Nishiya makes a great pick, but double cluches! He loses the ball! Makes a desparate throw and it's not in time! Everyone's safe, Domon scores, and Hokushou leads 3-0!!
After a ball, Toda-kantoku calls time.
On the next pitch Kawakami-kantoku sends Igarashi! The throw is cutoff by Kobayashi!
And it looks like with first open, they'll walk Yoshida and pitch to Obata. Which isn't that much of a benefit except for the force play.
The Komono battery is careful, but pitch themselves into a corner when they run the count full.
Obata hits a slider to the left side! Ogawa and Kobayashi both dive, but the ball goes right between them into left! 2 runners come in to score and Hokushou has opened the flood gates here in the 6th! It's 5-0!
They also go full on Tomita, and he hits a ball by Ogawa into left! Yoshida is sent home from 2nd, and the throw from Jinno isn't in time! Obata heads to 3rd on the throw and just beats the return throw. It's now 6-0.
Sawada the 9th batter up for Hokushou. Kawakami-kantoku has Tomita try to steal 2nd, but he stops halfway! Will they try and sneak Obata home?
Yes! But the throw from Nishiya is in time to get Obata to end the inning. Still, Hokushou puts up a 4-spot after the break and Komono is in a lot of trouble.
Kobayashi treis to get the offense started with a base hit back up the middle.
And afrter running the count full, Akizu pulls a ball through the left side and Komono has their first good chance since the 3rd!
Kawakami-kantoku calls for time.
Uchida tries for the safety bunt, but it goes foul!
The bunt sign is taken off, but Uchida swings and misses for strike 2.
He hits one hard to 1st, but Domon maks a great pick and goes to the bag for the 1st out. That brings up Yoshitomi. Will they go after him with 1st base open?
It looks like it.
And they get Yoshitomi in front of an off-speed pitch! He makes contact, but it's a fly to center for the 2nd out! That'll leave it to Ogawa to try and get Komono their first run.
He just misses one and fouls it straight back!
And he chases a high pitch and grounds it to 2nd! Igarashi with the pick and throw for the out, and Komono is still shutout!
#14 Akao comes in to hit for Sawada to start the inning. And he earns a walk, as #10 Urashima warms up for Komono.
Domon tries to bunt the runner along, but falls behind 1-2. Swinging away, he does the same thing as Kobayashi's only play on the grounder is to 1st.
Oogushi tries to bloop a ball in to shallow right, but Nishiya sprints back to make the catch.
And a comeback to the mound by Nishiya ends the inning.
#17 Gotou comes in for Akao and takes over in LF.
Yamanaka hits a ball in the inside part of his bat, but with enough oomph to get into center for a base hit. Down 6, Toda-kantoku will not be bunting.
Jinno hits a hard ball to 3rd, Nishiya makes a good stop, looks to 2nd, but goes to 1st for the sure out.
Nishiya with a grounder to 2nd, but it will not advance the runner. So runner on 2nd still with two outs for #9 batter Oono.
And once again, a Komono batter chases a ball in the dirt for strike 3. Side retired.
Yamanaka almst geta a clean inning, but Yoshida collects his 3rd hit of the day, a nice single up the middle.
And perhaps to get some practice, Kawakami-kantoku sends Yoshida to 2nd and he's in safely.
Ow. Obata is hit on the arm by Yamanaka. Though considering how he's hit, that may not be a bad thing.
But Tomita puts an end to that though with a base hit to center, scoring Yoshida to make it 7-0.
#11 Murakami comes in to hit for Gotou, and Yamanaka has to defend his life on a comebacker. He makes the play though and the side is retired.
Murakami stays in to play RF, Takayama shifts to LF.
Kobayashi gets his 2nd hit, a ringing single to right. Akizu not bunting here, earns a walk as Oogushi can't find the strike zone!
Uchida with a hard liner to right, but Murakami is there to make the catch.
One down and Yoshitomi steps in.
He knows he won't get anything to hit, and that's evident by the fastballs away and the off-speed pitches in the dirt. Still, he works the count to 2-2 and fouls off a pitch.
But Oogushi wins the battle as he locates a fastball inside for strike 3!
Ogawa grounds to 2nd on the next pitch and Komono is denied once again.
#10 Urashima comes in for Jinno and takes over on the mound as Yamanaka shifts to LF.
And right away, he hits 142 and 143 on the gun.
Domon grounds to 1st and there's one away.
Looks like the main problem with Urashima, and why he probably wears #10 is that despite hitting 145 just now, his control is not that good at all.
Oogushi finally collects his first hit, a solid single to right.
Nishiya also makes solid contact, but right at his namesake who starts the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Komono not giving up in preventing the shutout at least. Yamanaka lifts one into center for a base hit. He's lifted for #13 Tokimitsu while #4 Saji hits for Urashima.
After falling behind 0-2, he lays off a couple of pitches outside, but can't hold off a change in the dirt for strike 3.
Toda-kantoku emptying his bench as #11 Niimi hits for Nishiya, but he grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
So Hokushou advances to the next round to face Shoushikan behind a great performance from Oogushi. For Komono, its another one and done appearance for their team. Pressure was put on Yamanaka and the defense right from the get-go and they just couldn't get enough traction at the plate.
Oogushi Kazuya (Hokushou) - CG, W, SHO, 8 H, 7 K, BB
Obata Hiroki (Hokushou) - 3-4, 3 RBI, BB, HBP
Yoshida Yuuto (Hokushou) - 3-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 SB
Yamanaka Kyougo (Komono) - 2-4, K
Kobayashi Teruya (Komono) 2-3