So after #ragequit from last night's final game, I'm back. Still not happy, but back.
Day 5 is the first day we'll see "repeat" teams, i.e. teams that have played a game. That won't happen quite yet, so in the meantime we open with another Shikoku team looking to relive past glory facing off against another favorite team of mine who'd like to finally get the job done.
Which means they'll probably lose too, but I digress...
Saibi comes in as Shikoku's 3rd representative on the heels of a narrow loss to Naruto in the super-regional semifinal.
Narrow games are what Saibi's known for from the fall. After clearing the regionals and the first few rounds of the prefecturals, Saibi had 4 straight 1-run games culminating in the aforementioned 5-4 loss to Naruto.
While the loss to Naruto could be considered a quality loss, only the prior game against Ikeda could be considered a quality win.
Because of the quality of competition, ace Anraku Tomohiro's peripherals (11.63 K/9, 1.74 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 5.12 K/BB ratio) probably isn't as good as the numbers indicate.
But at the same time, Anraku also seems to be at a slightly higher cut than most aces. He has supposedly maxed out at 152, and has a cutter along with the normal complement. If that info is real and he has some modicum of control, Saibi by himself has a better chance than most.
The problem is - as it seems with a lot of other teams, is that even if a team is strong in one area, they're weak in another. That applies to Saibi as well.
In this case, it's the offense. Despite facing mostly sub-standard competition, the team posted a paltry 0.267 BA. Only leadoff batter Yamashita Takuma and #5 batter Oota Yuuya posted decent numbers.
So as long as Anraku can withstand the continued pressure of low-scoring games, Saibi does have a chance.
With Kanzei's loss Kouryou takes the flag for Chuugoku and marches forward. But given Kanzei's struggles, it puts the rest of the super-region's potential into question.
Unlike Kanzei, who may have had some better competition to put their numbers up against, Kouryou's resume is certainly not as strong. They narrowly lost to rival Jyosuikan in the prefectural semifinal, then just beat out Setouchi for a spot in the super-regional. Then again nothing until they defeated Iwakuni Shougyou 2-0, and then an 8-5 loss to Kanzei in the final.
So again, not only do you take their super-regional numbers with a grain of salt, but their performance is not particularly indicate a title contender.
Ace Shimoishi Ryouta has the normal K/IP and ~1.00 WHIP; supposedly has a 2-seamer, cutter and changeup along to the standard fare; and might be able to reach 140 on the gun.
Offensively, the numbers look slightly better with a 0.346 BA, with almost as many triples (13) as they do doubles (15). Yet while triples usually indicate speed on the basepaths, they do not steal bases. So it may just be due to bad defensive placement. 0.346 is certainly not their true ability, but they did get their hits in against Kanzei, which does count for something.
For how much, I don't really know. But it's another battle of the Seto Naikai as Chuugoku and Shikoku square off yet again.
Kouryou (Hiroshima) - Chuugoku Runner-up
P Shimoishi Ryouta
3B Akagawa Taichi
1B Sakata Ippei
SS Oota Hajime
LF Ichioka Tatsunori (#13)
RF Hayashi Takuma
2B Kubota Shun
C Yanagisawa Kazuki
CF Kumagai Haruto
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
09:02 - First pitch!
Oho! We have our first "flamethrower"!
Anraku hits 150 on the gun versus leadoff batter Shimoishi!
But the control isn't quite there as he walks Shimoishi to start the game. Akagawa bunts him over and a grounder to 2nd by Sakata moves him another 90.
But Anraku decides to dial it up to 152 and Oota has no shot! Now we have something here!
Now Shimoishi is certainly not the same pitcher as Anraku, pretty much mirroring most of the normal pitchers we've seen here. But his control appears to be rather good. Ueda does work the count full, but hits a slow grounder to the left side. Shimoishi takes it himself for the out.
Yamashita can only watch on his AB as a fastball hits the glove on the outside corner for strike 3.
Usakawa though hits a solid single to right, and that brings up Anraku. But he gets under a curveball and flies out to center. Kumagai doesn't even move.
Kouryou's batters are having a hard time dealing with (a) Anraku's speed, and (b) his semi-wildness.
Ichioka and Hayashi hit high pop flies for the first two outs. Kubota his a grounder to 2nd, but Machida can't field it cleanly allowing him to reach safely.
No matter though as Yanagizawa also hits a shallow fly that Goutouji fields at the line for the 3rd out.
Shimoishi continues to work the counts nibbling a bit in combination with perhaps not getting some borderline calls. Oota goes full bu hits a short fly to left, Ichioka jogging in makes a late charge and slide to get the ball. Morita, starting for an injured Fujiwara lines one to Hayashi for the 2nd out.
And while Goutouji works the count full too it results in an infield fly for the 3rd out.
Interestingly Anraku would be fine I think if he wasn't intentionally trying to hit 155 on the radar gun.
After he takes a lot off a fastball, and I mean high 130s to strike out Kumagai, Shimoishi runs the count full and takes another walk on a pitch that could have taken off his face.
Akagawa not bunting again, but grounds to short, 6-4 and the throw from Machida is wide allowing Akagawa to reach.
But Anraku climbs the ladder on Sakata for strike 3 and that's that.
Well Kaneko up and Shimoishi trying to pitch inside hits him. After a sac bunt by Machida, Shimoishi plunks Ueda as well!
Quite the pinch Shimoishi has put himself in.
And now the count runs full on Yamashita! Jyoukou-kantoku tries the hit-and-run! Yamashita barely gets the bat on it to say alive.
Yamashita fouls off a couple more, and then the hit-and-run again!
But the pitch is down and in and Yamashita can't make contact! Yanagisawa throws to 3rd and they have Kaneko trapped! He's run down and Shimoishi is out of the jam!
Kouryou's batters still aren't making good contact on Anraku's pitches. Cleanup batter Oota swings and misses on a slider away. Ichioka gets around on a ball inside and sends it deep to left, but Goutouji is there in plenty of time in front of the wall to wait for it and make the catch.
2 down and now it's Nakai-kantoku who sends the runner! Hayashi slides in safely and now a timely could break the scoring!
But Kubota isn't really given a whole lot from Anraku and takes 1st. Runners on 1st and 2nd for Yanagisawa.
He works the count full as well, but goes around on another high fastball to end the inning.
Meanwhile Saibi's offense can't gain any traction, despite Shimoishi having some control issues. After a groundout by Usagawa, Anraku works a walk. Oota tries to bunt him over, but instead he pops it up and Yanagisawa makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Morita remains hitless from the fall and flies out to left to end the inning.
Kumagai reaches out on a ball outside and hits a soft liner to Oota for the 1st out.
Shimoishi for the 3rd straight AB works the count full again. This time Anraku wins, blowing a 145 fastball past him on the inside part.
Akagawa avoids the 3 strikeout inning, but grounds out to short.
One down and Kaneko pulls one down the right field line for a double! There's no bunting ffrom Machida though, and he winds up looking at strike 3 for the 2nd out.
Ueda swings on an outside fastball and flies to center. We hit the break still scoreless, but for different reasons. Kanzei can't score because they either can't catch up to the fastball or figure out where it's going. Saibi can't score because they just can't make good contact on Shimoishi's pitches.
Post-break and Kouryou's batters remain patient, but still can't make any headway. Sakata works the count full but flies out to left. Oota does the same, but is called out on a fastball at the bottom of the zone. And Ichikawa actually falls behind 0-2 and pops out to Machida.
Yamashita finally breaks his streak of strikeouts as he earns a walk.
Jyoukou-kantoku with the hit-and-run! Usagawa misses, but the throw from Yanagisawa is high and he slides in safely!
Usagawa strikes out swinging, but the ball goes through Yanagisawa and to the backstop! Usagawa reaches 1st safely and there's runners at the corners with one out!
And it looks like Jyoukou-kantoku will not call for a bunt from the top of his lineup.
Anraku with a drive to right! Hayashi sprints to the fence, but the ball hits the wall and bounces back towards the infield! Hayashi has to chase and now Usagawa is being sent home! Relay throw is late and Anraku helps his own cause, breaking the deadlock! It's 2-0 Saibi!
Oota with a liner past a leaping Oota to left! Anraku scores and it's 3-0!
Shimoishi retires the next 2 batters to end the inning, but Shimoishi's control pitching is the first to give here in the 6th!
With a 2-run deficit, Kouryou's batters have to find a way to get to Anraku.
But they continue to struggle. The side is retired in order without much issue and Kouryou looks to be running out of time with no countermeasures availale.
#12 Shiozaki comes in for PH #14 Nagatani who hit for Yanagisawa.
After retiring the bottom of the order, Ueda and Yamashita go back to back singles to put runners at the corners with 2 down.
And with Shimoishi plunking Usagawa, that brings up Anraku. Not a good proposition.
But he swings on the first pitch and grounds to 2nd to end the inning.
Kumagai looks to earn a walk after getting ahead 3-0, and he does indeed earn it - but only after Anraku runs the count full.
Shimoishi continues to work Anraku, His 4th full count, but again Anraku wins on a 145 fastball.
Akagawa hits a liner right at Morita for the 2nd out, and Sakata grounds to 3rd. Kouryou down to their final 3 outs.
Shimoishi seems to be back on track, though Morita drives a ball to deep center that Kumagai has to chase down for the 2nd out. Morita's 0-4, but has had some solid contact.
Shimoishi keeps the deficit at 3 as he retires the side in order.
It'll be up to the offense to find a way to break through Anraku's pitching, but it doesn't look good.
And Oota avoids the golden sombrero! He lines a ball into right for Kouryou's first oufield base hit!
After Ichioka lines a ball just foul down the left field line, the team calls for a conference.
Expectedly, they probably tell him to try and get Ichikawa to chase an off-speed pitch, then zip a fastball by him.
Except that he fouls off those pitches and survives long enough to hit a grounder through the left side! Runners on 1st and 2nd no out.
#7 Kawase to hit for Hayashi.
He guides one to left center! That splits the outfield and heads towards the wall! Oota scores! Ichioka rounding 3rd, he comes in to score! Kawase slides in with a PH 2-RBI triple!!! It's 3-2, and Kouryou has the douten run 90 feet away!!
Ahead 1-2 on Kubota, he's plunked on a fastball and now there's runners at the corners still with no out! And I get Kubota is in a bit of pain after that dead ball.
Jyoukou-kantoku calls for time. It's new C Shiozaki up. Can he get the job done?
Anraku starts Shiozaki off with 2 sliders. But then a fastball and Shiozaki lines it to left! Goutouji is there for the catch and they send Kawase! Throw in is up the 1st base line and Kouryou has tied the game! It's 3-3!!
Kumagai with the safety bunt, but he pops it up! Anraku sprinting to the right side gets turned around and it falls in! But Kubota though it would be caught and is late going to 2nd! He's retired for the 2nd out. Bad luck there for Kouryou, but there's nothing you can do.
Shimoishi hits a fly to center to end the inning, but Kouryou has comeback here in the 9th to level the score!
Now can Shimoishi hold the lead? It's one thing to work hard to come back. It's another to avoid a letdown because for them on defense it's sudden death.
8-9-1 batters due up for Saibi.
Kaneko goes down and grounds one to 1st for the first out.
And Jyoukou-kantoku sends in injured #3 Fujiwara to hit. The injury appears to be on his right ear, and not serious enough to not be fully benched.
But he's smart. Works the counts full, and then gives a ride on a ball that lands in Kouryou's oen-dan.
Ball 4! Fujiwara earns a walk! He's replaced at 1st by #15 Hayashi Kanya.
Safety bunt! Ueda tries the safety bunt, but it just rolls foul!
Ueda does lays down the bunt and Saibi will look for a one-timer from Yamashita.
But he grounds one to short! Oota with the tricky pick and throw, and the side is retired! We're headed to enchousen!!
Kanya stays in the game at 2nd.
Akagawa with a liner over a leaping Usagawa into left center for a base hit!
Sakata showing bunt, then goes bust-and-run, but fouls it off!
He hits a ball to right, that fall in front of Yamashita! Akagawa takes the extra base and slides in safely! Jyoukou-kantoku calls time yet again. (And my God, that kantoku doesn't stop smiling does he?)
Sakata takes off for 2nd, and the battery lets him go!
And it looks like they're going to unintentionally intentionally walk him. It's manrui, but there's a force at home now.
That brings up Ichioka. If I heard correctly, he's around 180 pitches? So he's going to the slider. Gets ahead of Ichioka 0-2, then freezes him on an outside fastball for the first out!
Now it's Kawase who had the key 2-RBI triple to give his team a chance.
Kawase holds off a slider down to run the count full!
Grounder to 1st! Morita tags the bag, throws home!
Kaneko blocks the plate enough to stop Akagawa from scoring! 3 outs!
It's 20-20 hindsight, but I wonder if sliding head-first had a chance considering how he was blocking it.
No matter, Anraku gets out of the jam!
Usagawa wabes under a changeup and goes down swinging for the first out.
Shimoishi getting ahead via his off-speed pitches and Anraku taps a ball to 2nd for an easy out.
And Oota is frozen on a slider on the outside corner for the 3rd out! It seems like right now Shimoishi is gaining momentum while Anraku is tiring out.
And I did hear right. Anraku has thrown 189 pitches so far. The Kouryou batters have worked him hard, not to mention his desire to up his speed on the gun earlier.
But while his fastball may be slower, he can still locate his off-speed pitches. Kubota goes down looking on an outside curve.
Shiozaki with a liner to left! Goutouji coming in, gets caught in between standing and diving, and the ball bounces in! Kumagai on Anraku's 200th pitch bunts the runner over.
With Shimoishi up, Jyoukou-kantoku calls time.
And Shimoishi uncharacteristaclly swings early! He grounds to 2nd and the inning is over! Yes, Anraku is tiring, but that doesn't mean you should change your strategy!
Shimoishi is at 164 pitches, so it's not like he's that fresh either...
Morita runs the count full, but goes can't catch his bat up to a fastball inside.
Goutouji with a liner to left center, Ichikawa sprinting over to his left, makes the catch!
Kaneko grounds harmlessly to 2nd and we're going to the 12th!
Anraku now not throwing fastball, instead using his off-speed pitches to survive. Akagawa gets fooled on a slider for the first out.
Sakata gets ahead 3-0 before taking one for a strike.
And Anraku has to hit the deck as Sakata lines one back just over his head into center!
Cleanup batter Oota up and Nakai-kantoku not calling for a bunt.
Oota's just late on a slider and fouls it off. Holds off one that's further away.
Hit-and-run! Pitch is high and outside like a pitchout and Oota fouls it off!
It's a grounder to 3rd! Oota (Yuuta) starts the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning!
Shimoishi still in good shape! Kanya goes down swinging on 3 straight, then Ueda also goes down on 3 as Shimoishi paints the outside corner!
But Yamashita lines a fastball the other way! Kawase chasing it towards the right field line takes a bad angle and it gets by him! He has to chase it down and now Yamashita goes for 3rd! He's in safely on the fielding misplay by Kawase!
Nakai-kantoku calls for time.
And Usagawa is up. Gets fooled on a ball outside. Works it to 2-2...
Usagawa chases a changeup in the dirt and is tagged out! He can only look up as he realizes he's been fooled. We're headed to the 13th!!
Ichioka hits a grounder to 3rd, Oota's throw is high, but Morita is able to get his foot down in time for the out.
Kawase can't check his swing on a high fastball and there's 2 down!
Kubota with a grounder to the right side, but the ball takes a bounce foward instead of up and it scoots by Machida into right!
And now Nakai-kantoku sends him! Kaneko's throw is there, but Kubota slides wide and gets in safely!
Shiozaki exercising patience in his 3 AB's so far.
Hit-and-run! Shiozaki fouls it off!
Hit-and-run again? No, it's a straight steal! Throw from Kaneko, not in time! (Ooh. that was close.)
But Shiozaki gets jammed on the full count pitch! Morita there in foul territory to secure it and Kubota's efforts go to waste!
Anraku with a base hit back up the middle that almost takes off Shimoishi's legs! Sayonara runner on base!
Oota with a bunt, but Shimoishi crashes in and throws to 2nd! They cut down Anraku! One down!
Morita up, hit-and-run! Single past a diving Akagawa! Runners on 1st and 2nd now for Saibi!
Goukouji up, no bunting here.
Shimoishi gets ahead 0-2, then can't get him to chase on the next 2. Stays alive just fouling one off.
Fastball up, just fouls that one off too. Fastball inside, gets around and fouls it off.
Gotouji is jammed! Blooped into shallow center! Oota scrambling back, dives, no good! It falls in! Ichioka fires to 3rd to try and get Oota who broke late, but it's not in time. Manrui!
Kaneko up, showing bunt, takes a pitch. Shows it again, takes a strike. No bunt, takes a slider for a strike! 1-2,a nd Shimoishi is laboring. Buries a ball, but Kaneko doesn't chase.
Buries it again! Full count, nowhere to put him!
Takes a deep breath...
Grounder to 1st! Sakata blocks it! Goes for home! Can't pick up the ball! Still can't pick it up!!!
Too late!! サヨナラ！！！
Shimoishi can only kneel at the mound as the sayonara run scores giving Saibi the 4-3 win!!!
It's a hard loss for Shimoishi who did all he could for 13 innings only to just fall short. He got the ball he needed, but the pressure of the moment understandably got to them. You can really see the pained expression on his face as they just fall short.
For Saibi, they survive, but it certainly has taken a toll on Anraku. 232 pitches. 232! He's got 4 days to try and rest up for their next matchup, which is very fortunate. Perhaps he might want to pace himself next time out...
Anraku Tomohiro (Saibi) - W, 13 IP, 3 ER, 9 H, 13 K, 5 BB, HBP
Anraku Tomohiro (Saibi) - 2-5, 3B, R, 2 RBI, BB
Kaneko Kouhei (Saibi) - 2-5, 2B, RBI, HBP
Shimoishi Ryouta (Kouryou) - L, 12.1 IP, 4 ER, 11 H, 12 K, 3 BB, 3 HBP
Shimoishi Ryouta (Kouryou) - 0-4. 2 K, 2 BB (responsible for 36 of Anraku's pitches)
Kawase Kojirou (Kouryou) - 1-3, 3B, R, 2 RBI
Sakata Ippei (Kouryou) - 2-6, K, SB