Our lunchtime game features a team that I actually liked last year, versus a team looking to improve on last year's success.
Seiseikou gave notice last year that they weren't just another team after an 18 year hiatus. Defeating Naruto 3-1, they actually played well against haru-natsu champs Osaka Touin.
The amazing thing is that they made their fall run while only keeping ace Ootake Koutarou and now captain Nakagawa Koushi. Now, Nakagawa is Seiseikou's leadoff hitter, and Ootake is not only the ace, but their #3 hitter as well, so that certainly helps in reloading.
You can see what I had to say when I first saw him, but he has supposedly increased his fastball to the upper 130s and has a cutter and changeup with the normal complement.
The offense is also spotty. Against Shoushikan they got 10 hits and scored 8 runs. Next day against Okinawa Shougaku, they only manage just 3. Even in the quarterfinals facing Miyazaki Nichidai they get 5 hits.
And they aren't a power hitting team either. In fact their slugging percentage is less than their OBP. So they're willing to take walks, so long as they have the opportunity to. But there's no danger potential in the lineup.
Jyousou Gakuin in just 7 games effectively qualified themselves for Haru Koushien. But there was no competition in Ibaraki, then defeated Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi and Sano Nichidai before losing to Hanasaki Tokuharu.
But in that loss, they didn't use their ace Iida Harumi. It was probably because he went 12 innings, and gave up 5 runs. Either way, the relief staff couldn't get it done. Iida is by no means a dominant ace, but apparently he doesn't miss the zone. Even with just a 6.7 K/9 ratio, he has a 34:3 K/BB rate! 3 walks! That means a lot of balls in play, and by necessity a need for a solid defense. Yet they averaged just over 1 error per game.
The offense for Jyousou lies in their 1-6 batters, but much like Seiseikou do not have much punch to them. They do take walks, but not as much as Seiseikou (though actual opportunities to might vary thus affecting the total number). Perhaps stereotypically, Yoshizawa Gakushi sets the tone for the team at the leadoff spot, while their cleanup hitter Uchida Yasuhiro drives them in.
On paper, it sure looks like we'll see a low scoring game with lots of patience, lots of bunting and if the pitcher's tempo is fast, a speedy game.
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
Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki) - Kanto 3/4 seed
SS Yoshizawa Gakushi
RF Yoshinari Yuusuke
CF Takashima Shouta
C Uchida Yasuhito
3B Shindou Suguru
LF Asanuma Daichi
P Iida Harumi
1B Wada Rikiya
2B Ikezawa Kouhei
12:45 - First pitch!
This is interesting. He actually goes into the upper 130s with his fastball. I wouldn't have necessarily seen that given his numbers. And I didn't catch much of it because I was busy trying to get my primary feed going, but he has at least 4-5 different off-speed pitches.
And he's already racking up the K's. Ouside of an easy popup back to him, he strikes out Nakagawa looking and Ootake swinging on what might be a cutter.
Hm... it doesn't look like Ootake has gotten any more kph on his fastball...
So it's probably lots of contact for him, and indeed at least for the 1st it is. Groundout to short from Yoshizawa, groundout to 2nd from Yoshinari, and then an easy fly to right by Takashima.
Andou's grounder to 3rd is smothered by Shindou, and his throw short-hops Wada - but he makes a good pick for the out.
Hayashi swings and misses on a change for the 2nd out.
And the pace is much faster here as Hirashita swings and misses on an Iida offering inside and the side is retired. 4 K's for Iida already and Seiseikou's already stagnant offense looks to be even more so this game.
Uchida with a fly to right center, and that falls in! Kawahara tries to get it in quickly, but he's in qith a double! Shindou bunts him over for Asanuma.
He hits a nubber foul up the 3rd base, wait! It rolls back fair! Oka quickly gets it and throws to first for the 2nd out!
Iida grounds to short! Nakagawa gathers it and throws to 1st to retire the side!
Nishibashi doesn down swinging on a curbe in the dirt, and that's 5 K's. This has the potential to be very ugly for Seiseikou.
Kobayashi makes contact, but flies out to Yoshinari for the 2nd out.
And Iida climbs the ladder on Oka for his 6th K... Oy.
Wada with a drive to deep left, Hayashi backs up to the wall, but makes the catch and taps the padding with his glove.
Ikezawa with a safety bunt! Oka charges in, but is throw is offline and Oka is on safely!
There's no bunt called by Sasaki-kantoku, and whilie Yoshizawa fouls a couple of balls off, Ootake gets him to fly out to left.
Grounder to short by Yoshinari and Kobayshi goes the short way to retire the side.
Nakagawa turns on a fastball and gets Seiseikou's first hit!
But he's caught going the wrong way! Iida tosses to 1st, and while Nakagawa tries to swim out of the way of the tag, it looks like he might have been caught before he reached in.
And that's a shame because Kawahara takes a slider and bloops it the other way for a base hit!
Ootake goes down on a fastball and drives it to deep center! Takashima dashing back, it's off the secondary fence and bounces back into play! Kawahara scores from 1st on Ootake's triple and it's 1-0 Seiseiko! Didn't see that coming! And how much does that pickoff mean now?
Jyousou's battery is looking for a squeeze, but Seiseikou isn't going for it.
Iida bounces one in front of Uchida and it bounces away from him! Ootake charges in and scores! 2-0 Seiseikou on the wild pitch!
And now Iida walks Andou! Uchida goes to have a word with him.
2-2 count, Ikeda-kantoku calls for a bunt! Hayashi lays it down and advances Andou into scoring position for Hirashita!
But he goes down swinging to end the inning. Seiseikou thanks to their ace takes the lead!
Takashima with a ball to the right side, Kobayashi makes a great pick on the run, spins and turns to 1st for the out!
Uchida gets under a change and hits it to right. Kawahara calls off Kobayashi for the catch. And Shindou grounds to 1st and the inning is over!
This is rather odd, for someone having just 3 walks, he hits Nishibashi.
Man Iida has a quick throw to 1st. Seiseikou's running game (if they had one) is stifled.
At 0-1, Kobayashi tries to bunt, but fouls it off.
And now he's three bunting?
He doesn, but the ball pops up and spins foul for the out! Now Oka's asked to bunt, though there are a lot of throws to 1st.
Oka misses the bunt again, Uchida fires to 1st, but Wada has a brain fart and forgets to tag Nishibashi.
And Oka fouls off his three bunt and there's 2 out!
Nakagawa lines out to left and the inning is over.
Asanuma lines one to left for a leadoff single, and Iida bunts him over.
Wada bloops one down the right field line! Kobayashi and Kawahara charge in but it falls between them! Runners at the corners with just one down!
Ikezawa showing safety squeeze, tries to chop one high, but it goes foul!
Shows it again, but pulls it back probably to get a ball.
Grounder to 3rd! Oka with it and Asanuma is in no-man's land! He's run down by Andou, who stumbles and notices that Wada and Ikezawa are both at 2nd! He charges at them, starts to chase Ikezawa who is running back to 1st, then notices Wada heading towards 2nd! Tosses back as Wada scrambles back, safe! That was almost a disaster for Jyousou!
Yoshizawa with a hard liner to 3rd, but Oka makes the catch for the out, and Seiseikou holds onto their 2-run lead!
Despite giving up the 2 runs, Iida continues to rack up the K's. Kawahara gets called out on a change on the outside half.
After a groundout by Ootake, Andou bloops one in front of Takashima for a base hit. He's left stranded after Hayahshi hits an infield fly to end the inning.
After 2 quick groundouts to Kobayashi, Uchida gets his 2nd hit, a grounder that a diving Oka goes right over. (He didn't need to dive).
Shindou swings on the 1-1 pitch which gets away from Andou and allows Uchida to reach 2nd!
But Shindou hits a comebacker to Ootake and he flips to 1st for the 3rd out.
I guess Ootake has gotten more accurate, which is necessary if you can't throw hard.
Hirashita works the count full, but can only ground out to 3rd. Nishibashi with a harder grounder to 3rd, and Shindou has it deflect off of him. He grabs it, goes to 1st and just beats out Nishibashi!
And it looks like Shindou will get all 3 putouts! Kobayashi pops it up in foul territory and Shindou makes the catch to retire the side!
Jyousou Gakuin's 7th inning comes and goes in the blink of an eye! Asai and Iida both fly out to right, and Iida hits a liner back up the middle that Ootake snags for the 3rd out!
Outside of the 4th inning, Iida has been very effective. Routine grounder to 1st from Oka, jams Nakagawa into a groundout at short, and then gets Kawahara to chase on an outside fastball for the 3rd out!
I wouldn't have expected Jyousou to have this much trouble.
One down and top batter Yoshizawa singles on a letter-high fastball through the left side. Very next pitch, Yoshinari does the exact same!
Safety bunt! Takashima lays down the bunt! Ootake dashes over, throws to 1st and they get Takahashi! He gets the job done though.
But Uchida is up, already 2-3 on the day. Will they pitch to him with 1st open?
Yes! Ootake fires one in for a strike! They're pitching to him?!
Ahead 2-1, Uchida fouls off a fastball!
Uchida chases a changeup and he's thrown out at 1st to end the inning! What a gutsy call to go after him with the douten runner in scoring position!
It's another 1-2-3 inning for Iida, and he's done his job. 11 K's but his team trails with just 3 outs to go.
Shindou with a single through the left side starts the Jyousou rally!
Ootake going after the Jyousou batters, getting ahead of Asanuma 0-2, and gets him to chase a shuuto for the first out!
That brings up Iida. Can he help his cause?
Change inside for strike 1. Slider on the outside corner for the 2nd strike! Ootake tries to get him to chase twice, but to no avail.
Pop fly by Iida! Kobayashi, Nakagawa and Hirashita converge, but no one calls it and it falls in! 2 runners on with 1 out! Ikeda-kantoku calls for time, but will that defensive miscue cost Seiseikou?
Ootake continue to pound the inside part getting ahead of Wada 0-2.
Grounder to 3rd! Oka with it! Goes to the bag for one, throw to 1st, double play!
Seiseikou defeats Jyousou Gakuin 2-0!
Hm, the after game bow was rather curious. Usually the teams shake hands or something, and it looked like they might, but then they didn't and well... it just looked awkward.
So Jyousou Gakuin, despite getting 11 K's from their ace Iida, fall victim to the timely hit. The offense as expected struggled to get any sort of momentum going though they had 2 good chances in the 5th and 8th, they wound up going begging. They'll have to regroup their offense to try and support Iida for the fall.
Meanwhile Seiseikou's Ootake wasn't any faster on the gun, but was able to limit Jyousou's opportunities. Outside of the 4th though, they only managed just 1 hit. So while they got their 2 runs, they still face troubles at the plate in general. Facing Saibi won't be easy though.
Ootake Koutarou (Seiseikou) - W, CG, SHO, 9 H, 2 K, 0 BB
Ootake Koutarou (Seiseikou) - 1-4, 3B, R, RBI
Kawahara Ryouhei (Seiseikou) - 1-4, R, 2 K
Iida Harumi (Jyousou Gakuin) - L, CG, 2 ER, 4 H, 11 K, BB, HBP
Uchida Yasuhito (Jyousou Gakuin) - 2-4, 2B, K
Wada Rikiya (Jyousou Gakuin) - 1-4