Our final game features our first team to retake the field, looking to perhaps usurp yet another super-regional champion. And a super-regional champion who is making their very first appearance at Koushien.
Tsuruga Kehi surprised me by completely knocking the socks off of Kyushu champions Okinawa Shougaku 11-2. Now a lot of it was due to self-inflicted damages in the 1st inning that pretty much was the difference in the game.
The team looks like they can hit, but with the Okishou staff not particularly effective it is doubtful that they could repeat the production from last game (minus the errors).
And it wasn't Mine or Yoshimitsu who was the main contributor, it was SS Asai Hiroya who was a perfect 5-5. As for Kishimoto, he does reach the 140s but does sit in the high 130s and misses in the right places. I don't know if Kishimoto has the stuff to carry his team, but he can at least keep them in the mix.
Kyoto Shouei comes in having had a spectacular run to win the Kinki super-regionals. After pretty much dominating the prefecturals, they were involved in 4 straight 1-run games before losing to Hokushou 3-1 at Meiji Jingu including wins against senbatsu participants Riseisha, Ryuukokudai Heian and Houtoku Gakuen.
The offense seems to be the notable part of this team.
But outside of a 9-8 win over Heian, they could only manage at most 3 runs in the latter stages of the fall. That's cause for some concern, because their opponents here will probably be of that quality - at a minimum. The 3-4-5-6 batters are where a majority of the runs are scored, and mostly by Enomoto Kazuki, who is actually Kyoto Shouei's main pitcher!
Now I said he was their main pitcher, I didn't say he was the ace. In fact, here he dons the #18 jersey, usually associated with relievers. Make no mistake though, he pitched the most innings of any of their pitchers, and with the exception of the Heian game was the only pitcher who took the hill.
But, I think much like Nakata Shou for Osaka Touin, he's a bat who can throw strikes. He strikes out a batter every 2 innings, and has a K:BB ratio under 1. This won't seem promising at all for Kyoto Shouei unless the offense can put the pedal to the floor all the way through, because the pitching will already start on tenuous ground.
(Sorry, blogger just ate up part of my post, and some of last game's too, so the opening blurb isn't as big as it's supposed to be.) *flips table*
Kyoto Shouei (Kyoto) - Kinki Champions
RF Kotani Makiya
SS Tanaka Fuuma
C Yamaguchi Shougo
P Enomoto Kazuki (#18)
LF Nakamura Hiyori
1B Ueda Takuya
CF Hiragaito Tomoya
3B Yagi Kenshou (#1)
2B Nishiokada Satoru
Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) - Hokushinetsu Runner-up
CF Mine Kentarou
3B Yonemitsu Issei
1B Yamada Seiya
C Kita Ryouta
SS Asai Hiroya
LF Kobayashi Yuudai
RF Iwata Shinya
2B Yamane Takaki
P Kishimoto Jyunki
15:00 - First Pitch!
Kotani inside-outs a pitch and lines it down the right field line for a leadoff double!
Tanaka tries the push bunt to the right side to catch Tsuruga Kehi off guard, but Asai is there to to to Yamane for the out.
Yamaguchi runs the count full but badly chases a pitch in the left-handed batters box for the 2nd out.
Enomoto gets ahead 3-0, then probably should have had a walk on one of the next 2 pitches, but holds off on the last pitch wide (much like Yamaguchi) and walks.
Looks like the Tsuruga Kehi strategy is to pitch outside to the batters.
Enomoto takes off for 2nd! Kita doesn't throw and now Kotani is caught trying to steal home! They start the rundown, and AHHHH!!!!
The toss back to Kishimoto and Kotani collides with Kishimoto! The ball goes down the 3rd base line back home as Kotani scores! Everyone stands around as Enomoto rounds 3rd and he scores! Finally home plate umpire Nishigai calls time and the play stands! Kishimoto is still on the ground writing as Kotani's shoulder sideswiped Kishimoto!
Azuma-kantoku wants an explanation about the collision, as I'm sure there is a rule about intentionally colliding with a player, but as violent as it looked, I don't think there was time for Kotani to react.
Nakamura goes down swinging to end the inning, but a bizarre play highlights the inning and gives Kyoto Shouei the 2-0 lead.
I wonder how Tsuruga Kehi will react to that inning. It was a weird play, 99.9% unintentional, but perhaps sending a message.
So Enomoto has a slider a shuuto and a slurve? That's a first.
Mine hits a grounder to short, and Yonemitsu goes down looking on a fastball on the inside corner.
But Enomoto makes it harder on himself as he hits Yamada.
Odd. The camera shows Oota-kantoku looking at a small black book then sending signals.
Is he using scouting to determine pitch sequence and defensive placement? Not that others don't, but this is the first I've actually seen a book like that.
Kita bends down and lasers a ball through the left side for a base hit! Tsuruga Kehi bidding to get back those runs!
But Asai pops it up! Enomoto catches it and the side is retired!
Kishimoto almost has a quick inning to he can rest. His pitching doesn't seem to be affected by the collision. Ueda and Hiragaito both ground out. But against Yagi he runs the count full and can't get the outside corner.
No matter though as Nishiokada grounds out to 1st. Yamada takes it to the bag for the 3rd out.
Kobayashi takes a shuuto and drives it to left! Nakamura is a bit turned around and it lands behind him! Kobyashi rounds 2nd and goes for 3rd! Relay throw is late! Leadoff triple for Kobayashi!
Iwata with a comebacker into center! Kobayashi scores and Tsuruga Kehi cuts the deficit in half! It's 2-1! Yamane bunts Iwata along into scoring position for Kishimoto.
Man, Kishimioto is suffering some abuse today, fouling a couple of balls off himself.
And he goes down on a slider for the 2nd out.
Enomoto's expected control issues appear when he walks Mine to put runners at 1st and 2nd.
Yonemitsu with a blast to right! Kotani back to the fence!!
Yonemitsu with a gyakuten 3-run HR gives Tsuruga Kehi a 4-2 lead! That ball was several rows up in the right field bleachers! WOW!
And it's not looking good for Enomoto as he then walks Yamada. But he gets Kita looking after a 12 pitch AB to retire the side - not before they reverse the deficit into a lead!
Looks like Kishimoto has settles back down nicely.
Routine grounder for Kotani, Tanaka whiffs on a fastball on the outer half, and Yamaguchi goes down to get a slider, but can only hit a routine fly to center.
Enomoto too settles down. Starts throwing strikes again and gets the batters to swing. Asai down on a strikeout, Kobayashi with a routine fly to left, and Iwata with a grounder to 2nd.
Enomoto up for Kyoto Shouei, but he chases a 1-2 slider away for Kishimoto's 4th K.
Against Nakamura, it's not a slider, but an outside fastball that he waves at to go down.
And Ueda chases a slider in the dirt for strike 3 and Kishimoto strikes out the side!
We're in the doldrums now it seems after the flurry of activity. Yamane hits a routine grounder to 2nd, Kishimoto chases back to back slurves to go down swinging.
And while Mine puts up a fight, he flies out to right to end the inning.
I wonder if Tsuruga Kehi is using the aggressiveness of the Kyoto Shouei batters against them.
Hiragaito grounds out on the first pitch to short.
Yagi on the other hand has been patient on his 2 AB's running the count full and here earning his 2nd walk.
Nishiokada inside-outs a pitch and slices it down the left field line just onto the grass! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Kotani!
Kotani demolishes the first pitch from Kishimoto! Kobayashi runs back then peels away!
Not to be outdone Kotani hits his own 3-run HR for Kyoto Shouei and now they lead 5-4!!
After striking out Tanaka for the 2nd time, Kishimoto plunks Yamaguchi. Hasn't been the best of innings for him.
But he gets Hashimoto to hit a comebacker to him to end the inning. Damage done though as Kyoto Shouei retakes the lead!
Yonemitsu goes down and laces a curve into right center! Kotani has to chase it down near the wall and Yonemitsu is in with a triple! Douten runner 90 feet away!
Yamada with a hot shot that goes through the 5-hole of Yagi before he can smother the ball! Yonemitsu heads home and we're tied at 5-5!!
Kita follow that with a base hit to center! Now Tsuruga Kehi is going for the lead!
Azuma-kantoku has Asai bunt the runners along. Enomoto has thoughts of 3rd, but thinks the better of it.
Kobayashi with the triple earlier, looking for just a base hit, but he chases a slider and goes down swinging for the 2nd out!
Hot shot from Iwata! Yagi blocks it! Recovers, throws to 1st, wide! Ueda catches it, makes the tag! That preserves the tie as we head to the break!
Well, we knew each team could hit, we knew each team didn't necessarily have good starting pitching. I guess a slugfest was in order after all!
4 innings to go!
As I mentioned a slugfest, the post break start is a rather harmless 1-2-3 inning. Kishimoto sandwiches his 8th K victim amongst 2 groundouts and Tsuruga Kehi is on the bats.
I think the HS baseball gods are playing with me, doing the opposite of what I think will happen.
Yamane with an easy fly to right, Kishimoto chases yet another slider for Enomoto's 7th K, and Mine reaches down and hits a routine fly to center!
I give up on predicting.
Yagi tries to work the count, but falls behind 1-2 then gets called out looking on a borderline low pitch.
Nishiokada - one pitch, one out. Grounder to 2nd.
Kotani tries to sell a walk twice on 3-0 and 3-1, but Nishigai ain't buying it. He winds up popping out to 1st and Kyoto Shouei's Lucky 7 goes out with a whimper.
Yonemitsu steps in with the two hard parts of a cycle taken care of.
Grounder to the left side is run down by Tanaka! Throw to first, Ueda makes the stretch and falls to his side, but gets the out! Everyone has a laugh.
But Yamada loops one down the right field line... fair! Kotani finaly reaches the ball, but not before Yamada's in with a double!
Kita with a single through the right side! Kotani comes up throwing and Yamada holds at 3rd! Great chance in Tsuruga Kehi's lucky 7!
And now Enomoto hits Asai! It's manrui for Kobayashi!
Enomoto gets ahead of Kobayashi after a couple of foul balls. He tries to bury one and have Kobayashi chase, but no good. Then Kobayashi gets fooled on a off-speed, but fouls it off. Pitch high and the count runs full!
押出し！ I thought for a second Nishigai was going to call strike until Yamaguchi dropped the ball, but either way, Enomoto walks in a run! It's 6-5 and there's still just one out!
Iwata with a grounder to 3rd! Yagi with it, goes home for one and that's all they'll get.
Yamane with a sharp liner! But Kotani is there to make the catch! Side retired, but Tsuruga Kehi takes the lead!
The red "KS" amongs a green background cheers hard as Tanaka's tough day at the plate continues. After a neat attempt at a push bunt, he strikes out for the 3rd time, this time on a fastball catching the outside corner.
Yamaguchi too chases a pitch outside, and chops it to Yonemitsu for the 2nd out.
And one more time, Kishimoto gets Enomoto to chase a slider down and away and Mine calls off Asai to make the catch for the final out.
Just to get a little off the routine, Kishimoto hits a ball to the left side, Tanaka makes a great running grab, stop and throw to get Kishimoto out.
Then Mine hits a slow grounder to the right side. Nishiokada charges in, throws across his body and makes the play at 1st. And Yonemitsu hits a can of corn to left.
So basically the only thing that has happened in the second half of the game has been a manrui walk. And that's the difference in the game!
Kyoto Shouei sending their 5-6-7 batters.
Nishimura can only walk back to the dugout after he watches strike 3 on the outside corner.
Ueda with a short grounder to the left side. Asai charging, stumbles a bit, but makes the throw for the 2nd out!
Hiragaito trying to get on any way, gets ahead 3-1 before Kishimoto hits the outside corner yet again.
Pitch inside and Hiragaito just fouls it off!
Fastball over the plate, and he fouls off another one!
Inside slider, and just gets that one!
Liner to the right side, caught!! Yamane makes the leaping catch and that's game! Tsurga Kehi defeats their 2nd straight super-regional champion, this time the Kinki champs Kyoto Shouei by the score of 6-5!!
Well, in what was a weird start to the game, saw the lead change hands twice on 3-run homeruns of all things. And just when it seemed like we'd enter a slugfest, only one more run would be scored the rest of the game!
The odd thing is that despite scoring 5 runs, Kishimoto only allowed just 3 hits! So the worries about Kyoto Shouei's offense translating to Koushien were indeed well founded. And as for Enomoto's pitching, it was as expected too. So I guess to use another football saying, "They are who what we thought they were.". Or something like that.
Anyways, Kyoto Shouei definitely seemed rough around the edges, but I think Oota-kantoku might have something there - as long as they don't become the Teikyou of the Kinki region.
As for Tsuruga Kehi, they move on to face Moriokadai Fuzoku. It should be a breather given their last two games (sorry Moriokadai), but they'd better take advantage because the road will only get tougher from there.
Kishimoto Jyunki (Tsuruga Kehi) - W, CG, 5 ER, 3 H, 11 K, 3 BB, HBP
Yonemitsu Issei (Tsuruga Kehi) - 2-5, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Yamada Seiya (Tsuruga Kehi) - 2-2, 2B, R, RBI, BB, HBP
Kita Ryouta (Tsuruga Kehi) - 3-4, K
Enomoto Kazuki (Kyoto Shouei) - L, CG, 6 ER, 9 H, 7 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP
Kotani Mikiya (Kyoto Shouei) - 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Yagi Kenshou (Kyoto Shouei) - 0-1, 2 BB, R