Winning what is called 春夏連続優勝 used to be somewhat rare. It happened about once per decade:
- 1962 - Sakushin Gakuin
- 1966 - Chuukyou Shougyou (now known as Chuukyoudai Chuukyou)
- 1979 - Minoshima
- 1987 - PL Gakuen
- 1998 - Yokohama (Matsuzaka Daisuke's famous tournament)
- 2010 - Kounan (Shimabukuro Yousuke's year)
- 2012 - Osaka Touin (Fujinami Shintarou)
They've lost a substantial portion of their roster from last year, but some pieces remain. All 2nd years from last years Natsu Koushien roster are now starters this year, with C Mori Tomoya and 3B Kasamatsu Yuuya holdovers from the starting 9.
Nishitani-kantoku apparently does a bit of juggling with the roster to make things work. When ace number Kusugawa is in the lineup, things look as normal:
- P Kusugawa Tomoya
- C Mori Tomoya
- 1B Kinden Takuya
- 2B Minemoto Takumi
- 3B Kasamatsu Yuuya
- SS Mizutani Yukiya
- LF Tamura Toki
- CF Tsujita Daiki
- RF Fukumori Hiroto
- P Takanishi Ryouta
- P Kusugawa Tomoya -- RF
- C Mori Tomoya
- 1B Kinden Takuya
- 2B Minemoto Takumi -- BN
- 3B Kasamatsu Yuuya -- 2B
- SS Mizutani Yukiya
- LF Tamura Toki
- CF Tsujita Daiki -- 3B
- RF Fukumori Hiroto -- CF
Anyways, Kusugawa has been promoted over Takanishi into the ace position (Takanishi was on last year's roster). He's a sidearmer who can get it routinely into the upper 130s. But because of the fact that they continuously mercy rule their opponents he actually averages less than 5 innings per outing (42.3 IP in 9 appearances in the fall)! So oddly, none of the pitchers have been tested stamina-wise.
The team offensively can still hit (when do they not it seems?). Now, an ISO of 0.223 is certainly not their power level, but when you have 10+ hits in 8 of your 11 games, that is saying something. I can't even pick out players to watch because all of the starting 9 can hit! I mean, I guess I could say Mori because of last year, but that's about it.
So suffice it to say, little Engaru has a big task ahead of them. Against fellow 21st century team Iwaki Kaisei, Engaru won 3-0, but managed just 5 hits. Ace Maeda only gave up 3 hits, but only struck out 3 as well. That means a lot of balls in play, and against Osaka Touin, that probably isn't a good thing. Now perhaps Araya and Yanagibashi can help keep Engaru in it, but I'm pretty skeptical.
Osaka Touin (Osaka) - Kinki 3/4 seed
CF Mori Shinnosuke (#13)
2B Minemoto Takumi
C Mori Tomoya
RF Fukumori Hiroto
3B Kasamatsu Yuuya
LF Tamura Toki
1B Tsujita Daiki (#8)
SS Mizutani Yuuya
P Amimoto Kousuke (#11)
Engaru (Hokkaido) - 21st Century Team
CF Kamono Takaki (#10)
2B Sygau Kento
LF Araya Ibuki
3B Yanagibashi Kouki
1B Kudou Yoshiki
RF Kurokawa Jin
P Ooshiro Yuuki (#11)
SS Koumoto Kyouhei
C Yamashita Rio (#12)
09:00 - First pitch!
This weren't the lineups I was expecting! But then again, perhaps Osaka Touin is taking it easy?
The siren goes off and Ooshiro has his first ou as Shinnosuke grounds out to 3rd.
Minemoto with a fly ball to center. Kamono dives, and misses the ball!! It goes to the fence! Araya runs over to assist but by the time they throw the ball back in, he's rounding 3rd!
It's a running home run!!!
Why in the world would you gamble like that unless you think you're going to lose anyways?! It's 1-0 Osaka Touin!
Now Tomoya bloops one between Sugai and Kamoto for a base hit!
Nothing special about Ooshiro it seems. Pretty much standard fare. He jams Fukumoto and hits an infield fly that he catches for the 2nd out.
Kasamatsu rips a ball deep but foul down the left side. Then gets hit by Ooshiro.
Well, if nothing else he's willing to pitch inside. He gets Tamura to fly out to deep center to end the inning, but an unnecessary gamble puts Engaru down early.
I just heard the FOX theme music. What?
Well, Kamono with a ball back up the middle. Minemoto ranges, dives, but can't get it! Engaru has a leadoff runner! Sugai successfully bunts him to 2nd.
Araya goes down on a good change low for the 2nd out. It's up to cleanup batter Yanagibashi.
Kamono takes off for 3rd! Throw from Tomoya in time, but Kamono slides in safely! Kasamtasu gets turned around trying to tag him that it allows Kamono to slide in!
Yanagibashi with a grounder up the middle! Minemoto ranges over, off his glove! It goes off his glove! Yanagibashi is in safe, but more importantly Kamono scores to make it 1-1!!
Kudou grounds to 3rd to end the inning, but Engaru comes right back to tie the game!
Ooshiro's control issues persist as he hits Tsujita. Mizutani swings away but hits it right back at Ooshiro! He goes to 2nd for 1, but Koumoto is taken out to prevent the double play.
Amimoto bunts him along for the top of the order.
Shinnosuke with a ball back up the middle! Sugai runs over, but can't get to it! It heads to center as Mizutani is being sent home! Throw from Koumoto is late and Osaka Touin retakes the lead at 2-1!
Minemoto flies out to center to end the inning, but as expected Osaka Touin's offense is ready to go!
As for Amimoto, he's a southpaw who throws like the rest it seems.
Kurokawa grounds to 3rd, but had a good hack opposite way that went foul.
Ooshiro calmly takes a change back to center for a base hit. Koumoto squaring to bunt, takes a couple of pitches, falls behind 1-2.
And he's called out an a curve that seems way wide...
Yamashita trying to extend the inning, lifts a ball to center, but too deep and Shinnosuke is there for the catch.
Tomoya smartly takes an outside pitch the other way solidly for a leadoff single. Fukumori bunting the runner along? This seems rather out of character to have their cleanup batter bunt. He does lay down a well-executed bunt though.
Kasamatsu turns on a fastball in and drives it deep to left! Araya running back to the wall, and it's off the base! He eases to 2nd on an RBI double making it 3-1 Osaka Touin!
Oh dear lord.
Tamura crushes a ball down the right field line, just foul! Ace Maeda who had been warming up near the end of the first looks on.
Ooshiro goes a little too far in again and hits Tamura. Runners on 1st and 2nd now for Tsujita.
Double steal! Tsujita misses and Yamashita's throw to 3rd is in plenty of time to get Kasamatsu! 2 outs!
Ooshiro hits another batter, but it would have been a walk seeing though it was a full count.
And now Satou-kantoku calls back Maeda into the dugout. He's not putting him in?
Mizutani reaches out to block the ball after he gets fooled, but lines out to Sugai to end the inning.
How does the saying go? "Another inning, another run?"
Kamono swings on the first pitch and grounds to 2nd. Sugai can't get around on an inside change and goes down for Amimoto's 2nd K.
And Araya grounds harmlessly to short to end the inning.
Amimoto swinging for the first time, grounds to 1st.
Ooshiro freezes Shinnosuke with a fastball that paints that wide outside corner that seems to exist.
Ooshiro gets ahead of Minemoto as well with two good curveballs, then tries to get him to chase 3 times but can't get a bite. But he does get him to ground to 1st. Kudou flips to him for the out and Ooshiro has his first 1-2-3 and scoreless inning!
Engaru's oen-dan is very strong, though I thought I heard someone had to borrow a band from a school nearby. Perhaps that was Iwaki Kaisei.
Amimoto gets Yanagibashi to chase a ball outside and grounds to 2nd.
Kudou also chases a ball away, but just misses and strikes out.
Kurokawa flies to Mizutani in shallow center and the side is retired.
Ooshiro retires Tomoya for the first time as he grounds out to 2nd. Even then it's a hard grounder.
Fukumori chases a fastball up and goes down swinging for Ooshiro's 2nd K.
And Kasamatsu grounds to 1st! Kudou stumbles a bit, but tosses to Ooshiro for his second 1-2-3 inning!
Ooshiro's day is done as Maeda comes in to hit for him. (Ooshiro had a base hit! Why hit for him?)
Maeda whiffs on three straight, and all three were away.
#13 Yanagihara hits for Koumoto. Is Satou-kantoku emptying the bench early?
He looks at strike 3 on the "outside" corner for the 2nd out.
Well, Yamashita is hitting for himself. Chases slider away for the 3rd out. Amimoto strikes out the side and we hit the break.
Ever had a feeling that the teams were playing as if the ending was already decided? Because man, it sure feels like it. It's almost like a scrimmage game.
Maeda stays in to pitch, #16 Satou comes in for PH Yanagihara to play SS.
Tamura swings on the first pitch and grounds to 2nd.
And perhaps Tsujita wants to sit the rest of the game. He's hit by Maeda for his 3rd HBP this game!
Mizutani takes an offering from Maeda the other way! Kurokawa running back to the ball, but will not get there! Tsujita scores on the triple to make it a 4-1 ballgame!
Amimoto not really bunting, takes 4 straight causing Satou-kantoku to call time.
Hard grounder to short, Satou can't field it cleanly, but still gets out at 1st. Mizutani scores to make it 5-1.
Minemoto with a single to right! Amimoto being sent home and the throw is cut off. 6-1, and why did they remove Ooshiro that early? Ok, get Maeda time on the mound, last game, etc. But still.
Tomoya with a blast to right! That's off the top of the padding! Minemoto sores on the RBI double to make it 7-1.
Fukumori working Maeda on the mound, as if he wasn't already. Maeda wins the battle, getting Fukumori to pop up to 2nd. Loses war by giving up more runs in 1 inning than the starter Ooshiro did in 5.
After 2 flyouts to center by Kamono and Sugai, Araya whiffs on a slider outside, but the ball gets by Tomoya and to the backstop. Araya reaches base.
He steals 2nd with no throw, but is left stranded after Yanagibashi grounds out to 3rd.
Well, that's a good start for Maeda. After falling behind Kasamatsu 3-0, he comes back to fill the count and get a comebacker for an out.
Tamura grounds out to 2nd, and that brings up Tsujita who probably wants to hits the ball, not get hit by the ball.
And he hits it in play! It's a popup that Sugai fields near the right field line, but in the end it's better than being hit a 4th time.
#18 Matsushita comes in to hit for Kudou.
Scorcher up the 3rd base line, past a diving Kasamatsu! That'll go to the wall as Matsushita is in with a leadoff double!
Another PH, this time #8 Aoki for Kurokawa. But he has less luck. He is frozen on an outside fastball for the K.
Maeda with a comebacker to Amimoto who catches Matsushita off the bag. He runs him down himself for the 2nd out.
Satou flies to center and the inning is over.
Matsushita stays in to play 1B and Aoki stays in to play RF.
After a groundout by Mizutani, #12 Kume comes in to hit for Amimoto meaning his day is done.
And Kume is welcomed with a dead ball. His AB done, he gives way for #16 Takagi for the bases.
Shinnosuke with his 2nd hit, a single back up the middle to center puts runners on 1st and 2nd, make that 2nd and 3rd as Maeda uncorks a wild pitch.
Maeda trying to be careful with Minemoto, but doesn't really give him something to hit knowing first base is open, though even walking to create the force is a risky proposition since Tomoya is up next.
And proceeds to lace a single through to right, scoring 2 to make it 9-1.
Tomoya takes 2nd on indifference.
Grounder to short from Fukumori and it bounces off of Satou. He retreives it but has no play and Minemoto scores from 3rd to make it 10-1.
Kasamatsu with a proper sac fly to right to score Tomoya and it's 11-1.
The long inning continues for Maeda as he walks Tamura. Tsujita grounds to short and the inning is over.
Takagi stays in the game at CF, pushing Shinnosuke to RF, pushing Fukumori to LF, and #1 Kusugawa comes in for Tamura and takes the hill.
And Engaru goes down in order highlighted by a ball up the middle by Kamono that is run down by Mizutani who spins and makes an accurate throw to 1st for the out. Probably a soft way to work in your ace I guess.
Maeda gets a 1-2-3 inning and it'll be his teams' last AB's.
Looks like there is some drizzle/rain as people have their umbrellas out.
More changes for Osaka Touin. #15 Murakami comes in for Shinnosuke and moves to LF. Fukumori heads back to RF. #3 Morinaka (who replaces Kinden who was injured and cannot play) takes over for Tsujita at 1B.
Araya starts off the inning with a single back up the middle, but while Yanagibashi, PH Maruyama and Aoki try their best, they are retired in order and the game is over.
Well, not really a whole lot to say. The game went about as expected in the end, though it seemed odd they weren't pulling away sooner. They're on and through to the next round without a hitch.
For Engaru, well, you got to go to your first Koushien, you got a win, and for a couple of innings you were close with Osaka Touin. Nothing to shake your head at really, it was a good showing.
Amimoto Kousuke (Osaka Touin) - W, 7 IP, ER, 3 H, 8 K, 0 BB
Mori Tomoya (Osaka Touin) - 4-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Tsujita Daiki (Osaka Touin) - 0-2, R, 3 HBP
Yanagibashi Kouki (Engaru) - 1-4, RBI
Matsushita Kenya (Engaru) - 1-1, 2B