Onto our first full day of action to determine our Best 8 pits two teams from across the country.
Shoushikan in their first appearance waited until the last minute to defeat fellow first-timers Yamato Kouryou 2-1. Thanks to a manrui 2-run double by Seki, they advance to the next round.
And yet, he's rewarded by being demoted to the #9 spot in the order - go figure.
The problem for Shoushikan is that a lot of their hits against Yamato Kouryou were actually from the bottom of the lineup with the table setters recording 0 hits. In fact, their best hitter was Seki, which makes the decision to send him to the bottom doubly questionable.
As for ace Yoshikuni, outside of a shaky 1st inning he looked pretty good - but at the same time the Yamato Kouryou batters didn't look good themselves. So it's really hard to give him a whole lot of credit. He gets some for sure, but he will have a tougher time here in the 2nd round.
That's because they're facing off against Hokkaido champs Hokushou. Now, being champions of Hokkaido hasn't really meant much in recent years. In fact, mostly it's been a "congratulations, thanks for playing" type of deal with the sole exception being the 2004-2006 seasons for Komadai Tomakomai.
They'll try to break it this year once again with ace Oogushi. But he's no different than any other pitcher out there right now really. And that's their problem.
Because while the offense did put up 7 runs against Komono, there was a lot of timely hits, but not a lot of power behind them. That's ok, as long as you continue to execute and get those timely hits. In a single game tournament format, that is a lot to ask of a team time and time again.
Still, having experience is better than having none, and Hokushou does have that over Shoushikan. They probably are the favorites to advance given the team makeup.
Shoushikan (Kagoshima) - Kyushu 3/4 seed
LF Nakamura Haruki
3B Sakanoue Masashi (#15)
CF Takeyama Masahiro
1B Imayoshi Kouhei
RF Hangeishi Yoshitsune
SS Hazeyama Ryouta (#16)
C Matsuura Hidehiko
P Yoshikuni Takuya
2B Seki Takuya
Hokushou (Hokkaido) - Hokkaido Champions
RF Takayama Daisuke
2B Igarashi Ryuutarou
CF Yoshida Yuuto
C Obata Hiroki
SS Tomita Kaito
1B Domon Kanata
3B Nishiya Keisuke (#15)
P Oogushi Kazuya
LF Sawada Takumi
09:01 - First pitch!
Nakamura up and swinging, but fooled really badly on Oogushi's slow curves. Then gets "blown away" by a 125 kph fastball.
Sakanoue tries the safety bunt, but fouls it off.
Oogushi records his 2nd K as Sakanoue chases a slider down and away.
Takeyama reaches out and pokes a ball off the end of the bat into right for a base hit.
But the Shoushikan batters look rather lost at the plate, as if they've never seen someone throw like this. Imayoshi chases a screwball away and goes down for Oogushi's 3rd K already!
Takayama chases a high outside fastball and hits it right to Imayoshi. He has some trouble picking it up, but he manages to toss to Yoshikuni for the out.
Igarashi with a ball back up the middle past Yoshikuni and into center for a base hit!
But Yoshikuni has Igarashi caught breaking towards 2nd early! He tosses to Seki, but loses the ball in his tag attempt! He's safe!
It all seems odd because Yoshikuni took extra time to throw to 2nd, then threw it to Seki instead of Hazeyama who was covering the bag.
Yoshida up, and gets the count full after the Shoushikan battery call for an out pitch. And then Yoshikuni loses him!
Obata with a liner through to right! It's right at Hangeishi though and Igarashi has to hold at 3rd! Manrui for Hokushou early!
Yoshikuni hangs one! Tomita with a liner into left center! The outfield is in and has no chance for it! Takemura chases it all the way back to the wall as Tomita clears the bases with a triple! 3-0 Hokushou!
Things are not looking good for Shoushikan as Yoshikuni walks Domon on 4 straight.
Nishiya with a fly ball to right, but it's too short and Tomita can't advance.
But Hangeishi's throw is short and bounces past Imayoshi and dribbles towards home! Tomita charges home and scores on the error! 4-0 Hokushou!
The disastrous inning continues! Yoshikuni has his 2nd batter cheating off 1st! He throws to Imayoshi to start the rundown, but throws to 2nd too late and Domon slides in safely!
Finally Shoushikan gets out of the inning as Oogushi grounds to 3rd, but it's about as bad of a start as one could get.
The comedy of errors continue, this time for Hokushou! Slow roller up the 1st base line and Domon can't pick it up! By the time he does it's too late!
Oy. Shoushikan gives it right back as Hangeishi is picked off 1st. All Ayukawa-kantoku can do is sigh.
Hazeyama has to chase a ball on the outer half and grounds to 2nd.
Oogushi has a little trouble pitching to Matsuura, but comes back to strike him out looking on a fastball down the middle.
Sawada tries to bunt for a hit, but is easily retired by Yoshikuni.
Back to the top of the order, and Takayama hits a comebacker to Yoshikuni for his 2nd assist.
Hokushou oen-dan playing a faster version of Touch.
Igarashi with a grounder to the left side, Sakanoue dives but can't get it. Hazeyama backing up the play has it go off him and towards the foul line for a base it.
Now the oen-dan is playing Train-Train for Yoshida.
And the battery, so concerned about Hokushou stealing bases winds up walking Yoshida.
Obata with a solid liner, but right at Hangeishi for the 3rd out.
Yoshikuni goes after the 1st pitch and fouls out to Domon near the bullpen.
Seki finally up, but he hits one back to Oogushi for the 2nd out.
And in a 5-pitch inning Nakamura grounds to 3rd!
Tomita with a hard ball to 3rd, and it takes a high hop over Sakanoue into left for a base hit! Boy, when things don't go your way..
Domon is called by Kawakami-kantoku to bunt the runner over leaving it to Nishiya to get the runner home.
But all he can do is fly out to center.
Oogushi grounds to short and that's the inning.
The difference really between the two aces is that when Oogushi misses, it's in a safe place for the most part. Yoshikuni's missed over the plate and that's hurt him.
Sakanoue battling with Oogushi, but gets jammed and hits a soft popup to Igarashi in front of 2nd.
Takeyama doing the same, getting some decent cuts in, but fouling them all off. But Oogushi goes up and in and there's nothing Takeyama can do but miss and strike out.
Also what seems odd is that Oogushi isn't hitting 130, yet it looks like the batters can't catch up to it.
And Imayoshi is frozen on a fastball down the middle for Oogushi's 6th K!
Sawada with a good swing, but Takeyama races back from his moved up position to make the catch.
Sakanoue with a great smother of a short hop and throw to 1st for the 2nd out.
Yoshikuni can't get his first 1-2-3 inning as he walks Igarashi on 4 straight.
And that costs him! On the very next pitch, Yoshikuni again misses inside over the plate and Yoshida drives it to left center! That's over everyone's heads and that means Igarashi will score from 1st on the double to make it 5-0!
Obata just gets under one and flies to left for the 3rd out, but Hokushou continues to extend their lead!
Hangeishi making good contact, makes Takayama back up a bit to make the catch for the first out.
Hazeyama chases a screwball outside for Oogushi's 7th K.
And Matsuura pops out to Igarashi for the 3rd out.
Tomita is retired for the first time has Yoshikuni gets him to swing and miss at a ball inside.
Domon first pitch grounds to 3rd, and then shortly thereafter Nishiya flies out to left! Yoshikuni has his first 1-2-3 inning of the game, but that's little consolation as his team finds themselves down a 5-spot to the Hokkaido champions as we hit the break!
Yoshikuni goes after the first pitch and grounds to short.
Seki finally gets on base, but by getting hit, not getting a hit.
Back to the top of the lineup and Nakamura. Behind by 5 runs, Ayakawa-kantoku is not bunting for a one-shot at a run.
That seems to backfire when he chases a screwball for the 2nd out.
Sakanoue takes a ball the other way into left for the teams 2nd hit of the game!
Takeyama with a ball to shallow center. Yoshida charging in, slides, but it falls in front of him! Seki comes in to score and Shoushikan is on the board at 5-1!
Sadly Imayoshi's struggles at the plate continue. He swings over another screwball for his 3rd K. But Shoushikan has finally started to cut down the deficit.
It finally looks like Yoshikuni has settled down as he gets Oogushi to ground to 1st.
But then Sawada turns around and hits one past a diving Sakanoue. Hazeyama backs up the play, but the throw isn't nearly in time.
Kawakami-kantoku tries the hit and run with Takayama, but he fouls out to Hazeyama.
Kawakami-kantoku continues to push the action as Sawada takes off for and steals 2nd!
But Yoshikuni finally retires Igarashi, though it's a hard liner to center.
Hangeishi starts off the Lucky 7 with a ball back up the middle for a leadoff single!
This time around though Ayakawa-kantoku does have Hazeyama bunt the runner along.
Matsuura though goes down swinging for the 2nd out. That's 10 K's for Oogushi!
Yoshikuni with a ball at 3rd, and it's just out of Nishiya's reach into left! Hangeishi has to hold up at 3rd as Kawakami-kantoku calls for time.
That brings up Seki for a timely hit.
He does it! On Oogushi's 100th pitch he scorches one past a diving Domon into right to score Hangeishi! It's 5-2! Looks like Shoushikan is finally making inroads!
But Nakamura still can't get a hit. He flies out to right to end the inning. 1 run is nice, but that won't get it done.
Yoshida with a high shallow popup down the left field line. Hazeyama and Takamura converge, but neither is calling for it! It falls in!! Yoshida, running all the way, reaches 2nd on the misplay!
Obata gets ahead on Yoshikuni, but winds up grounding to short unable to advance the runner.
Tomita with a grounder to the left side. Hazeyama with a great diving stop!! Throw to 3rd... and they get Yoshida! Nice play by the defense!
But Matsuura can't handle a pitch from Yoshikuni and Tomita advances to 2nd!
The unforced error hurts Shoushikan once again! Domon with a ball back up the middle, gets by a diving Seki into center! The throw home is cutoff and Hokushou extends the lead back to 4 at 6-2!
Nishiya grounds to short, but giving back a run kills the momentum that Shoushikan was building.
Down 4 with 2 innings to go means that Shoushikan will have to go for it and not sacrifice outs.
And Oogushi helps Shoushikan out here to start as he walks Sakanoue on 4 straight. Takeyama hits a chopper in front of the plate. Obata fields it up the 1st base line, fair! He quickly fires to first and just gets a sprinting Takeyama.
Imayoshi with a ball to center, Yoshida coming in and it drops in front! Sakanoue holds up at 3rd.
Ayukawa-kantoku, needing all he can get, pinch runs for cleanup batter Imayoshi. #6 Niihara comes in to run for him.
Hangeishi with a ball up the 1st base line. Domon with it, gives up the run for the out as he tags Hangeishi. 6-3 Hokushou.
Hazeyama chases another ball outside and hits it back to Oogushi for the 3rd out. One run not enough for Shoushikan at this rate.
#13 Maruyama comes in for PR Niihara to take over at 1B.
Hokushou fine to go down in order at this point as Oogushi looks poised to close it out.
7-8-9 batters due up for Shoushikan.
Matsuura goes down swinging on 3 straight for Oogushi's 11th K.
#18 Beppu will come in to hit for Yoshikuni.
Oogushi going after the batters with a 3-run lead. Beppu behind 0-2 pops out to Igarashi.
Seki with no chance to tie the game, swings on the first pitch and pops out to Nishiya to end the game! Hokushou advances to the Best 8 for the 2nd time in 4 years!
Hokushou was in control for most of the game as Shoushikan ace Yoshikuni stumbled out of the blocks. He finally settled down while the offense finally got going in the 2nd half of the game, but by then it was too late.
Meanwhile, the Shoushikan batters had the hardest time with Oogushi as he racked up 12 K's in the game - and we know he's probably one of the slowest pitchers out there which makes it all the more curious.
Things will not get any easier for them though as in all likelihood they will face Urawa Gakuin barring an amazing upset by Yamagata Chuo. The Kanto champions may be too much for Oogushi and the boys from Otaru to handle.
Oogushi Kazuya (Hokushou) - W, CG, 3 ER, 7 H, 12 K, BB, HBP
Tomita Kaito (Hokushou) - 2-4, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, K
Yoshida Yuuto (Hokushou) - 2-2, 2 2B, R, RBI, 2 BB
Igarashi Ryuutarou (Hokushou) - 2-3, 2 R, BB, SB
Takeyama Masahiro (Shoushikan) - 2-4, RBI, K
Seki Takuya (Shoushikan) - 1-3, R, RBI, HBP