Our sandwich game of the day features the Kanto champs Urawa Gakuin facing off against the Tohoku Friendship bid team of Yamagata Chuo.
Urawa Gakuin looked rather pedestrian in their win over Tosa in their first game. The team managed just 6 hits and displayed an inability to move the runners over. Not exactly a recipe for success. They were rather patient though drawing 5 walks. Though I suppose getting hit 7 times also helps too...
On the mound, Ojima did his job striking out 8 batters in a 4-0 victory. But striking out that many is a bit odd really considering he manages about 7 K's per inning in the fall. Assuming better competition, you'd think that number would get worse.
Still not to completely put down Yamagata Chuo, Urawa Gakuin should get another game to ease into play. Facing Iwakuni Shougyou, they completely took advantage of a defensive alignment that did not match the potential of the Yamagata batters. As a result, many a time we saw the numbers on the outfielder's uniforms as they chased the balls back.
That won't happen against their opponent this game.
On the mound it was fairly clear that even against a team like Iwakuni Shougyou, the pitching staff allowed quite a few hits and scoring opportunities. They just so happened to snake out of the jams they got themselves into.
But again, that won't happen against this opponent.
So suffice it to say, Yamagata Chuo has their work cut out for them.
Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) - Kanto Champions
SS Takemura Haruki
2B Nie Hayato
CF Yamane Yuuta
3B Takada Ryouta
1B Kigure Naito
LF Saitou Ryousuke (#9)
C Nishikawa Genki
P Ojima Kazuya
RF Watanabe Takeru (#16)
Yamagata Chuo (Yamagata) - Tohoku Friendship Bid
CF Takada Takuma (#17)
SS Konno Shouta
P Takahashi Ryouhei (#8)
RF Kumagai Hiroshi
3B Nakamura Hayate (#16)
C Haga Takahiro
2B Satou Daiki
1B Matsuzawa Shouta
LF Takahashi Ryuusei
11:14 - First pitch!
Ryouhei working quickly off the mound, but Takemura singles through the right side.
Nie not bunting! Bust-and-run and he slices one to left center! Takada shading to right can't get to it and it gets by the outfield! Ryouhei easily coming home and it's already 1-0 Urawa Gakuin!
Yamane with a grounder to 3rd, Nakamura can't field it cleanly! His throw to 1st is late and Nie scores to make it 2-0!
Jyouji-kantoku calling time, but the situation already looking bad for the Tohoku Friendship team. Meanwhile #11 Takahashi Kazuki warms up.
Mori-kantoku tries the hit-and-run before having cleanup batter Takada bunt.
Kigure with a short fly to Daiki behind 2nd, and he misses it! The terrible start continues...
But Saitou lines out to left, and Nishikawa grounds to 3rd to put an end to the inning. Still, even before Yamagata Chuo gets a chance to pick up a bat they've spotted Uragaku 2 runs.
Takumi falling behind quickly 0-2, grounds to 3rd. Konno swings on the first pitch, gets jammed and grounds to short.
Ryouhei works the count a little, but winds up grounding back to Ojima to end the inning. Pretty simple to start with for the Uragaku ace.
Ojima with a ball to the right side, Daiki with a great pick, turn, and throw for the 1st out.
Watanabe pops out to Haga behind the place, and Takemura follows suit soon after flying out to left. A really quick inning for Ryouhei after the long 1st
Cleanup batter Kumagai gets ahead 3-0, takes a strike before getting a leadoff walk. Jyouji-kantoku plays for the run by having Nakamura bunt him over.
Haga working the count, gets ahead 2-1 but chases a fastball outside for strike 2. He manages to check his swing on a high fastball to run it full.
And Haga earns a walk! Runners on 1st and 2nd as Nishikawa comes out to talk to him.
Jyouji-kantoku tries the bunt and run?! But Daiki pops it up! Nishikawa goes back and chases it down for the 2nd out!
Matsuzawa with an odd step back while the pitch is thrown, winds up looking at strike 3 to end the inning. A good opportunity for Yamagata Chuo to get back a run winds up with none.
It's another quick inning for Ryouhei as Uragaku's batters are swinging away early. 7 pitches and he retires the side! Now if the offense can pick it up.
It's a quick 2 outs for Yamagata as Ryuusei grounds to short and Takada flies out to center.
Konno with a short grounder, Nie charges, but the ball deflects off his glove and Konno is safe!
But that's as far as he goes. Ojima gets Ryouhei to chase a fastball outside for the 3rd out.
A routine grounder to short becomes less so as Kanno's throw to 1st is way too high advancing Kigure to the next base
Kigure, heading home on contact, winds up being thrown out by Nakamura.
Ojima grounds out back to Ryouhei for the 3rd out. Urawa Gakuin threatening to score again, get their invitation pulled at home.
Kumagai with a ball to right, but easily handed by Watanabe.
Nakamura doing the same. Watanabe rounding to the ball, slips! He falls down as the ball does likewise and Nakamura winds up at 3rd base and Yamagata Chuo has a great opportunity!
Haga gets ahead 3-0, but Ojima fights back to make it full.
But Ojima gets him to climb the ladder and strike out swinging! 2 down!
And Ojima shuts the door! Daiki also climbs the ladder this time to end the inning and Nakamura is stranded at 2nd!
After a quick flyout by Watanabe, Ryouhei walks Takemura on 4 straight. Nie grounds to 1st, and Matsuzawa elects to take the out at 1st.
Yamane flies out to center, and despite the fast start, Yamagata Chuo has not let the game get away from them.
Defensive changes for Urawa Gakuin. #7 Hattori comes in for Watanabe and goes to LF. Saitou moves to his numbered position in RF.
Two quick outs for Yamagata as both Matsuzawa and Ryuusei ground out. Takada goes behind 0-2 before he is bailed out by getting hit.
Konno with a single through the right side and they now have runners on 1st and 2nd!
Ryouhei with a liner to right! The throw from Saitou is cutoff and Takada scores to make it a 1-run ballgame at 2-1! Mori-kantoku calls time.
That brings up cleanup batter Kumagai. And he's hit!! Manrui for Yamagata Chuo with Nakamura up!
#10 Yamaguchi warms up as Yamagata Chuo threatens to tie the game.
Ojima gets ahead of Nakamura 0-2. Tries to get him to chase high, but doesn't bite. Does it again and he fouls it off!
And as I expected, after doubling up high, they go down and away and Nakamura chases! Ojima gets out of the pinch giving up just the 1 run and as we head to the break Urawa Gakuin holds a slim 1-run lead over underdog Yamagata Chuo. If they're not careful Yamagata Chuo may do what Kochi did to Kanzei earlier.
Takada crushes a ball from Ryouhei!! Ryuusei chases the ball, but quickly gives up!
Just when Yamagata Chuo looked to have some momentum come their way, Takada just smashes it back down with a no-doubt HR to left! Urawa Gakuin brings their lead back to 2 and 3-1!
AH! Hard grounder from Kigure bounds off and over Nakamura into left for a base hit!
And as quickly as that, Jyouji-kantoku makes a pitching change. #11 Takahashi Kazuki comes in for Matsuzawa and takes the mound while Ryouhei moves to 1st.
Saitou bunts the runner over for Nishikawa, who is promptly hit by Kazuki.
But Kazuki comes back to to get the outside corner on Ojima for the 2nd out!
Ah! A passed ball on Haga allows the runners to advance!
Hattori with a grounder to the left side! Nakamura dives, but it goes by him into left! Ryuusei's throw home is cutoff and both runners score to make it 5-1!
Takemura grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but Urawa Gakuin may finally be waking up.
Haga can't start the offense as he flies out to center. Daiki quickly grounds to 2nd.
New pitcher Kazuki works the count full and draws a walk. But Ryuusei tries the safety bunt and grounds back to Ojima for the 3rd out.
Nie grounds to 1st, and Ryouhei has to scramble and take it himself to the bag as Kazuki is late in covering.
Yamane singles to right as Urawa Gakuin looks for more runs.
Takada goes down and lines one to left! Ryuusei is there, but the ball takes a high hop and gets by Ryuusei and to the wall! That allows Yamane to score from 1st to make it 6-1!
Kigure grounds to 2nd, but advances Takada to 3rd.
However, Saitou does the same and the inning is over.
Takada bloops a ball back up the middle past a diving Nie for a base hit.
Konno chases a fastball outside and goes down for the 1st out. Ryouhei, pops up a pitch inside and Kigure secures it for the 2nd out.
Ojima missing high with his pitches, but Yamagata's batters for the most part have been chasing them - though not this inning.
Kumagai though swings on a 2-0 pitch and pops up to a backpedaling Nie for the 3rd out.
Nishikawa leads off the inning by grounding to 2nd on the first pitch. One pitch, one out. But then he turns around to walk Ojima on 4 straight. #1 Ishikawa warms up in the bullpen.
Hattori with a ball to the right side, gets past both Ryouhei and Daiki into right! Ojima stops at 2nd.
Kazuki having trouble finding the strike zone, falls behind 3-1.
Takemura hits a sharp grounder past Ryouhei down the 1st base line! Ojima comes in to score, Hattori being waved in as the throw goes to 3rd! Takemura slides in safely and it's 8-1 Uragaku!
Nie with the safety bunt! Nakamura charges in, throws to 1st. As he does, Takemura breaks for home! Nie's out at 1st, but the throw home from Ryouhei is late and Takemura makes it a 9-1 ballgame!
Yamane with a sharp shot through the left side for a base hit.
And as a result, Jyouji-kantoku pulls the plug on Kazuki. Ishikawa comes in for Kazuki and takes the hill.
Kigure with a hot shot to Nakamura, it's off his glove! Konno backs up the play and throws to 1st, but not nearly in time.
Oh dear. Kigure with a blast to left center past the defense and to the wall. Both runners easily score on the triple and it's 11-1 Urawa Gakuin.
Saitou pops up to Daiki behind 2nd for the 3rd out, but the game is well in hand.
Up 10, Ojima goes after the Yamagata batters as they go down easily in order.
Nishikawa starts off the 9th with a single through the left side. Ojima bunts him along for Hattori who's 2-2 on the day after coming in for Watanabe.
Ishikawa finally retires Hattori as he hits a soft liner to Daiki who makes a shoestring catch.
A wild pitch from Ishikawa gets away from Haga, sending Nishikawa to 3rd.
No damage done though as Takemura strikes out to end the inning.
Defensive changes for Uragaku, and they're a bit strange. Nishikawa, Kigure and Takada rotate such that Nishikawa is at 1B, Kigure is at 3B and Takada is behind the plate. Not sure why, but ok.
Meanwhile, #10 Yamaguchi comes in for Saitou and takes the hill. Ojima goes to RF.
#5 Takahashi Kenta comes in to hit for Ishikawa, and promptly sends one into right center splitting the defense for a double.
#15 Satou Miharu comes in to hit for Ryuusei. But he goes down looking for the 1st out.
Takada grounds to short and Yamagata Chuo is down to their last out.
Konno the last chance and he flies out to left and that's the ballgame. Urawa Gakuin soundly defeats Yamagata Chuo 11-1 and secure a place in the Best 8.
For a while there Yamagata Chuo held in there against the Kanto champions, despite giving up an early 2 runs. By the break they had pulled to within 1 and had a chance to actually tie it. But after the break Urawa Gakuin put their foot down and just blew by them and in to the quarterfinals. A good effort, but an expected result.
Which is good for Urawa Gakuin, but the stagnation of their offense after the quick strike 1st is a bit of cause for concern. Ojima did keep Yamagata Chuo to just the 1 run, but he walked 3 and hit 2 which is never a good thing. Things will only get harder from here, so they'll need to continue getting support from the offense to help out Ojima.
Ojima Kazuya (Urawa Gakuin) - W, 8 IP, ER, 4 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP
Takada Ryouta (Urawa Gakuin) - 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Yamane Yuuta (Urawa Gakuin) - 3-4, 2 R, RBI
Hattori Masamitsu (Urawa Gakuin) - 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Takahashi Ryouhei (Yamagata Chuo) - 1-4, RBI, K
Takahashi Kenta (Yamagata Chuo) - 1-1, 2B