All right, we're on to the final game of the day. This is a game in which I think I know who should win the game, but for some reason, there is something about facing a name-brand school that can completely freeze up a school.
That school is Waseda Jitsugyou. More recently the school that Saitou Yuuki took to the title in 2006, but always known as the school that produced the beloved Oh Sadaharu.
This year, they received the Tokyo/Kanto Floating bid I think because they have brand name attractiveness. And it's not like they're a terrible team - they did beat Ryuukokudai Heian in their opening game.
But it was 4 runs on just 4 hits. And two of them were doubles hit by Orihara Aoi. That's good in that we know he can hit the ball, but bad in the sense that... well... can anyone else hit? Because I doubt that ace Niyama and company can completely stifle Sendai Ikuei.
The Meiji Jingu champs had no trouble with Souseikan, jumping ahead 5-0 after 2 innings winning 7-2. But while most of the lineup contributed, the offense went eerily silent during the middle innings. While their opponent is apparently offensively challenged as a whole, it would probably behoove them perhaps to continuously put pressure throughout the game. Otherwise, they could wind up being the odd man out.
Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) - Tohoku Champions (Meiji Jingu Champions)
SS Kumagai Takahiro
2B Kikuna Yuuka
LF Hasegawa Hiro
CF Uebayashi Seiji
1B Mizuma Toshiki
C Kobayashi Ryou
3B Katou Naoya
RF Satou Seiya
P Baba Kousuke (#10)
Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo) - Tokyo/Kanto Floating Bid
2B Yamaoka Hitomi
SS Nishioka Hisayoshi
RF Kaneshiro Kento (#17)
1B Kumata Mitsumi
3B Orihara Aoi
LF Suzuki Kai
CF Yoshimi Kentarou
C Toshimitsu Kensaka
P Niyama Youhei
13:45 - First pitch!
Suzuki freezes Kumagai on a fastball inside for the first out!
After a flyout to left by Kikuna, Hasegawa hits a grounder that just sneaks by Yamaoka into right!
But Suzuki is on his game early, getting cleanup batter Uebayashi to climb the ladder and strike out to end the inning!
Yamaoka gets ahead in the count 3-1, hits a ball back at Baba, who can't stab it with the glove and it's into center for a base hit! Nishioka bunts him over to 2nd.
Kaneshiro can't advance him, hitting a fly to left.
Up to their cleanup batter Kumata. Ooh... after getting ahead 2-0, Baba gets 2 strikes, the 2nd being a bit generous. The Sendai Ikuei battery tests the outside corner, too far. Full count.
Tries slider inside, but Kumata just fouls it off.
Kumata goes down and gets one inside, but it's a liner to left! Hasegawa has it for the 3rd out!
Suzuki really giving it to Sendai Ikuei. He's throwing strikes wherever he wants. Mizuma with a weak grounder to 1st, Kobayashi with a popup to Nishioka in shallow left, and Katou is frozen on a slider outside and can't believe it. 3 down and Soujitsu is back on the bats!
I wonder about Sendai Ikuei continuing to ask the umpires if the batters went around. For the most part it doesn't seem like they are and it's almost like they're trying to squeeze every out possible. Which shouldn't be the mindset of a champion team.
And it's not like Baba is pitching badly. He gets routine grounders from Orihara and Suzuki. Though he might be catching more of the plate than he should.
Case in point is Yoshimi who gets under one such pitch and flies out to center. We'll see how that progresses though.
So far, the Ikuei batters have not been able to make solid contact. Even Hasegawa's hit was a slow roller that escaped Yamaoka.
Of course I say that and with one down Baba drives one past Yoshimi in right-center for a double.
And then Niyama falls behind Kumagai 3-0. He attacks the next pitch, but it's inside and he can only foul it off.
Inside again, and he pulls it foul. So Niyama manages to level the count perhaps taking advantage of some aggressiveness.
Niyama wins the battle as Kumagai takes it the other way to 2nd. They get the out, and Baba advances to 3rd leaving it up to Kikuna.
Once again, Niyama falls behind, but comes back to be even with Kikuna at 2-2.
Holds up on a buried slider and the count runs full...
Pitch inside, Kikuna can only pull it right to Kumata who makes the play to end the inning!
Toshimitsu hits a hanging slider the other way to left center and falls in just out of a sprinting Hasegawa! He's in with a double!
Niyama bunts him over to 3rd for the top of the lineup.
Baba hangs one again! This time Yamaoka drives one to deep center! Uebayashi can't get there in time and it lands in front of the wall! They get it in, but not before Yamaoka is in with a triple! The oen-dan plays Konpeki no Sora as Soujitsu takes the 1-0 lead!
Sasaki-kantoku calls time as Suzuki goes out to warm up. It's like as if it was Waseda who won the fall tournament and Sendai Ikuei who is the underdog the way the game is playing out!
Does playing Soujitsu just freeze opponents or something?
Fortunately for Baba, Nishioka can't do anything as he grounds back to him for the 2nd out. And he gets Kaneshiro to chase a slider for the 3rd out, but back to back mistakes cost Sendai Ikuei a run!
Hasegawa goes down swinging for Niyama's 4th K. Uebayashi can only manager another routine grounder to 1st. And Mizuma golfs one in the air where Mizuma comes in a couple of steps to make the catch.
After getting ahead of Kumata, they try to nibble and the count runs full! But Baba gets him to chase a pitch up and pops it up! Katou comes in and calls for it, but makes a last minute adjustment and it pops out of his glove and falls in play! E5 and Soujitsu has a good opportunity here too!
Orihara though tries to bunt the runner over, but three bunts and misses for the out!
Suzuki with a check swing grounder to 2nd gets the runner over. But there's 2 outs.
Yoshimi with a liner, but Kumagai makes a great diving catch for the 3rd out!
But man it looks like Sendai Ikuei is playing scared out there.
Niyama is completely shutting down Sendai Ikuei's offense! Kobayashi with a routine grounder to 2nd. Katou walks the count full, but hits a foul fly that Kumata catches before slow-motion tumbling into the camera well.
And Satou flies out to left! I'm rather shocked by this really.
Baba issues his first walk to Toshimitsu and that lets Soujitsu have another chance for a run!
But Toshimitsu is straying away from 1st! Kobayashi fires to 2nd after the 1-0 pitch and they have him picked off! One out!
Niyama swinging away now, and flies out to center. Yamaoka grounds to 1st and that's the inning.
We head to the break with the only scoring coming from 2 extra base hits from Soujitsu. Meanwhile I'd say Sendai Ikuei has only had 1 good solid hit, safe or out - and that was from Baba's double. Otherwise the contact has been poor and the defense has not been worked that hard. I find it hard to believe looking at this game that this Sendai Ikuei team is the one that went all the way.
Baba chases a changeup in the dirt for the first out. That flips the lineup back to Kumagai.
But while he makes contact on a down and away fastball, he grounds out to 2nd.
And Sasaki-kantoku seems to be playing desperate too. He sends in #17 Sasaki to hit for Kikuna and first pitch hits a ball back to Niyama for the 3rd out!
Sasaki stays in the game to play 2B.
Nishioka can't hold off on a slider in the dirt and he goes down for the 1st out.
Baba turns around though and walks Kaneshiro bringing up Kumata.
And Izumi-kantoku sends him! Kobayashi can't field the ball cleanly and his toss to 2nd is nowhere near in time!
AH! A wild pitch from Baba on ball 4 allows Kaneshiro to advance to 3rd! Big pinch for Soujitsu as Sasaki-kantoku calls for time. Playing scared like this will only lead to bad things and we may just see it now.
Orihara with a fly to center! Uebayashi charging in, still charging, making the catch and the runners can't advance!
Now it's Izumi-kantoku pulling all the stops? #15 Matsumoto comes in to hit for Suzuki.
And I wonder if Matsumoto wasn't just up to try and get on base, because he hasn't swung and is ahead 3-1.
But he does swing and grounds to 1st! Mizuma has it and makes the play at 1st for the out! Sendai Ikuei holds onto the 1-run deficit!
Man, looking at the times these games today, including this one, have gone at a breakneck speed.
#9 Oka comes in for PH Matsumoto and plays LF.
Sendai Ikuei hoping to change things up plays Jock Rock.
But Hasegawa chases a high ball and grounds to 2nd.
And the Soujitsu batter is getting Uebayashi to chase a high pitch as well! Why (are they swinging)?
With the count 2-2, they go high again and he fouls it off. How are you going to get a solid hit if you're having to stand up to hit it? You can't generate any power!
They try away again, but get no swing and no call. Count runs full.
They go outside again, but Niyama misses and Uebayashi gets on base! But what can the rest of the lineup do?
Niyama with perhaps his first real mistake, leaves one over and Mizuma lines it into center for a base hit! Runners on 1st and 2nd for Kobayashi! He's the man you want up.
Kobayashi though can't get solid contact on a change inside and slices a grounder to Yamaoka. He can only go to 1st, but there's 2 outs now.
Katou up as Izumi-kantoku calls time.
And Niyama gets out of the inning! Katou hits a grounder to 2nd and Sendai Ikuei loses a great chance!
Baba trying what he can to keep the game at 0-1. Yoshimi quickly grounds to 1st.
Toshimitsu goes down swinging on a forkball.
Niyama does what he can, slowly works the count full and earns a walk. That flips the lineup back to Yamaoka.
Who promptly takes a ball the other way for a base hit.
Baba trying to get out the inning gets ahead of Nishioka 0-2. Gets him to swing at a slider outside and the side is retired!
But Sendai Ikuei is down to their final 6 outs!
And with Baba playing soft toss in the foreground, the camera has Suzuki in the background pitching in the bullpen. #16 Onodera is in the on-deck circle, so his day is probably over.
Satou fights but goes down on a fastball outside as he looks up in frustration.
Onodera in fact does come in to bat.
First pitch singles to left!
Kumagai with a grounder to the left side. Nishoka over to get it, slides but bounces off his glove and over him! Everyone's safe!
Izumi-kantoku calls time and is this the time Sendai Ikuei finally gets it all together?
Sasaki coming in to bat.
Niyama goes too far inside and hits Sasaki! Manrui for Sendai Ikuei! What's happening to Niyama??!
Hasegawa steps in...
Niyama uncorks a wild pitch that bounces off the chest protector and goes up the 3rd base line! Kawashima with his arms in the air scores and it's Niyama's unforced error that gives up the douten run!!! It's 1-1!!!!
Hasegawa changes a slider in the dirt for the 2nd out.
That brings up Uebayashi, and with 1st base open he should get nothing to hit.
He isn't, but he's swinging anyways and goes behind 0-2 (don't you know they don't HAVE to pitch to you? Think of the situation man!)
It's too late now, he has to swing at anything close.
Uebayashi back up the middle!! Niyama frantically stabs at the ball in the air, but it goes by! Kumagai scores! Sasaki rounding 3rd, throw off line! He scores!!
Niyama has the worst time to break down and leave one over! Sendai Ikuei leads 3-1!!
Mizuma grounds back to Niyama, but man even with the base hits, it still required some help for Waseda. They won't complain though.
Ace Suzuki comes in for PR Kawashima to close out the game instead of trying to hold the line.
Kaneshiro with a grounder to 2nd for the first out. Kumata gets ahead 2-1, but hits a high chopper that Kumagai catches and throws to 1st for the 2nd out.
And Orihara chops one back to Suzuki! He goes to 1st and Waseda is retired that quickly!
Kobayashi with a hard grounder past Yamaoka into right!
#15 Abe hitting for Katou, he singles past Nishoka into left! Has Niyama just ran out of gas?
Satou standing in now, 0-3 on the day but Sasaki-kantoku not having him bunt.
1-2 on Satou and the cameras turn to #14 Tachikawa warming up in the bullpen.
Satou goes down and lines one through the infield to right! Kaneshiro boots it in front of him! Kobayashi comes in to score and it's 4-1 Sendai Ikuei!
Suzuki bunting, misses, and Toshimitsu throws to 2nd where Abe is caught off the bag! He's run down for the 1st out! He does eventually lay down the bunt, but there's 2 down.
And with that, Izumi-kantoku calls in the bullpen. #14 Tachikawa comes in to pitch.
He gets Kumagai to ground to 2nd for the 3rd out, but it's that much farther now for Soujitsu to come back from.
Abe stays in the game to play 3B.
The oen-dan perhaps playing Konpeki no Sora for the final time to start the 9th.
Oka-Yoshimi-Toshimitsu due up.
Oka gets jammed and grounds to 1st.
Yoshimi chases a fork away for the 2nd out!
Toshimitsu the last chance for Soujitsu.
Suzuki runs one back over the inside corner and Toshimitsu goes down for the final out! Sendai Ikuei rallies and survives, defeating Waseda Jitsugyou 4-1!!
For the longest time it looked like Niyama and Soujitsu would easily shut down the Meiji Jingu champions. He was inducing poor contact with the exception of Baba's first hit and 6 innings went by without as much as a whimper from the Sendai Ikuei offense. Even in the 7th after walking Uebayashi and allowing a hit to Mizuma, he quickly spun out of that one too.
So it would lead one to believe that leaving him in would be the right thing to do, especially since he hadn't even hit 100 pitches yet! (Not like that matters as much in 高校野球). But in the 8th it all just collapsed on him. How is that possible?
Well, looking at the fall records, Niyama only played in 3 of their 8 games. Of those 3, he pitched 11 innings total. And since Niiyama was always coming in relief, chances are he never pitched as many innings as he did today.
So there could be some criticism about leaving him in for as long as he did. But remember - first he was still effective through 7 innings. Sure he had given up his first walk, and had 2 baserunners on, but he got out of it. Also, there really wasn't time to give Izumi-kantoku time to warm somebody up. The sequence in the 8th went - K-Single-Single-HBP-K before Uebayashi hit the 2-RBI double. Also, one of the hits could have been an out had Nishiyama fielded the ball cleanly. It's certainly a tough play, and why it was still recorded a hit. But that might be an extra out no matter how you look at it.
I suppose you could argue that after the wild pitch which allowed the douten run that Niyama could be pulled. But was Tachikawa warmed up? I don't really know.
But for 7 innings, Soujitsu played a great game. They just couldn't finish.
As for Sendai Ikuei, that was pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Baba was doing his best, but had given up the only run in the game for a while. And as mentioned the offense looked God awful. When push came to shove though, they got the job done and they're on to the Best 8.
Baba Kousuke (Sendai Ikuei) - W, 7 IP, ER, 4 H, 5 K, 3 BB
Suzuki Takato (Sendai Ikuei) - SV, 2 IP, 0 ER, 2 K
Uebayashi Seiji (Sendai Ikuei) - 1-3, 2 RBI, BB, K
Onodera Shinnosuke (Sendai Ikuei) - 1-1, R
Niyama Youhei (Waseda Jitsugyou) - L, 8.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 7 K, BB, HBP
Yamaoka Hitomi (Waseda Jitsugyou) - 3-4, 3B, RBI
Toshimitsu Kensaku (Waseda Jitsugyou) - 1-3, 2B, R, 2 BB, K