Next up is a Nishi-nippon matchup between Saibi and one of my irrational teams that I like in Seiseikou.
Saibi survived the only extra inning affair so far, giving up a 3-run lead in the 9th inning before winning in 13 innings. Anraku threw 232 pitches in that affair and thankfully he's playing on 3 days rest so he should be fairly fresh given the circumstances.
That's good, because the offense did not look all that particularly good in the game. They managed just one extra base hit and struck out 12 times in their opening game.
Opposing them will be Seiseikou, a team who has managed to return to Koushien, but at the same time suffers from the same problem that plagued them last summer.
In their opening game against Jyousou Gakuin, they strung 3 of their 4 hits together to score 2 runs, while Ootake tossed a shutout despite giving up 9 hits and only striking out 2.
There really isn't a whole lot to say about this matchup. Both teams offensively do not look particularly good, but in comparing the two Saibi should have a slight advantage at the plate with an even bigger one on the mound (so long as Anraku isn't fatigued from the first game).
Saibi (Ehime) - Shikoku 3 seed
CF Ueda Kyousuke
RF Yamashita Takuma
SS Usagawa Riku
P Anraku Tomohiro
3B Oota Yuuya
1B Morita Shouhei (#15)
LF Goudouji Shin
C Kaneko Kouhei
2B Machida Takahiro
Seiseikou (Kumamoto) - Kyushu Runner-up
SS Nakagawa Koushi
RF Kawahara Ryouhei
P Ootake Koutarou
C Andou Taichi
LF Hayashi Tatsuya
CF Hirashita Yuusei
1B Nishibashi Goujirou
2B Kobayashi Taichi
3B Oka Taisei
11:34 - First pitch!
Ueda hacks at the first pitch from Ootake and take the high fastball to right. Kawahara charging in slides, but can't secure the ball and Saibi has their leadoff batter on.
Yamashita with the bust-and-run swings on the first pitch and grounds to 2nd. Kobayashi's only play is to 1st.
Usagawa takes more than 1 pitch, and in fact is having a long AB against Ootake fouling off a couple before running the count full.
OH! Ball up and in and it hits him! He goes down to the ground! Usagawa does get up and head to 1st, but on replay the ball seemed to hit him in the bottom of his right hand then deflect into his body, causing the reaction we saw. Ouch.
Ootake now in a pinch with cleanup batter Anraku up. He falls behind 2-0, but manages to even the count.
And he gets the outside corner to freeze Anraku for the 2nd out!
Double steal!! Jyoukou-kantoku sends the runners and the throw from Andou to 3rd is wide
But Oota can't catch up to a fastball down the middle and Ootake and Seiseikou get out of the inning!
Nakagawa with a half-hearted swing ground one slowly to the right side. Machida charges in and throws to 1st for the out.
Anraky doesn't seem too the worse for wear, and the speed doesn't seem to have taken a hit as he hits 147 on Kawahara.
Kawahara with a liner back at Anraku, and it hits him on the arm and deflects to the left side for a base hit! He takes some practice throws, but seems fine.
Ootake takes the 1-0 pitch back up the middle for a base hit! Seiseikou threatening in their half of the first inning! That brings up cleanup batter Andou!
But it doesn look like Anraku is fine. Speed hasn't taken a hit, nor does the accuracy. He gets ahead of Andou 1-2 before firing a waste ball outside. He just misses high on an off-speed and the count runs full.
SANSHIN! Anraku with a change on the inside corner freezes Andou for the 2nd out!
Hayashi up to try and bring in the run.
But he's jammed! Ball rolls to Oota who goes to 1st for the 3rd out! A bit of a scare on the mound for Anraku in more ways than one, but it seems like he got out unscathed!
It's a relatively quick inning for Ootake after the eventful 1st. Morita tries to inside-out one the other way, but lines right to Kawahara. Goutouji hits a chopper right back to Ootake, and Kaneko behind 0-2 grounds one to Nishibashi for the 3rd out.
Hirashita tries to power a ball inside, but hits a routine fly to Goutouji in left center.
Anraku firing strikes meanwhile to Nishibashi gets the inside corner again on a slider for another K.
And Kobayashi becomes Anraku's 3rd K victim as he too cannot pull the trigger on a slider inside.
Ootake gets his 3rd K as Machida chases a fastball outside.
Back to the top of the order and Ueda first pitch grounds right at Oka for the 2nd out.
And Yamashita, after fouling off several pitches grounds to Nishibashi for the 1-2-3 inning. Both pitchers are settling down very nicely now.
Last batter Oka due up first, looking to get on any way possible feigns bunt, but the count eventually runs to 2-2. He looks at a fastball in the bottom of the zone, and that's Anraku's 4th K and all of them looking!
Nakagawa with a slow ball to the left side, but quick enough to get by Oota! Usagawa backing it up can't field it cleanly and Nakagawa's on safely!
Kawahara trying to bunt him along can't and falls behind 0-2! He's forced to swing away, and then he gets hit on the head! He's okay, but as per precaution, he's replaced with an injury runner at 1st. Meanwhile Jyoukou-kantoku, always with a smile, calls for time.
And that brings up the always dangerous Ootake.
Liner down the right field line, foul! Wow he took a good rip at that one. Then he checks up on a slider down in the zone.
Another slider down in the zone, and Ootake swings and makes contact! Grounder to short, and Usagawa can't field it cleanly! He's too focused on turning 2 that he forgets to secure the ball first!
Manrui for Seiseikou as Andou steps in!
Anraku not phased as he gets ahead of him 0-2. He's trying to pour on the speed at 149 kph, but the count goes to 2-2.
Andou with a rip down the left side also foul! They're just ahead of these pitches.
Whoa, Andou barely stays alive after chasing a buried slider.
SANSHIN!! But he can't check his swing on a fastball up and there's 2 out!
Hayashi on the first pitch hits one back to Anraku! He fields it and tosses to 1st for the 3rd out! Seiseikou threatening again but comes up empty!
Usagawa can't get around on a fastball on the inner half and becomes Ootake's 4th K.
Anraku has to walk away from home again after he's caught looking on a fastball on the outside corner.
I can't seem to figure out the umpire's strike zone though as what seems like a good pitch on the outer half is called for a ball.
Oota swings and misses on a change and Ootake is matching Anraku inning for inning so far!
Hirashita with a ball back up the middle past Anraku for a leadoff hit!
Nishibashi showing bunt, but fouls off his first attempt! He does manage to lay down the bunt though to advance the runner into scoring position.
And Anraku hits his 2nd batter in Kobayashi! Another situation developing for Anraku! Is the arm bothering him after being hit?
Ikeda-kantoku calling for the bunt, but Oka hits it too hard up the 3rd base side! Anraku runs over to it, spins to 3rd and gets Hirashita for the 2nd out!
And Nakagawa goes down on a pitch and tries to bloop it in, but Goutouji is there to make the catch and retire the side. Once again Seiseikou gets runners on base, but again they cannot get the timely hit to bring them in.
Morita leads off the inning with a single to right. Jyoukou-kantoku immediately has Goutouji bunt the runner along.
Kaneko with a grounder to 1st that Nishibashi has some trouble fielding, but is near the bag anyways and has time to gather it and make the out. Morita advances to 3rd, but there's 2 out.
Machida with a blooper to right. Kobayashi running back, leaps, but it's off his glove! Machida scores on the base hit and Saibi leads 1-0!
Ueda grounds to short to end the inning, but Machida and Saibi has broken the deadlock!
Kawahara gets jammed by Anraku and pops out to Oota in foul territory for the 1st out.
Ootake gets the better of Anraku again, taking a pitch the other way for his 2nd hit. He's been able to reach in all 3 plate appearances.
Andou with a slow grounder to the left side. Oota dives but can't get to it! Usagawa backs up the play, but double clutches and the throw to 1st is late! All safe! Seiseikou threatening!
But Hayashi first pitch swings and flies out to Yamashita for the 2nd out. That leaves it up to Hirashita to drive the run in.
Hirashita is patient enough to work the count full.
Blooper up the middle! Usagawa and Machida race behind 2nd, Machida dives... and it splits the two into center! Ootake coming home! Throw from Ueda is late! Kaneko fires to 2nd, but Hirashita slides in safely! Timely hit from Hirashita ties the game at 1-1 and they're still threatening!
After a ball to Nishibashi, Jyoukou-kantoku calls a quick timeout.
Nishibashi also runs the count full. And is caught looking on a fastball inside for the 3rd out! But as we head into the break, Seiseikou is hanging in there against a strong Saibi squad! If Anraku continues to struggle and Saibi allows them to hang around like this they may have a chance to win the game!
Yamashita up 3-1, chases a ball up in the zone and flies out to center for the first out.
Usagawa gets caught looking on a fastball on the outside corner for Ootake's 7th K.
Anraku takes it into his own hands, and gets his first hit - a double into the left center field gap.
But Ootake will have none of it! He gets Oota to chase a fastball outside to retire the side! He doesn't throw fast by any means, but he has stifled the Saibi offense so far this game!
Meanwhile, the bottom of Seiseikouu's lineup continues to struggle. Kobayashi remains hitless when he chases a ball out of the zone, while Oka softly lines back to Anraku.
Nakagawa tries to bloop one into center, but a charging Ueda makes a sliding catch fo rthe 3rd out.
Saibi's Lucky 7 is no match for Ootake right now. He rings up Morita looking, then gets Goutouji to swing ahead of a change up, and then Kaneko grounds to 1st to end the inning!
Just like that Ootake is cruising along and Seiseikou is hanging in the ballgame!
Kawahara with a ball back up the middle, Anraku kick deflects it right to Usagawa who goes to 1st for the out! It's Anraku and Saibi that gets lucky, not Seiseikou!
Anraku gets Ootake to chase a high fastball, and he hits a fly to left! Goutouji makes the catch as he falls/trips and Ootake if finally retired this game!
Andou also skies one to left. Goutouji easily under this one and Seiseikou's Lucky 7 also comes and goes with nary a sound.
Machida with his 2nd hit of the game, a liner to left for a base hit. That resets the lineup back to top batter Ueda. Jyoukou-kantoku wants him to bunt, but he can't execute and falls behind 1-2.
And having to swing away he can't catch up to a fastball on the outer half, and Ootake has his 11th K!
Jyoukou-kantoku has Yamashita try and bunt, but he too can't execute! He's trying to press any initiative, and even calls for a hit-and-run, though Yamashita fouls that off too.
In addition, the pace is slowing as Ootake goes to 1st quite a bit.
But it seems to be working as Yamashita pops out to Andou behind home!
Usagawa keeps the inning going with a single past a diving Nakagawa into left! More importantly, it brings up Anraku.
And Anraku first pitch takes it the other way! It's quickly past Hayashi and headed towards the wall! Anraku barely beats out the throw at 3rd, but more importantly 3 runners come in to score on his timely triple and Anraku gives himself the 3-1 lead!!
Ikeda-kantoku calling for time, but it may be too late!
Oota runs the count full on Ootake and hits a ball to left! Again Hayashi has to run back and it falls in! Oota in with a double making it a 4-1 ballgame!
Morita flies out to Hirashita in left-center, but back-to-back extra base hits cost Seiseikou big late!
It's all hands on deck for Seiseikou as they need 3 runs in 2 innings. And even with Anraku at 134 pitches, he still seems to be on task here in the 8th. Worse yet for Seiseikou, they're heading towards the bottom of the lineup, which after Hirashita in the #6 spot has been rendered ineffective.
Hayashi with a drive to right, but he gets under it and that allows Yamashita to run it down in deep right.
That brings up Hirashita and with no one on base to drive in, Anraku doesn't have to pitch to him and walks him on 4 straight.
Now can the bottom of the lineup do anything?
Ikeda-kantoku, sensing the situation also tries the hit and run, but after a foul off, he grounds to short. Usagawa goes the short way to cut down the lead runner.
Ikeda then turns to #16 Takenaga to hit for Kobayashi, hoping to spark something.
But he grounds to 1st and Morita has no problems taking it to the bag for the 3rd out. Seiseikou running out of time.
#14 Taguchi comes in for PH Takenaga and takes over at 2B.
Goutouji meanwhile collects his first hit when he grounds one through the left side. Jyoukou-kantoku, not wanting to leave anything to chance has Kaneko bunting. He chops one high in front of home and gets the job done.
Machida with a liner back at Ootake! It's off his glove, but right to Taguchi! He catches it for the 2nd out and tags 2nd to get Goutouji for the 3rd out! It's your standard 1-4U double play!
The fact though still remains that Seiseikou has just 3 outs remaining in their Haru Koushien run.
Ikeda-kantoku sends in #12 Sakada to hit for Oka.
Liner down the right field line, but Yamashita is right there for the out! That's some advance scouting if Jyoukou-kantoku put him there.
Back up to Nakagawa and he immediately chops one right to 2nd! Machida goes to 1st for the 2nd out!
Kawahara the last chance for Seiseikou and he's quickly behind 0-2!
Anraku blows a 148 kph pitch past Kawahara for the final out and Saibi advances to the Best 8!
It certainly wasn't easy though. Saibi's offense struggled against Seiseikou ace Ootake, while Seiseikou continued to put runners on and pressured Anraku. However, Anraku beared down on several occasions to shut out his opponent and deny them home plate. And in the end it was Anraku himself who put the team on his back and carried them to the quarterfinals.
Still, you have to give credit to Seiseikou. If not for two mistakes in back-to-back batters in the 8th it could have been a different ballgame. But the slowing of the pace of play seemed to indicate that Ootake perhaps was starting to labor a but under the pressure late. If only they could have capitalized on their earlier opportunities it too could have been a different ballgame.
But as it stands it is Saibi who will advance into the next round and Shikoku is having a great tournament so far, much to my surprise.
Anraku Tomohiro (Saibi) - W, CG, ER, 7 H, 8 K, BB, 2 HBP
Anraku Tomohiro (Saibi) - 2-4, 2B, 3B, R, 2 RBI, 2 K
Machida Takahiro (Saibi) - 2-4, R, RBI, K
Ootake Koutarou (Seiseikou) - L, CG, 4 ER, 9 H, 11 K, HBP
Ootake Koutarou (Seiseikou) - 2-4, R
Hirashita Yuusei (Seiseikou) - 2-3, RBI, BB