And with the grand opening ceremonies out of the way, Arita Kougyou and Oogaki Nichidai turn right back around and head to the dugouts under the sold out crowd!
Oogaki Nichidai prevailed in a prefecture that wound up having a quarterfinalist. Plus, they beat both Kenritsu and Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou. Ace Takada Kouki gave up no more than 1 run in any outing until the final where he may have been fatigued, he seems to top out around 140 kph and I don't really have any other info otherwise.
Offensively, look for #2 batter Ookubo Takashi and #3 Naitou Hiroki to deliver the punch for the offense.
Arita Kougyou reached Koushien without having to face many of the mainstays in Saga. Kanzaki Seimei is definitely an above average team, and with Waseda Saga starting to assert themselves it may in hindsight prove to be a strong matchup after all.
Considering the low scoring affairs they went through, the key to the team's success lies in their ace Furukawa Yuri. He struck out just over 9 per CG in the last 3 games and is reported to hit 146 on the gun (90 mph) featuring a slider and changeup.
Offensively, it appears the team across the board are solid enough, but SS Fujikawa Shuu and 3B Kuwahara Kousei may be the most consistent of them all.
Considering the fact that Oogaki Nichidai has the prior experience, they are probably favored. It's hard to gauge how Arita Kougyou will do considering their competition in the prefecturals, but if ace Furukawa isn't a total "fraud" on the mound (i.e. stats are inflated), they may make things interesting since K's means no baserunners and no stress on the defense.
Anyways the teams head to home plate and away we go!!
Arita Kougyou (Saga)
2B Hyakutake Shoutarou
LF Kishigawa Yui
SS Fujikawa Shuu
P Furukawa Yuri
RF Senba Kouya
3B Kuwahara Kousei
1B Kawamoto Sora
C Kusano Yoshihiko
CF Fukuda Kousuke
Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu)
CF Shibata Yuushi
2B Ookubo Takashi
1B Naitou Hiroki
3B Takino Yoshi
RF Kaneda Kai
LF Tanaka Ken
SS Tatsuno Rikiya
C Yokoe Taisei
P Takada Kouki
10:30 - First Pitch!
Ok, so some of the crowd has left, but it's still rather full.
Hyakutake giving Takada an easy first batter, chasing a ball out of the zone for an opening K.
Looks like Takada hits 130 at best so far with a fastball? That's not so good. But Kishigawa swings on a 2-0 ball and grounds easily to 2nd.
And Fuijikawa makes contact on the first pitch, but it's a lazy fly to end the inning. 7 pitches, 3 outs. Not a bad way to start.
First pitch 141 and over Shibata's head. Oy.
Grounder to short on the next pitch, Fujikawa ranges over, makes a strong throw that just beats Shibata for the first out.
As expected, he sits in the upper 130's, oh - and there's a slow curve in the 100s that Ookubo pops foul down the left field side. Kuwahara makes the catch near the fence for the 2nd out.
And a change perhaps to Naitou who grounds to 3rd. Kuwahara with a good throw to 1st for the 3rd out and so far so good, if not a little nerves.
Yeah, sliders in low 120s Takada doesn't throw hard at all.
Furukawa with grounder to short, 5-hole! It goes right under Tatsuno for an E6! Arita Kougyou taking advantage immediately with a sac bunt from Senba.
That brings up Kuwahara who had some nice plays to start the game. Oogaki's strategy apparently is to pitch predominantly on the outside and let the batters get themselves out.
Of course as I say that, they go inside and Kuwahara pops it up. Yokoe and Takino collide but Yokoe makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Kawamoto pops out to 2nd and another stressless inning for Takada. A bit concerned though about his velocity though and if Arita will eventually line things up.
Takino grounder to left side, nice range by Kawamoto who flips to a covering Furukawa just beating Takino for the 1st out.
Furukawa's control seems to be still a little off as his waste pitch on 0-2 goes 145 and high, then 146 and higher.
Then throws a great change at 120 for the karaburi sanshin.
The high pitches aren't good for Oogaki I guess as Tanaka flies out to left to end the inning.
So Oogaki's ace doesn't throw hard at all, and Arita's ace has early control issues. This should be interesting.
Kusano gets ahead 2-0 before chasing a pitch outside. Next ball is a flyout right at Kaneda for out #1.
Fukuda makes decent contact, but it too is right at an outfielder. Tanaka secures it for the 2nd out.
And Hyakutake quickly ends the side, hitting a pop fly to Ookubo who is a bit busy to start. If nothing else, when Takada is in the zone he's low and Arita's batters are golfing it for easy outs.
Hyakutake ranging over to his right on a grounder by Tatsuno, and hastily throws to 1st with the ball up the line a bit. Kawamoto makes a great stretch to record the out.
Furukawa not afraid to go inside jamming Yokoe into a pop fly he catches for the 2nd out.
And apparently Furukawa wants to go higher on the radar, hitting 147 to counterpart Takada before he gets way in front of a change and grounds weakly to Fujikawa to end the inning.
With temperatures at 37C, he may want to tone that down a bit.
Arita Kougyou's offense still yet to figure out Takada as Kishigawa hits a harmless comebacker to Takada to start the inning.
Perhaps Uematsu-kantoku is telling his players to hit ground balls because Fujikawa follows suit with a groundout to 2nd.
And while Furukawa hit a scorcher foul up the 3rd base line, he wound up just swinging at air on a slider in the left handed batter's box for the 3rd out.
Spoke too soon on the high pitches, Shibata blasts one to right center that is out of the reach of Senba and goes to the wall! Shibata running all the way, reaches 3rd easily! 1st hit for either team and Oogaki has a great chance to open the scoring!
But Ookubo hits a fly too shallow to center! Fukuda with it and Shibata has to hold.
Infield in to Naitou, but Furukawa not in the zone at all.
WHOA! Sakaguchi-kantoku calls for the squeeze, Furukawa's pitch is almost at Naitou's hip and he still lays it down beautifully! Only play is to 1st and Shibata scores to make it 1-0 Oogaki!
Uh oh. Takino lines a ball back up the middle for a base hit. That's not good if they're hitting balls back up the middle.
But Kaneda grounds out to short. Fujikawa with another good throw to 1st for the 3rd out (Arita's strength is definitely on the defensive side). But a leadoff triple leads to trouble for Arita Kougyou and Oogaki takes the 1-0 lead!
Arita still unable to crack Takada. Senba tries to attack early, but lazily flies out to center. Kuwahara tries to work the count, but swings on 3-1 and flies out to left. Kawamoto swings on an inside pitch and fouls out to Yokoe near Arita's on-deck circle for the 3rd out.
I think Arita's best shot is to work the count. Oogaki is trying to hit the edges of the zone, and keeping him honest - if possible, might be best.
Looks like Fujikawa is in for treatment, and after a while, it looks like the nifty SS has to leave the game! #14 Yamaguchi Yuuji takes his place and goes to 3B, Kuwahara goes to SS. That might hurt them a lot defensively, we'll have to see.
Tanaka though decides to go back up the middle and it gets past Furukawa into center for a leadoff single. Furukawa trying to give Tatsuno nothing to bunt, but goes down 3-0 instead before firing a strike. And then on 3-1 he goes change away for strike 2.
Sakaguchi-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run, but all Tatsuno can do is foul off the high pitch.
Tatsuno with the ball back up the middle! New SS Kuwahara makes a great pick, but in trying to set his feet for the DP, gives Tanaka time to slide in safely! Kuwahara though alertly finishes the play at first for at least one out.
End result is a sac bunt with Yokoe up to bat. Once again though, Furukawa having trouble hitting the strike zone as he falls behind 3-0 before getting the high strike call.
Yokoe with a grounder to 3rd, and it's off Yamaguchi and into left! Kishigawa comes in to field it, and he misplays it! Tanaka coming home and the throw is late giving Oogaki a 2-0 lead.
Furukawa gets a little reprieve with a K looking on counterpart Takada, but that is short-lived! Shibata comes through again with a ball that whizzes by Furukawa's head into center! Yokoe sent home, throw in from Fukuda...Safe! Yokoe just beats the swipe tag and it's a 3-0 lead for Oogaki Nichidai!
Ookubo with a blast to center. Fukuda backing up makes the catch for the 3rd out. As we head to break though Oogaki has taken advantage of Furukawa's control issues to take a 3-0 lead.
Arita Kougyou still cannot make solid contact on any of Takada's offerings as Kusano and Fukuda both fly out to the outfield - thout Fukuda at least makes Tanaka sprint into shallow left-center for the 2nd out.
Hyakutake gets Arikou's 2nd baserunner as he's hit by a pitch - still no hits yet though.
Check that! Kishigawa on the hit-and-run grounds a ball past a diving Naitou into right! Hyakutake easily takes 3rd and Arikou has their first hit and a chance for a run!
Aw, but Yamaguchi up for his first AB in place of Fujikawa flies out to right to end the inning.
Furukawa still with some control issues does jam Naitou. Kuwahara makes the shoestring catch for the first out. Still, Takino makes great contact on a 0-0 pitch and singles past Hyakutake into center.
I lost connection there for a sec, but it appears that Kaneda was jammed and fouled out to Yamaguchi, and though there was a WP, Tanaka grounds out to 1st to end the inning.
Furukawa starts off the lucky 7 with a grounder past Takino into left for a base hit! That brings out a conference from Sakaguchi-kantoku.
After a bunt from Senba, Kuwahara postures the bust-and-run, and hits one down the left field line... past Tanaka and to the wall! Furukawa coming home and it's Arita Kougyou is on the board at 3-1!
OOHH!! Kawamoto with a ball through the left side! Kuwahara is aggressively being sent home and the throw from Tanaka is offline! Back-to-back RBI doubles make it a 3-2 ballgame!!
After a flyout to left by Kusano, Sakaguchi-kantoku pulls his starter. #10 Hashimoto comes in relief to try and get out of the pinch.
Meanwhile Uematsu-kantoku makes his own moves. #16 Sakamoto comes in to run for Kawamoto while #15 Nagamatsu hits for Fukuda.
But Oogaki's Hashimoto rules the day as he gets Nagamatsu swings and misses for the 3rd out. But is indeed the lucky 7 for Arita Kougyou as they pull within 1!
#13 Urazato comes in for PR Sakamoto takes over at 1B. Nagamatsu stays in to play CF.
With new life, Furukawa looks better on the mound.
Tatsuno hits a hard liner, but right at Yamaguchi who snags it for the 1st out. Furukawa paints the outside corner to get Yokoe on 3 straight, and Hashimoto in his 1st AB in relief, just waves at a pitch outside for the 3rd out.
That definitely looks promising if you're Arita Kougyou.
Uh oh. Hashimoto walks leadoff batter Hyakutake on 4 straight, Uematsu-kantoku calls for the immediate bunt which Kishigawa executes.
Hashimoto finally fires a strike to Yamaguchi, but his velocity is about as low as Takada's with less control! His fastball is low 130s at best.
After getting Yamaguchi to swing at a couple to level the count at 2-2, he misses high to fill up the count. Yamaguchi semi bails him out chopping a high pitch to 1B Naitou who applies the tag for the 2nd out. Hyakutake advances to 3rd, but there's 2 out for Furukawa.
And they're intentionally walking him! They're taking the bat away from their best hitter! This is rather rare in a situation where you're not doing it for the force out!
Senba drive to left center!! Shibata chasing it to the wall... over his head! Hyakutake scores... Furukawa rounding 3rd.... he scores all the way from 1st! Senba, gyakuten 2-run double makes it 4-3 Arita Kougyou!!!
Kuwahara with a grounder through the right side! Senba is being sent home! Throw in.. not in time! It's 5-3 Arita Kougyou!!
That's it for Hashimoto as #11 Wakuda comes in to try and stop the bleeding.
Kuwahara actually bails out Arita Kougyou as he tries to steal 2nd, but is thrown out easily. But it all goes wrong for reliever Hashimoto as the 1st timers take the lead late!
Shibata the right man up for Oogaki Nichidai... and he gaps one into left center for a leadoff double! Oogaki looking to strike back immediately!
Ookubo not bunting, hits it right to Kuwahara! He goes to 3rd, but Yamaguchi can't hang onto the ball! All safe!
Oh, why not get the guaranteed out there up 2...
Ookubo taking off for 2nd, throw from Kusano, goes into center! Shibata walks home and it's now 5-4 Arita Kougyou!
Sakaguchi-kantoku has Naitou bunt the runner along to 3rd and it looks like Arikou will surrender the lead!
But on Takino's bunt attempt on what looked like a safety squeeze, Ookubo is caught off 3rd! He's run down 2-5-2 and the douten runner is wiped out! Takino grounds out to 3rd and the inning is over with the lead in tact! What a disaster for Oogaki Nichidai!
One down for Arita Kougyou and Kusuno hits a weak grounder back up the middle. Ookubo takes it in front of Tatsuno and his throw across his body isn't in time! One down, runner at 1st. Uematsu-kantoku plays for the one run as Nagahama bunts the runner along.
Hyakutake takes a 4 pitch walk to brings up Kishigawa who is 1-3 on the day.
Make that 1-4 as he fouls out to Takino for the 3rd out. It's hang on time for Arita Kougyou!
Kaneda first pitch swings and grounds to 2nd for the first out!
Tanaka falling behind quickly 0-2, fights off a pitch, but chases a head-high pitch and pops up to Kusuno for the 2nd out!
It's up to Tatsuno to keep the game alive...
Fouls off a couple of pitches... and another... and yet another.... He's not making it easy for Furukawa.
Tatsuno can only lean back as he is called out on a fastball on the outside corner! Arita Kougyou pulls of the gyakuten win 5-4 over Oogaki Nichidai!
I am shocked! Arita Kougyou instead of getting to ace Takada, gets to the relief staff and comeback for the victory! And Hashimoto can be seen crying - certainly he feels bad for giving up the lead that Takada had maintained.
But the low velocity meant that Oogaki had to be exact, and they weren't - and they paid for it. It's a disappointing loss for sure for a school such as theirs.
But for the timers from Saga, they do indeed continue! They gritted out a win against an above average school and will move on! Where they play next I'm not sure yet, but they did hold the drawing.
Senba Kouya (Arita Kougyou) - 1-2, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Kuwahara Kousei (Arita Kougyou) - 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Shibata Yuushi (Oogaki Nichidai) - 3-4, 2B, 3B, 2R, RBI
Takino Yoshi (Oogaki Nichidai) - 2-4, SB