Yokohama has to be happy about the situation they're in, solid first round game, and away from the bloodbath on the first half of Day 12.
Asama is definitely as advertized. Officially 5-5 (I had him at 4-5 w/an E), it may be that pitchers would be better going around him. Except that Takahama follows him up. And while he was 1-5, that 1 was a 3-run HR that certainly broke the game open.
Outside of those two production is a bit more spotty, though 2nd year starter Nemoto is a quiet surprise for them so far.
Ace Itou has contradicting and probably more alarming numbers. He struck out 14 Marugame batters, but also allowed 8 hits, walked 3 and hit 2. It's not on the same level as a Hifumi Shinta fomerly of rival school Toukaidai Sagami, but wildly effective is the best way to describe his opening game.
Maebashi Ikuei will be hard pressed to repeat their first two games. Against Iwakuni Shougyou and then against Shounan, ace Takahashi Kouna pitched back-to-back 5-hit shutouts in 1-0 victories. His opening line of 13Ks perhaps raised expectations on him, as he would only strike out 6 in his next outing. He's very stingy with the walks - 3 total in his 2 games total, and gets batters for bad contact with a nasty slider and forkball.
With the offense not scoring runs, Kouna will be pressed to pitch like this for the rest of Koushien. Can he survive under shorter rest and under the relentless summer heat?
Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma)
CF Kudou Youhei
LF Tamura Hayato
SS Tsuchiya Keisuke
3B Arai Kento
C Ogawa Toshiki
P Takahashi Kouna
RF Itagaki Fumiya
1B Uchida Shouji (#14)
2B Takahashi Tomoya
3B Kawaguchi Ryou
2B Matsuzaki Kenzou
CF Asama Daiki
SS Takahama Yuuto
1B Watanabe Yoshiaki
C Takai Daichi
P Itou ShoujiLF Hasegawa Hiroyuki
RF Nemoto Kouta (#15)
13:17 - First Pitch!
Well, Kudou started the waiting game, but he goes after the 3-1 slider in the dirt.
Drive to left center! Asama back to the wall, leaps!
It's off the top of the padding! Asama gets it in, but not before Kudou's in with a double!
Ah.... Tamura goes for the bunt, but a crashing Watanabe goes to 3rd and Kudou is out by a good margin.
Oho! Tsuchiya's ball to the right side finds he grass! Tamura takes 3rd!
Chance here for Maebashi Ikuei early as cleanup batter Arai steps in.
He's playing the patience game too, gets ahead 3-1...
Base hit!! He takes one the opposite way through the right side! Tamura walks in and Tsuchiya takes 3rd! It's 1-0 Maebashi Ikuei!
Ogawa drive down the right side... fair! Tsuchiya scores as Ogawa slides in with a double! 2-0 Maebashi and Watanabe-kantoku calls time.
But perhaps thinking Itou is on the ropes, Kouna goes attacking Itou, falls behind, takes a close pitch... then wastes the effort chasing a pitch at the eyes.
Itagaki doesn't even wait that long, takes just 1 pitch before grounding to 3rd to end the inning.
Maebashi scores 2, but it could have been much more!
Kawaguchi looking to mount Yokohama's counter-attack singles to center.
Matsuzaki lays down the bunt, but it's right in front of home! Ogawa pops out, fires a strike to 2nd, Tsuchiya goes to 1st... double play! That runner for Yokohama is erased!
And Asama grounds to short! A base hit, but that's it for Kouna!
Uchida goes after the first pitch, grounds to 3rd.
Tomoya back to being patient, works the count full... draws the walk!
And now he hits Kudou! 2 on 1 out for Maebashi! Itou doesn't look sharp at all.
Tamura tries to play the waiting game, but he goes 2-2 after chasing a high fastball. He flies out to right.
Tsuchiya trying for it all! Fly to deep right! Nemoto going back, going back!
But the hamakaze knocks the ball down (as always), and he makes the catch!
Once again, Maebashi has the right idea but doesn't understand the situation (hamakaze). Itou still only tagged for the 2 runs!
One down, and a ball to 1st from Watanabe doesn't take a hop and skips under him for a base hit!
Takai follows that up with a proper base hit through the right side! Developing situation for Maebashi!
Kouna throws it away to 2nd! Watanabe goes to 3rd!
And Itou comes through! Once again, singles through to right and it's 2-1 Maebashi!
But Hasegawa grounds to 3rd! Arai goes 2nd for 1, throw to 1st...
Just beats Hasegawa for the double play! Inning over, but Yokohama back on the warpath!
Arai quick groundout to short, looks like they're abandoning the waiting game.
Ogawa with a weird swing, bloops one to right! All I can describe it as is like hopping back while doing a golf swing.
Kouna on the first pitch a grounder past a diving Matsuzaki into center! Maebashi threatening again!
But it's quickly wiped out! He hits it right to Kawaguchi who tags 3rd and goes to 1st for the double play! Side retired!
Nemoto ball up the middle! Tsuchiya dives, makes the stop!
Ah! but he loses it getting up and Nemoto is safe! Still, nice play there to get to the ball. Kawaguchi will move the douten runner to scoring position.
Kouna jams Matsuzaki, chops one to 1st. Uchida takes it himself for the 2nd out.
But Asama is up at the wrong time for Kouna.
Apparently Kouna thinks so too and walks Asama on 4 straight. Only problem is that it brings up Takahama...
Kouna goes for the slow curve! Takahama bites and pops it up! Tsuchiya out on the grass makes the catch for the 3rd out!
Itou seemingly can locate the fastball well enough, he punches out Uchida with one over the plate. The offspeed stuff not as much.
Tomoya gets ahead of Itou 3-0, but Itou puts 2 in there to fill up the count.
Tomoya gets jammed inside and hits a simple comebacker to Itou for the 2nd out.
Kudou booms a ball to right! Nemoto back... to the wall!!
Well, so much for not trying to fight the wind, Kudou does it! 3-1 Maebashi Ikuei!
Tamura with another big swing! No way!!!
Hasegawa going back to the wall!
Back-to-back by the top of Maebashi's order, WHAT?! It's 4-2 Maebashi Ikuei!!
Tsuchiya goes down swinging to end the inning, but this is a shock!!
Watanabe goes after the slow curve from Kouna, grounds right to Uchida.
Takai gets ahead of Kouna 3-0, but Kouna fights back to make it full.
And he pulls out the slider and Takai goes down for the 2nd out!
Itou making Kouna work, gets the count full.. found a pitch he liked and single to right.
Kouna falling behind batters and having to work his way back. 2-0 to Hasegawa, levels it at 2-2, then puts him away with the slider!
Arai and Ogawa quickly fly out for 2 outs.
Kouna falls behind, rolls over a ball to short and the side is finally retired in order for the first time
Nemoto up... and down on 3 straight... Kouna hits outside corner for the first out.
Kawaguchi liner down the line, Arai with a great leaping snag for the 2nd out!
Asama up, and swings at the 1-1 pitch but it gets away from Ogawa! Matsuzaki takes 2nd!
Asama swings over the forkball and the side is retired! We're at the break and Maebashi Ikuei has made a statement in the early innings against the Koushien mainstays!!
Itagaki singles back up the middle for a base hit! Uchida bunts him over.
Ball in the dirt bounces off of Takai and he loses sight of it as it falls behind him! Itagaki takes 3rd!
Tomoya lays down the squeeze, and Itou can't go home in time! Gets out at 1st, but it's now 5-1!
Kudou grounds out to end the inning, but Yokohama looks in real bad shape.
Yokohama seemingly folding before our eyes. Takahama quickly flies out to left, Watnabe grounder to short.
Takai bloops one to right, Itagaki almost makes sliding catch, but it pops out. He's in with a double.
But on the next pitch, Itou flies out to left. Side retired.
They must be folding tents because Watanabe-kantoku is starting to empty the bench it seems.
#18 Oda comes in for Watanabe and takes over on the hill while Itou goes to 1B. #14 Endou comes in for Matsuzaki.
Oda not bad here as he gets Tamura to chase the slider and Tsuchiya just watches a fastball hit the outside corner.
Arai grounder to short, should be, oy...
Takahama fumbles ball, inning continues.
あ。 And now Ogawa draws a walk.
Kouna blooper down the 3rd base side... Nemoto charging in towards the right field line, dives!!
It falls in! Blooper scores both Arai and Ogawa and it's 7-1!
Oda finally retires Itagaki but the rout is on.
Not much to say from the Yokohama side. Batters are swinging away, and getting retired quickly. Kouna just needs 9 pitches.
#9 Ono takes over for PH Asai (who hit for Hasegawa) and goes to LF.
Maebashi Ikuei also looking to wrap things up quickly. Only a liner down the line by Kudou for a double breaks the clean inning.
#13 Kawada come in to hit for Endou, the first pitch from Kouna goes over his head, he ducks, the ball somehow hits the bat, and it goes fair in front of the plate. Ogawa throws him out...
Asama draws a walk, then proceeds to steal 2nd and 3rd. But Takahama and #12 PH Inoue go down and leave Asama stranded at 3rd.
#10 Nakajima comes in for PH Kawada and takes the hill. Nemoto goes to the vacated 2B, Ono moves from LF to RF, and Inoue stays in at LF.
Once again only a single from Okawa breaks up the clean inning. But Maebashi is finally at the bottom of the 9th
Perhaps to save some face, Takai singles to center. Perhaps they can make it somewhat respectable.
But Itou pops out to Tsuchiya, and Ono grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to end the game!
Wow, I was not expecting that. Perhaps the inexperience of the 2nd years made a difference, but fortunately for them they can learn from it and be stronger for next year. It is surprising though to see 2nd years litter a roster such as Yokohama.
The growing tale of Maebashi Ikuei and ace Takahashi Kouna is growing by the day. He already is the surprise of the tournament.
What was really surprising was the offensive output. Yes, they faced difficult pitching, but to explode for 7 runs against Yokohama with 2 HRs? Unbelievable.
Seeing this game, could the sky be the limit for this team?
Takahashi Kouna (Maebashi Ikuei) - CG, ER, 9 H, 5 K, 2 BB
Takahashi Kouna (Maebashi Ikuei) -2-5, 2B, 2 RBI
Kudou Youhei (Maebashi Ikuei) -3-4, 2 2B, HR, R, RBI, HBP
Ogawa Toshiki (Maebashi Ikuei) - 3-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB
Takai Daichi (Yokohama) - 3-4, 2B
Itou Shouji (Yokohama) - 2-4, RBI