Meitoku Gijyuku under the flag of ace Kishi has brought the team back to the best 8. He did so while revenging the loss to Osaka Touin last year. He will not rack up the K's like other aces, but he exhibits a level of control which makes him very successful.
The problem with them is their offense. Yes, they did enough win the battle with Setouchi ace Yamaoka, then jumped on Osaka Touin ace Kuzukawa. The problem is they didn't score anything thereafter when Kuzukawa was replaced, garnering just 2 hits.
Nichidai Yamagata has been on a run similar to the run they made in 2006 when they got to this point. Ace Shouji has carried them past Nichidai-san and then against Sakushin Gakuin - two generally strong stalwarts in the kokoyakyu world. He has a very sharp slider that can confound batters - see the 12Ks against Sakushin Gakuin. The one nagging bit is the 7 walks in the first game. Not all of them were because he wasn't locating the slider, it just seemed like he was plain missing the plate. Will a patient team at the plate possibly expose him?
Nichidai Yamagata (Yamagata)
CF Aoki Tatsuya
2B Nakano Takumu
LF Mineta Jyunnosuke
SS Okumura Hiromu
1B Yoshioka ?
C Asanuma Takanori
RF Takeda Shouhei
P Shouji Misaki
3B Itasaka Hiroki
Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
CF Yano Masao
2B Hata Hikaru
3B Itsuzaki Tomonari
P Kishi Jyunichirou
1B Nishioka Takashige
LF Son Ho Kyun (#9)
RF Ozaki Yuuto (#15)
C Baba Yuudai
SS Iwami Takashi
11:00 - First Pitch
First pitch swinging, Aoki hits slop chopper up middle. Iwami there and goes to 1st for the out.
Nakano late on the Kishi offering, also rolls one to short.
Nichidai Yamagata attacking Kishi early when they know they'll get strikes, but Mineta flies out to Son in left and he side is retired in 7 pitches.
Yano tries to size up a curveball, but grounds out to short.
Hata slices a slider the other way and it goes to left center for a base hit.
Itsuzaki not bunting here, but grounds to 2nd. Hata cuts down the lead runner. Mabuchi-kantoku sending Itsuzaki! Throw from Asanuma... just late!
Kishi with a drive to righ! Takeda running back, but he knows it's over his head! Itsuzaki scores as the the throw comes in and Kishi has his first base hit, a run scoring double! 1-0 Meitoku Gijyuku!
Nishioka grounds to 2nd, but Nichidai Yamagata behind it early as they already trail after 1.
Nichidai Yamagata's batters are so concerned with falling behind they are swinging away very early in counts.
Okumura with a quick grounder to 2nd, Yoshioka hits the very definition of a swinging bunt as Kishi throws him out.
Asanuma at 1-1 swings on two consecutive sliders to retire the side.
Son gets under one, Takeda settles under it for the first out.
Same with Ozaki as he hits a silo HR to Okumura.
Baba tries to time the curve, but grounds to Itasaka for the 3rd out.
Just to keep the batters off balance, Kishi on 2-1 goes slider, fastball to Takeda for his 2nd K.
Shouji checks in against his counterpart lacing a fastball to left.
Araki-kantoku will try for the one-timer with Aoki as Itasaka bunts the runner along.
Kishi looking for the edges can't find against Aoki, falls behind 3-0 fires a couple of balls to fill up the count.
But Kishi goes for another fastball and Aoki is all over it! Yano sprinting back as it lands behind him and one bounds to the wall! Shouji will score and we're all tied at 1-1!
Nakano is called around on a slider to end the inning, but Kishi gives in too much at 3-2 and we're tied!
With the game tied, Shouji goes to work on the Meitoku batters.
Works outside to Iwami, who grounds to short.
Yano goes after a slider outside, but is ahead of it and pulls it to 2nd. And Iwami is jammed inside and rolls one to more over to Nakano and the side is retired
Both pitchers in a groove as Kishi needs just 6 pitches to retire the 3-4-5 batters from Nichidai Yamagata. Still trying to attack Kishi before he gets the advantage.
Itsuzaki able to draw a walk after working the count full.
Mabuchi-kantoku calls for the hit-and-run! Kishi puts one to the left side, Okumura scrambling back, runs it down in the gap, goes to 1st... gets Kishi! One down, but Itsuzaki advances to scoring position.
Once again, Nishoka work the count full on Shouji.
Liner back up the middle, Shouji goes for cover as it whizzes by him! Itsuzaki being waved home an the throw is cutoff! 2-1 Meitoku Gijyuku!
Hit-and-run again! Son with a fly to left, but Mineta is back towards the wall! Naw it can't be, right?
Nope. He catches it with some room to spare for the 2nd ou.
Ozaki goes down on a slider to retire the side but Meitoku retakes the lead!
Kishi continuing to keep the batters off balance. Asanuma jammed on fastball up and in, hits soft pop to 2nd.
Takeda reaches out on a slider and grounds out 2nd.
Ahead 1-2 to Shouji, Kishi tries slider after slider, but Shouji doesn't bit and takes a walk.
Itasaka would have fouled out to Nishioka if he didn't flub the ball, but no damage done as on the next pitch he grounds to short
Shouji still cruising though for the most part. Baba chases slider outside for another K.
Iwami an easy comebacker to Shouji for out #2.
But instead of a 1-2-3 inning, Shouji grazes Yano's butt.
Yano goes for 2nd! It's a slow curve, but Asanuma quick throws to 2nd... Yano slides into Okumura... OUT! Nice play by the Nichidai catcher!
We hit the break with our expected pitcher's duel. Shouji has given up a couple of untimely hits but has been fairly effective nonetheless. Kishi has been just as effective, with perhaps the mistake to Aoki being the only one so far.
Aoki with a grounder to the right side, Nishioka makes great stop, hesitates, flips to Kishi, SAFE!
Kishi can't get his footwork at 1B down right and the douten runner is on base! Nakano bunts him along to 2nd for Mineta as Mabuchi-kantoku calls time.
Mineta though flies out to center and there's 2 out. Okumura up to bat.
Swings at a way high fastball! Yano springing back to right center! Are you kidding me?
It lands in front of the wall! Aoki will easily score from 2nd as Okumura is in with a triple! How in the world?!
Yoshioka fouls out to Nishioka, but once again we're level!
Hata with a high chopper to the left side. Itasaka waiting for it, fires to 1st.... just gets Hata for the out!
Itsuzaki with a ball to left center, Aoki charging in dives... has it, no! It pops out! Itsuzaki to 2nd and Meitoku has a chance to retake the lead!
Oh? Shouji pitching around Kishi? He gives him nothing to hit and he draws a walk.
Nishioka makes him pay! Single to right and Shouji can only give a laugh as Meitoku retakes the 3-2 lead!!
He clamps down though getting Son to ground into the 6-4-3 double play, but Nichidai Yamagata will have to play catchup once again!
Asanuma responding immediately with a single to right center! Takeda bunts, but Kishi goes to 2nd! They get one, Iwami's throw to 1st... beats a head-sliding Takeda (would have been safe if he ran).
Shouji drive to right! But the wind knocks it down! Ozaki in front of the wall makes the catch for the 3rd out!
Defensive change for Nichidai Yamagata. #16 Ajiki comes in for Takeda to play RF. Wonder if he hurt himself in the dive to 1st.
Baba looking to distance his team from Nichidai singles through short. Mabuchi-kantoku will play for the one timer as Iwami bunts him along for Yano.
Yano draws a walk, and that gets Araki-kantoku to call time.
On the very next pitch, he "hits" Hata, though he really grazes his butt if at all. Manrui for Meitoku!
And Shouji gets out of it! Itsuzaki gets under a high fastball and flies out to center! They're still in it!
Itasaka liner, but right at Iwami for the 1st out. Back to the top of the order and Aoki.
Man he's got a good swing, nice and level. Lines one right back to center.
Nakano with the safety bunt, but Itsuzaki makes the strong throw for the out.
Kishi leaves one over for Mineta! He drives it to deep left center! Yano scrambling back... no chance! Mineta in with a triple and we're tied again at 3-3!!!
And now they're intentionally walking Okumura to get to Yoshioka. Ball 4 and in steps Yoshioka, 0-3 on the day.
LINER TO RIGHT!!!!! That's in for a base hit! Mineta scores and Nichida Yamagata has their first lead in the game here in the 8th! It's 4-3!!!!
Asanuma flies out to right, but it's now Meitoku Gijyuku under the clock!
Shouji being just as cautious with Kishi, winds up walking him to start the inning. Nishioka will bunt him along for Son.
And perhaps also in the same vein, Shouji pitches around Son to get to Ozaki. Ball 4 and gyakuten run is on base.
Mabuchi-kantoku counters by sending in #13 Takahashi to bunt for Ozaki.
But he's down 0-2, and he just checks his swing.
2-2 and he gets fooled, but has a quick bat to foul it off.
Pitch way outside and it's 3-2!
Shouji goes inside and hits Takahashi with the fastball in the shoulder! Manrui for Meitoku as Araki-kantoku calls time. 138 pitches for Shouji, and they're leaving him in!
#7 Oonishi in to run for Takahashi.
OH! First pitch inside makes Baba hit the deck!
Baba kneeling lays it down but it goes foul!
And now swinging away falls behind 1-2! Should he have been patient with a tired Shouji on the mound?
But Baba pops it up! Asanuma doesn't need to catch it, but does anyways for the 2nd out!
Iwami up to bat, and he gets one final message from Mabuchi-kantoku.
But he pops it up! Okumura secures it and Shouji holds serve here in the 8th!
Oonishi stays in at LF, Son moves to RF.
Ajiki up for his first AB, singles back up the middle! Playing for insurance, Shouji bunts him along for Itasaka.
But Itasaka pops out to Hata on the first pitch.
Aoki flies out to right, and it's hang on time for Shouji! Did Meitoku blow their best chance last inning, or are there some theatrics left in the bottom of the 9th?
Top of the order due for Meitoku. Yano steps in...
Shows bunt, takes strike 1. Slider inside, swung and missed.
Shouji gets a generous outside strike and Yano spins around in frustration! One down.
Hata rolls over one. Yoshioka keeps calm, recovers and goes to 1st for the 2nd out!
Last chance in Itsuzaki.
Puts a slider inside for strike 2, 1-2 now... fastball outside, 2-2.. slider high 3-2...
Kishi waiting on deck...
Line down the 1st base line.. foul!
Grounder to 2nd! Nakano with it, goes to 1st..
Nichidai Yamagata fights from behind all game, come through in the top of the 8th and take their very first lead, and win 4-3!!
Kishi is in tears understandably after the loss. He pitched so well up until this point, but he left pitches in the zone in key situations (Not to Okumura, you just tip your hat there). Even still, he pitched very well, and was let down by his kantoku's strategy more than anything. Yes, for most of the team the summer is over, but the team has absolutely nothing to be disappointed about.
For Nichidai Yamagata, they succeed their performance back in 2006 (when I got to see them in person) with an impressive win. Perhaps Hanamaki Higashi's grittiness is carrying over because it never felt like they were out of it and continuously fought back.
Ace Shouji will need that day of rest as he was certainly laboring in the 8th. Will he be rested enough for the semifinal?