There is no preface needed given my reviews of the teams. It will come down to which ace, or perhaps which relief staff can hold the team up.
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
Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma)
CF Kudou Youhei
2B Takahashi Tomoya
SS Tsuchiya Keisuke
3B Arai Kento
C Ogawa Toshiki
RF Itagaki Fumiya
P Takahashi Kouna
LF Tamura Hayato
1B Kusunoki Hiroki
11:00 - First Pitch!
Kouna going outside to Aoki to start, he rolls over a 2-seamer to 2nd for the out.
Nakano with a ball back up the middle gets by Tsuchiya dives for it, but it gets past for a single.
Mineta with a base hit to center! Uh oh, these hits are back up the middle so far and Nichidai Yamagata is threatening.
Kouna despite the pinch, not giving in to Okumura, he tries to nibble the bottom of the zone, but to no avail! He's behind 3-0!
And he winds up walking him! Manrui for Nichdai Yamagata as Araki-kantoku calls time...
Shot to the right side! Tomoya with the pick! Throws to 2nd for 1, back to 1st...
Kouna gets an assist from his 2B as he makes a spectacular play to get his ace out of the inning!
Kudou with a single just past a ranging Nakano for a leadoff single. Tomoya to bunt the runner..
NO!! It's a bust-and-run!
And Tomoya executes it perfectly! It goes right though the hole in the left side of the infield and now there's runners on 1st and 2nd with no out! This time Tsuchiya bunts the runners along looking for a timely.
Arai delivers! He hits a fly to right and Kudou tags up! Throw in not nearly in time and Maebashi Ikuei has the 1-0 lead!
Ogawa grounds out to short, but the first strike goes to the first timers!
Kouna working away to Asanuma, he winds up early and pulling a slider right to Arai for the first out.
Takeda gets a high fastball, but get the bat behind it and flies out to Kudou for the 2nd out.
And it's a 9 pitch inning for Kouna as Shouji liked what he saw from the Kouna's curveball, but he too is under it and flies out to right to end the inning.
Itagaki with a hard grounder to the right side, but Tomoya's counterpart Nakano makes a great stop of his own for the 1st out.
Kouna, after seeing two pitches out of the zone, goes after the first good one, but it's a fastball down and in and he can't quite get the bat level on it. Skies into the air and Okumura takes it on the mound for the 2nd out.
Tamura with a powerful level swing sends one down the right field line. Takeda running over, slides... but can't get to it! He scrambles to get it in, but not before Tamura is in with a triple!
Liner to 1st, off Yoshioka's glove!!! It goes into right and Tamura scores to make it 2-0 Maebashi!!
That's Kusunoki's first hit this Koushien and it's an unfortunate one for Yoshioka and Nichidai Yamagata!!
Kudou grounds to short, but once again, Maebashi Ikuei puts a runner on the board.
Itasaka ball back up middle, off Kouna! Ah, but it deflects right to Tomoya who goes to 1st for the out! What bad luck!
And Aoki follows that up with a basehit past a racing Tomoya.
Kouna though looking to settle down, freezes Nakano on a forkball for the 2nd out.
But I think the Nichidai batters have Kouna's timing down though as Mineta hits yet another ball back through the middle for a base hit.
Of course timing is one thing, hitting the ball is another! Okumura goes down swinging on Kouna's slider and the inning is over!
#16 Ajiki in for Takeda at RF.
Tomoya moving from #9 to #2 in the order immediately paying dividends for Maebashi! He hits a ball to the opposite way, Ajiki charging in... but he can't get there! Tomoya in with a double! He's moved over to 3rd by Tsuchiya. Arai up with another RBI opportunity.
And he delivers! This time he pulls one through short and Tomoya scores to make it a 3-0 ballgame!
Ogawa and Itagaki both fly out to end the inning, but this game is accelerating out of hand!
Yoshioka chopper back up middle, guess who's there? Tomoya at 2nd fields and fires to 1st for the first out!
After that though Kouna walks Asaunma on 4 straight.
But it's like he's toying with them because Ajiki goes down swinging on an inside forkball, and Shouji guesses wrong on the slider for the 3rd out.
Shouji trying to get back on track, feeds Kouna steady diet of fastballs, then puts him away with the slider.
Tamura ball the other way, Nakano makes a great sliding stop and Yoshioka with the pick at 1st for the 2nd,
And it's finally a 1-2-3 inning for Shouji! Kusunoki flies out to left to retire the side!
Itasaka way ahead of a Kouna offering flies out to center.
Aoki also seeing Kouna well, singles to right. Nakano with the bunt up the 3rd base line, but Arai is there and fires to 2nd!! They get the lead runner!
Mineta up liner to right, Tamura going back, leaps!
Just makes the catch! I think he was fooled a little there, but he still makes the catch for the 3rd out!
Kudou ball back up middle, Okumura trying to get to it, but it just gets past him. Tomoya, despite the 2 hits, bunts him over.
And Araki-kantoku pulls the plug! #11 Satou Kazumasa comes in to replace Shouji on the mound!
Kazumasa though not finding the zone on Tsuchiya walks him.
It feels like he's overthrowing as all the pitches are outside or up, and he's behind 3-0 to Arai!
Liner to 3rd, Itasaka makes the catch! 2 out!
Ogawa flies out to left, and we hit the break with Maebashi Ikuei getting to ace Shouji early and often. Does Nichidai Yamagata have an answer this time against Takahashi Kouna?
Okumura drives the first pitch to center right! Kudou scrambling to get there, but it'll fall in and one hop to the wall! Okumura headed to 2nd, AH!
Kudou's throw misses the cutoff man and Okumura takes 3rd on the error! Chance to get one back!
And they do! Yoshioka with a deep ball to left, Tamura makes the catch, but Okumura easily scores to make it 3-1!
What's this? Kouna being careful with Asanuma? He walks him again! Araki-kantoku has Ajiki bunt him along for a one-timer from Kazumasa.
Ah, but he twirls like a ballerina on a slider from Kouna and the inning is over. Still, they get one run ack!
Kazumasa still struggling a bit there with control, but goes up and in on Itagaki and he has no chance at it for the 1st out.
Oh?! He goes a really nice slider away that Kouna just waves the bat at for the 2nd out.
Tamura will not give Kazumasa the clean inning though, he singles just under the glove of Kazumasa into center.
Tamura takes the right opportunity to slide as the pitch as wide outside.
Kusunoki, looking for his 2nd hit skies one to shallow right, Ajiki comes in, slides and makes the catch for the 3rd out.
Itasaka can't replicate that first knock as Kouna whips out the slider and Itasaki has no chance.
Aoki chases a slider inside and pops out to Tsuhchiya.
And Nakano swings on a high slider and pops it to foul territory, Arai heading to the edge of the camera well near the bullpen, and makes the catch to retire the side!
#10 Satou Ryouta comes in now for Kazumasa and takes the hill.
Kudou immediately with a ball to the gap in short. Okumura stops it in the gap, fires to first... SAFE!! Kudou just beats that one out.
Bust and run! But Tomoya misses! Throw to 2nd, SAFE!!
Kudou straight steals the base!
Tomoya with the bunt, Saitou goes to 3rd!
The throw is a bit low and Arai doesn't have it when he goes to tag Kudou! Araki-kantoku calls time, but this situation will be hard to get away with without damage now...
Tsuchiya showing bunt, but doesn't offer. Ah! But Tomoya takes off for 2nd! Throw not in time!
Ahead 1-2 though, Saitou goes full.
Tsuchiya shot to right side! Nakano is in front of it! But he has no play at home and begrudgingly can only go to 1st... Maebashi reestablishes 4-1 lead!
Saitou gets a key 2nd out! Arai pops out to Yoshioka up the 1st base line and he's can limit the damage to 1.
Ah... but it's not that easy as he plunks Ogawa...
And now Ogawa takes off for 2nd! Throw from Asanuma has him, so he scrambles back! Okumura chasing him sees Tsuchiya breaking for home! He runs down Ogawa as Tomoya scores! Which came first?!
It's the out! The umpires rule the tag out came first and the run doesn't count!
But Nichidai Yamagata is surely pressing now. The side is retired in just 7 pitches and it really looks bad for them.
Well, Maebashi doesn't mind being retired in 8 pitches. Nichidai gets their first 1-2-3 inning, but it may well be too late.
Kouna at a neat 95 pitches entering the 9th.
Asanuma hits a curve back into center for a leadoff single.
#13 Mito hits for Ajiki, but succumbs to the slider, 1 down.
Saitou grounder to 2nd! Tomoya with it! Goes to 2nd for one, goes to 1st... double play!! Game set!
Takahashi Kouna and Maebashi Ikuei sends his team to the championship game with a 4-1 win over Nichidai Yamagata!!
It's really too bad for Nichidai Yamagata, having reached the semifinals for the first time in school and prefectural history, they were almost taken out of the game right off the bat. It looked like there still might be some fight left in them after scoring the run in the 6th, but Kouna would shut them down thereafter.
But it was a great run for the boys from Yamagata. I know they're crying because they lost and perhaps lost without a chance, but considering their run, they should still be proud of their achievements. Hopefully it won't be another 7 years before we see another team make a run.
For Takahashi Kouna, this has to be one of the best scenarios for him. Just a shade over 100 pitches in a winning effort and while he may not still be able to go the full 9, he will be able to go longer than perhaps they were expecting.
Just one more game before making history for his school.