With Maebashi Ikuei in the final, who will face them? Hanamaki Higashi has the offense on their side, while Nobeoka seemingly has the pitching on their side.
Hanamaki Higasahi (Iwate)
2B Yagi Hikaru (#14)
CF Chiba Shouta
LF Kishisato Ryousuke (#1)
RF Oota Ryousuke
3B Tadano Shouta (#3)
C Yamashita Hayato
SS Mogi Kazuhiro
1B Oguma Yuuki (#16)
P Nakazato Yuusuke (#11)
Nobeoka Gakuen (Miyazaki)
2B Kajiwara Shouto
SS Matsumoto Masaya
CF Sakamoto Ryougo
RF Iwashige Akihito
LF Hamada Shintarou
1B Tanaka Yuuki
3B Usuda Ryou (#14)
C Yanase Naoya
P Yokose Takahiro
13:30 - First Pitch!
Yagi up, goes full count, and grounds to 2nd.
Chiba up, and he's not trying to work the count? Swings 1-0 and grounds to 3rd...
Oof... then collides with Tanaka at 1st. He's shaken up a bit, but eventually gets up and heads to dugout. Though, given his stature there's not a lot he won't win in a collision.
Apparently the patience game is being played by Chiba's teammates, because Kishisato goes full, fouls off a couple and takes a walk.
Oota, behind 1-2, fouls off one... and another... and another, and another!
Yokose finally gets him to ground to 1st, but that's 25 pitches in the inning. Chiba would be proud.
And there's Ama-chan's OP theme.
Kajiwara though chops one to short, Mogi makes the play for the 1st out.
Matsumoto hard ball to Oguma, gets in front and takes it to the bag for the 2nd out.
And Matsumoto way out in front of a curve, grounds to Mogi again. Short hops throw, but Oguma makes pitch for a 1-2-3 innning.
After pitching Tadano low, Yokose goes up and in and Tadano can only roll it to Tanaka for the 1st out.
Yokose doesn't pull out the slider, but the changeup as Yamashita goes down for his first K.
And Mogi first pitch flies out to Sakamoto and the inning is over.
Iwashige short ball to the left side, Mogi charges, gets the throw off and gets Iwashige for out #1.
Hamada swings over a slider letter high for the 2nd out.
Tanaka rolls one to 2nd and... AH!
Yagi whiffs on the ball and it goes 5-hole! Inning continues!
Usuda, after falling 1-2 works the count full. Next pitch... ball!
Oh... that was close... But the inning continues as Yanase steps in with runners at 1st and 2nd.
Nakazato gets Yanase to swing and miss on a slider and the inning is over, but not before he has to throw 11 more pitches.
Oguma goes after yet another curve, and grounds out to Matsumoto up the middle.
Once again the battery does the ol' setup outside pitch over the plate to get Nakazato.
Yagi with the 6th groundout for Yokose as he hits one to Kajiwara for the 3rd out. Right now he has the Hanamaki batters all fouled up in their timing.
Nakazato doing a great job matching Yokose on the mound, first of all getting his counterpart to pull an outside slider weakly to 2nd and Kajiwara to fly to center on the same.
Matsumoto, though hits a hard grounder up the middle. Yagi makes the great stop, but throws it to 1st when he has no play and throws it away! Sensei (先制) runner on at 2nd base!
But once again Nakazato picks up his 2B. Matsumoto grounds to short and the inning is over!
Wait, who is this person batting as Chiba? He's swinging to put the ball in play!
Slaps one to the left side, takes a high hop that Matsumoto fields, throws to 1st... beats a diving Chiba!
(RUN THROUGH THE BAG!!!!) (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Kishisato, attacking the 3-1 pitch whizzes it by Tanaka for a base hit.
Hit-and-run! Oota swings, but hits it right to Matsumoto. Has no play at 2nd so goes to 1st for the 2nd out.
Tadano can't get level on a high fastball and flies out t o right and we're still scoreless.
This game is whizzing by at a quick pace. Iwashige gets caught on an inside fastball and flies out to Chiba.
Hamada trying to attack first pitch, gets ahead of the changeup and grounds to Mogi.
Tanaka with a slicing liner that Kishisato runs down and we're already to the 5th inning at a neat 40 minutes!
Yamashita with a curve off the end of the bat drops it in center. Mogi laying down bunt, Yokose fields, AHHHHH!!!!!
Yokose falls over and his throw to 1st from the seat of his pants pulls Tanaka off the bag!
Shigemoto-kantoku call for time.
Oguma bunts, but it dies right at home! Yanase goes to 3rd for one, throw to 1st... Oguma just beats it out!
Nakazato up trying to give himself a lead...
But Yokose gets the generous outside strike call! 2 out!
And perhaps with that ouside pitch in mind, Yagi chases a fastball outside to close out the inning!
As if to "give back" to Nobeoka, Nakazato gets his own K on the outside corner.
Yanase a blooper to right, Yagi and Oota coming in... Yagi jumps, but can't get and it falls in for a single (he's having a rough day).
Yokose lays down the bunt, Tadano with it goes it 1st, AH!!
Throws it away! Yanase heads to 3rd, but Yagi is backing up the play! Throws to 3rd... and they got him! Nice cover by Yagi! (There you go!)
But man they're not making it easy on themselves! Nakazato uncorks a wild pitch and Yokose heads to 2nd!
Now a base hit from Kajiwara can give Nobeoka the lead!
But he goes after a high slider and hits a comebacker to Nakazato! Tosses it to 1st and the inning is over!
We hit the break with both teams with chances to score, but the starters closing the door. he game is going at breakneck speed... who will wipeout first?
This is not the Chiba I remember! He tries for the safety bunt and is thrown out by Yokose as he dives into 1st. (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Kishisato gets setup with a fastball after a curve and pops out to Yanase for the 2nd out.
And before I can really even finish these recaps, Oota looks at an outside fastball for strike 3!
One down, and Sakamoto grounds one back up the middle for a base hit.
2-2, Sakamoto takes off for 2nd! Yamashita with the throw but it's high and Yagi cuts it off...
Chance for a base hit here to take the lead, but Iwashige pops it up! Mogi behind 2nd makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Hamada ball to right side, through for a base hit!! Sakamoto being waved around as Oota throws it in, but it's not going to be in time! Hamada breaks the deadlock as he advances on the throw and Nobeoka Gakuen leads 1-0! Once again, Nobeoka is the master of mid-game adjustments!
Tanaka blast to right center! No one's going to get that! Chiba chasing that to the wall, but Tanaka's going to get in with a RBI triple to make it 2-0!
Sasaki-kantoku calls for time...
Usuda grounds out to Mogi to end the inning, but now Hanamaki Higashi will be on the clock.
But they're playing like a team under a lot of pressure instead of digging in.
Tadano unable to pull trigger on fastball outside, goes down looking.
Yamashita an easy comeback to Yokose for the 2nd out..
And Mogi tries to take a fastball the other way, but it's not hit very hard and Kajiwara makes the play at 1st to retire the side!
Two quick outs against the bottom of Nobeoka's order as Yanase grounds to short and Yokose gets a taste of his own cooking as he chases an ouside fastball.
Kajiwara grounds out to 2nd and the inning is over.
Kajiwara injures himself running to 1st base and has to be carried off the field. He's crying so it looks like he won't be returning.
And #5 Kajiwara takes his spot, and goes to 3B, Usuda goes to 2B.
Oguma still not recognizing the outside strike goes down looking.
#15 Takeda hitting for Nakazato first pitch grounds to short.
Yagi finally gets a base runner for Hanamaki Higashi as he singles up the middle past Usuda.
Chiba up with a chance to work the count and get on base... maybe?
He swinging away! Hard shot to 2nd, but Usuda is there to block it! Takes it to 2nd and the inning is over!
#17 Hosokawa in for PH Takeda to take the hill.
Matsumoto welcomes him with a base hit to center.
But Hosokawa has him picked off! Rundown... oh...
Hosokawa called for the balk, and now Sasaki-kantoku calls for time.
Sakamoto expectedly bunts Matsumoto to 3rd.
But it's a pitchout! Iwashige throws the bat at the ball (which isn't legal anyways), misses, and Matsumoto is run down 2-5-1-6 for the 2nd out!
It almost becomes a 1-2-3 inning of sorts, but Hosokawa walks Iwashige.
Hamada flies out to left and the inning is over...
But they're just 3 outs away from defeat and they haven't played gritty all game!
3-4-5 batters up for Hanamaki Higashi...
Kishisato, first pitch jammed, flies out to center.
Oota flails at the outside fastball and there's 2 outs.
Last chance in Tadano.
He's quickly behind 0-2, now 1-2 fouls off a pitch before holding up on a slider. Works count full... and earns a walk!
Yokose gets up quickly on Yamashita 0-2.
Yokose gets Yamashita to swing on an outside slider and Nobeoka Gakuen wins 2-0!
Wow, did not expect this game. Nobeoka Gakuen did everything they normally do in a ballgame, made their mid-game adjustments and won the game.
But I am very surprised at Hanamaki Higashi and how they played their game. Instead of playing gritty, they played like Yasuda Gakuen a couple of years back who looked like they had somewhere else to go to.
And the poster boy for Hanamaki Higashi, Chiba Shouta, who can be visibly heard crying, is where I point the style blame to - not necessarily him.
Chiba was good in setting up the rest of the lineup, by taking pitches and getting on base. And yet today, he was swinging away like everyone else. I just didn't understand what their strategy was against Yokose. If it was to score before they made their adjustments, simply willy-nilly swinging wasn't going to get it done. If this was Sasaki-kantoku's doing then he loses a couple of managerial points in how he played this opportunity today.
I won't necessarily go so far as to say that a team deserved a loss, because all these teams worked hard to get here, but they did themselves no favors with how they played today.
Yokose and Yanase did exactly what they were supposed to do. Once they identified that the home plate umpire was giving the outside strike, they went there time and again with Hanamaki unable to adjust.
That's not to take everything away from Yokose's performance. He located his pitches well and hit the spots that Yanase was spotting. The question will be if he can do it on 0 days rest.