Well, our first two games were very close, exciting affairs. I'm afraid though that this one may be a slaughter...
Tokyo (both Nishi and Higashi) were bloodbaths. Shuutoku just cut everyone down on their way to the title, and the only question is if that will transfer over to Koushien.
Oita Shougyou will be the team to challenge. They too cut through the field with the exception of a 7-6 win over Oita in the semifinal.
The talent pool is rather bigger in Tokyo though, so Shuutoku's sweep gets more credit.
Oita Shougyou (Oita)
RF Arita Yousuke
C Mizuguchi Keita
1B Miyazaki Ren
CF Fukuchi Hayato
LF Gotou Ryousuke
2B Otozu Souichirou
P Kasaya Shinsuke
3B Sugahara Itsuki
SS Emoto Shinsuke
Shuutoku (Higashi Tokyo)
SS Kozawa Masahiko
3B Morita Kannosuke
CF Iino Shuuta
C Yamashita Ryuuji
RF Kobayashi Hiroshi
2B Sakai Yoshiki
1B Nemoto Shougo
LF Hoshina Takeshi
P Nishibayashi Kento
13:21 - First Pitch!
Nishibayashi again another average ace velo wise. Fastball in the low-mid 130s... which Arita watches for strike 3 after running the count full.
Mizuguchi up, and Nishibayashi is throwing fastballs like there's no tomorrow... Ah, there's a slider (mid 110s) fouled off.
And Misuguchi with one past a diving Sakai into center for a base hit!
And it looks like Miyazaki will swing away... with a hit-and-run! But he grounds to 2nd for the 2nd out.
Fukuchi then chases the first pitch and also grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Kasaya is a lefty who throws normal overhand with about the same velo as Nishibayashi (mid 130s) and a slider so far in the mid 110s and change in the low 110s.
Control looks not bad to start either.
Kozawa opens the offense with a grounder to short. Morita chases a change and grounds out to 2nd, with Iino swinging at the very next pitch and popping out to Otozu for the 3rd out.
One down for Daishou and captain Otozu hits a ball to deep right center! Kobayashi gives chase but it's over his head! Otozu is in with a double!
No bunting for Daishou as Kasaya swings away. But he's patient and gets ahead in the count 3-1. And while Nishibayashi wins the battle, getting Kasaya to chop to short, Otozu advances to 3rd.
But he's stranded there when Sugahara grounds to short as well to end the inning.
While the velocity isn't there, I do like how the pitchers have good control - at least to start. Yamashita gets one at the end of the bat and flies out to left.
Kobayashi gets Shuutoku's first hit as he helicopters one down the left field line for a base hit.
Abo-kantoku not calling for a bunt, and I'm not sure will call for one - ever. At least according to the announcers. Sakai hits one back to Kasaya who takes his time waiting for the defense and gets the out at 2nd.
And in a a baserunning mistake, Kasaya catches Sakai off 1st and he's run down to end the inning.
Arita trying something different with one down going for the safety bunt, but Nemoto makes a good flip to a running Nishibayashi who doesn't need to break stride.
First bit of wildness from Nishibayashi as he actually throws behind Mizugichi but his jump gets him hit. Can't call that intentional.
Oh! Hit-and-run from Watanabe-kantoku! Miyazaki with a ball down the left field line! Mizuguchi ends up at 3rd and Miyazaki slides into 2nd! Chance for Daishou as Abo-kantoku calls for time with cleanup batter Fukuchi coming to bat.
Liner... over Sakai into center! Mizuguchi scores! Miyazaki being waved in! Throw home... cut off! Fired back to 2nd... out!
Fukuchi is out at 2nd, but not before 2 runs score on his timely hit! Oita Shougyou leads Shuutoku 2-0!
Nemoto is frozen on a slider on the outside corner for strike 3. Kasaya's control is on still!
Hoshina and Nishibayashi both try to attack early, but both grounds out to Otozu to end the inning. About the only weakness I see is when there are baserunners. But it's a small sample size so it's hard to say.
Nishibayashi having better luck against the bottom of Daishou's order as Gotou goes down swinging while Otozu flies out to left.
Kasaya though hits a ball to the left side. Kozawa runs it down, but his throw is late he's in with an infield hit!
What's this? It's a hit-and-run! Sugahara makes contact, but it's right at Kozawa who goes to 1st for the out.
Apparently according to the announcers, Watanabe-kantoku is not giving signs! That means the kids are making their own decisions! Ooh... I think I like this.
Kasaya issues his first walk to Kozawa, and is bunted along by Morita.
First pitch to Iino, Kozawa takes off for 3rd! No throw! He's in there way ahead of any throw! That's balls.
Iino grounder to the right side. Otozu crashing in fields and fires home! It's high and Kozawa slides in safe! 2-1 but Otozu with a better throw could have had him!
Kasaya gets the next two batters to fly out, but the surprise aggressiveness and the no-signs? This will be a good game if the teams don't fall apart fundamentally.
One down, and grounder to 3rd takes a high hop and almost take the head off Emoto but he dodges and it goes into left for a base hit. Watanabe-kantoku has Mizuguchi bunt the runner along...
And what's this? Abo-kantoku pulls Nishibayashi for #18 Sakurai! They're going with the 2 pitcher strategy!
Sakurai is a 2nd year lefty with a fastball in the high 120s it seems and a slider in the high 110s.
Miyazaki can't hold up on a slider and goes down to end the inning!
Sakai with a solid base hit to right center puts the douten runner on base, and now in scoring position after a bunt from Nemoto.
Oho! Kasaya with the quick turn picks off Sakai off 2nd! It's not really a lapse on Sakai's part, just a great move from Kasaya!
And Hoshina grounds back to Kasaya to end the inning!
We hit the break with Daishou in a surprise not only hanging in there, but leading Shuutoku! Not only that, but Abo-kantoku is implementing a 2 pitcher strategy? Can Kasaya hold on? How good is Sakurai? And will the interesting tactics continue?
Well, Sakurai is making himself at home on the mound. Fukuchi grounds one right to Nemoto at the bag for the 1st out. Gotou quickly goes down on 3 straight, and while he plunks Otozu and then throws a wild pitch, the Daishou batters are a bit lost trying to hit the southpaw as Kasaya also hits a roller to Nemoto for the 3rd out.
Sakurai opens his first AB with a hit to right center for a base hit. Looks like we're back to normal kokoyakyu tactics though as Kozawa is bunting.
Kozawa can't lay it down though and the count goes to 2-2. He three-bunts though and successfully lays it down. Douten runner in scoring position for Morita.
Morita gets a hold of one and drives it to left! Gotou back to the fence...
I think perhaps the runner gets to Kasaya and he hangs one that ends up in the netting in left for a gyakuten 2-run HR! Shuutoku takes the 3-2 lead right after the break!
Kasaya retires the next two batters, but baserunners may be Kasaya's kryptonite!
Watanabe-kantoku and Daishou hoping that this is a Lucky 7 as they find themselves behind.
Sugahara chases a pitch outside for Sakurai's 3rd K. Emoto lines out quickly to right... and Arita grounds out to short. 8 pitches for 3 outs and running out of time.
And perhaps Kasaya is out of rope too. Kobayashi blasts one to left center and that falls in for a leadoff double!
Shuutoku decides to go for the bunt to score an insurance run and Sakai lays it down.
Nemoto looking for a sac fly, but gets way under one and pops out to Emoto for the 2nd out. Can they hold off Shuutoku to get back on the bats?
And Hoshina with a base hit through to left makes it a 4-2 game! Kasaya's control is not as good now and he's leaving pitches too fat in the zone.
Just as I say that... wild pitch.
And just as I write that, Kasaya picks off Hoshina off at 2nd. But now the deficit for Daishou is at 2 with just 2 innings to go!
The problem for Daishou appears to be that the predominantly LHB lineup can't hit southpaw Sakurai.
Mizuguchi weakly grounds to 2nd, Miyazaki trying to get a walk instead of swinging away does earn it after Sakurai works it full.
Fukuchi too is struggling. He gets one off the end of the bat and just beats the relay throw from Sakai to stop the double play.
And despite his run not being the douten run, Fukuchi takes off for 2nd! Yamashita with the quick trigger, but Fukuchi is faster!
What's this? Now Sakurai is having control issues? Gotou walks on 4 straight, prompting a conference from Abo-kantoku. Captain Otozu up to try and get the timely hit!
Double steal!!! Fukuchi goes to 3rd, Yamashita fakes throw, but in the delay as he pops out Gotou takes 2nd!! That's even more balls!!
Otozu with a chopper to the right side! But Sakai playing back makes the play for the 3rd out. The efforts are fruitless, but I know they're not giving up.
Sakurai with his 2nd hit, a poke that falls gently into left.
Kozawa with the bunt, but Kasaya field it quickly and fires to 2nd to cut down Sakurai! Nice play!
But Shuutoku is going for the KO as Morita singles through the right side. One down, runners at 1st & 2nd.
Kasaya perhaps tiring out on the mound or paying too much attention to Kozawa at 2nd, walks Iino on 4 straight to load the bases for Yamashita. That prompts Watanabe-kantoku to call time.
Kasaya leaves one up and Yamashita singles past a drawn in Sugahara. Though Gotou fumbles the ball a bit, 2 runs were probably going to score anyways. It's 6-2 now in Shuutoku's favor as Watanabe-kantoku puts in #10 Nakano for Miyazaki and takes the hill, with Kasaya going to 1B.
But it's all falling apart for Dashou in the 8th. After a popup, Sakai blasts one to the wall in right center for a bases clearing triple to make it 8-2 now for Shuutoku.
Nemoto grounds out to short to end the inning, but the game is well in hand.
Despite being up 6, Sakurai hits counterpart Kasaya right on the ass.
Perhaps in a spot of respect, Sakurai is pulled for #10 Yusa. Even if not intentional, Kasaya doesn't deserve injury to insult.
Yusa though gets Sugahara to ground into a really nifty 6-4-3 double play and now Daishou is down to their last out.
Emoto with a skipper to the left side, but Morita is there to smother it! Throws to first and that's the ballgame!
Shuutoku wins 8-2, but that belies a great effort by the Oita champions. Oita Shougyou certainly is sad about the loss but there is absolutely nothing to be disappointed about. They actually were leading Shuutoku and Kasaya was strong on the mound.
But perhaps as things are to do in the kokoyakyu world, he just couldn't keep it up for a full 9 innings, and Shuutoku was able to take full advantage. I liked their style, Kasaya's great pickoff move (3!), the aggressiveness on the basepaths, and the apparent freedom that Watanabe-kantoku occasionally gave his players. I do hope they stay strong in Oita.
Shuutoku did exactly what they needed to do, with Nishibayashi and more importantly Sakurai keeping the game close as they wore out Kasaya. The offense being a bit lethargic early is concerning though. But they advance to the next round nonetheless.
Nishibayashi Kento (Shuutoku) - 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 K, HBP
Sakurai Masatoshi (Shuutoku) - 3.1+IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 3 K, 2 BB, 2 HBP
Morita Kannosuke (Shuutoku) - 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Sakai Yoshiki (Shuutoku) - 2-3, 3B, 2 RBI
Kasaya Shunsuke (Oita Shougyou) - 7.1 IP, 8 ER, 9 H, 2 K, 2 BB
Miyazaki Ren (Oita Shougyou) - 1-3, 2B, R
Fukuchi Hayato (Oita Shougyou) - 1-4, 2 RBI, BB