Our second game features two schools who have something to prove.
Fukuchiyama Seibi has had a bit of a struggle in recent years. After seeing their impressive run in person back in 2006, they fell out of the picture due to suspensions that cost the team their 2010 season.
They've been working their way back since, and finally put it all together this summer, including revenging a 22-3 loss last fall to eventual super-regional champs Kyoto Shouei.
Now, while the offense was in high gear early, it slowed down starting in the quarterfinals where Kita-Saga forced enchousen in the bottom of the 9th and almost extended it even after Seibi scored 2 in the top of the 11th.
I keep on harping pitching, but it is a necessity. It is much harder to hit your way to a title than pitch your way through the field. So ace Nakanrakari Kouta will need to shoulder the load. He throws in the upper 130s with a slider, curve and forkball. And while his twitter account is protected, what is it with HS players with twitter accounts?
Okinawa Shougaku successfully defended their fall taikai title, but survived some close calls against Kitanakagusuku and Mawashi. They definitely have something to prove because despite winning the Kyushu Super-Regional last fall, they looked awful in an 11-2 loss to Tsuruga Kehi.
The biggest thing will be ace Higa Kenichirou and how he fares on the mound. He doesn't throw particularly hard, so he'll need to locate his fastball - along with the slider, curve and changeup to be successful. I'm still skeptical though as I don't think you can change that much in a couple of months.
Except surprise! Ura is starting instead of Higa!
Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto)
3B Kusakabe Kouhei
CF Kuwahara Taiki
C Sano Yuusuke
1B Sakamoto Yoshinori
LF Kimura Noritsugu (#15)
P Nakanrakari Kouta
RF Deguchi Eito
SS Hiramoto Shouya
2B Nishida Yuuki
Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa)
SS Moromizato Takumi
CF Chinen Yuuya
LF Naka Shouji (#9)
1B Shibahiki Yuuma
RF Akamine Ken (#17)
2B Taira Yuuki
3B Kubo Shuuto (#16)
P Ura Atsushi (#10)
C Gushiken Hideki
10:40 - First Pitch!
First pitch from Ura goes over Kusakabe's head over Gushiken, over a lot of things.
Not a promising start as Ura walks Kusakabe on 4 straight. Kuwahara bunts him over to 2nd as expected.
Sano with a fly to right that Akamine fields. Kusakabe breaks for 3rd, and yet the throw in almost gets him on the slide!
Ura still having control issue but goes ahead 0-2... and gets Sakamoto to chase ball way out to end the inning! It's a much better start than in the spring.
Nakanrakari off to a decent start as well, though the control isn't quite there yet it seems. No matter though as Moromizato fouls out to Sakamoto, Chinen with an easy grounder to Nishida, and Naka fouls out to Hiramoto. Stressless first inning.
Noritsugu with a grounder to the right side, Taira to his left dives and just out of his reach for a base hit.
Nakanrakari show bunt, swings and just rips it foul up the 3rd base line.
Now he goes for the bunt, but fouls it off of Gushiken.
OH! Ura leaves one over the plate and Nakanrakari hits a laser to left! Naka goes to play it off the wall, bu it deflects to center! Naka has to run it down and Noritsugu scores to make it 1-0 Seibi!
Deguchi with a bunt! Ura charges in, wants to go to 3rd, but Kubo points to 1st as no one is covering! So Seibi threatening to score again.
But Ura gets Hiramoto to pop up! Shibahiki catches it for the 2nd out!
Last batter Nishida stepping in, Ura might get out of the jam with just one run damage.
NO! Nishida with another line shot that goes off the wall! Nakanrakari comes in to score and it's 2-0 Seibi!
Back to the top of the order and Kusakabe. Ura laboring out there falling behind 3-1. But he gets Kusakabe to hit a pop fly to end the inning. But the pitching is letting Okishou down yet again it seems
Shibahiki attacking first pitch, pops out to Kusakabe.
Akamine with a grounder to short, but Hiramoto boots it! E6 and Okishou has their first runner.
Taira not bunting, hits another grounder to short. Hiramoto again has difficulty but at least gets the lead runner.
Higa-kantoku now calls for Taira to run! He takes off and beats the throw!
And now Kubo lines a ball down the right field line... Fair! Taira rounding 3rd, he scores and Okishou gets a run back at 2-1!
Ura's stint on the mound is over. #15 Nishihira comes in to hit for him... and gets hit by Nakandakari. Can Okishou get the douten run in?
Not this inning. Gushiken hits a high fly to right. Deguchi secures it to retire the side, but an error gives a run back to Okishou!
Ace Higa in the game now taking over Ura's spot in the lineup. But his control is shaky to start, walking Kuwahara (though at one point he though he walked on 3 pitches)
Anyways Sano showing bunt, but pops it up! Gushiken easily makes the catch for the first out. Sakamoto pops out to Shibahiki near the dugout.
So Tadokoro-kantoku tries to put the game in motion, but Gushiken fires a seed to 2nd to gun down Kuwahara for the 3rd out.
Moromizato leaves a fastball up and Moromizato with a ball to left. Noritsugu running back, turning, twisting, looking up...
With a swing of the bat, the whistles of the Okishou ouen-dan go in full force! We're tied at 2!
You had to figure that with Nakanrakari's control not all there so far, he'd get hit. Not necessarily like that though!
Chinen with a safety bunt! Nakanrakari and Sakamoto converge, but Nishida is late to get to 1st!!
Hit-and-run! Naka with a single through to right! Chinen heading to 3rd! Throw from Deguchi... goes off Kusakabe! Nakanrakari backs it up but Naka heads to 2nd! Big chance for Okishou!
Shibahiki comebacker to Nakanrakari! Looks back runners, goes to 1st for the out.
Akamine going for the squeeze, pops it up! Sakamoto catches it goes to 3rd... Double play!
Failed squeeze leads to double play and the end of the threat!
Well, the troubles on the mound continue on both sides. Higa walks Noritsugu to start the inning.
What's this??!! Nakanrakari with a drive to left center! That's to the wall as Noritsugu is being sent home! Throw cutoff and Fukuchiyama Seibi retakes the lead at 3-2!
Deguchi laying down the bunt to put the Nakanrakari 90 feet away for Hiramoto.
And he delivers! Single to center and it's 4-2 Seibi!
Nishida up, and he's turning out to be pesky at the plate having spoiled 4 pitches in this AB.
He's rewarded! Hard ball to 3rd eats up Kubo and everyone's safe!
Kusakabe trying for it all, gets under one and flies out to deep center. Hiramoto advances to 3rd.
Moromizato comes in to talk to Higa as Kuwahara steps in.
Kuwahara though puts a dribbler in front of the plate. Gushiken fields and throws to 1st for the 3rd out. But Fukuchiyama Seibi retakes their 2-run lead!
Taira with a liner over a leaping Hiramoto! Taira's going for 2nd!! Kuwahara fires it back in, but Taira slides in ahead of the ball! Okinawa Shougaku looking to fire right back.
Now Nakanrakari hits Kubo! 2 on, no out for Okishou!
Higa showing bunt to put the douten runner in scoring position. But he rolls two of them foul! What now Higa-kantoku?
Three-bunt! And it's foul! One down.
Pitch from Nakanrakari in the dirt. Sano blocks but Taira takes off! Throw to 3rd... Safe!! (Just.)
Gushiken tries the safety bunt, but it runs foul. Swings away, but it's a shallow fly! Kuwahara fires it back in on the fly and Taira has to hold! 2 out!
Moromizato jammed and rolls one to 3rd! Kusakabe fumbles it a bit, but fires to 1st for the 3rd out! Chances again for Okishou, but in the end a big donut!
Routine fly from Sano to start the inning.
Not a routine swing from Sakamoto! Deep drive to left! Naka running to the pole...
Seibi checks in with a HR from Sakamoto! We're at 5-2!
Higa then turns around to retire both Noritsugu and Nakanrakari for the first time this game to end the inning. Such is the life of inconsistent pitching.
Surprisingly, despite Nakanrakari's continues problems with control, Okinawa Shougkau's batters can't take advantage like Seibi's batters are. Chinen flies out to center. Naka pops out to Sano on top of home, and Shibahiki looks rather silly reaching out on a slider.
So we head to the break with the same story for Okinawa Shougaku. Below average pitching and a decent deficit to have to come back from. The question will be if they can somehow take advantage of Nakanrakari, because he's not pitching like a top ace either.
Well, that's surprising. Higa puts together a rather solid inning, retiring the bottom of the Seibi in proper order hitting the glove and getting weak contact - or in Nishida's case none at all.
Akamine checking in with a hit through the right side. Higa-kantoku will have Taira bunt to play for the single run.
But Kubo in a fit of patience, draws a 4 pitch walk! Runners at 1st and 2nd!
Higa's day is done! #18 Asato will come in to hit for him.
First pitch liner to center!!! Akamine holds at 3rd, manrui Okinawa Shougaku!!
Haisai Oji-san whistles in the ouen-dan as Gushiken steps in.
But Gushiken is looking for a hit and falls behind 1-2! And he chases a change outside for the 2nd out! Where's the patience?
Moromizato hit! Nakanrakari forces in a run and we're at 5-3!
Chinen coming in to bat and Tadokoro-kantoku is emphatically calling his outfield in a bit.
Nakanrakari struggling with command falls behind 2-1 before a ball catches enough of the plate to Chinen's liking - but fouls it off.
Grounder to short. Hiramoto with it and .. eh?
Hiramoto inexplicably bounces it to 2nd and it goes into right! Kubo scores! Asato rounds 3rd... he scores! We're tied 5-5 on something I just can't explain!!
Naka trying to give his team the lead, and Chinen takes off for 2nd! Sano fakes the throw to 2nd in case Moromizato comes home but he doesn't.
Nakanrakari though strikes out Naka looking and the side is retired! But we have a new ballgame!
Sadly for Okinawa Shougaku, #12 Yamashiro is no better on the mound in control One out and he plunks Kuwahara, then leaves on just a bit too fat for Sano who singles through the right side.
And then he walks Sakamoto on 4 straight to have manrui, 1 out for Noritsugu. Higa-kantoku calls time.
But whatever was working for Noritsugu isn't working now! He waves over a forkball and goes down for the 2nd out!
Up to Nakanrakari who has had less success on the plate as of late.
SANSHIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nakanrakari makes a half-hearted swing and goes down for the 3rd out! Wow, wasn't expecting that.
Shibahiki waves hi to a pitch on the outside part and walks back to the dugout.
Akamine is the opposite of Noritsugu. He turns on the switch late as he singles through the right side!
Taira with a blast to left center! Noritsugu and Kuwahara have to run it down! Akamine being sent home! Throw in... late! Taira goes to take 3rd! Throw there... Kusakabe can't handle it and it rolls into foul territory! But Taira doesn't know where it is and can't head home! But Okinawa Shougaku takes the lead at 6-5!
Could things be falling apart for Seibi? Nakanrakari walks Kubo on 4 straight and there's runner at the corners!
Well, small reprieve for him as Yamashiro swings and misses on a fastball for the 2nd out.
Gushiken with a ball to the gap in short. Hiramoto runs it down, turns and throws... OUT! It's a perfect throw to 1st to end the inning!
But! A booming double by Tairy gives Okinawa Shougaku their first lead of the game!
I don't know if there's enough time to size up Yamashiro. Deguchi decides late to swing and pops out to Shibahiki.
Hiramoto with his 2nd hit clean through to left.
But just as an opportunity shows up, the door is shut! Nishida grounds right to Taira who starts the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning!
Moromizato grounder to 3rd, Kusakabe boots it! Forces throw to 1st, and of course throws it away! Moromizato takes 2nd with no out!
Chinen with the bunt, Nakanrakari with it, no he doesn't!
He loses the grip on the ball and everyone's safe!! 2 errors and Fukuchiyama Seibi is in a world of trouble!
Chinen takes off for 2nd, and no throw from Sano! Base hit now makes this game possibly out of reach!
But Naka pops it up! Kusakabe in foul territory makes the catch for the first out!
Shibahiki with a rocket to Hiramoto! Goes home and Moromizato in a rundown! Chinen advances to 3rd on the out, but there's 2 down!
But Akamine is stepping in with 2 hits in his last 2 ABs.
Liner to right.... falls in front of Deguchi! Chinen scores and it's 7-5 Okinawa Shougaku!
Taira with a ball through the right side into center! Kuwahara comes up throwing but Sano doesn't get the ball before trying to make the tag! Shibahiki scores and Taira goes to 2nd on the throw/missed catch! 8-7!
And that's the end of the day on the mound for Nakanrakari. #11 Kimura comes in for Deguchi and takes the hill and Nakarakari goes out to right.
Kimura gets Kubo to fly out to center, but Seibi has a LOT of work to do in just 3 outs.
Top of the order up for Fukuchiyama Seibi.
Kusakabe behind 0-2, fouls out to Shibahiki near the bullpen. One down.
Kuwahara with a drive to deep right center Akamine and Chinen converge... Akamine makes the sprinting catch for the 2nd out!
So it's up to Sano to keep the game going. He does with a single back up the middle.
Sakamoto up now, and he's jammed! But he gets enough to put it into shallow center for a hit! Seibi is able to send the douten runner up now as Higa-kantoku calls time.
Noritsugu will step in now. He was successful earlier, but not as of late. Can he continue the momentum?
Scorcher up the 1st base line... past Shibahiki! Sano scores... Sakamoto being waved home! Throw in.... LATE!! Noritsugu scores 2 and it's 8-7!!
Douten runner on 2nd as the pitchers battle it out!
Nakanrakari taking some big swings, but missing! He's behind 0-2!!
1-2 and the go inside, Nakanrakari just fouls it off...
Fastball outside, just ticked off by Nakanrakari... still alive.
Slider way outside, no swing, 2-2 count...
Fastball, outside corner... SANSHIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Home plate umpire Ike calls out Nakanrakari and Okinawa Shougaku holds on to win 8-7!!
It's an amazing finish to a rather sub-average game by the teams' pitching staffs!
Neither side looked rather sharp today and as a result runs were able to be had if you can put the hits together. The first half of the game seemed to belong to Fukuchiyama Seibi. But after the break, Okinawa Shougaku claimed the momentum. But just when you thought the game was over, Fukuchiyama could mount one final rally against the beleagured pitching. And in pure kokoyakyu style, it was pitcher on pitcher with Yamashiro prevailing over Nakanrakari - who was certainly under a lot of pressure.
Okinawa Shougaku does get to advance, but the flaws from the spring still remain and probably will be taken advantage of.
Akamine Ken (Okinawa Shougaku) - 3-4, 2 R, RBI
Taira Yuuki (Okinawa Shougaku) - 3-4, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI
Moromizato Takumi (Okinawa Shougaku) - 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
Kimura Noritsugu (Fukuchiyama Seibi) - 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB
Sakamoto Yoshinori (Fukuchiyama Seibi) - 2-4, R
Nakanrakari Kouta (Fukuchiyama Seibi) - 2-5, 2 2B, 3 K (including final out)