Well, two 1-0 games to finish out the first round. Will we start off the 2nd round in the same way?
It's another Kyushu matchup (what's up with that considering the blind draw?).
Nobeoka Gakuen makes their 7th Natsu Koushien appearance, and sadly (at least to me) they defeated St. Ursula (whom I've been rooting for the last couple of years) in the finals to punch their ticket to Natsu Koushien.
According to the numbers, they are more offensively minded than most schools, but are not outside taking walks either - so perhaps they are a selectively offensive squad as opposed to just swinging away. The hits are across the board, but not surprisingly the most consistent player is cleanup batter Iwashige Akihito.
On the mound, Shigemoto-kantoku uses a partial 2-pitcher strategy. I say partial because #10 Nasu Ryouto starts games but is pulled quickly when he struggles. Ace Yokose Takahiro does pitch the majority of the innings, though I haven't been able to pull information on him.
I was actually surprised when I found out that this was Jiyuugaoka's first trip to Natsu Koushien. I guess with Fukuoka so mixed up generally I figured they had gone more times than just one spring appearance.
Jiyuugaoka actually was challenged early in the 2nd stage and not later on. They had to defeat both Kurume Shougyou and Toukai Dai-go, both relative mainstays near the top of Fukuoka, and both pulling away late.
Offensively, their best player may be leadoff batter Ozaki Yuuta. So because of that, it will fall to the pitching staff. But from the records, it's not ace Nagamatsu. It's 2nd year P #11 Kubo who takes the hill for Jiyuugaoka?! And when he's relieved, it's still not Nagamatsu, but SS Noda! If you don't use your ace #, something is generally wrong or the pitching is not that good. I can't find any info on Jiyuugaoka's pitchers, so that might be a bit concerning.
Nobeoka Gakuen (Miyazaki)
2B Kajiwara Shouto
SS Matsumoto Masaya
CF Sakamoto Ryougo
RF Iwashige Akihito
LF Hamada Shintarou
1B Nozaki Kouji (#13)
3B Watarai Akihiro
C Yanase Naoya
P Nasu Ryouto (#10)
LF Ozaki Yuuta
SS Noda Daisuke
2B Yoshioka Yuuki
RF Watanabe Noriyuki (#8)
3B Nakayama Itsuki (#12)
1B Tanaka Daisuke
CF Shima Koumei (#9)
P Kubo Takuma (#12)
C Ishida Satoshi
14:15 - First Pitch!
Kajiwara with a routine grounder to 3rd to start the game.
Matsumoto goes after the slow curve and grounds to short. EH?
On a very routine grounder Noda just plain fails to field it!
No bunting from Sakamoto, but he flies ot to center.
Iwashige chopper up the middle, over a leaping Kubo and into center! 1st and 2nd with 2 out.
Hamada goes after the first pitch and grounds to short! Noda has it this time around and flips to 2nd to end the inning.
Jiyuugaoka ouen-dan out in full force today with their first Natsu Koushien appearance.
Ozaki patient and goes 3-1... and a walk!
Noda showing bunt, takes a strike, then fouls one off. Well, will he three-bunt?
Swings away, but grounder to the right side. Kajiwara charging in flips to Matsumoto who goes to 1st for the double play.
Yoshioka catches a change at the end of the bat and softly lines to Matsumoto for the 3rd out.
Nozaki ahead of a slow curve and hits an easy liner to right.
Watarai with a hard liner to the left side, Nakayama reaches up and to tip it and keep it near! Fires to 1st and Tanaka makes a great pick on the bounce for the out!
Yanase attacks the first pitch and sends it to the gap in right center! He's in with a double!
But Nasu tries the same thing with much less success grounding to short to end the inning.
Watanabe going after a curve, but out in front and flies out to center.
Up next is Nakayama, one of the few switch hitters.
He also goes after the curve, but chops one to 2nd.
Tanaka with the high chopper. Nasu waits for it and throws to 1st for the 3rd out. Looks like they're going to attack the curveball.
Kajiwara grounder to 3rd. It goes Nakayama's glove and in the air! He recovers in foul territory, barehands and rips it to 1st... and still gets the out! Not sure if he really beat him, but man that's cool.
Kubo falls behind Matsumoto 3-1 and issues his first walk. Shigemoto-kantoku calls for the bunt which Sakamoto executes.
But Iwashige goes after the first pitch and flies out to right.
Shima with a grounder to the right side, Kajiwara with the great stop, but poor throw pulls off Nozaki and he can't recover in time! Kajiwara had a lot of time and is charged with the error.
Kubo with the bunt and it spins back to Yanase! Goes to 2nd, but Matsumoto can't make the pick and the ball pops in the air! All safe!
Things compounding on themselves as Shigemoto-kantoku calls time.
Ishida lays down the bunt and the runners advance 90 feet.
First pitch looking out for squeeze. But Ozaki fouls off the 2nd pitch and it looks like it's not on.
And it isn't as he chases the fastball high and away.
Ozaki gets the bat around an inside fastball and lines it just into the outfield grass! Shima scores on the play and Jiyuugaoka takes the 1-0 lead!
Noda up, and still no bunt, despite the pitchout. Takes a curve for strike 2.
Another pitchout... Perhaps this team doesn't squeeze?
Noda gets fooled and skies a ball into the open skies. Nozaki comes in on the 1st base line to make the catch. 2 out.
Yoshioka waiting for his pitch takes a curve for strike one. Gets ahead 2-1 though.
Ozaki takes off! Yoshioka swings and misses, but the throw is late and now a base hit could score a couple!
But Yoshioka goes after a curveball inside and the side is retired. An error comes back to hurt them as Ozaki comes through with the timely!
Kubo gives Nobeoka a leadoff runner when he hits Hamada with a curve.
No bunt either from Nozaki and though he works the count full, he hits a high popup that Ozaki runs down at the foul line.
No bunt from Watarai, instead a hit-and-run, though Watarai hits it off himself. He winds up going for a curve and flies out to right.
Hamada takes off on the first pitch and since it's a curve Ishida doesn't throw!
Nobeoka Gakuen playing some song that is really really catchy, that I've never heard of, and I like.
Anyways, after the SB, they seem to unintentionally intentionally walk Yanase to get to Nasu.
Nasu with a grounder to the right side, it goes under Tanaka's glove!! Hamada being sent home and is safe!!
Yanase tries to press his luck going to 3rd and is thrown out by Yoshioka backing up the play.
But Tanaka's inability to field the ball ties the game at 1-1!
Watanabe with a ball to left center for a base hit! He's gunning for 2nd! Throw in from Sakamoto... SAFE!!
How did that happen! The throw came in way ahead, but did Watanabe somehow slide around the tag??!!
Well, the hook is finally pulled on Nasu. Yokose comes in to finish out the game.
Again no sign of a squeeze so far from Akamine-kantoku as Tanaka is swinging away.
Tanaka skies one to right, but it's way too shallow and Watanabe can't tag up.
After a ball, Shima finally shows a bunt, but quickly pulls it back. And again, with the curve coming in for a strike.
Yokose throws to 1st and Watanabe breaks for home! Throw in to Yanase and he can't field it!! Watanabe scores!! 2-1 Jiyuugaoka!! And Tanaka takes 2nd on the steal!
Shima draws the walk thereafter.
Kubo up to try and get the lead, but he pops it up! Yanase catches it for the 2nd out.
And Ishida grounds to 3rd to end the inning, but what imagination to steal home as it gives Jiyuugaoka the lead!
Kajiwara with drive to left! Hamada going back, it's over his head! He's in with a double!
Matsumoto with the bunt attempt, but he's called out for being out of the box! One down!
No matter! Sakamoto first pitch singles through short! Kajiwara coming home, throw form Ozaki... SAFE!! And the ball pops out of Ishida's glove on the swipe allowing Sakamoto to advance! Gyakuten runner in scoring position! We're tied at 2-2!!
Iwashige up, but he grounds to short! It does allow the runner to advance as Noda goes to 1st.
Hamada with blast to left! Ozaki running back, then to his right then gets twisted around...
Lands on top of the padding! He fires it back in, but Hamada with a timely RBI double and Nobeoka Gakuen takes the 3-2 lead!!
#3 Tanaka comes in to hit for Nozaki and grounds to short to end the inning, but Nobeoka Gakuen has fired right back at Jiyuugaoka!
Tanaka stays in the game to play 1B.
Compared to the last couple of half-innings, it starts off rather uneventful.
Ozaki chases a high fastball for the first out, then Noda grounds to short.
But Yoshioka refuses to have a 1-2-3 inning! He drive a ball to left center and is in with a double!
That's all they get as Watanabe grounds to Tanaka to end the inning.
One down and Yanase singles to left for a base hit! Shigemoto-kantoku will play for the single run as Yokose bunts him along.
But Kajiwara hits a fly to right and the inning is over.
Things settling down with Yokose on the mound.
Matsumoto with a flyout to center to start the 7th.
Sakamoto hard liner, Nakayama with the great lunging catch for the 2nd out!
Iwashige with drive to center! Shima running to fence, catches, NO!!!
He collides with the wall and the ball pops out of the glove! Iwashige in at 3B. Aw... that was a great effory by Shima done in by an inanimate object.
And now Hamada singles to left scoring Iwashige to make it 4-2.
Things may be collapsing for Jiyuugaoka as Tanaka singles to the left side!
But Kubo finally gets the last out as Watarai grounds to 2nd. But Nobeoka gets an insurance run.
#15 Yoshimaru to hit for Kubo as his day is done. Gets ahead 3-1 before Yokose fills up the count...
Drive to left center! That gets past the defense and to the wall for a leadoff double! He's replaced by #16 Umeno on the bases.
Ishida up and he's showing bunt! But he takes it back both times, both called for strikes. Looks like he's hitting now.
Man, he's got a good eye. Takes a couple of pitches inside and works the count full.
Pulls the trigger on another one and just fouls it off.
Gets a fat curve, but is ahead of it and pulls it foul....
Fastball outside, fouled off....
Fastball inside, pulled foul...
10th pitch of the AB... another foul... Ishida certainly making Yokose work.
Curve! But Ishida is ahead of it! Tries to slow down swing but flies out to right!
Ozaki chases after the first pitch but skies it! Matsumoto under it for the 2nd out!
It's up to Noda now to keep the inning going...
Gets ahead 2-0, but Yokose puts in 2 fastballs, the second fouled off, to level the count... Noda patient though taking ball 3.
Fastball, fouled off... Fastball outside, fouled back again...
Jammed! Noda jammed and he pops it up! Tanaka under it to make the catch for the 3rd out!
Noda comes from SS to pitch with #14 Tomooka comes in for Umeno and takes over at SS.
First pitch Yanase swings and flies out to right.
Then Yokose chases a high fastball for the 2nd out.
Noda hitting high 130s on the gun, stature reminds me of Imamiya from Meihou a while back.
Kajiwara grounds to 2nd and the inning is over! Noda with a great first inning of relief!
Now if the offense can just pick it up.
Safety bunt from Yoshioka! Watarai charging in, throws to 1st, just late to a diving Yoshioka!
Cleanup batter Watanabe up and he's called to bunt the runner along, which he does.
But Nakayama can't bring him in! He flies out to right for the 2nd out!
Tanaka up looking to give it a go...
But he goes after a slider away and the side is retired!!
Noda throwing strikes and getting outs. Matsumoto and Sakamoto both grounds out, and Iwashige can't check his swing. 6 up, 6 down for Noda as we head to the bottom of the 9th!
But... bottom of the order against Yokose.
Shima up to try his luck.
He gets around on a fastball, but he flies out to right for the first out.
Tomooka in for his first AB, takes a fastball on the outer half for strike one. Fastball on inner half for strike 2.
Of course the slider next, which he fouls off. And a fastball outside which Tomooka doesn't bite.
But he can't pull the trigger on another outside fastball and is called out.
#5 Kajiwara comes in to hit for Ishida... quickly behind 1-2...
Drive to left center!! Sakamoto sprinting towards the gap..
Makes the great diving catch to end the game!! Nobeoka Gakuen wins 4-2!!
Jiyuugaoka starter Kubo is crying a bit, but he's got nothing to be sad about. Yes, he gave up all 4 runs, but his team behind him did their darnest to help him out when he wasn't sharp. Watanabe They had their opportunities early when facing Nasu, but as soon as Yokose came in, they never got back on track.
Still I liked their style. No squeeze bunts, and a steal of home on a pickoff. That's entertaining stuff.
Nobeoka Gakuen though was able to get to starter Kubo thanks to some timely hitting with their relief ace shutting the door. The offense isn't consistent, but they do hit for extra bases and put pressure on the defense. They too didn't squeeze, which made the game that more entertaining.
And so we begin the 2nd round with a wonderful game. This has been one of the more entertaining Koushien tournaments as a whole in my memories so far. I hope this continues!
Yokose Takahiro (Nobeoka Gakuen) - 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 4 K, BB
Hamada Shintarou (Nobeoka Gakuen) - 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, HBP
Yanase Naoya (Nobeoka Gakuen) - 2-3, 2B, BB
Iwashige Akihito (Nobeoka Gakuen) - 2-5, 3B, R
Watanabe Noriyuki (Jiyuugaoka) - 1-3, 2B, R, SB (Home!)
Yoshioka Yuuki (Jiyuugaoka) - 2-4, 2B
Yoshimaru Masato (Jiyuugaoka) - 1-1, 2B