We are closing out our first week of Koushien already, and we're also closing out the teams to debut.
Today, the last Tohoku school takes the field, hoping to preserve their perfect record so far - which is a complete shock considering Nichidai Yamagata defeated Nichidai-san yesterday.
Akita, after years and years of futility at Koushien (13 years!) where they couldn't win their first game, the last two years the representatives have won at least 1 game.
Akita Shougyou once again represents the prefecture. But the team has been completely changed from last year. The team is led by new ace Sasaki Yasuhiro, though I can't really find anything on him. They did not have to play teams like Noshiro Shougyou or Meiou though, so I can't really say that they've been tested.
Offensively, it's obviously cleanup hitter Saitou Yuuya, but in the last two games the top of the order all hit.
Their opponent is first timers Toyama Dai-ichi. Now, I haven't really noticed, but Toyama has been in a state of flux for the last decade. When Toyama Shougyou ceded the throne back in 2005, only one team has won multiple times - Takaoka Shougyou at 2.
This year Toyama Dai-ichi climbed over all the other competitors, including through former champions Tonami Kougyou and Sakurai to win the title.
Helping them get there is ace Miyamoto Kouji, a righty who throws upper 130s-lower 140s with the normal complement of a slider, curve, and changeup. Won't strike out a lot of batters, and apparently suffers from a lack of control. Not necessarily a good combination.
But the offense wasn't that bad, with the bottom of the lineup perhaps a little stronger than most. Still weaker overall than most, but perhaps has more depth so you don't suffer empty innings. Also, they don't seem to a bunting team, which will delight several people I know (myself included).
Opportunities appear to be had in this game, so it should be interesting.
Toyama Dai-ichi (Toyama)
CF Hirata Masazumi
RF Nishida Yuuki
3B Kuroda Masataka
LF Kouyama Kazuhiro
SS Nakamura Jyunka
1B Fujii Shintarou
2B Terasaki Hikaru
P Miyamoto Kouji
C Takamori Hiroyuki
Akita Shougyou (Akita)
CF Suzuki Yuuta
RF Saitou Daiki
LF Sugiya Taichi
3B Saitou Yuuya
1B Satou Takuma
SS Nara Naoki
2B Kikuchi Tomohito (#16)
P Sasaki Yasuhiro
C Miura Hiroki
08:00 - First Pitch
Oh? Sasaki is a submariner? Hirata struggles and chases a high pitch for a K.
Nishida going on first pitch grounds to short.
Kuroda gets one right in the heart of the plate and singles through the left side, but is stranded when Kouyama pops up to right.
Yep, Miyamoto does throw that hard. Suzuki finds out the hard way whiffing on a 142 fastball for the 1st out.
Odd, Daiki stands at home after a chopper goes to short, thinking it's a foul ball maybe? He's thrown out 6-3.
Sugiya goes after the first pitch and grounds to 2nd for the 3rd out.
Looks like he throws mid-upper 110s with slow pitches anywhere from high 90 to mid 110s.
Hm, a bit of sidehand delivery from Sasaki and he walks Fujii. He's moved to 2nd when Terasaki hits a grounder in front of home.
Miyamoto struggling with Sasaki's delivery, grounds to 3rd for the out.
Meanwhile, Akishou's batters just trying to catch up. Yuuya late on his swing grounds to 2nd. Satou just plain misses on a 143 fastball.
Nara finally with some success collects Akishou's first hit with a ball through the right side.
But he's stranded when Kikuchi watches a slider catch the inside part of the plate.
Biggest problem I think for Toyama Dai-ichi's batters is getting a level swing with a ball that is rising, not falling.
Takamori and Hirata both find that out as both hit high popups.
Nishida gets the team's 2nd hit with a ball through to the left side, but again is stranded when Kuroda dribbles a ball back to Sasaki for the out.
Sasaki doing the right thing, not doing too much with hard hit ball, taking it other way for a base hit.
Miura trying to bunt him along, almost keeps one fair down the 1st base line, but it goes foul at the last minute.
Instead he whiffs on his attempt with 2 strikes and goes down for the 1st out.
Suzuki swings, but flies out lazily to center.
Daiki steps in, looking for his pitch, and draws a walk when Miyamoto misses way outside on his full count pitch.
Sugiya with single to center! Sasaki being waved home! Throw from Hirata... in time! Sasaki tries to avoid the tag but is tagged out to end the inning! Maybe he needed to jump or do something unexpected to avoid the tag.
But, we remain scoreless into the 4th.
Nakamura finally able to put a level swing on a rising ball and line one to right.
Fujii with a dribbler to the left side, past a diving Nara for a base hit!
Uh oh! Terasaki with a single to right and it's manrui as Oota-kantoku calls time. Have they finally figured it ou?
Sasaki really laboring now, Miyamoto spoiling Sasaki's offerings.
SANSHIN!! Sasaki goes sidearm and gets him swinging on a ball outside!
Up to last batter Takamori. But Sasaki gets ahead 0-2!
He does it! Takamori hits a slow grounder to 2nd! Kikuchi goes to 1st and the side is retired!
Yuuya quickly retired on a pop up to Takamori at home.
Miyamoto goes 2 sliders to Satou then even slower getting him to chase a curve for the 2nd out.
But he's struggling a bit against LHB as he walks Nara.
No matter though as he gets Kikuchi to swing on a low fastball and ground out to short.
Wow, Kuroka-kantoku for Toyama Dai-ichi is 32. That's young for a kantoku.
Hirata with grounder to short. Nara with it, throws high! It clears everything and now Toyama Dai-ichi has a great opportunity with the leadoff runner at 2nd!
Nishida does the right thing, hits high chopper to short. Nara's only play is to first and the opening run is 90 feet away.
And with Sasaki's pitches the way they are, Kuroda can lift a ball to left! Sugiya back to field it and Hirata scores to make it 1-0 Toyama Dai-ichi!
Kouyama looks like he puts a charge into one, but he merely flies out to left to end the inning. But a costly error will put Akishou behind the 8-ball.
Oota-kantoku is 34 years old?! Wow, some real young managers today.
One down and Akishou catches a break when a grounder from Miura takes a high hop and bounces off Nakamura for a base hit!
Suzuki follows that up with a ball through the right side for a base hit! Akitashou threatening again!
Daiki hard hit ball, but right to 2nd! Terazaki starts the 4-6-3 double play and the inning is over!
It's a surprisingly low scoring game, but an error makes the difference here in the game. Can Akitashou finally get that timely hit, or will Toyama Dai-ichi start pulling away?
After yet another high popup, Fujii hits chopper in front of the plate. Miura scrambles to it, but the throw to 1st isn't in time!
Terasaki continues the high popup trend as he flies out to right.
Kuroka-kantoku tries for the hit-and-run, but Miyamoto flies out to center to end the inning.
Perhaps Akishou playing waiting game, Sugiya gets ahead 3-0, then 2 strikes from Miyamoto before he goes down on a slider.
Apparently not though as Yuuya singles back up the middle on a 1-1 count.
Oh? Now Miyamoto hits Satou, and Akitashou has another chance here in the 6th!
Nara with short chopper. Terasaki can only turn and spin to cut the runner down at 2nd.
2 out now and they need a timely from Kikuchi, who's 0-2 on the day but takes his share of pitches at the plate.
Pulls a ball down the line, foul!
SANSHIN!!!!! Miyamoto gets him to chase after a fastball outside and he's out of the inning!!
Takamori still hasn't figured out Sasaki's delivery as he skies yet another one to left.
Hirata catches a rising fastball and shoots it past a diving Nara into center.
I think looking at it Sasaki has 2 deliveries. One is the perceived underhand that rises. The other is more of a sidearm, but from the low position. That way you get a rising ball, and a tailing ball.
While the camera shows the pickoff angle, Hirata takes off! But Sasaki is still holding onto the ball and he's run down! What happened there?
And then it's compounded by Nishida hitting a single past Nara for a base hit!
Hit-and-run! But Kuroda sends it just foul.
But Kuroda does get the base hit! Runners Nishida going for 3rd, thrpw from Daiki, and Yuuya forgets to secure the ball first and Kuroda takes 2nd.
This looks bad, and it is as Kouyama drives a ball to deep center! Suzuki back to the wall, gets turned around, and it falls in behind him as he reaches the wall! Both runs will come in to score and it's 3-0 Toyama Dai-ichi.
Nakamura grounds to 3rd, but it doesn't look good for the Tohoku sweep...
And Akitashou trying to swing their way out of it.
Sasaki flies out to left on the first pitch. Miura soon follows with a soft liner to 2nd.
Suzuki does collect a 2-out double on a ball over Nishida in left that one bounds to the wall, but Daiki spins around on a slider for the 3rd out.
Uh oh. Fujii with a drive to left center! That'll go in for a double.
And now Sasaki hits Terasaki. He might be done.
Oota-kantoku thinks so too and sends in #10 Narita to relieve him.
Ah! Wild pitch puts both runners in scoring position! Miyamoto doesn't have to bunt anymore!
But Narita gets him on a fastball outside for the first out.
Ah, but it's too late now for Akitashou it seems. Takamori singles through the left side and both runners come in to score. It's 5-0 Toyama Dai-ichi.
1st year Narita retires the next 2 batters, but I'm afraid it's too late...
Definitely looks that way. Sugiya and Yuuya both quickly retired and Satou fights hard, but goes down on the slider to end the inning.
Narita doing his best being pressed into service. Nothing special really from him in terms of delivery or velocity.
He walks Kuroda and then a bad hop on Yuuya pus him in a bind.
But he comes right back to get a 6-4-3 double play and strikes out Fujii on 3 straight!
Akishou at this point trying to avoid the shutout, but Nara grounds to 1st. Pinch hitter Tateishi (in for Kikuchi), misses on a slider for the 2nd out.
There's a small ray of hope when Narita's chopper up the right side can't be fielded cleanly by a charging Terasaki.
But Miura gets jammed and softly grounds out to 2nd to end the game. First timer's Toyama Dai-ichi win their first ever game at Koushien 5-0!
Sasaki and Akita Shougyou did give it a good run for 6 innings, but eventually Sasaki's control would wane, and for a submariner that is fatal. Toyama Dai-ichi takes full advantage pulling away for their first win.
That's not to say they didn't have their chances, They had chances to open the scoring, but were either too aggressive or just didn't get the timely hit.
Toyama Dai-ichi took a little time to get acclimated to Sasaki's pitching, but once they got their timing down, they continuously put pressure until Akitashou folded.
Miyamoto certainly looks good enough on the mound, but he seemed to struggle against LHB. Might be something to look for going forward.
Miyamoto Kouji (Toyama Dai-ichi) - CG, SHO, 8 H, 10 K, 2 BB, HBP
Fujii Shintarou (Toyama Dai-ichi) - 3-4, 2B, R, BB
Kouyama Kazuhiro (Toyama Dai-ichi) - 2-5, 3B, 2 RBI
Nishida Yuuki (Toyama Dai-ichi) - 2-3, R, BB
Suzuki Yuuta (Akita Shougyou) - 2-4, 2B
Nara Naoki (Akita Shougyou) - 1-3, BB
Sugiya Taichi (Akita Shougyou) - 1-4