And finally we have Osaka Touin retaking the field, licking their chops perhaps because there are some teams that are not here that might make their title defense all that much easier.
Their opening game was a non-starter really. Against Nihon Bunri they pounded out 10 runs on 14 hits, including a pair of HRs by Mori and another from Kinden. No surprise that the team can hit.
About the only weakness they have is their pitching. Kuzukawa did not look all that impressive, but even if his location wasn't good, he wasn't missing in the wrong spots.
Hikawa had a 4-2 win over Minoshima in the first game, blasting HRs of their own. But outside of those, hits were hard to come by. And with Yamada only doing average, they've turned the ball over to lefty #11 Saigusa. They'll need all the help they can get against the defending champions...
1B Sano Yuugo
3B Mikami ?
SS Hirose Katsumi
LF Yamagata Shouichi
RF Yamada Motoki (#1)
CF Sano Takuya
P Saigusa Ryouji (#11)
C Yamamoto Yuuga
2B Teramoto Shunya
Osaka Touin (Osaka)
LF Minemoto Takumi (#4)
CF Takagi Toshiki
C Mori Tomoya
1B Kinden Takuya
2B Katsuki Kazuya (#14)
3B Kasamatsu Yuuya
RF Fukumori Hiroto (#7)
SS Mizutani Yukiya
P Kuzukawa Tomoya
15:45 - First Pitch
Well, the control issues still seem to be there. Yuugo stands in works count full before flying out to center. Mikami also works the count as best he can but grounds out to Kasamatsu. Hirose with another grounder to Katsuki ends the inning.
Oh this is scary. Saigusa with average velo (low-mid 130s) and throwing a lot of offspeed pitches (curve, forkball, slider).
Minemoto out in front, grounds out to Yuugo for the first out.
Takagi gets a hold of a slider, but right to Teramoto for the 2nd out.
Now it gets interesting as Mori steps in.
No fastballs for Mori, oh there's one. Saigusa manages to get to 2-2.
Mori way out and front of a forkball and spins into the ground! Well, at least for one inning Saigusa looks good!
Yamagata with drive to right! Fukumori going back towards the fence, lays out! Goes off the fence! He scrambles to get it back in but Yamagata is in with a leadoff double!
No bunt from cleanup batter Yamada, but chops on to the left side allowing Yamagata to advance.
And it looks like Hikawa's not going to squeeze as Takuya takes a couple of pitches.
I was wrong! He pops a bunt that goes over a charging Kuzukawa! It falls behind him! Mizutani behind play bobbles ball and everyone's safe! 1-0 Hikawa!
Saigusa with a comebacker to Kuzukawa that he knocks down but briefly loses sight of! Finds it and goes to 1st for the 2nd out.
Ah, but Ikeya-kantoku presses action! Takuya heads for 3rd, but Mori has the strong arm, and he's thrown out to end the inning.
Kinden with drive to right! Yamada running back, reaches out, off the glove!
But he recovers to make the catch! He actually tips it to himself! Nice play!
Katsuki not impressed singles though the left side. Then takes off for 2nd right when Saigusa uncorks a wild pitch. Stays at 2nd though.
Kasamatsu goes after a forkball, but grounds to short.
And Fukumori with a soft liner up the 1st base line, Yuugo leaps and makes the catch to retire the side.
Bottom of the order attacking Kuzukawa. Well, trying anyways.
Yamamoto goes on the first pitch and grounds out to Kinden. Teramoto soon follows with a flyout to center.
Yuugo though gets the 2nd hit for Hikawa with a single to left. That is short lived because Mikami tries for the safety bunt and is thrown out to end the inning.
Mizutani another K victim of Saigusa's forkball as he's out in front.
Kuzukawa makes contact, but just a grounder to 3rd. And Kuzukawa connects on a slider, but hits easy fly to Yamada to end inning
Hirose up and he gets caught looking on a slider over the heart of the plate for the first out.
Yamagata up and no fatsballs for him now as Kuzukawa slowly works count full.
...Then puts a fastball right over for his 2nd K this inning.
Yamada also working the count, runs it full, but becomes Kuzukawa's 3rd K victim as he chases the high fastball.
Takagi patient against Saigusa, works count full, but goes after slider inside and grounds right to Yuugo for out #1.
Mori up for his 2nd AB, Saigusa not giving him a whole lot to go on, but on a 3-1 slider Saigusa leaves it too much inside and Mori is able to chop it past a diving Teramoto for a base hit.
Against Kinden, Saigusa is the same way, nothing in the middle of the plate, everything on the edges. And once again behind 3-0 catches 2 strikes to fill up the count.
Kinden reaches out and spins on a forkball and there's 2 out!
Ah, but now it gets a little dicier as Saigusa throws one away! Mori heads to 2nd!
Katsuki can only sigh as he heads back to the dugout, yet another victim of Saigusa's forkball!
Takuya with a bounder over Kuzukawa for a base hit!
Oh! Saigusa hit on the hand by a pitch as he goes for the bunt! Chance for Hikawa but which hand did Saigusa get hit?
Yamamoto trying to lay down the bunt, but fails to and falls behind 1-2.
Hit-and-run!! Yamamoto barely spoils the pitch!
Sanshin! Kuzukawa gets him on a curve for the first out. #9 batter Teramoto up, what will they do?
Doesn't look like a bunt now.
But Kuzukawa missing with his pitches goes behind 3-0 before finally getting a strike.
Hit-and-run!! Teramoto makes contact, but it's a chopper to 3rd. Kasamatsu goes to 1st for the out.
And Kuzukawa gets out of the inning! Yuugo jammed grounds to Katsuki and the inning is over!
The list of names succumbing to the forkball increases as Kasamatsu swings and misses on one.
Fukumori collects just the team's 3rd hit with a single to left.
Mizutani feigning both bunt and swing. Which one is it?
Hit-and-run! Mizutani singles down the right field line... fair!! Yamada quickly runs it down and gets it in, but there's 2 runners in scoring position! Ikeya-kantoku calls time...
Hikawa playing with napalm here as they basically intentionally walk Kuzukawa to create the force.
But it turns over the lineup to Minemoto.
Grounder to 3rd! Mikami double clutches!! Goes to 2nd for 1, relay from Teramoto, Yuugo goes full splits....
They get Minemoto by the slimmest of margins and the side is retired!!!
Hikawa heads into the dugout leading 1-0 over defending champions Osaka Touin as we hit the mid-game break!
But you have to figure there will be pressure on Hikawa the rest of the game...
Mikami with grounder to 2nd, takes high hop and goes by Katsuki for a base hit!
Wait, they just smoothed out the dirt out there.. how did that happen?
Hirose bunts him along for Yamagata.
Gets a slider off the end of the bat and still powers it to center for a base hit! Mikami stops at 3rd and Osaka Touin in a pinch!
Yamada up and Osaka Touin expecting pinch, wastes 2 pitches.
But he's way out in front of a slider and grounds right to Mizutani! 6-4...
3! Double play! Yamada can't get to 1st in time and the chance goes begging!
Saigusa falls behind 3-0, then once again gets 2 pitches in the zone to fill up the count.
But he throws a 55' ball that fools no one and gives up his first leadoff runner...
...with Mori and Kinden coming up.
They've been able to pitch around one of them, but with a runner on base, they can't do it.
Nevertheless Saigusa doesn't give in to Mori, despite falling behind and walks him.
But that will be the end of Saigusa as Yamada comes in from RF to take the hill. #9 Saitou comes in for Saigusa to play right.
AH! And he hits Kinden! Manrui Osaka Touin!
Yamada really behind it now as he falls behind Kasamatsu 3-0! But he fights back to fill up the count.
Grounder to 2nd, AHHH!!!!
Teramoto, spins away from a collision with Kinden but then he misses the ball and it goes into right! Takagi and Mori score and Osaka Touin takes 2-1 lead! What a bad break!
Oddly enough, had Teramoto collided with Kinden, runner interference might have been called.
Still no out for Osaka Touin, but that changes when Kasamatsu tries to bunt, and fails...
Fukumori swinging away lines out to 3rd, Mikami then doubles off Kinden for the double play, but the damage has been done.
Hikawa in the wrong part of their lineup to mount a comeback. Takuya is 1-2 on the day, but flies out to center.
Saitou and Yamamoto go down quickly thereafter and the upset looks to be over.
Yes, the game has turned into Osaka Touin favor for good it looks like.
Kuzukawa draws a 1-out walk and takes 2nd on a wild pitch. Minemoto singles to left and there's runners at the corners.
Takagi with a short bounder to the left side, Hirose charges in, but his throw to 1st is late and everyone's safe! Kuzukawa scores to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
Yamada strikes out Mori and Kinden to end the inning, but it is of little consequence at this point.
Teramoto up, drives one to center. Takagi coming in, scrambles back, leaps! It's over his head! Teramoto headed to 2nd and he stops there! Wait, it went over his head and he only got a double out of it?
Yuugo showing bunt, but winds up swinging and grounds to 2nd. Does advance runner to 3rd.
Mikami swinging away, grounder up middle! Past the drawn in defense and into center! Teramoto scores to make it a 3-2 ballgame!
Hirose up, not bunting, but it's a hit-and-run! Mikami misses on the fastball, but Mori's throw to 2nd is offline!
Yamagata drive to left... FOUL! Now behind 1-2.
Yamagata can only show exasperation as the douten run is left at 2nd.
Katsuki opens the 8th with a blooper just beyond both Hirose and Yamagata.
Nishitani-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run, but Kasamatsu lines to 1st! Yuugo tags Katsuki for the double play!
However Fukumori bloops his own ball, this time to the right side.
Mizutani gets his first hit, hitting a ball back up the middle! Fukumori goes to 3rd, and Takuya's throw is errant! Mizutani heads to 2nd and now the force is only at 1st as Ikeya-kantoku calls time.
Kuzukawa up looking to help his own cause.
But Yamada freezes him on a fastball to retire the side.
However, Hikawa is down to their last 3 outs...
Yamada chops a grounder that gets by Kinden and into right! Douten runner on for Hikawa!
Bunt-and-run! Takuya barely gets a piece of it.
Safety bunt! But he fouls it off and is now behind 1-2.
He just makes contact and sends it to the left side! Mizutani was heading to 2nd and the ball goes through! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Hikawa for Saitou.
And he's not bunting!
Oh wait, shows it at 1-1 and takes ball 2.
Hit and run! But Saitou misses!! Mori goes to 2nd and Yamada gives up! Takuya is able to advance to 2nd but there's 1 down!
Takes a close ball 3. Full count!
Check swing, goes around! 2 out!
It comes down to Yamamoto.
Grounder to 2nd. Katsuki with it, no, fumbles it, and again... AND AGAIN!!
He loses the play at first, but doesn't notice Takuya coming home!! Throw from Kasuki...
OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!?!?!?
A routine grounder turns into a tie game! Hikawa gambles and wins on the error! We're tied at 3-3!!
Teramoto flies out to left, but more importantly for Hikawa... they're still alive!!
Yamada to hold the tie.
Minemoto goes down swinging... Takagi on a bad swing softly lines out to Hirose.
Osaka Touin pressing it seems, Mori with a ball to center, but the park holds it and Takuya makes the catch for the 3rd out!
We're headed to enchousen!
One down for Hikawa and Mikami lines a single over Mizutani for a base hit!
Hirose not bunting, but pops it up! Kinden in foul territory makes the catch for the 2nd out!
BAM! Yamagata with a ball to deep left... FOUL! Whoo~~
Yamagata behind 1-2 again...
Once again he lets out a sigh as he chases another ball outside for the 3rd out.
Kinden also pressing, gets jammed and fouls out to Mikami.
Ah! Yamada hits Katsuki and the sayonara runner is on base!
Kasamatsu single to right! Katsuki heads to 3rd and the sayonara run is 90 feet away!
Ikeya-kantoku calls time.
Looks like they're going to pitch to Fukumori.
Jammed! But Teramoto scrambles back... dives...
Falls in! Katsuki comes in, sayonara Osaka Touin!!
Osaka Touin survives a scare from Hikawa (twice!) to win 4-3 in 10 innings. Perhaps one could argue that Osaka Touin should have won in 9. One could have said that Hikawa might have had interference had Teramoto and Kinden collided.
Sadly for Hikawa, they wind up on the losing end of a game where they certainly had a chance, and perhaps could have/should have won.
Yeah, I know, it's really sad for the Hikawa players because their season is over. But really, all things considered they played a really great game and should not be disappointed in their result.
For Osaka Touin, this was a fight that perhaps they weren't expecting. A team from Yamanashi? Challenging them?
And yet they almost lost.
Will this be a wakeup call?
It'd better be, because they draw Mietoku Gijyuku in their next game!
Kuzukawa Tomoya (Osaka Touin) - 10 IP, 10 H, 7 K, HBP
Fukumori Hiroto (Osaka Touin) - 3-5, GW RBI
Mizutani Yukiya (Osaka Touin) - 2-4, 2B
Saigusa Ryouji (Hikawa) - 5+ IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 5 K, 3 BB
Yamada Motoki (Hikawa) - 4.1+IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 5 K, BB, 2 HBP
Mikami ? (Hikawa) - 3-5, RBI, SB
Sano Takuya (Hikawa) - 2-4, R, RBI