Onto our brunchtime game and it'll be an uphill batter for one school.
Sakushin Gakuin did what any good team should do against a weaker squad - run circles around them.
From the first inning onwards, and with few breaks in between, they put runners on base and stressed out the defense to no end putting up runs in 6 of the 9 innings. Better still, they got production from all parts of the lineup. You don't want to have dead spots in your lineup, but most schools do. Their performance in their opening game may suggest good things for them.
The pitching though, might be an issue. Watanabe was effective for the most part, but a 3-run HR in the 4th is concerning. Even more so, reliever Asayama was also effective until the 9th where he gave up 3 hits and a run.
This suggests to me that neither pitcher really has a lot of stamina and when fatigued, will be very vulnerable.
That's good, because Kumamoto Kougyou will need all the help they can get against last year's quaterfinalists.
Kumamoto Kougyou survived a 3-2 win over Tottori Jyouhoku. They came out to a 3-0 lead, looked to be cruising, but then ace Yamashita starts giving up hits which lead to runs, which leads to a nailbiting 9th inning.
They did have many scoring opportunities thanks to some patience at the plate and quite a few number of hits. But they could never really convert those to runs, stranding 10 just in the first 5 innings. As a result they let Tottori Jyouhoku stick around.
Offensively, cleanup batter Kudou and leadoff batter Sakai had the most success. Otherwise it was rather inconsistent.
Suffice it to say that edge to Sakushin Gakuin.
Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
LF Kobayashi Yuusuke (#9)
3B Soeda Shinkai
C Yamashita Yuuto
RF Nakamura Kouichirou (#3)
1B Tanaka Takuma (#13)
SS Kawakami Shuugo
CF Suzuki Masashi
2B Yamanashi KoutaP Watanabe Yuuma
Kumamoto Kougyou (Kumamoto)
1B Sakai Shun
CF Kiyomizu Takumi (#13)
2B Nishiyama Tenshou
3B Kudou Seiya
LF Takaki Eiji
SS Horita Takafumi
RF Matsushita Ryoumu
P Yamashita Kouta
C Honda Masahiro
10:41 - First Pitch!
Well, not a good for for Yamashita. Kobayashi sends one to left center, aggressively goes for 2! Throw in from Kiyomizu not in time.
Soeda grounder to the left side, Horita with a great diving stop! Goes to 3rd!!
Horita with a great play cuts down the lead runner!
So, instead, Kobari-kantoku sends Soeda to 2nd on the 2-1 pitch! Honda to throw, but loses handle! Sakushin threatening again!
Yamashita drives a ball to left. Takaki running back, but gives up early!
It starts early again for Sakushin Gakuin! 2-run HR Yamashita, and 2-0 Sakushin!
Now Yamashita walks Tanaka on 4 straight... and then hits Kawakami?! This looks ugly early.
He does get Suzuki to hit a comebacker to him to retire the inning, but Kumamoto Kougyou behind the 8-bal right from the get go!
One down for Kumamoto Kougyou and Kiyomizu with a chop to the right side. Nakamura there to field it, but Kiyomizu beats out Watanabe for a base hit!
Nishiyama trying the safety bunt, but fouls it off. Winds up watching a slider on the outsider corner for the 2nd out.
Kudou with a liner, but right to Kawakami for the 3rd out.
A better start to the 2nd as Yamanashi chases a slider for Yamashita's first K. Watanabe he gets to ground to 1st, and Kobayashi goes after a pitch outside and flies out to right.
Much better from the ace.
Watanabe issues his first walk, with 4 straight to Takaki. Hayashi-kantoku has Horita bunt him along.
His control seems to be just a little off. Missing the glove by a tiny bit, and as a result not getting them in the zone.
But he fills up the count to Matsushita and induces a grounder to 1st for the 2nd out. Takaki goes to 3rd.
He's left stranded there as Yamashita grounds to short for the 3rd out.
One down and Yuuto (need to differentiate the Yamashitas) hits a ball about 6 inches from the ground past Kudou for a base hit.
Yamashita careful with Nakamura trying to hit the corners, but missing. He winds up walking him.
Then he turns around and catches those edges, allowing him to go off the plate and Tanaka follows for the 2nd out.
Kawakami grounds out to 2nd and the side is retired.
Unfortunately while Yamashita has kept things at 2-0, the offense continues to spin their wheels against Watanabe.
For after Honda goes down looking on a slider, Sakai and Kiyomizu both ground out to quickly end the inning
Yamashita now getting ahead in counts and delivering quick innings of his own.
Both Suzuki and Yamanashi get to two strikes and ground out, and while Watanabe gets a base hit, it's another groundout by Kobayashi to end the inining.
One down, Kudou drive to deep center! Suzuki running back, running back...
Makes the leaping catch as he rolls to the wall! Nice play!
Takaki with a drive to center again! Suzuki running back, and back!
Bails into the wall as it falls in! Takaki running full speed reaches 3rd! Small chance for Kumamoto Kougyou!
Horita up, works the count full.
Soft liner to right side... Yamanashi makes the shoe string catch for the 3rd out!
Soeda hit in the right elbow to start off the inning. Yuuto bunts him along for Nakamura.
Kouta through trying to shut the door. Nakamura chases a slider away for the 2nd out.
Tanaka though continues to work the count on Kouta. Takes some very close pitches but earns the walk.
Kawakami also taking some close pitches while down 0-2.
He singles through to right! Soeda scores to make it a 3-0 game!
Suzuki strikes out to end the inning, but Sakushin tacks on another run.
Watanabe continues to cruise along making short work of the bottom of Kumamoto Kougyou's order.
We hit the break with Sakushin comfortably ahead 3-0.
Watanabe spoils a couple of pitches foul down the 3rd base line, which allows him to straighten out the bat and hit a one out single back up the middle.
After Kobayashi goes fishing, Soeda singles to right.
But Kouta gets Yuuto to swing on a slider and ground to 3rd to 3nd the inning.
#15 Shimizu comes in to hit for Sakai, quickly hits a grounder to short! It eats up Kawakmai and Shimizu slides in safely!
Kobari-kantoku pulls Watanabe and puts in Asayama.
And as quickly as he comes in, 2 pitches later, he has 2 outs and Shimizu at 3rd.
Kudou after falling down 0-2 takes 3 really close pitches to fill up the count.
Finally fouls off a couple...
Kudou stops in his tracks as he's punched out on a fastball that Noguchi deems caught the outside edge!
Once again Kouta is back to getting quick outs. After Nakamura and Tanaka are quickly retired, Kawakami takes the first pitch and singles to right. Winds up taking 2nd when Suzuki's throw goes to no one in particular.
But Suzuki flies out to center and the inning is over.
Promising start in Kumamoto Kougyou's lucky 7 as Takaki gets his 2nd hit of the day.
Then on the very next pitch, Horita grounds into a 5-4-3 double play.
The inning is completed when Matsushita is caught looking an outside fastball.
Yamanashi opens the frame with a gapper to right center. The defense is in and he's off to the races. Slides into 3rd just to get his jersey dirty.
Starts the work back by getting Asayama to chase a slider for the 1st out.
But the defense of the run fails immediately thereafter. Kobyashi takes the first ball deep to left, one bounding to the wall. He's in with a double and it's 4-0.
Soeda takes a 4-pitch walk.
Kouta retires the next two batters, but it's just a formality now.
Asayama racking up the K's as Kumamoto Kougyou perhaps looks to just avoid the shutout. Only Honda avoids the dreaded K with a flyout to left.
Horita makes a great diving stop and throw to rob Tanaka of a base hit.
2 down after Kawakami's flyout, but Kouta still has to finish the inning. Suzuki and Yamashita both collect base hits garnering a conference from Hayashi-kantoku.
After that Kouta strikes out Asayama to end the inning.
Yamamoto with a deep fly down the left side, but Kobayashi in foul territory catches it at the fence.
Nishiyama tries to prevent the shutout with a base hit to the left side.
Kudou booms a ball to center, but Suzuki is there with some room to spare.
Takaki grounds to 2nd and the game is over. Sakushin Gakuin in strong performance shutout Kumamoto Kougyou.
A fairly dominating performance as a 2-run HR in the opening frame set the tone while Watanabe and Asayama as they hold Kumamoto to just 5 hits and 6 total baserunners in a combined shutout.
It's unfortunately not pretty for Kumamoto Kougyou, but they can at least say they won a game while at Koushien.
For Sakushin Gakuin, the pitching was more than good enough, with Asayama recording a K/IP. The offense may need a checkup after this game.
Watanabe Yuuma (Sakushin Gakuin) - 5+ IP, 3 H, 2 K, BB
Asayama ? (Sakushin Gakuin) - 4 IP, 2 H, 4 K
Yamashita Yuuto (Sakushin Gakuin) - 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI
Kawakami Shuugo - 2-4, RBI, HBP
Kobayashi Yuusuke (Sakushin Gakuin) - 2-5, 2 2B, RBI
Takaki Eiji (Kumamoto Kougyou) - 2-2, 3B, BBNishiyama Tenshou (Kumamoto Kougyou) - 1-4