Well, things are certainly not going as expected. What lies in store for the last game of Day 8?
Shuutoku's final score against Oita Shougyou looks like a blowout, but it was only that way in the final innings. Before the 6th inning, they managed a grand total of 2 hits. Naruto's pitching should provide more resistance.
For Naruto they have some modicum of success, and I forgot about ace Bandou. But, much like Shuutoku, it wasn't until late that the team exploded for their runs.
It might be a game much like last where first team to blink, loses.
Shuutoku (Higashi Tokyo)
SS Kozawa Masahiko
3B Morita Kannosuke
CF Iino Shuuta
C Yamashita Ryuuji
RF Kobayashi Hiroshi
2B Sakai Yoshiki
LF Tachi Ryouhei (#11)
1B Nemoto Shougo
P Nishibayashi Kento
2B Nakano Yuuki
CF Koumoto Yuujirou
SS Kawano Yuuto
1B Ise Hayato
RF Inaoka Kenta
C Kusaka Hiroki
3B Matsumoto Takanori
P Bandou Yuugo
LF Narukawa Shuuji
15:50 - First Pitch!
Kozawa with a seeing eye single back up the middle. Immediately Abo-kantoku goes for the bunt. Iino winds up moving him to 3rd after hitting a hard grounder right to Ise.
Cleanup batter Yamashita gets jammed inside by Bandou and pops out to Kawano for the 3rd out. Leadoff hit doesn't come back to hurt him early.
I barely have time to write anything for the inning because in 6 pitches it's all over! Each of the top 3 batters take a pitch before being retired and I need to get to the 2nd inning!
Apparently both teams are just going after the first pitches of the aces because neither team is playing the game of attrition! Kobayashi on a 1-2 count pops out to Kusaka. Sakai foul flies to Nakano... and Tachi chases a slider to end the inning.
Ise swinging away, falls behind 1-2. Drives one to left!! Tachi sprinting back.. still back...
Naruto's agressiveness strikes first with cleanup Ise's HR (27th overall at Koushien!), 1-0!
Inaoka on the fastball from Nishibayashi! That's to left center and past Tachi all the way to the wall! He's in with a double!!
Abo-kantoku calls time.
Kusaka laying down the bunt and now a sac fly can extend the lead.
Matsumoto does that with a drive to deep left center! Iino running back... reaches out..
And it's in and out of his glove! Not sure what happened there but the ball falls down as Inaoka scores to make it a 2-0 game!!
Nishibayashi ends the inning finally getting Bandou to fly out to center, and Narukawa can't check his swing and goes down.
But it looks like Shuutoku blinks first handing the veterans the lead.
Shuutoku seems to be getting pitches to hit, but are still not getting them flush.
Nemoto and Nishibayashi both fly out on just such pitches, and Kozawa chases after a pitch up and in and grounds to short.
Nakano with the safety bunt and Nishibayashi fields. But Nemoto is out of position! Tries to scramble back to the bag but can't and Nakano's on safely. Koumoto moves him over in to scoring position.
But after Nishibayashi walks Kawano, Abo-kantoku pulls him for #10 Yusa.
Welcome to the game, now meet Ise.
Who just blasts the first pitch to dead center!! Iino back to the fence... off the padding! Nakano scores, Kawano rounding 3rd, he'll score all the way from 1st and it's quickly 4-0 Naruto!
Inaoka with a drive to deep right center! Iino and Kobayashi converge and it's Iino who has it for the 2nd out.
Kusaka spins like a ballerina for the 3rd out, but Ise now responsible for 3 of the teams 4 runs so far.
Morita with a drive of a hanging curve sends it to left center for a leadoff double!
Iino single through the right side! Morita being waved home! Throw comes in late and Shuutoku is on the board at 4-1!
Abo-kantoku has cleanup batter Yamashita bunt the runner along for Kobayashi.
He's jammed by a Bandou offering inside and flies out to center.
Sakai gets ahead of Bandou 3-1, but count goes full.
He jammed too! But it's going to shallow center! Koumoto charging in... falls in!
Koumoto with the quick crow hop and throw home.... late! Iino scores from 2nd and Shuutoku pulls back within 2! 4-2!!
Abo-kantoku sends Sakai! Throw form Kusaka... just in time to nail Sakai for the 3rd out. But Shuutoku won't let Naruto dictate things!
Naruto immediately responds! Matsumoto grounder up the first base line.. over the bag at 3rd and to the wall for a double! Bandou moves him over...
Narukawa liner to right for a base hit! Just like that Naruto gets another run and it's 5-2!
Hit and run! Nakano singles to left and Shuutoku could be in a world of hurt soon..
But a break for Yusa! He gets Koumoto to ground into the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
One down and Nemoto is hit in the butt by Bandou and heads to 1st.
Bandou wild pitch! Nemoto goes to to 2nd now!
Yuza hot shot to 1st! Ise fields it and goes to the bag. Nemoto heads to 3rd, but there's 2 out.
Kozawa single to right! Nemoto can walk home and once again, Shuutoku pulls back to within 2 at 5-3!
Abo-kantoku tries again and sends Kozawa. But Kusaka makes a throw right on the money and they just get Kozawa for the 3rd out.
Yusa struggling to have a clean inning as he winds up walking Kawano to start the 5th.
No bunt from Ise. But he's out in front of a fastball away and grounds one to short! Kawano starts the 6-4-3 double play and there's now 2 down!
Inaoka goes down! He fouls a ball off his front knee and is still down! They're trying to get him to stand up, but he can't! They're having to carry him off the field for treatment.
He hit his knee when it was fully extended, that is not good.
But he comes out and appears to be no worse for wear (maybe).
As perhaps expected he goes down swinging after that and we hit the mid-game break with Naruto holding a 5-3 lead. But Shuutoku isn't backing down from the fight and is volleying shots back to Naruto though they still haven't answered the opening salvo which is the difference in the game.
One down Iino collects his 2nd hit of the day on a ball back up the middle.
They're running again on Kusaka! His throw to 2nd... dropped by Kawano and he's safe! Chance here for Shuutoku if they can get a timely.
Yamashita can't deliver. He goes after a curve insider and flies out to Narukawa.
Kobayashi single though short! Iino coming around, throw home... late!!! Timely from Kobayashi pulls Shuutoku within 1 here in the 6th! It's 5-4!!
Sakai chopper back up the middle, but it's too slow and Kawano can take it to 2nd himself to retire the side, but Shuutoku is pulling ever closer!
Kusaka launching counterattack! He singles to right and we may be off and running again!
Matsumoto up, and Moriwaki-kantoku letting him hit considering he's 2-2.
Drive to right! But it hangs up in the hamazake and Kobayashi has it for the first out.
They go for the hit and run, but Bandou hits it right to Kozawa who goes to 1st for the 2nd out.
Narukawa flies out to center, and Bandou will have to protect the one point lead.
One down for Shuutoku and Nemoto bloops one to shallow center for a basehit.
AH!!! Wild pitch to the backstop sends Nemoto to 2nd!
AHHHHHHHH!!!!! Another wild pitch on the next pitch sends him to 3rd! Moriwaki-kantoku quickly calling time as Yusa gets ahead 3-0.
Bandou fills up the count, but now Yusa continually fights off his offerings.
After the 4th fouloff, Kusaksa goes out to talk to Bandou.
Chopper to right side! Nakano goes home!! Kusaka with the tag...
Nemoto just gets in first and we are tied at 5-5!!!! And there's still only one down!
Ah, but Kozawa early on the slider and grounds to short! Kawano starts the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, but not before Shuutoku finally draws level!!
Ah, Yusa allows another leadoff runner as he hits Nakano. Koumoto lays down the bunt and moves him into scoring position for Kawano.
But Yusa puts him into a corner down 0-2 and jams a ball to 3rd! Morita holds the runner and there's 2 down now for Naruto!
Abo-kantoku calls time with Ise coming up.
And it looks like they'll pitch around him and test out Inaoka.
2 pitches and he's quickly down 0-2...
Inaoka goes around on a slider outside and raises the bat above his head in frustration as he leaves 2 runners on the bases!
Iino with his 3rd hit of the game! He singles to right with one down.
Yamashita up, no bunt..
But he's down looking on 3 straight with the finisher on the outside corner.
Kobayashi quickly down on 2 strikes...
SANSHIN!!!!!! He goes down on strikes and Bandou finally has a clean inning.
Yusa settling down against the bottom of Naruto's lineup. Both Kusaka and Matsumtoto chase a high fastball and ground out to Kozawa.
Bandou under yet another high offering and pops out to Sakai to end the inning!
Sakai grounder to the right side! Nakano there, but can't pick it! His recovery is too late and Shuutoku has their gyakuten runner on base!
Tachi up and anticipating bun, Matsumoto is charging in from 3rd.
But Tachi turns the tables! He takes the ball the other way into the gap and now there's 2 on with no out! Moriwaki-kantoku quickly calls time...
Nemoto lays down the bunt, but Bandou is on it quickly, spin throws to 3rd... gets the out! One down same situation!!
Yusa showing bunt early, but swings away and is behind 1-2...
Bandou goes inside and Yusa twists himself for the 2nd out! He can only smile as he heads back to the dugout.
That puts it in Kozaki's hands.
First pitch he gets ahead of a cut ball and grounds to 2nd! Nakano goes to 1st and Naruto gets out of the pinch!!
Narukawa a single to right! Sayonara alert as #15 Tanaka replaces Narukawa on the bases.
Nakano successfully bunts the runner along as Abo-kantoku calls for time.
Koumoto drive to right center! Iino and Kobayashi converging, Kobayashi takes over dives... and makes the catch!! 2 out, but Tanaka moves to 3rd!!
Kawano up and Yusa falls behind 2-0.
Grounder to 3rd! Morita with it! Goes to 1st...
We're headed to enchousen!!!
Tanaka stays in the game at LF
Shuutoku perhaps pressing a bit. Morita hacking away, quickly falls behind 0-2, and goes down swinging!
Iino drive to right!! Inaoka running over, near the pole!
Makes the catch right at the fence for the 2nd out! The hamakaze definitely killed that one...
Yamashita grounds to 2nd and Shuutoku will have to play defense!
Even I could see that pitch was fat! Ise drives it to left center! It one hops to the wall for a double!
Inaoka bunting. Lays it down.
It's between Yusa and Nemoto and no one can field it for the out! Nemoto goes back to get it, but everyone's safe and now...
...they walk Kusaka for the force at home.
Abo-kantoku with a quick conference as Matsumoto steps in...
Liner! That's in for a base hit, sayonara!!! Naruto wins 6-5!!
But the Shuutoku players collapse on their knees as the Naruto players celebrate at home!
It's hard to celebrate a team win when another school suffers defeat, and from the Shuutoku players you can see that the loss hurts, especially when they clawed their way back.
You could tell that they were pressing at the end, knowing that in any inning Naruto could somehow luck their way into a run, and a run is all they would need. Plus, Yusa had to be called into service early as Nishibayashi was ineffective. Perhaps they also knew that his effectiveness was running out. Though we know Sakurai was available off the bench.
But now is not the time for second guessing. It's time to applaud the efforts of the first timers, who fought one of the stronger teams in the field and almost pulled off a comeback to remember. No one, especially Yusa should be disappointed or apologize for losing the game.
Naruto can celebrate the victory for now, but they'll need to rest up, because Tokoha Kikugawa awaits in 2 days. Bandou certainly wasn't perfect this game, and was repeatedly exploited by the Shuutoku offense.
Ise Hayato (Naruto) - 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Matsumoto Takanori (Naruto) - 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI (incl GW)
Narukawa Shuuji (Naruto) - 2-4, RBI
Yusa Kazuki (Shuutoku) - 6.2+ IP, 2 ER, 10 H, 3 K, 3 BB, HBP
Iino Shuuta (Shuutoku) - 3-5, 2 R, RBI
Sakai Yoshiki (Shuutoku) - 2-4, RBI
Kozawa Masahiko (Shuutoku) - 2-5