Our last game of the 2nd round features two teams who had identical scores, but not so identical games.
Both Maebashi Ikuei and Shounan both won of their games by a score of 1-0. Shounan got theirs from a suicide squeeze after a leadoff double. Maebashi's on a timely triple with a runner on base. Of the 7 hits Shounan got, they had just one extra base hit (Ootani's double). Half of Maebashi Ikuei's 8 hits were of the extra base variety.
Shounan's ace Yamashita had to get himself out of quite a few jams in the game, giving up 5 hits and 6 walks in his complete game effort. Takahashi for Maebashi Ikuei game up 5 hits as well, but walked just 2 and struck out 13 to Yamashita's 5. However, despite the power display Maebashi was more prone to the K, striking out 9 times to Shounan's 5.
Is it possible that the edge in this game actually goes to the first timers?!
Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma)
CF Kudou Youhei
1B Kusunoku Hiroki
SS Tsuchiya Keisuke
3B Arai Kento
C Ogawa Toshiki
RF Itagaki Fumiya
P Takahashi Kouna
LF Tamura Hayato
2B Takahashi Tomoya
CF Ikeda Taishi
LF Kumasako Mitsuhiro
SS Konda Tenshi
C Ogata Sousuke
3B Fujino Yuuta
P Yamashita Atsuhiro
1B Hongou Kentarou
RF Ootani Shinpei
2B Shimada Kiyohita
14:20 - First Pitch!
After a quick pop out by Kudou, Kusunoku snaps at his bat after swinging and missing on a fastball inside.
Tsuchiya tries to take advantage of a 3-1 count, but can only ground to short for the 3rd out.
No fireworks from Kouna just yet.
Ikeda skies one to Tsuchiya behind 2nd, and Kumasako grounds to 2nd.
Imada though hits a liner to right that Itagaki has to slide to make the catch on.
Arai, grounder to short, Konda bobbles the ball on the transfer! Throw to 1st... Safe!
The 1B umpire calls Hongou off the bag and Maebashi has a lead runner! Ogawa moves him to 2nd.
Itagaki liner to Fujino, home plate umpire calls no catch! Now... that looks a little funny there.
Umpires get together, set home plate umpire straight, 2 outs.
Kouna lines out to right shortly afterwards, and the game goes on.
One down for Shounan and Fujino draws a four pitch walk.
Yamashita showing bunt, lays it down. Arai overrides Ogawa, quickly throws to 2nd and cuts down Fujino.
Hongou tests Arai again with a bounder. He smothers it on the short hop and makes the play at 1st.
As expected Yamashita is getting his contact plays in. Tamura rolls over one to 3rd.
Tomoya with a foul fly, Ogata running over to the Maebashi Ikuei dugout on the 1st base side..
Tumbles in hard!!
Umpire goes over... calls foul, but more importantly goes down to check on him. He's okay and runs back to his position behind the plate.
Tomoya with a liner, but to Hongou for the out..
And Kudou too rolls over one to 2nd.
It's possible Kouna is playing the contact game too to get quicker outs, as Ootani swings on the first pitch and grounds to second.
That's debunked as Shimada pulls one through the gap at short for his team's first hit.
Ikeda showing bunt, but takes all the way to 3-1. Goes for the hit-and-run, but Ikeda pulls it foul.
But Ikeda actually goes for it on 3-2, and he successfully lays it down!
Kumasako pulls one to the right side! Kusunoki ranging over, slides, but it's off his glove! It defects towards 2nd and Tomoya is out of position! Everone's safe!
Konda drive to left! Tamura going back, back, back pedaling...
Makes the catch! Man those backpedaling plays worry me. But side retired!
Kusunoku strikes out for the 2nd time against the pitcher who doesn't really record them. Not good.
That aside, Yamashita's plan of contact outs is working well so far. Tsuchiya doesn't make all that good contact in his ball to 2nd, and Arai does boom one to center, but it's easily playable.
Defensive change. #14 Uchida comes in for Kusunoku and takes over at 1B.
It takes until the 4th inning for Kouna to record his first K, and it's after falling behind Fujino 3-0 to boot for the 2nd out of the inning. Hit 144 on that pitch.
But I also think that he doesn't mind the quick outs on the field as well. Yamashita makes a bit for a hit with a ball to the gap in short, but Tsuchiya with the backhanded glove pick and cross body throw gets him to end the inning.
Ogawa checks in with Maebashi's first hit, rebounding the ball back up the middle for a leadoff single. Itagaki moves him over 90 feet.
Kouna at 2-2 hits a foul fly that is playable. Hongou, Shimada and Ootani all converge, Hongou goes for it, but it falls in foul.
Yamashita goes slow curve on Kouna, and he tries to slow down his bat to make contact, but it just prolonged the silliness of it.
Tamura up to try and break the deadlock.
And it gets a little easier as a ball gets by Ogata! Ogawa heads to 3rd.
He too can't check his swing and the count runs full.
Rocket to 2nd... AH!!!!
The ball 5-holes Shimada and goes to right center! Ogawa scores and Tamura takes 2nd! Maebashi Ikuei takes the 1-0 lead!!
Tomoya grounds out to end the inning, but we have a breakthrough!
Hongou with another had ball to Arai who hands that one like all the others.
Ootani liner down first base line, fair!! He's on his horse and reaches 2nd ahead of the throw!
Shimada lays down the bunt! Arai having to charge in again throws to 1st.... SAFE!!
The 1st base umpire calls him safe, and I don't know about that. The ball was sno-coned, but it looked like he had control. So Maebashi Ikuei in a big pinch.
SQUEEZE!!! Ikeda lays it down! Kouna undertosses home....
Ogawa blocking the plate gets Ootani high on the body as he slides in for the out! 2 down!
Kumasako goes down swinging and the side is retired!
So yeas, once again we are at the break and we have... a 1-0 game... But not necessarily in the way we thought.
Kudou with a hard shot to Hongou, block it, quickly regathers it and beats Kudou down the line for the out.
Uchida up for his first AB... Singles to right!
Perhaps a chance to play a little add-on right after the break.
Hit-and-run! Tsuchiya liner, caught by Fujino! Picks off Uchida easily at 1st and the inning is over.
Kouna still pitching to contact, Konda and Ogata both ground out, while Fujino goes down swinging on a slider to retire the side.
Maebashi Ikuei apparently fine playing the contact game. Arai and Ogawa are retired on the first pitch each on routine grounders.
Itagaki swings after a sinker to retire the side.
Shounan doing the same really, but the difference is, they're behind a run!
Yamashita chases the high fastball and hits one back to Kouna. 3 pitches later the side is retired...
Yamashita tries to get the slow curve past Kouna, but he makes an easy swing and singles to left center.
Tamura showing bunt, and on the 2-1 pitch the corners crash in. But he takes that for a ball, as well as the next one as now Maebashi Ikuei has 2 on no out. Yamanoguchi-kantoku calls time as #10 Kawabata warms up.
Now Tomoya up to bunt and he lays it down.
Contact play! Kouna takes off on the hit by Kudou! But Shimada goes home and Kouna is out by a good margin!
Uchida hit up the middle, Konda knocks it down! Flips to Shimada and there's 3 out!
The contact pitching is working as Kouna is just at 87 pitches.
Shimada wants to change that a bit, goes 7 pitches, but can only hit a comebacker to Kouna.
After a popup by Ikeda, #18 Setouchi hits for Kumasako.
Grounder to the right of the mound, Tomoya charging, throws across his body and gets the last out! Nice play!
#17 Fukuyama comes on for PH Setouchi and takes over in LF. Also, #15 Jyouso comes in for Shimada to take over at 2B.
Tsuchiya fly to left. Fukuyama going to his right, still going, still going...
Caches it at the fence just in foul territory! One down.
Oh? Yamanoguchi-kantoku sends in #10 Kawabata to pitch for Yamashita?
All he does is throw fastballs and get K's it seems. Arai goes down looking and Ogawa goes down swinging to end the inning.
And just like that, we're at the bottom of the 9th inning already!
Konda catches a slider and puts it behind Kouna into center for a base hit!
Ogata up, will Yamanoguchi-kantoku have him bunt?
No! Konda takes off! Throw from Ogawa.... offline! It goes into center, but Konda can't advance.
Meanwhile Ogata behind 0-2....
Ogata chases the slider for the first out!
Now #13 Houman comes in to hit for Fujino...
Drive to left! Tamura running to the left field line... FOUL! Oh, but not by a whole lot.
...Goes full swing on a fastball outside and it's 2-2.
...Slider in the dirt and the count runs full.
SANSHIN!! Houman chases the slider! Ogawa goes to 1st to complete the out, but Konda breaks for 3rd! Throw from Uchida, not in time!! Douten run 90 feet away!!
#16 Maemura to hit for Kawabata.
He's swinging away, falls behind 1-2...
Maemura chases the slider and the game is over!
Kouna saves the strikeouts for last as after giving up the opening hit in the 9th, he strikes out the side to secure the 1-0 win!
As expected the teams aces kept the opposition off the board for most of the game. What was surprising was the Kouna wasn't striking out batters at the clip he was in the first game.
But this could have been the plan all along. For striking out a lot of batters is good, but adds to a pitch count. By pitching to contact (as long as you have the control for it), you can cut down your pitches. I don't have an exact count right now, (oh, NHK just showed 118 pitches, thanks!) which in kokoyakyu figures is really good.
And considering that in just 2 days time, they'll be playing Yokohama? They need a fresh Kouna as they can get. You can win the game striking out batters, but you may not win the war.
For Shounan, Yamashita did everything he could to win the game. His line today was actually a lot better than his first game, and yet the one run that scored was due to an unfortunate error.
And twice they had a runner at third come home and both times, Maebashi Ikuei cut the runner down at home. They had their chances, and you can understand the team's reaction to the loss. But, they can hold their heads high that they played 2 great games at Koushien and did their school and their friends, family, classmates, etc. proud.
Takahashi Kouna (Maebashi Ikuei) - CG, SHO, 5 H, 6 K, BB
Ogawa Toshiki (Maebashi Ikuei) - 1-4, R
Yamashita Atsuhiro (Shounan) - 8.1 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 4 K, BB
Ootani Shinpei (Shounan) - 1-3, 2B
Konda Tenshi (Shounan) - 1-4, SB