Meitoku Gijyuku as expected has reached the Best 8 with still a chance to win senbatsu. However, their road has perhaps been too rough for them to finish the race.
Ace Jyunichirou Kishi, already under stress from his weak offense, had to survive 15 innings against Chiben Wakayama. That one game has already had implications as in their last game versus Kanto Dai-ichi as he did not look as sharp - despite the fact they still went on to win the game. They day off they were supposed to get, they got yesterday, so it'll be 27+ innings for Kishi going forward to win. He may win this one, but it doesn't look like he'll hold out.
Sano Nichidai's first big test in Chiben Gakuen almost ended in disaster. Out to a 4-1 lead, unforced errors allowed Chiben to get back into the game and force enchousen. They pulled it out in 10, but those mental errors will prove costly. In addition, their offense hasn't been all too impressive either, which may be a relief to Kishi.
The saving grace is ace Tajima who has looked more than serviceable in his 2 games. There was the hiccup late against Chiben Gakuen, so perhaps stamina might come into play though like Kishi the day off should help.
Sano Nichidai (Tochigi)
SS Takemura Ritsuki
CF Nagasawa Yoshitaka
2B Yoshida Toshiki
LF Inaba Kousei
RF Koizumi Keita
1B Tamura Kaito
3B Kakizawa Fumiya
P Tajima Daiki
C Sagawa Shou
Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
3B Ozaki Yuuto
RF Sanada Kazuto
LF Tada Tougo
1B Nishioka Souta (#11)
P Kishi Jyuunichirou
SS Yasuda Takayuki
2B Mori Shouma
C Mizuno Katsuya (#13)
CF Ootani Yuuki
13:15 - First Pitch!
Before the siren can even finish, Takemura hits a single into center! Nagasawa bunts him over.
Yoshida with hit to right, the ball gets by Sanada and goes to the wall! Takemura already in, but Yoshida advances to 3rd on the error!! 1-0 Sano Nichidai!
Mabuchi-kantoku calls for time.
Inaba up to tack on another run, but his fly to left is too short! Yoshida holds up.
Koizumi flies out to left to end the inning, but a couple of base hits give Sano Nichidai the early lead!
Grounder to short from Ozaki, Takemura fumbles with the ball, his throw to 1st is high but Tamura makes the tag!
Ah.. but he's hurt. He may have landed funny and is taken off for treatment. It's taking quite a while too, might have been really serious...
It's also really quiet in the stadium right now...
And he emerges to take his position! But how will his mobility be?
More importantly, the break may have affected Tajima a bit as he walks Sanada.
Tada pops up a short bunt that falls in. Tajima goes to 1st to just get Tada for the 2nd out. Meitoku will play for 1.
Nishoka with a slider to left center! Sanada rounds 3rd and will easily score to tie the game at 1-1!
Kishi gets grazed by Tajima and the 2-out rally continues. I think we have the home plate umpire that will call go-arounds and HBP easily.
Tajima gets Yasuda to hit one off the end of his bat back to him. Goes to 1st for the 3rd out, but we're back level.
One down for Nichidai and Kakizawa gets one off the end of his bat, but pokes it to left center for a base hit.
Tajima shows bunt early in the AB, but is hitting after the count hits 2 strikes.
It's a hit and run, but Tajima just kind of dumps it to Kishi. It's pretty much a bunt as Tajima is retired.
Sagawa working the count on Kishi, runs it full... and hits a ball to right center! Ootani has no chance at it as Kakizawa comes around to score on the double! Sano Nichidai retakes the lead at 2-1!
Takemura tries to poke a ball for a base hit, but flies out to Tada for the 3rd out. Considering that Kishi has given up a run in each of the first 2 innings he does not to appear to be 100% stamina-wise.
And this is Meitoku's problem. If they get into a scoring affair with Sano Nichidai, they will lose as their offense is not capable of scoring a lot of runs.
And as the bottom of the order goes down in order with little resistance, Kishi needs to draw the line and soon.
It's not necessarily that Kishi is leaving pitches in the zone. They're just hittable.
One down and Yoshida takes it the other way, just out of the reach of Ozaki for a single.
Hit-and run! Kishi this time leaves it over and Inaba hits a hard grounder to the left side! Yasuda sprinting over, and it's off his glove! He has to chase it down as Yoshida takes 3rd! Nichidai threatening again!
Koizumi with yet another fly to left, but it's too shallow and Yoshida has to hold.
Tamura with a grounder to the right side, but a diving Nishoka can't get to it! Yoshida scores and it's 3-1 Sano Nichidai!
Kakizawa with another groudner to the right side, Mori going over, slides... and doesn't come up with it! Inaba scores and it's 4-1!
Kishi finally gets out of the inning, but it's only because Ozaki fielded the hot grounder from Tajima and could just step on the bag at 3rd for the out.
Kishi's speed doesn't look too terrible, but he was already looking a bit out of sorts in the prior game, and it's just worse here...
That and they don't really have the offense to play a barnburner game like this might be headed towards.
Still, Tajima doesn't attack the batters and walks Sanada to lead off the inning. Tada tries to bunt, but Kakizawa comes up with it quickly and fires to 2nd to get the lead runner.
Mabuchi-kantoku goes for the hit and run instead, but Nishoka can only advance the runner with a groundout to 3rd. A pop up by Kishi ends the inning.
One down for Sano Nichidai and they get yet another runner as Takaemura singles to center.
This time around though, Kishi retires both Nagasawa and Yoshida (who had been 2-2) and gets his first bagel of the game.
Meitoku continues to have issues at the dish. Mori's fly out to to right get sandwiched by Tajima's first 2 K's of the game for his first 1-2-3 inning.
Sano Nichidai's batters suddenly change tack as both Inaba and Koizumi both swing early and are retired. Tamura's flyout to center makes it a 7 pitch inning.
Ootani searching to get on base, swings early in the count and grounds to short. Tajima has had his moments, but he looks better this game than in his last.
Ozaki hits a hard liner right at Tamura for the 2nd out... and Sanada looks befuddled as Sagawa's pitch frame goes back over the plate on a ball down the middle for strike 3. Another victim of changing location after the batter takes a peek down to see where they're going with the pitch.
And so we hit the break with Sano Nichidai holding onto that early 4-1 lead. Meitoku will be hard pressed to find a way to score 3 runs given their offense, and while Kishi has leveled off from his poor start, there's no guarantee he can hold on for the whole game.
Kishi has indeed settled down with yet another short inning of routine stuff. Kakizawa grounds out to short, Tajima strikes out swinging and Sagawa hits a lazy fly to left in a grand total of 9 pitches. He's keeping his team in it, but it may be too late.
Tada with a chopper to short, Takemura has to wait for the hop, but his throw to 1st beats a diving Tada for the out.
Nishioka comes back and lines a ball to right for a base hit. Kishi follows that up whipping the bat around and shoots a ball through the left side for a base hit.
And now Yasuda with a grounder through the right side! Nishoka holds at 3rd and it's manrui for Meitoku! Where did this come from? Matsumoto-kantoku calls time.
Mori with a single through the left side! Everyone advances a station and it's 4-2!
Now 5 straight hits from Meitoku!! Mizuno with a ball to right center! Kishi scores! Yasuda coming around, he scores!! WE'RE TIED UP AT 4-4!! WTF?!
Matsumoto-kantoku calling time again, as I'm sure he's as shocked as I am about Meitoku's explosion at the plate.
Ootani grounder to short! Takemura goes to 2nd for 1, throw to first... not in time!!! Ootani's slide beats out the throw and that means Mori scores from 3rd to give Meitoku the 5-4 lead!!
Ozaki flies out to right to end the inning, but out of nowhere Meitoku has put a big inning together and not only closed the deficit, but taken the lead!!
Now can Sano Nichidai play from behind? Top of the order due up.
Takemura fly ball to left, Tada slips! He gets back up and charges in making the running catch. But afterwards #3 Oonishi comes out to replace him at LF.
But Nagasawa drives a ball to left center! Ootani runs it down but not before Nagasawa has a double!
And now Mabuchi-kantoku intentionally walks Yoshida?? I can understand if it's the 9th, but here in the 7th?
Mizuno fires to 3rd, but Nagasawa slides in time and the walk backfires as there are 2 runners in scoring position now for Inaba!
Kishi still fighting though, gets the count to 2-2... but they it goes full after a pitchout.
Flyball to left! Oonishi with it and Nagasawa comes home! Throw in is up the first base line and Mizuno's tag isn't in time! We're back tied at 5-5!!
Mabuchi-kantoku calls time again as Koizumi steps in.
Count at 2-2, Mizuno goes out to talk with Kishi and it's a rather long chat.
They try to go inside to Koizumi, but it's just too much inside.
They double up and Koizumi hits one to center! But it hands up and Ootani tracks it for the 3rd out. The intentional walk was still a bit questionable, but regardless we're tied up again!
It looks like Meitoku is back to normal after that power inning. Sanada grounds back to Tajima, new LF Oonishi can't check his swing, and Nishoka just flat out misses the ball to end the inning.
So if Meitoku's offense is back to normal, and the game is tied, Kishi cannot afford to give up another run.
Tamura with a liner to center! Ootani late going back, leaps! And makes the great contorting catch! Not sure how he did that, but he makes the desperate leaping catch!
More defensive work as Ozaki smothers a hot shot from Kakizawa and makes the strong throw to 1st for the out.
And Tajima challenges Ootani again with a shallow ball to center, but he's up for it as well, making the diving catch to end the inning.
Not the best time for Tajima to lose the strike zone... he walks Kishi to lead off the inning! Yasuda bunts him over for Mori. Can he deliver the go-ahead shot?
Chopper to 3rd. Kakizawa with it, looks Kishi back and goes to 1st for the 2nd out! It'll be up to Mizuno to drive in the run now.
Mizuno pops it up! Sagawa going near his dugout, makes the catch!! And tumbles into his dugout! He holds up the glove with the ball, and the side is retired. He also looks to be ok, which is good considering that was a good spill he had there.
Sadly Sagawa can't turn that into something at the plate as he grounds to short.
Back to the top of the lineup and Takemura, down 0-2, fouls off several balls before he can inside out one to left for a base hit.
Nagasawa butns the ball, Kishi slips while fielding the ball, throw to 1st.. SAFE!!! Nagasawa slides in ahead of the throw and now Kishi is in a pinch!
This with Yoshida up to bat!
Kishi jams him! It's a grounder to 1st. Nishioka's only play is to 1st and they go ahead run is 90 feet away!
But Inaba pops it up! Mori secures the ball and the side is retired!
Can Meitoku avoid another enchousen game?
#9 batter Ootani leads off the inning, but goes down swinging on the slider. Back to the top of the order and Ozaki.
But Ozaki extends out to hit an outside pitch and flies out to Koizumi for the 2nd out.
Down to Sanada to keep the inning going. They really can't afford to have it go to extras.
SANSHIN!! Tajima's pitch supposedly catches the outside edge and we are indeed headed to enchousen!
Kishi will have to make the best of it. He gives the outside forkball to Koizumi and he chases it.
After Mori takes a trip to the outfield to make a catch, Kishi collects yet another K as his slider is waved at my Kakizawa.
Apparently Oonishi isn't much of a hitter as he tries the safety bunt to get on base. Doesn't quite work.
Nishioka with a hard shot goes into right for a base hit!
Kishi with a ball to the gap in short, and Takemura playing to his left, has to scramble over to get it. Makes the sliding grab, but has no play! Matsumoto-kantoku calls time.
What's this?? Yasuda singles to center! Nishioka has to hold at 3rd, but it's manrui with just 1 out!
Mori gets extra instructions before heading up to bat. Any decent fly could end this.
Goes after the first pitch, fouls it off!
Grounder up middle!!! Takemura goes towards 2nd, dives... makes the stop! Steps on 2nd, throw to 1st... IN TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Takemura saves the game with the 6-3 double play to end the inning!!!
Can Sano Nichidai turn that momentum into a run?
One down for Nichidai, and Sagawa singles to right center! Mabuchi-kantoku calls time as Nagasawa steps in.
AH!!! Kishi hits Nagasawa to bring up Yoshida!!
They're being extra careful with him, but do you really want to walk him? Count goes to 2-0...
3-0! Are they really?? They are!! They walk him to go after Inaba!! This despite the fact it loads the bases!
But Kishi goes after him and he's quickly up 0-2. After a pitchout, they try the slider but he doesn't bite!
Slow chopper to the left side! Yasuda has it, but has no throw! Sagawa scores and the strategy blows up in Mabuchi-kantoku's face!
Koizumi with a single to left! Nagasawa scores! Yoshida sent home! Throw from Oonishi... in time to get Yoshida!
But 2 runs score on a backfired strategy and Meitoku will have to scramble to get back into the game.
Which is something they're not really accustomed to doing, despite the 4-run 6th.
Mizuno grounds out to 3rd... So does PH #14 Takahashi.
Already down to Ozaki... and he hits a fly to center! Nagasawa over to field it... Game set! Sano Nichidai wins in 11 7-5!
But perhaps instead of the fact that Kishi had to play another extra inning game, or that the offense somehow found a way to get back in the game, the focus and deserved criticism will be placed on Mabuchi-kantoku who decided with 3rd base "open" to walk Yoshida for the 2nd time to face Inaba in a same-handed matchup. That plan backfired and cost his team the game.
Surely there comes a point where you can manage to give your team the best ability to get out of the inning, but walking to put the go-ahead run on 3rd base - even with 2 outs - is just plain mismanagement.
About the only good thing about this is that Kishi doesn't have to throw anymore.
For Sano Nichidai, they find themselves fortunate to advance despite blowing a 3-run lead. Needless to say, despite falling into the doldrums of the middle innings, they woke up late and did what was necessary to win the game. They may have trouble in the semifinals as the pitching is still suspect, but they can rejoice in the face that I believe this is their first time ever in the Best 4 of any Koushien.
Tajima Daiki (Sano Nichidai) - 11 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 7 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP
Inaba Kousei (Sano Nichidai) - 2-5, R, 2 RBI
Yoshida Toshiki (Sano Nichidai) - 2-4, R, RBI, SB, 2 IBB
Kishi Jyunichirou (Meitoku Giyuku) - 11 IP, 7 ER, 15 H, 3 K, BB, 2 IBB
Nishioka Souta (Meitoku Giyuku) - 3-5, R, RBI
Kishi Jyunichirou (Meitoku Giyuku) - 2-3, R, BB, HBP
Mizuno Katsuya (Meitoku Giyuku) - 1-5, 2 RBI