Saturday, March 22, 2014

86th Senbatsu - Day 2 - Game 3 - Nihon Bunri (Niigata) - Toyokawa (Aichi)

Our final matchup of the day pits a possible title contender in Nihon Bunri against perhaps a trap game in Toyokawa.

I think Nihon Bunri might stand a chance here at Senbatsu, but with teams from areas that aren't as strong you never know.  And I think Toyokawa is a sleeper in the field too.  So while I hope for an exciting game, I don't think I want one like the last game.

Nihon Bunri (Niigata)
RF Hoshi Kenta
SS Kurodai Naito
1B Kodachi Otowa
3B Ikeda Takamasa
P Iidzuka Satoshi
LF Kobayashi Masaya
CF Takeishi Ryou
C Kamamura Wataru
2B Arai Makoto

Toyokawa (Aichi)
3B Nakamura Kazuya
CF Sugiura Kenta
C Himi Taisuke
SS Takakuwa Heishirou
1B Satou Ren (#16)
RF Takeichi Keishi
2B Shima Kairi
P Tanaka Sora
LF Yamada Daichi


14:01 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Tanaka firing strikes and gets Hoshi on a slider that just drops out for the first out.  Kurodai falls victim to the same pitch and Tanaka has 2 quick Ks.

Kodachi with a chopper up the middle, Takakuwa with the great play by the bag, but the throw isn't in time to beat the speedy Kodachi...

But Ikeda rolls over another slider and grounds out to 2nd for the 3rd out.  Satou looks darn good.

Bottom 1st
Iidzuka up all business as he gets Nakamura to chase the fastball up and away for the first out.

Sugiura can't get level on another high fastball and chops one to Arai.

And then a 142 fastball down and away is waved at by Himi for the 3rd out.  Yeah, this looks good to start.

Top 2nd
After a hard groundout to 2nd by Iidzuka, Kobayashi almost takes out Tanaka's legs on a ball up the middle.

Bust-and-run!  Takeishi hits a grounder to the left side!  Yamada has it, but has to go back slightly and as a result the ball trickles out!  All safe!  Chance early for Nihon Bunri!

Kamakura with the chopper over Tanaka!  Takakuwa charges in, only has the play at first and takes it.  2 down with both runners in scoring position now!

Tanaka shuts the door!  He pulls the slider on Arai for his 3rd K!

Bottom 2nd
Toyokawa's ouen-dan a bright red with a white TK logo.

Iidzuka and his counterpart Tanaka harder throwers than most, as Iidzuka can hit upper 130s and Tanaka the lower 140s.

But it's the offspeed pitches the batters are going for.  Takakuwa goes on the slider, hitting a weak chopper to the left side.  Ikeda cuts in front of Kurodai and makes the throw for the out.

Satou with a laser shot to center, but Takeishi has to move very little to field it.

And Takeichi lifts a change to the lower atmosphere as Kurodai makes the catch for the 3rd out.

Top 3rd
Back to the top of the order and Hoshi.  He hits a grounder to Takakuwa near 2nd and his quick throw is picked by Itou for the out.

I can barely keep up as Kurodai grounds on the first pitch and grounds to 2nd.  Kodachi looks to have crushed the ball, but it was really off the end of the bat and Sugiura is there to make the catch.

Bottom 3rd
The game is moving quickly, but this time because the batters are just overmatched by the strong pitching.  Shima just watches the fastball go by for Iiduzka's 3rd K.

After a groundout by Tanaka, Yamada finally gets Toyokawa a baserunner when his ball sneaks by Ikeda and Kurodai for a base hit.

But wouldn't you know it, he gets caught off stealing early and is run down 1-6-3...

Top 4th
Ikeda becomes another K victim as he chases the slider.  Tanaka tries Iidzuka further and further away before Iidzuka finally says enough.  Tanaka comes back just enough for Iidzuka to roll it over to 2nd.

And a 142kph 2-seamer comes back over the plate for strike 3 on Kobayashi!  That's 5 K's for Tanaka!

Bottom 4th
Nakamura goes after the first pitch and flies out to left.  Iidzuka finally makes a mistake as he hits Sugiura to give Toyokawa a baserunner.  This as #3 batter Himi steps in.

Ah, but Imai-kantoku calls for the bunt! Himi lays it down and advances the runner for Takakuwa.

Iiduzka gets away with a high slider that Takakuwa swings under.  Then he gets him to offer on a ball up the ladder.  And to finish him off?  A fastball down when Kamakura calls for it up.  Devious that.

Top 5th
Oh man, we have a pitcher's duel going on.

Takeishi is just made to look silly as he screws himself on a slider.  Kamakura is way out in front of a slider, but Takakuwa makes the acrobatic quick throw for the 2nd out.

Arai finally makes contact, but grounds to Shima for the 3rd out.  That's 3 clean innings now for Tanaka.

Bottom 5th
Satou lifts a slider down the right field line, Hoshi makes the flashy sliding catch for the first out.

Takeishi catches a ball down the 1st base side, and Kodachi just can't get it as it goes to right for a base hit.

Shima with the pop bunt down the 1st base side.  Kodachi goes to field it, but he boots it!  Uh oh, chance for Toyokawa as Ooi-kantoku calls time!

Ama-chan! And again a different part than what we heard in the summer.

Tanaka with a ball up the middle, Arai with it... loses it!  Makes the desperate shovel to Kurodai and they get the runner at 2nd, but Toyokawa gets one more chance as last batter Yamada steps in.

But Iidzuka can't find the plate and falls behind 3-0.. and walks him!  Manrui for Toyokawa!!

Worse yet, it's back to the top of the lineup and Nakamura!!

But Nakamura is swinging away and fouls off the first 2 pitches quickly finding himself fighting at 0-2.

Just fouls one off up the 1st base line...


Nakamura can't lay off the "obvious" high fastball and Iiduzka is out of the jam!  We hit the break in a neat 50 minutes with the score deadlocked at 0 - perhaps for the foreseeable future because these aces are dealing.

Top 6th
There is that pop in the catcher's glove that make one take notice.  Tanaka has that pop.

And he locates really well...

Hoshi goes down swinging for the 2nd time, this time on the fastball just outside his bat.  Kurodai quickly down 0-2 after a couple of pitches outside.  Tanaka nibbles once, then pulls the slider and gets Kurodai twisting in the wind.

And Kodachi goes down on the hard slider inside and it's 3 more Ks for Tanaka.  Good lord, 9 Ks through 6.

Bottom 6th
Iiduzka is having to play catchup to Tanaka it seems, and outside of the shaky 5th is matching him.

Nakamura with a solid comebacker, but Iidzuka's glove is right there to pick it for the out.

Toyokawa is making more contact, that's for sure - and it can force problems, such as Himi's grounder to 2nd that Arai just flat flubs.

Takakuwa given the bunt signal at 2-1, but he fouls it off!  So it's back to swinging away as he slowly works the count full.

Hit and run!  But Takakuwa lines it right to Arai who tosses to first for the easy L4-3 DP!

Top 7th
Tanaka continues to paint the edges and then some making the Nihon Bunri batters swing at anything close.  Ikeda chases the slider away for Tanaka's 10th K.

Iidzuka with a drive to left center!  Yamada and Sugiura already back converge... and it's Yamada who makes the sliding catch for the out!  Close, but yet so far...

Kobayashi rolls over a pitch for the 3rd out, and we continue to be scoreless!

Bottom 7th
Satou becomes a K victim as he chases an outside fastball that was too close to take...

Takeichi guesses right on the slider and hits one to left center!  That's in the gap for a double and Toyokawa has their 2nd chance of the game!

Shima trying to advance the runner, 3B umpire says he didn't check his swing and falls behind 1-2.  Fastball away brands him with a 2nd K.

Against his counterpart, Iiduzka works outside and way in to get ahead 1-2 before going way away to level the count.  But Tanaka falls to his own strategy as he chases the splitter down and in.  That's 3 more K's for 8 on the day!

Top 8th
Takeishi's squaring of the ball with the bat works as he slashes the fastball back up the middle for a leadoff hit!

There's a small time out as Takeishi has to work out a supposed cramp.  After a little stretching, he fine as Kamakura steps in.

Kamkura looks to bunt and offers on the first pitch but misses.  Tanaka making it very difficult to do it, pitching outside to Kamakura.

SWING!  It's a hit-and-run!  But the ball is buried and Kamakura misses!  Doesn't matter because Takeishi takes 2nd!

Tanaka exacts revenge by getting Kamakura to chase on a change inside.

Sensing a rare chance, Ooi-kantoku sends in #15 Takeuchi to hit for Arai.

Takeuchi isn't biting on anything outside and goes 3-0 before a border line ball comes for a strike.  Eventually it's a unintentional intentional walk to create the force as Imai-kantoku calls time.  #14 Hagino meanwhile takes over for Takeuchi at 1st.

Back to the top of the order and Hoshi.  Can he break the deadlock?

Not when you swing at a fastball in the opposing batters box... (kinda joking)

AH!!!!  Tanaka leaves one over and Hoshi is all over it!  Takeichi sprinting back.... near the wall... can't get there!  It drops in as Takeishi is being sent home!  The throw is not nearly in time and Nihon Bunri finally breaks the tie here in the 8th! 1-0 Nihon Bunri!!

Imai-kantoku with another timeout to settle the team down...

Kurodai looking to lift a ball instead hits one off the end of his bat right to Shima who checks the runner and goes to 1st for the 2nd out.

Tanaka being careful with Kodachi with 1st base open, falls behind 3-1.  Doesn't completely give in and makes Kodachi foul off a couple of pitches.

Comebacker to Tanaka!  It's off his glove!!  The ball fortuitously goes toward 1st allowing Tanaka to field it and fire for the 3rd out!!  But one mistake from Tanaka gives Nihon Bunri the lead!!

Bottom 8th
Now can Iidzuka make it stick?  #16 Kaidzu comes in for Hagino to take over at 2B.

And after a bathroom break by Takeishi, we're back up and running.

9-1-2 for Toyokawa as Ama-chan plays.  Will they press?

Doesn't look like it as Yamada takes his time, but chops a splitter to 2nd.  Kaidzu flips to 1st for the out.

As the new guy, the ball is finding Kaidzu as Nakamura also hits one right to him.  No problem as he fields it cleanly for the 2nd out.

Sugiura trying to be the thorn in Iidzuka's side works the count full.  But he can't lay off the chin high fastball and he hits a roller to Iiduzka that he can just leisurely throw to 1st for the 3rd out!  Toyokawa's running out of time!!

Top 9th
Ikeda first pitch gets down and drives the ball to right center for a leadoff single!  Iidzuka not bunting in this situation, they're going all out.

Though Iidzuka could learn not to hit the change.

Grounder by Iiduzka... gets past Shima!!  Ikeda on his horse heads to 3rd, but what is Iiduzka doing going to 2nd?! Shima fires to 2nd and easily gets Iidzuka for the out.  That made no sense.

Kobayashi scorcher to 3rd!  Nakamura makes an amazing stop!  Ikeda has to hold as Nakamura goes to 1st for the 2nd out!

And there's no timely for Takeishi as his attempt as the buster hit rolls to short where Takakura goes to 1st to retire the side!  Will that baserunning mistake hurt?

Bottom 9th
Well, there's 3 outs to go... and the 3-4-5 batters are up...

There might be a kph or 2 off his fastball now..  Himi with a half swing fouls a pitch off to make it 2-2..

And Iiduzka has to duck for his life as Himi lines one right past his head.

#18 Yamamoto comes in to run for Himi as they look for the douten run.

What's more, #4 Takakuwa is bunting!  Lays it down... Iiduzka goes to 2nd??!!  He gets the out (barely!), goes to 1st... safe!  Man that was close to being a total disaster for Iidzuka..

Satou with a short chopper.  Iidzuka takes his time (almost too much) for the 2nd out!

Takeichi with a ball to the right side, through!  Hoshi fires home and Takakuwa holds up!  Kamakura fires to 3rd... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Kamakura throws it away off of Ikeda's glove allowing Takakura to score making it 1-1!!!

After some tense pitches against Shima, Iidzuka gets Shima to swing and miss on a high fastball, but a poor decision by Kamakura costs Nihon Bunri the win (for now).

Onto enchousen!

Top 10th
So we're back at square 1 with max 5 innings to go.

Kamakura doesn't help his cause going 0-4 now with a grounder to 2nd.

Kaidzu in for his first AB of the game, has a swinging bunt up the 1st base line.  Itou comes in to take it, but no one covers 1st!

Back to the top of the lineup and Hoshi.  I doubt Tanaka will make the same mistake.

Instead, he turns one over to the right side right between Itou and Shima for a base hit!  Kaidzu makes it all the way to 3rd and Nihon Bunri comes right back to threaten!  Imai-kantoku calls time as Kurodai comes up.  A sac fly will suffice if he can do it.

Tanaka pitching to the low part of the zone to prevent that, gets ahead 1-2 after Kurodai fouls one off himself.

Kurodai with a slow grouner to the right side... Shima charging in fields it... double clutches!! He has to go to 1st as Kaidzu scores and Nihon Bunri just like that retakes the lead at 2-1!!

Kodachi with a blooper to left!  Yamada charging in... can't get there!  Hoshi being waved around running at top speed!  Throw from Yamada.... SAFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hoshi slides in just under the tag and it's a 3-1 lead for Nihon Bunri!!

Ikeda flies out to left, but Nihon Bunri gets the lead back with interest.  Toyokawa down to their final 3 outs yet again!

Bottom 10th
This time though it's the 8-9-1 batters.

But Tanaka shows maturity as he just puts the bat on the ball and places one in center for a base hit!

Yamada with a dive to left center!!  Kobayashi running over... stretches... can't get it!  Tanaka easily scores as Yamada comes in with a triple!  It's 3-2 and the douten run is 90 feet away with no out!


Nakamura shoots one off the drawn in Kaidzu and into right!  Yamada scores and we're all tied up again!!  It's 3-3!!!!!

Ah!!  Sugiura gets unlucky with a fastball going off his bat as he ducks. It goes right to Iidzuka for the 1-6-3 DP!!

Of course we're headed to another inning as Imai flies out to center...

Top 11th
One down and Kobayashi hits a ball up the middle.  Takakuwa with another fine play and throw to 1st for the 2nd out!  Takeishi flies out to right to end the inning, and now it's Toyokawa's turn!!

Bottom 11th
And it's the 4-5-6 batters for Toyokawa due up!

Takakuwa does what he should and just pokes the ball to center for a base hit.  Satou bunts him along into scoring position.

Iiduzka trying to buckle down as best he can, gets Takeichi twisted on a slider away for the 2nd out.

He's being careful with Shima, falling behind 2-0, but two swings on splitters bring him level.  He might be tiring as he's flying open, but he gets Shima to ground to 1st.  Kodachi has it and goes to the bag to end the inning!!

Top 12th
Kamakura with a scorcher up the 3rd base line... just foul!  And the slider from Tanaka puts him away.

Kaidzu looking for a spark tries the safety bunt, but rolls it foul.  And again he's behind 0-2. He certainly was put in for defensive purposes...

Uh oh, is Tanaka having cramping issues?  He's taking extra time out there.  Kaidzu winds up grounding to 2nd.

Hoshi with a base hit past Takakuwa's glove for a base hit!  He's pressing for 2nd (WHY?) and Yamada throws to 2nd.. OUT!


Bottom 12th
Tanaka up to start the inning, and considering the cramping issues might now want to run.  But Iidzuka decides to run the count full....

And now Tanaka is doing his best to waste pitches from Iidzuka, but his swing certainly looks stiff.  He winds up flying out to left.

Yamada looking to get on base, woks the count, but also ends up with a groundout (Ikeda just a tad high on the throw, but it's fine...)

What momentum Toyokawa has seems to be dissipating as the batters flail away at Iidzuka's pitches..  Nakamura waves and misses and were on to the 13th.

Top 13th
It's a 3 inning game, and neither team wants to replay the game.  Tanaka sits at a whopping 170 pitches.

Kurodai with a slow grounder to short, Takakuwa fires, beating a diving Kurodai (again, WHY the diving?)

Kodachi barely staying alive just fouling off Tanaka's offerings before grounding to 1st.  But Itou is expecting Tanaka to cover, forgetting he has the cramping issues!  Kodachi beats out the confused duo and Nihon Bunri has a runner!

And Kodachi takes off for 2nd!  Imai fires to 2nd, but is way too late!  Nihon Bunri with a chance!

Ikeda with a ball back up the middle... past a diving Takakuwa!  Kodachi thinks about it, but Sugiura's throw home makes him think otherwise.

Imai-kantoku calls time as Iidzuka steps in...

Iidzuka with a grounder up the 1st base line!  It stays fair as Itou tags 1st!  Goes home!!!

OUT!!!!  Kodachi broke for home and is thrown out by Itou!  Nihon Bunri's chance goes begging and momentum may be back with Toyokawa!

Bottom 13th
One down, Iidzuka falls behind Imai 3-0 and eventually draws a walk bringing up Takakuwa.  Who bunts the runner along...

So Toyokawa will play for the one chance with Satou...

And that does it!  Satou drives the ball to deep left center where no one can get it!  Imai can walk home as Toyokawa pulls off the victory 4-3 over Nihon Bunri!


The game was as close as I expected, but did not go as I expected.  For 8 innings it was a complete pitchers' duel, and then suddenly the bats opened up on both sides.  And for every punch Nihon Bunri delivered, Toyokawa had a reply.  Is there some remnant of the Okinawa Shougaku game?  Maybe, but they had 2 chances to close the game, and failed both time.  And some key mistakes for Bunri on the basepaths due to pressing perhaps contributed to the loss.

With the loss of Nihon Bunri, Toyokawa becomes no secret to anyone anymore.  Ikeda should be a piece of cake with the time off, but after that will probably be Okinawa Shougaku.  If they can get past that game, a spot in the title game looks quite possible.

*sighs*  There goes one of my teams again...

Notable Players
Tanaka Sora (Toyokawa) - 13 IP, 3 ER, 13 H, 12 K, BB
Takeichi Keishi (Toyokawa) - 3-5, 2B
Yamada Daichi (Toyokawa) - 2-4, 3B, R, RBI, BB
Satou Ren (Toyokawa) - 1-5, GW RBI
Iidzuka Satoshi (Nihon Bunri) - 12.2+ IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 11 K, 2 BB, HBP
Hoshi Kenta (Nihon Bunri) - 3-6, 2B, R, 2 K
Kodachi Otowa (Nihon Bunri) - 3-6, RBI, K
Takeishi Ryou (Nihon Bunri) 2-5, R, SB

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