Sunday, March 23, 2014

86th Senbatsu - Day 3 - Game 1 - Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa) vs. Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

I'm not really over the Nihon Bunri loss, but that doesn't matter as Koushien moves on to day 3.  After 4 rather one-sided games, we were treated to 2 walkoffs - though the Kainan story is more sad than exciting.

Anyways, our opening game will be very loud and certainly packed, because the neighborhood team of Houtoku Gakuen will face the rowdy Okinawans and Okinawa Shougaku.

Okinawa Shougaku despite all their successes have disappointed to some extent here at Koushien.  This may the last year they will be able to make a run like this for a while, so for ace Yamashiro he will need to be on his game as the bottom of the lineup might struggle.  Should they make a deep run, his conditioning will be put more into question, but right now it's not a problem.

Houtoku Gakuen's pitching is a bit more suspect than Okinawa Shougaku, and as we've seen pitching has carried the day more than hitting - so ace Nakamura and reliever Tanaka will have to prove they have the goods to carry the day.  Otherwise the hometown fans will be leaving disappointed.

Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa)
CF Akamine Ken
2B Kubo Shuuto
LF Nishihira Daiki
3B Asato Takeru
1B Uehara Kouta
SS Sunagawa Osamu
C Irabu Shouta
P Yamashiro Daichi
2B Nakamura Masaki (#13)

Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)
LF Higa Shouta
CF Oohata Kouhei
3B Ishigaki Shouji
C Kishida Yukinori
1B Fukuyama Takumi
SS Tsuchitani Yuusuke
RF Fukuhara Yuudai
2B Mishina Hayato
P Nakamura Makoto


09:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Well, Makoto seems to throw fairly fast with a fastball in the upper 130s, low 140s.

The first couple of batters have a bit of trouble keeping up as both Ken and Kubo groundout to Mishina.  Nishira does the same, but this time sneaks it past Mishina for a base hit.

But it's all at Mishina as Asato hits yet another grounder to 2nd for the 3rd out.

Bottom 1st
Well that's not a great start for Yamashiro.  He walks Higa on 4 straight pitches that weren't particularly close.  He's bunted over by Kubo.

And Ishigaki gets under a forkball and lifts it to shallow center for a base hit!  Higa holds up at 3rd, but Houtoku already threatening!

Yamashiro struggling with his control, but a pitch unintentionally up and in Kishida swings at and pops up!  Kouta makes the catch near the Houtoku dugout for the 2nd out!

And Yamashiro gets out of the jam!  Fukuyama pops to shallow right!  Nakamura backs up and makes the catch to retire the side!!

Top 2nd
Kouta way in front of a changeup but pulls it past Mishina (again!) for a leadoff hit!

Bust-and-run!  But they call for a pitch up and Sunagawa can't make contact!  Kishida fires to 2nd and Kouta is out by miles.

Sunagawa makes up for it (sort of) by drawing a walk.

Makoto continues to nibble though.  After getting ahead 0-2, he nibbles everywhere and the count runs full.  He goes up and in, getting Irabu to swing and pop it up!

But the umpire calls catcher interference reaching in for the ball and Irabu is awarded 1st! Higa-kantoku with the gift will play for the one-timer as Yamashiro bunts the runner along.

And Masaki comes through for Okishou!  He lines a ball through the infield to left and Sunagawa scores to give Okishou the 1-0 lead!

Even Okinawa's ouen-dan plays Ama-chan!

Ken though sheepishly swings on a pitch outside to end the inning, but catcher's interference leads to a run for the Meiji Jingu champs!

Bottom 2nd
Tsuchitani with a solid hit, but right at Sunagawa for the first out.

Fukuhara shows to be stubborn at the plate, fouling off several pitches, but Yamashiro wins the battle with a fastball on the outside corner that freezes Fukuhara.

Mishina gives Houtoku a runner with a base hit back up the middle past a diving Masaki.

But Nakamura seemingly forgets the count, or just freezes as Yamashiro hits the outside half of the plate for the 3rd out.

Top 3rd
Despite the timely hits, Okishou for the most part isn't making good contact.  Kubo is way head of a pitch, and chops it over the mound.  Tsuchitani makes the play for the first out.  Nishihira has a swinging bunt up the 3rd base line.  Makoto takes it in front of Ishigaki and makes the throw to just beat out Nishihira.

Makoto finishes the inning striking out Asato on a slider.

Bottom 3rd
After 2 quick flyouts, Ishigaki gets his 2nd hit off Yamashiro as he somehow gets around a changeup way inside and golfs it to shallow center for a base hit!

But he can't advance any further as Kishida hits a chopper back to Yamashiro, who goes to 1st for the 3rd out!

Top 4th
Makoto exhibits decent control, though the fastball can go awry from time to time.  Such was the case against Sunagawa where he fell behind Sunagawa early in the AB and wound up walking him.  Sunagawa takes advantage of that quickly when he swipes 2nd on the very first pitch!

I don't think Kishida is doing any favors behind the plate as he sometimes makes the pitches look bad with the framing.  Makoto once again falls behind and walks his counterpart Yamashiro prompting a timeout from Nagata-kantoku.

Masaki with a base hit past Ishigaki!  They're waving Sunagawa home as Higa's throw is cut off!  But Ishigaki goes back home... and they get him!!

That's a very odd relay that didn't seem necessary, but it works and Houtoku keeps the deficit at 1!

Bottom 4th
Fukuyama trying to get on base, tries to sell ball 4, but the umpire isn't buying it and punches him out on the fastball at the knees.

After that, Tsuchitani flies out easily to center, and Fukuhara's drives a ball to left center - but his bid for a base hit is run down by Nishihira to retire the side.

Top 5th
Ken starts off the inning with a liner opposite way for a base hit.

Kubo's attempts to bunt him over fail, leaving him behind 0-2.  He gives it one more go, but strikes out when it rolls foul.

Makoto leaves one over the plate and Nishihira lines it to center!  Oohata charging in on the dying liner, dives... and makes the catch!  2 out!

But Asato singles to right!  Ken advances to 3rd on the single and Okishou is threatening again!

Nagata-kantoku has seen enough.  He calls off Makoto off the mound, and sends in Kishida to take the other half of the battery.  #12 Kawabata takes over at C and in Makoto's spot.

He doesn't throw particularly hard, but that change he has has some movement on it.

And another changeup gets Kouta completely fooled and they get out of the jam!

Bottom 5th
Meanwhile though Houtoku's offense is really struggling.  Mishina can't quite get the sweet spot on the ball and he flies out to right.

Kawabata does about as well as Makoto did at the dish, swinging at pitches as though he's guessing.

Higa lurches forward to get a forkball, but hits a liner to Masaki for the 3rd out.

And so we reach the break with the difference in the ballgame being a timely hit from 2nd year Masaki after a catcher's interference extended the inning.  Even withstanding that, it's clear that Okinawa Shougaku has created more opportunities for themselves.

Top 6th
While perhaps not necessary, #9 Kubo for Okishou tosses a couple of pitches off the bullpen.

Well, I missed something as Kishida's fastball actually sits in the upper 130s.  But it's his offspeed pitches that have the Okishou batters flailing as Sunagawa whiffs on a curve (which is actually in the upper 110s).

Irabu with a grounder to 3rd, but Ishigaki airmails the ball into the camera well, putting Irabu at 2nd with 1 down instead of there being 2 outs.

Kishida then pulls out the slow curve on Yanashiro who flies out to center for the 2nd out.

But then he gets careful with Masaki as he's 2-2 on the day.  This time though it's the pitcher that wins the battle as Kishida puts out the changeup outside that Masaki can't reach.

Bottom 6th
Oohata with a comebacker! Yamashiro slows it down with the glove as Masaki fields it and goes to 1st to beat a diving Oohata!

Ishigaki though continues to be the bright spot for Houtoku as he gets around on a fastball inside and turns it to right for a base hit.

Kishida with a drive down the right field line!! Kubo sprinting towards the foul pole... Makes the running catch in front of the wall!  That was a solid drive, but Kubo robs him of a base hit!

Once again, Ishigaki is left stranded.  Fukuyama tries to wait for the change, but grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.

Top 7th
Kishida is doing his best to keep Houtoku in it, as he retires the side in order, with an assist by Mishina on a great stop on Kubo's hot grounder, and capped off by Nishihira flailing on a changeup for Kishida's 4th K!

Bottom 7th
Problem is, Houtoku's batters are hitting everything up and not out.  Tsuchitani fouls out to Irabu near home plate, Fukuhara pops up to Sunagawa, and the one ball not popped out Mishina grounds back to Yamashiro.

It's not looking good for Houtoku Gakuen at all.

Top 8th
Kishida as mentioned before has the fastball in the upper 130s, a slider in the low 120s, a changeup in the 110s and the slow curve in the high 90s.

Kishida goes to the change after a couple of curveballs which allow Asato to size up the ball and single to center.

Kouta tried to bunt him over, but when that failed, went to the buster hit... and whiffed on the changeup.

Higa-kantoku then calls on Sunagawa to bunt the runner over for a one-timer, and he obliges.

And an odd call by Nagata-kantoku as #11 Ishihama comes in at 2-0 to replace Fukuhara in RF.  Not sure what that was about, but Irabu grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.

Bottom 8th
After new C Kawabata quickly flies out to center, Higa tries to work the count to get on base, but instead is frozen on a 2-seamer that seemingly got back over the plate.

Oohata gets a favorable count at 3-1, but flies out to right to end the inning.  I'm not sure if there is a rally in Houtoku at all.

Top 9th
Fukuyama with a great pick on a short hop from Yamashiro to get the first out.

Misaki works the count full, and gets stopped when he's punched out on a pitch right on the knees (maybe lower).

For the 3rd straight batter, the count runs full on Ken.  Kishida finishes out his relief work as Ken lifts a ball to left for the 3rd out.

Bottom 9th
That is unless Houtoku can score 1 here in the 9th.  But it hasn't looked like they could all game.

Ishigaki the perfect man to lead off the inning, 3-3 on the day.

But he hits one right to Kouta at 1st!  He makes the stop and walks it over for the 1st out!

Kishida can't do any better as he quickly grounds out to Asato.

Last chances as #14 Ida comes in to hit for Fukuyama.

SANSHIN!  Ida can't catch up to a 141 fastball up and in and Okinawa Shougaku makes the 1-run stick!  They advance with a 1-0 victory!

To be honest though, that 1 run might as well have felt like 10 the way Houtoku was not hitting the ball.  There wasn't really a time in the game other than the 1st inning where Yamashiro was under stress.

It won't be as easy for Okinawa Shougaku going forward though, and 1 run isn't going to cut it.  So they'd better shore up their offense before the next game,

Notable Players
Yamashiro Daichi (Okinawa Shougaku) - CG, SHO, 4 H, 6 K, BB
Nakamura Masaki (Okinawa Shougaku) - 2-4, RBI, 2 K
Asato Takeru (Okinawa Shougaku) - 2-4, K
Sunagawa Osamu (Okinawa Shougaku) - 0-1, R, SB, 2 BB
Nakamura Makoto (Houtoku Gakuen) - 4.2 IP, ER, 6 H, 3 K, 3 BB
Kishida Yukinori (Houtoku Gakuen) - 4.1 IP, 0 R, H, 5 K
Ishigaki Shouji (Houtoku Gakuen) - 3-4
Mishina Hayato (Houtoku Gakuen) 1-3

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