Our final matchup of the day brings us to the other half of the bracket and an east-west matchup between semifinalists Sano Nichidai from Kanto and Chinzei from Kyushu.
The difference between the two schools is night and day. Chinzei can be considered similar to say Hasami of a couple years back where they live on low-scoring games. The team carries a low batting average, and the pitching is very suspect - though as mentioned it may be because ace Suzaki pitches to contact.
Sano Nichidai's ace Tajima can get his Ks on the other hand, and doesn't give up many walks. I'm not sure Matsumoto-kantoku will go to the bench on offense as he didn't use anyone else outside of the starting 9 (and reliever Inaba).
Chinzei, almost no matter who they faced, probably had their work cut out for them. Let's see if that's really the case...
RF Nakano Kouta
2B Iwashita Shouya
3B Ishio Yuuki
C Shimazaki Masato
SS Fujitake Takahiro
CF Nakano Shin
LF Matsushita Akira
1B Sakamoto Reiya (#13)
P Suzkai Takurou
Sano Nichidai (Tochigi)
CF Nagasawa Yoshitaka
SS Takemura Ritsuki
2B Yoshida Toshiki
1B Tamura Kaito
3B Kakizawa Fumiya
LF Inaba Kousei
RF Koizumi Keita
P Tajima Daiki
C Sagawa Shou
14:08 - First Pitch!
Nakano with the right idea early, taking pitches, but getting the green light at 3-1 missing the fastball. And then chases the fastball high and away for the K.
But the Chinzei offense not off to a good start there as Iwashita hits a grounder back to Tajima, and Ishio fouls out to end the inning.
Tajima is have the same success on the mound so far, but Sano's batters are sizing up the ball early. While they're retired in order, Takemura and Yoshida both hit hard balls at Iwashita.
Shimazaki whips that bat around and pulls the ball to left field for a leadoff single! Fujitake's bunt though is no good as Suzaki goes to 2nd for the force.
Perhaps some of the batters have the wait signal as Fukuyama gets ahead 3-1 before having the high strike called. He strikes out, but Fujitake steals 2nd on the play. Meanwhile, Suzaki hits 145 with that K.
Matsushita swings under a fastball and that's the inning for Chinzei.
Seeing Suzaki's delivery, it's a sidearm delivery, but it's compact compared to others like it.
Tamura and Kakizawa both make contact, but they're routine outs - though Iwashita is playing in the ocean where he's standing.
It seems to be working though as Inaba completely misses on the changeup.
Well, the bench starter Sakamoto has little luck either, chasing the slider in the dirt for the out. Tajima with the cut ball strikes out Suzaki.
Nakano prevents Tajima from striking out the side, but golfs a ball that Yoshida can camp under for the 3rd out.
Tajima is the one with the first base hit for Sano Nichidai as he hits one past a diving Iwashita in the outfield grass (that's how far back he's playing apparently). Matsumoto-kantoku plays for the timely with the Sagawa bunt.
And Nagasawa fighting off a ball, leaves it in play as Matsushita races over and makes the catch right near the padding!
If I were Chinzei's Egami-kantoku, I'd tell my batters that their AB doesn't start until 2 strikes. Tajima seems inconsistent enough with his control that you might draw walks and put pressure on him.
Instead, the numbers illustrating a very poor offense show themselves here as none of the batters can get the ball out of the infield with Ishio looking very silly on a slider in the dirt.
Could it be that for Suzaki, that compact sidearm delivery is messing with the batters?
Perhaps not as Takemura inside-outs a ball to the left side for a base hit.
Yoshida squares up the changeup, but it's a liner right to Fukuyama and Takemura has to scramble back to prevent being doubled off.
After yet another pitchout, Takemura takes off on the next pitch. Shimasaki fires to 2nd and they just get a sliding Takemura! (It's too obvious to go on the next pitch after a pitchout).
Tamura replaces the runner on first when his grounder up the middle can't be run down by Iwashita in shallow center.
Whatever Suzaki is doing is working as Kakizawa chases the slider away and Sano Nichidai remains scoreless!
Chinzei apparently insists on swinging away, as only a couple of ABs have gone deep into counts. Fujitake softly lines out to short, Fukuyama swings and misses on a cutball that instead of being inside, was outside, and Matushita swings on the first pitch for a routine grounder to 2nd.
It's the swinging away that's making Tajima look good on the mound guys...
Meanwhile, Sano Nichidai's offense could be finally warming up as they get their 2nd leadoff batter on with a single by Inaba past a sliding Fujitake.
And now Suzaki is called for a balk and Sano Nichidai has their best scoring chance as Egami-kantoku calls time.
Koizumi goes for the sac bunt, but rolls his first attempt foul. He lays down the bunt, but Suzaki is on it quickly and Inaba has to go back to 2nd! Suzaki goes to 1st, AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Suzaki throws it away! Now not only everyone is safe, but they're both in scoring position!
And it looks like they're unintentionally intentionally walking Tajima to create the force. #9 batter Sagawa will look to give Sano Nichidai the lead.
Sagawa ball back up middle... past Iwashita! That will at least score 1! Inaba scores, Koizumi being sent home... Throw goes to 3rd... and they get Tajima trying to take 3rd on the base hit. Still 2 runs score and Sano Nichidai breaks through to lead 2-0.
Nagasawa and Takemura both pop out to end the inning, and the throw out at 3rd was very heads up. But not so heads up plays earlier cost Chinzei, and with their offense in full neutral, 2 runs will seem so far away...
Well, there's something to be happy about. 2 down for Chinzei and Nakano goes down to drive a slider into the right center field gap. He books it for 2nd and beats the throw.
Iwashita grounds to 2nd, but Yoshida bobbles the ball! He regroups, throws to 1st...
... and just beats out a diving Iwashita...
Yoshida with the first solid hit off of Suzaki with a drive to left center that takes a hop to the wall.
And then with 1 down, Kakizawa's liner is somehow caught by Iwashita who climbs the ladder and comes up with the ball. Fires to 2nd, and they double off a scrambling Yoshida!
Doesn't make up for the head-slide, but it's still cool.
Shimazaki gets his 2nd base hit off of Tajima with a 1-out single to right. Sadly, that's all they get as Fujitake flies out to right and Fukuyama becomes the 9th K victim.
So Sano Nichidai gets another runner in scoring position when Koizumi lines a ball down the left field line for a 1-out double. But once again Suzaki wiggles out of it with a flyout to left from Tajima, and a nice play by Fujitake on a grounder by Sagawa.
It's the end of the line for Suzaki - who didn't do a bad job at all, as #18 Takana comes in to hit for him.
But it's more of the same, 3 up 3 down.
#16 Morikawa comes in for Sakamoto and takes over on the hill. Takana stays in at 1B.
After a failed safety bunt, Morikawa has some control issues, hitting Takemura and then hitting Yoshida (though that one wasn't called a HBP). After Yoshida flies out to left (and Takemura tagging up to 2nd!), #10 Yamamoto comes in to pitch.
A wild pitch though sends Takemura to 3rd. And then he goes up, making Tamura have to duck on a fastball.
The adventurous inning finally comes to a close when Tamura grounds out to 1st.
Ama-chan will play for the last time as Chinzei gets their last ups.
Ishio checks in with a 2-out single to center to extend the game a little longer as the music goes back to their own rally song.
Shimazaki decides he's not going to be the one to end it as he gets his 3rd single under the glove of Kakizawa. That prompts a visit from Matsumoto-kantoku.
Fujitake is actually waiting on pitches, but unfortunate for him, Tajima pumps in 2 strikes. Another fastball outside and Fujitake whiffs to end the game.
Chinzei performed better than I thought. The offense was as bad as advertized, but the pitching and defense - outside of the 5th inning, kept them in it. The problem is that with a terrible offense, the pitching and defense have to be perfect and they weren't.
And don't get me started about the head-sliding issues.
The game as is, Chinzei had no shot. But if they just did some things differently I think they might have stood a chance. Because while the 12 Ks from Tajima look impressive, he was bailed out a lot by the swinging bats of Chinzei - this despite the fact their offensive stats are just plain awful. There is a missing art of making a pitcher with bad control work harder that teams could use to their advantage.
Well, for Chinzei, they can celebrate the fact they got to Koushien, but I think they could have done more. For Sano Nichidai, they certainly get to move on, but it won't be this easy going forward.
Tajima Daiki (Sano Nichidai) - CG, SHO, 5 H, 12 K, 0 BB
Sagawa Shou (Sano Nichidai) - 1-3, 2 RBI
Yoshida Toshiki (Sano Nichidai) - 1-4, 2B
Suzaki Takurou (Chinzei) - 7 IP, ER, 7 H, 2 K, BB
Shimazaki Masato (Chinzei) - 3-4
Nakano Kouta (Chinzei) - 1-4, 2B, 2 K
Ishio Yuuki (Chinzei) - 1-4, K