Tuesday, March 25, 2014

86th Senbatsu - Day 5 - Game 3 - Ooshima (Kagoshima) vs. Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)

I do feel bad for the 21st century teams that come here.  I mean, you didn't necessarily do very well in the fall taikai, still get an invitation from the JHBF anyways to Koushien, and then possibly get blown out in your first game.  Kainan almost won (though an injury right before to their ace was a contributing factor in their loss), and Koyamadai had the aforementioned blowout.

Ooshima unfortunately, might wind up being more on the side of Koyamadai than Kainan.  This because Ryuukokudai Heian's offense appears to be rather strong, and Ooshima's pitching staff might be a bit sketchy - although if they decide to throw ace Fukunaga for more innings they might stand a better chance.

The offense will at least get a shot at things as Heian's pitching isn't that strong.  Unlike Chiben Wakayama, who carried 6 pitchers, and whose strategy was probably to mix and match each game, Heian's strategy is to parse the game into 3 segments and throw each of his pitchers in the game.  Neither pitcher is very strong individually, but by splitting the load it should guarantee that none of them fatigue should they progress later on.

Given Ooshima's success and their specific difficulties (since they live on an island they have to ferry or fly to all their games), I'll be rooting for them to be at least competitive.

Ooshima (Kagoshima)
SS Shigehara Ryuusei
2B Takeda Shougo
RF Takeyama Shuu
CF Ono Kounousuke (#3)
LF Tomori Keigo
P Fukunaga Kakeru
1B Sonae Shinnousuke (#11)
3B Kawabata Masaki
C Shirai Shougo

Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)
CF Tokumoto Kentarou
RF Ootani Tsukasa
2B Himeno Taisei
1B Kawai Taisei
LF Nakaguchi Daichi
3B Tsune Hitoshi
SS Ishikawa Takuya
C Takahashi Yuuya
P Motouji Reiji (#18)


14:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1
To contract the two ouen-dans, Heian has the black block "H" lettering on a white background. Over on Ooshima's side, a lot of green hats supporting the team.

Interestingly, Harada-kantoku goes with none of his main 3, instead choosing to go with #18 Motouji.

Promising start by Shigehara as he takes the slider the opposite way for a base hit!  Takeda bunts him over for Takeyama.

Ah, and now Motouji glances a ball off Takeyama's head!  He's ok, and walks to 1st.

Ono grounder to the left side... past a lunging Himeno!  Shigehara being sent home... (WHY???)

The throw is on line and Shigehara is out by a good margin...  the runners advance to 2nd and 3rd, but there's 2 outs.

Motouji gives Ooshima a gift back by plunking his 2nd batter in Tomori, putting it at manryi for ace Fukunaga.  He's awfully patient, or nervous, or both as the count goes to 2-2...

Grounder to short, Ishikawa has it, flubs it a little... goes to 2nd... just in time for the force...

Ah that sending home on what looked like an obvious stop signal is a momentum killer of the largest variety...

Bottom 1st
Let's see of Heian capitalizes on the Ooshima gaffe...

Well, it's a start when he gets Tokumoto swinging on a fastball outside.  Ootani though with a solid base hit through the right side, and that gets worse when two batters later Kawai gets a base hit to center, advancing Ootani to 3rd.

Harada-kantoku starts the hit and run!  Nakaguchi chops it up the middle... Takeda has it, goes to 1st and they get out of the jam.

Top 2nd
As expected, Motouji settles down from the jitters in the 1st.  Sonae chases a slider in the dirt for his first K, Kawabata hits a grounder right to short, and Shirai just lifts a fly ball to left for a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 2nd
Heian's batters are swinging away in the bottom half of the order, all 3 get their hacks, but all 3 get under the ball and flyout.  Admittedly though, Yuuya's fly ball, even when jammed inside went almost to the fence.

Top 3rd
The danger in what happened in the 1st inning for Ooshima is that you may not get many scoring chances - so therefore cherish the ones you have.  The sending of Shigehara was reckless in my opinion and they may not get a better chance the rest of the game.

Motouji making that slider work for him as Shigehara chases it for Moutouji's 2nd K.

Takeda tries to give his team another scoring chance with a clean hit to center.

But Takeyama trying the bust-and-run chops one right to 3rd.  Tsune starts the 5-4-3 double play and that retires the side.

Bottom 3rd

Motouji, of all people... drives a ball to right center.  Ono going back... at the wall...


The #9 batter, of all people, takes the Fukunaga offering for a HR!  It's 1-0 Heian!

From the swings Heian's batters are taking, it's clear they're wanting to hit the ball in the air far.

Tokumoto with a booming ball to center, but just under it too much and Ono makes the catch.  And after a walk to Ootani, Himeno and Kawai take their uppercut swings and fly out, but they want to blast the ball far.

Top 4th
Ono gives his team some life as he attacks the hanging forkball from Motouji and drive it to right center!  Tokumoto sprinting to his right, dives... can't get it!  It goes back towards the wall as Ono rounds 2nd heading for 3rd!!!  Throw in from Ootani is not in time and Ono has a standing triple!

Any type of deep flyball or slow grounder might score the run.

Tomori patiently looking for his pitch, but the count runs full.. and he's jammed!  Show chopper to 2nd, and Ono decides to hold as Himeno goes to 1st for the out.  1 down.

Fukunaga with a cue shot to 3rd... lands just fair over the 3rd base bag and gets away from Tsune!  Ono scores and we're tied at 1-1!

Sonae trying to continue the rally, but he grounds to short.  He does his best to at least avoid being doubled off, but Kawabata pops out to 2nd to end the inning.  They've at least managed to level the score here in the 4th.

Bottom 4th
Heian goes on the attack again as Nakaguchi singles right back up the middle.  And then he immediately takes off for 2nd and slides in under the high throw!  That means that Tsune's sac bunt will move him into immediate scoring position.

Grounder to short!  Nakaguchi heads home, but so does Shigehara!  Nakaguchi is suddenly caught in a rundown and he's tagged out!  Harada-kantoku isn't happy about that at all, and there's 2 outs.  Yuuya knowing Motouji is on deck works the count until it eventually runs full... and he takes a very borderline pitch for ball 4!  That puts runners at the corners for Motouji!

And even though it's 2nd base open, I think the Ooshima battery chooses to take it and basically gives him a free pass.

But with nowhere to put Tokumoto, Fukunaga falls behind 2-0!

Tokumoto with grounder to 1st!  Sonae has it, goes to 1st and the inning is over!  Fukuyama slips his way out of the jam thanks to an assist from Nakaguchi!

Top 5th
Intersting here, with last batter Shirai up Motouji can't find the zone and walks him!

But instead of the bunt, Shirai goes for the straight steal!  But Takahashi fires to 2nd and he's out by a good margin...

Instead of testing to see if Motouji's lost his control with the 4 pitch walk, they run themselves into an out... and Shigehara draws a walk.

And in fact, Motouji goes 3-0 on Takeda before he finally throws a strike.  And the for some reason Takeda offers the bunt on 3-1... (WHY?)

So now Takeda has to defend the plate...  fouling off pitch after pitch...

But he draws the walk!  Runners at 1st and 2nd with 1 down! (Should be manrui)

Takeyama with the safety bunt??!  Motouji races to the 3rd base line to field it, throw to 1st... not in time!  It's manrui for Ooshima!

Harada-kantoku has seen enough.  Ace Nakata Ryuuji enters the game, and Ono stands in 2-2 on the day.


Nakata goes to 1st and picks off Takeyama!

*sighs*  Do they even understand the meaning of 守る?

There's still a chance with a base hit, but with the pickoff and 1st base open, Nakata has no need to pitch over the plate.  And with Ono perhaps under extra pressure for the base hit, he chases the sliders outside the zone until he goes down swinging...

Bottom 5th
With even more momentum on their side, Ryuukokudai Heian will look to take the lead heading to the break.

Ootani starts off working Fukunaga hard... and draws his 2nd walk.  Himeno bunts him along, and a booming hit by Kawai allows Ootani to advance to 3rd.

Nakaguchi up to try for the one timer to give his team back the lead.  And he does it!  A line short to left brings Ootani home and it's 2-1 Heian!


Tsune with a blast to left.  Tomori running back to the foul pole... looks up...

And that's gone....

*sighs* 4-1 Heian on the 2-run HR by Tsune.  That might just be a back-breaker for the island team...

Ishikawa grounds to 1st, but the damage is done.  Ooshima, already an underdog, and having had chances early, now face a 3-run deficit with just 4 innings to go.

Top 6th
One down, Fukunaga tries to rally his troops with a clean shot to center.  But now Watanabe-kantoku plays for the single run as Sonae bunts him to 2nd.

Kawabata with a single to left!  They're sending Fukunaga home!  Throw in from Nakaguchi again...

...and it's in time to make the tag for the 3rd out...


Bottom 6th
One again, it's a free pass that Fukunaga gives to Takahashi after once again working the count full.  After a sac bunt, Ootani stands in.

Oh dear...  Ootani with a drive to right center that no one will get.  Takahashi scores as Ootani gets an RBI triple... 5-1 Heian.

Fukunaga looks to be on his last legs here in his 6th inning of work.  He had split innings (and as mentioned before had worked the lesser part) and now is struggling to find the zone versus Himeno... and gives up another walk.

And with Kawai up Himeno takes off for 2nd - with the ball in the dirt, he has no chance.  Now a base hit can score 2.

He does just that.  Grounder back up the middle scores 2 to make it 7-1.

That's finally it for Fukunaga.  #10 Maeyama comes in for Shirai and takes the hill.  Sonae goes to the C position, while Fukunaga stays in at 1B.

And Maeyama promptly plunks Nakaguchi.  Tsune attacks the first pitch, singles to left making it an 8-1 game.  Ishikawa follows that up with another hit to left scoring one more, despite the fact that Tsune gets thrown out trying to take 3rd.  9-1.

Top 7th
New P Maeyama singles off his counterpart to lead off the inning.

Shigehara with a deep drive to right center!  Maeyama rounds 3rd, but is held up.  However, Shigeyama was running all the way and now is at 3rd himself!  This means Maeyama is hung out to dry as the throw comes in and he's run down...

I don't even want to sigh anymore...

Takeda gets an RBI with the groundout, but that's all they get.  9-2 with 2 innings to go.

Bottom 7th
Takahashi continues to get on base, this time a single to center.  But after a sac bunt by Nakata, Takumoto hits a dying liner to right.  Takeyama charges in, slides... and makes the sliding catch!  Takahashi has been running on contact, so despite the throw in being nowhere near 2nd, they could just toss it over for the DP.

Top 8th
Fukunaga gets a 2-out single, but sandwiched between 2 K's I think the team has realized it's fate they sealed for themselves.

Bottom 8th
It's all but over now:
  • Ootani double to left center
  • Himeno triple to left (Tomori tried to make a hero leaping catch, but missed), 10-2
  • Kawai single through right, 11-2
  • Nakaguchi sac bunt, E1 on failure to grab ball
  • Tsune grounder to short, 12-2
  • Ishikawa triple to left center, 13-2
  • Takahashi grounder to short, E6 as ball is thrown short and Fukunaga can't make pick, 14-2
  • Nakata flyout to center.
  • Tokumoto grounder to 1B, takes bad hop off of Fukunaga into right, 15-2
  • Ootani single to left, 16-2
  • Himeno grounds to short.
Top 9th
Shigeharu, in perhaps his "style" all game runs to 1st after what he things is ball 4, when it's really ball 3.  He gets his walk, but PH #12 Katsumoto grounds to short to end the game.

Disappointed is the word I have to say here.  Ooshima right from the get go showed that perhaps they could have kept up with the Kinki super-regional champs.  But unforced errors time and again got in their way, starting with the sending home of Shigehara in the 1st. Had they held him, it would have been manrui with just 1 out and your #5 batter up with all the pressure on the spot starter.

Then in the 5th, you try to steal a base right after a 4 pitch walk, instead of seeing if Motouji was running out of gas (he had plunked 2 batters in the 1st).  Had they not stolen the base, there was the chance of it being manrui with no out instead of 1.  Further compounding things was Takemura being picked off 1st when it was manrui with 1 out.

Then came the 6th when they tested Nakaguchi's arm again, and lost at home again.  It was a tougher play, but Nakaguchi's momentum was still towards home.  It probably could be forgiven there, but the final ignominy was 1 inning later when Shigehara's base hit to right center where he failed to pick up his 3B coach and just ran to 3rd despite the coach holding up the lead runner.  He was left out to lunch, and that pretty much summed up the game.

Sure, there's times when just being baka can somehow work (see that one Red Sox WS team), but realistically being aware of your situation is always important.  Knowing what you can and can't do is important.  And it's what separates the good teams from the great teams.

Ooshima appears to have the makings to be that better team.  But in the end, they're just an above-average team.

Notable Players

Motouji Reiji (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 4.1+ IP, 6 H, 3 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP
Tanaka Ryuuji (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP
 Fukuhara Kakeru (Ooshima) - 5.2 IP, 8 ER, 8 H, K, 6 BB
Ono Kounousuke (Ooshima) - 2-3, 3B, K
Shigehara Ryuusei (Ooshima) - 2-3, 3B, 2 BB, K
Fukuhara Kakeru (Ooshima) - 3-4

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