Kanto Dai-ichi had to breath a sigh of relief after coming back to defeat the Kyushu runner-ups. The offense wasn't stellar early on, and only won thanks to stringing a couple of hits together. They're still alive, but need to take leaps and bounds to be successful.
Meitoku Gijyuku saved their Senbatsu run by winning in the final inning against Chiben Wakayama. Had the game ended in a draw, Kishi would be way too exhausted by the time they reached the final for Meitoku to have a chance. Still, he only got a whopping 3 full days rest, and will get none should they win today. That's still a lot to ask for. But it's better than the alternative they faced. Their offense though struggled about at as badly as I expected. And this was against Chiben's so-so pitching staff.
So then we're expecting a possible low-scoring matchup with the last ace standing winning the game.
Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo)
CF Kumai Chihiro
1B Oogawa Kouki
3B Itou Masato
LF Yamaguchi Taisei
RF Moriyama Shou (#14)
C Ikeda Hiromu
2B Shinoda Taisei
SS Igarashi Masahiro
P Abe Takeshi (#10)
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
09:03 - First Pitch!
Kishi puts the first two pitches on the outside half to start the game. Kumai makes contact, but pops out to Ozaki near the coach's box. He's getting first pitch strikes here early, jumping on Oogawa 0-2. But Oogawa fouls several pitches off. Finally, on the 8th pitch Kishi puts him away on the low fastball.
Ama-chan plays for the first time as Itou steps in.
Kishi one again gets ahead 1-2, and Itou chases the outside fastball to end the inning. 3 days off and Kishi looks good to start (at least).
Abe getting ahead of leadoff batter Ozaki early, gets him to fly to center. Sanada winds up in front of a slider and grounds to short. And while he falls behind Tada, he gets him to go after an inside fastball. While he makes solid contact, he just didn't put enough on it as Kumai is there for the catch.
One pitch, one out as Yamaguchi hits one back to Kishi.
Moriyama squats down and drives a ball to deep right center! Sanada won't get to it as it dies in front of the wall! Moriyama slides in with an easy triple!! Kanto's first hit gives them a great scoring opportunity!
AH! Ikeda swings on the first pitch and flies to shallow right center! Ootani comes in to makes the catch and Moriyama has to hold up.
Kishi almost out of the inning, but Shinoda hits a slow chopper up the middle! Mori charging in, fields it... has to hurry the throw... and Oonishi can't play it off the hop! The ball gets away in foul terrirtory as Moriyama scores to give Kanto Dai-ichi the lead! It's 1-0!
Igarashi grounds to short to end the inning, but Kanto perhaps taking advantage of Kishi being a little too eager to get his strikes in.
Abe doing a great job on the mound to start as he places the fastball on the outside edge of the plate for his 1st K. Kishi pops up on the first pitch to SS Igarashi.
Yasuda with a shot to 1st, bounces off of Oogawa's glove and into right for a base hit! Meitoku finally has their first hit.
Mori with a scorcher up the 3rd base line, but Itou makes the back-handed stop and goes to first for the 3rd out!
Abe in a relief start so far has performed admirably.
Kishi uncharacteristically falls behind the last batter Abe and walks him. Yonezawa-kantoku has him bunted into scoring position. Now, he falls behind Oogawa 3-1, and he issues a walk to him as well! Mabushi-kantoku calls for time.
Kishi gets out the pinch! Itou hits a ball back to him, and he starts the 1-6 3 double play to end the inning!
Abe allows his first leadoff runner as he can't find the fastball on the full count. Mabuchi-kantoku has Ootani bunt him along.
Ozaki trying to work the count in his favor, but Abe is on his game early as he induces a popup. Tada also working the count, draws yet another walk to put pressure on Haketa. Yonezawa-kantoku calls for time.
Tada with a popup down the left field line. Itou, Igarashi and Yamaguchi all converge... but no one catches it! Mizuno scores on what turns out to be a bloop double! I think all 3 of them were expecting some else to try and catch it, but no one did! 1-1!
Nishioka with a solid ping, but it's off the end of the bat. Kumai coming in makes the running catch, but Meitoku with some luck has tied the game!
Kishi just misses with his 2-2 2-seamer inside to Yamaguchi, but he doesn't miss the 2nd time as Yamaguchi can only turn away in digust.
But then Kishi goes right back and walks Moriyama. That's 3 already and a bit of a concern if you're a Meitoku fan.
Kishi trying to hold Moriyama at 1st, throws there several times, almost picking him off... but he goes 1 time too many and throws it away! Oonishi can't field it off the ground and Moriyama heads to 2nd!
Ikeda with a ball to deep left! Tada, playing in has no chance at it! It takes a bounce to the wall and Moriyama can walk home! It's an RBI double for Ikeda as Kanto Dai-ichi takes the lead 2-1!
Shinoda moves Ikeda to 3rd with a chopper to 2nd, but Igarashi can't bring him in as Ozaki sells out on the pop fly in foul territory, making the catch and then crashing into the camera well wall!
Kishi looks to get the run back as he singles to right. Yasuda bunts him into scoring position.
But Abe continues to give Meitoku fits! Mori off the end of his bat flies out to right... and then Mizuno grounds to 1st! Oogawa flips to Abe, who just beats out Mizuno for the 3rd out!
One down for Kanto Dai-ichi and Kumai's grounder to 1st is ole'd by Oonishi and goes into right! For Kishi thankfully, that's all they get as Oogawa quickly flies out to center, and Itou chases the slider for the 3rd out.
There's a delay before the bottom of the 5th as Kumai is tended to for some reason. No obvious injury from the prior plays, but he emerges and takes his position in center.
Abe locating his pitches really well, jamming Ootani and inducing a popup to 1st.
I say that and he leaves one over the plate that Ozaki shoots to the left center field gap for a double!
Sanada follows that up with a liner to left and Abe in a bit of spot with runners at the corners. Tada, who tied the game before, is up to see if he can do it again.
This time though, Abe's not messing with him. He's trying to hit the edges but falls behind 3-0! It's a straight 4-pitch walk and it's manrui for Meitoku Gijyuku! Yonezawa-kantoku calls times as #4 batter Nishioka steps in.
Ikeda makes one more trip to the mound to confirm things and the AB starts. Ball way outside and Ikeda make a great smothering dive!
Nishioka with a ball off the bat back up the middle, and it's to the other side of a falling Abe! The ball sneaks through to center and Ozaki scores the douten run! It's 2-2 and Kishi of all batters is up!
Abe obviously rattled, doesn't want to find the zone against Kishi.... and it's an oshidashi walk! Sanada comes in to score and Meitoku Gijyuku has their first lead at 3-2!!
He seems to have settled down getting ahead 0-2 to Yasuda.
Grounder to 3rd! Tada is inexplicably frozen as Itou goes home for 1, Ikeda goes to 1st... double play!
The 5-2-3 double play gets Abe out of the jam, and while Meitoku does take the lead, a pair of runs isn't the worst thing you could expect from that situation.
So we hit the break with a new leader, but it's obvious ace Kishi already isn't his normal self.
Yamaguchi strikes out for the 2nd time as Kishi puts out the forkball for him to wave over.
Ow. Mizuno needs a moment after Moriyama's foul ball hits him square in the plums. Laga-san in the background has a good laugh at his expense.
But it's Mizuno with the last laugh as not only Moriyama goes down swinging on the forkball, but Ikeda makes it 4 straight for Kishi chasing the slider outside!
Mori leads off the 6th with a bloop hit to right! Mizuno after some fits and starts (perhaps last half inning related), lays down the bunt on the 1-2 pitch.
Ootani whips around on the inside fastball and drives one to right! Moriyama going back, still going back, makes the catch near the wall. Ozaki tries to test him as well with a ball down the right field line, but Moriyama runs that one down as well to retire the side.
Really though the question will be how Kanto Dai-ichi reacts now that they're trailing. The 6th inning certainly was not a good portent of things to come.
Shinoda changes that with one swings! He gaps one to right center for a leadoff double! After Igarashi bunts him over, #9 Usui comes in to hit for Abe, signalling the end of his day.
Ball gets away from Mizuno and Shinoda takes a look, but has to scramble back when Mizuno fires to 3rd! Just slides in safely.
Kishi not backing down, strikes out Usui on the slider away for the 2nd out! That leaves things to leadoff batter Kumai.
Ah! But Kumai goes after a ball low and pops it up! Tada running into foul territory makes the catch! The teams trading runs every other inning stops here in the 7th and could this be the turning point?
Ace Haketa comes in for PH Usui to take the hill.
It could be as Sanada singles back up the middle past a diving Igarashi for a base hit! Tada bunts him along.
Nishioka with a ball back up the middle! Shinoda gets there, but it's off his glove! Sanada being waved home! Shinoda's throw home, bounces up in the air as Sanada slides home! But the home plate umpire isn't giving a signal!! Ikeda goes for the tag as Sanada dives for home again, but he's tagged out! Sanada missed home completely trying to avoid the tag!
Kishi flies out to left and Haketa keeps Meitoku off the board!
However, outside of the double by Shinoda, Kanto has done little now that they're trailing.
Ookawa behind 1-2 lines a ball to Ozaki. Itou and Yamaguchi work the count but both wind up chasing the slider becoming Kishi's 9th and 10th Ks.
Yasuda gives Meitoku their 5th leadoff runner with a single to right. After Mori fails to bunt the runner along, Mizuno takes care of it.
Haketa goes down looking on the changeup and Haketa has held serve.
However, the offense needs to step up because they have no time left.
One down, Ikeda with a shot to 3rd. Ozaki stops it, but it trickles into foul territory and he has no throw! Douten runner on base!
In a desperate attempt to score the run, Shinoda bunts the runner along.
Ikeda takes off for 3rd after Mizuno goes to 2nd on a pickoff throw! He's in safely and now the douten run is 90 feet away! But Igarashi is behind 1-2!
Igarashi becomes the last out as he chases a slider away to end the game! The 2-run 5th is good enough to give Meitoku Gijyuku the lead for good as Kanto Dai-ichi folds under the pressure of playing from behind!
Things certainly did not look good for Kishi early on as the Kanto batters were taking their walks and knocking him around. But his offense picked him up and kept them in it. And when they finally took the lead, Kanto Dai-ichi could find no answer.
Kishi Jyunichirou (Meitoku Gijyuku) - CG, 2 ER, 6 H, 11 K, 3 BB
Sanada Kazuto (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 2-3, R
Yasuda Takayuki (Meitoku Gijyuku) - 2-3
Abe Takeshi (Kanto Dai-ichi) - 6 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, K, 4 BB
Haketa Akihiro (Kanto Dai-ichi) - 2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, K
Ikeda Hiromu (Kanto Dai-ichi) - 2-4, 2B, RBI
Shinoda Taisei (Kanto Dai-ichi) - 2-3, 2B, RBI