Tuesday, April 1, 2014

86th Senbatsu - Day 11 - Semifinal 2 - Sano Nichidai (Tochigi) vs. Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)

Things are always what they seem, it seems... so perhaps this matchup isn't what I think it is.

I say that because Ryuukokudai Heian looked rather average against Kiryuu Dai-ichi - a team that had played 24 innings over the last 2 days.  They started a "relief" pitcher as it were, and from all indications Heian should have dominated.

But perhaps they let their guard down, or looked past them in some way, because Kiryuu came out swinging and put the title contender on their heels.  Give credit to them, they didn't panic, continued to play their own game - which was putting pressure on the basepaths, and the plan worked beautifully as Kiryuu finally had to go to the ace who had gone the aforementioned 24 innings.

Sano Nichidai was given a gift by Meitoku Gijyuku.  Mabuchi-kantoku wanted to play the same-handed matchup so much, he intentionally walked a batter with 3rd base open to do so.  He had tried it in the 7th and it worked out - but not for the reasons perhaps that he thought, but this was a bridge way, way too far to cross.  At some point you have to believe that your team is good enough to get an out.  Instead, Meitoku gave up 2 runs in the 11th, and that pretty much sent them home.

The bigger issue is that Tajima allowed Meitoku to even get back in the game.  They're not a high-scoring squad, but somehow strung 5 consecutive hits to score 4 runs and take the lead.  It's its a symptom of his mentality, then Sano Nichidai had better give him the lead, or else they could be in trouble.

Ryuukokudai Heian still looks like the stronger team, but the shine has been dulled a bit.  An all-Kinki final is at stake if they can win, but Sano Nichidai stands in the way.

Sano Nichidai (Tochigi)
SS Takemura Ritsuki
CF Nagasawa Yoshitaka
2B Yoshida Toshiki
LF Inaba Kousei
RF Koizumi Keita
1B Tamura Kaito
3B Kakizawa Fumiya
P Tajima Daiki
C Sagawa Shou

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 Takahashi Keiji (#10)


14:35 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Harada-kantoku alternating back to Keiji for the semifinals.

Takemura grounder to 2nd to start the game.  Himeno on the grass throws to 1st for the out.

But he can't get Nagasawa's ball as it goes to right for a base hit.

AHHHH!!!  Nagasawa picked off at 1st by Keiji!  2 down!

And that's a shame because Yoshida singles through short.

And so does Inaba!  It could have been manrui 1 out.

Instead, Koizumi fouls out to Tamura and that's the inning.

Bottom 1st
Tajima unexpectedly on to start the game.  Tokumoto flies out to right, and Ootani grounds to 2nd.

But on his 2nd full count of the game, he just comes too far inside of Himeno and walks him.

And of course I jinx Tajima.  He falls behind Kawai 3-1 before filling up the count.

And then he hits him on the head with an offspeed pitch.  Guess I spoke too soon.

Nakaguchi though pops it up!  Tamura makes the catch and the 2-out chance goes for naught.

Top 2nd
Keiji struggling with command?  He hits Tamura to start the 2nd inning.  And while Kakizawa is showing bunt, Keiji throws 3 balls...

And walks him!!  Uh oh.  #1 Nakata Ryuuji is warming up, but his longest outing is 1 inning.  Will he be called into long relief?

Tajima up, tries to bunt, but fouls the first offering off.  Fouls the second off and it looks like he's going to have to hit now.

Grounder to 2nd!  Himeno goes to 2nd, one, goes to 1st, double play!

No wait!  No neighborhood call for Ishikawa!  Kakizawa is safe at first, and it's a 4-6-3 retirement of Tajima.  Now a Sagawa base hit can score 2!


Matsumoto-kantoku calls for the squeeze on 2-2, but the pitch is high and Sagawa bunts it foul!  2 down for Nichidai!

Takemura up to try and give Nichidai the early lead.  Works the count full..

Ball 4!  Takemura holds off on a very borderline pitch and gets the walk!  Manrui for Nichidai!

But Nagasawa swings on the first pitch and grounds to Kawai!  He goes to the bag for the 3rd out, and Sano Nichidai is kind of getting in it's own way to start...

Bottom 2nd
Tajima hits his 2nd batter, this time the feet of Tsune.

Ishikawa to bunt, misses on the low offering, and Sagawa fires to 1st?

They pick off Tsune off 1st! He gets caught jumping the wrong way when Ishikawa misses the bunt and is picked off!  A rare unforced error by Heian on the basepaths!

And that proves costly as Ishikawa drives a ball to deep left center!!  Nagasawa chasing it back to the wall...

Bounces off the padding!  It goes back into play, but not before Ishikawa has a double!

Yuuya with a looper over Yoshida for a base hit!  Ishikawa comes home as Koizumi fires it back!  It's way late, and that allows Yuuya to advance to 2nd! 1-0 Heian!

Keiji goes down quickly for 2 outs.  Tajima trying to limit the damage.

He gets ahead of Tokumoto 1-2, before he starts fouling off a couple.

Drive to right.  Koizumi going towards the foul pole, still going... まさか!


Tokumoto with a 2-run HR to right!  Heian showing the power this time around takes a 3-0 lead!!

Ootani with a soft liner to short ends the inning, but Heian again making the opposition crack under pressure!

Top 3rd
Of course Heian makes it a little tough on themselves.

One down, Inaba hits a slow bounder up the 3rd base line.  Tsune charging in, can't time the hop and Inaba reaches safely!  Base hit for Inaba.

And now Keiji hits Koizumi!  Keiji giving Nichidai an opportunity to get back in the game!

But Tamura goes after the first pitch and grounds to short.  It's a slow roller so Himeno elects to just go to 2nd to keep the force.

It's not needed as Kakizawa flies out to left to end the inning.

Bottom 3rd
Tajima once again gets 2 quick out and looks for a clean inning.

Nakaguchi making that difficult as he works the count full.  Hits scorcher to 3rd.  Kakizawa smothers it!  Throw to 1st, in time to retire the side! Tajima gets his clean inning!

Top 4th
Keiji though, does the same against the 9-1-2 batters of Nichidai and he may have settled down after the first couple of innings.

Bottom 4th
Tsune grounder to short.  Takemura there, but he doesn't field it cleanly!  E6 and Heian gets another runner.

Ishikawa with the bunt, but it's right to Tajima!  He goes to 2nd for 1, Takeumra to 1st, double play!

Tajima about to skate through an inning 1-2-3, but then hits Yuuya on the first pitch.

Fortunately Keiji is not a good batter, and he strikes out to end the inning.

Top 5th
Keiji has settled down into his groove, and despite Inaba's 3rd hit, he gets his 3 outs with no issue.

Bottom 5th
One down for Ootani and he hits a single through short.

Harada-kantoku puts on the hit-and-run, and Himeno hits a seeing-eye single back up the middle for a base hit!  Ootani advances to 3rd.

Kawai with a single through the right side!

Ootani scores!  Throw home not in time, but they have Kawi caught off 1st!  They start the rundown and tag him out!  Himeno meanwhile takes off for home!  Throw back home...

In time, double play!!

It a 9-2-3-6-2 double play! I think.  Either way, Heian with some weird running decisions after last game, but they do have the lead going into the break.

Top 6th
One down for Nichidai and Kakizawa lines a ball into center.  Keiji follows that up by hitting Tajima and giving Nichidai a good scoring opportunity.

Tajima though feels generous, and proceeds to get himself picked off 1st.

Which is a big shame because Sagawa then singles to left, scoring Kakizawa to make it 4-1.

Takemura flies out to end the inning, but Nichidai isn't doing themselves any favors.

Bottom 6th
Unlike the majority of the other innings, Tajima gets a break in the 6th as it takes just 9 pitches to retire the side in order.

Top 7th
Nagasawa with hard grounder to 2nd.  Himeno doesn't field it cleanly, but his throw to 1st just beats a diving Nagasawa.

And so it continues to go with Sano Nichidai.  Unforced errors costing them over and over.  Yoshida and Inaba are retired thereafter and it looks pretty grim for Sano Nichidai.

Bottom 7th
Yet another error from Nichidai.  Kakizawa with plenty of time on the Yuuya grounder, airmails the throw to 1st and Yuuya is safe.  Keiji bunts him to 2nd.

Tokumoto actually shows bunt?!  And fouls it off?

"Aha ha, just kidding", he says apparently.  He lines a ball down the right field line fair, and hustles all the way to 3rd.  Yuuya can trot home and it's 5-1.

Ootani continues the hitting with a liner over Kakizawa's glove down the left field line.  He's in with an RBI double and it's 6-1.  Matsumoto-kantoku calling time, but I wonder what he can do at this point.

Tajima gets the final 2 outs, but Sano Nichidai is down 5 with just 2 innings to go.

Top 8th
Koizumi gets himself out diving into first in a foot race with a covering Keiji.  But outside of a 2-out hit by Kakizawa, Keiji is easily cruising along.

Bottom 8th
Things just falling apart now for Sano Nichidai.

After a one-out Tsune single, Ishikawa singles back up the middle.  Tsune goes to take 3rd, and the throw goes into the dugout.  It's a 2-base error and Tsune scores to make it 7-1.

Yuuya sac fly to center makes it an 8-1 game before Keiji grounds out to end the inning.

Top 9th
It's pretty much a formality at this point.  Sagawa thought, fighting until the end, gets a leadoff single.

But it's wiped out by a 1-6-3 double play.  Quickly 2 down.  Nagasawa grounder to 1st.  Tamura makes the tag on the diving Nagasawa and that's the game!

We will have an all-Kinki final with Ryuukokudai Heian's 8-1 victory over Sano Nichidai!

Sano Nichidai had a great run, but it ends here at the hands of the Kinki champions who continue to show different aspects of their game - speed in one, power in another.  And no team outside of surprisingly enough Kiryuu Dai-ichi has been able to give them trouble.  And with Harada's management of the pitching staff, they look to be in good position in the final.

Notable Players
Takahashi Keiji (Ryuukokudai Heian) - CG, ER, 9 H, 4 K, 2 BB, 3 HBP
Tokumoto Kentarou (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Ootani Tsukasa (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
Ishikwa Takuya (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2-4, 2B, 2 R
Tajima Daiki (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 8 IP, 5 ER, 10 H, 3 K, 1 BB, 3 HBP
Inaba Kousei (Sano Nichdai) - 3-4
Kakizawa Fumiya (Sano Nichidai) - 2-3, R, BB
Sagawa Shou (Sano Nichidai) - 2-4, RBI

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