And so we're into the round of 16. All winners of games today may only play each other in Day 12, so no Osaka Touin for anyone! Hooray!
At least not until the Best 4.
But that's later, this is now!
And first up, yet another matchup between the two surprise regions in this year's tournament - Tohoku and Hokushinetsu.
Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (fka Kousei Gakuin - and no I don't know why they changed it) has only played one game so far, and almost lost against a very game Bushuukan if not for their plan faltering in the 8th inning due to defensive miscues. The team as whole managed just 7 hits and 4 of those came in that aforementioned 8th inning.
Ace Nakagawa had held Bushuukan hitless for the majority of the game, but was not dominant in terms of racking up strikeouts (he only had 2). His job will get much more tougher against the offense-minded Seiryou.
They had looked much improved in their first game where they had to comeback to beat Shizuoka. Kanoya Chuo really stood little to no chance of defeating them as they even went so far as to use their backup pitchers in for the final innings - up until it got hairy and they reinserted ace Iwashita to end the nonsense.
So, we know they can beat the teams they're supposed to. But Kousei doesn't quite fit that mold. They're probably more like a Shizuoka but maybe better.
It's certainly not going to be an easy game for either team. You'd think that'd be the case now that we're in the round of 16, but no, not yet.
Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Aomori)
3B Houjyou Hiroyuki
SS Adachi Yuuya
1B Moriyama Hiroki
2B Fukae Taisei
RF Arai Katsunori
LF Nakazaki Jyukiya (#16)
CF Arai Katsutaka
P Nakagawa Masashi
C Baba Ryuusei (#12)
CF Tanigawa Touma
SS Nakamura Hayato (#4)
LF Fukushige Tatsumi
1B Murakami Kazuma
3B Yanase Takeshi
RF Satake Kaito
P Iwashita Daiki
C Yokoyama Shouta
2B Muranaka Takeya (#10)
08:00 - First Pitch!
Good start for Iwashita as he strikes out Houjyou on 3 straight.
But with two down he tries to hit the edges of the zone and winds up walking Moriyama and Fukae. Hayashi-kantoku calls time.
No harm done as Katsunori grounds to 2nd and the walks don't hurt Iwashita.
Tanigawa with an opening single through the right side. Nakamura bunts him along.
Fukushige fooled a little bit on the change butt still pushes it to the right side to advance the runner. 2 out, Tanigawa at 3rd.
But Murakami grounds right to Houjyou! Takes his time, fires a strike and the side is retired.
Nakazaki unable to inside out a ball, weakly grounds to 2nd.
Katsutaka with a slow grounder up the middle. Nakamura ranges over to get it, but it's so slow that his throw to 1st can't beat a belly flopping Katsutaka.
Not to mention he has a wardrobe malfunction and needs his belt replaced.
Nagawa tries the bunt, but pops it up. The fielders don't actually get to it, but Katsutaka had to freeze in case he got caught, in which then he got thrown out at 2nd.
And Baba grounds to short and the inning is over.
Looks like Nakagawa is on his game today as he's hitting the glove. After another ground out to 3rd, he gets Satake on a slider, and Iwashia on a forkball to close the inning.
Iwashita not quite as accurate, and ends up plunking Houjyou to start the inning.
Hit and run, and that prevents the double play as Adachi hits it right to Muranaka.
Moriyama's knees break on a changeup that hits the bottom of the zone and there's 2 out.
Fukae though swings at a slider outside and skies it. Murakami there to make the catch for the 3rd out.
Yokoyama with a poke to the right side goes past a chasing Fukae for a base hit. He's bunted over by Muranaka.
Tanigawa with a grounder to short, Adachi goes to 3rd and Houjyou makes the tag for the out! 2 down
Nakagawa gets his 3rd out as Nakamura swings and misses on the slider.
Katsunori becomes Iwashita's 3rk K victim after he swings over a slider inside.
And after a flyout, he gets yet anther K as Katsutaka goes down swinging for his 2nd clean inning.
One down, Nakagawa leaves a ball up an Mrakami takes it into the gap. But Katsunori is there quickly and he's limited to a single.
And Murakami spaces out! Baba snap throws to 1st and he realizes he's in a pickle! He's run down for the 2nd out.
Yanase goes down on the changeup and side retired once again.
After 2 quick groundball outs, Houjyou draws a 4-pitch walk.
But Adachi weakly waves on the change and it's another easy inning for Iwashita.
2 down, Nakagawa appears to be on his way to a clean inning, but he hits Yokoyams on the lower ankle. He hobbling to 1st, but the itai spray always helps.
Muranaka grounder to short, Adachi goes to 2nd, but Yokoyama beats the toss! Kousei's not out of the inning! Will the defensive hiccup hurt them?
In a word, yes.
Tanigawa first pitch single to left and Yokoyama comes home! Throw from Nakazaki... not in time! Kousei inattention on defense gives Seiryou the 1-0 lead!
Defensive change as #15 Takeya comes in for Satake in RF.
Moriyama with a routine grounder t1st, Fukae quickly follows flying out to left.
And finally Katsutaka goes down swinging on the fastball and the Kousei just can't do anything versus Iwashita.
Seiryou has the gift run from Kousei because their offense is scuffling too. Nakagawa just needs 6 pitches to get through the 6th inning.
It's a horrible swing, but Nakazaki hits a letter high pitch to right for a base hit. It's just their 2nd of the game. Katsutaka goes for the bunt, but it's too short and that allows Yokoyama to fire to 2nd for the force.
After Nakagawa chases yet another slider from Iwashita, he in turn walks Baba to turn over the lineup. Hayashi-kantoku calls time.
Grounder up middle, Nakamura with it, fires to 1st and Kousei can't find the timely hit!
Nakagawa racking up the K's as he continues to retire Seiryou in order. Only problem is... K's wont by themselves win you a game.
Adachi fouls off a couple of balls, but feebly swings on an outside fastball for the 1st out.
Moriyama can't catch up to a fastball down in the zone, and that's 9 Ks for Iwashita.
Fukae connects with a hanging change! Fukushige back to the wall, looks up!
That ball was crushed what seemed like halfway up the lower half of the bleachers! We're all level at 1-1!
Katsunori grounds back to Iwashita to end the inning, but we've got a new ballgame!
Seiryou striking back! Muranaka with a single through the left side. Tanigawa moves him over.
Nakamura liner back up middle! Nakagawa can't get it! But Muranaka can't move ahead as he though that was going to be caught and doubled back!
Nakai-kantoku calls time...
AH! Nakagawa hits Fukushige and it's manrui for Seiryou! A sac fly now will give Seiryou the lead!
Murakami chopper back up middle! Nakagawa snags it! Goes home for 1, throw to 1st...
Nakagawa gets the 1-2-3 double play to get out of the pinch! Will they be able to turn it into momentum?
Nakazaki has to protect behind 2-2 and flies out to right.
Katsutaka golfs a ball inside up and Yanase in foul territory makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Unfortumately it's more of the same Nakamura grounds out to NO! Nakamura boots the ball! E6!
And what's this? Iwashita walks Baba on 4 straight and the gyakuten run is in scoring position! Hayashi-kantoku calls time yet again.
The lineup turns over for Houjyou, though he has yet to get a hit.
And he wastes the bottom of the order's efforts as he swings on the first pitch and flies to center.
Does Seiryou have the momentum now with a chance to walk off?
Now it's Kousei's turn to give a gift. Grounder to 2nd, Fukae waits for the ball to come instead of fully charging and that allows Yanase to reach base! Takeya obviously bunts the runner over.
Iwashita gets 2nd life as Houjyou can't work his way around the bullpen mound on a foul fly.
From 1-2 the count goes to 3-2...
Iwashita goes to a knee as he can't make contact on the slider! 2 down!
Nakai-kantoku calls for time as Yokoyama will be stepping into the box.
Yokoyama grounder to 2nd... Fukae on the grass throws to 1st...
We're headed to enchousen! Another defensive brain fart doesn't cost Kousei, and the game continues!
Uh oh! Iwashita walks Adachi on 4 straight? Is he tiring on the mound? Moriyama bunts him over for Fukae, but remember with that bunt... first base is open.
And after a pitch inside, they intentionally walk him!
Hayashi-kantoku wants time to reset the defense.
Katsunori, hitless with 2 K's and 2 groudouts steps in.
But Iwashita isn't throwing a strike! He's behind 2-0... and now 3-0!
Finally gets a change over for a strike... and a fastball over too!
Katsunori drive to right! Takeya back to the wall, leaps!
Can't make the catch! But he does get it in quickly and Adachi can only get to 3rd! He had to wait to see if it would be caught and as a result it's a very loud single!
And so they need one more hit to score the run!
Nakazaki up takes 2 balls before Iwashita puts in a strike.
Slider over the middle for strike 2!
Forkball... ball 3! Iwashita bends down as he thought surely he had it!
Liner to left! But Fukushige is there! And it's too shallow for Adachi to tag up! 2 outs!
Katsutaka now must get the run in, but he's 1-3 and the single was all the way back in the 1st.
He's behind 2-0... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
The ball goes off Yokoyama's leg and towards the 1st base dugout! Adachi breaks for home and there's no throw! Kousei takes the lead 2-1!!
Katsutaka liner off Iwashita and deflects to the left side! There's no play as Fukae scores and they lead 3-1!
Nakagawa walks and it's manrui yet again for last batter Baba.
Iwashita at 158 pitches, is he tired?
Baba single through left side! Katsunori and Katsutaka score! It's 5-1!
Baba gets thrown out looking at what he did (a la Taishou Yakyuu Musume) and is tagged out, but a wild pitch opens the flood games
Muranaka quickly grounds to short, one down as he pounds the ground. 1 down!
Tanigawa comeback to Nakagawa! He fields it and tosses to 1st! 2 down!
Grounder to short! Adachi with it, throws to 1st and there will be no comeback! Kousei advances with a 5-1 win!
It was a great pitcher's duel for a majority of the game. Nakagawa and Iwashita traded blows and 0's throughout. And it almost looked like a defensive brain cramp would cost Kousei the game.
But cleanup batter Fukae needed just one pitch to give new life to his team, and Iwashita, already with a high pitch count, finally gave in the 10th inning.
The final score may not reflect it, but it was a great game as Iwashita and his team can't hold back the tears. But they had a magical run to get to Koushien, it's just that it couldn't last forever.
Kousei meanwhile moves on to the Best 8. They've been in this position before recently more times than they can count. How will they do moving forward?