4 games so far, only one so far that's been clean and close. Maybe this one will turn out well.
Oita is making their first ever appearance and it did not come cheaply. They had to play Touin, Kitsuki and defeated both of them with shutouts, withe the final victory coming back from behind to tie Meihou at 5-5 before winning 6-5 in 10! For Oita prefecture, that is a pretty big gauntlet to face.
Nihon Bunri's run seemed like fits and starts. You'd have games like defeating Horikoshi in the semifinals 9-1, then a game like the finals where they needed a 3-run HR to defeat Sekine Gakuen. That lack of consistency will hurt a team eventually, and with Niigata as weak as they generally are, it doesn't bode well for them.
If nothing else, I expect Oita to hang in there.
1B Inoue Kyousuke
2B Kawamuro Akihiro
CF Anan Daiki
P Sano Koudai
LF Ninomiya Momota
3B Satou Riku (#15)
C Imagawa Ryouta
RF Ishimoto Yuuya
SS Hamada Mizuki
Nihon Bunri (Niigata)
RF Hoshi Kenta
SS Kurodai Naito
CF Kodachi Otowa
3B Ikeda Takamasa
1B Kataoka Yuuto
LF Kobayashi Masaya
2B Arai Makoto
C Kamakura Wataru
P Iidzuka Satoshi
13:45 - First Pitch!
Inoue ahead 3-1 on Iidzuka, drives a ball to left! Hoshi running back, but that's easily over his head! Inoue in with a standing (though he did slide) triple!
Kawamuro up and he too gets ahead 3-1. Hits grounder to short, and Kurodai's slide to the ball boots it to foul territory! Inoue scores and Oita leads 1-0!
Sano-kanoku looking for more sends Kawamura on a hit-and-run, but Anan strikes out and Kawamuro tries to dance his way to 2nd, but is called out.
Sano goes down swinging to end the inning, but Oita strikes first in their first ever game at Koushien!
Hoshi looks to strike back with a soft single to left. Kurodai though tries to bunt the runner over, but winds up with 2 strikes. They instead try the buster, but he chases a ball way outside for strike 3.
Kodachi goes back up the middle, but Kawamuro is right there for the 4-6-3 double play to retire the side.
Iidzuka falling behind in counts regularly, winds up going full on Ninomiya before getting a grounder to 3rd. Satou on the other hand gets a free pass.
Sano-kantoku calls for the sac bunt with 1 out, but Imagawa pushes 2 of them foul. Apparently both sides can't lay down the bunt as he pops out to Iiduzka for the 2nd out.
Ishimoto doesn't see that Iidzuka's been falling behind batters, and goes down on 3 straight, the last one a neck-high fastball he has no business going after.
Ikeda with a ball buzzing by Sano into center for a base hit.
Kataoka not bunting (remember about the things we learned, Nihon Bunri doesn't really bunt anymore).
But it would help not chasing after sliders in the opposing batter's box...
Kobayashi somehow gets around on a pitch at his hands, and puts enough on it to send it through to left for a base hit.
That inconsistent play I mentioned earlier continues as Arai also chases a slider on the outside part for the 2nd out.
Wow, Nihon Bunri's batters are getting fooled. Despite 2 singles, Sano strikes out the side as Kamakura chases another slider.
After a quick flyout, Iidzuka issues his 2nd walk to Inoue. Kawamuro tries the safety bunt, but a charging Ikeda makes the throw to just beat him out.
Anan tries to play the waiting game, getting ahead 3-1, but it's right at Iiduzka who goes to 1st for the 3rd out.
The game is going at a decent clip, as Iidzuka and Hoshi try to find a ball to hit, both wind up flying out.
Kurodai though catches a hanging slider and lines it down the left field side all the way to the wall for a double. However, Kodachi can't do anything with it as he gets under a fastball and flies out to Anan in shallow center. 3 out and Sano is holding his own on the mound.
One down, and it's time for the free pass of the inning. This inning's winner is Ninomiya. Sano-kantoku calls for the bunt again looking for the one-timer from Imagawa.
And Imagawa hits a single past a diving Arai! They're sending Ninomiya home!
That's not going to end well.
Hoshi, playing in throws home and Ninomiya has no chance. 3 out and change.
Meanwhile Sano issues his first walk to Ikeda to lead off the 4th.
Kataoka grounder to 2nd, Kawamuro goes to 2nd for 1, but Kataoka beats out the throw to prevent double play.
Despite that, he's replaced by #17 Yamaguchi at first.
Sano really wanted that called strike 3 on the 2-2 fork to Kobayashi, but gets a groundout instead.
Arai blasts one to left! Ninomiya back to the foul pole...
Arai keeps it just fair as it bounced at the end of the ouen-dan section and Nihon Bunri takes the 2-1 lead!
Kamakura goes down looking on a 3-2 fastball down the middle, but Arai's blast gives his team the lead!
#13 Kawaguchi comes in for PR Yamaguchi to play 1B.
Oita looks to get the run back as Ishimoto singles through the right side.
But signs get crossed up as Hamada doesn't go through with his bunt and Kamakura snap throws to 1st catching Ishimoto off guard! He's tagged out and that's a big error by Oita.
And again with 1 out, Iidzuka walks a batter.
Inoue swings away and drives a ball to right! Hoshi scrambles back, but has no chance! Hamada sprinting around as Hoshi races back to the wall! He's waved around!
Throw from Arai,... not in time! Inoue strikes again and this time drives in the douten run! It's 2-2!
Inoue is caught in no-man's land when Kawamuro doesn't offer on the ball! What in the world is Oita doing??
Meanwhile, it's another walk to Kawamuro, but the tradeoff isn't good at all.
Worse yet, Anan also manages to draw a walk. Instead of two out, runners on 1st and 2nd, it would have been one out, manrui.
Iidzuka throwing a lot of pitches, goes full on his 3rd straight batter in Sano, but this time he wins as Sano can't help but chase a slider outside for the 3rd out.
Iidzuka checks in with a single past a diving Satou. Hoshi on the next pitch joins in with a single past a diving Hamada and Sano-kantoku calls for time.
Now Ooi-kantoku calls for the bunt, but Kurodai just spins it foul. He eventually lays it down, and now Nihon Bunri threatens to open the game up.
Kodachi though gets too much under the ball! Ninomiya comes in with the catch, and the runners have to hold!
Now it's Sano's turn to fall behind as he goes 3-1 to Ikeda. 1st base is open though, so perhaps they wouldn't mind the BB.
He's bailed out! Ikeda decides to swing at a shoulder-high fastball and chops it back to Sano! Goes to 1st and he's out of the pinch! We hit the break all square at 2, but Oita has wasted opportunities that Nihon Bunri ace Iidzuka has been giving them - especially when your line after 5 IP includes 5 H and 6 BBs. And yet you've only scored 2 runs.
Oita's batters freely swinging a lot more now, but they're falling behind in counts and getting themselves out. After a Ninomiya comebacker, Satou and Imagawa both go down swinging and I think they might be in trouble now.
But it looks like not everyone has cracked Sano just yet. Kawaguchi in his first AB flies out to right. And after a groundout by Kobayashi, Sano exacts some form of revenge in getting Arai to ground out to 2nd to end the inning.
One down, and Hamada goes for the push bunt up the 1st base side! Arai charges in, makes the snap throw, but Hamada dives in just ahead of the throw.
Inoue up, and it's a grounder to short! Kurodai goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st is high! Inoue makes a late break for 2nd, but that allows Kamamura to get to the ball and throw to 2nd to get Inoue to end the inning!
That second of hesitation causes the 3rd out. If Nihon Bunri didn't have momentum before, they have it now.
And wouldn't you know it, Kamakura drives a ball to left center for a leadoff double.
Iidzuka with a single to center and Kamakura is sent home! Throw home up the 1st base line and Nihon Bunri has 3-2 lead!
And that my friends is game.
Hoshi with a bomb to right. The hamazake won't knock this one down as Hoshi's 2-run HR puts the nail in the coffin at 5-2.
Nihon Bunri almost goes quietly after that, but Ikeda hits one off the base of the wall in dead center for a double.
Kawaguchi strikes out looking to retire the side, but the ending has pretty much been written.
Kawamur opens the frame with a single past a diving Ikeda. Ooi-kantoku calls time immediately thereafter. I don't think Oita will be bunting down 3 with just 2 to go.
And then Anan shows bunt. Really?!
That's a little better. Sano-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run, but Anan fouls it off.
The end result through is a flyout to left.
Sano can't buy a hit, and unfortunately grounds into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.
The flood gates may be opening. One down, Arai and Kamakura get back to back singles.
After Iidzuka goes down swinging, Sano issues a walk to load the bases. Sano-kantoku calls for time.
Sano gets out of the pinch after getting Kurodai to ground to 2nd. No more damage done and the score is still respectable.
Much like last game, the batters for Oita are trying to get their hacks in. But Ninomiya and Satou go down swinging.
Imagawa staves off elimination with a single to right.
It's only temporary though as Imagawa strikes out to end the game. Nihon Bunri pulls away late to defeat Oita 5-2.
Oita early showed a lot of fight and had chances to score runs against the Niigata champs. But key baserunning errors wiped out those opportunities and let Nihon Bunri regroup and eventually pull away in the 7th.
It's not to say that Sano wouldn't have given up those HR's anyways, but he was under more pressure given the close game and that perhaps came to a head in the 7th, especially after the missed squeeze the half inning before.
Nihon Bunri advances, but Iidzuka looks about as shaky as one can get for a winner. Now, if those 1-out BB's were intentional to get Oita to bunt, it worked (for the most part). But I think he has control issues and that will become an issue sooner rather than later.
Iidzuka Satoshi (Nihon Bunri) - CG, 2 ER, 8 H, 9 K, 6 BB
Hoshi Kenta (Nihon Bunri) - 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB
Arai Makoto (Nihon Bunri) - 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
Inoue Kyousuke (Oita) - 2-3, 2 3B, R, RBI
Kawamuro Akihiro (Oita) - 2-2, RBI, BB