(Writeup to come later)
Saga Kita (Saga)
CF Kinoshita Masato
2B Shima Kenta
1B Taniguchi Takashi
3B Morotomi Takahiro
RF Tanaka Akita
LF Koyanagi Masatoshi
C Ida Tomohiro
P Fukui Ichirou
SS Ikegami Touma
LF Manjyoume Kouta
CF Ueno Mikio
2B Hamada Keita
1B Seto Miki
C Ono Keita
RF Takeuchi Mikiya
3B Suzuki Yuuto
P Nasuno Seiya
SS Katsuramaki Kouta
13:30 - First Pitch!
Nasuno not a hard thrower by any means, yet he freezes Kinoshita with a slider on the outside corner.
Kenta hits a ball right to short, but Katsuramaki rushes the throw and it takes Taniguchi off the bag. E6.
Yet Nasuno continues to locate the ball well as Taniguchi is left watching a fastball hit the inside corner for another K.
Morotomi weakly grounds to first, but Nasuno off to a good start.
One out, Yokoo hits Ueno and Kokuta-kantoku actually calls for the bunt. That's curious given their offensive numbers...
Seto winds up popping out to Kenta to end the inning. So are we expecting another low scoring game?
Tanaka gets Kitakou's first it with a clean single through the left side. Koyanagi tries to bunt him along, but Nansuno quickly gets tot he ball and fires to 2nd! He gets Tanaka for the force, 1 down!
It's a hit-and-run! Momozaki-kantoku calls for it as Ida hits the ball to 1st! Seto goes to the bag, but Koyanagi is busting his way to 3rd, and gets no throw! Heads up play by Koyanagi!
But it all goes for naught when Nasuno gets Yokoo to chase an outside fastball for strike 3!
Rifu's Ono gets their own leadoff runner with a clean single also through the left side. Takeuchi goes to 2 strikes trying to bunt, but lays it down and advances the runner for Suzuki.
He takes the ball the other way on a groundout, and at least advances the runner to 3rd.
I notice that Yokoo's pitches aren't fast either. He's in the mid 120s. Which means its a battle of attrition to see whose control breaks down first, though Kitakou does have their other "ace".
Yokoo fires a throw home, and Ono is thrown out! 3 out, but even more important - they were trying a straight steal of home!!! I have not seen that tried in my years watching. That takes a lot of balls to call for that play. It far from worked, but it means that Rifu has more tricks up their sleeve.
Last batter Ikegami with a liner to center for a leadoff single. He's bunted over as expected by Kinoshita. And on Keita's fly to deep right center he tags up to 3rd.
Liner! But right at Suzuki and the side is retired!
Nasuno line shot past a diving Morotomi and down the line! He's in with a leadoff double! Katsuramaki with a great bunt to move the runner over.
Manjyoume thinks he has ball 4 on a full count pitch outside, but no! He's rung up and there's 2 out!
Ueno grounds out to Taniguchi and we're scoreless through 3!
One down, Tanaka takes a very high pitch and manages to line it over Suzuki for a base hit. He's bunted to 2nd to try for a one-timer bu Ida.
But he flies out to Takeuchi, who easily snags it and we're still deadlocked at 0.
Rifu is having a devil of a time getting the bat square on Yokoo's pitches. Hamada and Seto with easy pop flies before Ono (one of the only one hitting), lining a single to left.
Takeuchi flies out to right, and we're just flying through the innings here with neither team really getting anything going.
What's this? Rifu is taking a page out of Saga Kita's book! Nasuno is out of the game and in comes lefty Yamauchi!
And boy are Kitakou's batters all turned about. Yokoo hits a swinging bunt that Ono fields, Ikegami tries the push bunt, but Yamauchi corrects and makes the play, and Kinoshita just hits it right back to him for the 3rd out!
Suzuki manages to bloop one into right center for a base hit. But Yamauchi's bunt attempt is too hard and Morotomi throws Suzuki out at 2nd!
Katsuramaki lays down another but and moves the runner over, but with 2 out now.
Manjyoume with a drive to left center! Kinoshita, who was shifted over to the right, goes on a dead sprint to left center! Puts the glove up...
He overran it and it falls in behind him! Yamauchi scores and Rifu has the 1-0 lead!
Ueno with a looper, Kenta leaps, but it's over his head! Manjyoume scores and Rifu leads 2-0!
Hamada with a single to left center! Ueno takes 3rd on the play and Yokoo is getting roughed up!
And he knows what's next. #1 Fukui comes in to relieve him on the mound.
What's this?! Rifu is PH their cleanup batter! #16 Abe Kouya comes in to hit for Seto! Not sure what's going on here, but Kokuta-kantoku must know something.
However, Abe flies out to center, ending the inning. Yokoo gets roughed up before the break and now Saga Kita is chasing 2 heading into the break.
#13 Inomata in for PH Abe and takes over at 1B.
Kenta made to look like a ballerina they way he twirled swinging at a pitch way outside
Taniguchi though revenges him with a single to left. And now Yamauchi hits Morotomi! Kokuta-kantoku calls time.
Taniguchi gets a great jump and the throw goes to 3rd, but not in time! It's a double steal and the douten runner is in scoring position!
Tanaka meanwhile is fouling every conceivable pitch, even some almost on the ground!
All that so he can hit it right to Katsuramaki! He looks home, but takes the sure out at 1st! Saga Kita is on the board at 2-1, and now the douten run is 90 feet away!
Momozaki-kantoku pulls his own trump card, sending in #13 Matsuo to hit for Koyanagi.
And he drives a ball to deep right center! Ueno reaches up, but it's over their heads! Morotomi scores on the PH RBI double and we're all square at 2-2!!
Ida strikes out to end the inning, but we have a new ball game!
Matsuo stays in the game to play LF.
Fukui throwing much more gas than Yokoo, and counters that with a very slow curve. Ono can't catch up to the high 130s fastball and goes down swinging.
Takeuchi hits a chopper to the right side, but Taniguchi doesn't pick the ball cleanly and that allows Takeuchi to reach safely!
Suzuki showing bunt, but doesn't even offer on a single pitch, instead drawing a 4-pitch walk!
Yamauchi showing bunt, and the curve is outside for ball 1. Momozaki-kantoku sees something to call time.
Another bunt shown, but another ball taken. Is Rifu trying to bait Fukui into throwing non-strikes? Well, he gets a curve across for a strike, so it's 2-1. But another ball and it's 3-1! I think they're baiting him!
Fastball inside gets the strike call, and the count is full.
Fukui calls Rifu's bluff, but he lays down the bunt and the runners advance!
But now Fukui is just having trouble throwing a strike! He's behind Katsuramaki 2-0 before he pumps in a fastball. Still the count goes 3-1and it's ball 4! The ball gets away from Ida, but the runners don't advance. Manrui for leadoff batter Manjyoume!
Fukui going explicitly away to start, and Manjyoume has the right idea booming a ball foul to the left side.
Manjyoume liner up the middle! Takeuchi scores! Suzuki being waved around... the throw is high and Suzuki scores! Manjyoume comes through again and Rifu again leads 4-2, and still threatening!
Ueno strikes out looking to end the inning, but Rifu fires right back and retakes their 2-run lead!
Rifu going to their bullpen again, this time sending out #11 Watanabe to take the hill.
After a quick flyout by Fukui, he ends up walking Ikegami.
None of the pitchers are overpowering, they're just another arm it seems.
Kinoshita with a comebacker to Watanabe! 2nd for 1, throw by Katsuramaki in time for the double play!
Hamada grounder to short, but Ikegami stumbles! That allows Hamada to reach safely!
Inomata showing bunt throughout the entire AB, but winds up striking out looking. Odd.
Ono actually bunts the runner along to 2nd. But Takeuchi grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Katsuramaki with a great pick on a short hop by Kenta. Throws to 1st, 1 down.
Watanabe falls behind Taniguchi 3-0 and he lines a ball down the 3rd base line for a double! Kokuta-kanoku decides to call time.
Morotomi also playing the attrition game, fouling off pitches until he can find something he likes... but this time he strikes out swinging. The ball is the dirt however, and that allows Taniguchi to take 3rd on the play.
Tanaka up to try and cut into the deficit.
SANSHIN!!!!!!!!!! He chases the slider away and like Morotomi goes down swinging! Saga Kita is denied and they'll be down to their final 3 outs!
Suzuki with a base hit to right center, and he cruises in with a leadoff double! He's bunted to 3rd for Katsuramaki.
He's showing bunt, but can't seem to put it into play. Count goes to 2-2, and he tries it! But it goes foul and he's out!
That brings up Manjyoume, but with 2 bases open, I don't think they're going to pitch to him. And all the pitches are borderline at best as the count goes to 3-0... and ball 4.
And up 0-2 on Ueno, Fukui plunks him! It's manrui for Rifu with Hamada up to bat!
Hamada just waiting for now, and Fukui misses on his first 2 pitches before getting a fastball over for a strike.
But Fukui gets Hamada to bounce one up the line right to Taniguchi who goes to the bag for the 3rd out. No damage done, but Saga Kita needs 2 to stay alive!
Takahashi stays in the game to play 3B.
Matsuo once again comes through with a blooper over Hamada's head for a leadoff single! But Ida swings on the first pitch and pops it up! Katsuramaki under it for the first out.
Captain #10 Shima Ryuutarou comes in to hit for Fukui, but too pops it up. Suzuki under it in shallow left for the 2nd out.
It's up to Ikegami... and he lines a single to left! Douten runner is on for Kitakou! And we're back to the top of the order and Kinoshita!
I don't know if Watanabe is trying to nibble, but he's fallen behind Kinoshita 3-1... and walks him!! The sayonara runner is on base!
(And of course, the announcers are bringing parallels of the game 7 years ago)
Kenta grounder to short! Katsuramaki throws to 1st... OUT!
Kenta slams the helmet into the ground as Rifu advanes with a 4-2 win!
I won't belabor the point about the head-sliding into first, but I'd keep that in mind for the last play. Saga Kita's magic of 7 years ago unfortunately doesn't carry over as they fall just short.
Saga Kita certainly had their chances late against the Rifu bullpen, but were not able to capitalize after the 2-run 6th. And unfortunately for them, both pitchers had 1 bad inning that combined cost them the game. I don't know if they were the first ones to win using a pitching tandem, but I think they showed that it could be done. Unfortunately, it didn't work out this year.
As for Rifu, they manage to advance, but the pitching staff past Nasuno looks a bit shaky, and the offense is a bit more inconsistent than I was expecting. It'll take a little more work for them to continue and advance.
Nasuno Seiya (Rifu) - 4 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 K
Manjyoume Kouta (Rifu) - 2-4, 3B, R, 3 RBI, BB
Suzuki Yuuto (Rifu) - 2-3, 2B, R
Matsuo Naoki (Saga Kita) - 2-2, 2B, RBI
Taniguchi Takashi (Saga Kita) - 2-4, 2B, R, SB