Day 4, and I hope to God I don't just collapse from exhaustion at this point...
Toukaidai Koufu pretty much had the hardest road it could have taken to win Yamanashi prefecture, which included playing Hikawa and Nihon Koukuu. The former game was a breeze, the latter one they had to come back from down 8-3 in the final 2 innings for the victory.
The team hit for a very high average during the prefecturals (0.394), but the pitching as evidenced in the Nihon Koukuu game is shaky enough given the relative strength of the prefecture to give a person pause about giving them the stamp of approval.
For Saku Chousei, their big name team was Chikyuu Kankyou whom they faced in the quarterfinal and actually mercy-ruled. Perhaps after that they thought it was going to be a breeze, because they then had to walk-off against Kami-Ina Nougyou and rally from behind to defeat Nagano Shougyou. The problem with this team is that they didn't especially hit for a high average (0.317), and the pitching behind ace Morozumi is more than suspect (#10 Terasawa - 22 IP, 10 ER).
Put all that together and it looks like a win for the first of many Toukaidai schools to participate here at Koushien.
Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)
2B Edagawa Hiroya
1B Hisano Rentrarou
CF Mochidzuki Daiki
RF Hirai RenLF Yamada Katsushi
C Ishidzuka Rentarou
SS Igarashi Takashi
P Takahashi Naoya
3B Saitou Shunsuke
Saku Chousei (Nagano)
3B Motoyama Hiyuu (#17)
SS Morii Koutarou
CF Wada Osamu
1B Tanabe Naoki (#5)
LF Takeuchi Hiroshige
2B Hama Ryuutarou
RF McCarthy Ryumikku
C Kanzawa Ren
P Terasawa Seiya (#10)
08:00 - First Pitch!
It's all quite on Toukaidai Koufu's front to start the game as Terasawa, despite the terrible numbers, strikes out Edagawa to start the game, and then induces a grounder and popup from Hisano and Mochidzuki for a clean inning.
On Saku Chousei's side, Motoyama gets a clean single through the right side, but Morii's bunt goes right to Takahashi who turns the 1-6-3 double play. Wada goes down looking on a fastball inside and the side is retired.
Saku Chousei decides to return the favor as after Morii can't finish the play on Yamada's one out hit, Ishidzuka grounds into the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
But on the bats, they're just hacking away at almost any pitch in the zone. Takahashi has an easy inning at just 6 pitches.
Terasawa's numbers in the prefectuals were not good, and yet he's setting down the Toukaidai batters. Igarashi pops out to Morii, Takahashi gets caught looking on a fastball on the outer half, and while Saitou hits a hard single past Tanabe into right, Edagawa pops out to Hama behind 2nd for the 3rd out.
McCarthy earns a walk to lead off the 3rd. Given the game so far, I expect (and get) a bunt from Kanazawa.
Terasawa doesn't look smooth with the bat, but fouls off enough pitches to eventually draw a walk. Muranaka-kantoku calls for time.
Motoyama with a chopper to the right side, Hisano snags it, goes to 2nd for one, throw to 1st, not in time! That looked like a neighborhood play to me, but there's runners at the corners with 2 down for Morii.
Takahashi gets out of the jam as Morii flies out to right to end the inning. Chances appearing now, but no one able to finish the job as of yet.
Hisano gets a leadoff single through the right side.
But before Mochidzuki gets a chance to bunt, Terasawa picks off Hisano! He just gets caught leaning the wrong way and can't get back in time!
With no runner, Mochidzuki and Hirai fly out and it's a quick inning for Terasawa!
A gift from Takahashi as he plunks Wada goes to waste as Tanabe grounds into a double play.
Takeuchi with a drive to left. Yamada not even moving!
Takeuchi goes about 10-15 rows up and just like that Saku Chousei has the 1-0 lead!
Yamada makes a great sliding catch on a shallow pop fly from Hama, but Takeuchi's HR is the difference so far.
Yamada with his 2nd hit as Terasawa hast to jump out of the way of a hard shot back up the middle.
No bunt from Ishidzuka but it's a hit and run instead. Morii has only 1st as his play, so it winds up being like a bunt.
Igarashi with a single to left! Takeuchi doesn't really rush to get the ball back in and that allows Yamada to score tying the game at 1-1!
Takahashi lays down the bunt, but Terasawa fires to 2nd! The ball is low and Morii can't make the pick and everyone's safe!
Terasawa in a pinch, but he slams the door, striking out Saitou looking and inducing a weak comebacker by Hisano.
Defensive change as #17 Satou comes in for Hirai to play RF.
McCarthy looking lost at the plate chasing 3 sliders away for the 1st out.
Terasawa manages a 2-out single, but Motoyama grounds to 3rd to end the inning. Offense is nowhere to be found for the most part, but both teams have managed to scrap together a run.
One out, what was a routine grounder from Mochidzuki is thrown into the ground by Hama and Toukaidai has another runner on base.
Mochidzuki takes off for 2nd, but Kanazawa makes a strong throw and all Morii has to do is put the glove in front of the bag and Mochiduzki slides right into it for the 2nd out.
Satou goes down looking on a fastball down the middle and the side is retired!
Morii draws the leadoff walk from Takahashi and is immediately bunted into scoring position. Tanabe moves him another 90 feet with a grounder to 1st. Can Takeuchi do it again?
Yes! He lines a ball to left and Morii can walk in for a 2-1 lead! Hama is retired right after, but Saku Chousei retakes the lead!
And Fujihara-kantoku decides now is the best time to send in ace Morozumi to close out the game.
After falling behind Yamada 3-0 he manages to fill up the count and then get him to pop out to Morii.
Now he seems to be on track as Ishidzuka can't lay off the splitter for the 2nd out.
Of course I say that and then he hits Igarashi.... and then uncorks a wild pitch to move him to 2nd.
But once again, it's the splitter that bails him out! Takahashi swings over it and the side is retired!
#3 Totsuka comes in to hit for McCarthy, but pops one up. Igarashi makes it more difficult than it should be, but makes the basket catch nonetheless.
Kanazawa earns a walk, but Morozumi isn't bunting. He hits a deep drive to left, but Yamada has enough room in front of the fence to make the catch.
And it's with two outs oddly that Motoyama tries the safety bunt, but it's right to Saitou for the 3rd out.
#16 Hoshino in to hit for Saitou, but he too can't figure out the splitter.
2 down and Hisano walks on 4 straight. He falls behind Mochidzuki 3-0 but manages to fill up the count, much to their discomfort.
Morozumi loses Mochidzuki with another walk and Fujihara-kantoku calls for time.
#13 Mutou comes in to hit for Satou and hopefully get the gyakuten hit. Instead, it's a routine grounder to 2nd and the side is retired.
Hoshino stays in the game at RF, while #15 Shimotou comes in to play 3B.
One down, Wada hits a single to left. After that Wada earns a 4-pitch walk. Muranaka-kantoku has seen enough and #10 Sugimoto is sent in relief of the ace.
But it's another straight 4 balls and now it's manrui for Saku Chousei!
Muranaka-kantoku calls time while #13 Shiraishi comes in to run for Tanabe.
What's this?! The umpire calls a dead ball as Hama starts and stops his swing! Hama might have baited that one, but the umpire awards it and it's 3-1 Saku Chousei.
Shiraishi stays in to play 1B, while #14 Suyama goes to play RF.
The splitter claims another victim as Yamada goes down swinging. Ishidzuka can't figure it out either and he goes down for the 2nd out. Last chance falls to Igarashi.
Igarashi grounder to 3rd, Motoyama takes his time, throws to 1st and that's the game! Saku Chousei wins with a 3-1 over Toukaidai Koufu!!
It was touch and go for both sides, but once Saku Chousei retook the lead, they went to their ace to shut the door. He wasn't completely dominating by any means, but his splitter drove the batters crazy to the tune of 5 K's in just 3 innings of work. Saku Chousei's offense is certain to struggle again in their next game, no matter who they face. So the pitching will need to be on point going forward. And Terasawa doesn't seem to be as bad as the prefectural numbers indicate.
As for Toukaidai Koufu, it certainly is disappointing given the numbers they had put up to be limited to just 1 run on 5 hits. But it was a good run, and given the state of Yamanashi, they'll be challenging again sooner rather than later.
Notable Players to be done later (I'm going to try and get a quick nap in).