One Kaisei exits stage right, another enters, they hope with better results. In their road to the title, they only needed to defeat one powerhouse team in Souseikan to win the title. The team doesn't hit very well, and the pitching appeared so-so in the prefecturals, so it might be an uphill battle.
Nishougakushadai Fuzoku finally got their time at Koushien after I thought they were unfairly omitted from Senbatsu. Road wasn't that easy either having to face Toukaidai Takanawadai, Toua Gakuen, Seiritsu Gakuen and then Teikyou to win the title. Sure they did avoid some of the tougher teams, but anytime you defeat Teikyou, you've done something right.
Weird thing is, ace Ookuro doesn't look like anything special, but that could just be a result of the competition they faced. Still, it looks like he depends on a lot of contact plays.
Both schools are going to their bench for starters, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out later.
Kaisei 海星 (Nagasaki)
CF Nakajima Seiichirou
SS Takayama Ryou
LF Minewaki Manabu
3B Hirayu Aoi (#3)
C Kuwahara Yuito
RF Hattori Nukuhiro
2B Honda Yuuya
3B Murakami Taiga (#13)
P Ishiba Takumi (#11)
Nishougakushadai Fuzoku (Higashi Tokyo)
CF Seimatsu Yuuya
3B Kitamoto Kazuki
SS Takehara Yuuta
1B Komine Eisuke
LF Okada Yuuki (#16)
RF Hata Shoutarou
C Imamura Daiki (#12)
P Ookuro Kazuyuki
2B Miguchi Eito (#15)
15:10 - First Pitch!
As expected, Ookuro is getting a lot of contact. Nakajima flies out to left.
After giving up a walk, we see what might be one key. He picks off Takayama at 1st with a fairly quick throw.
That helps because Minewaki bloops one to right for a base hit. But Hirayuu grounds out to 2nd and it's a safe 1st for Ookuro and Nishougakusadai.
In almost a mirror image of the top of the 1st, Ishiba gives up a 1-out walk to Kitamoto. Takehara bunts him along, AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Hirayu throws the ball away at 1st and Kitamoto advances to 3rd! Kaisei already in trouble!
Komine grounder up middle! Takayama with the great sliding stop! Throws to 3rd!! He gets Takehara on the tag! That's a heads up play by the Kaisei SS!
But they're not out of the woods yet! Okada first pitch singles to center! And now Ishiba walks Imamura to load the bases! This could get ugly quick...
Imamura looper to right center! Komine scores! Okada waved around, he scores! Nishougakushadai takes a 3-0 lead!
Ookuro grounder to 3rd, Hirayu's throw to 1st offline again! But Murakami makes the tag and the side is retired.
Well, Kaisei certainly willing to play the waiting game as Kuwahara draws a leadoff walk. But Hattori pops his bunt up and Imamura makes the catch for the out.
Honda also goes deep into the count, but winds up swinging under the curveball for the 2nd out.
Murakami also goes down swinging on the curve and the side is retired.
Defensive change already given the 1st inning. Harada enters game for Murakami and goes to 3rd, Hirayu goes back to his numbered position at 1B.
Miguchi leads off the inning with a base hit to right and is moved over to 2nd. Kitamoto hits a fly to right for out #2.
Ishiba might get a 0, Takehara grounder to 2nd, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
Honda just whiffs on the ball as it deflects off his leg into right! Miguchi scores to make it 4-0!
Komine first pitch laces one to center and Kaisei is in a bad way early.
Thankfully for them, Okada grounds to short. Takayama, the only player who seems to be playing defense, makes the play at 1st for the 3rd out. But this looks really bad for Kaisei.
Ishiba finally gets some good luck his way when his screamer down the 1st base line takes a high hop and eats up Komine into right! He's in with a leadoff double!
And now Nakajima singles through the right side! Ishiba holds at 3rd, but Kaisei's bats are coming alive!
Are they ever!! Takayama single to left! Ishiba scores and Kaisei is on the board at 4-1!
Oddly, with the momentum, Katou-kantoku has Minewaki bunt the runners over. Base hit could score 2, but they team just put together 3 hits.
And Hirayu hits a fly to center. But it's not deep enough and the runners have to hold...
SANSHIN!! Kuwahara chases after the curve and just like that, a strong rally fizzles out. Kaisei gets a run, but it could have been much more..
Hata drive to left! Minewaki back to the wall... looking up....
Oh, momentum can be a fickle thing. Kaisei looked to be on their way back when a sac bunt seemingly derailed things, and now a first pitch HR nullifies that work just a half-inning ago. 5-1 Nishhougakushadai.
One down now, and Ookuro lines one to right for a base hit. Ishiba trying to play damage control as he gets Miguchi to strike out.
He manages to retire the side when Suematsu can't check his swing, but the offense will need to get wound up all over again...
It's a fairly quick 1-2-3 inning for Ookuro highlighted by Komine attempt to make a catch while leaping into the camera well. Looked rather awkward if you ask me.
After a leadoff single by Kitamoto and a sac bunt, Ishiba is relieved by ace Yoshida on the mound.
Oh man you know it's bad when Komine hits a ball to center, Kitamoto scores, and yet Komine doesn't take 2nd on the bad throw... 6-1 Nishougakushadai.
To make up for it, he takes off for 2nd! Kuwahara's throw to 2nd is in time, but Takayama can't field the ball cleanly and he's safe.
Hata tries to go for the moon, but Yoshida will have none of that, blowing a 144 kph ball past him for the 3rd out.
One down and Ookuro issues his 3rd walk to Nakajima.
Takayama with the safety bunt, Ookuro's throw to first... SAFE!!
Takayama does the head-sliding thing, but still makes it anyways.
Minewaki drive to right! Hata running back, running back! Loses track of it as it falls in front of him! Nakajima scores and it's a 6-2 ballgame!
Ah! Hirayu gets plunked in the leg and it's manrui for Kaisei!
Kuwahara fly ball to center, but it's too short! Nakajima makes the catch and the runners have to hold! 2 down!
Ookuro hits Hattori and that forces in a run! 6-3 now!
Katou-kantoku correctly sensing momentum, sends in #10 Ogawa to hit for Honda.
And he hits a soft liner to center! That's down for a base hit! Minewaki scores and it's a 6-4 ballgame!
That's it for Ookuro. #18, rookie Ooe comes into the game!
Ooe hits Harada and that forces in another run! It's 6-5!! And Yoshida is up again as Jock Rock plays in the Kaisei ouen-dan.
SANSHIN!!!! The rookie battery survives the massacre as Yoshida goes down on a slider! On just 2 hits, Kaisei scores 4 runs and only trails by 1!
#14 Shinguu comes in the game for PH Ogawa to play 2B.
Imamura test him out with a ball to the right side! Shinguu gets there, but can't get the glove on the ball and he's on with a single! Ooe tries to bunt the runner along, but Yoshida quickly field and fires to 2nd to get the force!
Miguchi lays down another bunt, but Yoshida once again goes to 2nd and gets the force!
But maybe that's planned because Miguchi takes off for 2nd and Kawahara doesn't even bother with a throw!
And that pays off! Suematsu with a base hit to center! Miguchi scores easily with his speed and Suemtasu takes 2nd on the throw home! 7-5!
Kitamoto grounds back to Yoshida for the 3rd out, but Nishougakushadai is able to get back a run as we head to the break But despite Nishougakushadai scoring every inning, they're only leading by 2 runs.
Wow. The rookie battery of Ooe and Imamura doing work v. Kaise.
Nakajima first pitch flyout to left.
Takayama hard grounder, but right to Miguchi.
Of course, I mention it on twitter, and then Ooe walks Minewaki.
Minewaki is caught off 1st! The rundown starts, but Komine throws it away! Minewaki doesn't notice (his back is to the throw), and he merely returns to 1st.
Ooe closes out the inning getting Hirayu to swing and miss on a fastball away for the 3rd out!
Takehara finally checks in with a base hit and now every batter has a base hit.
But he gets carried away and tries to steal 2nd... and is thrown out very plainly by Kuwahara.
Komine and Okada are quickly retired afterwards and Kaisei will be back on the bats once again for the Lucky 7.
Ooe continuing to befuddle the Kaisei batters. In fact, after retiring the side in order, out of the 9 batters he has faced, only Nakajima has hit the ball out of the infield.
Rookie Imamura doesn't care about the stage. With one down he singles to center for his 3rd hit of the game!
But he's caught off the bag and thrown out! No, wait! Yoshida's called for the balk!
Yoshida clamps down though and retires both Ooe and Miguchi to retire the inning. No harm done, but time is running short.
Captain Harada gets his base hit at Koushien with a single to center. Yoshida bunts him to 2nd.
Nakajima with a drive to left, but Okada is right there for the catch!
Ooe puts up another donut as he gets Takayama to ground to 2nd for the 3rd out!
Yoshida's done his job. He sits down the top of Nishougakusha's lineup in just 6 pitches!
But they need 2 runs here to stay alive.
Needing 2 runs, Minewaki takes a hack at 3-0, and again at 3-1! Why?!
His third swing flies out to center! You need baserunners!
Hirayu swings on the first pitch and he flies out to center! 2 out! Just like that, the last chance sits with Kuwahara!
Chopper! Ooe fields it on the left side! Throw to 1st, game set!
The relief battery of Ooe and Imamura shut down the Kaisei offense in the 2nd half, and preserve the lead as they win 7-5!
Well, as the numbers from the Higashi Tokyo taikai show, we now know who the real ace of the staff is. Ooe doesn't blow you away, but he does make your offense look feeble.
While the overall game isn't pretty, there are good things to take from it as Nishougakushadai moves forward. Will the fate of the team lie with the rookies? Time will tell.
Kaisei for their part played a great game, and while they managed to make the make the game close, they just weren't able to put anything together to bridge the gap. Judging by their success, they'll be back sooner rather than later.