Wednesday, April 2, 2014

86th Senbatsu - Day 12 - Championship - Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto) vs. Riseisha (Osaka)

And so we reach the championship game.  For all the potential favorites that were out there, we are left with an all-Kinki affair, and a rematch at that.

Riseisha has made it here dominating every game, until that completely nuts game against legitimate contender (and first timers!) Toyokawa.  Despite jumping on not relief starter Abe, but actually ace Tanaka Sora (who had been one of the more dominating pitchers), reliever Nagatani looked finally human for once and they found themselves seemingly in a dogfight late.

However for Toyokawa, they gambled - going all out on offense at the expense of pitching, reminding all of us of the famous (or infamous depending on who you rooted for) Teikyou-Chiben Wakayama game of 2006.  And without #11 Ochiai due to illness, they were out of legitimate pitchers.  Imai-kantoku did his best to find an emergency pitcher, but much like Teikyou, it was all in vain.

I did not have Riseisha as a possible contender for the title, mainly because the pitching didn't seem to hold water.  However, they have succeeded by jumping on their opposition early, and forcing their hand relative to pitching and their offense pressing playing from behind.  Mizota isn't really a stud ace, but has been serviceable despite giving up several runs.  Instead, the heft of the weight actually falls upon Nagatani who is generally tasked with holding the line, wherever it is when he enters the game.  But yesterday's efforts may mean that his effectiveness might be cracking just a bit.

Ryuukokudai Heian had the potential to be a contender considering that Harada-kantoku had been supposedly combining multiple pitchers together to complete a game - essentially breaking the game up into smaller parts that each pitcher could handle.

And yet, for the most part at Koushien, he instead has asked these pitchers to go a full 9 - instead alternating his starters.  This isn't new news, other teams such as Narashino have done it before.  So far, it's been #10 Takahashi Keiji and unknown #18 Motouji Reiji (he wasn't even on the fall roster!!).  Ace Nakata has been put in relief, but outside of his 4.1IP performance, has been used in short stints.  Not a surprise since I believe from reports he's actually considered their "closer".  And there's still 2 pitchers that they haven't used - #11 Inudzuka Takaya and #16 Minato Youichi.  Harada-kantoku has made his pitching as close to true pitching staff as we've seen.

The offense is also impressive from a skill standpoint.  There have been points where Heian have shown their power (hey, it's that Motouji guy hitting a HR!).  But as the Kiryuu Dai-ichi game showed us, these guys can run.  Now sure, against Sano Nichidai, they were like the Blues Brothers, just running around and around, but if done properly it looks to be a legitimate threat.  Speed doesn't slump, and Heian appears to have speed for days.

Now as mentioned before, this is a rematch.  These teams played in the Kinki Super-Regional semifinals with Heian winning that game 11-7.  In that game, Keiji started for Heian, struggled, and then handed it over to Inudzuka who gave up apparently just 1 run thereafter.

On the other side, Nagatani actually started that game, and had two bad innings where he was tagged for 4 runs apiece.  He handed it over to the relief staff who failed to record and out, before ace Mizota entered the game, and finished the final 2.2 innings while giving up another 3 runs.

There should be no secrets going into this game.  These teams are familiar with each other well enough (even #18 Motouji now that Riseisha has 2 games of data) and should make for a very competitive, high-tension final.

The ouen-dans are ready, Riseisha's yellow R, and Heian's black H displayed prominently.  For both Harada-kantoku and Okada-kantoku, it's a high point in their long tenures.  Okada's is approaching 30 years, Harada 20...

So without further ado... our championship game!

Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)
CF Tokumoto Kentarou
RF Ootani Tsukasa
2B Himeno Taisei
1B Kawai Taisei
LF Nakaguchi Daichi
3B Tsune Hitoshi
SS Ishikawa Takuya
C Takahashi Yuuya
P Takahashi Keiji (#10)

Riseisha (Osaka)
3B Tsuji Motomasa
2B Inoue Kazuya
SS Yoshida Yuuki
LF Nakayama Shouta
RF Nishimura Takahiro
C Hatta Natsu
CF Kanaoka Youhei (#13)
1B Kinuta Shouta (#14)
P Mizota Yuuto


12:34 - First Pitch!

So Harada-kantoku will go with Keiji once more like the semifinal.  Riseisha goes with Mizota to start instead....

And a cute little elementary school girl throws out the championship game's ceremonial 1st pitch.  Aw....

Top 1st
Tokumoto scorches a slider down the right field line!  He's going for 3!  Riseisha has to throw as he gets in standing triple!

Ootani ball back up middle!  Inoue runs it down, glove tosses to Yoshida, but he has no throw!  Nice try, but Tokumoto scores to make to 1-0 Heian!!

Himeno showing bunt, but can't lay it down running the count to 2 strikes.

Shows bunt!  And he lays it down.

#10 Nagatani already in the bullpen as Mizota falls behind 2-0.

Kawai slicer down left field line... just foul!

Ball 4!  Mizota puts another runner on as Hatta goes to to talk to his ace...

It doesn't help!  Mizota walks Nakaguchi on 4 straight and it's manrui for Heian!  Hatta goes out for another talk as Nagatani warms up...

Ball 1 way high!  Will Tsune hand Mizota the rope?

Doesn't need to!  Mizota hits him in the back!  Oshidashi dead ball and it's 3-0 Heian!

And still no change at P!

Finally, a first pitch strike to Ishikawa.  He swings and fouls off another, behind 1-2.

Checks his swing, just....  Umpire doesn't give go around.

Jammed!  Pops it up to 2nd.  Inoue on the outfield grass, makes the catch,  2 down.

Mizota still struggling with the zone.  Falls behind Yuuya 2-0 before firing 2 to level the count.

Pops it up!  Kinuta near the bullpen, makes the catch to retire the side.

But Heian has decided to take the fight to Riseisha and put them on their heels!  Despite the barrage Mizota stays in.

Bottom 1st
How will Riseisha respond?

Before that, Himeno is apparently getting treatment for something.  For what I'm not sure.  He emerges, and looks ok, but not sure what happened there.

Keiji not looking too sharp, falling behind Tsuji 3-0, and then hits him!  Oy.

The wildness works to Keiji's advantage against Inoue who was trying to bunt.  Winds up behind 0-2.

Lunges to bunt, and pushes it foul!  1 out!  Why bunt on that pitch?

Keiji at least missing in the right places, but still not close and wait a sec.. a pitch that looked over the plate is called ball 4??

Nakayama up now with the douten run on base.

And suddenly, against the righty, he gets ahead 0-2?!  Then gives one back on a waste pitch.

Nakayama ball down the right field line... foul!!!  Just foul!

Fastball inside, just a little too much...


Keiji throws out the curve and Nakayama is way out in front for the 2nd out!

Nishimura high chopper in front of the plate!  Keiji waits for it, turns and fires.. 3 out!  Keiji has his own issues on the mound, but unlike his counterpart, gets the donut!

Top 2nd
A better start to the inning for Mizota as Keiji rolls one to short for the first out.

Tokumoto still going after Mizota, but gets under a pitch this time.  Nakayama coming in, makes the sliding catch for the 2nd out.

Ootani up, behind early, he works the count full... only to watch the changeup go right down the middle for the 3rd out.  Well, for at least an inning, Mizota has settled down.

Bottom 2nd
Hatta sharp liner through the left side for a leadoff single.  Kanaoka, getting a start after his efforts last game,bunts the runner along.  Riseisha fine with playing for 1 run early.

Kinuta goes after a high pitch and hits it up the middle!  Inoue looks to be there, but no!  It somehow gets by him and into center!  Hatta being sent home!  Throw from Tokumoto... not in time!  Kinuta gets a run back with a timely single!  2-1!

Mizota up, and he bunts the runner along for the top of the order.

Tsuji ball up middle!  Ishikawa just picks it up off the end of his glove!  Square and throws to 1st... 3 out!!!  Nice play by Ishikawa to keep the lead!

Top 3rd
One down, and I don't think Mizota wants to face Kawai at all.  He winds up walking him for the 2nd time.

And now he's missing the zone on Nakaguchi as well, and walks him again on 4 straight!

Are they trying to work around the 4 & 5 batters?? So they'll walk 2 batters just to get to Tsune?

It might work though!  Tsune grounds to 2nd.  Yoshida to 2nd for 1, throw to first high!  Kinuta tries the tag, but he's safe!  Heian still has a chance!

Ishikawa grounder to the right side!  That's by Kinuta!  That gets by Inoue too!! Base hit!  Kawai scores!  Tsune to 3rd!  Ishikawa going to 2nd... throw from Tsuji... OUT!!!

Ishikawa runs himself out of the inning trying to take an extra base!  The run does score, but Riseisha avoids more.  3-1 Heian!

Bottom 3rd
Inoue gets Riseisha another leadoff runner with a hard single past a diving Ishikawa.  Yoshida not bunting though.

Yoshida takes the slider the other way!  It slices down the left field line fair!  Inoue heads to 3rd and Riseisha with a great opportunity here!

And it looks like it's forced Harada-kantoku's hand here.  #18 Motouji comes in for Keiji to take the hill.

Okada-kantoku elects to bunt!  Nakayama lays it down, and advances Yoshida to 2nd.  Interesting...

Nishmura chopper!  Runners going on contact!   Tsune goes home... and Inoue doesn't even make it there.  2 out.

Motouji though being very careful with Hatta.  Borderline pitches all the way, yet he sneaks one in and gets a swinging strike on a change.  Full count.

Grounder to 2nd!  Himeno gathers it in!  Takes his time, goes to 1st... 3 out!  Motouji gets Heian out of a no out, runners at the corners situation!

Top 4th
Yuuya swings on a high fastball and drives it to right center.  Tateishi and Nishimura headed towards the wall!  It lands just in front of it!  Yuuya already around 2nd, and reaches 3rd without a throw!

Motouji looking for any decent fly ball to get the runner in, has the count run to 2 strikes and fights a pair off.

But Mizota wins the battle, twisting him on a fastball inside.

Now the hard part begins.  Leadoff batter Tokumoto steps in.

However, he is not eager.  Takes his pitches, gets ahead 3-1.  Takes a change for strike 2.

Fastball outside and up!  Tokumoto takes it the other way!  Yoshida has no play and Yuuya makes it 4-1!

And Tokumoto takes off for 2nd!  Throw from Hatta, not nearly in time!  Now a base hit from Ootani could tack on another!

But again, he's patient.  Not chasing, and works his count full.


This time though, Mizota breaks out the change and Ootani swings and misses for the 2nd out.

If Riseisha is really unintentionally intentionally walking the 4-5 batters, they probably would like to get Himeno out.

And they do.  Himeno flies to left to end the inning.

Bottom 4th
Kanaoka with a screamer towards 2nd.  Himeno smothers it, goes to 1st for the out.

But Kinuta needs a moment at 1st after Motouji hits home on the first pitch.  Okada-kantoku has Mizota bunting.

You don't suppose in this case, Harada-kantoku had Kinuta put on base so Okada-kantoku would waste an out with a bunt?

Well with the count 1-2, he tries it anyways, lays it down on the line, and Yuuya makes the executive decision to make the play at 1st since they were running out of time for any play whatsoever.

Top of the order and Tsuji.

He's looking for his pitch, but Motouji makes the decision for him with a slider for strike 2.

And he gets him to chase the slider down and away for the 3rd out!

Top 5th
Well, it looks like my working around of the middle batter theory isn't really valid.  Mizota is going after Kawai and strikes him out swinging on the slider.

Goes after Nakaguchi as well.  And on a full count, he climbs the ladder on him and it's back-to-back K's.  That's just weird for the 4-5 batters...

Tsune grounds to short for the 3rd out  and it's just Mizota's 2nd 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 5th
Inoue with a liner to center, but perhaps off the end of the bat and Tokumoto is there for the catch.

Yoshida ball up middle.  Himeno slides over, but can't field it cleanly!  Desperate throw to 1st, not in time!  E4.

AH!  And a low pitch from Motouji scoots on the grounder under Hatta!  Yoshida advances to 2nd!

Nakayama with a ball up the middle!  Himeno makes a great sliding catch!  Double clutches, goes to 1st, gets the out!  He comes back with a great play after the error!

AH!  Nishimura gets a hold of a pitch!  Tokumoto sprinting to the wall!   Leaps!  Just out of his reach!  Yoshida scores and it's a 4-2 ballgame on Nishimura's double!

Hatta looking to make it a one-run game with a base hit.

But he can't!  Motouji with the change gets him swinging and keeps the lead at 2!  We hit the break with Riseisha continuing to chase Heian.  But Motouji in relief has for the most part kept Riseisha at bay.  It's possible in the final Harada-kantoku will go back to splitting the game up into parts like he did in the fall taikais.

Top 6th
Ishikawa badly fooled on a fastball outside, goes down on 3 straight.

Yuuya making it look easy, liner to right for a single. Motouji not bunting, not after that HR in the first game  Makes decent contact, but it's a fly right to Kanaoka for the 2nd out.

Tokumoto with his 3rd hit of the day, a single through the opposite way.

Ootani waiting for his pitch, takes a real borderline one for ball 3... but can't get fortunate twice. He gets rung up and the inning is over.

Bottom 6th
Kanaoka with a blooper to right center.  Tokumoto and Himeno converge, but can't get there in time!  Leadoff runner on again for Riseisha!

After Kinuta bunts the runner over, Mizota is called back.  His day is done as #17 Tsujii comes to hit.  He grounds to 2nd, and advances the runner for the top of the order.

Tsuji though, doesn't have a hit so far...


And still doesn't!  He chases the forkball and the side is retired!

Top 7th
#10 Nagatani as expected, comes to the mound looking to maintain the line for Riseisha.

His job starts against the 3-4-5 hitters for Heian.

Himeno having a better time of it against Nagatani, has an 9 pitch AB capped off with a liner to center for a base hit.  Kawai, despite having 2 strikes, successfully bunts him along.

Nakaguchi in a prolonged AB against Nagatani, fouling off several pitches...

But Riseisha wins again!  Nagatani has him chasing the slider way outside for the 2nd out.

Tsune trying to get his first base hit, but Nagatani pulls out the slider again, and he foul tips it into the glove for the 3rd out!  Nagatani giving up the leadoff hit, but bearing down after that.  Holds the line for now, but they're slowly running out of time.

Bottom 7th
Lucky 7 for Riseisha, can they start a rally?

0-2 for Inoue, grounder to short for the 1st out.

Motouji issues his first walk of the game, walking Yoshida on 4 straight.

But Nakayama swings on the first pitch and grounds to 3rd!  Tsune goes to 2nd for 1... Himeno to 1st... double play!!  They turn the double play to end the inning!

Top 8th
Defensive changes for Riseisha.  #8 Tateishi comes in for Nakayama and goes to CF.  Kanaoka goes to LF.

Ishikawa a quick flyout to left.

Yuuya with his 3rd hit, waiting on the slider hits it to left.

Motouji hitting, but chases the fastball away for the 2nd out.

Oh?  Balk called on Nagatani? Ah, he really didn't step towards first on that pickoff throw.

Tokumoto with a controlled swing, tries to poke one the other way, but it's hit too hard and Kanaoka makes the catch.

Bottom 8th
Nishimura grounder to short, throw to 1st.  LATE!!!  Ishikawa takes too much time getting the ball off and it's a base hit for Riseisha!  Oh, that's a mental error there from Ishikawa.

Riseisha meanwhile not bunting.  With just 6 outs to play, you might not be able to afford giving one up.

They may not have to!  Motouji falls behind Hatta 3-1 and just gets the call on an inside fastball.

Hit and run!  Grounder to short!  Ishikawa bounces it to first.. and Kawai makes the pick for the out!  Oh, that's dangerous.

And #11 Inudzuka is warming up with the count 2-0 to Kanaoka.  Make that 3-0!  Will we see his first appearance in the finals?

Well, Motouji gets two strikes in to fill up the count, but then bounces a ball for ball 4!  Runners on 1st and 2nd for Riseisha as indeed #11 Inudzuka makes his first appearance on the mound!

His first batter will be Kinuta, no easy out at all.

Hard liner down the right field line foul!

Inudzuka has a weird motion that almost looks like he throwing overhand, yet trying to create a sidearm action?

Either way, after that first foul, he falls behind 3-1!  AND WALKS HIM!!!  Manrui for Heian!!

Nagatani up to hit, but he doesn't really.  What will Okada-kantoku do?

Slow curve way high.  Curve way low!

And after that pitch, Harada-kantoku can't afford to wait any longer.  In comes the first right hander, their closer ace Nakata.

But he enters the game with the bases loaded and the count 2-0!  Not much room for error at all!  Did Harada-kantoku mismanage the bullpen?

Pitch high!  3-0!!

Fastball over for a strike.  3-1.  Fastball again... full count!!!


Nakata goes for the slider on a full count and gets the K!  Oh, that takes a lot of balls...

Tsuji up and Nakata gets ahead 1-2!  Waste pitch, 2-2 (Can you really afford that?)

Tsuji jammed!  Grounder back to Nakata!  Goes to 1st... 3 OUT!!!!!

Kawai pumps his fist as Nakata gets out of a manrui 1-out pinch!!!

Top 9th
Ootani walks on 4 pitches to start.  Oh, is this the end for Riseisha?  Himeno bunts him along.


Kawai crushes a ball! Is it gone?  Is it gone??  Nishimura looking up!


Kawai all but puts the game away with a 2-run HR!  6-2 Heian!!!

Nagatani gets the final 2 outs, but Heian is all but on the precipice of winning the 86th Haru Koushien!

Bottom 9th
Inoue at least will not give up without a fight.  He singles to left center.

Nakata falls behind Yoshida 3-1, but fills up the count, and gets a popup!  Ishikawa secures it for the first out!

#3 Miura to hit for Tateishi, hits a ball down the right field line.. foul!

Count goes to 2-2... now 3-2.

Liner!  But right to Ishikawa!  2 down!! Nishimura the last chance.

Flyball to center!  Tokumoto under it.  Makes the catch!

The team runs out of the dugout as Ryuukokudai Heian wins their first ever senbatsu, 6-2!!

Ryuukokudai Heian had the whole package this Koushien, with a deep pitching staff and an offense that flashed both power and speed.   And outside of the Kiryuu Dai-ichi game, they never trailed in any matchup.  And when they were down, they continued to fight inning after inning putting extreme pressure on a team already tired from 2 consecutive games. Finally, they always seemed to understand the situation at hand.

It was about as complete a performance you could find from a champion.

Credit should be given to Riseisha as well.  Perhaps not considered a title contender to start the tournament, they slowly made their case game after game, putting teams away with their offense and the combination of Mizota and Nagatani on the mound.  And after laying ace Tanaka Sora and Tokoyawa to rest in the semifinal, you had to wonder if this would be their year, especially with the opportunity to avenge the loss they suffered in the Kinki Super-Regional semifinal.

It was not to be though, as it was Heian who played their own game to perfection.  They will have to wait for another time, perhaps a possible draw at Natsu Koushien for another shot.

But congratulations are in order for both teams and for the first time champs Ryuukokudai Heian!

Notable Players
Takahashi Keiji (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2+ IP, ER, 4 H, 2 K, BB, HBP
Motouji Reiji (Ryuukokudai Heian) - W, 5.1+ IP, ER, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB, HBP
Nakata Ryuuji (Ryuukokudai Heian) - SV, 1.2 IP, 0 ER, H, K, 0 BB
Tokumoto Kentarou (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 3-5, 3B, R, SB
Kawai Taisei (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 1-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Takahashi Yuuya (Ryuukokudai Heian) -3-4, 3B, R
Mizota Yuuto (Riseisha) - L, 6 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 7 K, 4 BB, HBP
Nagatani Takahiro (Riseisha) -  3 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 K, BB
Nishimura Takahiro (Riseisha) - 2-5, 2B, RBI
Inoue Kazuya (Riseisha) - 2-5

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

86th Senbatsu - Day 11 - Semifinal 2 - Sano Nichidai (Tochigi) vs. Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)

Things are always what they seem, it seems... so perhaps this matchup isn't what I think it is.

I say that because Ryuukokudai Heian looked rather average against Kiryuu Dai-ichi - a team that had played 24 innings over the last 2 days.  They started a "relief" pitcher as it were, and from all indications Heian should have dominated.

But perhaps they let their guard down, or looked past them in some way, because Kiryuu came out swinging and put the title contender on their heels.  Give credit to them, they didn't panic, continued to play their own game - which was putting pressure on the basepaths, and the plan worked beautifully as Kiryuu finally had to go to the ace who had gone the aforementioned 24 innings.

Sano Nichidai was given a gift by Meitoku Gijyuku.  Mabuchi-kantoku wanted to play the same-handed matchup so much, he intentionally walked a batter with 3rd base open to do so.  He had tried it in the 7th and it worked out - but not for the reasons perhaps that he thought, but this was a bridge way, way too far to cross.  At some point you have to believe that your team is good enough to get an out.  Instead, Meitoku gave up 2 runs in the 11th, and that pretty much sent them home.

The bigger issue is that Tajima allowed Meitoku to even get back in the game.  They're not a high-scoring squad, but somehow strung 5 consecutive hits to score 4 runs and take the lead.  It's its a symptom of his mentality, then Sano Nichidai had better give him the lead, or else they could be in trouble.

Ryuukokudai Heian still looks like the stronger team, but the shine has been dulled a bit.  An all-Kinki final is at stake if they can win, but Sano Nichidai stands in the way.

Sano Nichidai (Tochigi)
SS Takemura Ritsuki
CF Nagasawa Yoshitaka
2B Yoshida Toshiki
LF Inaba Kousei
RF Koizumi Keita
1B Tamura Kaito
3B Kakizawa Fumiya
P Tajima Daiki
C Sagawa Shou

Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)
CF Tokumoto Kentarou
RF Ootani Tsukasa
2B Himeno Taisei
1B Kawai Taisei
LF Nakaguchi Daichi
3B Tsune Hitoshi
SS Ishikawa Takuya
C Takahashi Yuuya
P Takahashi Keiji (#10)


14:35 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Harada-kantoku alternating back to Keiji for the semifinals.

Takemura grounder to 2nd to start the game.  Himeno on the grass throws to 1st for the out.

But he can't get Nagasawa's ball as it goes to right for a base hit.

AHHHH!!!  Nagasawa picked off at 1st by Keiji!  2 down!

And that's a shame because Yoshida singles through short.

And so does Inaba!  It could have been manrui 1 out.

Instead, Koizumi fouls out to Tamura and that's the inning.

Bottom 1st
Tajima unexpectedly on to start the game.  Tokumoto flies out to right, and Ootani grounds to 2nd.

But on his 2nd full count of the game, he just comes too far inside of Himeno and walks him.

And of course I jinx Tajima.  He falls behind Kawai 3-1 before filling up the count.

And then he hits him on the head with an offspeed pitch.  Guess I spoke too soon.

Nakaguchi though pops it up!  Tamura makes the catch and the 2-out chance goes for naught.

Top 2nd
Keiji struggling with command?  He hits Tamura to start the 2nd inning.  And while Kakizawa is showing bunt, Keiji throws 3 balls...

And walks him!!  Uh oh.  #1 Nakata Ryuuji is warming up, but his longest outing is 1 inning.  Will he be called into long relief?

Tajima up, tries to bunt, but fouls the first offering off.  Fouls the second off and it looks like he's going to have to hit now.

Grounder to 2nd!  Himeno goes to 2nd, one, goes to 1st, double play!

No wait!  No neighborhood call for Ishikawa!  Kakizawa is safe at first, and it's a 4-6-3 retirement of Tajima.  Now a Sagawa base hit can score 2!


Matsumoto-kantoku calls for the squeeze on 2-2, but the pitch is high and Sagawa bunts it foul!  2 down for Nichidai!

Takemura up to try and give Nichidai the early lead.  Works the count full..

Ball 4!  Takemura holds off on a very borderline pitch and gets the walk!  Manrui for Nichidai!

But Nagasawa swings on the first pitch and grounds to Kawai!  He goes to the bag for the 3rd out, and Sano Nichidai is kind of getting in it's own way to start...

Bottom 2nd
Tajima hits his 2nd batter, this time the feet of Tsune.

Ishikawa to bunt, misses on the low offering, and Sagawa fires to 1st?

They pick off Tsune off 1st! He gets caught jumping the wrong way when Ishikawa misses the bunt and is picked off!  A rare unforced error by Heian on the basepaths!

And that proves costly as Ishikawa drives a ball to deep left center!!  Nagasawa chasing it back to the wall...

Bounces off the padding!  It goes back into play, but not before Ishikawa has a double!

Yuuya with a looper over Yoshida for a base hit!  Ishikawa comes home as Koizumi fires it back!  It's way late, and that allows Yuuya to advance to 2nd! 1-0 Heian!

Keiji goes down quickly for 2 outs.  Tajima trying to limit the damage.

He gets ahead of Tokumoto 1-2, before he starts fouling off a couple.

Drive to right.  Koizumi going towards the foul pole, still going... まさか!


Tokumoto with a 2-run HR to right!  Heian showing the power this time around takes a 3-0 lead!!

Ootani with a soft liner to short ends the inning, but Heian again making the opposition crack under pressure!

Top 3rd
Of course Heian makes it a little tough on themselves.

One down, Inaba hits a slow bounder up the 3rd base line.  Tsune charging in, can't time the hop and Inaba reaches safely!  Base hit for Inaba.

And now Keiji hits Koizumi!  Keiji giving Nichidai an opportunity to get back in the game!

But Tamura goes after the first pitch and grounds to short.  It's a slow roller so Himeno elects to just go to 2nd to keep the force.

It's not needed as Kakizawa flies out to left to end the inning.

Bottom 3rd
Tajima once again gets 2 quick out and looks for a clean inning.

Nakaguchi making that difficult as he works the count full.  Hits scorcher to 3rd.  Kakizawa smothers it!  Throw to 1st, in time to retire the side! Tajima gets his clean inning!

Top 4th
Keiji though, does the same against the 9-1-2 batters of Nichidai and he may have settled down after the first couple of innings.

Bottom 4th
Tsune grounder to short.  Takemura there, but he doesn't field it cleanly!  E6 and Heian gets another runner.

Ishikawa with the bunt, but it's right to Tajima!  He goes to 2nd for 1, Takeumra to 1st, double play!

Tajima about to skate through an inning 1-2-3, but then hits Yuuya on the first pitch.

Fortunately Keiji is not a good batter, and he strikes out to end the inning.

Top 5th
Keiji has settled down into his groove, and despite Inaba's 3rd hit, he gets his 3 outs with no issue.

Bottom 5th
One down for Ootani and he hits a single through short.

Harada-kantoku puts on the hit-and-run, and Himeno hits a seeing-eye single back up the middle for a base hit!  Ootani advances to 3rd.

Kawai with a single through the right side!

Ootani scores!  Throw home not in time, but they have Kawi caught off 1st!  They start the rundown and tag him out!  Himeno meanwhile takes off for home!  Throw back home...

In time, double play!!

It a 9-2-3-6-2 double play! I think.  Either way, Heian with some weird running decisions after last game, but they do have the lead going into the break.

Top 6th
One down for Nichidai and Kakizawa lines a ball into center.  Keiji follows that up by hitting Tajima and giving Nichidai a good scoring opportunity.

Tajima though feels generous, and proceeds to get himself picked off 1st.

Which is a big shame because Sagawa then singles to left, scoring Kakizawa to make it 4-1.

Takemura flies out to end the inning, but Nichidai isn't doing themselves any favors.

Bottom 6th
Unlike the majority of the other innings, Tajima gets a break in the 6th as it takes just 9 pitches to retire the side in order.

Top 7th
Nagasawa with hard grounder to 2nd.  Himeno doesn't field it cleanly, but his throw to 1st just beats a diving Nagasawa.

And so it continues to go with Sano Nichidai.  Unforced errors costing them over and over.  Yoshida and Inaba are retired thereafter and it looks pretty grim for Sano Nichidai.

Bottom 7th
Yet another error from Nichidai.  Kakizawa with plenty of time on the Yuuya grounder, airmails the throw to 1st and Yuuya is safe.  Keiji bunts him to 2nd.

Tokumoto actually shows bunt?!  And fouls it off?

"Aha ha, just kidding", he says apparently.  He lines a ball down the right field line fair, and hustles all the way to 3rd.  Yuuya can trot home and it's 5-1.

Ootani continues the hitting with a liner over Kakizawa's glove down the left field line.  He's in with an RBI double and it's 6-1.  Matsumoto-kantoku calling time, but I wonder what he can do at this point.

Tajima gets the final 2 outs, but Sano Nichidai is down 5 with just 2 innings to go.

Top 8th
Koizumi gets himself out diving into first in a foot race with a covering Keiji.  But outside of a 2-out hit by Kakizawa, Keiji is easily cruising along.

Bottom 8th
Things just falling apart now for Sano Nichidai.

After a one-out Tsune single, Ishikawa singles back up the middle.  Tsune goes to take 3rd, and the throw goes into the dugout.  It's a 2-base error and Tsune scores to make it 7-1.

Yuuya sac fly to center makes it an 8-1 game before Keiji grounds out to end the inning.

Top 9th
It's pretty much a formality at this point.  Sagawa thought, fighting until the end, gets a leadoff single.

But it's wiped out by a 1-6-3 double play.  Quickly 2 down.  Nagasawa grounder to 1st.  Tamura makes the tag on the diving Nagasawa and that's the game!

We will have an all-Kinki final with Ryuukokudai Heian's 8-1 victory over Sano Nichidai!

Sano Nichidai had a great run, but it ends here at the hands of the Kinki champions who continue to show different aspects of their game - speed in one, power in another.  And no team outside of surprisingly enough Kiryuu Dai-ichi has been able to give them trouble.  And with Harada's management of the pitching staff, they look to be in good position in the final.

Notable Players
Takahashi Keiji (Ryuukokudai Heian) - CG, ER, 9 H, 4 K, 2 BB, 3 HBP
Tokumoto Kentarou (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Ootani Tsukasa (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
Ishikwa Takuya (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 2-4, 2B, 2 R
Tajima Daiki (Ryuukokudai Heian) - 8 IP, 5 ER, 10 H, 3 K, 1 BB, 3 HBP
Inaba Kousei (Sano Nichdai) - 3-4
Kakizawa Fumiya (Sano Nichidai) - 2-3, R, BB
Sagawa Shou (Sano Nichidai) - 2-4, RBI

86th Senbatsu - Day 11 - Semifinal 1 - Riseisha (Osaka) vs. Toyokawa (Aichi)

Semifinal action means the 2nd consecutive game for all 4 teams.  Winning it all means winning 3 games in 3 days - something that is a lot to ask for a lot of teams, even the best of them.

Riseisha and Toyokawa both won their game in handy fashion 6-2.  Riseisha's offense continues to impress, this time around putting early pressure on Fukuchiyama Seibi and not letting go.  Mizota was his usual successful, but shaky self and had to concede the mound again to Nagatani, who does have more than just the fastball, though I think he likes to see if batters can hit it.  He's become more than a serviceable reliever, and has steadied the ship when things appear to go awry.

Toyokawa has impressed in every step of the way, defeating the likes of Nihon Bunri and yesterday Okinawa Shougaku.  The offense isn't as strong as Riseisha, but seems to have good prep for the opposing starter.

But really, their strength is ace Tanaka Sora.  He has been dominant in every game so far, thanks to his various pitches and strong control.  Now, there were some hiccups in their most recent game against Okinawa Shougaku, and stamina will of course be an issue now.

However, if Tanaka can continue on like this, it's possible we will have 2 title holders that were first time participants (Maebashi Ikuei currently holds the Natsu Koushien title).

Riseisha (Osaka)
3B Tsuji Motomasa
2B Inoue Kazuya
SS Yoshida Yuuki
LF Nakayama Shouta
RF Nishimura Takahiro
C Hatta Natsu
1B Kinuta Shouta (#14)
CF Tateishi Satoshi
P Mizota Yuuto

Toyokawa (Aichi)
3B Nakamura Kazuya
CF Sugiura Kenta
C Himi Taisuke
SS Takakuwa Heishirou
1B Itou Tappei
RF Takeichi Keishi
LF Yamada Daichi
P Abe Tatsuya (#10)
2B Shima Kairi


11:03 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Interesting!  Toyokawa goes to their bench to start the game!  Abe will see his first action in the Senbatsu semifinals!!

Abe is a left against a left-heavy lineup.

First two pitches are changeups for balls.  Misses again and it's 3-0. Finally gets a fastball over for a strike.

But he throws ball 4!  Leadoff runner on for Riseisha!  Inoue showing bunt, but Abe still having some trouble finding the bottom of the zone.

Inoue tries to lay a low pitch down, but fouls it off and now has 2 strikes.  Still showing bunt, and successfully lays it down.  Yoshida up to try and drive the run in with a base hit.

Hard grounder right to Shima!  He blocks it, and goes to 1st for the out.  Runner advances to 3rd.

Once again, Abe falls behind to Nakayama.

Nakayama to right, but Takeichi doesn't have to move to make the 3rd out.  It's shaky at best for Abe right now.  Can he settle down, or how long can he hold out?

Bottom 1st
On the other side Mizota will start, but how long before he steps aside as well?

He too can't seem to find the zone, falling behind leadoff batter Nakamura 3-0 as well!  Ball 4 and Toyokawa has a runner on!

And already #10 Nagatani is warming up.

Sugiura lays down the bunt, but Mizota up with it!  Goes to 2nd and cuts down the lead runner!

Bad break for Toyokawa, but Himi picks them up with a first pitch single to left!  Toyokawa threatening here in the 1st!

Ah, but Takakuwa gets jammed inside!  He gets the bat around, but hits a sky fly!  Tateishi makes the catch for the 2nd out.

Mizota continues to get himself into trouble.  Against Itou, he's not really close and walks him on 4 straight.  Manrui for Takeichi!

And I don't think they were working around Itou, because he falls behind Takeichi 2-0!

Takeichi pops it up!  Inoue camping under it, makes the catch for the 3rd out and Mizota dodges a bullet!

Top 2nd
Liner back up middle!  It hits Abe in the leg!  He goes to field it, but has no play.  More importantly he is definitly hurting.

Ace Tanaka immediately warms up.

But after some itai spray, and a couple of warmups, he seems good to go.

Hatta tests him with a bunt, which he fields no problem.

Despite Kinuta being the #7 hitter, Abe working exclusively away, and Kinuta still manages to pull the ball to the right side, advancing the runner along.


Tateishi with the running bunt, but fouls it off.

AH!  But Abe hits Tateishi, putting runners at the corners for Mizota!

Mizota not known for being a great hitter though and falls behind 1-2.  Does manage to just foul one off though... and barely another...

I don't know if Abe is trying to get him to chase, but 2 balls put the count full!


Abe pulls the curve on Mizota and he goes down swinging! 3 out!

Bottom 2nd
Mizota getting a breather against the bottom of Toyokawa's lineup.  Yamada and Abe groundout on a total of 3 pitches.

Shima though, proves to be tougher.  2-2 count, fouls off a couple.

Grounder up 1st base line... Fair!!  Kinuta just a tad late and it's down the line!  Shima in with a double!

Nakamura up, looking to open the scoring with a base hit.

Nakamura gets around the inside pitch and pulls it to right!  It falls in front of Tateishi!  Shima waved around, throw home, cut off!!  Toyokawa takes the 1-0 lead on the 2-out timely by Nakamura!!

Sugiura grounder to 2nd.  Inoue there, but it takes a high hop!  He can't field it cleanly and his throw to 1st is not in time!  Base hit!

Toyokawa can't add any more though.  Himi grounds to 2nd and Inoue goes the short way for the 3rd out.

Top 3rd
Abe again gives up a lead runner as he walks Tsuji for the 2nd time.  And for the second time Inoue bunts him over.

And for the second time, Yoshida grounds to 2nd, advancing the runner.

Will Nakayama, for the second time, fly out to right?

As a matter of fact.  Yes!

Bottom 3rd
Takakuwa somehow extends out and then pulls the ball to left for a base hit.  That's a bit of strength needed there.  Itou bunts him to 2nd.

Actually, Mizota isn't doing all that badly considering that he's not wild, but missing location.  Of course, that has presented themselves it's own issues.

Takeichi though still can't get level on the ball and pops out to Inoue again.

Yamada a hard grounder, but right to Yoshida.  Goes to 1st and the side is retired.

Top 4th
It's also the battle of the ouen-dan's.  Toyokawa with the red background and the TK logo, while Riseisha with the blue-purple background and yellow block R.

Nishimura with their 4th leadoff runner in as many innings with a slicing single to left!

Hatta not showing bunt here, is Okada-kantoku changing things up?

Nope, Hatta lays it down on the 1-1 pitch instead.

Abe working outside to Kinuta, gets ahead 0-2...  gets him ahead of the change and pops it up!  Shima out in the grass makes the catch for the 2nd out.

Abe has really settled down too.  Despite the leadoff batter reaching every inning, he has held them in check.

And then Abe throws a wild pitch... Nishimura heads to 3rd...  Count though 2-2.


Tateishi can only watch as the slider goes over for strike 3!

Bottom 4th
Abe helping his cause!  Grounder to 3rd, gets an assist from a higher hop, and it goes over Tsuji's glove to right!

Shima tries to bunt, but winds up with 2 strikes.  Will he bunt?

Buster!  But hits it foul.

Nakamura blooper to center, Tateishi coming in, but can't get to it! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

The ball cues off to the right and gets by Tateishi!  Nakayama running to cover and Abe is sent home!  And now Nakayama can't field it!  Tateishi scores and Nakayama ends up and 2nd on the error!  2-0 Toyokawa!

And despite that not being a hard hit, and an error on the outfield #10 Nagatani comes in the game...

Nagatani not off to a great start, plunks Sugiura on the numbers.  He's tended to at 1st as Himi steps in.

No panic though.  Nagatani gets a fly ball from Himi for the 2nd out.

Takakuwa completely fooled on the 0-2 slider, has to make contact, and grounds to 2rd for the 3rd out.

Top 5th
Abe finally gets the leadoff batter out.  Nagatani grounds to short.

After another quick grounder, he almost gets a clean inning, but Inoue's grounder to 2nd is bobbled by Shima!  Throw to 1st is too late!

Yoshida grounder to 1st. Now Itou can't field the ball!  Abe hurries to cover but Yoshida gets there first!  2 errors and Riseisha has a small threat brewing!  Imai-kantoku calls for time.

Nakayama grounder to 2nd!  Shima looks to have it, goes to 1st..  3 out!

I'm sure they held their collective breath on that ball, but they get out of the inning with yet again, no damage.

Bottom 5th
Meanwhile Nagatani is doing Nagatani things.  Like striking out Itou on 3 straight.  And then following that up with a fastball on the corner to get Takeichi.

Yamada breaks it up with a first pitch sharp single through the left side.

And what's this?  Abe follows suit!  Toyokawa with their own mini threat with 2 down!

#9 Shima called to try and extend the lead...

Ball back up middle!  But it's just a shade too slow as Yoshida fields it and flips to Inoue for the 3rd out.

But Abe is doing a great job in relief holding Riseisha scoreless!  Toyokawa meanwhile has knocked ace Mizota out with the 2-0 lead and now has to deal with Nagatani!

Top 6th
Imai-kantoku figures that's enough for Abe and ace Tanaka enters the game to close it out!

But now it's Tanaka playing with fire!  He walks Nishimura to lead off the post-break action.

And now Abe walks Hatta??  Abe putting himself in a big pinch!

Kinuta lays down the bunt and Riseisha has the douten runner in scoring position!

Okuda-kantoku pulling out all stops, sending in #3 Miura to hit for Tateishi.

And he punishes one to deep left center!  Sugiura chasing it, but it falls in front of the wall!  Both will score and we have a new ballgame!  It's 2-2!!


Tanaka's pitch goes off of Himi's glove and to the backstop!  Miura takes 3rd!

Tanaka bearing down, gets Nagatani on nothing but sliders for the 2nd out.

Tsuji liner!  But right to Itou for the 3rd out.  But Riseisha has tied the game!!

Bottom 6th
#12 Kanaoka takes over in CF.

Nakamura with a ball to shallow left.  Nakayama coming in, slides, but the ball goes off his glove!  Nakamura reaches with a leadoff double and is moved to 3rd by Sugiura.

And perhaps they are walking Himi to get to the righty Takakuwa.

It works!  Takakuwa grounds to 2nd!  Inoue starts the 4... 6.... 3... double play to retire the side!

Top 7th
One down for Riseisha, and Yoshida hits a clean single through the left side.

And then Tanaka hits Nakayama!  Oh boy, he's not looking sharp at all.

Nishiyama clean single through the left side!  Yoshida rounding 3rd, being waved home!  Throw goes to the cutoff and just like that Riseisha has the lead!  It's 3-2!

Hatta base hit to center!  Nakayama holds at 3rd and it's manrui for Riseisha!

Imai-kantoku desperate to find an answer, calls time.

Kinuta has the answer for them!  He singles through the gap at 2nd!  Nakayama scores!  Hatta waved around, he scores!  Riseisha blowing Tanaka up here in relief!  They lead 5-2!!

Things continue to get worse as Tanaka walks Kanaoka on 4 straight and it's manrui yet again!!

Nagatani with a hard grounder to short!  Takakuwa bobbles it, but fires home to just get Hatta for the 2nd out.

Tanaka's inning finally comes to a close when Tsuji flies to left.  But Riseisha jumps not on Abe, but Tanaka!!

Bottom 6th
Itou tries to start a rally with a ball up the middle.  Takeichi showing bunt, but goes for the buster hit... flies out to right.

And the inning comes to a screeching halt as Yamada grounds into the 4-6-3 double play!

Top 7th
Imai-kantoku seeing the writing on the wall, puts in #13 Sugita to replace Tanaka on the mound.

Tries to work Inoue away, but leaves the fastball just over the plate. Inoue hits one to shallow left center!  Sugiura coming in , can't get there!  Inoue busting it out of the box, gets to 2nd!  Yoshioka bunts him along to 3rd.

Now #17 Tsujii comes to hit for Nakayama.  But he pops out to 1st.

Nishimura comes through again!  Base hit to left scores one more to make it 6-2.

Sugita trying to bring the game home, is struggling as well and walks Hatta...

Kinuta grounds to short to end the inning, but it looks like the game has been decided.

Bottom 8th
#16 Furutani comes in for PH Tsujii and goes to center.  Kanaoka moves to LF.

#18 Yamamoto to hit for Sugita, base hit to right.

One down for Nakamura and he gets his 4th hit of the game with a single through the left side.  Though after a pop out from Sugiura, it looks like another 0.

But Himi with a single through short scores Yamamoto to make it a 6-3 ballgame.  But there's still down 3.

Takakuwa first pitch single up middle into center!  Tokumoto whiffs on the ball!  He has to double back and Nakamura scores to make it 6-4!  That gets Okada-kantoku's attention, and he calls for time.

Itou looking to keep the momentum going.

Pops it up!  Tsune an Nakaguchi converging on the ball in foul territory, but no one calls for it!  It drops in foul and Itou's AB continues!

(Apologies for the commentary afterwards, I was trying to do my bowling league and my normal blogging.  So much happened in the last 2 innings of regulation, I lost track... and my mind.

My reactions are in italics...)


Itou swings on the next pitch and hits a gapper to left center!!  Himi scores!  Takakuwa running, takes 3rd on the double by Itou and it's 6-5!!


Toyokawa is only one run behind with the douten run just 90 feet away!  And the gyakuten run is at 2nd!!

And the Toyokawa ouen-dan, already loud, gets even louder as they can sense the comeback completing itself...

Takeichi taking his hacks, but behind 1-2...

Liner!!  It's back up the middle and into center!  Takakuwa scores!  Takeichi being waved around!  Throw from Tateishi.... NOT IN TIME!!!!


Toyokawa has somehow with 2 outs put together 5 runs and has taken the lead!!!!

IT'S 7-6 TOYOKAWA!!!!!!!!!

Yamada pops up to 2nd to end the inning, but Toyokawa is now 3 outs away from advancing to the final!!

Top 9th
Imai-kantoku sends in #17 Ookouchi to pitch.  But I look at my roster and he's an OF??  What about Ochiai?? (I learned later that he was sick and unavailable to pitch)

So if Ookouchi is pitching... does that mean they have no pitchers left??   I remember my first trip to Natsu Koushien back in 2006.  Teikyou trailed Chiben Wakayama 8-4 going into the top of the 9th.  They somehow went and scored 8 in the top of the 9th capped off with a PH 3-run HR.  That PH was for their pitcher.  And they had none left.  Try as they might, they couldn't find one to close the game.  Chiben Wakayama went on to win in sayonara fashion 13-12.

I began to wonder if this might end up the same way...  I felt helpless for Teikyou back then when I blurted out (much to the surprise of everyone) that they had no pitchers left.  I really didn't want to see that again now.

First two pitches are balls and same goes the 3rd.  Not terrible, but not in the zone either.

Finally a strike.

Oh no....

Kanaoka drives a ball to left!  Yamada going back to the fence!



First batter for Riseisha confirms my fears.  It's a douten HR for Kanaoka and we're at 7-7...

The question will be now, can they somehow find 3 outs?

There's one as Nagatani pops out to 2nd...

But each batter is a battle... After falling behind 3-0, he works the count full.

Yet still walks him...

There's 2... Inoue reaches out and pops a ball up to 3rd.  Nakamura makes the catch.

Yoshida up to try his hand at Ookouchi.

Tsuji takes off for 2nd!!  Throw in... not in time!  Gyakuten runner in scoring position!

So, Imai-kantoku elects to intentionally walk Furutani to get to Furutani.

But it's not Furutani, but #15 Fukuyama.  Okada-kantoku playing the lefty-righty matchup.

And like as if Imai-kantoku had a full bullpen, he makes a change!  It's 1B Itou who takes the hill!  #16 Satou comes in for reliever Ookouchi and goes to 1B.

What in the world is Imai-kantoku doing?  It's obvious he has no real pitchers left...  And yet he's laughing!  Really??  I guess maybe if you know you're already in this situation, and you put yourself in it, then I suppose you can.  But this is for a place in the finals!

And perhaps as expected, he's struggling - and yet having some success against the PH.  Count goes to 2-2 as Fukuyama fouls off a pair...


I have no idea what that pitch is, but Fukuyama chases it outside and somehow, someway, Toyokawa has gotten out of the inning!!

Bottom 9th
But given the bullpen stuations, it is tenuous at the very best.  If Toyokawa wants to win this game, they have to win now.  There's no way these emergency pitchers can hold on for much longer, and yes I know it's been just 1 inning, but it's the truth - especially against an offensively minded team such as Riseisha.

The bad part is that Toyokawa has their 8-9-1 hitters up. And looking at their roster, they are very low on options.  Imai-kantoku will have to run with what he has...

Riseisha on the other hand, has their bullets to use.  PH Fukuyama goes to 1B, Kinuta goes to 2B.  Inoue goes to RF, and Nishimura goes to CF.

First up, new 1B Satou.  He doesn't look totally outmatched, but the count falls to 1-2.

SANSHIN!  Nagatani goes inside with a fastball and Satou cannot catch up!

Shima first pitch swinging!  It's a dying ball to center..  Nishimura charging in... makes the running catch.  Quickly 2 down.

Last chance really in Nakamura, he's gotten on base all 5 times today.

Ball to left!  Kanaoka ranging to his right, in foul territory... makes the catch!

Side retired for Toyokawa, and they will have to survive another half inning.  But judging from the 2 bench players left, I don't think there's much they can do at this point.

Top 10th
And the inning ominously begins with Nishimura taking the first pitch through the left side, he's 5-5 with a walk now.  Hatta squaring to bunt, but Itou not giving him anything so far buntable.  And now Itou is behind 3-0....

Ball 4...  Oh boy....

Kinuta now squaring to bunt.  Lays it down.  Ah....

Nakamura slips charging in!  Throw to 1st, not in time!  Bunt base hit for Kinuta on the slip by Nakamura and Toyokawa is really in a world of trouble...

Time for Toyokawa as Tanaka comes out for Imai-kantoku.


The first pitch from Itou hits Kanaoka on the head, and that brings in a run.  8-7 Riseisha and a game that already appeared over, probably is now.

Imai-kantoku firing probably his last bullet.  Itou is leaving the mound, but who is replacing him? Even his own players are standing around wondering what's going on...

And it appears that C Himi will actually take the hill!  Itou goes back to 1B, and #12 Imai goes in Satou's place to work behind the plate.  The players are all laughing, and I suppose by this time now that's about as much as you can do given the circumstances.

At this point the only bench player left is IF #14 Yoshimura (Remember that Ochiai is unavailable due to illness).

Perhaps as expected, Himi struggles on the mound, falling behind Nagatani 3-1, but manages to fill up the count.

But his full count pitch goes way up and in, and it's a 9-7 game.

Tsuji chopper up middle!  Over Himi's head, and through the drawn in infield!  One run scores, Kanaoka being waved around!  Throw from Sugiura... not in time and it's 11-7...

Inoue tries to lay down the bunt, but Himi goes to 3rd and easily gets Nagatani for just the 1st out...

Yoshida chopper to left side.  Nakamura tries to play the hop, but it gets by him for a base hit.  Manrui yet again for Riseisha.

#12 Nakamura in to hit for Fukuyama.

First pitch fly down the right field line!  Takeichi sprinting over... reaches out... makes the catch!  He slips and falls, but Tsuji was going to tag up anyways.  12-7.

Nishimura up for his 2nd AB this inning. Yoshida takes off for 2nd, no throw.

Count runs full on Nishimura, chopper in front of the plate.  Himi charging in, quick throw... gets Nishimura to end the inning.  But as expected, Riseisha has blown it open.

Bottom 10th
Nakamura stays in to play 1B.

Sugiura trying to start the long road back with a single back up the middle.

Despite the deficit, the ouen-dan playing Ama-chan, and about as vocal as ever.  Just in case, #18 Honjyou for Riseisha is warming up.

Himi jammed inside, pops it up!  Kanaoka coming in to shallow left center, makes the catch for the 1st out.

Takakuwa at the plate now... he pops it up!  Nakamura under it in foul territory, and there's 2 down.

Itou the last chance for Toyokawa...

Fly to center.  Nishimura going back, still going back... stops...and makes the catch to end the game.

Toyokawa gave just about all it could give in this game, but just ran out of options at the end and thus fell short to Riseisha 12-7 here in 10.

It's too bad really as Toyokawa really did have a title contender on their hands.  But everything started when Imai-kantoku oddly enough put his ace pitcher in relief.  You can't fault him though, relief starter Abe had been playing with fire during all 5 innings of work.  You didn't want to keep him in the game too long, so putting in your ace to work the last 4 innings made sense.

What perhaps he might have though about in hindsight is that Riseisha could have been preparing for Tanaka all along.  And if so, putting him in would have been the worst thing he could have done.

It certainly seemed to be the case as Riseisha jumped n him for 5 runs.  And with Nagatani on the mound, it seemed like they had no shot.

Credit Toyokawa though, they didn't give up, they got to Nagatani and actually took the lead!

But it came at a high price...

Bringing back memories of a famous games 8 years ago, Imai-kantoku had pinch-hit for his last official pitcher as he was already down a pitcher due to illness.  He tried to patch a staff together with what he had left, and while they had given up lead, still had a chance to win the game in regulation.

And much like the Meitoku Gijyuku-Chiben Wakayama game, Toyokawa needed to win it in regulation.  This time around though it was not to be.  And Riseisha put the game away in enchousen.

I do hope to see Toyokawa back at Koushien again, but with Aichi as it is, it might be a tough thing to ask for.

As for Riseisha, they are the first team to enter the finals.  They certainly got their biggest scare today, and the more reliable Nagatani has shown his first cracks of weaknesses.  Will they be able to hold on for one more game to win the title??