Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 11, Semifinal 2 - Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) vs. Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)

Well, this was unexpected. So perhaps there's a chance for these teams. Maybe not. At the same time, I would have never expected to see Toukai Dai-yon in this spot. Not with Nishougakushadai Fuzoku, not with Tenri, and not with Kendai Takasaki.

And yet here they are. And I have no idea how they did it.

I mean the first game sure. Facing a 21st century school generally means success (sorry Nishougakushadai Fuzoku). But then you faced a Matsuyama Higashi team that for 7 innings dominated them - and then for no reason just tripped themselves up.

And then there's the Kendai Takasaki game. What universe were we in when that game was played? Kendai Takasaki by all metrics prolly had the advantage in pitching, speed, and with the bat. But for some reason they forgot all the rules about baserunning and their unforced errors resulted in an inexplicable 1-0 loss.

There's no way this continues against a team like Urawa Gakuin, right? Right?

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)
3B Suwa Tadayoshi
2B Dai Kouta
SS Tsuda Shouki
1B Yamazaki Kouta
CF Kouki Yuushi
RF Takahashi Tsukasa
LF Araki Yuuya
C Nishino Shinya
P Eguchi Shouri

Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
C Ogawa Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
P Oosawa Shiiya
3B Tachibana Susumu
CF Watase Taiki


13:50 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Dai with a 1-out double over Shiota's head, then a 2-out walk to Yamazaki makes things interesting as OOwaki-kantoku calls for time, but Oosawa gets Kouki to fly out to right.

Eguchi avoids the 1st inning slump, retires the side in order, though Toukai Dai-yon does square the ball well.

2nd Inning
Uh oh. Araki and Nishino with back to back hits on consecutive pitches and Urawa Gakuin is threatening again.

Eguchi hitting and a drive down the right field line to the wall! Araki scores and it's 1-0 Urawa Gakuin!

Contact play! Nishino goes on contact as Suwa hits to 2nd. Kanemura goes home...


Nice play by the Toukai defense to prevent another run from crossing.

Dai with a ball to the gap on the left side, Tachibana with it! Goes to first...


What a great play turned in by Tachibana to prevent another run! Admittedly Dai helped by diving, but you take what you can get.

Leadoff walk for Toukai Dai-yon, but as usual it ends up with a 2-out, runner on 3rd situation.

But wait! Oosawa with a single over a leaping Dai into center! Douten! 1-1.

And now there's a HBP.

And another walk! It's manrui for Toukai!

But Eguchi gets Tomita to ground to AHHHHHHHH!!!!

Dai fumbles on the ball, and his throw to 1st... LATE!!  Everyone's safe and Oosawa scores to give Toukai Dai-yon the 2-1 lead!!

3rd Inning
My ultaportable became fussy again, so I'll need to catch up.

Tsuda drives a ball to de left over Shiota's head for a double.  Yamazaki not bunting flies out to left.

Kouki liner, off Oosawa's glove! But it's right to Tomita! He adjusts and makes the catch, and Tsuda is dead meat! He's doubled off on the 1-6 unassisted double play!

Meanwhile Eguchi gets a well needed 1-2-3 inning.

4th Inning
The 4th inning comes and goes with little fanfare. Both pitchers go 1-2-3 and take a breather.

5th Inning
Eguchi gets his 2nd hit, a ball through the right side for a single. Mori-kantoku will play for the run and has Suw bunt.

But once again, it's just fly balls for Urawa as both Dai and Tsuda fly out.

Toukai gets a lead runner on as well as Eguchi takes a walk.

Oowaki-kantoku sends him! Throw from Nishino... just late! Toukai with a chance!

Tomita liner, but Yamazaki has it!

And so Oowaki-kantoku calls for the bunt and gets it, but with 2 outs the chances are slim, and Yamamoto just hits it back to Eguchi.

If I thought that the first game was unbelievable, this game is just as much so! How is Toukai Dai-yon leading??!!

6th Inning
Another leadoff runner for Urawa Gakuin, Yamazaki the douten runner with a single back up the middle. Kouki bunts him along.

Takahashi can't even move him along, but Oosawa makes it more difficult with a walk.

Oosawa strikes out Nishino though and the inning is over.

Yet again more baserunners to leadoff the inning. Ogawa with a single to right. Sou bunts him over as every run counts.

Shiota strikes out, but the ball gets away from Nishino! Shiota is able to take 1st, and Ogawa heads to 3rd!


Oosawa shows bunt, and the defense isn't prepared! Suwa with the ball, checks home, nothing. Checks first, too late!! Nishino told Suwa to go to 1st, but he hesitated and is lost! It's 3-1 Toukai Dai-yon on the successful squeeze!!

Eguchi retires the next 2 batters, but now it's a 2-run margin and Urawa Gakuin has been unable to do anything.

7th Inning
Oh boy, Urawa Gakuin is pressing. Oosawa just needs 6 pitches to retire the side in the Lucky 7.

Meanwhile Toukai continues to apply the pressure! Tomita bloops one to left.

After a bunt, Yamamoto singles to right, but it's too hard to drive the run in.

Ogawa wants the sac fly, but he hits it too shallow to left and Tomita can't score. One more fly and the runners are left stranded.

8th Inning
Urawa swinging for the big hit with just 6 outs to go. Yamazaki deep drive to right, but Yamamoto is there.

Kouki another drive, this time to left. Shiota running back, sprinting, reaches out... and makes the catch! Toukai Dai-yon just 3 outs away!!

As for Toukai Dai-yon, Ooswaa gets yet another single but otherwise will play hold-on in the 9th!

9th Inning
Defensive change as Shiota, who was hit for by #5 Saitou, is replaced by #16 Sakou.

#15 Araya to hit for Takahashi.

Liner top shallow left! Sakou charging in. Dives, rolls...

HAS THE CATCH!!!!  Sakou sold out on that dive, because if that gets through, it's a triple for sure! But it's not because he makes the catch!!

Not over yet! Araki singles to left.

#14 Ozawa to hit for Nishino.

He singles through the right side! The douten runner is on! And Eguchi is up!

But he pops up the first pitch!! Infield fly is called as Tomita makes the catch! 2 out!

Suwa fly to center! Watase is there! Under it! Makes the catch!!


They avenge a mercy-rules loss in the Meji Jingu Tournament in the biggest way, and when it matters most!!   A Hokkaido team is going to the senbatsu finals for the first time since Hokkai in 1953!!

One could argue that Urawa Gakuin shot themselves in the foot with Dai's error in the 2nd to give Toukai Dai-yon the lead, and that is true. However, you can also argue that Toukai Dai-yon played about a well-executed game as they could have. They had the leadoff runner on 4 of the 8 innings, and scored on 2 of those occasions.

Of course, it helps when on both of those scoring occasions Oosawa was at bat.

What puzzles me is how Urawa Gakin couldn't generate any offense at all. Yes they struggled to score runs before, but you'd expect more than one against a team from Hokkaido. I'm afraid I can't place it at all other than perhaps poor game planning?

It is certainly disappointing to not have reached the finals. And in a prefecture like Saitama, anything can happen on the way to the title. The offense will need to take strides to prevent something like this from happening again, not to mention Eguchi's random control issues that lead to his walks and hit batters. Limiting those will certainly help his team out.

But let's congratulate Toukai Dai-yon for defeating both Kendai Takasaki and Urawa Gakuin! Now comes their biggest test yet - Tsuruga Kehi. And they seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.

Day 11, Semifinal 1 - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka)

If you're wondering where Day 10 went, I'm counting the rest day as a day. Seeing a day 9 and 10 makes me think that there's no break, then I have to realize they're talking about actual game days.

Anyways, we are one day away from finding out who our spring champion is for 2015. I have to wonder if that may already have been decided.

Think about this. Over the last 3 calendar years, Osaka Touin has been to Koushien 5 times, the only time they didn't make it was senbatsu last year.

Of those 5 appearances, they have won it all 3 times.

And the times they did not win?
  • 2013 Summer - They lost in the 3rd round to Meitoku Gijyuku (Kishi Jyunichirou, now at Takushoku Daigaku)
  • 2013 Spring - They lost in the 3rd round to Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Fujita Ryuuji, now at Rikkyou Daigaku)
That's just mindboggling. You want to talk about a dominant program? This is Exhibit A.

I already had mentioned before the tournament started that I found it surprising with Tanaka's peripherals that Osaka Touin hadn't gone farther in the Kinki Super-Regionals. What I think we should have learned from before is that none of those titles matter - well, it doesn't matter if you are really looking at the main prize of winning senbatsu. Same thing goes for the Meiji Jingu tournament. Seriously, if you were the Kinki representative and if you winning the Meiji Jingu tournament would somehow allow Osaka Touin in, would you actually try to win?

Either way, they're here, and they're 2 games away from winning it (again).

Of course, that close game proved that they were vulnerable, unlike other times. The offense is not as explosive as usual, but can still give pop, which counts for something. Tanaka isn't a full-blown ace, but he's not average either.

Tsuruga Kehi is still a question mark. Outside of the first game, which was about as dominant a 3-0 game could be, they have squeaked by their opposition. Their offense is uneven and even small-ball based outside of Hiranuma, which puts a lot of pressure on Hiranuma to keep the score low. Now, chances are that freaky 5th inning versus Shizuoka probably won't happen since some of it I figure was weather-based. But, when facing Sendai Ikuei, he started showing signs of breaking down. Osaka Touin will no doubt push him to his limit.

Grudgingly, I still favor Osaka Touin. I hope my same friend is right in that Tsuruga Kehi will win this game, but I have my doubts.

Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
3B Shinohara Ryou
2B Nakai Kidzuku
SS Hayashinaka Yuuki
P Hiranuma Shouta
CF Yamamoto Kouta
RF Matsumoto Teppei (#17)
1B Ueda Ryouya
C Kamon Yuusuke
LF Kinoshita Shougo (#9)

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
3B Nakayama Yuuto
2B Nagahiro Tomoki
RF Fujii Kenpei
CF Aoyagi Kouki
C Taniguchi Kazuki
SS Fukuda Kouki
1B Yoshizawa Kazuto (#12)
LF Harada Tomoki (#3)
P Tanaka Seiya


11:03 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Shinohara really holding firm at the plate, taking a close pitch to get the count full. And is rewarded with a base hit through the right side. Naturally, Tsuruga Kehi goes with the bunt.

They're really going with the patience game here. Teams do not seem to be doing that a lot, so it's a surprise Azuma-kantoku has done it here. But it's working as Hayashinaka draws a walk.

Hiranuma also goes to the max on Tanaka.  But Tanaka wins on a high fastball! 2 down.

That leaves it to Yamamoto. And they are as patient as, aw... I wrote myself into a corner. Anyways, he again is not trigger happy and he draws a walk! The bases are loaded!!

Matsumoto playing the same game, but Tanaka gets ahead for the first time 1-2, then throws a pitch way up and in to waste it.



Whoo hoo!!!!  Did that just happen? Matsumoto drives a pitch to left and while the outfielders run back, they know it's gone! It's 4-0 Tsuruga Kehi!!

There's the 3rd out, but man that is a great start for the Hokushinetsu champs!

Meanwhile Hiranuma sits down the Osaka Touin order. Gets some help from Kinoshita who makes a catch right at the 3rd base fence.

2nd Inning
What the heck? Tanaka is still getting rocked! Back to back gappers score another run and it's 5-0!

Osaka Touin getting something back as a grounder to short from Nakai gets the runner out at 3rd. Heads up play by Fukuda.

Hayashinaka with a ball the other way slicing down the line fair! And it gets by Fujii! Nakai scores and it's 6-0!

Tsuruga Kehi still making Tanaka pitch. Another walk. Another walk.  Manrui?!!

NO. NO F****IN WAY!!!!!




It's 10-0 Tsuruga Kehi and Tanaka is finally pulled. #11 Takayama comes in to take over and gets the last out.

Now, you may think I'm happy Osaka Touin is getting hammered. I am. But I'm not necessarily happy in the sense that the camera focuses on Tanaka and while he's getting instruction, he's holding back tears. You know he's going to be strong because 高校野球, but even I know at the end these are still kids. You can't tell me that that won't affect him. It could break him and we may not see him in the summer. He could work harder and get even stronger than before. But this is a moment for him and I do honestly feel sorry for him.

When I root against a school I root against the uniform, never the player.

Nothing going right for Osaka Touin. They get their first hit, then go down as Fukuda lines into a 3 unassisted double play.

3rd Inning
Tsuruga Kehi still getting base hits, but it's singles, not doubles and HRs. Takayama though gets out with no damage.

I'd remove Hiranuma, but this is still Osaka Touin, and Harada just hit a 1-out triple to deep left.

Hiranuma though can pitch aggressively and retires Takayama and Nakayama to strand the runner.

4th Inning
There will be no 3 consecutive manrui HRs as Matsumoto comes in with just a runner on 2nd.

Takayama finally sits him down catching him looking on a fastball just on the outside edge.

About the only thing of note as Ueda flies out is that he's the only one without a hit (0-3), while Yamamoto doesn't have an official AB (0-0, 2 BB, Sac bunt)

Huh, CF Yamamoto loses a fly ball to center and Nagahiro has a leadoff double. But three fly balls later, and the side is retired. Yamamoto does find the ball this time around for the 3rd out.

5th Inning
I've never seen Osaka Touin as cooked as they are now. Nakayama makes not 1, but 2 errors helping load the bases. With Hiranuma out, Takayama gets him to fly out to left. Thankfully for all sides, not another manrui HR.

Side retired in order for Osaka Touin. We're at the break and there's really little to say. The rest of the game may take just a couple of paragraphs.

6th Inning+
Players are being subbed in periodically by both teams. Nishitani-kantoku is giving his bench pitchers #11 Takayama an inning then passing it on to #10 Matsui.

Matsui unfortunately hits Nakai on the head. We have had more pitches hit off of players heads this year than I can remember in all the years past.

Nakayama almost has a 3rd error when his throw short hops Harada, but he stays with it and recatches the ball just in time for the 3rd out in the 7th.

Tsuruga Kehi doing situational play. Some sac bunts, and even a squeeze bunt in the 8th that scores 1. 11-0. But while it is validly pointed out that this is a non-leverage situation it's still practice.

Though by the 8th Hiranuma needs to go to a different position at least. He doesn't need to throw any more this game - even if he's at 90 starting the 8th.

But in true 高校野球 form, he finishes the game. Out of defiance maybe Fukuda give the ball one final drive, but perhaps the hamakaze knocks it down and Mori has it for the final out.

There really wasn't much to say after the first 2 innings. Tsuruga Kehi made Tanaka throw strikes, and when he did he was hit hard. When does a batter have 2 consecutive manrui HRs in a game. When does a a player get 2 manrui HRs in a Koushien??

Tsuruga Kehi, who had appeared to struggle on offense, just methodically dismantled the #1 team over the last 3 years.

And like I mentioned before, Tanaka finally lets the tears come out after the game. How can you not after giving up 10 runs in less than 2 innings of work? Was it wrong of Nishitani-kantoku to leave him in? Prolly not in Japanese terms. Being relieved like that after the work he's done would lose face.

But this is pretty bad.

No doubt though we'll see them back at Koushien, and Nishitani-kantoku will have them ready. Just hope Tanaka will be ok.

Tsuruga Kehi now has to be the front-runner to win after this game. They executed a strategy that I advocate to no end, but never see. Making a pitcher hang themselves. And it worked.

Please do it more often, underdog teams in 高校野球. It works.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 9, Semifinal 4 - Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido) vs. Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

And to round out the long day, we'll get something that will probably be a lot less exciting (sorry Toukai Dai-yon).

Kendai Takasaki is probably the best we've seen them since they've broken onto the Koushien scene. We knew them for their speed on the basepaths. It was like as if they had a full team of Johnsons (if you can get that reference, good for you).

But now the team is different. They have an ace in Kawai, the speed isn't their main point, but they still use it in strategic ways. The end result is a team that actually can win the whole thing.

The same cannot be said for Toukai Dai-yon. They eked out a win against a very game Matsuyama Higashi when they put together 1 big inning. But Oosawa is vulnerable on the mound and the team struggles for offense.

I'll be surprised if it's not a one-sided game.

Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
C Ogawa Kouhei
3B Tachibana Susumu
P Gon Towon (#11)
CF Watase Taiki

Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)
CF Kasuga Yuuma
SS Hayashi Kenya
C Tsuge Sena
3B Shibahiki Ryousuke
2B Souma Yuuto
1B Ooshima Kyouhei
RF Satou Nozomu
LF Yanagimoto Eiji (#15)
P Hashidzune Naoya (#10)


16:15 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Since both teams played yesterday, it's no surprise both teams have gone to their bullpens for bench starters on the mound.

So this is a thing. Hashidzume throws from multiple arm angles. I see a sidearm, a submarine, and an overhand. If he can locate from all areas, how do you read that as a batter??!!

Tomita scoffs at it with a leadoff single. But they try the sac bunt, which fails. The next 2 batters go down, including Sou, who strikes out looking.

Hayashi gets a base hit and we'll see this tactical speed in action. He has a very long lead.

He takes off, the throw does get there, but Hayashi just beats it out.

Flyout to left by Tsuge, and Hayashi tries to tag up! Throw from Shiota nails him!

That's a gutsy call, but if you have the speed, there's times to try it. Early on as a surprise tactic, why not?

2nd Inning
Somehow, Toukai Dai-yon's batters are at least seeing the ball to make good contact. But they're still going down in order.

Now Gon reminds me of Engaru and ace Satou who threw really slow but whose fastball and offspeed pitches were similar speeds. That's not quite the case with him, but he throws really slow. Like 110s slow.

But if you do that, your defense will need to be good.

As I think that Shibahiki and Souma put back to back hits and threaten to open the scoring.

They pick off Shibahiki! I've never seen 1 team continue to have this many baserunning mistakes.

Toukai Dai-yon returns the favor! Ooshima's grounder goes 5-hole on Tachibana for an error. Doesn't hurt through as Tachibana fields the next one and makes the play for the out. But for Kendai Takasaki, there's being aggressive, and there's just being not smart.

3rd Inning
1-2-3 for Hashidzume. Ho hum.

And yet another pickoff of a Kendai Takasaki runner. Is this some kind of strategy where you lull the other team to sleep with base running mistakes then suddenly do everything right late? Because otherwise, this doesn't makes sense.

4th Inning
Kanemura with a leadoff single. But no bunting, and the next 3 batters are retired.

The MBS announcers explain that they're doing Haisai Oji-san because Shibahiki is from Okinawa. If you're any fan, you know where that comes from. You don't need it explained.

Anyways, Shibahiki hits a sharp ball that Tachibana smothers, but has no play on. And after Souma singles up the middle, Oowaki-kantoku calls time.

The VERY first pitch after the time out. 4-6-3 double play. Inning over. WTF.

5th Inning
Ogawa with a base hit to right for another leadoff runner. This time Oowaki-kantoku calls for the bunt.

Now #15 Yoshida will hit for Gon, and ace Oosawa is warming up.

Ball to right... falls in for a base hit! It gets by the outfield and to the wall! Ogawa scores as Yoshida.. is at 1st??!!

Did he miss the bag? He should at least be on 2nd. Not sure what happened there.

And if he was on 3rd, that liner top left by Watase might have scored him. But it's just an out, and Tomita goes down as well.

Now, how do you go from trying to time a ball at 110 to one at 130? Might be difficult to do.

Ooshima does hit a shallow liner, but Watase seems to be in the right place to make the catch. As for Yanagimoto and Hashidzume? Well, they get sat down is what happens to them.

Well, this isn't the game I expected. I figured Kendai Takasaki would run laps around Toukai Dai-yon, but instead it's Toukai Dai-yon that has the lead!

6th Inning
Ace Kawai takes the hill for Hashidzume. Also, #14 Higa comes in for Yanagimoto.

You don't see that everyday. Grounder from Yamamoto goes off Hayashi right to Shibahiki's glove, who then fires to 1st for the routine 6-5-3 putout.

The first inning of work for Kawai goes without a hitch.

Same goes fort Oosawa as well. I think the batters' timings are all off. He tallies 2 more Ks.

7th Inning
Outfield umpires are now in play.

Shiota with a leadoff single. Bunt, grounder to opposite side puts him at 3rd. But Oosawa can't get the key hit.

Oosawa perhaps a bit careful with Shibahiki and walks him to start.

Souma hits a double play ball, but Kanemura doesn't field it cleanly and then compounds it with a late throw that goes awry. But Ogawa is heads up and throws to 2nd where they get Souma!

Still, the douten runner is at 3rd.

Satou with a popup to shallow right. Sou takes it, and instead of throwing to 3rd where Shibahiki is baiting him, he smartly runs it in.

Ooshima grounds to 2nd! Oosawa's going to get out of this jam!

8th Inning
2 down for Kawai and he issues a walk.

Yamamoto with a pop to shallow left. Higa with the diving attempt, but he doesn't make the catch! Runners on 2nd and 3rd and they may just get a key insurance run.

Nope! Sou continues to struggle at the plate as he K's for the 3rd time this game!

Kendai Takasaki with the counter! Higa just chopping at the ball and sees it through the left side for a base hit.

Oh no! Kawai bunts it to Oosawa! It's a 1-6-3 double play!!

Also, has anyone else noticed that after the Toukai aces throw the eephus things go wrong afterwards? Because Kasuga on the next pitch gets a base hit.

Hayashi flies out to center though, and no harm done for Toukai Dai-yon. What has happened to Kendai's offense??

9th Inning
Toukai Dai-yon goes in order, and now it's hang on time! Kendai Takasaki does have their 3-4-5 batters up this inning.

Tsuge with a no-no! He lets the fastball go on the outside corner for strike 3!

Shibahiki on base for his 4th time with a base hit up the middle. Last chances, so #17 Miyamoto comes in to run for Shibahiki.

Souma ball to left. It sounded good, and Shiota is backpedaling, but he makes the catch for the 2nd out.

Satou the last chance!

Flyball to left! Shiota running back! Still running back!  Makes the catch as he puts his hands in the air!

What just happened??!! Toukai Dai-yon defeats Kendai Takasaki 1-0!!

I'm just speechless. Kendai Takasaki looked like a serious contender after defeating Tenri. And yet, despite both teams on 0 days rest, they fail to score a run against the Hokkaido champs?! There's no offense meant to Toukai Dai-yon, but it's just that outside of Komadai Tomakomai, teams from Hokkaido haven't really fared well, and there was no indication that this year would be any different.So for a team that had good pitching, and overall team speed to lose like this is shocking.

But given the context of the game, they almost deserved it. They had baserunning mistakes throughout all their games. They didn't have it before. Is it discipline? Skill? What was it about the prior teams that this team didn't have? Because they gave free outs to Toukai Dai-yon.

There's got to be some self-reflection here. They had an easier path to the Koushien final, and just frittered it away.

But congratulations have to go to Toukai Dai-yon. I'm not sure anyone had this outcome, and unless you're a fan of the school and you say you did, I have a bridge to sell you.

So... instead of a revenge match between Kendai Takasaki and Urawa Gakuin from the Kanto super-regional.... we have a revenge match between Toukai Dai-yon and Urawa Gakuin from the Meiji Jingu tournament where Toukai Dai-yon lost 10-0?

Ok, I'll give you this game Toukai Dai-yon. Not sure I can give you next one.

Day 9, Quarterfinal 3 - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) vs. Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)

Onto our matinee games on the other half of the bracket.

Urawa Gakuin has played Ryuukokudai Heian close and took an opening volley from Oomagari Kougyou. For the Meiji Jingu runners-up, it's not very impressive. The one positive you can take is that they seem to be rounding into form. It's still not as dominant as you'd like, but they could still make the run you'd be expecting.

Kengifushou has had an easier time of things, easily handling both Matsushou Gakuen and Oumi. The games were close on the scoreboard, but they were anything but on the field. It also means that they have not been tested on the field yet. Urawa Gakuin will be by far their biggest challenge. Ace Takahashi could be up to the challenge, and with Urawa Gakuin's offensive production the way it is, we could be poised for another interesting game.

Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu)
LF Murai Shouma
RF Hirose Masaru
3B Takegoshi Hiroyuki
LF Yamada Youta
C Katou Jyunya
1B Murahashi Kazuaki
SS Oono Rikuo
P Takahashi Shunpei
2B Sakashita Reon

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)
3B Suwa Tadayoshi
2B Dai Kouta
SS Tsuda Shouki
1B Yamazaki Kouta
CF Kouki Yuushi
RF Takahashi Tsukasa
LF Araki Yuuya
C Nishino Shinya
P Eguchi Shouri


14:05 - First Pitch

1st Inning
Eguchi cannot throw a strike! 4 pitch walk to Murai, and after a sac bunt, another 4 pitch walk to Takegoshi!

But ahead 3-1 Yamada swings away! WHY? Make him throw the 2nd strike! He pops up to 3rd.

And with Katou striking out, Eguchi gets away with a lot.

Dai gets a base hit for Urawa Gakuin, but Mori-kantoku's hit-and-run backfires when it turns into a strike em out, throw em out double play.

2nd-3rd Inning
And now we seem to enter the pitcher's duel. Eguchi has settled down after his very shaky 1st inning striking out 2 at the bottom of the order.

It continues to the 3rd inning where Eguichi racks up 2 more K's. And while batter are making contact off of Takahashi, he's probably having the better of it for Kengifushou because he's using less pitches.

4th Inning+
I'm just putting a plus in because this will just be running thoughts. Or a whole lot of nothing.

Which is what both teams are doing right now. Kengifushou can't hit the broad side of a barn against Eguchi, and while Takahashi is giving up the occasional free pass, it's nothing that isn't handled.

Sure, Kouki got a booming foul that ended up in the ouen-dan section, but it was still foul. And he still struck out.

Now, Urawa finally has something in the 5th when Takahashi gets a leadoff single. But weirdly, they don't bunt with the bottom of the order. See, I mind when teams over-bunt. This would not be such a situation because you know this is going to be a close game.

But Araki doesn't pull the trigger on a ball on the outside corner.

Nishino has a liner to right, but Sakashita makes a great leaping catch. And Eguchi can't help his own cause either.

So, at the break we're deadlocked at 0. Urawa Gakuin is having the better of it at the plate, as they're at least getting opportunities.

Urawa has another chance in the 6th. Suwa drops the safety bunt and though Takahashi barehands it, he still can't make the throw to 1st in time.

But after a sac bunt, Urawa Gakuin can't get that 2nd hit. Tsuda grounds to short, and Yamazaki just hits one back to Takahashi.

Huh, I was focused on the fact that neither team was really doing anything that I finally paid attention to the fact the announcers were saying Eguchi had a no-hitter.

And then Yamada drops one just inches in front of Kouki for a base hit. Heh.

Nishino snap throw to 1st... OUT!!!

Heh. The umpire takes his sweet time, but the call is emphatic. Yamada can only drop his head as he's picked off.

And then it becomes a 1-2-3 Lucky 7.

Uh oh. Takahashi might be cracking in Urawa's Lucky 7.

Back-to-back line shots to the outfield put runners at the corners and a timeout from Ogawa-kantoku.

Oh, Katou wanted that pitch. 0-2 to Araki gets no call.

And wouldn't you know it Araki takes the next pitch back up the middle past a diving Sakashita for a base hit. 1-0 Urawa Gakuin.,

Urawa tries the squeeze, but Nishino has to do all that he can just to foul off the pitch. He eventually strikes out, but it's a hit and run, so Araki takes 2nd with no throw (Takahashi is standing on 3rd).

Eguchi manages to hit a ball to left center that Murai runs down for a catch, but is in no position to throw home. Takahashi tags up, and it's 2-0.

Ace Takahashi has had it. Suwa singles to center and it's 3-0. Ogawa-kantoku calls time, but I Kengifushou might be on their last legs now.

Dai would have had a base hit had not Murahashi stopped the ball in front of him. Makes the tag and the side is retired. But 3 runs? Good luck with that.

8th Inning
Oh, and did I mention that they have 6 outs to make the comeback?

Takahashi gets the team's 2nd hit with a ball to right center.

And contrary to the official scorer, that wasn't an error on Kariya's ball to short. It was an irregular hop and should be a single.

And for the 2nd time, down multiple runs and 2 runners on base, with 1 out - they bunt. Oy.

Hirose hits a ball into the triangle in left center, but Tsuda makes the running catch. Down to their final 3 outs now. Still don't understand that strategy.

Back-to-back doubles for Urawa Gakuin just add to the sign that Takahashi should be humanely relieved. Yes, there's only 3 outs to go, but there's no character building in this.

Takahashi gives up 1 more run, but gets the 3 outs. Guess that's not too bad.

9th Inning
That's just not right. After a leadoff single by Takegoshi, Yamada lines out to Yamazaki who just moves his foot to the bag to double up Takegoshi.

Katou gets a base hit, but PH Makimura hits one back to Eguchi to end the game.

Takahashi did well to hold off Urawa Gakuin for 6 innings, but eventually the deluge came and he couldn't stop it. With just 5 hits they have a lot of work to do. But if Takahashi can improve his stamina, they'll stand a better chance.

Meanwhile, I have no clue what Mori-kantoku is doing over there at Urawa Gakuin, but he's making pitchers who throw average into staff aces - except for perhaps the 1st inning... and that Sendai Ikuei game. Still don't understand that crazy game.

Anyways, Eguchi will need that day off because in all likelihood it's Kendai Takasaki in the semifinals. Which coincidentally was when they played in the Kanto super-regionals. You know they've been circling this possible matchup as a revenge match.

Day 9, Quarterfinal 2 - Shizuoka (Shizokua) vs. Tsuriga Kehi (Fukui)

And now to our 2nd quarterfinal. one of the main dangers in the field is still alive in Tsuruga Kehi. Hiranuma had supposedly been injured in the fall, and I had questions coming into Koushien, but he allayed them first up. Their last game though brought back some other concens.

Mainly, is his stamina at 100%? He started cracking late against the Meiji Jingu champs, though once you're facing a lineup for the 3rd or 4th time, the batter might start having the advantage in the matchup. So perhaps it's that, but seeing Sendai Ikuei with chances late is concerning, and he's only got 1 full day's rest.

The question for Shizuoka is can Muraki continue to walk the tightrope. He gave up 14 hits to Kisaradzu Sougou, but just 2 runs. I can't see that happening today and getting a win.

Shizuoka (Shizuoka)
RF Suzuki Shouhei
2B Ooshi Tomoki
CF Uchiyama Shun
C Horiuchi Kengo
SS Yasumoto Ryuuji
1B Hirano Hidemaru
LF Hirose Shun
P Muraki Fumiya
3B Sanpei Shinya (#13)

Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
3B Shinohara Ryou
2B Nakai Kidzuku
SS Hayashinaka Yuuki
P Hiranuma Shouta
CF Yamamoto Kouta
LF Kinoshita Shougo (#9)
1B Ueda Ryouya
C Kamon Yuusuke
RF Mori Shigeki (#7)


11:15 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Hiranuma with a uncharacteristic walk to start the game. But that gets wiped out by a 5-4-3 double play. A popout later and it's perhaps business as usual.

Shinohara grounder to short and Yasumoto flubs on the ball. E6 to start the game.

As usual, a bunt, but then there's 2 out for Hiranuma.

And there you go.

Hiranuma with a rare drive to right for a 2-run HR and Tsuruga Kehi quickly leads 2-0.

2nd Inning
Well, whatever ailed Hiranuma in the 1st is gone. Tack on 2 Ks in a clean inning,

More errors from Shizuoka. Sanpei makes a great diving stop then throws the ball pretty much into the stands. Sac bunt and then a base hit from Kamon makes it 3-0.

And I have no idea what Muraki was thinking trying to let a ball roll foul when it's been raining. It of course stops in fair territory.

Single loads the bases, but somehow Muraki strikes out Nakai and Muranaka to get out without further damage.

3rd Inning
Hiranuma still having some control issues, but I think this is more due to the rain than fatigue as he's not leaving anything dead center.

That and nothing's leaving the infield. At this point I'll assume he's on cruise control until I see otherwise.

Pitching change already as #10 Muramatsu comes in for Muraki.

Gets a dribbler from Hiranuma (that's a win), and then strikes out Yamamoto. Not a bad start.

But now here the gapper from Kinoshita to right center. The good feeling might be over.

Ueda with a similar ball to left. Hirose running, sliding, and makes the catch. That's a save if they ever needed one.

4th Inning
Suzuki gets the first hit for Shizuoka, but after a sac bunt, nothing doing.

For Tsuruga Keh. switching to the southpaw muramatsu seems to have muted their offense. Kamon gets his 2nd hit, but they too can't do anything after a sac bunt.

5th Inning
Horiuchi with a single through the left side. And now another walk.

Hirano with a buntto the right side and there's miscomunication. Ueda and Hiranuma bump into each other and there's no play. Manrui with no down!

But Hirose's attempt at a sac fly fails as it's too short.

And so Kuribayashi-kantoku goes for a squeeze?! It somehow works and it's 3-1, but there's 2 outs.

Hiranuma strikes out Sanpei to end the inning.

No, wait. There's an appeal and it was a foul instead of just a swing? So they call him back.

And now he hits a ball to center. Yamamoto going back, and it's off his glove and falls in! So somehow a strikeout that wasn't leads to a tie game?! 3-3.

Tsuruga Kehi gets retired in order and suddenly we're back to where we started. Yikes if you're for Tsuruga Kehi.

But now the rain is coming down harder and the teams will have to wait it out as the groundscrew try to put some type of diamond dry on the field. I think we're in a delay.

6th Inning
After about 30 minutes or so, the teams retake the field. After about an inning, my ultaportable laptop decided to not be frozen anymore.

But the inning was uneventful anyways. Any momentum Shizuoka had had disappeared so I think it's just like a 4 inning,(well, now 3) sprint to the finish.

7th Inning
Yasumoto with a ball to left center. Yamamoto tries to make a sliding catch, but can't make it and Shizuoka has a double. The usual sac bunt moved him to 3rd.

And the squeeze bunt fails, and the runner is out. And soon enough the inning is over.

The squeeze bunt still lives in 高校野球. Maybe not as much, but it's still there.

Shinohara with a one out soft single to center. At this point, Tsuruga Kehi will take anything.

Boy, they are really pressing. A failed bunt and then a caught stealing? If you weren't convinced their offense perhaps wasn't as good as you thought, this might cement it.

8th Inning
Leadoff walk for Muramatsu. This was about the time Hiranuma became hittable - though that was Sendai Ikuei.

He gets a break when Sanpei hits it back to him for a 1-6-3 double play. Toss in a K, and Shizuoka's chance is gone.

Hayashinaka with a base hit, and Hiranuma bunts. That basehit might have been the best thing to happen to Shizuoka.

Tomoki saves a run as he climbs the ladder and high points Yamamoto's liner! That would have easily scored 1.

Kuribayashi-kantoku calls for time.

Looks like the message was, if you fall behind, 1st base is open. And indeed there is a walk.

Ueda pops out! He's left hitless as Tomoki makes the catch to end the inning!

9th Inning
Shizuoka is back to being ineffective against Hiranuma. Not that  when they were scoring the runs on solid hits anyways.

Uh oh, Muramatsu walks Mori with 1 down. Will they bunt?

Nope! First pitch flyout to right and we're about to head to enchousen!

I think though that Muramatus wants to make it interesting. 3-0 to Nakai becomes 3-2... and now a walk.

Kuribayashi-kantoku calls for time.

Oh, that sucks. Muramatsu misses on one pitch and Hayashinaka drives it to right. The infield is in, and that will fall in for a sayonara hit. Tsuruga Kehi wins at the death 4-3.

Well, I suppose it was going to suck at this point no matter when Shizuoka lost, but just 1 out from enchousen and things just fall apart.

But from the last couple of innings you had the feeling that while both teams were pressing, Tsuruga Kehi was having better success. And so I guess the ending could have been expected.

Muramatsu really did his best after being pressed into service early. I think he perhaps was reaching his limit, especially facing a team like Tsuruga Kehi. They were fortunate in scoring the runs they did because otherwise the offense struggled - as one would expect. I'm not sure if the break did benefit Hiranuma or not because he certainly didn't give in near the end.

But the offensive woes continue. It was a slog after Hiranuma's early HR, and it's like the rest of the team plays like a rural qualifer. That just won't do, and facing Osaka Touin next means that Hiranuma will be pressed hard to keep the score low.

Day 9, Quarterfinal 1 - Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka)

Before I go on with the commentary, I'll be making a chance to how I do things, though the timing perhaps isn't as good.

Trying to cover the first 2 rounds inning by inning isn't bad necessarily, however when you hit a blowout status, or even just a 1-sided game, trying to make interesting commentary becomes about as bad as some of the commentators on MBS/NHK.

Also, over the years I have become noticeably more bitter watching games. It's not that I don't like 高校野球 now. It's just that I've becomed more seasoned, and more knowledgeable. And the purity and joy that I loved so much isn't quite there.

What the success of Osaka Touin and Nichidai-san has shown, and the story of Kousei Gakuin (now Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei) has shown is that much like in college basketball, there may be some upsets, but in the end it's generally the national powerhouses that continue to win. Even if you're Tenri or Nihon Bunri, or Mie, or Kanzei, or or or.. more often than not you'll get there, but not go far.

And when it comes to games here at Koushien, this year is an anomaly, but there is a clear dilenation of tiers between teams because there is a clear delineation of regions. It's just that this year it was so severe and coincidentally by strength of region that it's just funny. No Kyushu, no Shikoku, no Chuugoku, no Tohoku, and probably after today, no Hokkaido. It is possible that after today we will have 3 Kanto schools and 1 Kinki school left.

What does that say about the state of 高校野球 now?

So now, my commentary on the games will focus less on the play-to-play action, and more on observations I see during the game. There will still be some play-by-play, but you can get that on the box scores and on the game replays provided by MBS.

So onto our first game. Jyousou Gakuin is up and against it against Osaka Touin. They have had an easy schedule to get to the Best 8 and now face an Osaka Touin squad that yes, struggled offensively against Kousei Gakuin, and did struggle against Tenri in the super-regionals. But Osaka Touin now has gained that "fearsome" status that will give a team wins because they are who they are (remember Seiryou's 9-8 win over Komatsu Ootani in the Ishikawa finals last summer).

You shouldn't look ahead but you can't ignore Tsuruga Kehi on the horizon. Hiranuma may not be 100% , and we'll learn more today, but you have to start prepping for that as well in the back of your head.

Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki)
2B Ugusa Kouki
CF Takeuchi Ryou
RF Wada Shingo
1B Ishii Daiki
LF Arahara Hiroki
SS Minakami Yuuheio
C Takase Shoutarou
P Suzuki Shouta
3B Ara Masahiro (#15)

Osaka Touin (Osaka)
3B Nakayama Yuuto
2B Nagahiro Tomoki
LF Hamada Kouhei (#3)
CF Aoyagi Kouki
RF Fujii Kempei
C Taniguchi Kazuki
SS Fukuda Kouki
1B Yoshizawa Kazuto (#12)
P Tanaka Seiya


08:30 - First Pitch!

1st Inning
Huh, Ugusa hits the first pitch to center, and Aoyagi runs back, but it's more of a jog.

So when I say that Jyousou Gakuin is probably be up against it Ugusa does that. 1-0 Jyousou Gakuin.

Wada slices one down the left field side for a double. If life would like to prove me wrong about Jyousou Gakuin's chances, I'd be happy to be wrong.

Today there was some rain expected, and the umbrellas are out.

Side retired, but Jyousou Gakuin does appear to be on the ball early.

One out walk to Nagahiro, can't be giving Osaka Touin extra runners.

Suzuki paying A LOT of attention to Nagahiro. And despite all those throws over, he still takes off on a run-and-hit (I say it that way because Hamada swung way late on that pitch). Still wound up like a sac bunt without the risk of bunting poorly (though there's still the risk of a double play).

Ara smothers a ball up the 3rd base line from Aoyagi. The long throw to 1st takes a bounce or two, but gets there in time to end the inning.

2nd Inning
This is about as patient I've seen a team. 5 of the first 7 batters have seen at least 5 pitches including the first 2 this inning. Jyousou is expecting either a low scoring game or want to avoid the double play at the bottom of the lineup as Suzuki bunts Takase over with 1 out.

Nothing doing though to score the run. Ara flies out to center.

Only runners Osaka Touin are getting are because of Suzuki. Hits Fujii to start the inning.

Really, Osaka Touin bunting??

Maybe they should have as Taniguchi wipes out his runner with a 5-4-3 double play.

Strike zone seems wide today. Don't know who that will help.

Suzuki hitting his spots well (outside of the dead ball). Jams Fukuda to retire the side.

3rd Inning
Tanaka with a 1-2-3 inning. Jyousou getting bat on the ball and making decent contact, but they're right to fielers.

Osaka Touin with their first hit as Yoshizawa checks in with a double past a diving Shimizu and down the line.

Another bunt from Nisitani-kantoku? Why?

Oh, that's why. Shimizu short hops the throw and Ishii can't pick it. Time called from Sasaki-kantoku.

Nakayama sac fly to left and that will score the run. 1-1.

Suzuki gets another 5-4-3 double play, this time ending the inning. But you can't keep a good team down forever, and Osaka Touin finally has their reply.

4th Inning
Oh hey, Minakami with a 2-out single. Still hitting the ball square.

And what was that by Nakayama? It's like he didn't want to be in front of the ball, and then just ole'd it.

Suzuki walks and its manrui for Jyousou Gakuin.

Ara base hit right through the infield and into right. That scores 2 and gives Jyousou a 3-1 lead! Nishitani-kantoku calling for time.

Ugusa flies out to end the inning, but I don't remember seeing Jyousou on the ball as they have been today.

Also, it's funny when my two feeds which are not synched do something that is.

Also, Osaka Touin is the one who is lost at the plate. Suzuki is throwing strikes and they're swinging at balls. 2 K's against the heart of the lineup?

5th Inning
Another error from Nakayama as he drops a transfer on what would have been the 3rd out.


Arahara connects on one real good. Fujii waits for it at the wall, as they wave Ishii home. Relay throw home is in time and the inning is over! This despite Fujii overthrowing the 1st cutoff man and Fukuda coming over to cover the throw!

Uh oh, the doctors are coming over to the Jyousou Gakuin dugout. Looks like Ishii hurt himself when sliding into home. From the replays his arm got caught on Taniguchi's leg and it looks like he could have hyper extended it or even dislocated it?

After a delay, he comes out to his position. With a piece of something up his nose. So it was a bloody nose instead?

He gets tested immediately, making a good pick on a short throw from Shimizu.

Fukuda with a ball to right center. Fielders spring to the wall, but it just clears it for a homerun! 3-2 now the gap and Suzuki just plain missed with his location there. Was supposed to be away, went down the middle.

Yoshizawa with a liner to left for a base hit and have they solved the puzzle?

Not sure, but Nishitani-kantoku has Tanaka bunting. Takase up quickly and fires to 2nd. Get the lead runner, and SS Minakami well off to leave it at that.

Side retired, but as we hit the break Jyousou Gakuin certainly looks the better team, but I have this niggling feeling that Osaka Touin is figuring things out.

6th Inning
Leadoff walk to Minakami. Tanaka had already thrown 89 pitches through 5.

That was a mess of a bunt by Takase. Easy picking for Taniguchi.

Another walk from Suzuki. Jyousou continues to play the waiting game on him and it's working to get men on base.

No timely hit from Ara, so it's up to Ugusa. Hit the ball to the outfield in each of his ABs, but they just need a liner instead.

Instead, it's a grounder to 2nd. Nagahiro goes the short way to end the self-made pinch.

Suzuki himself is at 71 pitches. Not as bad as Tanaka, but still a fair amount.

Count runs full to the first batter Nagahiro, and #18 Inoue is warming up in the bullpen.

Liner to center, right at Takeuchi. Now a deep ball from Hamada, but the defense is playing back and Arahara is there to run it down.

Takaoka fouls out, but I think they're getting closer. We've seen Sasaki-kantoku go to his bullpen before. But generally they go to them when it's too late. Will the same apply here?

7th Inning
Where was the defense to help out Harada? Takeuchi with the push bunt up the 1st base line, Harada fields it, but with no one at first has to dive at Takeuchi to tag him before he reached the bag.

Also, this inning they're not going deep into counts. Not sure if that's the right thing to do.

Nagahiro almost causes another error when he drops a grounder. Still 3 outs.

Fujii liner to center, but Takeuchi is well placed. And despite a charge in, has no problems with the catch.

Osaka Touin trying to hit the HR to tie the game instead of base hits it would appear. Taniguchi with one to deep left center, but Takeuchi is there.

Fukuda single up the middle, but there's 2 down.

Suzuki misses on a ball inside and it goes over the middle. Yoshizawa all over that and drives it to the gap in right center. That'll go to the wall and Fukuda scores to make it a 3-3 game.

Oh dear.

Fukuda has a grounder go off his glove and into center. Yoshizawa scores and it's 4-3 Osaka Touin.

Nakayama is left without a hit, but that's of little consequence. They've finally broken through and taken the lead on Jyousou Gakuin.

8th Inning
Jyousou Gakuin has abandoned their patient strategy here in the 8th. They're almost sunk at this point as it only takes 9 pitches for Tanaka to retire the side.

Uh oh, Minakami with a bad throw to 1st gives Osaka Touin another runner.

And then Suzuki hits Aoyagi.

2 down, Taniguchi delivers a liner to left scoring Nagahiro to make it 5-3.

9th Inning
One down and Ara singles past Fukuda into center. Then Tanaka walks Ugusa? The douten runner is aboard!

Understandably Nishitani-kantoku calls for time.

What?? Sasaki-kantoku calls for a bunt? It advances the runners, but there's 2 out!

Wada flies out to center and that's the game.

Well, it certainly was harder that I thought it would be. But I did think that the Osaka Touin batters were gaining momentum. And where were the other pitchers that Sasaki-kantoku had used before? If the were useful, they should have come in in the 7th inning when they really started hitting him deep. Also, why abandon working the count? You were getting baserunners with that method before.

Jyousou Gakuin proved they certainly are a good team, but unless the pitching depth improves this is probably what you get.

As for Osaka Touin, their offense certainly isn't as powerful from start to finish, but they do appear to get things going later as they get more pitches in. It may mean no full blowouts all the way through, but it also means leads aren't safe late.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 8, Game 3 - Matsuyama Higashi (Ehime) vs. Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)

And now the conclusion of the first round. These are the final teams left in their regions (yes, I know Hokkaido only had one, but they're the only ones north of Kanto remaining).

Matsuyama Higashi looked really good against Nishougakushadai Fuzoku, and stand a chance against Toukai Dai-yon who themselves had to face a 21st century team to start. This one however will appear to test them.

Matsuyama Higashi (Ehime)
LF Shimizu Tomoki
SS Ishiyama Tarou
CF Sakai Yuusuke
C Yoneda Keisuke
P Kameoka Yuuki
1B Yamada Kai
RF Yamada Taisei
3B Arita Toranosuke
2B Matsushita Kouki

Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
C Ogawa Kouhei
3B Tachibana Susumu
P Oosawa Shiiya
CF Watase Taiki


13:45 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Shimizu singles through the left side for a leadoff hit! Horiuchi-kantoku has Ishiyama bunt him along.

Sakai though cant pull the trigger on a fastball inside and he's sent packing!

What's this? Yoneda with a drive to left! Shiota going back to the fence... looking up! NO WAY!!!


Yoneda takes care of the scoring early! He hits a 2-run HR to left and the 21st century team is up 2-0!!

Now Kameoka draws a walk! Oosawa struggling right off the bat.

But while he goes full on Kai, he strikes him out to retire the side. Already the Hokkaido champ will have work to do.

Bottom 1st
Kameoka on a mission from the start it would seem. He puts a fastball by Tomita, then Kanemura chases a shuuto on the outside corner.

Yamamoto flies out to center, and it's an easy 1st inning for Kameoka.

Top 2nd
One down and Arita lays down a bunt! Toukai's defense isn't prepared and he's in with a single!

Matsushita tries to bunt him along, but fouls his three bunt and is retired.

Shimizu flies out to left and Oosawa can put up a 0.

Bottom 2nd
Kameoka puts that shuuto on the border that Sou goes after it and becomes Kameoka's 3rd K.

Shiota and Ogawa can fare little better, hitting routine ground balls and Kameoka's making it look easy!

Top 3rd
Oosawa getting into his groove striking out Ishiyama and Sakai to start the inning.

However Yoneda gets his 2nd hit, a single to left.

And then he walks Kameoka for the 2nd time. Horiuchi-kantoku calls for time.

But he still can't find the zone! He winds up walking Kai and it's manrui for Matsuyama Higashi!

With nowhere to put Taisei, Oosawa finally starts throwing strikes. Gets ahead 1-2...


Taisei swings and misses on the high fastball and Oosawa gets out of his own jam.

Bottom 3rd
Oosawa with a liner forcing Kameoka to duck and Toukai Dai-yon has their first base hit!

Watase with a bunt, Arita throw to 1st... not enough! Now runners on 1st and 2nd with one down.

But Toukai Dai-yon is looking for the big hit. Tomita under the ball, flies out to right.

Kanemura with a fly ball to center! Sakai is there and secures it for the 3rd out!

Top 4th
Oosawa getting another reprieve against the bottom of Matsuyama Higashi's order. It's a quick 8 pitch inning as the sides change once again.

Bottom 4th
Toukai Dai-yon finally making some headway at the plate as Sou hits a single to center.

But Shiota hits it up the middle right to Ishiyama! Flips to Matsushita for one, throw to first... double play! And just like that the inning is over!

Top 5th
Ishiyama with no luck agaist Oosawa, goes down swinging for his 2nd time.

After that it's 1 pitch outs for both Sakai and Yoneda, and Matsuyama Higashi perhaps looking to speed up this game.

Bottom 5th
Ogawa with a ball back up the middle, but Kameoka is able to snatch it and go to 1st for the first out.

Tachibana can't catch up to the high fastball and goes down for Kameoka's 4th K.

Oosawa continues to hit at the bottom of the order, sneaking a ball by a diving Kai into right,

Watase thought that was a good idea, so he does the same to Matsushita!

Tomita scorcher up the 1st base line, smothered by Kai! Goes to 1st, and he saves a run with that great play! And with that we're at the break with Matsuyama Higashi in control, but Toukai Dai-yon pounding on the door.

Top 6th
If you blinked you missed the top of the 6th.

First pitch Kameoka drives to center. Watase backpedaling, turning around, leaps and makes the desperation catch.

After that it's a first pitch popup to left and hen a flyout to right. 4 pitches, 3 outs.

Bottom 6th
Kanemura with a leadoff hit! That's their first leadoff runner on. Yamamoto moves him along to 2nd.

And Kameoka throws the ball away to 2nd! Now the runner is at 3rd with Sou up!


Once again Kameoka goes high and Sou can't make contact! 2 outs!

#3 Saitou to hit for Shiota to try and drive the run in.


Kameoka continues to climb the ladder and the batters are obliging! Saitou gets all twisted up and the runner is stranded at 3rd!

Top 7th
Saitou stays in to play 1B, Sou returns to his numbered position in LF.

Nothing new here, each inning going as non-descript as the last with Matsuyama Higashi willing to stake their game on this 2-run lead if necessary.

Bottom 7th
Ogawa with a ball in foul territory and Ishiyama from his position to make the catch.'

Tachibana finally gets a base hit with a single back up the middle. Now, can Oosawa and Watase do something with it?

No! Oosawa grounds to 2nd! Matsushita to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st.. Double play!!!

Top 8th
Ishiyama singles to left to start the inning, but once again they can't lay down the bunt! Sakai pops it up and Oosawa makes the catch for the out.

And now Ishiyama is caught napping on the basepaths! He's run down and there's 2 outs!

Yoneda with a ball to left, Sou is there and AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He sells out for the ball and misses! Watase has to chase it back to the wall as Yoneda is in with a triple!

Kameoka with a grounder to the left side. Tomita runs it down, stops, throws to 1st... in time for the 3rd out! What a great play to prevent another run from scoring!

Bottom 8th
Watase slow grounder to the left side, Ishiyama has it, throws to first, but it's short and gets by Kai! Watase ends up at 2nd!

Tomita with a ball to left, but the outfield is in! Shimizu has to chase after it! They get the ball in but not before Tomita has a double and a run scores! It's 2-1!

Kanemura with a ball to shallow right center! Sakai coming in, Matsushita coming out, but neither can get there! Tomita had to hold in case for a catch so he can only get to 3rd. But now a base hit can give them the lead!

Yamamoto grounder to the right side... through for a base hit! One run will score! They're sending home Kanemura! Relay home.. not in time!! In their final moments Toukai Dai-yon has found a way to take the lead! It's 3-2!

2 down now after a popup and Saitou singles to center! Yamamoto heading to 3rd, but Sakai's throw is on a line and they gun him down!

But more importantly, Matsuyama Higashi just has 3 outs to try and make a final rally!

Top 9th
But after struggling for so long, can they really re-rally?

#13 Kuwahara comes in to hit for Kai. But he goes down on a slider cold.

Taisei pops out to short, and there's quickly 2 outs.

Arita the last chance...

Grounder to the right side... past Kanemura for a base hit! Douten runner on, but still some work to do.

#12 Takenaka in to hit for Matsushita...

Down quickly 1-2, he fights off pitch after pitch.


But perhaps turning the tables, he climbs the ladder himself on Takenaka and Matsuyama Higashi and strikes him out on a high fastball to end the game!

Well, that game turned around in a hurry. Though Toukai Dai-yon were seemingly on the verge of doing something like this with their chances in the prior couple of innings. It's just too bad that Matsuyama Higashi had the lead for so long before it would all melt away.

There is something to be said for a pitcher who actually lives up in the zone. It's the complete opposite of what you normally see, but at the same time it can still produce the same results. But only if you can consistently do that. Just 6 outs away from a Best 8 performance, and instead they're picking up dirt from Koushien to take home as in all likelihood they won't be returning in the summer. But they do rightfully get a round of applause from their huge ouen-dan.

Toukai Dai-yon got lucky. If not for the first error, the rest of the sequence may never have happened because the outfield may not have played as far in as they did. Before that they were getting hits here and there, but they were with outs already on the board and less room for error.

But, a win is a win and they're into the Best 8. No time to rest because Kendai Takasaki is next up. It'll be their first major competitor, and it could get ugly to round out the quarterfinals.

Day 8, Game 2 - Tenri (Nara) vs. Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

I'd ask for a closer game next, but there's a hint of me that doesn't want it. Mostly because if that happens, chances are Tenri will find a way to screw something up. They always do. It generally involves a squeeze bunt that goes awry.

Not helping Tenri at all is that they're facing Kendai Takasaki. I wouldn't call them a giant killer per se, but they certainly make games annoying for the opposing team. That shouldn't change today.

Tenri (Nara)
CF Funabiki Wataru
P Saitou Yuu
SS Sadamitsu Hiroto
1B Sakaguchi Hiroya
RF Tomiki Ryouga
3B Kawasaki Koudai
2B Maekubo Tomoya
LF Mori Shunsuke (#15)
C Tsutsumida Reo

Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)
CF Kasuga Yuuma
SS Hayashi Kenya
C Tsuge Sena
3B Shibahiki Ryousuke
2B Souma Yuuto
1B Ooshima Kyouhei
RF Satou Nozomu
LF Chinen Kazuma
P Kawai Tomoya


11:20 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Funabiki get a bit of a break when Souma doesn't field a ball cleanly. Saitou bunts right to Kawai and he goes to 2nd to get the lead runner.

Sadamitsu with a chopper to 1st and Ooshima steps on 1st for the 2nd out.

Hashimoto-kantoku goes for the hit-and-run, but Sakaguchi meekly swings at a ball out of the zone and the side is retired.

Bottom 1st
Well, Tenri might just save us the trouble. Saitou hits Kasuga, then throws a wild pitch so now Kendai Takasaki has a runner in scoring position with no out.

Hayashi makes a chop swing on a ball inside and punches it to the right side, moving Kasuga to 3rd.

Tsutsumida snap throw to 3rd... They got him! Wow, a rare baserunning mistake from Kendai Takasaki.

Shibahiki flies out to center, and it's a clean, though not without it's moments, inning.

Top 2nd
Tomoki in a long AB versus Kawai, but flies out to left.

Kawasaki and Maekubo go after pitches early in the count, but ground out for a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 2nd
2 down after consecutive groundouts, and Satou hits a single to right. An inexplicable passed ball on a ball down the middle allows him to go to 2nd.

Saitou though pops up in foul territory. Tsutsumida makes the catch near the steps to the umpires area for the 3rd out.

Top 3rd
Kawai issues his first free pass to Mori leading off the inning. Tsutsumida bunts him along.

Funabiki though bites on a high slider for the 2nd out, and Saitou grounds to short. Tenri unable to bring the runner home despite a good start to the inning.

Bottom 3rd
Well, Saitou seems to have settled down. Kawai pops up to Saitou at the mound, Kasuga with a lazy fly to right.

Hayashi then hits one right to Sakaguchi and he takes it himself for the out.

Top 4th
Tenri batters uppercutting everything and popping it up. Sadamitsu to left, Sakaguchi to right.

Tomoki hits it on the ground, but it isn't hard at all. Shibahiki throws to 1st and the side is retired.

Bottom 4th
Tsuge with a single up the middle for Kendai Takasaki.

It's another wild pitch from Saitou and Tsuge goes to 2nd. Shibahiki correctly moves the runner to 3rd with a ball to the right side.

Souma brings him in!! It's a single through the drawn in infield into right! Kendai Takasaki leads 1-0!

Aoyagi-kantoku sends Souma, but Tsutsumida makes a great throw to gun him down!

Ooshima goes down looking and the leadoff runner doesn't come back to haunt them.

Top 5th
Boy, Tenri's batters are having a devil of a time against Kawai. Kawasaki and Maekubo can't improve on their first ABs and both ground out again.

Mori chases a changeup down and away and Tenri has not hit anything well against ace Kawai.

Bottom 5th
Kendai Takasaki is making better contact, and barely has the results to show for it. The bottom of the order though is retired in just 8 pitches and we hit the break.

Kendai Takasaki is having the better of it both on the mound and at the plate. They're hitting the balls more square, and Kawai has Tenri's batters baffled. 4 more innings, and Kinki will be down to just 1 team.

Top 6th
It is looking godawful for Tenri at the plate. No timing, and it looks like they're just guessing up there.

Funabiki gets the best AB against Kawai, as he runs the count full. But it's all wasted when he swings on a high fastball.

Otherwise, it's a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 6th
Saitou down his best to hold down the fort. He's certainly laboring more than Kawai, but he's getting the job done. He gets Kasuga to fly out to left.

Mori really makes him work as he fills up the count before grounding out to Kawasaki.

Tsuge goes down swinging and the margin stays at 1.

Top 7th
Sadamitsu with a ball down the left field line. Chinen is sprinting over from left center! He slides... and can't get there!! The ball goes off the padding and Sadamitsu is in with a standing triple! Tenri finally has a scoring chance.

Sakaguchi not bunting (THANK GOD). But he does pop it up. Tsuge running over to the Tenri on-deck circle... makes the catch for the 1st out.

Tomoki not bunting either.

Instead it's a liner over a leaping Hayashi for a base hit! Sadamitsu scores to make it 1-1!

However, they can't do more than that as Kawasaki grounds into a fielder's choice and Maekubo pops out. Still, they have a new ballgame.

Bottom 7th
Shibahiki lines a single to right in their lucky 7.

And now Saitou hits Souma! They check for a swing, but he doesn't go! Runners at 1st and 2nd for Kendai Takasaki.

#10 Kotani to hit for Ooshima, and he lays down a push bunt. Kawasaki quick throws to 1st and barely gets him. Big chance with even a deep fly establishing the lead.

Satou though hits a grounder to 1st! Sakaguchi checks the runner, but can't tag Satou! Tosses to 1st, and Shibahiki breaks for home! Throw back home is not in time! There's the speed of Kendai Takasaki! It's 2-1!

Saitou picks off Souma at 3rd, another odd baserunning mistake, but they have the lead back!

Top 8th
So Tenri is back where they started and with only 2 innings left to go.

One down and Tsutsumida with a clean single to center. No bunt from Funabiki, but he can't make contact on a changeup down the middle.

Saitou grounds to 1st and the inning is over.

Bottom 8th
Another walk from Saitou, as Chinen takes 1st. After #17 Miyamoto comes in to run, Kawai's pops up his bunt! Saitou is there for the catch and there's 1 down.

But Aoyagi-kantoku goes for the hit and run! Kasuga with a ball to left center... and no one will get to it! Miyamoto scores all the way from 1st and Kendai Takasaki leads 3-1!

That's it for Saitou as #11 Moriura comes in for Mori and takes the hill. Saitou will goes to LF.

Just to show how fast Kendai Takasaki is, Hayashi grounds to 3rd. Kawasaki makes a hard check of the runner, but he still takes off for - and reaches, 3rd.

Tsuge flies out to center., but the insurance run looks like the game is in hand.

Top 9th
#14 Higa comes in for Miyamoto to play LF.

The beat goes on for Kawai. Sadamitsu grounds to short.

Sakaguchi manages to work a walk, but it's quickly 2 down when Tomiki flies out to left.

Kawasaki makes some solid contact, but it's never fair. He flies out to left and the game is over.

Tenri continues to live up to their underperforming ways. They didn't embarrass themselves in prior years with some stupid play. But in this case they were simply outplayed - both on the mound where Saitou struggled with walks, and at the plate where they couldn't hit anything solid. Neither could Kendai Takasaki, but the walks proved to be fatal.

And so the story goes. Kendai Takasaki has become smarter as to when to use their speed, and their pitching has caught up in Kawai. Where they were gritty before, they have become a contender with grittiness.

Day 8, Game 1 - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) vs. Oumi (Shiga)

It's the last day of Round 2 action, and it is entirely possible that there will be no school west of Osaka Touin, and only one school north of Kanto remaining. Given the schools that qualified it is entirely possible that this will not change come the summer. It's not something to be alarmed about per se, but this would be an extreme form of what we generally see at Koushien.

The first matchup is between teams that are not too far apart from one another. They also performed about the same in their first round games - not well. They played inferior teams, and wound up winning fairly close games. Oumi probably had the worse of it, winning 2-0, but batting a whopping 0.111.

Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu)
LF Murai Shouma
RF Hirose Masaru
3B Takegoshi Hiroyuki
LF Yamada Youta
C Katou Jyunya
1B Murahashi Kazuaki
SS Oono Rikuo
P Takahashi Shunpei
2B Sakashita Reon

Oumi (Shiga)
SS Oka Katsuki
2B Okuda Riku
LF Sugino Shougo
1B Yamamoto Daichi
CF Sasaji Kenta
RF Fujiwara Koutarou
3B Hibi Ryousuke
C Nakaya Jyunpei
P Ogawa Ryouken


09:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Murai already getting things going for Kengifushou as he hits a slider down the right field side and to the wall for a leadoff double. Hirose moves him along.

Takegoshi takes a slider to the opposite way. Fujiwara has to scramble back and it's over his head! He's in with a triple and it's 1-0 Kengifushou.

Yamada another ball the other way, Sugino chases towards the foul pole, and it falls in fair! Heads into 2nd as Takaegoshi scores to make it 2-0. 3 extra base hits in 4 batters (the other being a sac bunt) do not look good.

Neither does hitting Katou. Oy.

But, Ogawa does get himself out of the inning thanks to a well played 4-6-3 double play. Okada had to deal with a higher hop.

Bottom 1st
Well, that's some promise. After Oka and Okuda are quickly retired, Sugino with a rather easy swing singles to left.

Yamamoto booms a ball to deep right, but Hirose only has to back up a bit to make the catch.

Top 2nd
Ogawa seems to be getting the better of it here in the 2nd. Oono hits a routine fly, while Takahashi last minute goes after a 2-seamer running back towards the plate.

He almost gets the 1-2-3 inning, but winds up walking Sakashita. Ogawa-kantoku not afraid to send runners and Sakashita steals 2nd with little difficulty.

Murai hits one hard, but back at Ogawa. He snags it and goes to 1st to finish the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Ogawa's counterpart Takahashi is not having those issues.

After Sasaji flies out to center, he goes back-to-back K's to retire the side in order.

Top 3rd
Hirose with a ball off his bat, powers it to left for a leadoff single. Ogawa-kantoku gives the green light again and he steals 2nd with little issue.

While Takegoshi ends up striking out on a slider, Yamada takes a pitch just outside for ball 4.

Katou hits a ball to the left side, but it goes under Oka's glove and to left! Hirose scores and it's now 3-0 Kengifushou.

Murahashi strikes out on another slider and he jams Oono into a fielder's choice to end the inning. But while he recording K's, when he's not missing bats, the results can be bad.

Bottom 3rd
How bad is it for Oumi? Takahashi is just throwing fastballs and daring the batters to hit them.

And they're not.

Nakaya and Ogawa go down on 3 fastballs each. Oka makes contact, but pops out to Okada.

Top 4th
If I were Kengifushou, I would be shortening this game as much as possible. You will have to play the next day against Urawa Gakuin on no rest.

And while there's a hit batter in the sequence, the inning lasts just 9 pitches.

Bottom 4th
Also, when I felt the timing was good, I'd relieve Takahashi and get him some rest. I'd also tell him to get the batters to make contact to not use too many pitches.

But, I'm not the kantoku, and this is Japan. So he strikes out 2 more batters while ticking his fastball up to 150.

The worst part is that some of these batters are just watching a fastball go right down the middle.

Top 5th
Oka turns in a nice play when he stops a grounder in the gap and makes a quick throw to get Takagoshi at 1st.

After another walk to Yamada, Katou get practice on a sac bunt in to move Yamada along.

Murahashi flies out to left and the inning is over.

Bottom 5th
Perhaps they're reading my post (no, not really). While it takes 4 pitches to get Sasaji to fly out to left, He gets Fujiwara and Hibi out in just 3.

As we hit the break, it's yet another team on early cruise control.

Top 6th
While I wholly advocate shortening the game by taking swings, I would hope that they would at least make solid contact.

And they are for the most part, though they are still being retired in order.

Bottom 6th
Ogawa's day is over. #16 Dan hits for him, and draws the first walk for Oumi.

But they try and steal 2nd and Katou makes the perfect throw to get him out. Oka goes down swinging for Takahashi's 7th K.

Top 7th
#18 Arimoto comes in for Dan to take the hill.

Hirose gets his 2nd hit, and then steals his 2nd base of the game, but otherwise Dan has an uneventful inning.

Bottom 7th
One down and Sugino takes a ball the other way for the team's 2nd single.

Yamamoto with another single to left! Sugino takes 3rd and they have a chance to avoid the shutout.

But Sasaji pops out to 3rd, and Fujiwara emphatically slams the bat after he can't catch up to the fastball and the side is retired.

Top 8th
Fairly routine outs from Katou and Murahashi, but Arimoto issues his first walk to Oono. Then proceeds to pick him off for the 3rd out.

Bottom 8th
Oumi gets a runner after Oono drops the ball on the transfer. Then after a sac bunt by PH #17 Itou, Oka's grounder to 1st 5-holes Murahashi! Kengifushou playing sloppy to end this game.

Okuda liner! Oono dives!  Holds up the glove and he makes the catch!!!

Top 9th
Itou stays in to play RF, #11 Kyouyama comes in for Fujiwara to take the mound.

#16 Kariya comes in to take some swings against Kyouyama, but otherwise it's a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 9th
No drama here. Takahashi gets his 9th and 10th Ks to end the game.

Oumi's batting struggles in their first game were present yet again. And while Ogawa gave up just 3 runs, the gap felt like 30. Still, they're generally in the mix in Shiga, so we may see those powder blue uniforms yet again.

Takahashi had about as easy of a game you could have. Gave up just 3 hits and walked 1. It probably would have been nice to get someone in to relieve him, but at least he barely went over 100 pitches (112), so while he'll have no turnaround time, he wasn't stressed (other than perhaps to hit 150 on the gun). They did get some solid swings in, but it would have been nice to get a couple more hits, especially with Urawa Gakuin on the horizon.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 7, Game 3 - Oomagari Kougyou (Akita) vs. Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)

And now to our final game of the day, the upstart Oomagari Kougyou facing the Kanto champions Urawa Gakuin. It looks like a David vs. Goliath matchup, but Urawa Gakuin has cracks in the armor, which was shown in their game against Ryuukokudai Heian. The question will be whether it's enough to make up the apparent gap.

Oomagari Kougyou (Akita)
RF Sasaki Shunichi
SS Akagawa Shun
2B Nakano Seiya
P Takeda Ryuusei
RF Nakamura Kazuki
LF Morisawa Kouyou (#17)
1B Okamoto Shuuma
3B Horie Jyou (#14)
C Suzuki Tairi

Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)
3B Suwa Tadayoshi
2B Dai Kouta
SS Tsuda Shouki
1B Yamazaki Kouta
CF Kouki Yuushi
RF Takahashi Tsukasa
LF Araki Yuuya
C Nishino Shinya
P Eguchi Shouri


14:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
One down and Akagawa hits a ball to left. Araki going back to the fence, still going back! Looks up!!



Akagawa spits in the face of being the underdog and hits a HR off ace Eguchi! Oomagari Kougyou leads 1-0!!

Nakano with a single to center! Takeda with a single to center!! What the heck is going on here?!

Nakamura grounds out to 1st, but the runners advance to scoring position.

Horie strikes out on a changeup, but Oomagari Kougyou has come to play right off the bat!

Bottom 1st
Suwa liner to left. Morisawa coming in, dives.. makes the catch!!!  Wow. They are on right now.

Dai slowing the pace down perhaps to get his team off the mat early. Works the count full but flies out to left.

Tsuda line shot, but Horie has it for the 3rd out!

Top 2nd
Okamoto with a single to left. They're really hitting Eguchi right now.

Morisawa lays down the bunt, but it's right at home! Nishino goes to 2nd for 1, relay to 1st in time! The first misstep by the Tohoku runner-up!

Bottom 2nd
Yamazaki goes down on 3 straight high fastballs.

Kouki finally gets something going with a single to center.

But Takahashi hits a grounder to Nakano! 4...6... 3... double play!

Top 3rd
Sasaki with a single to left and they have another leadoff runner on.

The 0-1 pitch gets away from Nishino and Shunichi takes 2nd! That changes everything as Akagawa bunts the runner now to 3rd.

Nakano can't bring him home as he swings and misses on a changeup.

Takeda pops one up. Takahashi running into foul territory, slides near the bullpen, and makes the catch! 3 out!

Bottom 3rd
One down for Urawa Gakuin and Nishino gets a base hit to left.

Eguchi now with a ball to shallow right. Nakamura coming in slides... can't secure it! It sneaks away from him and Eguchi has a double! Urawa Gakuin threatens to tie the game here.

Suwa grounder to the right side, past a diving Okamoto, Nakano lays out... can't get there! It goes into right as Eguchi is being waved around! Nakamura throws home, but airmails everyone! Suwa takes 3rd on the throw! 2-1 Urawa Gakuin and threatening more!

Dai lifts a ball to left! Morisawa running back to the foul pole! Is it gone?

Morisawa makes the catch right at the padding! Suwa can walk home to make it 3-1!

Tsuda flies out, but Urawa Gakuin restablishes themselves and look to knock out the upstarts!

Top 4th
But they won't go away easily! Nakamura grounder to the right side, Dai is there, but stumbles when standing to throw and it goes under Yamazaki's glove.

Abe-kantoku goes and sends Nakamura! Throw from Nishino... in time! They got the jump on him once, but not this time!

Okamoto draws Eguchi's first walk, but is left stranded when Morisawa can't pull the trigger on a changeup.

Bottom 4th
Takeda would really like a quick inning to settle things down. The first two batters, Yamazaki and Kouki both fly out to center.

Takahashi is a bit more stubborn, but he eventually grounds out to 2nd for a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 5th
Taisei starts the inning by drawing a walk. That's 4 leadoff men on base. Shouta not bunting this time, but he pops it up! Tsuda has it for the 1st out.

2 down for Oomagari Kougyou, and Nakano gets his 2nd base hit! Taisei takes 3rd and they might get back a run.

But Eguchi jams Takeda! He grounds out to 3rd and the runners are stranded again!

Bottom 5th
Araki with ball down the right field line. Nakamura running over, dives.. but can't make the catch! Araki on his horse makes it all the way to 3rd!

Nishino drives him in! It's a single through the drawn in infield and it's 4-1 Urawa Gakuin!

Takeda able to get the next couple of outs to limit the damage, but as we hit the break, the good vibes we had for Oomagari Kougyou have all but disappeared.

Top 6th
One down, and Eguchi issues another free pass, this time to Horie.

But they can do little wit it. Okamoto grounds into a fielder's choice (barely beating out the double play).

Morisawa hits a hard ball to 3rd, Suwa drops it, retakes, spins and throws - and still get the out.

Bottom 6th
Urawa Gakuin gets a scare when a ball gets away from Takeda and hits Yamazaki in the head. He's stunned a bit, so the umpires take him to the dugout while an injury runner comes out.

He's not needed long though as Kouki grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Top 7th
One down for Oomagari and Shunichi hits a soft liner over Tsuda for a base hit.

Akagawa fighting tooth and nail at the plate as his team is running out of time. As the pitches increase, Abe-kantoku starts the hit and run over and over again.

Sanshin! Akagawa goes down swinging, and Nishino fires to 2nd! That's in plenty of time and it's a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play.'

Bottom 7th
8 pitches is all Takeda needs to retire the side. Urawa Gakuin content to finish this out and get some rest.

Top 8th
Oomagari Kougyouis probably realizing this run is coming to an end. The middle of the order gets their swings in, but are retired in order.

Bottom 8th
Eguchi gets his 2nd hit in. Suwa with a ball to deep left center that Shunichi makes a great running catch on.

After a sac bunt, Tsuda doubles to right to bring in Eguchi to make it 5-1.

Yamazaki with another deep ball, this time to left. Morisawa running back, leaps, tumbles... and makes the great catch!

Top 9th
Oomagari Kougyou is about to go quietly into the night when Morisawa gets his first base hit, a single to center.

That gives Abe-kantoku the opportunity to send in more people as #15 ishii comes in for Morisawa at 1B, while #7 Odajima comes in to hit for Taisei.

He's make the most of his AB, working the count instead of just swinging away. He gets ahead of a pitch, but keeps the swing alive long enough to poke the ball to right for a base hit.

The dream ends though when Shunichi grounds to 3rd to end the game.

Early on, I really thought that Oomagari Kougyou had a puncher's chance at defeated Urawa Gakuin. Getting a HR early, and 4 base hits in the first 2 innings, I'm sure it boosted their confidence. Sadly that feeling didn't last long as Urawa Gakuin took the lead in the 3rd and never looked back. Still, I think it was a good showing from the team from Akita.

Unfortunately, what this means is that in the span of 2 days, the entire Tohoku region has been eliminated. That's unfortunate.

As for Urawa Gakuin, Eguchi wound up settling down, but the poor start has to be of concern. That first inning could have been much worse had not he stemmed the tide then. He's still not striking out a lot of batters, and he's walking more than you'd probably like.

Offensively, the team got production from everywhere but the heart of the lineup which went 2-10 (2-13 if you count the 3-6 betters). You could say that it shows versatility of being able to produce runs, but it can also show that the meat of their lineup can be shut down.

They get the winner of Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou and Oumi. It's a better matchup than some of the alternatives, but the farther they go, those alternatives become your opponent.

Day 7, Game 2 - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) vs. Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

And now the main feature of today, the Meiji Jingu champs Sendai Ikuei against one of the scarier pitchers in baseball, Hiranuma Shouta of Tsuruga Kehi. Let's sit back and enjoy this shall we?

Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
3B Satou Shouta
CF Aoki Reima
SS Hirasawa Taiga
C Gunji Yuuya
1B Sasaki Ryousuke
LF Kii Kaishuu
RF Sasaki Tooya
2B Yatsu Koudai
P Satou Sena

Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
3B Shinohara Ryou
2B Nakai Kidzuku
SS Hayashinaka Yuuki
P Hiranuma Shouta
CF Yamamoto Kouta
LF Matsumoto Teppei (#17)
1B Ueda Ryouya
C Kamon Yuusuke
RF Mori Shigeki (#7)


11:55 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Well, that's a way to start. Hiranuma's sweeping slider makes Shouta fan the opposing dugout he swung so hard.

Aoki early on a slider outside and grounds out to short.

Hirasawa fighting valiantly at the plate fouling off several offerings, but grounding to 2nd in the end.

Bottom 1st
Sena, wanting to show there's 2 sided to this battle, pulls out his forkball and strikes out Shinohara.

Not so fortunate with Nakai as he connects on a high fastball and drives it to deep right center for a double!

Hayashinaka gets a fastball down the middle, but pulls it to Shouta. Looks back the runner, goes to 1st, but the throw is offline! Ryousuke makes the swipe tag though for the out.

Topping it off he goes 3 straight forkballs on Hiranuma and the side is retired!

Top 2nd
Gunji attacks the first pitch from Hiranuma and drives it to deep left center. However, he's just under it and Matsumoto runs it down for the out.

Then against the left Ryousuke, he goes inside with the slider, and ties him up for his 2nd K.

Kii flies out to right and 2 clean innings so far.

Bottom 2nd
Yamamoto hot shot up the middle, but Sena picks it out of the air and makes the play at 1st.

Matsumoto becones the 3rd victim to the forkball.

Ueda gets a great pitch down the middle, but doesn't hit it square. Tooya is there to end the inning.

Top 3rd
Hiranuma cruising along, gets a foul fly and yet another K. Sena grounds to short and should be the end of the inning, but Hayashinaka boots the ball! E6 and Sendai Ikuei has their first runner.

Doesn't last long though. Shouta flies out to center and the inning is over.

Bottom 3rd
One down for Mori and he hits a ball into the gap on the left side. Hirasawa runs it down, tumbles, and throws it anyways?! It's way offline, and to no one at all! That allows Mori to take 2nd. That was so not necessary.

With 1st open, I think Sena unintentionally intentionally walks Shinohara to create the force.

Sena tells them, he doesn't need it! He strikes out Nakai on a forkball, and Hayashinaka?

Yep, you guessed it! Another forkball and the side is retired!

Top 4th
Aoki with a roller up the 1st base line, Ueda there, but the ball bounces off the bag and away from Ueda! He should have moved up to the base to wait for it.

One down and Gunji hits a ball back up the middle. Hayashinaka with it, but he gets himself twisted around! He manages to toss to 2nd for the out.

Perhaps out of precaution, Azuma-kantoku switches the keystone positions.

Hiranuma gives his men a rest as he strikes out Ryousuke to retire the side.

Bottom 4th
Hiranuma for some reason can't hit Sena so far. Even when he leaves the forkball high he ends up being fooled and pulling it to 2nd.

But then he issues his 2nd walk to Yamamoto.

Azuma-kantoku needing runs sends Yamamoto! Throw from Gunji not in time!

Satou goes to his forkball and gets Matsumoto to ground to 3rd, and then Ueda makess contact, but it's just a grounder to short to end the inning! Sena's out of the inning, but he's leaving some of his pitches up.

Top 5th
Hiranuma doing everything possible to shut down the Sendai Ikuei offense. 8 pitches and the side is retired without hitting a ball into the outfield.

Bottom 5th
Kamon on the board with a liner to center! He's bunted to 2nd by Mori.

With the same situation as the 3rd, he walks Shinohara.

Nakai sharp grounder to 1st! Ryousuke tags the bag, throws to 2nd... but it's not in time!

Hayashinaka up to try and bring the 2 runners in.

Swings on a high fastball! Goes to right, and that will fall in! Kamon scores! Shinohara waved around, throw home... not in time! Hayashinaka breaks the deadlock and gives Tsuruga Kehi the 2-0 lead!

Hiranuma connects on a forkball and drives it to center! He's under it though and Aoki makes the catch. Sena's done well, but now his offense will have to come through as Hayashinaka gives his team the lead before the break!

Top 6th
But Sendai Ikuei needs runners first, and they can't even get that. Sena goes down on a slider for Hiranuma's 5th K. And neither Shouta or Aoki get the ball out of the infield either (only 3 balls have).


Bottom 6th
One down and a questionable dead ball is called. Replay shows the ball went clean through.

Ueda lines one to left and Kii is just there to make the catch.

But the dead ball costs Sena pitches as Kamon battles for 10 pitches before finally grounding out to short.

Top 7th
Lucky 7 for Sendai Ikuei and they need a lot of help.

Hirasawa blows the fastball inside on Hiranaka and he can't get around on it. Gunji grounds to 1st and there's quickly 2 outs.

Ryousuke with a ball to left, Matsumoto going back, and he's twisted around! The ball falls in and he's in with a double! Sasaki-kantoku then elects to send in #15 Seto to run for him.

No surprise why as they go for a hit and run! But Kii fouls it off.

And again! But this time it's inside! Kamon goes to 3rd and Seto is out by a wide margin! Inning over!

Bottom 7th
Seto stays in the game to play 1B.

One down and Shinohara, who finally gets to swing the bat, gets a single to left.

Nakai with a liner to center, but Aoki is in the right place to field it.

Azuma-kantoku sends Shinohara to 2nd! Throw from Gunji is not in time! But Hayashinaka grounds to short and the inning is over!

Top 8th
Kii ball down the left field line.. fair!! Kii slides in with a double! He's replaced by #10 Domeki, and #11 Tateyama hits for Tooya.

But he flies out to right.

Oh! Hiranuma hits Yatsu! Do they have a chance? Sena up to help his cause.

Hiranuma shuts the door there with a K.

Shouta with a chopper over Hiranuma! Nakai there, goes to 1st... OUT!  3 out and Sendai Ikuei will be down to their final 3 outs!

Bottom 8th
#17 Saida comes in for Domeki to play RF, #16 Yamamoto comes in for Tateyama to play RF.

Sena retires the side in order with little trouble, leaving it to his offense one last time.

Top 9th
3 outs from victory for Hiranuma.

SANSHIN!!! Aoki can only helplessly watch as the fastball tails back over the outside corner for strike 3!

Hirasawa looper to the right side... over a leaping Nakai into center! Sendai Ikuei can bring the tying run to the plate.

Gunji with a ball to right center, and that's in for a hit! Hirasawa takes 3rd! Now the tying runner is on base.

Seto slow grounder to 2nd! Nakai's only play is to 1st and a run scores! 2-1 and the douten runner is in scoring position!

Saida the last chance for Sendai Ikuei.

But he hits a grounder to 2nd! Nakai makes the throw to 1st and Tsuruga Kehi holds on!

It was certainly shaky there late for Hiranuma and the Hokushinetsu champs, but 2 runs is enough after all.


For about 6.2 innings, Sendai Ikuei could do nothing. But when they finally did something, Sasaki-kantoku sold out to score runs and it might have cost the in the 9th when Ryousuke and Kii were not available, having been lifted after their hits. Sena, for his part held Tsuruga Kehi to just 5 hits. It just so happens that 2 of them came in 1 inning and resulted in 2 runs.

Tsuruga Kehi wins, but it's concerning that Hiranuma faltered late. He's going to get little rest going forward and showing problems now isn't good. The offense only putting out 5 hits isn't good either. There are a lot of question marks this team is going to have to answer if they want to take the title, because in all probability Osaka Touin looms large.