And now another regional champion steps in and their task is much harder as Toukaidai Sugao faces off against Natsu champion Osaka Touin. The Kinki region is weak this year it seems, but Osaka Touin is Osaka Touin after all.
13:05 - First Pitch!
Good start for Katsumata as he gets Nakayama to pop out to Etou. However, he turns around and walks Nagahiro.
Nishitani-kantoku gets the wheels going as he sends Nagahiro on the 2-1 pitch. It's low and that delays Saitou enough to make the throw late.
And now he hits Fukuda. Oy. That puts runners on for cleanup batter Aoyagi.
But Katsumata gets him to sky a ball to left for the 2nd out.
But Fujii puts the ball into shallow center! Ogawa can't get to it and Osaka Touin scores the first run as Nagahiro scores from 2nd. 1-0.
Taniguchi with his own base hit and the Tokyo champs are in a lot of trouble!
Ah! And now Katsumata walks Harada! Oshidashi and Osaka Touin leads 2-0!
Yoshizawa skies one to 2nd, and as Ochiai secures it, the summer champs look real good to start.
Toukaidai Sugao looks to get one of the runs back as Ogawa delivers a scorcher back up the middle for a 1-out single.
Meanwhile, Tanaka on the mound seems to be overthrowing a bit as a lot of his fastballs are going high. That results in a 2-out walk to Itou. Still, he gets Motohashi to chase a high fastball and flies out to center to end the inning.
It's a much more relaxing inning for Katsumata. He takes advantage of the bottom of the order to get 2 quick outs, and while he walks Nagahiro (again), Fukuda hit a sky fly to right center to end the inning.
Despite Tanaka's control problem, Sugao's batters are still swinging away. They're battling away, but they're also swinging on bad pitches. Tanaka gets his 1-2-3 inning and maintains his 2-run advantage.
There's a clear mandate for Katsumata. Pitch inside. Even if it means walking the leadoff batter (which he does).
But it does him no good if he can't pitch inside. Fujii blasts one to left that Motohashi can't get to and that goes all the way to the wall for a triple. Aoyagi scores and it's 3-0.
Make that 4-0. After a grounder that couldn't score Fujii from 3rd, Harada blasts a hanging pitch to dead center. Ogawa has no chance at that one and it's another triple and the rout is on at 5-0.
Tanaka can't directly help his own cause but does advance the runner to 3rd. Nakayama still is without a hit in 3 trips as the leadoff batter as he pops out to end the inning.
Toukaidai Sugao's batters are still swinging away and letting Tanaka stay ahead in counts. Ochiai swings on the first pitch and grounds out. Etou falls behind in the count, works it full, but then gets handcuffed on a pitch inside for the 2nd out. Ogawa goes down as well and this game could be over already.
The hits keep coming for Osaka Touin. Nagahiro finally gets a chance to hit and takes one the other way down the right field line for a double. After a safety bunt moves him over, Aoyagi does more than enough to get him in, slicing one over Itou down the left field line for a double. 6-0 now in favor of the summer champs.
After a walk to Fujii, the kantoku's seen enough. #11 Yamaguchi comes in for Ochiai to take the mound. Katsumata goes to RF and Koiso goes to 2B. Yamaguchi records the final 2 outs and will look to keep the deficit, well... honorable.
But the offense still can't muster any traction. Katsumata drives a ball to deep right, but Fujii is already back to range over to make the catch. All Toukaidai Sugao gets is a 2-out Motohashi HBP.
That relief from Yamaguchi on the mound appears to have been temporary...
First a one-out walk to Tanaka. Then a wild pitch, a HBP, and then another wild pitch. That's capped off with a boomer by Nagahiro to center. Ogawa chase after it, but misjudges and it still falls in behind him. Both runners score and it's 8-0. Yamaguchi finally records the last 2 outs, but 4 non-round numbers later and you might as well get ready for the next game.
Playing from so far behind, Toukaidai Sugao's batters can't seem to be patient anymore - not that they were to begin with. Swinging at anything close leads to 3 easy outs, and as we hit the break the Tokyo champs look pretty battered.
Yamaguchi doesn't seem to be faring better with respect to the hit by pitches. In fact he starts the post-break with back-to-back dead balls. He's bailed out when Harada can't lay down the bunt and the lead runner Fujii is caught in no-man's land. Harada would single soon afterwards, so that mistake saved a run. They get an ugly 1-6-3 double play to end the inning where Yamaguchi thought he didn't have a cover at 2nd, then decided to go there anyways when the person did come. They still managed to turn it though.
Katsumata gets Sugao their 2nd base hit, but otherwise it's business as usual for Tanaka on the mound. Itou ahead 3-1 still swings away and grounds to 3rd for the final out.
Yamaguchi finds a way again to put himself in a pinch, walking to and a single sandwiched in between to load the bases. But after a prolonged battle, Yamaguchi climbs the ladder on Fujii as he gets all twisted around to avoid giving up a run.
With the first 2 outs recorded, I encountered technical difficulties again. But little happened other than the kantoku's getting other players in the game. Osaka Touin would cruise, though left Tanaka on the mound to finish the 8-0 victory.
As expected, Osaka Touin made easy work of the Tokyo champions. The numbers simply didn't support Toukaidai Sugao as a championship team and it showed today. The question now will be, how much of Osaka Touin's performance is real, and how much is just beating up on weaker competition?