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.

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