Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day 2, Game 1 - Imabari Nishi (Ehime) vs. Touin (Wakayama)

Sadly in trying to get the rosters I didn't leave myself enough time to make a writeup for this game. But with Touin a 21st century team, it generally means that they're up against the wall to begin with. The blowouts might continue to at least the start of today.

Imabari Nishi (Ehime)
RF Sugino Akihiko
SS Nakauchi Atsuya
P Sugiuchi Kouki
RF Fujiwara Yoshiki
LF Yamauchi Atsuya
3B Takao Yousuke
1B Akigawa Yuushi
C Andou Yuuto
2B Yoshihara Yuunosuke

Touin (Wakayama)
RF Tsuruga Naoki
2B Ishii Yuusuke
CF Ueyama Reo
1B Nishi Shuuhei
3B Hashinaka Motoki
LF Nishiyama Yuusuke (#14)
C Hayashi Daisuke
P Izawa Tadahiro
SS Umemoto Shouma

09:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
And right off the bat, Touin gets off to a bad start. Sugino swings on the first pitch, grounds to 3rd and Hashinaka bobbles the ball then short hops 1st for an E5. Nakauchi bunts him over.

Sugiuchi with a hard hit to the right side, but Ishii makes the great pick to prevent a run from scoring. Sugino advances to 3rd, but  there's 2 out now for cleanup batter Fujiwara.

Izawa being very careful, tries to paint the corner on the 1-2 pitch, but just misses. His next pitch Fujiwara just takes it the other way, and goes right over Nishi into right for a base hit and a 1-0 lead.

And now Yamauchi booms one to center. Ueyama goes back, but can't chase it down. It goes all the way to the wall and Fujiwara comes around all the way from 1st to make it a 2-0 game.

Takao grounds out to 3rd to end the 1st. Either nerves or the difference in skill level perhaps showing itself early.

Bottom 1st
Tsuruga with a blooper to center, Fujiwara charging in, tries to make the shoestring catch, but drops it and Touin has a leadoff runner. Ishii bunts him over.

Hm, Sugiuchi with some control issues early, walks Ueyama on 4 straight, drawing a conference from Kuroki-kantoku.

And it seems to settle him down, as Sugiuchi induces a groundball from Nishi. Yoshihara starts the double play and the growing threat disapates.

Top 2nd
Akigawa hits a screamer down the 3rd base line, but Hashinaka snags it before it can reach the outfield.

Izawa might be settling in against the bottom of the lineup as he gets Yuuto to ground out and freezes Yoshihara on the outside corner to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Touin's batters are doing the right thing, and making Sugiuchi throw strikes. Hashinaka gets ahead 3-0, then on the 3-1 drives the ball to deep left center for a double.

(Hey, it's Ama-chan in the stands! Love that song.)

Nishiyama showing bunt, but taking pitches as well, he's ahead 2-0. And now 3-0!

Sugiuchi loses Nishiyama and throws the ball away allowing Hashinaka to advance to 3rd on the walk! Runners at the corners for Hayashi, but he appears to be swinging away early as he nearly swings out of his shoes.

What's this? Hayashi slices a ball back up the middle and into center for a base hit! Hashinaka scores to make it a 2-1 ball game!

Izawa showing bunt the entire AB, but Sugiuchi cannot find the strike zone and gets ahead 2-0!

But being the bottom of the order and no out, Itou-kantoku perhaps taking the safe route and has Izawa lay down the bunt instead of a possible double play.

Also, it allows Umemoto to hit a grounder to 2nd, and that's good enough to get Nishiyama home to tie the game at 2-2! This team is at least playing smart baseball - or so it seems.

Back to the top of the order, and Tsuruga swings on the first pitch grounding out to 3rd. Inning over, but Touin has struck back to level the game.

Top 3rd
It's Imabari's turn at the top of the order and Sugino this time gets a clean hit past the diving Hashinaka for a leadoff single. Nakauchi once again lays the sac bunt.

Sugiuchi hits a hanging curve to the left side.Umemoto can't get to it and they're waving Sugino home! Nishiyama double clutches before throwing, and that makes the throw really late. Imabari Nishi strikes back to regain the lead 3-2.

And Imabari might have received that wake up call. Fujiwara with a very easy swing guides the ball down the left field line scoring Sugiuchi all the way from 1st to reestablish their 2-run lead at 4-2.

Things might in danger of going off the rails as Izawa's pickoff throw to 2nd is behind the runner and into center. Ueyama tries to make the quick pick and throw, but he can't even secure the ball to do so. Itou-kantoku calls for time.

It's not helping a whole lot as Izawa goes too far on an inside pitch and hits Takao (though I don't really think he tried to get out of the way).

Akigawa with a ball up the 3rd base line, Hashinaka makes the good stop, but he rushes his throw to 1st, short hops Ishii and it's another error. Fujiwara scores to make it 5-2.

Which again comes back to bite them. Yuuto hits a ball to the left side past a diving Hashinaka and Umemoto, allowing Takao to score and it's a 6-2 game.

#12 Nishimoto is sent to the bullpen to warm up as Yoshihara is the 9th batter to come to the plate. He dribbles one to the left side, and Umemoto has no play, though he still makes the throw to 1st.

Sugino at bat once again this inning, but he goes after the first pitch yet again, this time grounding to short. Umemoto goes to 1st without issue to finally end the inning. But Imabari Nishi has re-taken the lead, with interest.

Bottom 3rd
Down 4 now, The first couple of batters for Touin throw out the patience strategy. Ishii and Ueyama both quickly ground out to short before Nishi (also swinging early) lines a ball to left.

But Hashinaka is clearly looking for a ball to hit, and with 2 strikes waves at a ball way to far outside for the 3rd out.

Top 4th
Hashinaka is determined to make one of those quick throws work, and with some help from 1B Nishi, he finally gets it done against Sugiuchi.

But Izawa isn't off the hook yet. Fujiwara gets his 3rd hit in as many ABs and goes to left for another double.

Fortunately for him Yamauchi chops one right back to Izawa for the 3rd out No further damage done - for now.

Bottom 4th
Nishiyama must be a slow runner, because despite a bobble by Akigawa at 1B, he'st still able to make the play at 1st.

But yeah, it really does look like Touin's batters are swinging at everything. 7 pitches and 3 groundballs to 2nd later, and Imabari's back on the bats.

Top 5th
Ahead by a good margin, Imabari might be taking up the swing first mentality. But all it does is result in outs. Takao hits a ball back to Izawa, Akigawa flies out to left, and Yuuto does down swinging for the 3rd out.

Bottom 5th
Having hacked away for two innings, the start of this inning sees a bit more patience. One down for Touin and leadoff batter Tsuruga drawas a walk.

Itou-kantoku then pulls out the hit-and-run, which surprises everyone involved and allows Tsuruga to reach 2nd safely.

Ishii also works the count a little, and hits a sharp grounder to the right side. Yoshihara makes the diving stop, but his throw somehow goes 90 degress towards the 1st base wall! That allows Tsuruga to score from 3rd to make it a 6-3 game on a peculiar play from the Imabari defense.

But as we hit the middle of the order, the batters apparently believe that since they're there, they should be hitting. And so they do, and so botj Ueyama and Nishi ground out to end the inning. Touin gets one back before the mid-game break, but there's still 3 more runs to make up.

Top 6th
Post-break, Imabari Nishi is taking their hacks in like it's practice. Izawa taking full advantage, putting pitches in the zone, and 8 of them later, his team heads back to the dugout.

Bottom 6th
Hashinaka with a scorcher up the 1st base line, and Akigawa can't get in front of it. It goes down the line for a double and Touin looks good to start the inning.

Sugiuchi on the other hand is missing the zone to Nishiyama, again falling behind 3-1. And as Ama-chan plays again, Itou-kantoku has Nishiyama lay down the bunt to move him to 3rd for any decent fly ball.

But Hayashi gets it all wrong and swings on the first offering, skying one near home. Sugiuchi takes it in foul ground for the 2nd out.

And finally the blunder is complete in the 6th as Izawa goes after the first pitch himself and hits a lazy fly to left for the 3rd out. They still have 3 innings to go, but time is certainly not on their side.

Top 7th
Imabari Nishi finally gets their first runner since the 4th when Umemoto bobbles a grounder from Fujiwara. Kuroki-kantoku tries to make an inning out of it with 2 down, sending Fujiwara to 2nd with the throw being short and late.

It works as perhaps Izawa forgetting that 1st base is open, hangs a 3-1 pitch to Takao who happily obliges, driving it over Nishiyama's head for a double to make it a 4-run ball game at 7-3.

Nishimoto warms up again as Izawa is charged for a balk.

And now Izawa throws it away! Takao coming home, but Hayashi gets on the ball quickly and throws to Izawa covering. He blocks the plate and records the third out. But the mountain just got harder to climb for Touin.

Bottom 7th
Tsuruga appears to be the only one patient as he draws a 1-out walk - his 2nd in as many ABs. Ishii grounds to 2nd, but races to 1st to beat out the double play.

Ueyama with a grounder to 1st, but it handcuffs Akigawa and bounces away! Everyone's safe!

Huh, I don't know if someone got the message, but Touin is now not swinging the bat at all! Nishi takes 4 straight balls to load the bases, induing Kuroki-kantoku to call time.

And he still can't throw a strike! He falls behind 3-0 to Hashinaka before throwing a strike, but still loses him! It's and oshidashi walk and it's 7-4, still manrui!

Kuroki-kantoku scrambles the bullpen, but meanwhile Sugiuchi continues to throw low! He again goes to 3-0 before throwing a strike.

But this time Nishiyama gets the trigger finger! He doesn't let the count run full, and swings away! But it's an easy fly to left and Yamauchi secures it for the 3rd out. Touin had the right idea, just not enough discipline.

Top 8th
Imabari Nishi looking for insurance runs, continues to swing away resulting in two quick outs from the bottom of the order.

Sugino too swings, and hits a screamer up the 3rd base line. Hashinaka makes another great stop, and this time the throw is good and without issue for the 3rd out!

Bottom 8th
Touin's main opportunity may have passed them up, as Hayashi and Izawa continue to try and swing their way onto base, but both ground out to short. PH Tsunoda gets in on it, but just hits it back to Sugiuchi for the 3rd out. Looks like that might be it for Touin now.

Top 9th
#11 Kusuoka comes in for PH Tsunoda to take over at SS. And wouldn't you know it, with one down Sugiuchi hits it right to him and he bobbles the ball for an error.

Fujiwara hits it to short, and Kusuoka boots that one too. He's not having a good start filling in.

Making matters worse, Izawa throws a ball away allowing the runners to advance.


A pitch gets away from Izawa and squarely hits Yamauchi in the head. He crouches down and can't seem to get things straightened out. He's eventually carried off on a stretcher as Itou-kantoku makes a change. #13 Kusano comes in for Izawa and goes to 1B, while Nishi takes the mound.

But Nishi can fare no better. Takao drives one to right for a triple to make it a 10-4 game. Toss in another wild pitch and it's 11-4. His control is just as bad as he walks Akigawa, and then hits Yuuto. Nishi settles down enough to get the final 2 outs, and mercifully Touin won't have to play defense anymore.

Bottom 9th
Defensive change for Imabari Nishi as #15 Kikukawa comes in for Fujiwara and goes to LF, shifting Yamauchi to CF.

Tsuruga with a ball to 3rd, but it bounces off of Takao, who has to chase it down. Ishii presses to 2nd, and is finally called safe after the ball trickles away from a covering Nakauchi.

After Ishii grounds out quickly, Ueyama gets the idea and draws a walk. To even belabor the point, Sugiuchi throws a ball away to Nishi, which allows him to take 2nd.

But Touin does seem resigned to their fate. Nishi swings away, hitting a ball back to Sugiuchi for the 2nd out though it does score 1, 11-5.

Hashinaka too swings away and lines a ball over a leaping Nakauchi into left. That scores another to make it 11-6.

#15 Yanagitani comes in to hit for Nishiyama, but he's patient at the plate and draws a 4-pitch walk.

Hayashi finally gets the message, much too late though, and he too draws a walk to load the bases.

Kuroki-kantoku has had enough, and removes Sugiuchi from the mound. He goes to 3rd, shifting Takao to C, and bringing in #10 Yoshimoto for Yuuto to take the hill.

Things don't look promising to start as Yoshimoto walks Kusano to bring in a run, making it 11-7 and now a potentially dangerous situation.

But Kusuoka ends it soon enough with a routine grounder to short. Imabari Nisho survives itself to advance to the 2nd round.

This wasn't a pretty game by any means. Imbari Nishi seemingly had this game in hand, yet Sugiuchi was always on the verge of giving it away each inning. Touin's batters for the most part (and like so many other teams in the past) did not realize that Sugiuchi was struggling so much on the mound to take free passes. They may have realized it late, but by that time it would have taken a herculean effort, which they were not able to mount.

Imabari Nishi does advance to the next round, but their performance does not instill any confidence in the team going forward.

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