Well, that last game wasn't a blowout by the score, but Touin outside of early on never really put themselves into the game. Let's see if this one will fare any better. Neither team looks dominating on paper, Ritsumeikan Uji's pitcher walks more batters than... aw, I wrote myself into a corner. And Shizuoka hasn't really faced anyone really strong. It might be even, but just as easily it could be another ugly game. But at least on paper it might be close, so hey!
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)
Ritsumeikan Uji (Kyoto)
SS Morita Kousuke
3B Uenishi Yoshiaki
RF Nara Shouhei
1B Itou Taiga
LF Fujioka Takurou
CF Kitahara Takuma
C Momota Fuutarou
2B Nakahara Yuuma
P Yamashita Taiga
12:00 - First Pitch!
Shizuoka not necessarily testing ace Yamashita's control early as Suzuki grounds out to 2nd. Neither is Tomoki and he pops out to Nakahara in shallow right.
Uchiyama does wait, but falls behind 1-2. He levels the count, but then can't hold off the fastball up and in, and thankfully for Ritsumeikan's Udaki-kantoku, it's an uneventful 1st inning.
Muraki is a decently fast worker if nothing else as he gets Morita to wave at a slider outside for his first K.
But just as quickly as he got his first K, Muraki issues his first BB as well. Udaki-kantoku had initially called for the bunt from Nara, and Nara does eventually lay it down. It's a bit hard, but Muraki's only play winds up being at 1st.
Muraki leaves a ball over the plate and Itou takes it to center! Uchiyama has to play it on a hop and that allows Uenishi to score, giving Ritsumeikan Uji the quick 1-0 lead!
Takurou grounds to 2nd to end the inning, but another super-regional champ finds themselves behind.
Horiuchi taking some pitches to start the 2nd, fights off a couple before earning a 9-pitch walk. Yasumoto the complete opposite, not only not bunting, but swinging away. He does fight off a fair number of pitches, but winds up going after a ball up and in for the K.
Nakano quickly falls behind himself and grounds to 1st. He hustles though, and avoids the double play.
That's good because Hirose lines a ball to right, advancing Nakano to 3rd and giving Shizuoka a chance to level the game.
Muraki though can't help his own cause. He chases a ball outside for Yamashita's 3rd K and just like that their chance is gone.
Kitahara gets the engine started for Ritsumekan with a soft single to center. Momota bunts him along.
Nakahara with a line shot to the right side, but Tomoki makes a leaping jump for the 2nd out.
And now Ritsumeikan runs themselves out of the inning as Kitahara is caught napping by C Horiuchi. The rundown is rather poor, but it works nonetheless and the inning is over.
Sanpei gets on base, but perhaps not in the manner he was hoping. Yamashita's first pitch plunks him. Nonetheless, a leadoff runner is a leadoff runner.
But Shizuoka isn't a bunting squad and Suzuki flies out to right on the first pitch.
That seems to suit them just fine though as Tomoki shoots one past a diving Uenishi into left for a base hit.
Uchiyama lines a ball to right! Sanpei is waved around, and the throw is late! Shizuoka ties the game up at 1-1!
Runners at the corners for Horiuchi and Yamashita leaves another one too much over the plate! He sends it to right, and it's plenty enough to get Tomoki in from 3rd and Shizuoka has taken the 2-1 lead!
Kuribayashi-kantoku looking to press the action sends Uchiyama to 2nd! Throw from Momota not in time, and now a base hit can score another.
Yasumoto meanwhile takes his first, and Yamashita's 3rd, free pass.
And what's this?? Nakano goes after a pitch shoulder high and lines it down the right field line! Uchiyama scores, Yasumoto being waved around, he scores all the way from 1st and Shizuoka has a 4-1 lead and still threatening for more!
Hirose puts some steam on a ball to the left side, but Morita is able to corral it and throw to 1st to finally end the inning, but not before Yamashita's control issues come back to bite him!
Muraki getting healthy against the bottom of Ritsumeikan's lineup as he retires his 3rd consecutive batter in Yamashita with a flyout to center.
It's carrying into the top of the order as well, getting Morita and Uenishi to hit into routine outs for a clean frame.
Muraki even looks to help his own cause, going low to pound a ball to the right side that somehow escapes a diving Nakahara. It's now that we finally see our first bunt from the Shizuoka squad as Sanpei moves him along.
Suzuki tries to drive him in from his perch at the top of the order, but he's already regretting his swing on a ball outside as he goes down for the 2nd out.
Tomoki with a single to center, but Kitahara gets to it quickly and Muraki can't score from 3rd.
That helps out Yamashota a ton as the runner winds up being stranded at 3rd when Uchiyama flies out to left, ending the threat.'
Muraki's really into his groove now after the shaky 1st. He goes on to retire the heart of the Ritsumeikan order without too much trouble.
Horiuchi takes advantage of the free passes Yamashita is giving out and take his base to lead off the 5th. Now playing for a run, Yasumoto bunts him along. Hirano does the right thing thereafter, hitting a ground ball to the right side, which allows Horiuchi to take 3rd.
And Hirose delivers! He hits a grounder past a diving Takahashi into left, scoring Horiuchi to make it a 5-1 game.
Shizuoka continues to try and play add-on as Muraki singles to right! Hirose advances to 3rd on the play.
And while I think Sanpei is happy to be in the lineup, I don't think he particularly likes getting hit twice, but that's exactly what happens.to load the bases. Thankfully, it's the top of the order and Suzuki, who's 0-3 on the day.
Not anymore!! Suzuki goes down to dig a ball and serves it to right! Hirose and Muraki score, extending Shizuoka's lead to 7-1.
Tomoki golfs a ball into the air, and Morita secures it for the 3rd out. More walks lead to more runs, and an even larger deficit.
Kitahara looking for any way of getting on base, tries to work the count, but ends up swinging on a 3-2 fastball away for the first out.
Momota goes after the first pitch and he hits a routine grounder to short.
And Nakahara makes it a 1-2-3 inning as he quickly flies out to right. That brings us to the break and perhaps the hope this would be competitive is looking less and less likely. Yamashita's control issues from the aki taikais have carried over, and are producing the expected results. I don't expect that to change in the 2nd half of this game.
It's another free pass by Yamashita, this time to Uchiyama. That makes 6 in the game, and an average of 1 an inning.
There's no bunting this time around, but both Sugiuchi and Yasumoto pop out to the infield. The walk winds up not hurting Yamashita as Nakano flies out to left to end the inning. It's a well-needed donut for
Ritsumeikan finally gets a break when a grounder from Yamashita to start the inning glances off of Yasumoto's glove and behind him for an E6. As a precaution, Kuribayashi-kantoku calls for time.
It also looks like Muraki's form is loosening a bit, but not necessarily enough to make a difference yet.
Morita isn't bunting, and down 6 that's understandable. But all he can do is pop out to Tomoki.
And now Udaki-kantoku calls for the bunt from Uenishi? That seems rather peculiar. Nonetheless he lays it down and moves the runner into scoring position with 2 out.
Nara gives the ball a good poke, but Sanpei makes a great pick and throw to 1st for the 3rd out. The error proves to be inconsequential.
Shizuoka meanwhile appears to be winding things down offensively. Players are still taking their hacks, but they're not looking to run up the score. They go 3 up and 3 down, looking to shorten the game, and get some rest.
Itou gets Ritsumeikan's 3rd hit of the game with a ball back up the middle for a leadoff single. Again, no bunting this time, but Takurou succumbs to the forkball for the first out.
Muraki does appear to be laboring a bit more now, as he had gone full on Takurou, and goes full on Kitahara. Muraki jams him, but Kitahara gets enough of it to bloop it into center for a base hit.
Muraki's pace is definitely slowing down, and he falls behind Momota 2-0. He fights back to fill up the count and gets Momota to go after a ball low. He makes contact, but it's a fly ball to right for the 2nd out. That definitely was ball 4.
And Nakahara perhaps didn't get the memo on Muraki as he swings on the first pitch and grounds to short. Yasumoto goes the short way and the side is retired.
It had been a while considering the clean innings post-break, but Yamashita still found a way to issue a free pass as Tomoki gets one with 1 down.
After Uchiyama goes down looking, Tomoki goes off and not only takes 2nd, but 3rd as well on back-to-back pitches.
And as if Yamashita heard me, he decides to go and freeze Horiuchi looking as well to end the inning.. No harm done.
Looks like Ritumeikan is also winding things down. Muraki needs just 8 pitches to retire the side.
Last ABs for Shizuoka and they're making the best of them. Yasumoto booms a ball to deep right center, but Kitahara is able to sprint over and run it down near the fence.
After a customary walk by Yamashita, Hirose grounds into a fielders' choice. Muraki collects his 3rd hit of the day with a liner to center.
And as for Sanpei, it appears the only way he gets on base is getting hit because he can't get one of his own. He hits a grounder to 3rd, and Uenishi goes the short way for the 3rd out.
Ritsumeikan Uji goes down in order, and the game mercifully ends.
Boy, these games have been brutal so far. But nothing so far surprising either. Ritsumeikan's pitching issues were the biggest elephant in the room, and that pretty much bore out as expected. It's also a wonder how Osaka Touin lost in a region appearing to be as weak as they are, but they also did face Tenri, and we haven't seen them yet. Shizuoka advances, but there's nothing to necessarily be taken from this game - except for the fact that Muraki already seemed to be unable to go a full game without some breakdown in his pitching. That will only get worse as the tournament progresses.