That player is Tsuruga Kehi's ace Hiranuma. As per my most recent tweets he looks like he's a go. He had been injured at Meiji Jingu, so if he's available and 100%, Naradai Fuzoku is in a lot of trouble. He provides a big chunk both offense and defense for the team, so his presence is absolutely necessary for the team's success.
Naradai Fuzoku (Nara)
LF Katou Kazuki
2B Maeda Yuudai
CF Ikeda Ryouta
3B Nakatani Ren
1B Ikeda Yuusuke
RF Ikefuchi Hayaki (#15)
P Sakaguchi Taisei
SS Matsushita Yuuhei
C Takahashi Koutarou
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)
09:00 - First Pitch!
Right off the bat, it looks like his velocity looks okay. He's in the middle 130s with his fastball, and his delivery seems normal as Katou grounds to 3rd.
And once again his slider is in effect as he puts one outside that Maeda chases after for the 2nd out.
And Ryouta gets jammed, rolling a ball to Nakai that is easily put away for the 3rd out.
On the other side, Sakaguchi is having some issues to start, going 3-0 on Shinohara. He eventually fills up the count, but loses him.
After a sac bunt by Nakai, Sakaguchi continues to struggle with his control. Hayashinaka decides to go on a 2-0 pitch and pops out. He's rightly careful against Hiranuma, also falling behind 2-0, and then 3-0. With 1st open, they may just take it.
Sakaguchi manages to paint the outside corner, and then goes after him. He pops it up to center, where Ryouta makes the catch to retire the side. A successful 1st for the first timers.
Naktani gets decent contact on a Hiranuma offering, but skies it to left. Yuusuke wasn't even on the fall roster and is starting here, but goes down swinging on 3 straight.
And Ikufuchi can't fare much better with a routine grounder to 3rd. Hiranuma looks perfectly fine, and we can probably put that to bed now.
One down for Tsuruga Kehi, and bench starter Matsumoto lines a single to center for a base hit.
Sakaguchi leaves his fastball too much over the plate and Ueda takes it into the gap in right center! Ryouta runs it down, but the throw is cutoff as Matsumoto scores all the way from 1st to give Tsuruga Kehi a 1-0 lead!
Huh. Tsuruga Kehi's ouen-dan playing Okinawa's "Haisai oji-san"...
Kamon pops up a ball to shallow center. Matsushita going back, turns around as Ryouta comes in, and neither one has it! It falls in for a base hit! The wind is certainly blowing straight out (which is not common), and Sakaguchi is finding himself in a pinch!
Azuma-kantoku, doesn't want to risk the double play, and has Mori bunt the runners over.
Sakaguchi though gets out of the inning as Shinohara flies out to left to end the inning. He's given up the 1 run, but prevented further damage.
Sakaguchi tries to bunt his way on, Kamon on it, throws to 1st... it's high and the throw brings Ueda into Sakaguchi and the ball is dislodged. However, the 1st base umpire calls the out.
Matsushita, despite having the advantage being opposite handed, chases a ball away for the 2nd out. Takahashi does the same for Hiranuma's 4th K as he's faced the minimum through 3.
Nakai hits a decent pitch from Sakaguchi to shallow right. Ikefuchi runs in, but he can't make the catch! It gets behind him for a leadoff double. Hayashinaka lays down the bunt, and makes things a little difficult for Sakaguchi, but he makes the play.
Hiranuma knows what he needs to do, and booms a ball to center. Ryouta makes the catch and Nakai comes in to score. 2-0 Tsuruga Kehi.
Nakatani makes a nice smother on a hard hit ball from Yamamoto to get the final out, but the underdogs fall a little more behind.
And with Hiranuma on the mound, each run makes it feel infinitely harder.
Katou continues the theme of chasing the outside pitch and becomes the 5th victim.
Maeda and Ryouta fall quickly behind on the count and are retired. Hiranuma still facing the minimum through 4.
Matsumoto with a drive to right, Ikefuchi chasing after it, dives out of the picture... and it falls in! Matsumoto is booking it and reaches 3rd with no problem! Tsuruga Kehi threatening once again!
Ueda attacks the first pitch and hits it right at Sakaguchi! He stops it at his feet, checks the runner, and goes to 1st for the out. One bulled dodged.
Kamon also goes after the first pitch, but hits is right to Nakatani! Again Matsumoto can't come home as Nakantani makes the play at 1st. 2nd bullet dodged.
And now it's their #9 batter Mori... and he loses him! It's not a run, but it does flip the lineup over!
And Shinohara is battling at the plate trying to get a base hit to bring that runner home.
Sakaguchi leaves one over and Shinohara hits it to left. Katou going into foul territory, dives... and makes the catch! 3 out and the runner is stranded at 3rd! Shinohara doing his best to keep his team in the game.
But the offense just can't muster anything against Hiranuma. Nakatani jams an inside fastball back to Hiranuma. Yuusuke runs the count full, but goes after a low slider and goes down for the second time in as many ABs.
Ikefuchi with a grounder to short should end the inning, but Hayashinaka's throw to first short hops Ueda and he can't secure it! Hiranuma keeps his no-hitter, but the perfect game is done.
The error doesn't hurt them though as Sakaguchi goes after the first pitch and grounds it right to Ueda, who takes it himself for the 3rd out.
Tsuruga Kehi's batters really looking to attack Sakaguchi's pitchers as Nakai and Hayashinaka both hit balls to center.
Of course it's Hiranuma that makes the best contact, and drives a pitch to right, and off the wall for a double.
But they're certainly trying to open the game up as Yamamoto also hits a fly ball, this time to Ikefuchi to end the inning.
We're at the break, and the score is certainly close, but Naradai Fuzoku really hasn't shown any ability to mount an attack against Hiranuma.
And now the no-no is gone! Naradai's last batter Takahashi hits a hanging slider from Hiranuma and lines it to left for a base hit!
Tanaka-kantoku not electing for a bunt, instead goes for the hit-and-run. Katou winds up chasing a slider way far away, but that same pitch means Kamon's throw to 2nd is late. 2 down, but a runner in scoring position.
Hiranuma leaves another slider over the plate as Maeda makes contact, but its off the end of the bat and right to Ryouta for the 3rd out. Naradai Fuzoku at least avoids the no-hitter, but still haven't really found much success.
Bench starter Matsumoto making all kinds of problems for Naradai Fuzoku! This time it's another ball the opposite way into the huge gap in right center for a double! Azuma-kantoku now wants that extra run and has Ueda bunt him over.
But Kamon does the wrong thing again! He hits it right at Nakatani at 3rd! They almost get Matsumoto out, but do get Kamon at 1st for the 2nd out.
And once again Sakaguchi gets out of the jam! Mori goes after one way too high and flies out to Katou to end the inning. Another 0, which is good, but now they need crooked numbers of their own.
Ryouta actually gets a fastball down the middle, but he can only fly out to left. Nakatani then grounds out to 3rd.
And perhaps nonplussed with Yuusuke's ABs so far, #13 Koi comes in to hit for him.
Sadly, he fares absolutely no better, actually spinning himself to the ground to end the inning.
Koi stays in the game to play 1B.
And Sakaguchi apparently likes to be on the edge, because he leaves another one up for leadoff batter Shinohara, and he drives that all the way to the padding for a double. Tanaka-kantoku calls for time. Nakai bunts him over.
Hayashinaka hits a sac fly to left and makes it a 3-0 game. And with that Tanaka-kantoku makes a change.
- #11 Hayakidani comes in for 1B Koi to take the hill,
- Ikefuchi moves from RF to CF,
- Ryouta moves for CF to 1B,
- Sakaguchi goes to RF.
And of course because baseball, Hayakidani gets Matsumoto to ground to 3rd. Nakatani takes it himself to the bag for the force and the inning is over. No more damage done, but Tsuruga Kehi creeps away from Naradai Fuzoku a little further.
Ikefuchi with another grounder to short, and Hayashinaka airmails that one too! Ikefuchi beats out the leaping Nakai and gets on again due to an error!
And like the 6th, Tanaka-kantoku goes for a hit-and-run. Sakaguchi through strikes out, but Ikefuchi successfully steals the bag.
The story though ends the same. Matsushita chases a slider inside for the 2nd out. And Takahashi flies out to left.
New P for Naradai is #10 Nakayama.
And perhaps Tsuruga Kehi, wanting to shorten the game, get their hacks in. And all three at the bottom of the lineup fly out to left. It's a clean inning, but of little consolation.
And there's little to say about Nara's final 3 outs. Hiranuma goes about his business as all three end up retired and the game is over.
Well, the score was certainly closer. But it still felt like a blowout because Naradai Fuzoku couldn't do anything at the plate. Just 3 runners, 2 errors and 1 hit was all they could muster against the heralded ace. The only thing that prevented the game from being a blowout was the ability of Sakaguchi to get out of jam after jam. It's probably the reason why Naradai went as far as they did.
So for Naradai Fuzoku it's back to the drawing board. They're certainly working on breaking the monopoly in Nara, so maybe we'll see the italicized yellow "N" in the stands again. As for Tsuruga Kehi, Hiranuma looks fine, and the team will go as far as either he can holdup, or their offense can stay viable. But they can be considered a contender.