We are winding down the 1st round games, and the first is a matter of survival. Itoman has claimed the flag of Kyushu from Kyushu Sangyoudai Kyushu and is the last team standing. Should they lose to Tenri, Kyushu will be completely eliminated in the very first round!
As for Tenri, I've been overestimating them for years now, only in the last year or two finally ratcheting down expectation. Given who has advanced out of Kinki, and my original thoughts of it being a weaker region this year, I'm not sure what to expect from them. Thing is, Itoman doesn't really profile as a strong team, so even with conservatively estimating Tenri's chances, Itoman may have a heck of a battle on their hands.
SS Ikema Takato
2B Okada Tatsuki
CF Kinjyou Ryuuki
P Kinjyou Noa
LF Oota Takato
1B Kinjyou Akisada
RF Ganaha Yuuki
3B Kinjyou Shougo
C Higa Ryouhei
CF Funabiki Wataru
P Saitou Yuu
SS Sadamitsu Hiroto
1B Sakaguchi Hiroya
RF Tomiki Ryouga
3B Kawasaki Koudai
LF Hashimoto Kouki (#17)
2B Maekubo Tomoya
C Tsutsumida Reo
09:00 - First Pitch!
As usual, lefty Saitou works his slider away against leadoff batter Ikema and records a K.
He leaves a pitch a bit over the plate and Okada sends it to right, but it's a lazy fly that Tomiki waits quite a time for.
And am I reading the gun right? His fastball barely touches 130??
Ryuuki grounds out to short. Sadamitsu with the easy play and the side is retired.
Really? Kinki champs with a pitcher who barely throws 130?!
Yes, you're reading the lineup right, there are 4 Kinjyou's on the starting roster. There are also 2 Higa's and 2 Ooshiro's on the team roster.
Funabiki grounder to 1st, Akisada runs to 1st, but flips to Noa. He barely beats Funabiki for the first out.
Saitou, as a pitcher, is batting 2nd. That's really rare. Either you see them as the cleanup batter, or buried deep in the lineup. Supposedly he has good speed which Hashimoto-kantoku likes to use.
He's a little early to a changeup and winds up weakly grounding to 2nd.
Sadamitsu flies out to center and it's a good start for the Okinawan representatives.
Noa gets his offense started with a clean hit to left. Oota immediately sends him to 2nd.
Akisada looks for a pitch the other way and gets one. Sakaguchi fumbles with the ball, but still runs it himself to the bag for the out. Noa advances to 3rd.
Saitou jams him and he chops one to 2nd! Maekubo secures it, and throws to 1st to end the inning. Itoman with the early chance, but can't convert.
Sakaguchi looking to get on base works the count, and takes a 3-2 pitch just outside for ball 4! Tomoki looks to bunt him over, but his first attempt looks shaky. His 2nd attempt he fouls back to the screen. Yikes, he bunts like an AL MLB player would.
He three bunts! And he lays it down! Wow, that's gutsy considering his 1st 2 tries.
Kawasaki also moves the batter over with a grounder to the right side. So it's the same situation as Itoman earlier.
But new starter Hashimoto swings at the first pitch and like Ganaha, grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Shougo tries the work the count approach, but completely wastes it when he chases a fastball almost in the left handed batters box for the first out.
Saitou leaves a fastball over the plate and Ryouhei smacks it back up the middle for a base hit.
Ikema hits one back up the middle as well, but this time Sadamitsu is there! Runs it to 2nd for 1, throws to 1st to complete the double play!
Maekubo with a ball to center. Ryuuki running back, still running, leaps! It's down and off the wall! Maekubo is in with a double and Tenri is in business! Tsutsumida bunts him over.
Infield is in for Itoman to try and throw out the runner.
But Funabiki just puts the bat on the ball and it goes through the infield for a base hit! Maekubo scores and Tenri leads 1-0!
Hashimoto starts the runners on the basepaths! Funabiki takes off for 2nd! Ryouhei's throw to 2nd... OUT! Ikema with the tag just in time for the out!
And that's too bad as Saitou hits a soft looper over Ikema for a base hit!
Now Sadamitsu with a smoker through the right side! Saitou takes the express to 3rd and the throw from Ganaha is late! Tenri still threatens!
Noa really trying to pound the outside to Sakaguchi, but he winds up walking him! Manrui for Tenri!
But Noa is quickly let off the hook! Tomiki goes after the first pitch and skies it to center! Ryuuki secures it for the 3rd out and Noa only gives up the 1 run!
Itoman looks to get that run back as Okada singles to center for a leadoff hit.
No bunting from Ryuuki, instead a hit and run! Ryuuki strikes out, but Tstsumida drops the ball on the transfer.
Noa looking to help his own cause hits a liner to left, but Hashimoto is there to make the running catch for the 2nd out.
Oota with a drive to left again! This time Hashimoto has to run back! He leaps, but he's not close! Okada walks home and we're douten at 1-1!
Haisai Oji-san plays as Itoman looks to take the lead with a base hit, but Saitou shuts the door! He strikes out Akisada to end the inning, but how bad does that wasted opportunity for Tenri look now?
Kawasaki playing the waiting game at the plate, but Noa puts a changeup at the outside corner and gets Kawasaki looking.
Hashimoto attacks said pitch and sends it through the left side for a base hit.
Maekubo with a ball to left center! Ryuuki takes a bad route and has to chase it to the wall! Hashimoto comes walking home on Maekubo's 2nd extra base hit and Tenri re-takes the lead at 2-1!
Tsutsumida can't bring the run home as he skies a ball in the infield. Akisada makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Funabiki does the same and the inning comes to an end. Tenri has the lead again, but are leaving runners in scoring position.
Saitou doing his best to place his pitches, but it can be inconsistent. He gets in on Ganaha and gets a weak grounder for the out.
But to righty Shougo, he seems to be missing wide at times, allowing Shougo to run the count full for cheap as well as knowing where to look for the ball.
And what looks like strike 3 on the inside is called ball 4! That looked good.
But a walk is a walk. Uehara-kantoku has Ryouhei bunt the runner along for a 1-timer from Ikema.
Saitou seemingly having problems finding the strike zone, falls behind Ikema 3-1. This time though Saitou wins as Ikema hits a weak grounder to 1st. Maekubo flips to Saitou and the side is retired.
Noa, desperate for an easy inning, strikes out Saitou on a slider.
Sadamitsu flies out to right, and Sakaguchi soon afterwards pops out to Shougo and we hit the break with Tenri narrowly ahead 2-1. The lead isn't safe by any means and Tenri could have scored more runs with their chances earlier. So it's still anyone's game.
Okada goes after the first pitch and hits one right to Sadamitsu for the 1st out.
Ryuuki works the count, but in the end is jammed and hits another grounder to Sadamitsu for the 2nd out.
Saitou sells the pitch as he hits the outside corner to strike out Noa looking for the 3rd out!
Tomoki reaching out and driving a ball down and away. But he lifts it to center, and Ryuuki has room to run it down for the 1st out.
Kawasaki goes for the blooper hit instead and Ryuuki can't reach that one.
Hashimoto with a drive down the right field line.. FAIR!! It falls in fair and Ganeha misplays it! Kawasaki comes home and it's 3-1 Tenri as Hashimoto comes in with a double/E9!
NO! It's a squeeze!
TENRI IS TERRIBLE AT THESE!
It's right back to Noa and Hashimoto is hung up. Maekubo, who had been 2-2 on the day with 2 extra base hits, ends up at 2nd.
Tsutsumida chops one back to Noa and the inning is over.
Ugh. IF there is a team that can't lay down a squeeze bunt, EVER, it's Tenri.
One down for Itoman in the lucky 7 and Akisada singles to center. Uehara-kantoku continues to play the small ball game as Ganaha bunts the runner over.
Shougo can't get the one timer though as he grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.
Funabiki, leading off for Tenri draws a leadoff walk. Saitou looks terrible trying to lay down the bunt.
He gets it down, Ryouhei fires to 2nd... SAFE!!!
It's a delayed call, but he is in safely! It's always an adventure when Tenri bunts.
This time there is no bunt (thank God), but Sadamitsu hits a grounder to 2nd! Okada goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st in time for a double play!!!
Well, that went bad. Now there's 2 outs with Funabiki at 3rd.
So, Sakaguchi gets a hold of one to left center. Ryuuki sprinting back to the wall...
There's that. Sakaguchi with his first hit of the game makes it count with a HR to make 5-1.
Tomoki flies out to left to end the inning, but Tenri extends their lead.
Looks like there's a delay as Funabiki for Tenri is getting some treatment for something.
Funabiki finally emerges, and just for a batsu game Ryouhei hits one to deep left-center that he runs down.
Unsatisfied with that result, Ikema drives one to deep center. Funabiki runs back, but has to play it off the base of the wall as Ikema comes in with a double. Ikema looks semi-pleased.
No bunting down 4, but Okada grounds out to 2nd. Ikema advances 90 feet.
And in a complete miss, Saitou flies open on a pitch to a lefty and hits Ryuuki in the elbow. Ow.
Noa with a ball up the 3rd base line! But Kawasaki makes the stop and throws to 1st for the 3rd out!
Uh on. After a pop out, Hashimoto takes a swing and he's hurt. They way it looks like it's as if he hurt his shoulder or perhaps dislocated it?
So #18 Higaki comes in to hit with a 1-2 count.
And gets a base hit! It's a single through the left side!
That'll be it for Noa. He's sent to RF while #16 Hirayasu comes in.
After a flyout by Maekubo, Hirayasu is pulled for #10 Adaniya. Might be Uehara-kantoku emptying the bench.
Tsutsumida takes advantage with his first hit to center.
Funabiki with a shot to right center. Noa has to chase it all the way to the wall. 2 more runs score and it's 7-1.
And Noa returns to the mound. #18 Ooshiro Shoutarou comes in for Adaniya and goes to RF.
The inning finally ends as Saitou grounds to 3rd.
#11 Moriura comes into the game to finish it out. He comes in for PH Higaki. It's a double switch as #7 Muneta comes in for Saitou to take over in LF.
Oota grounds out to 2nd for the first out. Akisada grounds one to 3rd, and Sakaguchi flubs the ball! It goes behind him and that's Tenri's 1st error.
Akisada is replaced at first by #14 Uehara.
Shoutarou in his first AB strikes out, but Uehara steals 2nd.
#14 Higa Kaito comes in to hit for Shougo. He's not just hacking away though, he's fighting at the plate and taking close pitches. He even works the count full.
And he's rewarded! He takes a ball the other way for a base hit and Uehara scores to make it 7-2.
#12 Shimabukuro comes in to hit for Ryouhei.
And that should be the game. He grounds to 2nd and Maekubo takes it himself to the bag for the 3rd out! Tenri takes out the final Kyushu team, defeating Itoman 7-2!
Tenri gave Itoman some chances early, and kept them in the game leaving runners on base. But they were unable to capitalize, and eventually Tenri was able to pull away in the late stages to advance.
Again, not a very impressive performance by Tenri. The bunting as as awful as ever. The ace barely hitting 130 is a severe issue, and Hashimoto - who had some of the bigger hits, might be seriously injured. That's a lot of things going against them. But, they're moving on.
Itoman was eventually blown out, and certainly they're in the same range as the other schools in Kyushu. Unfortunately, there's going to have to be some marked improvement for them to be considered a contender in the summer.