And to round out the long day, we'll get something that will probably be a lot less exciting (sorry Toukai Dai-yon).
Kendai Takasaki is probably the best we've seen them since they've broken onto the Koushien scene. We knew them for their speed on the basepaths. It was like as if they had a full team of Johnsons (if you can get that reference, good for you).
But now the team is different. They have an ace in Kawai, the speed isn't their main point, but they still use it in strategic ways. The end result is a team that actually can win the whole thing.
The same cannot be said for Toukai Dai-yon. They eked out a win against a very game Matsuyama Higashi when they put together 1 big inning. But Oosawa is vulnerable on the mound and the team struggles for offense.
I'll be surprised if it's not a one-sided game.
Toukai Dai-yon (Hokkaido)
SS Tomita Yuuki
2B Kanemura Kousei
RF Yamamoto Kouhei
1B Sou Kangi (#7)
LF Shiota Gen (#13)
C Ogawa Kouhei
3B Tachibana Susumu
P Gon Towon (#11)
CF Watase Taiki
Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)
CF Kasuga Yuuma
SS Hayashi Kenya
C Tsuge Sena
3B Shibahiki Ryousuke
2B Souma Yuuto
1B Ooshima Kyouhei
RF Satou Nozomu
LF Yanagimoto Eiji (#15)
P Hashidzune Naoya (#10)
16:15 - First Pitch!
Since both teams played yesterday, it's no surprise both teams have gone to their bullpens for bench starters on the mound.
So this is a thing. Hashidzume throws from multiple arm angles. I see a sidearm, a submarine, and an overhand. If he can locate from all areas, how do you read that as a batter??!!
Tomita scoffs at it with a leadoff single. But they try the sac bunt, which fails. The next 2 batters go down, including Sou, who strikes out looking.
Hayashi gets a base hit and we'll see this tactical speed in action. He has a very long lead.
He takes off, the throw does get there, but Hayashi just beats it out.
Flyout to left by Tsuge, and Hayashi tries to tag up! Throw from Shiota nails him!
That's a gutsy call, but if you have the speed, there's times to try it. Early on as a surprise tactic, why not?
Somehow, Toukai Dai-yon's batters are at least seeing the ball to make good contact. But they're still going down in order.
Now Gon reminds me of Engaru and ace Satou who threw really slow but whose fastball and offspeed pitches were similar speeds. That's not quite the case with him, but he throws really slow. Like 110s slow.
But if you do that, your defense will need to be good.
As I think that Shibahiki and Souma put back to back hits and threaten to open the scoring.
They pick off Shibahiki! I've never seen 1 team continue to have this many baserunning mistakes.
Toukai Dai-yon returns the favor! Ooshima's grounder goes 5-hole on Tachibana for an error. Doesn't hurt through as Tachibana fields the next one and makes the play for the out. But for Kendai Takasaki, there's being aggressive, and there's just being not smart.
1-2-3 for Hashidzume. Ho hum.
And yet another pickoff of a Kendai Takasaki runner. Is this some kind of strategy where you lull the other team to sleep with base running mistakes then suddenly do everything right late? Because otherwise, this doesn't makes sense.
Kanemura with a leadoff single. But no bunting, and the next 3 batters are retired.
The MBS announcers explain that they're doing Haisai Oji-san because Shibahiki is from Okinawa. If you're any fan, you know where that comes from. You don't need it explained.
Anyways, Shibahiki hits a sharp ball that Tachibana smothers, but has no play on. And after Souma singles up the middle, Oowaki-kantoku calls time.
The VERY first pitch after the time out. 4-6-3 double play. Inning over. WTF.
Ogawa with a base hit to right for another leadoff runner. This time Oowaki-kantoku calls for the bunt.
Now #15 Yoshida will hit for Gon, and ace Oosawa is warming up.
Ball to right... falls in for a base hit! It gets by the outfield and to the wall! Ogawa scores as Yoshida.. is at 1st??!!
Did he miss the bag? He should at least be on 2nd. Not sure what happened there.
And if he was on 3rd, that liner top left by Watase might have scored him. But it's just an out, and Tomita goes down as well.
Now, how do you go from trying to time a ball at 110 to one at 130? Might be difficult to do.
Ooshima does hit a shallow liner, but Watase seems to be in the right place to make the catch. As for Yanagimoto and Hashidzume? Well, they get sat down is what happens to them.
Well, this isn't the game I expected. I figured Kendai Takasaki would run laps around Toukai Dai-yon, but instead it's Toukai Dai-yon that has the lead!
Ace Kawai takes the hill for Hashidzume. Also, #14 Higa comes in for Yanagimoto.
You don't see that everyday. Grounder from Yamamoto goes off Hayashi right to Shibahiki's glove, who then fires to 1st for the routine 6-5-3 putout.
The first inning of work for Kawai goes without a hitch.
Same goes fort Oosawa as well. I think the batters' timings are all off. He tallies 2 more Ks.
Outfield umpires are now in play.
Shiota with a leadoff single. Bunt, grounder to opposite side puts him at 3rd. But Oosawa can't get the key hit.
Oosawa perhaps a bit careful with Shibahiki and walks him to start.
Souma hits a double play ball, but Kanemura doesn't field it cleanly and then compounds it with a late throw that goes awry. But Ogawa is heads up and throws to 2nd where they get Souma!
Still, the douten runner is at 3rd.
Satou with a popup to shallow right. Sou takes it, and instead of throwing to 3rd where Shibahiki is baiting him, he smartly runs it in.
Ooshima grounds to 2nd! Oosawa's going to get out of this jam!
2 down for Kawai and he issues a walk.
Yamamoto with a pop to shallow left. Higa with the diving attempt, but he doesn't make the catch! Runners on 2nd and 3rd and they may just get a key insurance run.
Nope! Sou continues to struggle at the plate as he K's for the 3rd time this game!
Kendai Takasaki with the counter! Higa just chopping at the ball and sees it through the left side for a base hit.
Oh no! Kawai bunts it to Oosawa! It's a 1-6-3 double play!!
Also, has anyone else noticed that after the Toukai aces throw the eephus things go wrong afterwards? Because Kasuga on the next pitch gets a base hit.
Hayashi flies out to center though, and no harm done for Toukai Dai-yon. What has happened to Kendai's offense??
Toukai Dai-yon goes in order, and now it's hang on time! Kendai Takasaki does have their 3-4-5 batters up this inning.
Tsuge with a no-no! He lets the fastball go on the outside corner for strike 3!
Shibahiki on base for his 4th time with a base hit up the middle. Last chances, so #17 Miyamoto comes in to run for Shibahiki.
Souma ball to left. It sounded good, and Shiota is backpedaling, but he makes the catch for the 2nd out.
Satou the last chance!
Flyball to left! Shiota running back! Still running back! Makes the catch as he puts his hands in the air!
What just happened??!! Toukai Dai-yon defeats Kendai Takasaki 1-0!!
I'm just speechless. Kendai Takasaki looked like a serious contender after defeating Tenri. And yet, despite both teams on 0 days rest, they fail to score a run against the Hokkaido champs?! There's no offense meant to Toukai Dai-yon, but it's just that outside of Komadai Tomakomai, teams from Hokkaido haven't really fared well, and there was no indication that this year would be any different.So for a team that had good pitching, and overall team speed to lose like this is shocking.
But given the context of the game, they almost deserved it. They had baserunning mistakes throughout all their games. They didn't have it before. Is it discipline? Skill? What was it about the prior teams that this team didn't have? Because they gave free outs to Toukai Dai-yon.
There's got to be some self-reflection here. They had an easier path to the Koushien final, and just frittered it away.
But congratulations have to go to Toukai Dai-yon. I'm not sure anyone had this outcome, and unless you're a fan of the school and you say you did, I have a bridge to sell you.
So... instead of a revenge match between Kendai Takasaki and Urawa Gakuin from the Kanto super-regional.... we have a revenge match between Toukai Dai-yon and Urawa Gakuin from the Meiji Jingu tournament where Toukai Dai-yon lost 10-0?
Ok, I'll give you this game Toukai Dai-yon. Not sure I can give you next one.