My loyalties in this game are odd too. Sendai Ikuei hasn't won a title. The last time they got this far in the summer was 19 years ago.
And yet I plan on rooting for Akita Shougyou.
Akita Shougyou is the final public school remaining. If you follow this scene long enough, you find that a lot of the schools who make it are private. So for them to be here is a great accomplishment.
Also they are from Akita, which is not a very strong prefecture. The last time a school got here was back in 1995, and a school from here has never a title.
The win against Ryuukoku despite the 16 Ks from Narita Takeru wasn't all that much to write home about. Now, the win against Kendai Takasaki where he struck out 7 can make you take notice. It does mean that they could at least compete.
Sendai Ikuei put away a very disorganized Hanamaki Higashi last time out, but it is still a quality win. They still managed to put out 11 hits, so the offense is still there, but facing ace Narita for Akita Shougyou may be something entirely different.
Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
3B Satou Shouta
CF Aoki Reima
SS Hirasawa Taiga
C Gunji Yuuya
1B Sasaki Ryousuke
LF Kii Kaishuu
RF Doumeki Yuuki(#10)
2B Yatsu Koudai
P Satou Sena
Akita Shougyou (Akita)
CF Aida Kaito
SS Kusanagi Teruya
1B Takeda Yoshiki
3B Kominami Tenyou
P Narita Takeru
2B Furuya Ryouhei
LF Narita Kazu
RF Konno Toui
C Kudou Kei
13:10 - First pitch!
Good start as Takeru strikes Satou out on a fastball away.
And the gets the outside corner on Aoki for the 2nd out!
Kudou gets a chance to catch a foul ball for the 3rd out, but misses. It winds up not hurting them as Hirasawa softly lines out to Furuya.
It's not as much of a statement as Narita's was, but Sena gets 2 routine grounders and a pop fly to start his campaign.
This is probably what we're going to see for most of this game - a lot of outs. Only 1 K this inning for Takeru, but with the groundouts come quicker innings.
Sena does the exact same thing. 2 routine grounders and a K to end the inning. Sit back and watch these 2 aces deal.
5 pitches. Just 5. That's all that Takeru needed to get a 1-2-3 inning.
Kazu breaks through for Akitashou! Well, for a base hit at least. Leads off with a single past a diving Yatsu into center. He's bunted over for #9 batter Kudou.
Kudou with a ball back up the middle. Yatsu with the stop and throw... gets him but the runner moves to 3rd.
Aida grounds to 3rd though and the inning is over. But Akita Shougyou is the first to make progress.
Shouta perhaps the biggest challenge so far, goes 10 pitches before flying out to right on a letter high fastball.
Aoki takes a ball deep to center, but well in play for the 2nd out.
Hirasawa with a ball deep now, this time to right! Konno going back to the foul pole!
Hirasawa does one better and with one swing gives Sendai Ikuei the 1-0 lead!
Another flyball out retires the side, but you have to be concerned he's leaving the pitches up for Ikuei to mash.
The problem now is that Akitashou is on the back foot now that they're behind. Takeda gets on due to a hit batter, but while he advances to 2nd via passed ball, he can go no further.
Another pitch up and Ryousuke scorches it to right for a base hit.
And now the pressure is getting to them, bunt to the right side, Takeda and Takeru can't decide who's taking it and in the end no one does. Everyone's safe.
Doumeki walks, and it's manrui... Akita Shougyou calls time.
And of all things, it's a blooper by Yatsu that perhaps will break Akita Shougyou. 2 runs score on the ball to center and it's 3-0 Ikuei.
Make that 4-0 as Sena singles to right.
One down and Kazu gets his 2nd hit of the game, another single back up the middle. Konno not bunting, but grounds into a fielder's choice.
Kudou singles to right and that puts runners on 1st and 2nd.
Aida grounder past Shouta and down the line! One run scores as Kudou is held at 3rd. It's 1 run, though and there'll be more work to be done as Kusunagi gets frustrated as having a pitch to hit, then grounds to short to end the inning. Its 4-1 though and only 4 innings left to go.
Akita Shougyou waving the white flag it seems.
After giving up another run, Narita moves to RF as #10 Saitou takes the hill.
Rest of game
Well, Takeru makes a great throw from RF to nail a runner tagging up for home. He actually pitches the last 3 innings.
Akita Shougyou actually makes some noise in the 9th.
After two strikcouts, Kazu draws a respect walk. Then Shibata gets a talking to and then a base hit. Then Kudou gets double to left scoring 1, and then another when Shouta throws the ball away trying to get Kudou out at 2nd.
Aida rips a ball back to Sena, who makes the catch to end the game at 6-3.
I would have rather had the game end at 6-1 than make a small comeback and fall short like they did. It's like giving a team hope and then crushing it. You saw it in Aida collapsing after Sena catches the liner.