Well, it was about a usual of a day as you can have. As much as Koushien is romanticized, more often than not it is games like these. Doesn't mean we can't have exciting games, it's just that it doesn't happen every game.
Hopefully this one can give us some good baseball.
By now, Hanamaki Higashi should be old hat. A team out of nowhere in Iwate that challenged the establishment. Had two aces who may have been destined for MLB instead of NPB (Kikuchi Yuusei and Ootani Shouhei). And a manger who some international kokoyakyu fans consider cute or cool. They run, steal, try to gain advantages where they can. The only knock I have on them is that they can play to the level of their competition - good or bad.
As for Senshuudai Matsudo, they have been disappointed time and again out of Chiba generally having made at least the quarterfinals, progressing a round each year, but losing. And losing in enchousen each time.
This time around, they took out all that frustration against (my) Narashino. 7 runs in the 7th inning and they were finally on their way to the title. Having defeated Narashino and Kisaradzu Sougou, the question is - what can they do now that they're here?
Senshuudai Matsudo (Chiba)
SS Watanabe Daiki
LF Takada Takumi
3B Okamoto Yoshiki
P Hara Shuu
C Kawamura Keisuke
1B Izume Daichi
RF Teramoto Keiuske
CF Kawazoe Yuusei
2B Itou Akinobu
Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
SS Tarou Akira
C Fukushima Keito
LF Senda Kyouhei
2B Kumagai Sena
CF Sasaki Yuuya
3B Komatsu Yuuya (#14)
1B Satou Yuito
RF Satou Tarou (#13)
P Takahashi Takuya
10:02 - First pitch!
Hm... Senshuudai Matsudo's band is refreshingly different, but I'm not impressed by their ABs at the plate early. Lots of bad swings in a 1-2-3 inning for ace Takahashi.
Nice play there by Watanabe in the gap to prevent a leadoff hit. Ran it down, stop and throw back across. Hara throwing in upper 130s-low 140s, which is slightly above average for the straight (fastball).
Hara gets a 1-2-3 inning of his own, including striking out Senda to end the inning.
Takahashi is about in the same range as Hara, perhaps a tick or two slower. But he's not missing in the wrong places. And gets a mundane 1-2-3 inning.
The same cannot be said for Hara has he walks Kumagai to start the inning.
After a bunt, he still can't find the zone and issues another walk.
Worse yet, what should have been a 6-4-3 double play is just 6-3 as Itou fails to cover 2nd in time.
Now it's a HBP! Its manrui for Takahashi!
And he makes them pay! It's a chopper over a leaping Hara to center and 2 runs come in to score! 2-0 and now Senshuudai will be under the gun.
Hara does finally get the last out, but if he's not careful, this game can get away like the others.
The offense for Matsudo not doing anything, and Hara struggling on the mound. Once again he's in a pinch giving up a one out hit and a walk. Komatsu is able to score 1 on a base hit to center, but a fortunate overrun gets the runner thrown out at 2nd fo the 3rd out. Still it's 3-0 but feels like more.
Matsudo fortunate to get a runner when a ball bounces away from Komatsu to start the inning.
EH? Hara goes straight 5-hole on Tarou and it gets to the outfield. And now Senda whiffs on the ball too! Okamoto comes in all the way from 1st on a 2-error play! 3-1.
WHAT?? Now Satou Tarou sells out on a ball to right and it gets by him all the way to the wall! Hara will score and Kawamura has a triple! 3-2, and this is very unlike a normal Hanamaki Higashi team.
Ah... But Matsudo tries for the contact play. It's a chopper, but not high enough as Komatsu high points it and goes home for the easy out. That would kill the rally, but Matsudo somehow is back in the game.
After Hara setttles down for the inning, Matsudo gets something brewing as Watanabe slices a ball to right and Takada directs a ball back up the middle. They fail to cash in as Okamoto grounds right to Komatsu, and he can just walk it to the bag for the 3rd out.
Man, you cannot keep on giving free passes and expect to win. This time Fukushima gets the walk. And when Senda chops one just out of Okamoto's reach. And now Hanamaki Higashi shows their speed as Fukushima takes 3rd on the grounder.
Things get worse as Watanabe goes home with he fielders drawn in, but it's not in time. Run scores, and they don't get an out.
Mochimaru-kantoku goes for the P change, sending in #10 Kadoya for CF Kawazoe. Hara goes to RF, Teramoto goes to LF, Takada goes to CF.
Kameya gets the final 2 outs, but we'll have to see if he can keep them in the game post-break down 4-2.
So Takahashi wants to reestablish his presence on the mound and does just that striking out the side. Meanwhile Kadoya outside of a hit batter, is also doing his job in relief. But the bats need to lift a little, and there isn't a lot of time left.
Matsudo continuing to get chances. Itou and Watanabe this time with back-to-back hits, but it's again with 2 down. Takada reaches out and flies out to left to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Kadoya continues to make Hanamaki Higashi look meek at the plate. He gets his first 1-2-3 inning, but even with that he's given up just 1 hit.
That's a back-breaker. Okamoto hits a ball of the fence in left center. But he presses for 3 and the throw beats him by a good margin. Your run doesn't even tie the game! Why would you do that?
And what might have been a promising inning instead goes 1-2-3.
Hanamaki Higashi is fine going 1-2-3 as they're looking to just close out the game.
It was hard to get excited when Tsuganezawa got a bunt base hit, and then a single from Itou after that because it was with 2-outs once again. Watanabe strikes out swinging to end the game.
Senshuudai Matsudo didn't disgrace themselves at all, and made headway against Takahashi. However, the runs were scored via error and they couldn't drive in a run on their own. Nothing to be disappointed about really.
Hanamaki Higashi look very regular in this game. Nothing flashy, and even had errors. They may be here, but perhaps it's a year ahead of a rebuild (remember, they lost Ootani).