So before we start. YAY Iwakumi Hiashi! おめでとうございました!!!!!
Today is an interesting set of games and the weather, rainy though it was, means that it'll be extra humid and certainly will affect play - especially later on in the day when we have our headliner game of the day.
Our leader though will be Waseda Jitsugyou facing Hiroshima Shinjyou.
Neither team looked all that impressive in their opening round games. Yes, Soujitsu defeated Imabari Nishi 6-0, but Matsumoto and Hattori combined for just 2 Ks on the day. That is a huge red flag and would put a lot of pressure on the defense with so many balls in play.
Offensively, they look like an average team. The bottom third of the order - generally a good indicator about a team's offense was 1-12. In fact, the only player with more than 1 hit was leadoff batter Yamada. The top of the order might be able to produce, but you're either killing a rally or an entire inning once you hit the bottom of the lineup.
Hiroshima Shinjyou was much of the same as ace Hori struck out 3 while yielding 10 hits. Offensively, it was their 3-4-5 hitters that struggled also going 1-12. That is a big red flag if your best hitters are struggling.
Waseda Jitsugyou (Nishi Tokyo)
3B Yamada Jyunpei
RF Tamagawa Ryou
1B Kiyomiya Koutarou
C Katou Masaki
SS Kaneko Ginyu(?)
2B Tomita Naoki
LF Miyazaki Renta (#11)
P Matsumoto Kou
CF Watanabe Daichi
Hiroshima Shinjyou (Hiroshima)
2B Sugimura Hiroyoshi
LF Ogasawara Shin (#14)
RF Katou Masaya
CF Fujimoto Tatsuki
1B Sadanaga Masaaki
SS Iwamoto Takuya
3B Koizumi Tokio
C Toumetsuka Takashi
P Hori Mizuki
08:00 - First pitch!
Hori off to work on the team from Tokyo. Gives up an infield hit to Tamagawa which was really close, and walks Katou, but a routine grounder to short from Kaneko ends the inning.
Hiroshima Shinjyou rightly working he count versus Matsumoto, gets a walk, but not much else other than increasing the pitch count.
Tomita liner to left, but Koizumi makes a leaping catch for the out!
As expected, a lot of contact as Miyazaki foul out and Matsumoto grounds out to Iwamoto to end the inning.
Iwamoto gets Hiroshima Shinjyou's first hit, a liner to right.
And he straight steals 2nd without a throw!
He moves to 3rd after a groundout, so they'll need a base hit from Toumetsuka. But instead it's a lazy fly to center.
Watanabe, the only Waseda hitter in the bottom 3rd to get a hit, gets one here to lead the 3rd. Yamada bunts him over.
Tamagawa single to left! Watanabe puts on the brakes at 3rd as Kiyomiya comes up next.
And he comes though, guides a liner over Sugimura and Soujitsu has the first run! 1-0!
But he blunders on the basepath! Liner from Katou goes to short and Iwamoto goes to 1st to double him off to end the inning!
New LF Harada gets a 2-out weak grounder base hit and steals 2nd, but is left stranded.
Soujitsu gets a big break when after a base hit from Kaneko and one down a wild pitch allows him to not only take 2nd, but 3rd!
Miyazaki makes it an easy walk home as he crushes a ball left over the plate to right and over Katou's head! That goes for a triple and Waseda now leads 2-0!
After a walk, Watababe does his duty again and hits a sac fly to left, making it 3-0.
Oddly, after giving up another base hit and then a 1st pitch strike to Tamagawa, #10 Sekitou comes in for RF Katou and takes the hill. Hori goes to 1B and Sadanaga to LF.
Very first pitch from Sekitou gets them out of the inning, but Waseda expands their lead.
Horishima Shinjyou playing the waiting game on Matsumoto.
With one down, both Sadanaga and Iwamoto play the waiting game and draw walks. Then #12 Matsui is sent in to hit for Koizumi, and he singles to left! Manrui for Hiroshima!
Izumi-kantoku calls time.
No help! Toumetsuka back up the middle under Matsumoto! Sadanaga and Iwamoto come home! It's 3-2!
Another PH from Sakoda-kantoku! #17 Kitadani for Hori as his day is officially done.
Ball to center! Watanabe going back, going back, GOING BACK!
It's over his head!! Matsui scores! Toumetsuka scores! Hiroshima Shinjyou has the lead at 4-3!!
That's it for Matsumoto as #10 Kamijyou comes in.
After a flyout, Harada grounds to 2nd but Tomita can't find the grip! E4 and the inning continues!
Ogasawara goes to steal 2nd! Katou goes to throw, but Kitadani is coming home! Katou tries to stop his throw, but spikes the ball instead! The run scores on a gutsy call and it's 5-3!
Sekitou grounds out to end the inning, but out of nowhere Hiroshima Shinjyou has taken the lead!
Waseda firing right back! Kiyomiya starts it off with a single to left. Katou follows that up with a single past Iwamoto into center! Kaneko bunts them along and now a base hit can tie the game right back up!
Tomita grounder and through to right! Kiyomiya scores! Katou waved around, gets no throw! Just like that we're tied at 5-5!
Tomita continues the pressure stealing 2nd to put the gyakuten runner in scoring position.
Miyazaki draws a walk and once again Izumi-kantoku uses the bunt to move the runners into scoring position.
But Watanabe can't get the base hit. He ground to 2nd and a tie is all Soujitsu can get for now.
One down and Sadanaga gets his 1st base hit of the game with a ball to left. And then he steals 2nd!
Iwamoto single to right, but Sadanaga has to hold at 3rd.
Contact play! But it's right to Kamijyou! He runs down Sadanaga for the 2nd out!
Izumi-kantoku frantically pointing his fingers as #17 Yoshida comes in to replace Kamijyou.
Toumetsuka first pitch swings and its a soft chopper up the middle! Kaneko has it and throws to 1st for the 3rd out!
And after all that we're tied at 5-5! I don't know who has the advantage though Waseda has been getting runners on base at a more even clip so there will probably be more opportunities now that they've gone to their bullpens.
Soujitsu's at it again. Tamagawa gets a fortunate high bounce that eats up Matsui. Then Sekitou hits Kiyomiya.
After that #11 Oofuka comes in.
But Katou with a chopper back up the middle, gets through! Tamagawa rounding 3rd, throw in cut off! Soujitsu retakes the lead at 6-5!
Kaneko grounds into a DP to end the inning, but Hiroshima Shinjyou will need to come back again.
Kitadani collects his 2nd hit of the game with a single back up the middle. However Kiyomiya alerly lets a popped bunt drop and throws to 1st. They get Sugimura first on the force and then have Kitadani in a pickle. He's run down and there's 2 out.
Harada continues his hot hitting with a single to right center.
What's this Oofuka with a drive to center!Watanabe back, Watanabe still back!! STILL BACK AGAIN!!
Collides with the wall! But he makes the catch!!! 3 out! That's a great catch by Watanabe!
With Yoshida being hit for, #18 Hattori comes in as the 4th P for Waseda.
Sadanaga with yet another hit, this one back up the middle.
He tries to steal 2nd, but is thrown out with a strike from Katou. 2 down and Iwamoto strikes out as perhaps Hiroshima Shinjyou is running on empty.
After giving up a 2-out walk, Sakoda-kantoku pulls his reliever card. He sends in #13 Sasaki for CF Fujimoto to take the hill. Oofuka goes to 1B and Sadanaga goes to CF.
LINER! Sasaki snags it from the air!! 3 out!!!
Everything Sakoda-kantoku has done I think has been done to setup the endgame. Putting in Matsui and Kitadani at the bottom of the order (they're 3-4) to moving around his fielders with the P changes. Leaving Oofuka who almost hit the HR to play 1B instead.
It's all for now!!!
Matsui starts with a walk. After a sac bunt, Kitadani gets his 3rd base hit! It's a single to the right side, but once again Matsui has to hold at 3rd.
Sugimura singles to left and he can trot home! 6-6!!!! And you have Harada coming up next!
But he goes after the first pitch and flies to center! It's not nearly deep enough to do anything with.
And Oofuka goes after the first pitch! But it's a slow chopper back up the middle Tomita has it, throws to 1st... 3 out!
It was all lined for Sakoda-kantoku, but sadly the pieces didn't quite fall into place.
Katou once again with pressure leading off with a single to left. But Kaneko pops up his bunt and there's 1 down!
Oofuka doesn't help his own cause now as he walks Tomita, moving the gyakuten runner to 2nd.
And with that Sakoda makes more changes. Oofuka and Sasaki switch positions (1B & P), and #16 Oohara comes in to play 3B.
Miyazaki reaches out and pops one up! Sugimura and Kitadani converge, converge...
They don't get there!! It falls in and that means Tomita scores! Miyazaki is being waved around! Throw home... OUT!!! They get the second runner, but the all important gyakuten run is home!
Does Sakoda-kantoku have one last trick up his sleeve?
Sasaki grounds out to short...
Sadanaga can't take the bat off his shoulder and goes down looking.
The last card is #15 Okuda.
Ah... but he strikes out swinging to end the game. Waseda moves on with a 7-6 win.
But I want to talk about what Hiroshima Shinjyou did. Right from the get-go Sakoda-kantoku went about inserting players into the lineup, starting with Harada in for Ogasawara. Then it was placing Matsuii and Kitadani in the 4th when they needed base hits. Then it was managing the pitching replacing the middle of the lineup with pitchers who could actually hit.
And it setup perfectly for the end of the game when they were searching for a run. And it almost worked.
Never have I seen a team implement their bench to the manner that Sakoda-kantoku did. Much like the game that never ended with Iwamichisuikan and switching pitchers back and forth, it was another fantasy idea of mine that if I were to manage a team, I would want to use the entire lineup like what he did.
I am so impressed with his job, I wish he could have won - forget the fact I hate Soujitsu.
2 managers who did 2 things I always wanted to do, and ALMOST won their games. They were innovative, thought out of the box, and goddammit they should have been rewarded.