Tsuruga Kehi's dream of winning Haru-natsu still lives after going extras to defeat Meitoku Gijyuku. The trip doesn't get any easier as now they have to play the ever stingy Hanamaki Higashi. As usual you can't take their 4-2 result against Senshuudai Matsudo as a negative because it is well known that they play to the level of their opponent.
So you can expect to see them play up to the level of Tsuruga Kehi.
The question is, what level is Tsuruga Kehi at? Was that 4-3 win a good or a bad indicator of where the team is for their run this summer?
Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
SS Tarou Akira
C Fukushima Keito
LF Chida Kyouhei
2B Kumagai Sena
CF Sasaki Yuuya
1B Satou Yuito
RF Chiba Kouta (#11)
3B Kikuchi Shinya
P Katou Mitsunori (#17)
Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)
3B Shinohara Ryou
1B Kurisu Kazuma
SS Hayashinaka Yuuki
P Hiranuma Shouta
CF Yamamoto Kouta
RF Matsumoto Teppei (#7)
LF Kinoshita Shougo (#9)
C Kamon Yuusuke
2B Nakai Kidzuku
15:55 - First pitch!
Early trouble for Hiranuma! Fukushima with a clean single through the left side. And Chida folows that up with a single to right! Fukushima makes it to 3rd so there's a big chance for Hanamaki Higashi early!
And now Hiranuma hits Kumagai! What is going on???
Sasaki with a fly to right. Fukushima tags up! Throw from Matsumoto.... ON A LINE!! Fukushima is out by a wide margin and Hanamaki Higashi is denied the run!
Not a strong start from designated starter Satou. After a lengthy AB, he walks Shinohara.
Kurisu lays down the bunt, but Kikuchi spikes the ball to 1st and Yuito can't handle it! All safe!
Hayashinaka to lay down the bunt again, but he pops it up! Yuito crashes, makes the catch, fires to 1st... double play! Bad break for Tsuruga Kehi.
Worse yet, with 1st open, they basically intentionally walk him. Yamamoto fouls out to Yuito and the inning is over.
Chiba, getting the start today in RF, collects his first hit when he sinles to right. But Kikuchi and Katou are quickly dispatched thereafter so nothing here.
It would seem that for quite a few of the batters theyare trying to drive up Katou's pitch count. Matsumoto and Kinoshita both go full counts before their ABs resolve.
Kinoshita's ends with a walk, but Kamon grounds into 4-6-3 double play to end inning.
Fukushima gets things started with his 2nd single of the game, Chida isn't bunting with 1 down, but pops up to 2nd.
Kumagai with a drive to right! Matsumoto tries to make an over the shoulder catch, but he can't do it! It falls in and Fukushims scores from 1st! 1-0 Hanamaki Higashi!
Meanwhile the offense for Tsuruga Kehi stalls as the 8-9-1 batters are quickly retired.
More pressure from Hanamaki Higashi.
Yuito leads off with a clean hit to left. Again, no bunt from Chiba but he watches a fastball hit the outside corner. for strike 3.
Kikuchi though follows that up with a single to right. But with Katou up, Sasaki-kantoku goes for the bunt instead to turn the lineup over. Which he does.
And intentionally or now, Tsuruga Kehi walks Tarou to setup the force. But that also brings up Fukushima who is 2-2 on the day.
Base hit! He's 3-3 as he singles to left! One run is in, they're waving around Kikuchi! Throw in... SAFE!! The C played behind home plate and that allowed Kikuchi to slide in safe! 3-0!
Chida with a ball to center, Yamamoto slides... and that falls in! Tarou comes around and there will be no throw home! 4-0!
Kumagai grounds into a fielder's choice, but it's clear Hiranuma isn't his spring self.
If I told you that one of these team won the spring Koushien, you'd probably guess Hanamaki Higashi and you'd be wrong.
And yet as Katou retires the 3-4-5 batters in just 7 pitches, he has a no-hitter going.
And even more amazing, Hiranuma is being relieved! #18 Yamazaki comes in to pitch as Hiranuma goes to left!!
Yet it is Yamazaki, and not Hiranuma that gets the first 1-2-3 inning for Tsuruga Kehi! He even strikes out 2 in the process!
Katou continues to dominate the Tsuruga Kehi batters.
Yamazaki goes down swinging chasing a forkball. Yamazaki chases the high fastball.
Kamon drives a ball to right! Will they get their first hit?
Yes! It falls in!! Kamon gets a double!!
Nakai grounder to short and AH!!! Tarou flubs the ball and everyone's safe!
Shinohara with a ball to dead center, Sasaki going back, going back....
Shinohara with a 3-run HR to center and we have a ballgame!! It's 4-3!
Kurisu now with a single to center! Can they really tie it up here?
Not right now! Hayashinaka tries to bloop it down the right field line but Chiba makes the sliding catch! But as we hit the break we have a ballgame!
Yamazaki doing well in relief striking out Kikuchi. After that #12 Nonomura comes in to hit for Katou, so his day is done.
Nonomura for his part strikes out looking for the 2nd out.
Tarou grounds out to 3B, and it's Yamazaki's 2nd clean inning.
Ace Takahashi enters the game looking to shut Tsuruga Kehi down the rest of the way.
Hiranuma welcomes him with a base hit back up the middle.
Yamamoto lays down the bunt, Kikuchi throws to 1st.. SAFE!! Kikuchi double-clutches and that costs him the out!
AH! But Matsumoto grounds to short! Tarou starts the 6-4-3 double play and there's suddenly 2 down!
Now #15 Fujiwara comes to hit for Yamazaki?! He grounds out to 2nd, but wasn't Yamazaki keeping them in the game?
So Hiranuma returns to the mound and #17 Mori goes to play LF.
Perhaps the time off worked as he gets the first 2 batters. BUt Kumagai singles to center.
Then Sasaki hits a grounder to 1st, but it goes off of Kurisu as he dives and trickles into shallow right!
Yuito with a ball back up the middle!! Kusagai comes around and he scores! 5-3 and Hanamaki Higashi looks to pull away again.
Kamon with his 2nd hit of the day, a single to right. Nakai bunts him over. Shinohara a chance to tie it again, but instead it's a sky high popup.
Kurisu also pops it up, and now Tsuruga Kehi is really in trouble.
I'm starting to involuntarily doze off due to lack of sleep, but during that time Hanamaki Higashi puts 5 hits together, 4 consecutive starting with Fukushima (again), scoring 3 runs to make it 8-3 effectively ending this game.
Just to show where they're at, Hiranuma grounds to 2nd, but the throw gets away into foul territory. When he sees this, he turns left, but then realizes he won't get to 2nd. Problem is, he overrun 1st by a wide margin... and thus is thrown out back at 1st.
Tsuruga Kehi makes one last stand in 9th, but despite 2 hits, the game ends and Hanamaki Higashi defeats the spring champs 8-3!
I'm really tied at this point, but it would appear that Hiranuma wasn't the same from the spring to the summer. The team struggled against Shizuoka, and then fell flat against an always game Tsuruga Kehi squad.
For as often as we've seen teams go haru-natsu recently, today proves that this feat is still difficult.