Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day 1, Game 1 - Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui) vs. Chiben Gakuen (Nara)

So we're finally off and running here at Koushien! And it's two mainstays to open up proceedings here in the 88th Senbatsu.

Fukui Koudai Fukui didn't get a pattycake pairing, but also didn't get one of the powerhouses. Getting to face Chiben Gakuen's Murakami Shouki though, isn't a good thing. The pressure early will be on the offense to give ace Tanaka a break with a lead. If not, it may be a long day for him and his defense.

Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)
2B Kitagawa Tomoya (#6)
SS Tanimoto Katsuhito (#4)
RF Fukuda Shouto
3B Kitamura Shintarou
LF Asari Taiki
1B Tsukamoto Taiki
C Shimatani Genki
P Tanaka Arashi
CF Yamauchi Takafumi

Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
C Okasawa Tomoki
2B Osame Daichi
SS Oota Hidetake
LF Fukumoto Yuuma (#9)
1B Takahashi Naoki
P Murakami Shouki
3B Oohashi Shunpei
RF Oogita Shougo (#7)
CF Aoki Yuudai


10:33 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
And with a 136 kph fastball, we're underway!

Yes, you read that stat right, Murakami has a K/9 rate approaching 11. But again, he padded that stat with a lot of easy games.

Kitagawa gets hold of a hanging curve and singles to left to start proceedings.

Tanimoto lays down a bunt, and Chiben Gakuen's battery waits it out, only to see it stay fair for a base hit! Now Fukuda bunts them along and Chiben Gakuen in a pinch!

Murakami gets a small reprieve, getting Kitamura to chase a fastball outside for strike 3.

But Murakami struggling with control, throwing pitches not even close to the zone, even still he manages to get the count full after falling behind 3-0.

Tsukamoto with a hard ball to 3rd, but Oohashi is there to smother it and runs to the bag for the 3rd out! Big pinch, but Murakami avoids any damage!

Bottom 1st
Tanaka not looking any more on early, walks his leadoff batter.

Oy, another walk. This isn't the start he needed.

Or that...

Fukumoto kills a ball up at his eyes. Yamauchi chases it back as it goes off the wall. Both runners score on the play, and it's already 2-0 Chiben Gakuen.

Tanaka settles down enough to get Takahashi to chase a slider for the 2nd out, and Murakami hits a weak comebacker to retire the side., Still, Fukui Koudai Fukui on the back foot right off the bat.

Top 2nd
Break for Fukui Koudai Fukui when Tanimoto sails a throw to 1st wide. Yamauchi not bunting, and he takes advantage of a waiting Tanimoto to hustle out that single!

Ah~~~ but that opportunity too goes begging. Kitamura hits a rocket shot right to 1B Takahashi and he doubles off Yamauchi. Inning over, and they're getting no breaks.

Bottom 2nd
Another leadoff walk from Tanaka. No bunt this time though, and Oogita can't lay off the slider for the first out.

Aoki looking for a fastball, squares a changeup foul. Tanaka gets his slider to catch the bottom of the zone for strike 3!

Okazawa with a shot to left! Asari sprinting to the foul pole, jumps... and makes the catch as he crashes into the padding! 3 out and Asari saves a run!

3rd Inning
Tanimoto gets a leadoff hit after a check swing blooper to shallow right. But while Murakami struggles a bit with the counts, he retires the next 3 batters.

Tanaka meanwhile finally gets an easy inning, surprisingly retiring the 2-3-4 batters in order. Part of it is though that the batters want to hit and chases a couple of outside balls.

Top 4th
Shimatani with a clean single to left, the first well-hit ball by the team. Tanaka follows that up with a lucky irregular bounce that eats up Osame. Once again though, Fukui Koudai Fuki can't capitalize and both runners are left stranded...

Bottom 4th
Those hard hit outs are now finding open space. Takahashi with a single to right. Murakami with a single to left center. Asari unexplicably throws to 3rd where he has no chance, and allows Murakami to take 2nd.

That proves costly when Oohashi hits a clean single to left. Both runners come in to make it 4-0.

Top 5th
Fukuda gets a one-out seeing eye single through the right side, but once again the offense cannot gain any traction flying out to end the inning.

Murakami isn't anything special compared to the other pitchers, but I think his weakness is having to pitch with runners on. He seems less consistent.

Bottom 5th
Tanaka was on his way to a clean inning before the break, but a simple no call between Kitamura and Kitagawa on a popup leads to a bit of a stressful inning as Takahashi singles to center. But Murakami strikes out to end the mini-pinch and we hit the break with Chiben Gakuen in control.

Top 6th
Shimatani the only player seeing the ball well. Almost hits Murakami with his smoker back up the middle. Then a mixup on the pitch moves him to 2nd.

But the broken record plays again. The following batters weakly pop out and the runner is left stranded.

Bottom 6th
Once again, it seems like Tanaka has ridden out the storm and while he yields a leadoff walk, nothing comes out of it.

7th Inning
The Lucky 7 is lucky for no one but the pitchers. Both get easy innings, but it's Fukui Koudai Fukui that's under increasing pressure.

Rest of game
Fukui Koudai Fukui adds 2 more hits in the 8th making the total 10. Yet they still cannot bring in 1 run. The game simply runs to its conclusion with a 4-0 win for Chiben Gakuen.

Murakami registers 7 K's (138 pitches) in the win, but never really dominated like the numbers he put up in the fall. His control wasn't great, but was around the zone enough to be effective. The offense will need to pick up though because I don't think we'll see another performance like that from him.

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