Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 2, Game 1 - Shoudoshima (Kagawa) vs. Kamaishi (Iwate)

The tournament took a bit to wind up, but things appear to finally get rolling with Shiga Gakuen's dominance in the final game of the day. Day 2 is upon us, and 3 matchups that to be honest could go any which direction.

Sadly for Kamaishi and Shoudoshima, two of the three 21st century teams will have to square off right off the bat. While that does mean that one guaranteed does advance, it also guarantees that one is eliminated - though to be honest, the chances of all 3 advancing if they aren't playing each other is slim to none.

Shoudoshima can hang on their hat one thing that no other team can - they were the only team to defeat the Meiji Jingu champions Takashima Shougyou in the prefectural final. Now, they did lose to Tosa, but they weren't out of that game so they seem to at least be competitive, though not dominating - as evidenced by the fact that ace Hasegawa strikes out very few batters (3.7/9).

Kamaishi is by far the "feel good" story, being invited on the 5th anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake. However, they do not have a quality win, instead their key game is a 6-3 loss to Moriokadai Fuzoku in the Iwate finals (Sadly Tohoku doesn't count as a powerhouse anymore). Their ace Iwama sports a K rate even worse than his counterpart (3!).

Both teams are offensively challenged, but given the pitching on the mound, all bets are off because it's possible the teams could go off.

On resume, Shoudoshima should be the favorite, but realistically it's a crap shoot.

Shoudoshima (Kagawa)
SS Himoto Naoya
3B Sudou Takumi
P Hasegawa Hironori
C Uematsu Yuuki
1B Ishikawa Ukyou
CF Sakakura Naoki
RF Shimoji Jyunya
LF Hourai Shouta
2B Sakaguchi Yamato

Kamaishi (Iwate)
RF Sasaki Kouta
CF Okamichi Yuuto
2B Okumura Sougo (#6)
3B Kikuchi Yuuki
1B Niinuma Koudai
P Iwama Dai
LF Sasaki Naoto
C Oojiri Yuuya
SS Ishizaki Noritaka (#4)


09:00 - First Pitch!

What you're seeing is probably what will happen the rest of the game. Any time either team will get a baserunner, you can bet with almost 100% confidence that they will bunt them along. Neither teams' offense are prolific, so any baserunner they get will be leveraged as much as they can. Of course neither comes to anything in the first.

But it also looks like there will be a lot of opportunities to get runners as both pitchers throw really slow (~120). Both have a wide variety of pitches (I believe both have a 2-seamer, slider, curve, change), but throwing as slow as they do, there should be chances to get base hits.

Sakakura gets on base for Shoudoshima in the 2nd, but the bottom of the lineup can't get him home from 2nd.

Kamaishi's bottom of the 3rd, Oojiri singles through the right side, but when a balk is called on a pickoff attempt, Ishizaki's bunt moves him to 3rd instead. Back to the top of the lineup, and Kouta guides a ball at his shoetops just onto the grass in center for a 1-0 lead.

Seemingly to keep the balance, In the 4th Uematsu heli's a high pitch down the right field line for a double and eventually moves to 3rd. But unlike Kamaishi, Shoudoshima's batters can't bring the run home.

Shoudoshima gets another chance with Hourai's single back up the middle to start the 5th. Sakaguchi struggles with the bunt, but the 3rd time's the charm (it'd better be) and moves the runner over. Himoto gets a hold of one, but flies it to the toughest part of the ballpark (RF) and is out. Hourai does take the tagup though so there's that.

But Sudou chops one to 3rd. Yuuki makes the pick and throw, beating a head-sliding Sudou to end the threat. The game eventually hits the break with a balk being the difference.

Opportunities start to crop up more often in the 2nd half of the game. Both times Shoudoshima got a runner on base, it was with 1 out and Sugiyoshi-kantoku elected to try and steal 2nd. It wasn't successful in the 6th, and while it was in the 8th with 2 down, Hasegawa meekly grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.

Kamaishi meanwhile started getting more solid hits. Okamichi and Iwama both got doubles in the 6th and 7th respectively. But they too  couldn't get the timely hit like they did in the 3rd.

But in the 8th, after a single by Souta. Okumura with 2 down outhits his coverage. Sakakura chases the ball back, but that easily brings in the run. 2-0 and that settled affairs.

At least I thought it did. Ishikawa does get a one out single to left. But suddenly out of nowhere, a grounder to short by Sakakura bounces off Okumura and into left. And then Naoto misplays it! It gets past him too and Ishikawa scores all the way from 1st! Amazingly, it's 2-1!

But I think Shoudoshima tried to press on, Shimoji grounding to 3rd (does advance the runner), and Hourai quickly grounding out to 2nd to end the game. Kamaishi does hold on for the win, despite the bizarre circumstances in the 9th.

There isn't really much to say here as neither team really impressed offensively, and while Iwama was the better pitcher, he certainly was hittable. His pitches had good movement, but I think Shoudoshima could have been more patient at the plate.

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