Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 2, Game 2 - Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto) vs. Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)

Our matinee game of the day features 2 familiar schools, but both seem to be off their A game this year despite qualifying.

It's hard to figure out who has the better resume. Heian has defeated Fukuchiyama Seibi, who has at least stayed relevant though not a top team. Meitoku Gijyuku's key win was defeating Tosa (twice).

Both teams have strong offensive numbers, though oddly, despite a 0.329/0.393/0.569 line, in 5 of Meitoku Gijyuku's 7 games they scored 5 runs or less - meaning that they seemingly aren't able to drive in runs despite getting on base. Though perhaps a 30-0 win over Kochi Kaiyou may be some of the reason why the numbers are inflated.

On the other hand, Heian scored 7 or more runs in every game up until their loss against Shiga Gakuen (who we've established is no slouch). While it's perhaps not fair to upgrade one team based upon seeing a performance yesterday, it is more information to use and as a result it's probable that Heian has the advantage in the matchup.

Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)
CF Ogawa Koutarou
2B Kubota Yuu
SS Nishikawa Ranse
1B Hashimoto Kazuki
LF Okada Yuuki
P Ichioka Souma
3B Tomita Shintarou
RF Takeuchi Yoshinori
C Takeba Akahito

Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
CF Tachibana Koutarou
2B Kaneda Eiki
RF Nishiura Hayato
C Koga Yuudai
LF Nishimura Shun
1B Hiraishi Yoshinobu
3B Ookita Kaito
SS Takamura Kazushi
P Nakano Yasutoshi


11:15 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Ogawa getting Heian off to a good start with a base hit to right. But he goes for 2 when Nishiura can't field the ball cleanly. Nishiura quickly recovers and throws out Ogawa.

And that seems to be costly. Kubota walks, and Nishikawa laces a ball to left center.

Heian looking for that timely hit instead sees Hashimoto get completely fooled on that curve. He backs out of the box as the curve falls in for strike 3. Okada can do no better as he just stares at the bender for strike 3.

Bottom 1st
Kaneda tries to get the Meitoku offense going with a single back up the middle. Ichioka has a rather interesting delivery as he really swings that leg around after he releases the pitch.

Koga takes a ball the other way down the RF line! They're waving Kaneda home! The relay in... IN TIME!

Meitoku also pushing the initiative on the basepaths, but Heian makes a great defensive play and cuts down the run at home!

Top 2nd
Heian jumping all over Nakano. Ichioka, and Tomita all with singles making the game 1-0 in Heian's favor. But once again, Heian pushes a bit too far, and Tomita is picked off at 2nd on a large lead.

Once again, another base hit as Takeba bloops one to center. Another run possibly lost. And when the top of the lineup can't do anything it stays 1-0.

Bottom 2nd
Looks like neither pitcher will get any peace this game. Hiraishi checks in with a one out single, and Ichioka thought he had strike 3 to Takamura, instead is called ball 4.

That proves costly, but not for the reason you'd think. Instead Ichioka uncorks 2 wild pitches and the lead runner comes home to tie the game. He does strike out Nakano to retire the side, but we're all level again.

Top 3rd
One down, Hashimoto with a drive to left. Nishimora going to the fence?


That HR left as fast as a Carlos Peguero HR! 2-1!

Okada with a drive to center! Tachibana's already given up!!!


That HR left just about as fast as the first, and it's renzoku HR's! 3-1!

Top 4th
Meitoku goes to the bullpen and #18 Kitamoto. He gives up a base hit, and while his control isn't as sharp a two-out walk to Kubota leads to naught.

Top 5th
However, things change in the 5th. Okada gets a 1-out single, and then moves to 2nd on yet another balk. After Ichioka gets his 2nd hit, he steals 2nd with no throw, and those 2 runners score Takeuchi hits a grounder that bounces off Hiraishi into foul territory. 5-1 and Meitoku is in a lot of trouble.

Rest of game
The game goes into a small lull, but in the 7th things turn again for Meitoku. Kitamoto issues a leadoff walk to Hashimoto, and after he's advanced to 2nd on a groundout, Ichioka singles past a sprinting Kaneda. Hashimoto aggressively sent home and the score is 6-1. Takeuchi follows that up with a grounder past a diving Takamura and the lead is extended to 7-1.  Heian then tries the steal 2nd, steal home strategy, but it backfires. Still though the game seems well in hand.

The rest of the game goes quietly as Meitoku Gijyuku's 3rd pitcher (Hayashida) was their most effective, but the offense just couldn't do anything against Ichioka. The final score ends at 7-1.

I was bothered by Ichioka's delivery throughout the game, but I think because of camera angles, and his delivery from the left side of the mound to the right side of the plate (aka a "crossfire" delivery), that's why it looks like his body isn't aligned right. I can't say I'm totally sold on him, but at least I can cross off one concern of mine.

Offensively, the team looked good, but interestingly it was the bottom of the lineup that did better than the top. Not sure what to read into that, but that's always a good sign.

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