Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 4, Game 2 - Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi) vs. Shiritsu Wakayama (Wakayama)

Our matinee matchup could be another low scoring affair given what we've seen so far. Originally I had given Shiritsu Wakayama an edge just because of the competition faced and the fact that while Nanyou Kougyou scored a lot of runs, the slash lines were weak given the competition.

But Akashi Shougyou was a rather anemic winner, and they wound up mercy-ruled by them in the quarterfinals. Maybe if they were in the semis it could be forgiven (as they would almost certainly get a bid), but this was in the quarterfinals where nothing is guaranteed.

Now, this doesn't make Nanyou Kougyou the favorite by any stretch. The numbers for them don't impose confidence in the team (4 batters hitting under 0.250 and a pitching staff that barely Ks out 5 per 9 and BBs about 3 per 9). What it does mean is that their chances are greatly improved. Not 50-50 though, but still a fighting chance.

Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi)
SS Yamasaki Daisuke
RF Sasabe Kousuke
CF Ieiri Ryuusei
3B Yamaguchi Yuuta
C Fujimoto Daisuke
1B Chikama Kazuki
LF Satou Wataru
P Shigetomi Shouki
2B Yoshii Kotarou

Shiritsu Wakayama (Wakayama)
3B Yamazaki Takuya
2B Kawasaki Shin
CF Shichino Rei
1B Kitajima Riku
RF Kinoshita Kouji
LF Kitamura Tatsuhito
C Okamoto Naoki
P Akaba Riku
SS Hamano Shougo


11:55 - First Pitch!

Akaba for Shiritsu Wakayama has a 3/4 delivery? Doesn't look very traditional, nor does he throw very hard. Still, it's a clean start of sorts as although he gives up a soft liner to right, he's assisted by his SS Hamano who makes a diving catch on a liner and doubles off Sasabe at 1st.

Shigetomi gets his 1-2-3 inning, though while the outs themselves were not stressful, the Ichiko batters were working the counts.

Akaba one of the harder throwers, hitting 141 on the gun, though perhaps a bit all over the place as he leaves one over that Chikama lines back up the middle, and he scatters his fastballs to walk Satou. Once again, the batters still swing away and Shigetomi grounds out to short - inning over.

Shigetomi's delivery seems to lead itself to inconsistency as it looks like he's leaning at times and out of balance. Once again in the 2nd, he gets his clean frame, but the Ichiko batters are sticking to the game plan of working the count despite it resulting in 2 Ks.

Nanyou certainly having the better of it in base runners - Yoshii goes down and takes a slider the other way for a soft single. Yamasaki looked to have offered on a 2-strike ball that gets by Okamoto. Yoshii advances to 2nd, but Yamasaki is not called out.

That had the opportunity to hurt Ichikou as Yamasaki grounded to short, allowing Yoshii to reach 3rd. But with the infield playing hard in, Sasabe manages to hit one right at Kawasaki, and there was no way Yoshii could head home. And the threat is diffused when Ieiri is jammed and grounds one right to Kitajima for out number 3.

It's all a 1-sided affair in terms of getting a base hit. Chikama so far the best at seeing the ball, taking a ball the other way for a double. Though with 2 outs, it's erased on the next pitch as Satou gets jammed by Akaba.

Finally though Ichikou gets their first hit. Captiain Yamazaki takes a ball through the opposite gap for a single. Despite the single though, Shigetomi induces 2 more flyouts, and the no-hitter is gone, but not much else it seems.

The game really just feels like the Shoudoshima - Kamaishi game, the pitchers are better, but the effect is the same - a scoreless affair where teams are just looking for a run.

Shigetome threatens that in the 5th, and it's all his own doing. He walks Kitamura, then throws a wild pitch, then walks another batter, then Fujimoto in a snap throw to 2nd throws wide missing the SS and the CF. But Hamano decides to swing on a slider in the dirt, somehow makes contact (which was unfortunate) and grounded out to short. 0-0 at the break.

Nanyou gets another chance for a run when Yamazaki boots a grounder from Ieiri and compounds that with a high throw to 1st. But as bad luck would have it (or rather a TOOTBLAN), Yamaguchi lines out to 1st and Yamazaki is easily doubled off 2nd having taken off on contact.

Again, to maintain the status quo, Ichikou gives one back. Yamazaki connects with one for a double to right center. But after a bunt, Handa-kantoku calls for the contact play, and Shichino finds a drawn in Chikama. He goes home and Yamazaki is meat.

But we seem to be in a zone where the teams are trying to give each other a run. Shigetomi can't find the zone, plunking Kitajima and walking Kinoshita. Handa-kantoku sends in lucky boy #14 Oono, but he flies out to center, and well, there goes that.

Lucky 7 time, and Satou gets a break when Kawasaki charging his short chopper, makes his running throw wide and into the camera well. There's 2 down by this point so Nanyou needs a base hit. Shigetomi walks, which means it's up to #9 batter Yoshii.

And he delivers! He gets around on an inside 2 seamer and singles to left! They're waving Satou home! Oono double clutches and uncorks one high, but Okamoto comes down with it, dives at home...

OUT!!!  Okamoto makes a great play to save a run! Maybe sending the runner home wasn't the right thing, but Ichikou gets the job done!

Akaba tries to help his own cause in his lucky 7 with a base hit, but he's not helped when Hamano lays down a poor bunt, getting him forced out.

8th inning comes around and I'm pretty much frustrated. Sasabe gets a one-out single, and advances to 3rd when Kinoshita drops the ball trying to get it quickly in. Runners at the corners, and Yamazaki-kantoku calls for the contact play. But, like the other one, Yamaguchi finds Kawasaki who goes home where Sasabe is, not surprisingly, out.

That effectively kills that rally as Fujimoto grounds out to short thereafter.

Ichikou gets another shot at it as Shigetomi issues another free pass. He's bunted to 2nd (of course). But while Kitajima gets a hold of one, it dies in front of the track for the 2nd out.

Kinoshita with a rip shot up the 1st base side, but Chikama makes the diving stop! Goes to the bag for the 3rd out! Might have saved a run there!

The top of the 9th though is where I get frustrated, and this goes back to when I thought Osaka Touin had called for an appeal on a play just to throw off Mie in the final.

Chikama gets awarded on a dead ball but on the helmet to start the inning. But on the replay the ball doesn't look like it changed direction. The umpire didn't even check the helmet - though his teammates did in the dugout with a laugh.

Compounding that, Satou claims to get hit in the foot and is awarded 1st. There is no replay, but on first glance I didn't see the ball change direction there either. But I'm not as sure about that.

It all comes to a head right after because on Shigetomi's sac bunt, Akaba goes to 3rd and throws it away. Chikama scores to make it 1-0, and after that it all goes to hell. I'm not going to go through it because I think Ichikou may be been as pissed about it as I was. In the end it was 6 runs.

No way Ichikou comes back from that. And I'm done here.

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