Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 4, Game 3 - Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) vs. Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

Last pairing could be a tough one for a region champion as they are facing a region in form. Shuugakukan has posted good numbers, and despite a weaker super-regional schedule, their 4-2 loss to Touhou looks all that better. But while that may be the case, their offense certainly isn't as strong as their 0.374/0.411/0.637 line would indicate, and their pitching trio of Arimura/Horie/Nakai can somewhat hold their own.

Hanasaki Tokuharu has an ace in Takahashi that struck out more than 10 per 9. But in their game against Kisaradzu Sougou, that value was cut in half. I have no doubt that he can strike out batters, but probably not at the clip his fall stats indicate. In addition, in their two losses to Urawa Gakuin and the aforementioned Kisaradzu Sougou the offense, which had batted 0.309/0.408/0.520 were basically shut down. This may be due to the fact that a third of their lineup batted 0.260 or worse, so potential scoring opportunities could die on the vine depending where in the lineup they are.

Despite Kanto having success compared to Kyushu, Shuugakukan stands a chance against the floating bid from Kanto IF Arimura can manage the game.

Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama)
2B Chimaru Tsuyoshi
RF Takahashi Toshiki
SS Okazaki Daisuke
LF Nishikawa Manaya (#16)
3B Kusamoto Kouki
CF Yamamoto Yuuya
1B Nishime Kizuku
P Takahashi Kouya
C Nomoto Masayasu

Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)
SS Matsuo Taiga
CF Harada Takumi
1B Kimoto Ryouga
C Kuki Ryuuhei
LF Amamoto Kousuke
3B Hirobe Shuuhei
P Horie Kouhei (#4)
RF Kimura Yuuji
2B Hanjyou Touma (#17)


14:40 - First Pitch!

Here I was worried about Arimura, and Horie walks his first batter. But Horie must have some goods to have a slider, curve, change, 2 seamer and I think I missed one. (changeup, it was the change)

Toshiki tries to bunt him along, but offers strike 3 on a ball in the dirt. That's the first actual failed three bunt this tournament if I'm not mistaken.

Horie is going back and forth it seems, walking Okazaki, then striking out Nishikawa on an inside change.

Kusumoto is awarded a dead ball, but I think the batters are catching on that the umpires aren't really checking. That's starting to really annoy me.

Thankfully for me anyways, Hanasaki Tokuharu doesn't benefit from it. Yamamoto gets frozen on a changeup on the outer edge.

As for Dr K (aka Takahashi Kouya), Shuugakukan may have something on him as he's not getting his way with the batters. I mean he's getting outs, but the batters are fighting tooth and nail. He walks 1 strikes out 1, but throws 26 pitches in the inning.

The bottom of the lineup fares worse against Horie, with all three batters getting under his pitches making for easy flyball outs. The location was better that inning and could just be nerves.

The 3rd inning sees Hanasaki get on the board. Toshiki, who couldn't lay down the bunt in the 1st, takes a slider the other way. After a sac bunt with 1 down, Nishikawa takes the 1st pitch past a diving Hanjyou into right. Kimura makes a great throw home, but Kuki just can't secure it before Toshiki boots it away on his slide. 1-0.

Shuugakukan looks to strike right back. One down, Matsuo singles just out of Okazaki's reach up the middle. Harada turns on a ball down the 3B line for a single.

But instead of a bunt to move the runners over, Kouya makes a wild throw to 2nd on a pickoff attempt and lets Matsuo move to 3rd. Harada subsequent steals 2nd without a throw. To top it off Kimoto gets his 2nd walk in as many appearances.

And then all heck breaks loose. Kouya grooves a fastball that Kuki drives to left center for a double, giving Shuugakukan the 2-1 lead. But that's not all. Amamoto gets a hold of one himself, and if the wind wasn't blowing in from left, he might have had a HR. Instead, he gets a sac fly for 3-1. Hirobe connects on a slider and drives that into the gap in left center, rolling all the way to the wall scoring one more at 4-1.

Capping it off, Kajisha-kantoku goes for the double steal, and Hanasaki Tokuharu had had enough of that inning, they just let the run score to get the 3rd out. 5-1.

Hanasaki Tokuharu gets back a run before the break. Nomoto crushes a fastball down the left field line for a double. after a bunt, they get a wild pitch to make the score 5-2.

Of course, in order to get back the run you have to hold serve. Kouya didn't.

Kimoto single to center. Kuki bunt, but Kouya goes to 2nd where Kimoto beats the throw. Then Amamoto singles past a diving Nishime to score 1. The lead goes back up to 4 at 6-2.

They may not be done yet either. Kimura with 2 down holds up on a 2-2 pitch just outside. As a result of holding off he gets a walk to load the bases.

Even though it's their #9 batter, Hanjyou drives a ball to deep right. Toshiki makes the easy catch, but it's scary how well the team is seeing the ball.

Post-break, Kajisha-kantoku's pitching machine churns. #11 Taura comes in to pitch and bats in Hanjyou's spot. Horie goes to his numbered position.

This is where it starts to get interesting because Taura has a 13/10 K/BB ratio.

Uh, he's doing fine thanks?

Catches the outside edge both times on Nishikawa and Kusumoto for 2 outs. Yamamoto makes contact, but it's just a grounder to 1st. Not a bad way to start.

It gets better for him in the 7th. He's hitting all the corners and he actually strikes out the bottom of the order!

But in the 8th things get pear shaped, and FAST.

Hitting Chimaru wasn't a problem, until Toshiki doubled down the left field line. A groundout was welcome by Shuugakkan as they would love to trade a run for an out. 6-3.

Instead of trading runs for outs, they were just hemorrhaging runs.  Nishikawa spins around a 150 kph fastball to left center, to score 1 more. 6-4.

And when Kusumoto doubles down the right field line making it a 6-5 game, he has no choice. Ace Arimura enters the game to try and stem the tide.

And he does! Yamamoto fouls out to Kuki, and Kimoto smothers a grounder from Nishime! Shuugakukan just holds onto their lead!

#11 Tsunawaki holds serve the last two innings giving his team a chance.

Iwai-kantoku goes for broke. He PH for his 3rd P, but Tominaga flies out to right. Nomoto goes down swinging for the 2nd out, and Chimaru chases a forkball in the dirt for the final out!

It wasn't a complete performance by Shuugakukan, as there are questions regarding the bullpen, but the team feels very well built - several pitchers Kajisha-kantoku can turn to, and hitters who can put together professional ABs.

And also, who knew a double steal would be the difference in the game? But they're certainly not going to complain - and Nanyou Kougyou better watch out next round.

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