Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 5, Game 2 - Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie) vs. Takamatsu Shougyou (Kagawa)

In the matinee game, we finally get to see the Meiji Jingu Champions and what all the deal is with them.

Looking at them in terms of resume competition, you can't get much better than:
  • Eimei
  • Ikeda
  • Imabari Nishi
  • Saibi
  • Meitoku Gijyuku
  • Sapporo Dai-ichi
  • Osaka Touin
  • Tsuruga Kehi
That there is a list of schools who regularly make their trips to Koushien. Now, we know that the Shikoku region was a bit light this year given the rest of the region's performances. But then you turn to the Meiji Jingu tournament, and defeating both Osaka Touin and Tsuruga Kehi should be a big plus (unless you're under the mindset that neither team really wanted to win because it would invite a team that would just make the field tougher).

Either way, there should be some respect for them. But rarely does the Meiji Jingu champs go on to win the senbatsu title, so unfortunately it seems winning it is like the Madden curse perhaps.

I can't really tell which side of the ball is more important for Takamatsu Shougyou. I'd say the pitching, but you'd think the numbers still hold up - just because a team may not want to win, they usually just sit their ace and that's enough (like what Osaka Touin did in their game at Meiji Jingu). In addition, given what we've seen so far, the only thing the offense can hang their hat on now are the games against Osaka Touin and Tsuruga Kehi (who we haven't seen yet).

Still, it's going to to be a tough ask for Inabe Sougou Gakuen. Yes, the game against Touhou looks better given Fujishima's performance earlier, but there's been a query about his stamina in the long-term, so it's possible they caught him not at his best. Combine that with less than dominating performances against lesser competition, and there are more question marks than I think they can answer.

Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie)
RF Miyazaki Yuuto (#18)
SS Morita Ryouma
2B Kanda Shouji
LF Fujii Ryouma
C Watanabe Yuuta
1B Shimizu Hideki (#16)
P Yamauchi Tomoki (#5)
CF Okumura Touki
3B Fujita Ryouga (#15)

Takamatsu Shougyou (Kagawa)
CF Anzai Tsubasa
LF Takeuchi Hiroto
SS Yonebaku Keizou
C Ueda Kyousuke
2B Mino Kousei
1B Ueda Rikuto
RF Ookuma Tatsuya (#10)
P Ura Daiki
3B Yamashita Tatsuki


11:40 - First Pitch!

Well, Mino getting extra infield work it seems. All 3 batters for ISG groundout right to him.

Yaamuchi gets an equally easy inning and I couldn't catch all his pitches - curve, slider, change, split, 2-seam, and more? But even with all though, we'll see how they are.

Ura breezing through his 2nd inning of work, does give up a hard liner (which is snagged by Rikuto), but otherwise racks up his first two Ks by working the edges of the zone,

His counterpart Yamauchi is benefiting from Takashou's batters being eager to swing away. He needs just 8 pitches to retire the side, and they're not exactly swinging at good pitches.

Takashou gets their first base runner when Ura singles back up the middle with one down. Nagao-kantoku goes for the one shot by bunting the runner over. However after giving up a walk, Yamauchi comes right back and strikes out Takeuchi on a fastball inside to retire the side.

The first run comes from an unexpected place. First, Miyazaki lays down a bunt, catching the defense off guard. Yamashita's throw to 1st is late. But Ozaki-kantoku doesn't bunt, and Morita flies out. Fukuda does manage to move him to 2nd on a groundout, but there's 2 down.

Fujii then catches a hanging slider and sends it the other way for a base hit. It's too hard though to send Miyazaki home, so he has to hold at 3rd.

And that's when Ura uncorks a wild pitch, bouncing seemingly 10 feet short and off Kyousuke's glove. It pops in the air and Miyazaki scampers home for a 1-0 lead for Inabe Sougou Gakuen.

Takashou tries to strike back. Kyousuke and Mino each with one out singles the other way put the douten runner in scoring position. And after Rikito walks it's manrui.

Ookuma hits a ball back up the middle, but somehow Kanda smothers it, scrambles to 2nd, and throws to 1st for the inning ending double play!

Still, they're not deterred, 5th inning, Ura gets his 2nd hit in as many at bats, a lucky blooper that falls in between the fielders down the RF line. After another sac bunt, Anzai can't get the base hit and there's 2 outs.

But then Yamauchi walks Takeuchi and there 2 on for Yonebaku.

And he punishes a fastball left in the heart of the zone to center! Okumura chases after it, but it falls in right in front of the wall! Ura scores, Takeuchi waved around, and he scores! The relay throw is high and that allows Yonebaku to take 3rd! Takashou claims their first lead right before the break! It;s 2-1!

Kyousuke can't drive him in, so we're left at that score, but it looks like their offense is finally getting going.

Inabe Sougou Gakuen scraps something together in the lucky 7.

Fujii's grounder takes an irregular bounce and skies over Rikuto for a base hit. After a fielder's choice, Ozaki-kantoku has Shimizu bunt, but instead of an out, Ura throws the ball wide and everyone's safe.

And then out of nowhere, Yamauchi goes down and crushes a ball to left center! The outfield is in, so there's no chance they'll get to it! Both runners score and it's a tie ball game! 3-3!

Okumura with a single to right! Now Inabe Sougou Gakuen has the lead! It's 4-3!

Ura's able to stop the bleeding there, but out of nowhere the 7the truly is lucky for ISG!

With the lead, Keigo finally enters the game as Yamauchi takes his numbered position. He retires the side in order and I might have my first true surprise of the tournament!

ISG then plays add on! After Ura bobbles a safety bunt by Murata, Fujii crushes another ball, again over the drawn in outfield for a triple! That scores 1, and knocks out Ura from the game. 2B Mino goes to the mound, but can't stop Yuuta tacking on 1 more with a single of his own! ISG now doubles up the Meiji Jingu champs at 6-3!

Takashou furiously tries to fight back. First Kyousuke draws a walk. After that Mino lines a scorcher that just gets past Shimizu into right! That's for a double and now a base hit can bring them within 1!

Instead though, ISG trades 2 groundouts for those runs, Kanda making a great running stop on the 2nd by PH Yoshida. It's 6-5, but there are no more base runners to bring home. So Manabe flies out to center and that's the inning.

Mino manages to hold serve, despite a leadoff single and several adventures with fielders choice's. But now they're down to their final 3 outs, and first up is Yamashita, who is 0-1 with 2 sacrifice bunts.

He flies out to left for the first out.

AH! Keigo hits Anzai and the douten runner is on base!

They send him! Throw to 2nd... NOT IN TIME!

Oh man... that was ballsy by Ozaki-kantoku. He's thrown out, this game is over.

Takeuchi shot to short... IT'S OFF MORITA AND INTO LEFT! Anzai coming around, and he scores without a throw! We're all tied at 6-6!!

Now Ozaki-kantoku will play for the sayonara run. He as Okumura bunt the runner over.

Kyousuke with a chance to end the game, but he pops one up. Shimizu heading over to the dugout, dives... MAKES THE CATCH!! He looks like he really crashed into the barrier, but he makes the catch! We're headed to enchousen!

And Fujii starts it off with a line single back up the middle! Yuuta bunts him over.

But then there's an audible gasp from the crowd! Fujii was heading back to 1st! He's run down and suddenly there's 2 outs! What happened?

Well, from the overhead shot it looked like that there was a player between Fujii and the umpire. So when he raised his hands he went back to first thinking it was a foul ball. But then again the umpire shouldn't have fully blocked by a player, so maybe it's not that. What I do hope is that it wasn't another player who tricked him. Though with batters selling dead balls, I don't know anymore.

With 2 outs now, Shimizu strikes out and the side is retired.

And wouldn't you know it, Mino takes the momentum from that and drives a ball to deep right center. It goes to the wall for a triple and the sayonara run is 90 feet away.

In the end, the game ends anticlimactically. Keigo throws a wild pitch and Mino comes home to score 7-6.

It kinds sours the mood considering how the game went, but a win is a win.

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