Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 5, Game 3 - Nagata (Hyogo) vs. Kaisei (Nagasaki)

Our penultimate matchup may have one of the better pitchers in the tournament, but as may be the case around the country, be paired with an offense who can provide no help.

Nagata came in as a 21st century squad who reached the prefectural quarterfinals, but whose ace Sonoda seemed to dominate in all matchups giving up 1 run or less in 4 of his 6 games (the other two he gave up 3). He struck out over 11 per 9 (albeit against weaker competition, but that's all we have to go on).

As mentioned though, his biggest problem is that his offense is rather punchless. 4 players batting under 0.230 is never a good sign - even if you're facing the powerhouse teams.

I mean they get a chance at least against Kaisei (Nagasaki) because their pitching isn't stellar, but on the flip side their offense appears to be the opposite of Nagata. While they only scored 2 runs against Shuugakukan, they still pounded out 11 hits. And since you can't win a game scoring 0 runs, unless Sonoda can throw bagels, it's hard to envisage a win.

Nagata (Hyogo)
2B Miyake Satoshi
3B Fujiwara Yoshiyuki
SS Yoshida Masatsugu
P Sonoda Ryousuke
CF Endou Tsuyoshi
1B Akagi Hirotaka (#16)
C Yoshikawa Takaki
RF Tomita Makoto (#7)
LF Koike Kouhei (#9)

Kaisei (Nagasaki)
CF Hattori Kanta
2B Ogawa Hiromu (#5)
3B Shimahara Yuuki (#6)
LF Obata Shoudai
1B Nagaishi Takumu
C Tagawa Kenta
SS Yamaguchi Hiroki (#16)
P Haruta Tsuyoshi
RF Sakata Wataru


14:10 - First Pitch!

Trying to catch up from getting the lineups late, but it's a scoreless 1st on both sides. Ace Sonoda for Nagata gets his clean inning, but first impression is that there's nothing special about him yet. But it's just the first.

We get our first baserunner of the game in Endou when he draws a walk in the 2nd. Nagai-kantoku immediately gives the green light and Endou steals second with time to spare! Akagi moves him to 3rd with a grounder, but Yoshikawa flies out to center to end the inning. As expected, Nagata may struggle to score runs.

I still can't see what it is about Sonoda that makes him one to watch. And he ends up yielding a run though partially not his fault.

Obata hits a hard grounder right to Miyake, but he can't grab the ball to make the out. It's a base hit, but he prolly should've had it. Katou-kantoku sends him to 2nd and Yoshikawa's throw sails over everyone allowing him to reach 3rd. So when Tagawa hits a slow grounder to 3rd, Nagata has to concede the run. 1-0.

Nagata does the right thing to get back - get runners on base any way possible. With one down, Koike and Miyake both draw a walk. Haruta comes back to strike out Yoshida for the 2nd out.

But Sonoda crushes a ball to left center! Hattori won't make it there in time and it goes to the wall! Both runners score and Nagata has the 2-1 lead! Haruta just grooved that fastball in there and it got punished.

Oh boy. The defense is letting down Sonoda. I was about ready to talk about a 1-2-3 inning, but on Hattori's routine fly to left, Koike has it bounce off his glove for a 2 base error. And as expected, the error kills Nagata as Ogawa kills a ball to center. The outfield was playing in, so it's an easy triple and a tie game at 2-2.

The defense continues to puzzle me. Obata a short grounder to the left side, a charging Fujiwara has it, double clutches, then sails it over everything, resulting in Obata being awarded 2nd. After a grounder to advance the runner, Tagawa hits a ball back to Akagi. He snags it, charges in, but then when he thinks it's safe goes to try and tag the runner. But because he wasn't going at the batter-runner he has to change direction. That allows Hattori to come home. And not only doesn't Akagi not tag Tagawa, but Hattori scores as well. 3-2 Kaisei. It stays that way until the break. Nagata may be trailing 3-2, but it belies the fact that they have just 1 hit on the day - Yoshida's 2-run double...

The rest of the game had me trying to figure out what the whole deal was with Sonoda. He's has average velocity, and wasn't really putting away batters like he did in the fall. From what I can figure he has better than average control for the most part and has good movement on his pitches. But not being a scout, I can't tell if that puts him as a potential prospect.

As I'm trying to figure out my commentary on Sonoda, suddenly in the 9th Nagata is able to patch together one last rally. Sonoda's groundball is booted by Ogawa allowing him to reach base. He's bunted over for a chance by Akagi. And he actually connects on a soft liner just out of the reach of Sakamoto into right. But it's so shallow that they can't wave Sonoda home. But they get 2 chances to tie the game.

The first goes to Yoshikawa, but after fighting a couple of balls, he pops one up at the plate. Tagawa makes the catch and Nagata is down to their last chance.

Tomita stands in, and he actually gets a hold of one! Sakata is sprinting back towards the foul pole, slides... and makes the catch! Sakata saves the game for Kaisei as they advance with a 3-2 win.

We see the first show of emotion from a player in Sonoda, who while I think he is crying, I think that he in some way should be pissed off as well. All 3 runs could have been prevented if not for his defense making errors on the field. And these are errors that were more than preventable. It's just disappointing all around.

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