Since I hope to have all team reviews up and they're by game, please refer to those for analysis on both teams.
Saku Chousei (Nagano)
3B Sakakura Ryoutarou (阪倉 涼太郎)
CF Hanaoka Ryouta (花岡 遼太)
SS Motoyama Hiyuu (元山 飛優)
RF Kouda Naohiro (甲田 尚大)
1B Nakamura Yoshiki (中村 禄樹)
LF (8)Hanaoka Daisuke (花岡 大輔)
C Miyaishi Kai (宮石 翔生)
2B Suzuki Takashi (鈴木 貴士)
P Kobayashi Reo (小林 玲雄)
SS Hino Koutarou (日野 洸太郎)
2B Kamata Kouhei (鎌田 航平)
1B Fuji Yoshimoto (冨士 佳資)
CF Tezuka Kaito (手束 海斗)
C Sahara Yuudai (佐原 雄大)
RF Yatake Masaya (矢竹 将弥)
P Kawano Ryuusei (河野 竜生)
LF Watanabe Yuuya (渡辺 裕哉)
3B Takeishi Ren (武石 蓮)
10:32 - First Pitch!
Sakakura with a shallow liner that Yatake charges and makes a shoestring catch. Ryouta quickly gives his team their first base hit. Motoyama's chopper to 3rd is slow enough to allow him to beat out the DP.
Early on though, it seems like Kawano isn't really fooling the batters. His pitches are up and when the batters do swing they're not missing.
Oh wow! Takeishi snags a liner that had extra bases written all over it! 3 outs, but Saku Chousei already making good contact.
Kobayashi meanwhile walks his first batter and he is bunted to 2nd.
Fuji tries to mash the slow curve, but can't square it up and grounds out to 2nd.
He's not looking all that great either. Up 1-2 on Tezuka, he cannot get him to chase 2 balls out of the zone.
Tezuka obliterates a ball right down the middle and that is gone! 2-run HR puts Naruto up 2-0!
Things aren't getting any better as he gives up a single and walks another batter when he again fails to get them to chase. Worse yet, there's already a reliever up in the bullpen.
But perhaps he gets a sympathy strike on his opposing counterpart and thus ends the inning - but not before the first shots have been fired by Naruto.
Two quick outs, but Kawano leaves one over the plate and Miyaishi drives that over the RF head to the wall for a triple.
And then Kawano hits a batter making things a bit tenuous. He even gets the count full to his counterpart before finally finishing him off with a fastball inside.
What looked like an inning to settle down became anything but, and Kawano will need to continue building on each inning.
First pitch groundout from Watanabe, but Kobayashi still struggling with his control, leaving pitches way to high and walking the #9 batter in Takeishi,
Hino showing bunt with 1 down, but I'd rather let him see a few to see if Kobayashi continues to have control issues. And in fact after one attempt, he's swinging away. But he works the count full...
And hits one through the right side! Takeishi goes to 3rd and that will be it for Kobayshi. #11 Shiozawa comes in and not a moment too soon.
Then promptly gives up a shot back up the middle. 3-0.
Shiozawa does at least get a K when Fuji swings at a ball in the dirt.
But a mixup on a pickoff throw to 2nd allows both runners to advance. Which seems fine given that's it's an open base for Tezuka.
And he's crushing balls left and right, but foul.
Shiozawa thinks he has strike 3 on a ball outside, but the umpire won't give it to him (and this is where umps can give a very wide zone). He eventually loses him to load the bases.
Sahara trying to give his best Tezuka impersonation, driving a ball down the right field line, but foul. Instead though, Shiozawa finally gets his team out of the jam by getting him to chase a ball in the dirt for the 3rd out.
Kawano meanwhile settling in. He gets a 1-2-3 inning, with the help of a favorable bounce. One down, Ryouta hits one off of Kawano to Hino at SS, who completes the play.
Shiozawa given a clean slate, gets 3 routine groundouts. I think it was a mistake not to make him the starter.
The rhythm that Kawano had goes awry. After a 1-out 4 pitch walk, he gives up a hard single to left by Daisuke and a ball through the right side by Miyaishi to load the bases, causing Moriwaki-kantoku to call time.
Suzuki gets too aggressive and swings on a fastball up and away for the 2nd out.
Shiozawa meanwhile is patient and gets the count to 3-1, but Kawano gets a call on the inside edge for strike 2, and then another on the outside edge for strike 3! Saku Chousei is denied!
Shiozawa 's run of 6 retired batters ends when he issues 4 pitch walk to Kamata. But he's wiped out when Miyaishi throws him out trying to steal 2nd.
2 outs for Saku Chousei and Motoyama singles to right.
Kawano has Motoyama taking off too early to 2nd and they have him picked off! But the throw from Fuji is wide and as a result Hino can't field it! Motoyama slides in safely! Now a base hit could get Saku Chousei on the board!
And Kouda lines a ball just off of Kawano's head! It's to center and Motoyama is waved home! Throw in is slightly offline and it's a 3-1 ballgame!
Nakamura strikes out to retire the side, but there's a positive the team can build on if Shiozawa can shut the door.
Tezuka certainly not making that easy as he hits a one-out single to right...
And then steals 2nd on the next batter...
Shiozawa perhaps laboring a bit, walking Sahara to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Is the reason why he's not the ace because of his stamina?
Yatake grounder to 3rd, but Sakakura delays just a little, goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st, in the dirt and gets away from Nakamura! However Tezuka not going home and there's 2 outs.
Kawano is hit though and the bases are loaded!
#11 Nakayama comes in to hit for Watanabe looking to blow it open.
Shot to 3rd, diving stab by Sakakura! Tags 3rd and the inning is over! Shiozawa in his first self-made jam, but he gets out of it! We're at the break with Naruto leading 3-1, but Saku Chousei building confidence.
Of course I say that and Daisuke goes down on 3 straight to start the post-break.
Kawano perhaps being careful with Miyaishi issues him a free pass.
Suzuki meanwhile can't seem to lay off the high fastball. Chases another one high and away for 2 out, and Shiozawa grounds to 3rd quickly after.
Shiozawa should have had 2 outs in the 6th, but Hino's grounder takes a high hop at Nakamura and goes for a base hit.
While he's still missing bats he's getting less and less effective it seems.
Kamata lays down the perfect push bunt, and Shiozawa's shovel toss off the ground goes over the 1B head! Everyone takes an extra base and he's in a bone fide jam now!
Fuji grounds to 1st, and Nakamura runs the runner down! Hino can't advance and there's 2 out! Only problem is, that brings up Tezuka.
But he chases an outside pitch and lines out to SS keeping the deficit at 2 runs!
Saku Chousei gets their first leadoff batter on as Sakakura singles to center. He's bunted to 2nd.
Motoyama grounder to the right side, and it's through! Sakakura scores and it's a 3-2 ballgame! Naruto unable to put the game away has let Saku Chousei back in it!
Kouda grounds into a textbook 4-6-3 double play, but the damage is being done!
The lucky 7 for Naruto does not go as well as they are retired on just 7 pitches! It feels like they'll have to fall over the finish line else they may lose this!
Saku Chousei though making things easy on Kawano swinging early and recording 2 quick groundouts.
Miyaishi also hacking away, but still has the discerning eye, working the count full and then punishing a hanging curve to left center for a double. He's a HR short of the cycle, but more importantly he's the tying run in scoring position.
#8 Sasaki comes up to hit, but he grounds out to 1st. Dives into 1st head sliding and severely slowed down, but it wouldn't have mattered.
Another string of 6 consecutive outs is broken again when Tateishi is plunked by Shiozawa with 1 down. Naruto playing for 1 insurance run as Hino bunts the runner over.
Shiozawa finishes up his relief stint by striking out Kamata. It's a great relief stint, but maybe too late.
#13 Kurumi Yoshinobu comes in for Nakayama to play CF, moving Tezuka to LF.
PH #7 Okado grounds out to 1st.
Sakakura grounds to left side, Tateishi makes a great pick and throws to 1st for the 2nd out.
And Ryouta strikes out to end the game!
Where Saku Chousei was about to be level, Kawano shuts the door to win 3-2!
It wasn't the prettiest of games, and they had chances to blow the game open, but in the end Naruto holds on. None of the pitchers looked all that great on the mound and that always left the door open one way or the other.
You have to figure against stiffer competition, Naruto and specifically Kawano will run into trouble. But for now they can enjoy the win.