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 (11)Nakayama Terukazu (中山 晶量)
P (9)Yatake Masaya (矢竹 将弥)
LF Watanabe Yuuya (渡辺 裕哉)
3B Takeishi Ren (武石 蓮)
1B Ishibashi Taisei (石橋 泰成)
2B Sugawara Yuuki (菅原 優輝)
CF Ueda Taku (植田 拓)
RF Shiotani Hiroki (塩谷 洋樹)
C Itou Yuuki (伊藤 勇貴)
3B Obara Taiga (小原 大河)
LF (16)Nishiyama Yuuki (西山 雄基)
SS (14)Higa Kenshin (比嘉 賢伸)
P (10)Inoue Ryouhei (井上 涼平)
13:45 - First Pitch!
The bullpen starts are looking like both sides trying to save their main pitching staff. Inoue goes 2-2 or more against all the batters in the 1st, gives up a walk, but nothing else. Yatake gives up 3 singles, and despite a manrui situation, gets Itou to ground into the 5-3 double play.
It's probably going to be each team on the edge as they ride their Plan B/C options on the mound.
The game is in a constant state of alert as both sides try to ride out their starters as long as possible. This means that both sides are going to have opportunities.
For Naruto, Yatake's time on the mound lasts 2 innings. #12 Ozaki comes in for LF Watanabe to pitch. Yatake goes to his numbered position in RF, and Nakayama to LF.
Unfortunately Obara is hit in the face by a pitch. He has to be helped to the dugout and eventually would not return to the game. But the bottom of the lineup is unable to do anything after injury runner Itou is bunted to 2nd.
Meanwhile, Inoue continues to struggle, walking Takeishi to start the 3rd. He also walks Fuji with 2 down but fortunately it comes out to nothing.
I would have expected Inoue to leave the game, but he stays in... and that's a mistake.
He walks Yatake, and the Takeishi. Now back to the top of the lineup, he doesn't get in far enough on Hino and he fights an inside pitch to deep left and over Nishiyama's head for a bases clearing triple and a 4-1 lead. Inoue is finally replaced by #11 Miura, but it may be already too late.
Because on the first pitch Kamata sells out on the squeeze and lays it down successfully. 5-1. Looks like Naruto has played their bullpen to perfection so far.
And then the bottom of the 5th happened.
Nishiyama starts it off with a single to right. He's replaced on the basepaths by #7 Nozaka. Higa hits a ball right to Fuji, but he goes to 2nd and Hino is not on the bag! And no one's covering 1st! All safe!
After a bunt out by Miura, Ishibashi draws a walk to load the bases. That's when Sugiwara hits a base hit through the 6-hole for a 2-RBI double to make it 5-3.
After Ueda is almost hit in the head like his teammate Obara, Shiotani singles to left and that scores 2 to tie the game at 5-5! Itou can't keep it going, grounding into a double play, but we suddenly have a new ball game!
The game is back to it's starting state where each team is still on the edge.
And once again, it appears Moriokadai Fuzoku waits just a little too long...
Miura walks Kamata to start off the 7th. After a sac bunt, a wild pitch moves him to 3rd. Then he walks his 2nd batter of the inning in Tezuka.
Two down, and almost out of the mess Nakayama hits a base hit through the 6-hole and Naruto retakes the lead at 6-5!
Moriokadai Fuzoku tries to respond against ace Kawano who now enters the game to close it out. One down, Sugawara and Ueda both draw a walk. Shiota lines a ball over a leaping Hino, but that meant the runners had to hold until it left the infield, so it's manrui!
And yet Kawano goes and fools Itou on a slider, and on the very next pitch gets Nihashi to ground out to 1st to retire the side!
Once again, that spells the death knell for Moriokadai Fuzoku. Miura still in the game, 2 outs, Hino hits a HR to left center. After that the next 5 people reach safely, scoring 4 more runs and making removing all certainty yet again 11-5.
I was about to write how things would go once again unsurprisingly.
Though Moriokadai Fuzoku, in the manner that they have played this tournament, make one last, and eventual meaningful rally...
Leadoff double and then single by Sugawara and Ueda. Shiotani blasts a 3-run HR to left to make it 11-8. Still, they're 3 runs down.
After a strikeout, Nihashi hits a high fly to shallow left. Everyone converges, but no one gets it! Still, you're down 3...
Then a walk, and then another. Douten runner on base with 1 out, but even still I want to see one more run come in without an out.
And then another walk... 11-9. Douten runner on 2nd. 1 out...
OK. Now we're talking. Now a base hit can tie the game. And you're at the top of the lineup..
But as quickly as I begin the believe express, Ishibashi grounds into the 1-2-3 double play, and the game is over.
We saw it before with a team down 4 in the 9th, but 6 perhaps was a bridge too far... Hey, while I didn't believe until it basically ended, give the kids credit for making the comeback they did. We saw 2 teams basically give up and this team didn't. They still lost, but at least they showed fight.