Sakushin Gakuin may just need to avoid making major mistakes that have felled other teams. Provided of course Imai holds up the whole game. He got some much needed rest, but he's still on his 4th game in 5 days and the signs of fatigue are already there.
I want a competitive game first and foremost. A blowout would just be such a downer at this point.
Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
- def Jinsei Gakuen 3-0
- def Hanasaki Tokuharu 6-2
- def Kisaradzu Sougou 3-1
- def Meitoku Gijyuku 10-2
RF Yamanoi Ryuuga (山ノ井 隆雅)
CF Kobayashi Koutarou (小林 虎太郎)
1B Irie Taisei (入江 大生)
2B Fujino Yuusuke (藤野 佑介)
LF Ikari Taisei (碇 大誠)
3B Shinozaki Takashi (篠崎 高志)
C Ayugase Kazuya (鮎ケ瀬 一也)
P Imai Tetsuya (今井 達也)
Hokkai (Minami Hokkaido)
- def Matsuyama Seiryou 2x-1
- def Nichinan Gakuen 4-1
- def Seikou Gakuin 7-3
- def Shuugakukan 4-3
2B Kanno Shinji (菅野 伸樹)
3B Satou Yuuki (佐藤 佑樹)
C Satou Taiga (佐藤 大雅)
1B Kawamura Yuuto (川村 友斗)
LF (15)Fuse Taisei (布施 太聖)
RF Gehou Tadashi (下方 忠嗣)
P Oonishi Kento (大西 健斗)
CF Suzuki Yamato (鈴木 大和)
14:00 - First pitch
4 pitch walk to Yamamoto, 1 more to Yamanoi before he swings on obvious ball on a hit-and-run. Yamanoi swinging to the benefit of Oonishi as he hits into a 6-4-3 double play.
But now Oonishi hits Kobayashi, bringing up the dreaded Irie. Except that he strikes out on a slider away from Oonishi!
Hokkai's first inning also sees Imai struggle a bit on the mound. the difference is that Hokkai is trying to get their knocks off of Imai as opposed to Sakushin trying to get on base against Oonishi. Kanno gets a 1-out single, but it's 2 groundouts thereafter. We even saw cleanup hitter Taiga show a bust-and-run method presumably in an effort to make contact.
That even continues into the 2nd. Kawamura draws a walk, and after a bunt, Gehou shows bunt but ends up chopping one back to Imai.
Oonishi draws the 2nd walk of the inning, bringing up last batter Suzuki.
And he slices the first pitch down the left field line... FAIR! It's in for a base hit and Kawamura scores to give Hokkai the 1-0 lead!
Sakushin Gakuin tries to find a response. Yamamoto sneaks one past Yuuki and Ono can't chase it down as it goes into left. He's able to take 2nd on a stolen base but Kobayashi grounds out to short.
They also now make a change sending in #16 Suzuki for LF Ikari. Not sure why.
Also, the top of the Hokkai order really wants to get after Imai, but all they get instead is 3 quick outs. I don't think that's what they need. Imai though uses it to pump in a 152 kph fastball. That's nice, but that doesn't equal a win.
What does is a leadoff walk by Irie. And then Oonishi leaves one fat in the strike zone and Fujino crushes it to center. It bounces off the top of the fence for a double.
Walking new LF Suzuki isn't a bad thing as it creates a force, but Hirakawa-kantoku calls for time.
Shinozaki with a chopper up 1st base line, Kawamura charging, but it goes under his glove! Kanno backup but everyone's safe and we're tied at 1-1!
Ayugase with a base up past Oonishi and into center! Sakushin Gakuin leads 2-1!
Imai with a single to right, that brings in one more. 3-1 and it looks to be the end of Oonishi, for now anyways. #11 Tama comes in for Fuse and takes the mound. Oonishi goes to LF.
But with no outs, it'll be really difficult to avoid giving up runs. Yamamoto makes sure of that with a hustle double to right, making it 5-1.
Tama gets 2 outs before having to face Irie, He doesn't back down either, giving him nothing to hit and eventually walking him to load the bases. Fujino grounds out to end the inning, but I'll need to see some type of response from Hokkai to think they stand any chance.
And there is a little life. Tama, in his 1st AB at Koushien singles to left. Gehou on the next pitch lits a sinking liner to left, but the defensive replacement Suzuki makes a great diving catch! That kills the rally, though thery're at least getting good contact on Imai.
Unfortunately it may not matter as Hokkai continues to fall further behind. Suzuki lays down a bunt and beats out a surprised Tama. Shinozaki on hit and run singles to right.
And then on Imai's AB he strikes out on ball in dirt. When Taiga goes to throw to 1st, Suzuki comes home and is safe to make it a 6-1 game.
With Hokkai still a mess at the plate, the game looked over before, but seems for sure now.
As a result, the rest of the game is just a victory procession for Sakushin Gakuin. The result not in doubt anymore. Sakushin Gakuin adds on a run, but the game ends 7-1.
Sakushin Gakuin is still the only team from Tochigi to win either Haru or Natsu Koushien tournaments having won both in 1962. Hokkai is the runner-up, the 2nd runner-up for a Hokkaido school in either tournament in as many years. I wish I could say it's because Hokkaido is getting stronger, but I don't think I could. Still it's a good thing for the region, reasons aside. Don't count out Clark Kokusai either now that the Komadai Iwamizawa kantoku is now there.
And so as the closing ceremonies take place, we close the curtain on another Natsu Koushien tournament. We saw things that we're used to seeing, some things that were new, some things that should never had happened, to things that we were glad that did. The game continues to change in Japan for better or worse. For me I can only hope that the idea of any team getting to Koushien can continue to hold.