Well, this is certainly the marquee game on the docket for today. Yokohama, back for the first time since the retirement of Watanabe-kantoku. Tohoku trying to get back to the days of Darvish yore.
But as of right now, despite both teams having strong schedules in the run-up to the title, it goes without saying that Kanagawa is much more stronger than Miyagi and that Yokohama Hayato-Toukou Gakuen-Keio Gijyuku is generally tougher than Sendai Ikuei-Rifu.
2B Tobori Atsuya (戸堀 敦矢)
3B (6)Endou Kakeru (遠藤 駆)
CF Masuda Tamaki (増田 珠)
LF Murata Yuuta (村田 雄大)
RF (10)Ishikawa Tatsuya (石川 達也)
1B (5)Kuge Kyou (公家 響)
P Fujihira Shouma (藤平 尚真)
C Tokuda Yuudai (徳田 優大)
SS (16)Watanabe Shou (渡辺 翔)
SS Sugisawa Ryou (杉沢 龍)
RF Sasanuma Takumi (笹沼 匠)
P Watanabe Housei (渡辺 法聖)
1B Ueki Riku (植木 利久)
3B Ise Jyun (伊勢 隼)
C Fuse Touichi (布施 東壱)
LF Chiba Takuya (千葉 拓哉)
CF Tanaka Ryuuta (田中 隆太)
2B Satou Shouta (佐藤 翔大)
13:20 - First pitch!
Tobori rips a pitch down the right field side for a leadoff hit. Add in a SB and it's game on for Yokokou. Sac bunt, sensei run in 90 feet away.
Satou temporarily saves a run as he snags a hot shot by Masuda. And he was drawn in no less.
Murata though guarantees that run as he hits a clean single through the 6-hole. 1-0.
After a walk, Agatsuma-kantoku calls for time. Watanabe battles, and finally gets Kuge to chase a ball in the dirt for the 3rd out.
Um there's not much to say. 148 kph fastball, 3 up, 3 down, 3 Ks. Hello.
Bottom of the lineup not so much like the top to start. Tokuda gets on base when Sugisawa throws the ball wide. Thankfully he gets a K from Watanabe and a groundout to out up a needed bagel.
Fujihira looked like he was going to get 6 straight K's to start the game, but he seemed a little squeezed on the inside edge. Fuse grounds out, but 5/6 via the K is kinda a big deal.
Watanabe in trouble again as Masuda splits the outfield in right center for a triple. He gets a key K in Murata on a slider away, but then gives it back by walking Ishikawa.
Then you hear the ping off of Kuge's bat and you didn't have to think about it. Chiba give a token chase, but it's over the wall for a 4-0 lead.
Tanaka finds the way to a base hit - hit it *at* Fujihira. The ball glances off the glove and dribbles to short for a 1-out single.
Satou working the count, checks his swing and draws a walk! It's the bottom of Tohoku's lineup getting on base!
Fujihira bearing down getting Sugisawa all tied up on an inside fastball, but he can't get out of the jam!
That's because Sasanuma hits a single to left center and Tanaka comes home to make it 4-1! It's all they're going to get in the frame, but getting the first run out of the way is always a plus.
Yokohama, perhaps a little perturbed with giving up a run, gets it back.
Watanabe starts with a single through the left side, then steals 2nd as Tohoku can't throw out a runner to save their life.
Then with 2 down Endou singles through to center and the lead is back at 4 at 5-1.
In the bottom of the frame Fujihira is actually looking a little hittable. Ise gets a single, and 2 batters later, after a failed double play puts Chiba at 2nd, Fuse also singles, this to center.
But Fujihira goes all power to Tanaka and strikes him out on a letter high fastball to retire the side.
Watanabe was one out away from a 1-2-3 inning but Kuge spoils it with a soft liner to center.
He does get the final out - a loud fly ball to right knocked down by the hamakaze.
Fujihira probably needed an inning like the 5th to get back on track. He retires the side in order adding two more bats to the rack. 10 Ks through 5 and his team in control.
Watanabe almost got a clean inning again post-break. Tokuda got a base hit, but when Yokohama's Watanabe tried to lay down a bunt, he stepped out of the box and was called out. Then Tokuda got picked off and there were 2 down.
But then Tobori singles, steals 2nd, Endou singles through the right side and Masuda finished the trifecta with another single, making it 6-1.
I think perhaps Fujihira is getting hit because he's trying to get quick outs for balls in play.
But it's having the opposite effect as Ueki and Chiba get base hits. And Fujijhira still is still racking up the Ks. (2 more this inning)
Rest of game
At this point it's pretty clear Yokohama is on their way to a win. They tack on a run in the 7th to make it 7-1 thanks to a questionable fielder's choice decision by their C.
As for Fujihira, Hirata-kantoku does the right thing and with 2 outs in the 7th sends in Ishikawa from RF to pitch. Fujihira stays in the game in RF just in case.
Touhoku makes things a little interesting in 9th, though Yokohama's defense did a lot of that by booting balls, but the game wasn't in doubt. Fujihira gets some rest not going the full 9 and they should be in good standing going forward.