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)
Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
LF Osame Daichi (納 大地)
CF Aoki Yuudai (青木 雄大)
2B Oota Hidetake (太田 英毅)
RF Fukumoto Yuuma (福元 悠真)
1B Takahashi Naoki (高橋 直暉)
P Murakami Shouki (村上 頌樹)
3B Oohashi Shunpei (大橋 駿平)
C Okasawa Tomoki (岡沢 智基)
SS Nakamura Akita (中村 晃)
15:55 - First Pitch!
Well, I thought Naruto was going to give Chiben Gakuen some trouble, but early on it doesn't look good. Bottom 1st, Osame gets fortunate on a high chopper up the middle that he outruns for a base hit.
2 down, runners at 1st and 2nd for Takahashi, Kawano leaves a fastball middle-middle and it's taken to center for a base hit, just out of the reach of a charging Tezuka. Murakami helps his own cause afterwards, with an RBI single to left center. Like that it's 2-0 Chiben Gakuen.
Naruto finally gets something resembling a chance in the 3rd. Hino would lead off with a single through the right side. But Kamata's bunt was nowhere near good enough and Hino would be thrown out. He's find his way to 3rd on a stolen base and a wild pitch, but in the end Tezuka would chase after a slider and ground out to short.
The game enters a period of both sides just swinging away resulting in a lot of outs. Most are ground balls and some good plays by the infields. But it's still 0s as both offenses scuffle.
Naruto would finally get a baserunner in the 5th when Watanabe would single to right. It looked like he would be stranded at 2nd again, but on Kamata's grounder to 2nd, Oota whiffs on the ball! That allows Watanabe to score cutting the deficit to 2-1. There might have been more, but Fuji's fly ball down the left field line is caught by a diving Osame who sold out for it.
That's where we end at the break. Chiben Gakuen has the lead but it's been made a bit less comfortable. There's still work to be done, and Chiben Gakuen still not showing it can separate itself from the competition.
And in fact, the momentum still seems to be with Naruto. Tezuka starts with a 4 pitch walk. Takahashi can't handle the throw on a pickoff and that allows Tezuka to get into scoring position. That proves costly 2 batters ;ater when Sahara singles to center scoring the douten run. 2-2.
Chiben Gakuen may be making progress again on Kawano as the first 2 outs are driven fly balls. It winds up being a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, but it's something worth monitoring.
Naruto looks to put another stick on the board when Watanabe hits a ball down the right field line for a triple. But Takeishi first pitch pops out to 1st. Hino golfs a ball to shallow left, but Osame charging in makes a spectacular diving catch. The indignity of not scoring from 3rd, no out could hurt them.
The game stalls, perhaps like an object going towards a black hole, as the teams are inexorably pulled towards enchousen.
But in the top of the 9th Naruto gets one last chance. Yatake with a deep ball to right, it looks gone but the hamakaze knocks it down in front of the wall. He's in with a double a bunt over and the have a runner 90 feet away yet again.
Watanabe hits a hot shot to the right side, but Oota is there once again, almost like the entire game, to make the stop and play at 1st.
PH #10 Hama is hit and #14 Takai replaces him. And then if that wasn't enough Murakami walks Hino to load the bases!
But Kamata hits a blooper to right! Oota and Fukumoto converge, but neither can get to it. One run is in! Fukumoto comes up firing, but his throw is over everything! This as Takai scores and now Hino comes in to score and the error costs them another run! It's 5-2! That's all they get, but it may be enough!
Naruto tries to mount one final rally as Fukumoto gets on base thanks to an error by Fuji. But nothing eve materialized, so as Kamata secures the final out, Naturo has defeated the Haru Koushien champs denying them a chance for a haru-natsu title.
But the writing was on the wall. The easy road through Haru Koushien, the same through the prefecturals. And yet there games where they struggled. This was easily gong to be one of them, and in the end it wasn't enough.