Monday, August 15, 2016

98th Natsu Koushien - Day 9, Game 1 - Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki) v Shiritsu Wayakayama (Wakayama)

Last games of round 2. Not very good places to draw into left.

Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki)
CF Nagahara Takumi (長原 拓海)
3B Yoshiga Kenshin (芳賀 憲伸)
2B Maeda Naoki (前田 尚輝)
LF Masuda Kaisei (益田 海成)
RF Hamamoto Itsuki (浜本 樹)
C Hagiwara Hiro (萩原 哲)
SS Ishijima Yuuto (石嶋 友翔)
1B Ishida Kouhei (石田 航平)
P (11)Minoo Riku (蓑尾 陸)

Shiritsu Wakayama (Wakayama)
3B Yamazaki Takuya (山崎 拓哉)
2B Kawasaki Makoto (河崎 真)
CF (13)Yabui Kanta (藪井 幹大)
1B Kitajima Riku (北嶋 陸)
RF Kinoshita Kouji (木下 康司)
LF (8)Shichino Rei (七野 怜)
C Okamoto Naoki (岡本 尚輝)
P (10) Kurusu Takumi (栗栖 拓巳)
SS Hamano Shougo (浜野 匠吾)


09:30 - First Pitch!

Both teams going with different pitchers to start the game. Probably in an attempt to save the arms for the home stretch should they get there. Also given who they may be drawing into, beating the other team with as much 2nd tier stuff is desirable.

But in a game like this where neither team is all that great, it really boils down to execution. The team who minimizes mistakes wins. Not like the powerhouse teams where there is some room for error. For these teams there usually isn't.

Judging from the starters used this seems to be the case.

And unfortunately for Nichinan Gakuen, they make the first unforced error in the 2nd inning.

It starts innocuously enough when Kinoshita singles to left. But when Shichino pops a bunt down the 1st base line, no one can get to it to catch it, and then they wait too long to see if it goes foul (which it never does).

After a sac bunt, Kurisu hits a ball to 2nd, but Maeda is anticipating the throw home and whiffs on the ball. That allows both Kinoshita and Shichino to score for a 2-0 Shiritsu Wakayama lead.

Then after a walk to the last batter Hamano (which is a cardinal sin), Kawasaki singles to right making it a 3-0 game and forcing Nichinan Gakuen to send in ace Moriyama.

It was Shiritsu Wakayama's turn to reciprocate in the 3rd.

After Ishida led of with a single, and moved to 2nd. Kurusu then could not find the strike zone at all walking both Nagahara and Yoshiga on 4 straight (and it wasn't even close). However, Nichinan was not able to bring in more than 1 run, and that was on Maeda's sac fly. 3-1.

Now obviously these teams can't execute each time they get an opportunity, but you expect them to do so at some point. And the more you get, the more likely you should be able to convert one of them into runs.

We could see this in the inning following. Shiritsu Wakayama would get a 1-out and a 2-out single from Kinoshita and Okamoto, but with 2 down they needed a hit and couldn't get one.

Nichinan Gakuen actually had a good chance in the 4th when Hagiwara had a double to left center, but was left stranded there by the following 2 batters.

Shiritsu Wakayama wasted a chance in their half of the 4th when after a leadoff hit by Hamano, Yamazaki couldn't lay down a good bunt, and when Kawasaki laid down his, it was successful, but when the ball gets dislodged in a collision, Hamano goes for 3rd and is thrown out.

That tails directly into the 5th for Nichinan Gakuen where with one down Nagahara is hit. After a flyout Kurusu seems poised to get out of the jam. However, his plan of attacking Maeda and Masuda backfires, because without pitching inside, the batters cheat on the pitch. Maeda taking it the other way and Masuda pulled over Shichino's head, both for doubles and both for an RBI tying the game at 3-3.

That's where the game would be at the break where Shiritsu Wakayama has handed the momentum to Nichinan Gakuen. In addition, Kurusu I don't believe has an answer for the middle of the lineup. Should he face them again, he'll be in trouble.

As I had hoped Shiritsu Wakayama goes to their ace Akaba. Unfortunately, he's struggling against the bottom of the lineup. Hagiwara had a routine grounder to short, but Hamano's short hop means Kitajima can't field it. After that was a single by Ishijima.

The contact play was a failure for Nichinan Gakuen as Ishijima went home and initiated the rundown. However, walking Moriyama meant the top of the lineup was definitely going to get involved.

Akaba gets a second key out when he strikes out Nagahara on an inside fastball, but once again Shiritsu Wakayama gets in their own way as Okamoto is called for catcher's interference. a run scores and it's 4-3 with Maeda coming to the plate.

And Akaba walks Maeda making it 5-3. Masuda swings over a fastball down and away to retire the side, but it really looks like they're pitching a bit scared. Almost all pitches were away.

At this point I'm seeing if there's any life in the Shiritsu Wakayama offense. If there's none in the next couple of innings, they're done.

Leadoff double by Shichino is a good start in the 6th, and a grounder gets him to 3rd. However, Akaba can't hit a ball on the outside half of the zone, and Hamano grounds out.

They get another try at it in the 7th when Yamazaki walks but after a sac bunt and a flyout there's quickly 2 down. That's when Kitajima reaches out on an outside fastball and drives it over Hamamoto's head for an RBI double making it 5-4. They're within 1, but need to continue creating opportunities for themselves to possibly convert.

However, in the 8th, after Okamato dumps a ball into left center for a hit, he tries to steal 2nd, but is thrown out by a good margin - killing the potential rally and leaving it for the 9th inning.

Now all Akaba has to do is hold serve, but Maeda-Masuda stand in first. Akaba walks Maeda again, but on the first pitch Masuda grounds into the 6-4-3 double play!

The hard part seems over, but Hamamoto singles to center.

And then to Hagiwara, who may have been forgotten, Akaba pitches one inside, but somehow that Hagiwara is able to send down the RF line for an RBI triple. 6-4 and certainly a key insurance run for Nichinan Gakuen.

And that's how the game ends as Shiritsu Wakayama goes quietly in the 9th. Nichinan Gakuen advances, and with the matchup against Hokkai, could reach the Best 8.

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