Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 2 - Game 3 - Kouryou (Hiroshima) vs. Ritsumeikan Uji (Kyoto)

(Yes, with the last post questioning the in-game decision you all know what happened, but just bear with the dialogue anyways...)

The final matchup of the day is an interesting one. Kouryou makes its first return to Koshien since the 2008 Natsu Koshien when they lost to Saga Kita. Arihara is their ace, and they depended on him in the higher level games (Chuugoku super-regionals) while depending on their other pitchers (Ueno & Kawasaki) for the lower level games. It's not the 2-pitcher system Saga Kita used, but I wonder if they incorporated parts of it into their team. Arihara's numbers are pretty ridiculous. In tournament play he had a K/9 ratio just short of 9, and his BB/9 ratio is a shade under 1.5. That's pretty amazing. Ueno is just as good, sporting a 9.82 K/9 and 2.45 BB/9 ratios.

(It's happened before. The epic, and Hindenburg-like collapse of Teikyou against Chiben Wakayama in 2006 when they were down 8-4, scored 8 runs while using a PH on their last pitcher - and hitting a gyakuten 3-run HR - and couldn't close out the game, appeared to have changed their philosophy to the point where they carry as many as 4 pitchers!)

Kouryou almost does it all. They hit for average, are aggressive on the bases, and take their fair share of walks and get quite a few doubles (although that may be a by-product of their speed). Look for Maruko and Sanda to provide the offense for the club.

Ritsumeikan Uji is only making their 2nd spring appearance at Koshien. Pitching-wise, the staff isn't all that spectacular. Ace Kawabe takes the majority of the innings, doesn't miss a lot of bats, and his K/BB ratio stands at 1.33.

Offensively, the team is a station-to-station club. They do hit for average (.345), but not really for extra bases (.414 SLG). They take a bunch of walks (.452 OBP), but aren't aggressive on the basepaths (17 SB in 10 games). Kozaki and Nishikawa should be the table-setters or clutch hitters for the team.

As one-dimensional as Ritsumeikan Uji is, they'll have to lean on that heavily if they want to advance in the tournament. As long as they can keep it low scoring, they'll have a shot to win this.

Kouryou (Hiroshima) - Chuugoku At-large
2B Fukuda Shuuhei
RF Tokuda Shinyuu (#13)
3B Sanda Tatsuya (#6)
1B Maruko Tatsuya
LF Kuramasu Takahiro
CF Makoshiba Daiki
P Arihara Kouhei
SS Ninomiya Yuusuke (#14)
C Shintani Atsushi

Ritsumeikan Uji (Kyoto) - Kinki 3/4
SS Doi Jyunpei
1B Hattori Kengo
LF Nishikawa Shinjirou
3B Furukawa Kouki
C Kozaki Hiroyuki
RF Taguchi Masaki
CF Iwamoto Tsubasa
2B Shimizu Yuuta
P Kawabe Kaita


13:48 - First pitch!

Top 1
As advertised, Kouryou is pretty patient. Fukuda goes ahead 3-0, then lets 2 balls go by for strikes. After a foul, he grounds out to 2nd.

Tokuda walks on 4 straight. Sanda flies out to center on 4 pitches.

Maruko with a drive over the shortstop's head into left center! Tokuda heading for 3rd, throw cutoff by the SS and Maruko slides into second with a double! Scoring opportunity early for Kouryou!

Kuramasu with a fister to left! That's down for a base hit! Tokuda scores, Maruko being sent home! Nishikawa waiting for the bounce, comes up throwing! And that is rifled in there! Takes a bounce or two, but it's right at Kozaki who's blocking home plate! He applies the tag, and Maruko is out! Nice play!

But Kouryou is on the board early with a 1-0 lead!

Bottom 1st
Arihara looks good on the mound. His fastball is sitting in the low 140's and he has a slow curve in the 110's. Doi strikes out looking, and Hattori grounds weakly to 2nd.

Nishikawa with a grounder to 3rd. Sanda with the ball, drops it! Fumbles trying to pick it up! Throw is late and Nishikawa is on base on the E5.

And Udaki-kantoku puts on the hit and run! Furukawa connects and it's a hit to center! Nishikawa heads for 3rd and Ritsumeikan has runners at the corners!

Ah! Kozaki with a grounder. That's past a diving Maruko... fair! Nishikawa scores, Furukawa heading to 3rd as Tokuda comes up with the ball! The error costs Kouryou as Kozaki's double for Rits quickly evens the score at 1-1!

Nakai-kantoku calls for a conference on the mound (I should mention that in koukouyakyuu the manager doesn't really head out to the mound. He sends one of the benchplayers out there for him).

Arihara falls behind Taguchi 3-1 but manages to fill it up.

Taguchi with a grounder past a diving Ninomiya! Furukawa scores! Kozaki holds up at 3rd, but Rits has taken the lead, it's 2-1!

And now Iwamoto is hit on the foot by an Arihara pitch! It's manrui for Rits! What is going on with Arihara and Kouryou?

Shimizu with the hard grounder down the 3rd base line! Sanda dives, can't get it! It's fair!! Kozaki scores, Taguchi rounding 3rd... he scores! Kuramasu quickly up with it, throws to 3rd... and Iwamoto slides in... SAFE! Another hit for Rits and now they're up 4-1!!!!! ありえない!!

Ace Kawabe stands in as the 9th batter up this inning! He goes down swinging, but Ritsumeikan scores 4 runs and breaks out to a 3-run lead!!

Top 2nd
Makoshiba looks to start the rally as he singles to center.

Arihara lays down the bunt, but he kills it right in front of home! Kozaki up with it, fires to 2nd for one out, relay from Doi... two! Arihara's bunt winds up in a double play and there's 2 outs!

Ninomiya flies out to left to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Arihara is working fairly quickly, but his control is still an issue. But he strikes out Doi afater 8 pitches. Then Hattori on 5, and Nishikawa on 5 as well. He threw quite a few sliders that inning.

Top 3rd
Oh, for Kawabe, he has a fastball in the high 120's and a curve in the low 100's.

Shintani earns a leadoff walk sending it back to the top of the lineup. Fukuda is squaring to bunt, takes a strike. Then pulls it back and hits it foul. A weak grounder down the 1st base line does the job though as Hattori's only play is to 1st.

Tokuda with a single to right! Taguchi can't handle the hop! It bounces away from him as Shintani scores! Tokuda takes 2nd on the error and Kouryou takes a run back. It's 4-2.

And now a wild pitch from Kawabe! Kozaki runs it down, but Tokuda takes 3rd!

Sanda hit by Kawabe! Runners on the corners now with one down!

Maruko with a drive to right!! Taguchi running back, leaps and it falls in behind him!!! That's to the wall! Tokuta scores, Sanda heading for 3rd... holds as Shimizu fires a rocket to home (almost high!). But the second double by Maruko trims the deficit to 1 at 4-3, and there's still runners at 2nd and 3rd with only one down!

And Kuramasu with a single through the right side! Sanda comes in to score and Kouryou has come back to tie the game! 4-4!!

The outfield was playing in and Taguchi's throw prevented Maruko from scoring.

Makoshiba with the grounder to 1st. Hattori looks Maruko back then scrambles back to the bag at 1st for the put out. 2 down.

Arihara up to try and give himself the lead... but he goes down swinging. But his team has come back with 3 runs here in the 3rd to level the score!

Bottom 3rd
O~~~y. Arihara has new life, then plunks Furukawa to start the inning.

But Kozaki tries to put down the bunt, and it's right to Arihara. He fires to 2nd for one, but they can't turn the double play. Still, they get the lead runner.

And Kozaki breaks for 2nd! Throw from Shintani short hops Ninomiya! It goes into center and Kozaki heads to 3rd! E2 and Rits threatens to retake the lead!

Arihara misses on a 3-0 pitch and gives up yet another base runner! At least it sets up the double play.

Hit-and-run! But Iwamoto fouls it off. And Udaki-kantoku calls for another one! Iwamoto strikes out, but Taguchi reaches 2nd safely.

Runners now on 2nd and 3rd with 2 down for Shimizu who had the timely double in the 1st.

AHHH!!! Arihara with a wild pitch all the way to the backstop! Kozaki comes in from 3rd, and Rits retakes the lead 5-4!

And now Shimizu is hit by a pitch! What in the world is going on with Arihara's control??!

Kawabe up looking for a timely hit, and Shimizu takes off for 2nd! Shintani's throw is on target, and Kawabe is... out! Shintani guns down Shimizu to end the inning, but not before Arihara self-inflicts damage to himself relinquishing the lead back to Ritsumeikan Uji 5-4!

Top 4th
Kawabe settles down after the long 3rd inning. He gets Ninomiya looking, Shintani swinging, and Fukuda to fly to center.

Bottom 4th
Arihara too turns right around and retires the side in order, striking out Kawabe swinging, Doi looking and Hattori grounding to 2nd. (Hattori's grounder was a slow chopper that Fukuda charged at and whose throw barely beat out a hustling Hattori).

It's almost been night and day for Arihara looking dominant one inning, then completely off-kilter the next. Can he finally settle things down?

Top 5th
Tokuda with a comebacker up the middle. Doi dives, but it sneaks through!

And a wild pitch from Kawabe lets Tokuda advance to 2nd!

Sanda looking to bunt, but he pops it up! Kawabe makes the catch and there's one down! Nakai-kantoku can't be too happy with that as a free base turns into the equivalent of a sac bunt.

But all is well when Maruko singles through to left! Nishikawa comes up with the ball, but Tokuda scores easily from 2nd and just like that we have a tie ball game at 5-5! Maruko is already 3-3 today with 2 RBI's!

And now a wild pitch to Kuramasu! It was on a 3-2 pitch for ball 4, but Kozaki has to run it down to prevent Maruko from advancing any further. He does so, but there's situation developing for Kouryou here in the 5th!

Udaki calls for a conference on the mound. They've already let 2 leads slip away, they can't fall behind now.

Grounder to 2nd by Makoshiba! Shimizu to Doi for one. Throw to first is... WHAT??!

Doi throws the ball into the ground and it takes a high bounce that Hattori can't handle! It goes into foul territory and Maruko comes in to score from 3rd! The error costs Rits the lead and Koryou takes the lead for the first time since the 1st inning, 6-5!!

Kawabe looks out to 2nd from the mound with an expression his face that says, "What?"

But on the replay it seems like either Doi should have eaten it, or jumped to avoid the throw because Kuramasu's slide may have affected the throw.

Now #10 comes out to talk to the umpires. Speculation is that Udaki-kantoku is looking for a possible interference call, but Kuramasu has a right to the base, and wasn't going out of his way to take out Doi, so it's a clean slide.

Arihara with a liner to right! That's a base hit! Makoshiba rounds 3rd and comes home, throw is cut off, and Kouryou extends their lead. It's 7-5! Arihara hits a hanging curve to help his own cause.

Ninomiya jammed by Kawabe! Taguchi coming in and makes the catch to retire the side. But Kouryou scores another 3 runs to take the lead!

Bottom 5th
Nishikawa hits a high fastball through the right side for a leadoff single.

Cleanup batter Furukawa bunts him along to 2nd. There's still time for Rits to play for just a run here in the 5th.

Arihara can't find the plate again. He falls behind 3-0 to Kozaki, but is bailed out when Kozaki swings away and hit a chopper back to him. He looks the runner back and makes the play at 1st. 2 down.

But he continues to make things difficult, falling behind Taguchi 2-0. He evens the count, then doesn't get a strike 3 call. But Taguchi strikes out swinging on the next pitch and the threat is over.

Top 6th
Shintani with a leadoff single through the left side gets things started for Kouryou. Fukuda with the hard bunt to the right side. Hattori has to go back a little to field it, but he gets it and tosses to 1st for the out.

But then Kawabe walks Tokuta and now Kouryou has runners at 1st and 2nd with only 1 down!

Ball bounced up to the plate by Kawabe, but it's right to Kozaki. He rifles to 1st! And they get Tokuda! He might have been napping on the bounce, or thinking about advancing. Either way, he gets picked off 1st! 2 down!

Sanda grounds out to short to end the inning, but a baserunning error possiblty costs the team a chance at extending the lead!

Bottom 6th
For the 3rd straight inning Arihara gets through without too much difficulty retiring the side in order with a groundout, popup, and striking out Kawabe for the 3rd time today.

Top 7th
Maruko up and the band is playing part of Keiou's chance music! Makes me want to break out the CD again...

Kuramasu drives a ball to deep center. Iwamoto backing up, approaching the wall, but has plenty of time to get it for the 2nd out.

Ooooooooo! Chance Keio! Love that music. When I heard that for the first time when Keio was in Koshien, I realized they used that music in RBI Baseball! Love that tune.

Makoshiba grounder to 2nd. Shimizu makes the off balance throw and gets a sliding Makoshiba.

*grumble*Stop diving into 1st and you'd be safe...*grumble* *grumble*

Bottom 7th
Doi strikes out swinging. That's his 4th today. Isn't that the golden sombrero?

Hattori grounds out to short, and it's looking like another short inning. But Nishikawa collects his 2nd hit with a seeing-eye single past Ninomiya.

And Arihara goes full on the 2nd batter this inning, but gets Furukawa to strike out swinging to end the inning.

Top 8th
Arihara collects his 2nd hit on Kawabe's 120th pitch with a bloop single down the right field line.

Ninomiya tries to bunt, but pops it up in front of home! Kawabe charges and makes the catch. One down.

Shintani with a bunt, but he too pops it up! Kawabe charging in, dives and makes the catch! He tosses to 1st for the double play and that's the inning!

But Kawabe seems to have hurt himself a little, somewhere at the right knee or lower leg. He stretches it out and appears to be fine.

Bottom 8th
What's not fine is that they're down 2 runs with 6 outs to go.

Kozaki reaches out and hits one, but it's a flier to left center and Kuramasu is there to run it down.

Taguchi grounds out to 2nd and there's quickly 2 down. Arihara continues to roll.

And just as I say that, Arihara walks Iwamoto... figures.

Shimizu now with a single through the right side! Runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 down!

And Kawabe comes up trying to help his own cause. He really needs a hit having K'd 3 times already.

But after a flail at a pitch way outside the zone and a foul ball, he's behind 0-2!

AH! He flails at another pitch down and away for strike 3! The ball gets away from Shintani, but he gathers it in and throws to 1st for the out!

Not only does he waste an opportunity, but he too earns the golden sombrero!

Top 9th
Fukuda with a fly to right, but he gets under it too much and it's an easy catch for Taguchi.

Tokuta does the same thing to left.

And Sanda hits a towering pop to 2nd. Shimizu secures it and Kouryou is quickly retired. Last ups for Rits, is there anything left?

Bottom 9th
The large Rits contingent cheers on the team hoping for one more rally.

Top of the order for Doi who has 4 K's today. And Arihara falls behind 3-0, then walks him! Doi wasn't swinging at all that AB. Just get on base.

Hattori up. 0-4 himself. He bunts??! It's hard hit to the right side, but Maruko doesn't overrun it and makes the play at first. A safety bunt? Perhaps. But I wonder if Udaki-kantoku was thinking, "If he can't get on base, I might as well make it a productive out." Still though you're down 2 and that run doesn't matter. At least let Hattori try to see if he can't get a walk first given the leadoff one.

And a wild pitch by Arihara lets Doi advance to 3rd! Is Arihara tiring? That was his 160th pitch!

Full count to Nishikawa and he walks him!! The tying run is on base!

Nakai-kantoku calling a conference. 161 pitches for Arihara... is it too much?

Defensive change for Kouryou. #9 Toyota comes in for Kuramasu in left.

AH!! Nishikawa taking off for 2nd! Throw from Shintani is short and smothered by Fukuda! Now the tying run is in scoring position! That's a heck of a call to make with the tying run.

Another conference on the mound. A base hit could tie the game.

Furukawa ahead 2-1, and swings away! Grounder to 2nd! Fukuda up with it, looks home, but decides to go to 1st allowing Doi to score. Gives up the run for the out and now it's 7-6 with the tying run 90 feet away! I can't tell if the pitch was outside, but don't you try to work a walk? There's no double play.

Kozaki up looking for the timely hit, but gets ahead 2-1! And a pitch by Arihara is called a ball! Ooo... that looked good to me. And he loses him! Now the winning run is on base!!

Arihara does NOT look happy about those last 2 calls.

Taguchi up, takes ball 1 inside. Runner takes off! Taguchi swings and fouls it off!

Wait, WHAT?

And he takes off again! Pitch in for a strike, Shintani throws to 2nd... swipe tag by Fukuda... OUT!

...and well, you know what I thought of that call.

Admittedly it is hard to tell if Fukuda was able to make the tag. I looked at the replay several times, and I do see a movement of the jersey where the number is before Kozaki reaches the bag. But I can't tell if that is because his body is moving, or if it's because the glove brushed the jersey.

Either way, you just don't do that.

Notable Players
WP - Arihara Kouhei (Kouryou) - CG, 2 ER, 7 H, 13 K, 8 BB
LP - Kawabe Kaita (Ritsumeikan Uji) - CG, 6 ER, 11 H, 3 K, 5 BB

Tokuda Shinyuu (Kouryou) - 2-3, 3 R, RBI, 2 BB
Maruko Tatsuya (Kouryou) - 3-4, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI
Kuramasu Takahiro (Kouryou) - 2-3, 2 RBI, BB
Nishikawa Shinjirou (Ritsumeikan Uji) - 2-4, R, BB
Shimizu Yuuta (Ritsumeikan Uji) - 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, HBP

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