Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 4 - Game 3 - Imabari Nishi (Ehime) vs. Mie (Mie)

Well, after that comeback by Teikyou, I wonder how the last matchup of the day will go.

One side is Shikoku champion Imabari Nishi. The team is led by ace Hino Reona, who has a max of 131 kph, but has a slider at 110, a curve at 100 and a changeup. Backed by good defense, the team was able to edge out teams such as Meitoku Gijyuku, Saibi and Kochi. Then in the Meji Jingu Taikai, they defeated Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (who just lost), and Kaisei (who was upset earlier) before losing to Oogaki Nichidai.

That's one heck of a gauntlet to go through.

The team has 12 lefties on the roster. They don't strike out, and take some walks. The main offensive threat, is... well... their ace.

Mie earned the Meiji Jingu Taiki bid. They had moderate success last year at Koshien defeating Kumamoto Kougyou in the first round.

The team generally goes to ace Masuda for most games, with reliever Matsuda splitting time in some games. Interestingly enough, last summer Masuda and Matsuda wore each others numbers. Neither are really strikeout pitchers and there is some control issues with Masuda.

Offensively, the team doesn't do a whole lot of anything except get base hits. They don't get many extra base hits, don't walk, and don't steal much. It seems much like an NL team. There is no big power hitter, just a lot of good base hitters.

With a team like Mie's, a one-dimensional team probably will not go far. But it would be interesting to see how far it can go.

Imabari Nishi (Ehime) - Shikoku Champions
SS Hamamoto Hiroki
LF Takeuchi Jyunpei (#12)
CF Gouda Ryouya
3B Seki Yuuichirou
RF Kurabuchi Shun
P Hino Reona
1B Inoue Yousuke
2B Takashita Youhei (#14)
C Minori Kento

Mie (Mie) - Meiji Jingu Tournament Bid
CF Yamaguchi Yuudai
SS Shigeyama Eiji
RF Matsuda Shougo
LF Doukai Masayuki
1B Tanigawa Koutarou
2B Jinushi Kazuma
C Katou Takuma
P Masuda Daiki
3B Aoki Shou


14:27 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Masuda opens the game by getting Hamamoto to ground out to 3rd.

Takeuchi then drives a ball to deep center! Yamaguchi running back to the wall, but the ball falls in just in front of the wall! He's in with a stand up double!

And Masuda then walks Gouda on 4 straight!

Okita-kantoku immediately calls a conference on the mound.

Camera pans to RF Matsuda, who is actually the other pitcher on the staff!

Grounder by Seki to 3B! Aoki's throw to 2nd is low and Jinushi can't field it! Everyone's safe on the throwing error! Manrui for Imabari!

Kurabuchi takes the first pitch past a diving Jinushi into right! Takeuchi comes in and Imabari Nishi takes the early 1-0 lead!

Hino steps in looking to extend the lead for himself.

And he does just that with a fly to center! Yamaguchi fields it and Gouda comes in easily to make it a 2-0 game!

Hm... Inoue has the Evangelion theme song too. Since when did that become popular?

Oh yeah, since they started releasing the new movies... anywho....

But they're playing it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too fast...

Inoue with a shallow popup to left center. Shigeyama goes out to field it, but can't get his bearings! It drops in and Seki comes around to score! It's 3-0 Imabari!!

Takashita grounds out to 2nd to end the inning, but for a team like Mie being down 3-0 is not a good way to start.

Bottom 1st
Yamaguchi first-pitch swinging laces one to right for a leadoff single. But then Shigeyama pops up his bunt attempt and it's caught by Minori.

Matsuda quickly flies out to center and there's 2 down.

Doukai up, and Yamaguchi takes off for 2nd! Minori with the throw but it's high and Yamaguchi is in safely!

And that pays off! Doukai grounds one back up the middle for a single and Yamaguchi comes in to score! 3-1!

Tanigawa looking to continue the rally, bloops one to short left center. Takeuchi running in, dives and makes the catch! Hino gets out of the inning, but not before Mie gets one of those runs back.

Top 2nd
Minori hits a high popup in the infield. Takashita under it, then backpedals and makes the catch! Wind is blowing out to center today and it seems to be wreaking some havoc out there.

And Hamamoto's music is Sobakasu from Ruroni Kenshin. Sweet.

Oh right, the game. Hamamoto grounds out to 1st as Tanigawa flips the ball to Masuda for the out.

Takeuchi flies out to center to end the inning, and Masuda has a quick and easy inning.

Bottom 2nd
Jinushi leads off the 2nd with a shot to right center! Gouda runds it down, but not before Jinushi is in with a double!

And Mie's oen-dan is playing Waseda's chance music!

Katou bunts Jinushi over and Mie looks to trim the deficit to 1. Masuda steps to the plate.

And he hits a high popup! Takashita gets under it, but he drops it! The wind again plays a role here as Takashita never really gets under the ball! It drops in and Jinushi comes home! It's a 3-2 ballgame!

Oono-kantoku now calls time and has a conference on the mound. They certainly can't let the early lead slip away this fast.

Aoki bunts Masuda over into scoring position and now it's back to the top of the order and Yamaguchi to try and tie the game up.

But he instead pops it up in foul territory. Seki is under it for the 3rd out. But Mie continues to chip away at the deficit and it's now a manageable 1.

Top 3rd
Masuda having little trouble here in the 3rd. Gouda lines out right to Doukai, Seki grounds out to Aoki and Kurabuchi flies out to Yamaguchi. Masuda seems has settled down after the 1st inning.

Bottom 3rd
Hino is looking for some of the same. He gets Shigeyama to hit a comebacker to him for the first out.

Then Matsuda hits a fly to left, Takeuchi going back... and it's over his head! He's in with a double! Chance for Mie!

Doukai looking for the equalizer. But he hits a grounder to 3rd. Seki up with the throw and it's high! Inoue snags it and makes the sweep tag for the out! 2 down!

Tanigawa first pitch swinging pops it up! Hamamoto under it and that's 3 outs! Mie is unable to take advantage of Matsuda's double!

Top 4th
Hino with a weak grounder to Tanigawa who runs it to the bag for the 1st out.

Inoue first pitch swinging hits grounder to third for the 2nd out.

Masuda with another 1-2-3 inning as Takashita grounds out to short. If not for the first inning, his team would be ahead!

Bottom 4th
Jinushi working the count on Hino, trying to get on base - being a bit stubborn as he fouls pitches off. 9th pitch of the AB, and Hino walks him!

Katou immediately looking to bunt the runner over, pulls it back! It's a ball, but Minori fires to 1st! Jinushi diving back... but he's late! He's picked off 1st! Bad baserunning after he managed to work a walk!

Katou flies out to right for the 2nd out.

And Masuda immediately follows with a fly to center for the 3rd out. Leadoff walk turns into a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 5th
Minori with a leadoff single into left. That's the first leadoff runner on for Imabari.

Hamamoto looking to bunt the runner along, but can't and it goes to 2 strikes.

He tries it again but pushes it foul and is out!

Takeuchi up, and Masuda gets him swinging on a pitch down and away for his 2nd K.

And Minori takes off for 2nd on the first pitch to Gouda! Katou with the throw to 2nd and they nail him for the 3rd out!

Bottom 5th
Last batter Aoki starts off the inning for Mie. And the tuba player(s) in Mie's oen-dan needs some serious help. It sounds like he's dying. Seriously.

Aoki with a comebacker! It's off Hino's foot and bounces towards the 3rd base line! Hino scrambles to get it, but Aoki is easily safe at 1st on the hit.

He gets some itai spray on it, throws a couple of practice pitches.

Yamaguchi up to bunt and lays it down. Seki charging in, double clutches. Throw to 1st... and Yamaguchi is safe! He runs through the bag instead of sliding and he beats the throw!

See kids? That's why you run THROUGH the bag, and NOT slide into it!

Shigeyama up now, doesn't look like he's bunting.

Oh, wait. He does. Hino up with it, throws to 1st for the out although Shigeyama made it close. (Oh, and Shigeyama was also running through the bag.)

Runners on 2nd and 3rd for Masuda!

Oono-kantoku calls a conference. Their lead is in real jeopardy now!

And Masuda witha popup to shallow left! Hamamoto is called of by a charging Takeuchi! He dives... and loses the ball and his glove! The runners advance and that means that Aoki scores to tie the game! It's 3-3!

I'm not sure why Hamamoto was called off, he had a better play at it...

Doukai up now and the Imabari infield is playing for 2.

Grounder to short by Doukai! Hamamoto up with it, runs to 2nd, relay to 1st... SAFE! Doukai slides (AAARGH!) in safely and Yamaguchi scores giving Mie the lead! It's 4-3!!

And again, another questionable decision. Why did Hamamoto run to the bag instead of flicking to to Takashita who was covering??

Tanigawa flies out to right to end the inning. BUT! Mie scores 2 runs on questionable defensive decisions and they take the lead going into the break!

Top 6th
Masuda comes back from the break and gets Gouda to ground out to 2nd.

Then collects his 3rd K on Seki with a slider in the dirt.

Just when it seemed like another 1-2-3 inning, he walks Kurabuchi.

Hino then lines one into right center! Matsuda cuts it off, but Kurabuchi goes for 3rd and reaches! Runners on the corners for Imabari!

Inoue up next as Okita-kantoku calls a conference.

But Inoue with a grounder to 3rd. Aoki up with it and throws to first..


He throws it high! It goes to the fence as the runners advance! Tanigawa retrieves it, but not before Kurabuchi scores! We're tied again at 4-4 and Masuda isn't out of the woods yet!!

Runners at 2nd and 3rd for Takashita!

No, wait... sensing an opportunity, Ooni-kantoku has #15 Fujimoto pinch hit for Takashita.


Masuda with the wild pitch! Katou can't keep it in and it goes all the way to the backstop! Hino comes in to score and Imabari Nishi has retaken the lead!! It's 5-4!!

Fujimoto can't extend the lead as he grounds out to Aoki for the 3rd out. But Imabari Nishi stages a 2-out rally to retake the lead!!

Bottom 6th
Hino even with all the issues has thrown just over 50 pitches.

And he continues to keep the count low as he gets Jinushi to ground to 3rd and Katou first pitch swinging to short.

Masuda proves to be a bit more stubborn, lasting 8 pitches, but eventually flying out to left.

Hino preserves the lead at least for another inning. But the cameras panned to the Imabari bullpen where #11 Hayashi is warming up. That's strange given Hino is certainly within pitch count limits.

Top 7th
Last batter Minori takes a pitch to center for a leadoff hit.

Hamamoto looks to bunt the runner along, but bunts it foul. He shows bunt, but swings away! He fouls that off too.

0-2 now, and he tries to bunt again! But he bunts it foul and goes down for the 2nd time!

Takeuchi up and he's swinging away. Masuda gets him swinging! Minori running for 2nd! Throw from Katou... in time! Masuda gets the strike 'em out throw 'em out double play to end the inning!

Bottom 7th
Aoki tries to get on base with a bunt, but fouls it off.

But then he lines one to left for a leadoff single!

Yamaguchi up. Bunts it in the air! Inoue charging in, dives!! He misses!! Hino with the ball, but way too late! All safe!!

Shigeyama up, and he's going to bunt right?

Yep, but bunts it foul. Tries again, but again goes foul! 0-2, now what?

Eh? Oono-kantoku makes a defensive change now?? #4 Aritomo comes in for Fujimoto and takes over at 2nd. That seems strange...

And Shigeyama bunts it again! This time he puts it down and the runners advance!

Matsuda, already 2-3 with a double can give Mie the lead with a base hit.

Slow chopper up the 1st base line! Inoue runs to get it, but no one's gone over to cover 1st!! Everyone's safe as Aoki scores and Mie has tied it up once again! It's 5-5 and Mie has runners at the corners!!

And it looks like Oono-kantoku has seen enough. He sends #10 Sasaki in for Inoue (he had the hustle play, why punish him?) and put him on the hill. Hino moves over to 1st.

Doukai up looking for even just a sac fly to take the lead.

But instead Okita-kantoku calls for the hit-and-run! Doukai fouls it off.

Again! But Doukai misses! Katou fakes the throw to 2nd and Matsuda reaches 2nd! Now a base hit could mean a 2-run lead!

Eh? Oono-kantoku is making another change? He's switching Hino and Sasaki!

I wondered when I would be seeing this!

Oono-kantoku has a righty and a lefty pitcher! He's using them in platoon situations! I had always wondered if a team had a good lefty/righty combo if a manager would ever consider platooning them against another team! And we're seeing it right here!!

Oh! Tanigawa with a drive down the right field line... foul!

Tanigawa with a grounder to 2nd! Aritomo going to his right gets it! Throw to first, a bit wide! Sasaki gets it, reaching his leg to the bag... and gets the out! Hino gets out of the inning, but not before Mie levels the score once again!

Top 8th
Masuda strikes Gouda on a slider away to start the inning.

Seki grounds out up the middle to Shigeyama who makes a nice throw to 1st.

Kurabuchi with a repeat of Seki's AB and Mie heads back to the dugout and takes the sticks!

Bottom 8th
EH? Another pitching change? This time #11 Hayashi comes in for Sasaki and takes the mound while Hino goes back to 1st!

Hayashi doesn't throw nearly as hard, hitting only the mid 120's with his fastball! Wonder what Oono's thinking...

But he does gets Jinushi to hit a foul fly to right.

Not sure how effective Hayashi is. His pitches are a bit all over.

AH!!!!! Katou with a drive down the left field line!! Takeuchi running to the fence.. just foul!!

But Hayashi gets him swinging on a high fastball! 2 down!

And Masuda flies out to center to end the inning.

He may have gotten the job done, but I'm a bit concerned about Hayashi and why Oono decided to go with him instead of Sasaki.

Top 9th
Hino gets fooled on a slider outside for Masuda's 7th K.

New P Hayashi grounds out to third.

And Aritomo grounds out to 2nd for a 1-2-3 inning.

So Mie will have a chance to end it here in the bottom of the 9th!

Bottom 9th
Hayashi gets Aoki to fly out to center, but his control is still questionable.

Yamaguchi swinging on first pitch and fouls out to 3rd!

Shigeyama up, and Hayashi gets ahead of him 0-2. And he finishes the inning by getting him to fly out to center!

And we're into extra innings!!!

Top 10th
Ah! Masuda hits Minori to start off the 10th! I don't really know if Minori really tried to move out of the way or not, but he's on base nonetheless!

Hamamoto is actually swinging away? He flies out to center! You're playing for 1 run, so perhaps you bunt there?

And Takeuchi goes down swinging! 2 down for Imabari Nishi!

Gouda up now. Minori takes off for 2nd! Katou with the throw and they easily get him! The leadoff HBP cannot advance and Imabari wastes an opportunity!

Bottom 11th
Matsuda with a blooper into left center, and that falls in! Now Mie has the sayonara runner on base!

Doukai squaring to bunt, but fouls it off!

And now Matsuda breaks for 2nd! Hayashi with the slow curve and the throw from Minori is not in time! The winning run is in scoring position!!

But with 2 strikes, Doukai can't bunt!

And indeed he goes down swinging as he can't check up on a ball in the dirt.

Oono-kantoku out for a conference on the mound.

And they're intentionally walking Tanigawa??!

And now Oono-kantoku is switching up the pitchers! Hino retakes the mound while Hayashi goes to 1st.

But if you were going to do that, why not do it against Tanigawa? He was 0-4 on the day!!

But Jinushi hits a grounder to 2nd! Aritomo to Hamamoto for one, relay to first... not in time! Jinushi dives in safely to 1st to keep the inning alive! Even with the dive I'm amazed at how fast he flew down there!

The sayonara run is just 90 feet away now!

Katou up to bat with 2 down. Needs a base hit!

And he hits a grounder to the right side!! Hayashi dives, can't get it! Aritomo dives, he can't get it!

サヨナラ!!!!! Katou with the sayonara hit to end the game for Mie and advance them into the next round!! Mie guts through another close game and edges out Imabari Nishi in extra innings!

It's interesting in that their free-swinging style worked against Imabari Nishi, and they should relish in the victory. But again, one has to wonder if that same aggressive style will work in later rounds.

As for Imabari Nishi, they were unable to hold on to their leads throughout the game. While the defense was sharp, they just couldn't stop the base hits from Mie.

They're certainly an interesting team, with a manager who may not be afraid to platoon pitchers. I'd like to see Imabari come back and this time really utilize it.

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