Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 1 - Game 1 - Tottori Jyouhoku (Tottori) vs. Mie (Mie)

Well, with the opening ceremonies completed, the other teams exit as Mie and Tottori Jyouhoku take the field for the tournament opener.

Now, admittedly there probably won't be a whole lot of people here.  Though with the final game being a headliner, it's quite possible the stands might be a little more full than expected for a game like this.

That's not to say Mie or Tottori Jyouhoku aren't good teams, they're just not attention grabbers.

Tottori Jyouhoku won the Chuugoku Super-Regionals, albeit against a slightly weaker field.  Their offense is pedestrian at best (and that was against a weaker field), which means much of the burden will lie with ace Hirata Shouma and reliever Nishisaka Ryou.

First up for them will be Mie.  Now, Mie is no perennial title contender, however they did take Aikoudai Meiden the full 9 in the Toukai Super-Regional final, falling just short 4-3.  Their offense is probably a tick better than Tottori's, but it'll probably also boil down to their ace Miura Koutarou.  They have used many other relievers, but none with extensive playing time, meaning it'll probably be Miura or bust.

I would probably expect a low-scoring affair due to the offenses more than the pitching.  Though if either ace wears down, their game - and subsequently their tournament, ends just after it started.

Tottori Jyouhoku (Tottori)
RF  Satou Kouji
2B  Komai Yuusuke (#6)
CF  Kimura Tatsuya
1B  Kawano Shou
3B  Taniguchi  Hibiki (#15)
LF  Hamada Kouki
C  Kinoshita Yuugo
SS  Hirayama Takuma (#5)
P  Hirata Shouma

Mie (Mie)
3B  Kitade Kazuma
CF  Ishizaki Shouki
1B  Okamoto Takurou
RF  Ogawa Tomoya
SS  Maekawa Naoki
P  Miura Koutarou
C  Kobayashi Daiki
2B  Oda Hayao
LF  Maekawa Jinya

10:32 - First pitch!

Top 1st
Miura starts the game off by getting Satou to swing at three straight pitches.  But as quickly as he records his first K, he walks Kumai on 4 straight, and almost walks Kimura on 4 pitches (it was 5).

And immediately timeout is called  as #15 Shigeyama comes out to the mound.

Cleanup batter Kawano looks for a ball to hit as he fouls off a 2-0 pitch.  Miura gets in a second strike on the outside corner and now Kawano is on the defense just fouling off a pitch.

The swings give Miura a second wind as he strikes out Kawano on a lsider, then Taniguchi on three straight to end the inning!

Bottom 1st
Hirata looking good to start, but a routine grounder to short is thrown high by Hirayama and Mie gets a baserunner.

But just as quickly, Kitade is caught off first and a pickoff throw forces him to 2nd where despite a collision Hirayama holds onto the ball.

It's too bad as Ishizaki takes a ball the other way into the gap.  He rounds the bases as the ball falls softly in for a stand-up triple!  Mie back on the offensive!

Okamoto up and he's brushed back with a pitch up and in!

But when Hirata tries to go down and away, Okamoto golfs it to center!   Kimura fields it conceding the run and Mie scores the first run of the tournament!  They lead 1-0!

Ogawa goes down swinging to end the inning, but not before Mie draws first blood!

Top 2nd
A little on ace Miura.  He's pretty much your average pitcher, with a fastball that can hit 135.  His slider is a bit erratic and can be anywhere from 125~132.  He also has a curve in the high 100's-low 110's.

Despite his lack of control early, he manages to strike out Hamada to start the inning, then gets some help as Kitade plays self-defense on a liner right at him for the 2nd out.  Finally Hirayama flies out to center and it's a much smoother inning for Miura.

Bottom 2nd
Mie's oen-dan goes into Big6 songs.  Whee!

Miura's opponent is about the same.  Fastball in the 134~138 range, slider in the low 120's and a change in the 100's.  He does seem to exhibit better control than Miura.

But Naoki lines a fastball right back up the middle for a leadoff hit.  Miura lays down the bunt and it's up to Kobayashi to get the runner home.

He gets ahead 3-1, but eventually winds up grounding to 3rd.  Oda comes up now to try and play add on.

They try to paint the corner on a 1-2 pitch, but it goes begging.  Doesn't matter because they try it again and Oda offers and misses to end the inning.

Top 3rd
Miura gets himself into trouble yet again.  One down, he hits top batter Satou.  Then Komai lays down a bunt down the 3rd base line that stays fair for a base hit!

Kimura make Miura pay for it as he lines one over Okamoto down the right field line for a double!  That scores Satou and the game is tied at 1-1!

Kawano then hits a grounder to 3rd.  Kitade charges, but his only play is to 1st.  That scores Komai to make it 2-1!  Taniguchi grounds a chopper to 2nd to end the inning, but not before the Chuugoku champs take the lead!

Bottom 3rd
Jinya manages to reach 1st via a dead ball and is bunted to 2nd.  He's advanced to 3rd on a grounder, but there's two outs and they need a one-timer from Okamoto.

Hirata gets him to hit a chopper back to him, but he can't field it cleanly and it goes off his glove! It deflects back towards the left side of 2nd.  Hirayama comes in, but bobbles the ball allowing Jinya to score, tying the game at 2-2!!

Dunno if that chopper rattled him a bit, but he walks Ogawa and now is in a slight pinch.  But he gets Naoki to strike out on a slider down and in to limit the damage.

Top 4th
Miura seems to have on and off innings.  After having a soft liner forcing him to duck for a single, he gets Hirayama to hit a comebacker to him.  Miura proceeds to start the inning ending 1-6-3 double play.

Bottom 4th
Meanwhile, Mie's batters seem to be timing Hirata well.  Miura hits a deep fly to center, followed by a liner to center by Kobayashi.  Oda finally succeeds in actually getting a hit with a liner to center.  Jinya is not as lucky though, as Hirata starts throwing junk and he strikes out to end the inning.

Top 5th
Miura continues to have trouble with leadoff batter Satou, issuing a one-out walk.  But when Komai lines one to Jinya in shallow left, he's too aggressive!  Jinya throws him out trying to return to 1st and the inning is over!

Bottom 5th
Kitade starts off the Mie offense with a slicer over Taniguchi!  It goes all the way to the wall for a leadoff double!  Ishizaki lays down the bunt, and it's up to Okamoto.

And he takes a pitch letter high and drives it to center!  It's over a running Kimura!  Okamoto eases into 2nd with an RBI double!  3-2 Mie!

But Mie helps him limit the damage as Ogawa chases a ball in the dirt, and then Okamoto is caught in between 2nd and 3rd and is run down.  But as we head to the break, Mie leads 3-2!

The game is about what I expected.  Not necessarily good offenses per se, and the pitching is average.  It'll come down to who can get the timely hits more than anything else.

Top 6th
Miura is certainly settling down it seems.  First pitch strikes and a bit more control as the game has progressed.  Kimura pops out to right, cleanup batter Kawano strikes out swinging on a slider outside, and while Taniguchi slices down the left field line for a single (good play by Jinya to limit him), Hamada routinely grounds out to short to end the inning.

Bottom 6th
Bad luck seems to plague the Chuugoku champions.  Naoki hits a hard ball to the right side, but Kawano smothers it!  However, his toss to 1st glances off Hirata's glove and Naoki's safe!

Mie continues to play for a run at a time, and Miura bunts him along.

Kobayashi can't hold up his swing on a ball down and away, and it's up to Oda once again.  He hit a liner back up the middle last time up.

Hirata, aware of this isn't giving him anything good.  Sliders down or fastballs away.

Oda's doing his best, fouling off pitches to stay alive...

And he lines one over Taniguchi into left!  But Hamada is playing in and Naoki can't score!

Up to Jinya to try and get the runs home.

But instead Oda runs the team out of the inning as he's thrown out trying to steal 2nd!  Why?!

Top 7th
Lucky 7 for Tottori Jyouhoku, and they're starting to run out of time.

Kinoshita gets a break when a grounder to 3rd is thrown short by Kitade and bounces over Okamoto's glove.  E5 and the tying run is aboard.

Hirayama tests Kitade again with a bunt down the left side.  Kitade's throw is short again, but Okamoto just picks it for the out.

Trouble for Miura!  Last batter Hirata grounds one past a diving Kitade to left!  Jinya is playing in again, so the runners have to stop.  But the tying run is 90 feet away!

Okita-kantoku calls time to try and slow down the momentum.

But Miura's nemesis is at the plate in leadoff batter Satou. This time around, Miura gets ahead 1-2!  But Satou works the count full, and drives a pitch down and in to center!  It's deep enough and Kinoshita scores easily!  We're douten at 3-3!!

Komai makes Kitade make one more play at 3rd to end the inning, but the 7th indeed provides to be lucky as Tottori Jyouhoku ties the game!

Bottom 7th
Jinya's troubles at the plate continue as he continues to swing at sliders down and in for a K.

Kitade looks to make up for the error as he reaches out and hits a seeing-eye single to left.

Odd, Okita-kantoku isn't calling or a bunt.

Oy...  Kitade pushes it when a ball gets away from Kinoshita, but Ishizaki was holding up the stop sign and Kinoshita throws him out easily.  Ishizaki hits a lazy fly to center and the inning is over just like that.  Momentum may be swinging to Tottori at just the right time.

Top 8th
Problem is, they still cannot get good contact on Miura's pitches.  It's the middle of the lineup, and Kimura hits a grounder to 2nd, Kawano nubs one back to Miura for 2 quick outs.

Taniguchi though seems to be getting in the groove as he sends one into the left center field gap for a 2-out double!  Chance for Tottori, but Hamada steps in 0-3 on the day.  Miura needs to get him as Kinoshita stands on the on-deck circle.

Hm?  Miura's throwing in the low 140's?  Didn't notice that now.  He just threw a 144 pitch.

But it's a high change that he dribbles back to Miura who throws him out to end the inning!

Bottom 8th
Okamoto gets his 2nd hit of the day, a ball just under the glove of Hirayama into left!  It's a given that Ogawa's going to try to lay down the bunt.

But he can't lay it down!  He's down 1-2 in the count and is still showing bunt?  Yes, he still going for it!

And he lays it down beautifully!  Mie now has the go-ahead run in scoring position for Naoki!  But he's just 1-3 with a single back up the middle in the 2nd...

Naoki gets good contact on one, but it's right at Satou!  He doesn't move an inch to record the 2nd out!

Now Miura has to help his own cause with 2 out.  Can he do it?  He did hit a deep drive to center, but otherwise has laid down 2 bunts.

Grounder to short... off Hirayama and into center!!!  Kimura runs it down, but not before Okamoto scores giving Mie the 4-3 lead!

Kobayashi with a single to left!  Miura advances to 3rd as Hamada runs it down and Tottori is in big trouble!  Yamamoto-kantoku calls time and tries to settle down Hamada.

But Oda guides a pitch down and in to the right side and just past a diving Komai into right!  Miura scores on the RBI double and it's now 5-3 Mie!

And finally Yamamoto-kantoku pulls the plug on Hirata when he falls behind Jinya 2-0.  #10 Nishisaka enters the game.  He looks like the same, a righty who has a fastball in the 140's and a change in the high 110's.

But Nishisaka strikes him out on a wild pitch!  Kinoshita hurries to the ball, but everyone's safe!  Kobayashi scores and it's now 6-3 Mie!

Kitade properly strikes out to end the inning, but the damage is done.  Tottori Jyouhoku finds them down 3 again with just 3 outs to go...

Top 9th
Miura gets ahead of Kinoshita 0-2, but nibbles and fills up the count.  And walks him!!

#4 Yokozeki comes in to PH for Hirayama.  But he's way ahead of an 0-2 curve and strikes out swinging!

New P Nishisaka offers at 3 straight pitches away and there's quickly 2 outs!  It's down to captain Satou to keep the game alive!


Satou with a solid drive to right!  Ogawa running to the wall...


Satou drives a ball out to right (which isn't easy) and pulls Tottori Jyouhoku within 1!  It's 6-5!!

And now is it Miura that's rattled??  He walks Komai on 4 straight and now the douten run is aboard!  Okita-kantoku calls time.  He needs Miura to settle down quick or else it could get out of hand.

Kimura with a solid hit though the right side!  Runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out!!  And cleanup batter Kawano stands in!!

Whoa.  Big swing and miss on the first pitch.

Fouls off the second, and he's down to his last strike...

Pitch outside, and he holds off.. 1-2.

Fouls off another one letter high away...


Kawano finally bites on the slider away and misses to end the game!  Mie holds on to win 6-5!!!!

Tottori Jyouhoku mounted a rally here in the 9th, but just falls short.  It's Mie who will advance to the next round as the Chuugoku champions gather their Koushien dirt and will return back to Tottori.

For Mie, it's a hard fought win that will not get any easier.  With Miura already laboring in their first game, and no real relievers to speak of, it will be difficult to advance in the next round.

Notable Players
Satou Kouji (Tottori Jyouhoku) - 1-2, HR, 2 RBI, BB, HBP
Kimura Tatsuya (Tottori Jyouhoku) - 2-4, 2B, RBI, BB
Taniguchi Hibiki (Tottori Jyouhoku) - 2-4, 2B, K
Oda Hayao (Mie) - 3-4, 2B, RBI, K
Okamoto Takurou (Mie) - 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI

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