Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 8 - Game 3 - Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo) vs. Chiben Gakuen (Nara)

We end the 2nd round with a high-profile matchup.  Though several years ago you may not have been able to say that.

Chiben Gakuen had won the Kinki super-regional, and did defeat Hayatomo 5-2, but their offense was all generated in one inning.  And outside of the 5-run 5th inning, they managed just one hit with 3 walks and a hit batsmen.  Now, this was against Hayatomo, and for the most part against a pitcher who had only pitched a couple of innings.  So perhaps their preparation for ace Aidzu threw them off when Horita started the game.

Kanto Dai-ichi was given a surprise when facing Beppu Aoyama.  They scored just 1 run on 6 hits, and that run was in part because the Beppu defense failed to recognize the speed at the top of the order.  And 7 K's against the Beppu pitching staff may not be a good sign either.

And yet, this was the team that wound up winning the Tokyo regional.  So either Beppu Aoyama's pitching was above average or the Tokyo Regional was sub-average this year.

Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo)
3B  Isobe Yuuta (#9)
RF  Kishi Naoya (#16)
2B  Kiuchi Jyunshou
CF  Akiyama Shouta
LF  Itou Hiroki
SS  Yoshie Masakazu (#5)
1B  Anzai Kouyou
C  Matsutani Tsubasa
P  Nakamura Yuuta

Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
C  Nakamichi Katsushi
CF  Urano Jyunya
P  Aoyama Daiki
RF  Ono Youhei
3B  Komeda Shintarou
1B  Koike Masahiro
LF  Uenishi Ryouki (#12)
2B  Yamaguchi Yuuki (#6)
SS  Takeda Ichiya (#13)


14:45 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
After two quick outs by the Kanto offense, Kiuchi hits a single through to left.  Akiyama follows that up slicing a ball the opposite way to left.

But Itou winds up looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the inning.  May have been some framework there, but with the angle it's always hard to tell.

Bottom 1st
Nakamura looking sharp to start, getting Nakamichi to chase a slider inside for the first out.  And after an Urano flyout, Aoyama goes down on 3 pitches, watching the last one hit the outside corner for strike 3.

Top 2nd
Aoyama's good control early hitting the outside corners are forcing the batters to chase the ball.  And such was the case with Anzai for the 2nd out.

Matsutani scares the crap out of Aoyama by drilling a ball deep to left, but just is a little early.  Instead he grounds out to short to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Ono starts the inning with a gapper to right center.  Akiyama runs it down but not before Ono's in with a double.  Komeda bunts him over for Koike.

And the oen-dan starts playing Jock Rock a lot sooner than usual.

Nakamura walks Koike and Yonezawa-kantoku calls for time.

Uenishi works the count full, but winds up chasing a fastball up and away for the 2nd out.

And Yamagichi too cannot hit Nakamura's fastball and Kanto is out of the jam!

Top 3rd
Nakamura with a popup to left.  Takeda and Komeda run to get it, Komeda calls Takeda off, but makes a last second correction and misses the ball!  E7 and Kanto has a runner on!

Isobe can't lay down the bunt, and winds up grounding one back to Aoyama!  He goes to 2nd for one, but Takeda double clutches then sails the ball into the camera well!  It winds up being just like a bunt as Isobe is awarded 2nd.

Aoyama winds up walking Kishi on 4 straight, prompting Kosaka-kantoku to call for time.

Kiuchi with a grounder up the 3rd base line, and Uenishi makes a great stop!  He tags 3rd to get the force.  2 outs.

And Aoyama gets Akiyama to pop it up!  Ono takes a bit of a circuitous route to the ball, but runs down the right field line to make the catch.

Bottom 3rd
Nakamura with a 5 pitch inning , retiring the side in order in part thanks to a great snag by Isobe and a nice reach on a high throw by Anzai.

Top 4th
Defensive change for Chiben as #5 Odahara comes in for Uenishi and goes to 3B.  Komeda moves to LF.

Itou reaches out and hits a soft ball to the right side.  Yamaguchi charges, tries to make the barehanded throw but throws it away!  Infield single by Itou!

Yoshie lays down the bunt, Aoyama with it, but his throw to 2nd short hops Takeda and he can't pick it.  All safe!

Anzai lays down a great bunt which advances the runners.  It'll have to be up to Matsutani or ace Nakamura to get the runners home.  Infield playing for a throw home.

Matsutani jumps on the first pitch and lines it to left!  Itou comes home!  Yoshie is right behind him!  He chases him all the way home!  Matsutani puts Kanto up here in the 4th, 2-0!

Nakamura follows that up with a single through the right side!  Runners on 1st and 2nd with still 1 down!

Back to the top of the order and this could be bad for Aoyama.

Isobe with a slow chopper up the 3rd base side!  Uenishi charges, throws to 1st, beats a diving Isobe!

[Insert rant here]

The runners advance so that a base hit almost guarantees 2 runs, but there's also 2 outs.

Kishi standing in falls behind 1-2, but takes a couple of pitches, works the count full, and starts fouling off pitches.

(And someone has a vuvuzela??!)

Sanshin!  Kishi can't get around to the fastball and Aoyama is out of the inning!  But Kanto strikes first for a pair of runs!

Bottom 4th
Aoyama hits a ball to shallow right trying to jumpstart the Chiben offense. Ono not bunting, but gets under a Nakamura offering and flies out to left.

Komeda scorches a ball down the 1st base line, but it just goes foul.  He falls behind 1-2, but works the count full.  Ball inside winds up high instead and now runners are on 1st and 2nd for Koike.  Looks either like Nakamura is having control issues or is overthrowing the ball.

Ahead 0-2, Nakamura throws another one way high.  And another high fastball.  This could be concerning for Kanto.  Outside, and now the count is full once again.

High fastball, but close enough that Koike swings and fouls it off.  Fastball outside and it's manrui with one down.

Yonezawa-kantoku calling time, but he'd better be finding someone to warm up in the bullpen.

Odahara up to bat, and he bails Nakamura out by popping one up!

Two down for Yamaguchi and he's bailing out Nakamura by swinging at the high fastballs!

And he strikes out swinging!  For some reason the bottom of the order didn't wait to see if Nakamura would continue throwing balls!  Chiben wastes a great opportunity to tie or take the lead!

Top 5th
Kiuchi with a drive to left!  Komeda running back, but it's over his head!  He's in with a double!  However, Akiyama can't advance him via bunt and grounds out to Aoyama.

Itou flies out to center, and it's deep enough to advance Kiuchi.  Up to Yoshie to deliver.

He works a long AB but Aoyama finally gets the better of him on the 10th pitch inducing a grounder to 2nd to end the threat.

Bottom 5th
Takeda trying for the safety bunt, and while Anzai vacates 1st to field the ball, Kiuchi is there to cover just in time to record the out.

Nakamichi gets on base the old-fashioned way, he gets a hit (though the left side). Urano with a base hit the other way and now a situation is developing as Aoyama steps in.

But Aoyama is jammed and flies out to right.  2 down runners now at the corners for Ono.

The Kanto battery is being careful with Ono, and fall behind him 3-1.  Nakamura doesn't give in, but he sails one high and it's manrui for Komeda.  It's fine to walk Ono, but know that there's no room now for Komeda.

First ball from Nakamura goes high again.

But the next pitch Komeda flies to center!  Akiyama there for the catch, and Kanto is out of the jam!  Kanto Dai-ichi holds on to a tentative 2-0 lead.  However, Yonezawa-kantoku should be concerned that Nakamura is tiring a bit and may be opening his body and leaving his pitches up in the zone.  He's been lucky the last couple of innings, but it could come back to get them later.  They may want to tack on a couple of extra insurance runs just in case.

Top 6th
Anzai takes the first ball and drives it to right!  Ono sprinting back, but it's over his head!  It goes to the wall as Anzai goes for 2!  But Ono fumbles with the ball!  Anzai heads to 3rd and is in easily!  Chance immediately after the break of Kanto!

Matsutani works the count full and takes a ball down and away for ball 4.  Runners now at the corners with no down for ace Nakamura.

Comebacker by Nakamura!  But Aoyama gloves it, and re-secures it when it pops out!  He goes to 2nd for the force and there's one down.

Isobe with a small chopper up the 1st base side!  Aoyama hurries to it, throws home...


Nakamichi blocks home as he makes the tag on Anzai for the out!  2 down!  Kishi up, but he struck out last AB.

This time around, he softly lines out to short and Kanto's leadoff "triple" (it was a 2B + error) goes for naught.

Bottom 6th
One down and Odahara hits a fly to deep left!  Itou chases it down as it hits the base of the wall.  Odahara in with a double.

Nakamura is definitely in a pinch.  If he tries to throw it his normal speed, he overthrows it.  If he throws it with conrol, it's a tick slower than usual and can be hittable.

As a result he's behind 3-2 to Yamaguchi, and the pitch outside, while hitting the glove this time, is wide.

But instead of keeping the pressure completely on Nakamura, Kosaka-kantoku has Takeda bunt the runners over for Nakamichi.

Nakamura though manages to get ahead 1-2.  But another pitch high and taking a change low fulls the count.

He hits a fly ball!  Nakamura gets him to chase a high fastball!  Akiyama under it and they get the 3rd out!  Kanto continues to play with fire and not get burned!

Top 7th
Aoyama finally get an uneventful inning in the lucky 7 no less as he retires the 3-4-5 batters with almost no issue at all.

Bottom 7th
Oddly enough, with all the troubles Nakamura has had recently, he too gets a quiet 1-2-3 inning as he seems to be finally pitching instead of overthrowing.

Top 8th
Yoshie with a grounder to the right side, and it's off the glove of Yamaguchi as he dives for it!  Leadoff man on for Kanto!

But Chiben gets a break when Anzai's bunt is mishandled by Aoyama!  Yoshie thinks it's caught and he's easily thrown out at 2nd.

Aoyama gives it right back when he throws a wild pitch allowing Anzai to advance to 2nd.  However, Matsutani swings up 2-0 and pop put to short, and Nakamura flies out to right to end the inning.

Bottom 8th
But the decreased velocity does allow for big hits!  Komeda drives a ball to deep right!  Kishi runs back as the ball hits the base of the wall!  Komeda rounding the bases and he's in at 3rd with a leadoff triple!

Koike now with his own drive to right!  Kishi running back again, leaps, and makes the catch!  What a great catch by Kishi!

But that of course yields the run, and Chiben Gakuen trails by just 1!  It's 2-1!

Odahara up now, and he strikes out looking on a 129 kph fastball!  2 down!

Yamaguchi trying to keep the inning going singles past Nakamura into center.  Douten runner on base!

But Nakamura gets Takeda to pop it up. Matsutani secures it for the 3rd out.  Chiben gets one back and now the deficit seems much more managable.

Top 9th
Two pitches, two outs for Aoyama as he gets a popup and a safety bunt attempt.

Kiuchi takes a little longer, but he fouls out to Koike near the camera well.

Bottom 9th
Nail-biting time if you're Kanto.  Top of the order up for Chiben with a fatigued Nakamura on the mound.

Of course, the first pitch to Nakamichi is a 136 fastball down the middle.  Natch.

He gets ahead 0-2, but throws two wide again and levels the count.

And Nakamichi takes the next pitch and returns it back up the middle for a base hit.  Douten runner on, and Urano successfully bunts him to 2nd.

Aoyama up, and Nakamura gets him to fly out!  Itou under it for the 2nd out!

It's down to Ono, and he fouls off the first pitch.  0-1...  He pops it up!  Anzai to the fence in foul territory and it's out of play.  0-2...

Overthrows high for ball 1...  Overthrows high again for ball 2!   High fastball fought off by Ono!  Another letter high fastball fouled off!  Outside fastball fouled off again!  Fastball inside!  Ono ducks but it goes off his bat!  It pops and rolls down the first base line... goes foul before anyone can get to it!  Fastball, this time fouled straight back!  Does he have the timing down?

Fastball high again!  Full count!  High fastball fouled off one more time!!!

He hits it foul again!  But this time is it playable?  Matsutani running towards his dugout, running out of room...


Matsutani makes the catch!  Ono fouls out to end the game!  Kanto Dai-ichi holds on to a 2-1 victory over the Kinki champions Chiben Gakuen!!!


Kanto Dai-ichi ace Nakamura finds a way to hold on despite showing obvious signs of fatigue and mechanics breakdowns in the middle of the game finds a way to make 2 runs stick!

Both teams had scoring opportunities throughout the game, but it was obviously in favor of Chiben Gakuen as the game progressed.  But due to strategies or plain unluckiness, they were never able to take advantage of them.  Aoyama only gave up the 2 runs when the bottom of the order delivered, but it proved to be enough.

A well fought game on both sides as Chiben Gakuen I think proves to everyone that they are power to be reckoned with going forward.

However, while Kanto Dai-ichi advances to face Yokohama in 2 days, they'll have to face the reality that Nakamura may not be 100 percent for that game.  Such is the case when you pitch on day 6, then day 8, and now day 10.  For them to win senbatsu, Nakamura will have to pitch on days 11 and 12 as well.  This could prove to be too much for Kanto Dai-ichi to overcome.

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