89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 2 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 2 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

(picture courtesy of au News)

Run you clever boy, run.

Shuugakukan is here, probably deservedly so based upon talent, but perhaps in spite of their kantoku. There have been times when Kajisha-kantoku seems to have learned from the summer and then in recent games where it doesn’t look like he’s learned at all.

As it stands, it appears he plans to alternate each ace for each game, but I think he overestimates their ability to pitch a full 9 innings. Neither Taura or Kawabata really finished their games well, suggesting they were getting tired. What he should be doing is splitting time each game so that neither pitcher reaches that exhaustion point or ineffectiveness. Which is what he should have done last summer.

I’m not sure that against Osaka Touin he will get away with it. However, Osaka Touin was basically on a level playing field with Toukaidai Fukuoka if not for the fielding mistakes made. And that’s actually a bit concerning. Tokuyama has shown to be more effective than perhaps originally thought, but he too does suffer from some walk issues, even though he too has been walking more batters as the tournament has progressed.

This is a prove it game for Shuugakukan. They have to prove they can handle the big game properly.

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara Kyouta
  • LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS (#7) Neo Akira
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • P Tokuyama Souma

Shuugakukan

  • SS Hanjyou Touma
  • 2B (#14) Watanabe Rui
  • 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
  • 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
  • LF Yamashita Tatsuya
  • P Taura Fuminari
  • CF Fujimoto Shun
  • C Kouchi Tatsuya
  • RF Akasaka Ginjirou

13:50 – First Pitch!

Taura starting off showing he’s fine to start, gives up a single to Nakagawa, but retires Yamamoto by getting him to swing on a high fastball. It’s not going to be the start, but his finish that should concern them.

Hanjyou is also back to play today after that gnarly collision yesterday. He goes right off the bat and singles to the left side. Neo ran it down, but was too deep to realistically make the throw. He gets to 3rd, but Tokuyama pulls out the slider once again and Hirobe is all to glad to oblige.

2nd inning though and Taura runs into trouble versus the bottom of the lineup. Sakanoshita and Fukui both collect base hits to put runners at the corners. But with 2 down and Tokuyama up it’s just a weak comebacker that ends the inning.

And it continues to be Osaka Touin who has the opportunities so far. Miyazaki lines a double past a diving Hirobe. But once again Taura steps up to the occasion and retires both Nakagawa and Yamamoto to end the inning.

Oddly, it’s Hanjyou the only one with success against Tokumoto. he gets his 2nd hit in as many at bats, but it’s with 2 out in the 3rd. He tries stealing 2nd, and when I say tries, it means that they didn’t succeed.

The game settles into a pitcher’s duel with only one major chance before the break and that’s where Fujimoto and Kochi collect 2-out singles. But that leaves it to last batter Akasaka. And though Tokumoto falls behind 2-0, he eventually gets him to ground to 2nd. Side retired and it’s a 4-inning game now.

Miyazaki, leading off the 6th does what he did in the 3rd, a screamer down the 3rd base line for a double. Nakagawa bunts him over for cleanup batter Yamamoto. He gets a pop fly, but in foul territory to the 1B.

2 down and it’s looking like he’ll be stranded at 3rd. But Taura leaves a slider over the plate and he lines it to right! Akasaka charging in, dives, but it falls just in front of him! Miyazaki scores and Osaka Touin breaks the deadlock to lead 1-0!

After a walk to Sakanoshita you wonder if Taura is tiring, but he does get himself out of the inning and outside of a single to Tokuyama gets through the 7th as well.

Osaka Touin has their first misstep during Shuugakukan’s Lucky 7. One down Neo fields a grounder from Yamashita, but airmails the throw to 1st. Then Tokuyama misses on a fastball and leaves it over the plate for Taura to send to left for a single. Runners at the corners, just 1 out.

But Fujimoto pops a ball up behind home! Fukui takes a bit of a circuitous route, but makes the catch at the fence for the 2nd out. That leaves it to Kouchi to drive the douten runner home.

Instead, Tokuyama jams Kouchi and he hits a grounder up to the 2nd base bag. This time Neo doesn’t mess it up and tags 2nd for the force.

The possible back-breaker for Shuugakukan comes in the 8th. Nakagawa hits a single to right, and after a sac bunt, Taura leaves a fastball over the plate and it’s Yamada again who drives a ball to the wall in left center. Nakagawa scores and it’s 2-0.

That knocks out Taura to RF as Kawabata comes in. He strikes out the side, but again it might be too little too late.

I say might because Tokuyama is allowing baserunners, it’s just a matter of getting them home. Bottom 8th, Hanjyou gets on base. He steals 2nd and takes 3rd on a groundout.

And finally they get their break. This time Tokuyama misses his location, throws it over the middle instead of to the inside and Kimoto singles through the left side to make it a 2-1 game. Hirobe tries to keep the inning going, but chases that danged outside slider and pops out to end the inning.

Osaka Touin does nothing against Kawabata, so it’s down to the final 3 outs for Shuugakukan.

Yamashita up first, 3 pitches, 3 strikes. That danged slider again.

Taura next, grounds to short. 2 down.

Last chance in Fujmoto, nope make that #4 Takewa.

Grounder to short and we have an all-Osaka final!

Shuugakukan unfortunately fell in the manner we though it might. Kajisha-kantoku did not consider splitting time between his 2 very good pitchers who by themselves can’t get through 9. And as a result they fall short again. Kajisha-kantoku hasn’t learned and I don’t think he will.

For Osaka Touin, I think they have the same problem. Tokuyama was not as sharp late so now you have the question of how do you play the final? Do you start your ace and then go down the line? Do you try to manage the game early to steal some inning before your ace comes in? Can you really afford that in the final game?

Those questions will be answered tomorrow. There probably won’t be much planning as these teams will be very familiar with one another. It’ll all be about strategy now.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(picture courtesy of Sanspo)

You. I’ve got you.

Riseisha’s Takeda Yuu is really the real deal. Yeah, there was the game against Nichidai-san, but they were one of the more offensive powers in the tournament, so that was to be expected. But his last 2 games have been absolutely stellar, making a 1-0 lead look insurmountable to Shiritsu Kure and then being pitcher perfect through the first 6 innings against Moriokadai Fuzoku.

The offense is actually a bit concerning. In their last matchup against Moriokadai Fuzoku the team implemented a small ball strategy that lower tier teams use which is completely inexplicable because when they had to swing away they actually hit the darned ball. So it’s really shooting themselves in the foot.

Houtoku Gakuen is here mainly because Fukuokadai Oohori made a conscientious decision to sit their ace Miura, and that had to be the main reason for their loss. I do believe they have been the beneficiary of an easier schedule but you can only play who’s put in front of you.  Ace Nishigaki did not give up a run until their last game and has averaged a K per inning. But the walk numbers have slowly gone up as well, and that just won’t do here.

In addition, they have not faced an ace like Takeda, and yet in the Maebashi Ikuei game when ace Maruyama came in, the Houtoku offense shut down.

Houtoku Gakuen is probably on the back foot, but if they can survive the first couple of innings they may stand a better chance. They just might too, because Takeda isn’t starting.

Riseisha

  • RF Ishida Ryuuji
  • 2B Mizobe Touki
  • 3B Yasuda Hisanori
  • LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
  • 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
  • CF Tsutsui Taisei
  • C Katayama Yuu
  • SS Nishiyama Koutarou
  • P (#10) Matsui Hyakudai

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

11:00 – First Pitch!

Yasuda, really?

Nishigaki leaves one right over the plate and Yasuda deposits it in the first couple rows in right. 1-0 Riseisha just like that.

Matsui’s job will be to nurse the game as best he can. And if Takeda doesn’t need to take the mound all the better.

But the very first batter goes to a full count and singles past Nishiyama into center. Nagayama bunt fails to move the runner over, and then to add insult to injury Mizobe makes a great diving stop on Kataoka’s ground ball, gets the out at 1st, and then throws to 3rd where they get Nagayama who tried to take the extra base. 3rd out at 3rd. Oy.

Riseisha notches another run on it’s belt in the 2nd. Leadoff walk to Hamauchi, but no bunting by Riseisha. 2 down and Nishiyama at bat. Drives a ball to right, Okamoto under it, until he’s not! He makes a last minute leap and it’s over his head! Runner scores and it’s 2-0 Riseisha.

I mention the little things to Houtoku Gakuen, but that also applies to Riseisha.

Shinohara’s ground ball to the right side is run down by Mizobe, but his footing goes from under him and he can’t make a play. Later, Ikegami singles to center and Shinohara takes 3rd, but then the ball rolls up Tsutsui’s arm and toward right. Shinohara restarts and goes home, giving back the gift run 2-1.

Despite that Riseisha continues to pressure Nishigaki. Ishida drives a ball to center left and it’s by Nagayama for a double. Now Mizobe strikes out, but after that Nishigaki walks both Yasuda and Wakabayashi to load the bases.

Nagata-kantoku has seen enough. Ikegami comes in from 3B to pitch and #13 Hosoki takes over at 3B.

The outside corner though seems to be an engima, because on the 2-2 pitch it looks like the corner but is called ball 3. Ikegami looks like he puts it in the same place and this time he gets the punchout. 2 down.

Tsutsui pops out to Shinohara at home and for now they’re holding on.

Houtoku though is trying to do more than that. One down, top of the lineup due in the 3rd. Kozono and Nagayama square up a pair of fastballs for singles. Things get worse for Matsui when he spikes a 55-foot curveball. Both runners advance and now a base hit can give Houtoku Gakuen the lead.

Kataoka square up a ball and drives it to right, but not only is it right at Okamoto, but Kozono was not tagging up. 2 down.

No matter though because Shinohara is there again! He takes the outside fastball the other way for a base hit and Kozono scores to tie the game 2-2. Takeda starts warming up…

And he’s coming in. Matsui is PH for in the 4th which means his day is done. He gave them 3 innings, but probably could not go further.

Ikegami rudely welcomes him with a single back up the middle. He’s bunted over, though not for Okamoto, but PH (#13) Shiodzuki. Puts in a good AB, but lines out to Nishiyama.

Hosoki grounds back to Takeda to end the inning, but as you could prolly understand Takeda’s control is not quite all there to start his stint. Next inning will be a good indicator of his effectiveness.

Ikegami though threatens to throw it away. Gives up 2 two-out singles on his fastball before finally getting a routine ground ball from Hamauchi to end the inning.

Houtoku Gakuen goes in order, much to Takeda’s pleasure certainly, so we’re at the break knotted at 2. Houtoku Gakuen has held on so far, so they do certainly stand a chance in the final 4 innings, especially with Takeda not as sharp.

More small things for Riseisha, and again with Mizobe. Kantou with a ball back up the middle, Mizobe runs that one down too, but again he can’t control his slide and the ball slips away. He gets to advance to 2nd when Ikegami hits a ball slowly back up the middle. And wouldn’t you know it Nagao singles to center on the next pitch and Houtoku Gakuen has the 3-2 lead.

Riseisha suddenly finds themselves needing a run and only 9 outs to go. But the batters are struggling with Ikegami’s delivery, especially his high pitches to which they can’t square them up. Soon there’s 2 down for Yasuda and they basically put him on. Which is fine because Wakabayashi pops out.

More trouble for Takeda. Kantou takes an outside forkball the other way down the line for a one-out double. Bears down to get the final 2 outs, but Riseisha running out of time.

In fact before you know it, it’s the top of the 9th and Riseisha still trailing by 1.

#3 Shirataki to hit for Nishiyama, maybe as a last gasp with the bottom of the order up.

Instead though Ikegami leaves a ball middle-middle and Shirataki takes it to the wall in right center for a double! Douten run on base with no out! #16 Matsubara replaces him at 2nd. He’s bunted to 3rd, though that can be dangerous.

But now Ishida draws a 4-pitch walk and Nagata-kantoku calls time.

This time Mizobe shows bunt and it’s a safety squeeze. Fouls off the first one.

Does it again and somehow the defense isn’t ready! Shirataki comes home and beats the throw tying the game at 3-3!

That’s it for Ikegami as he goes back to 3rd and #10 Tsudaka takes the mound. Facing Yasuda isn’t the ideal way to enter, but with a base open (even if it’s 3rd) they’re apparently comfortable enough walking him. This to bring up Wakabayashi, who’s 1-3 on the day.

But he delivers! Liner to right falls in front of Shiodzuki and Ishida scores to make it 4-3! And still 1 down!

Hamauchi up to try and add to the lead. Instead he hits a grounder to short. Kozono home for 1, throw to 1st, oh dear…

The throw is high right from the get go and sails down the RF line. Both runners score and Riseisha has a 6-3 lead as Houtoku Gakuen melts down.

Now it’s Houtoku who has to chase, and it’s not 1, not 2, but 3 runs.

One down they do start something. Shiodzuki draws a walk and then PH #18 Yamamoto singles past Hamauchi. That turns the lineup over to Kozono, and he works the count full.

Takeda throws what looks like ball 4, but Kozono instead swings on the shoulder high pitch and pounds it through the right side! One run scores making it 6-4 and runners at the corners!

Making things worse is that Takeda isn’t really finding the strike zone. He falls behind Nagayama 3-1 with pitches that aren’t really chaseable. And then on 3-2 he grooves one that Nagayama pulls foul.

OH MY. Nagayama rips one up the middle, but it’s Mizobe! Mizobe makes the diving stop, goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st and that’s the game! After his misplays earlier, he comes through in the end to save the game!

While Riseisha celebrates in the victory, the Houtoku Gakuen players are taking it hard because Nagata-kantoku is retiring after this tournament and it’s hard to go out in this manner. And perhaps that played a little role in how the 9th turned out. Just 3 outs, 3 outs to reach the final and give their kantoku a parting gift. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Riseisha moves on, but the immediate concern is Takeda. The relief pitching was anything but and Takeda was not sharp at all. They may very well be in a bind tomorrow no matter what happens.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

(picture courtesy of Nikkei)

Osaka Touin got lucky in a sense. The first inning was so ridiculous against Shizuoka that it might have been right for the game to be tied at 6-6 after all that.  Shizuoka had the lead late, lost it, had a chance to retake it, but a very bad strategical decision cemented the game for Osaka Touin.

I totally did not expect Toukaidai Fukuoka to be the team to defeat Waseda Jitsugyou, but they jumped all over Waseda’s poor pitching, built a large lead – and still almost blew the lead late.

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as it were as they go from one offensive power to another. The bigger problem for them is that Osaka Touin’s pitching is better than Waseda Jitsugyou. Not top tier, but certainly an upgrade and could make a difference.

And given how the games have gone today, they’re gonna need a lot of help.

Toukaidai Fukuoka

  • CF Ariyasu Seima
  • 2B (#14) Ootsuru Yuuto
  • C Kitagawa Hozumi
  • LF Endou Shuuto
  • 3B Hoshino Kouki
  • 1B (#10) Sada Kensuke
  • RF (#12) Koga Takeshi
  • SS Hashimoto Naoki
  • P Yasuda Daisuke

Osaka Touin

  • LF (#8) Fujiwara Kyouta
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • CF (#7) Neo Akira
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS Izumiguchi  Yuuta
  • P Tokuyama Souma

15:04 – First Pitch!

At least Toukaidai Fukuoka’s batters are squaring up the ball. But right now they’re homing in on the fielders. Scorcher to 1st and liner back to Tokuyama.

He throws in a K for good measure and it’ll be Toukaidai Fukuoka on defense. Not like they weren’t already.

But Osaka Touin struggling a bit with Yasuda’s sidearm delivery. Two infield outs and a strikeout of his own put his team back on offense.

More decent contact from Toukaidai Fukuoka in the 2nd, but the one pitch that seems to be giving batters trouble is the slider outside, especially to the right handed batters.

It’s Yamamoto who gets the first base hit of the game, crushing a hanging slider to right for a leadoff triple. All they need is a fly ball, but Fukui chases the rising fastball and Yamada grounds out to short.

Before I can say Yasuda’s almost out of the inning, he’s actually out of the inning! Sakanoshita swings on the first pitch, gets jammed and pops out!

Toukaidai Fukuoka tries to strike back immediately. Yasuda actually collects their first base hit, a double to left center that one hops to the wall. But with 2 down, he’s stranded there when Ootsuru flies out to center.

Osaka Touin panicking a little bit? Nakagawa gets a leadoff base hit, and then Nakatani-kantoku calls for a hit-and-run on a waste pitch where Kitagawa was standing? That strike-em-out throw-em-out double play from a mile away.

In the 5th a small play immediately triggers in my mind an “uh-oh” moment. One down, Yamada with a slow grounder up the middle. Hashimoto runs behind 2nd to field it, but it glances off his glove and into right. Would’ve been a tricky play and it is rightly ruled a base hit, but he could have made that play. And with that I wonder if that will cost them later.

It does.

Yasuda doesn’t get his fastball inside enough and Izumiguchi laces it down the RF line for a triple. Yamada scores and Osaka Touin leads 1-0 before the break.

Toukaidai Fukuoka continues to get close, but no cigar. Top 6th, Ootsuru singles back up the middle and with 2 down Endou walks to put the douten run in scoring position. But with lefty Hoshino up, Tokuyama climbs the ladder instead to get the K.

The 7th may have put the game away. Yamamoto gets a leadoff single up the middle. He’s bunted to 2nd, steals 3rd, scores on Yamada’s single, 2-0 Osaka Touin.

Sakanoshita with a blooper to shallow center, Ootsuru and Ariyasu go to field it, there’s a miscommunication and it drops in. That missed out costs them because they would have been out of the inning before Tokuyama singles through the left side. As it stands, it scores Yamada to make it 3-0.

Toukaidai Fukuoka down to their last outs. 2 down they mount yet another rally. Ootsuru singles through the right side. Kitagawa draws a walk. That brings up cleanup batter Endou, who is hitless on the day, but at least is a lefty, so the slider to his inside may be out of bounds.

Uh oh! Tokuyama leaves one over the outside half and Endou drives it to deep left! Fujiwara chasing it to the wall, but can’t make the catch! Both runners score and it’s a 3-2 ballgame!

Hoshino has a chance to tie the ballgame with a base hit, but his chopper finds Yamada and they still trail.

Just when they get close, they threaten to undo their good work.

Nakagawa with a grounder to 1st, but it goes through Sada’s wickets. A base hit, sac bunt and sac fly make it 4-2.

And that’s how the game ends. Toukaidai Fukuoka fights hard, but self-inflicted wounds are what cause their demise. Small fielding mistakes late culminate in a pair of runs which turn out to be the difference.

The good news is that it looks like for at least this year Fukuoka has some good teams. Too bad only one can qualify, if either one qualifies, for the summer.

For Osaka Touin, they are one step closer to a rematch with Riseisha. Hoo boy.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 3 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 3 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

(photo courtesy of Nikkan Sports)

Shuugakukan is the second beneficiary of the replay games, moving on to facing Kendai Takasaki.

Shuugakukan barely survived against Sakushin Gakuin with the offense doing just enough and the pitching getting some assists from the Sakushin Gakuin batters who weren’t patient enough. In addition, Kajisha-kantoku may have been learning something as he replaced Taura with Kawabata when he started struggling though that was the time Sakushin Gakuin started being patient.

The thing is, Kendai Takasaki is actually in a better position than you think. In the replay game, they started a pitcher who had yet to pitch in the tournament, #13 Mukai Yoshiki. He did his job, spelling all the other pitchers with a 170 pitch complete game effort. He may have been the “break in case of emergency” pitcher as he struck out 11 and walked 7 in his effort.

The stretch run now approaches, and now without a day off between the quarterfinals and semifinals. I don’t think Kendai Takasaki will go away from the multi-pitcher approach, but I’m not sure someone like Mukai can return and spell the main pitchers once again.

Shuugakukan

  • SS Hanjyou Touma
  • 2B Takewa Ryousuke
  • 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
  • 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
  • LF (#18) Ishii Takyua
  • RF (#7) Yamashita Tatsuya
  • CF Fujimoto Shun
  • C Kouchi Tatsuya
  • P (#10) Kawabata Kento

Kendai Takasaki

  • SS (#4) Asato Jyura
  • LF Onodera Daiki
  • 1B Yamashita Kouta
  • 3B Toguchi Taisei
  • RF (#14) Takayama Ryoutarou
  • 2B (#18) Ookoshi Koutarou
  • CF Imai Yuusuke
  • P Itou Atsuki
  • C Oogaki Rentarou

13:20 – First Pitch!

WOW. That was quick. Settling down into my seat I see Takewa hit a single that goes off the end of Asato’s outstretched glove. And then Kimoto gets around on a slider inside and drives it out for a 2-run HR. 2-0 Shuugakukan just like that.

And in a weird defensive move, #9 Akasaka replaces Ishii and goes to his numbered position, Yamashita goes to LF. Huh.

Kendai Takasaki tries to strike back. Asato gets a leadoff single, steals 2nd and advances to 3rd when Hanjyou doesn’t catch the throw.

And yet, Kawabata comes back and strikes out the next 3 batters, all on the slider, stranding Asato at 3rd!

Shuugakukan adds to their lead in the 3rd when Kimoto hits a sac liner to right scoring Hanjyou who earlier hit a double. 3-0 Shuugakukan and it’s getting a little concerning.

That’s because Kendai Takasaki had been unable to do anything against Kawabata and either his fast fastball or his slider. But in the bottom half of the frame, Itou draws a leadoff walk and Oogaki hits a base hit up the middle.

But a failed sac bunt by Asato which cut down the lead runner and then a strikeout on a 141 fastball mean that they could be denied a run. Instead, Yamashita delivers a single back up the middle! Oogaki is sent home, as Fujimoto fires home. The tag is made, and Oogaki is out! He knows it too because he’s not giving a safe signal. Kendai Takasaki is denied and they still trail by 3.

The deficit continues to grow. 4th inning, 2 outs, runners on 1st and 2nd. Itou leaves one up for his counterpart Kawabata and he doubles into the large gap in right center. Both runners score and it’s 5-0 Shuugakukan. Toss in an RBI single by Hanjyou and it’s 6-0.

Then and only then does Aoyagi-kantoku send in #11 Takemoto and send Itou to RF. Kajisha-kantoku then sends in #14 Watanabe and he also doubles to the large gap in right center. 7-0.

Shuugakukan adds another run in the 6th before Kendai Takasaki gets on the board in the bottom half of the frame, almost exclusively because of Onodera. He gets a bunt base hit, steals 2nd, takes 3rd despite behind Yamashita grounding to short, and then scores on a wild pitch. 8-1.

The game is pretty much in hand, but Shuugakukan suffers a setback when a freak accident happens in the bottom of the 8th. Yamashita at 2nd, grounder to 3rd. Throw to 1st for the 2nd out, but then they throw to 3rd to try and get Yamashita. Hanjyou, covering the base, goes to make the tag, but in Yamashita’s slide he catches on the ground and lunges forward. That’s when his head, helmet and all, collides with Hanjyou’s head as he’s turning to make the tag. They make the play, but both players go down. Hanjyou has to be taken off by stretcher and will probably have to be checked for concussions (if they do that).

The final score ends up as 9-2 and Kawabata finished the game despite being shaky with his control in the final innings. I would be more confident in what Kajisha-kantoku had been doing if he has relieved Kawabata with Taura, but my only hope is that he’s alternating between pitchers each start. But I don’t think that’s a good idea either because we’ve seen Taura 2 days ago and now Kawabata faltering a bit late in the game. If he were to split time I think both would be more effective.

Sadly, I think I may have to put Kajisha-kantoku back on my list.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 2 – Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 2 – Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(photo courtesy of Yahoo)

Houtoku Gakuen has yet to give up a run so far this tournament, annihilating Tajimi and demoralizing Maebashi Ikuei though in that second game they scored 4 in the first and nothing else. But despite the fact that they seem dominating, if you exclude that first inning in the game against Maebashi Ikuei there may be signs that they could still be a bit average.

Now, normally seeing them play Fukuokadai Oohori and the grades given pre-tournament, you would think that they would have no shot. But then you take into account their run so far, which has been 3 games long and with their ace (and probably their only pitcher) Miura Ginji with the following lines:

  • Day 3 – v Soushi Gakuen – 9 IP, 149 pitches
  • Day 7 – v Shiga Gakuen – 15 IP, 196 pitches
  • Day 9 – v Shiga Gakuen – 9 IP, 130 pitches

So already, he’s pitched in 3 games and thrown 475 pitches and would be coming back on 0 days rest. In fact he would be pitching on 0 days rest until they are elminated. There is only so much he can do on the mound before the body finally gives. The question only becomes when.

But for now, it appears he will be on the bench, for how long, we don’t know.

Fukuokadai Oohori

  • SS Kubota Yuuya
  • RF Hirano Koutarou
  • C Koga Yuuto
  • 1B Higashi Reo
  • 3B Inamoto Yuusei
  • CF (#11) Nakata Keisuke
  • 2B Saitou Tomoya
  • LF Kabashima Ryuutarou
  • P (#10) Tokuwara Sera

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

11:00 – First Pitch!

For Fukuokadai Oohori the start offensively couldn’t have gone any worse. Nishigaki strikes out the side, Tokuhara retires the first batter then walks the next 2. Toss in a stolen base and a blooper to no mans land in right center and it’s quickly 1-0 Houtoku Gakuen.

That gets things moving. #8 Nishi comes in to take over on the mound and Miura is sent to warm up. He gets them out of the jam, but even if he is able to hold serve, the offense will have to do better than 5 Ks in the first 2 innings…

Unfortunately however, Houtoku’s offense gets to Nishi first. 4 In the blink of an eye the top 4 of the lineup gets base hits culminating in a Shinohara triple down the RF line, making the score 3-0 (Nagayama was thrown out going from 1st to 3rd). Ikegami singles later to make the lead 4-0.

And yet, Nishigaki almost lets them back into the game. 2 down in the 4th, he hits higashi, walks, Inamoto and then hits Nakata to load the bases. A base hit here cuts the lead in half, a walk at least scores a run.

Instead, Saitou swings on a 3-1 pitch and grounds to short. Side retired.

5th inning and things continue to happen to Houtoku Gakuen. Kabashima gets a leadoff hit and is bunted to 2nd. No big deal until Kubota hits a ball to short and Kozono just about whiffs on the ball. It trickles into the outfield and Kubota scores to make it 4-1.

Hirano walks, and is there something there for Fukuokadai Oohori?

Koga really works the count, runs it full, but just can’t check his swing and goes down. Higashi pops out early and nothing more results from it.

Houtoku Gakuen jumps on that momentum in the 5th. Nishi gives up a single to Kataoka and then a double down the line to Shinohara puts more runners in scoring position. A wild pitch and then a single brings both runners home, extending the lead to 6-1. With the break coming this should allow Houtoku Gakuen to consolidate the gains and move on to the 2nd half of the game.

Except they don’t.

Inamoto with a leadoff single. Then Saitou and Kabashima both single past a scrambling Kataoka and a run scores to make it 6-2. With only one down there’s another chance to claw back the lead. However, Nishi grounds into a double play and again an opportunity is lost.

Not only that, but when C Koga takes the mound, it’s clear Miura won’t be coming in to save them. Houtoku Gakuen adds on another run in the 6th to restore the margin at 7-2. There doesn’t appear to be a path to victory for Fukuokadai Oohori. Because getting 1 run at a time just won’t be enough. It was enough to knock out Nishigaki as 3B Ikegami took the hill, but 7-3 with 2 innings isn’t going to cut it.

The final score ends up being 8-3 for Houtoku Gakuen with Miura never having taken the mound. That’s 2 kantoku’s now that have made a conscientious decision not to start their pitchers who certainly have been overworked over the last couple of games.  Whether this is the start of a welcome trend I don’t know, but two teams have lost in part because of their principles, and you can’t fault them for that.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

(picture courtesy of Mainichi – Let it out, you deserved it)

Well, we’re here in the quarterfinals or block finals, however you want to look at it. Riseisha and Moriokadai Fuzoku take the field in the first time in what seems like ages, but is really 3 days.

Riseisha is makes itafte defeating Nichidai-san in the opening day. However, their 1-0 win over Shiritsu Kure does put things a little bit into question.

Moriokadai Fuzoku’s performances seem like a tale of two teams, but perhaps put in context it isn’t. There was their ineffective pitching matchup in the first against Takaoka Shougyou, and then their outlasting of former champs Chiben Gakuen.

The results seems contradictory, but in both cases these were battles of teams who were either average, or slightly above average. So in those types of games there is even more of a razor thin margin wherein the pendulum can swing in any direction, so in the first game, both pitchers happen to be ineffective. In the 2nd game the pitching was on early, but then Chiben Gakuen faltered late. So the scores may be strange, but the team is what it is probably. Average.

Sadly, this isn’t going to cut it against someone like Riseisha. We think. Shiritsu Kure made it seem like there’s a chance, but today is their chance to prove that that game was more of a fluke than anything else.

Riseisha

  • RF Ishida Ryuuji
  • 2B Mizobe Touki
  • 3B Yasuda Hisanori
  • LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
  • 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
  • P Takeda Yuu
  • CF Tsutsui Taisei
  • C Katayama Yuu
  • SS Nishiyama Koutarou

Moriokadai Fuzoku

  • CF Ueda Taku
  • LF Hayashi Kazuki
  • 3B Oosato Kousei
  • SS Higa Kenshin
  • 1B (#13) Sutou Hayate
  • C Matsuda Nao
  • RF Usui Haruki
  • P (#10) Miura Mizuki
  • 2B Kobayashi Yoshinobu

08:30 – First Pitch!

Miura was cruising along in the 1st, but that was until he left a fastball for Yasuda who cleared it over Ueda’s head for a 2-out double. But Wakabayashi hits a hard grounder to short and that’s that for now.

As expected Moriokadai Fuzoku is a bit out of it’s level right not against Takeda. They’re making contact, but so far have been routine plays for the Riseisha defense.

Miura is holding his own for now as Riseisha seems to be really attacking early in counts. Though, when Katayama gets a single to  right, both base hits for Riseisha have been on 3-1 counts.

Perhaps the other batters are picking up on this as Ishida in his 2nd AB draws a walk. Interestingly, Okada-kantoku calls for a bunt even with 1 out and Mizobe lays it down.

With 1st base open and Yasuda coming up to bat, already with a double, it’s no surprise he’s walked. It’s manrui for cleanup hitter Wakabayashi, but as quickly as he’s up he routinely flies out to right. Inning over, Riseisha wastes a good chance.

In fact Riseisha continues to play this small ball when they do get baserunners. They do so in the 4th when Hamauchi gets a leadoff hit. But they can’t when Mizobe gets a 2-out base hit.

Now, Miura should have gotten out of the inning when Yasuda grounded to short, but with Kobayashi perhaps anticipating the putout too much, lets the ball slip by into right. Things get even more compounded when Miura walks Wakabayashi despite being ahead in the count.

It all culminates with a pitch that goes through the legs of Matsuda.  Mizobe scores and Riseisha has the 1-0 lead.

Hamauchi is walked to reload the bases for a force on any base, but again, there is nowhere to put Takeda.

First pitch curve, Takesda lines it past a diving Oosato. 2 runs score and Riseisha has broken the gates open at 3-0.

Tsutsui doubles to deep left center scoring two more, making the game 5-0. Why they were bunting in earlier innings baffles me.

If that weren’t bad enough that an error led to all 5 runs, perhaps the fact that they’re being no-hit by Takeda makes things just a little worse. Ok, a lot.

Yasuda continues to rake at the plate, connecting on another double, this time to right center adding yet another run to the lead. 6-0 and the only question is if Moriokadai Fuzoku can get a base runner.

Well, the answer is yes, kinda. First pitch to Ueda in the 7th we hear the distinctive ping. Wakabayashi barely gives chase, and just like that all the things Takeda could have been going for are gone. 1 pitch, 1 run, 6-1.

That pretty much wraps up any remaining drama in the game. Riseisha tacks on a couple more runs and the final margin stands at 8-1. Takeda dutifully finishes the game, though he probably shouldn’t have.

Riseisha wins going away, but all that bunting with runners on really concerns me. All a team might do is intentionally (unintentionally) put a runner on base with 1 out. If they bunt the runner over, there’s 2 outs. I’d gladly take those chances. What you can’t do is allow a 2-out baserunner because then they don’t have a choice. It’s just bizarre.

Moriokadai Fuzoku was expectedly outmanned in this game, though lucky to get a HR because that might have been the only way they were going to score a run.

Anyways, Riseisha to Best 4. No surprise there.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 9, Replay Game 2 – Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 9, Replay Game 2 – Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

(picture courtesy of Daily Sports)

Fukui Koudai Fukui had come back from down so far and was a step away from winning the game, and on just one brainfart, the game was tied and the deadlock wasn’t to be broken.

It’s worse for Fukui Koudai Fukui because Suriishi played 11 innings and in the last 4 turned it over to a pitcher who wasn’t depended on during the fall, was called into duty and nursed the game home, but I’m not sure if he can do it again, but he might have to.

Actually, both teams are not only going with new Ps to start the game, but also different lineups.

Fukui Koudai Fukui

  • SS (#4) Kitagawa Tomoya
  • CF Yamauchi Takafumi
  • 1B Inoue Kaito
  • LF Yamagishi Asahi
  • RF (#17) Satou Yuuto
  • C (#13) Shimatani Genki
  • 2B (#15) Oomori Momoto
  • 3B (#16) Yamaoka Shouma
  • P (#11) Katou Isami

Kendai Takasaki

  • SS (#4) Asato Jyura
  • LF Onodera Daiki
  • 1B Yamashita Kouta
  • 3B Toguchi Taisei
  • RF (#14) Takayama Ryoutarou
  • 2B (#18) Ookoshi Koutarou
  • CF Imai Yuusuke
  • C Oogaki Rentarou
  • P (#13) Mukai Yoshiki

13:20 – First Pitch!

Mukai pretty much average velocity wise, mid-130s fastball with a reported changeup to go with the standard slider/curve combo.

He gets into early trouble with 1 down as after a base hit, a grounder from Kaito goes off Ookoshi and trickles into right. That unlucky break is returned back though when after a pop out to Oogaki, Satou hits a hard grounder to the left side that hits Yamauchi on his way to 3rd.

Kendai Takasaki gets their own chance right off the bat. Asato turns around a fastball for a single to right, steals 2nd and then advances to 3rd when Onodera directs a ground ball to 1st.

Next thing you know Yamashita hits a ball back up past the drawn in infield and it’s 1-0 Kendai Takasaki.

But with 2 down, it looks like the outcome may already be decided as on three consecutive pitches, Takayama, Ookoshi and Imai get base hits, rapidly increasing the lead to 4-0.

We knew Fukui Koudai Fukui was hesitant to sub out their ace, and perhaps there was good reason for it. On the other hand Mukai isn’t exactly glove perfect, but his breaking pitches have good movement that it fools the Fukui Koudai Fukui batters enough to get the outs he needs – though not without the occasional walk.

The facade finally falls apart in the 4th. Having already given up a single and a triple to make the score 6-0 with no out and no on, Mukai grounds to 2nd to end the inning. Or it would have had it not rode up Oomori’s arm and sky high.

After that, the next two batters get singles to load the bases. #12 Nakata comes in, only to give up a grand slam to Yamashita (his 2nd GS of the tournament). 10-0.

Fukui Koudai Fukui avoids the shutout thanks to an error in the 9th, but a baserunner forgetting the number of outs makes the final score stand at 10-2.

They were hard pressed to come back in this game, and even more so when Suriishi was stood down. The result then was understandable as Kendai Takasaki led wire-to-wire. Plus, they saved their other pitchers for the stretch run.