(picture courtesy of Asahi)
The final game, for those who stuck around, involves the defending Senbatsu champions – Chiben Gakuen facing off against another known quantity in Kumamoto Kougyou. For them, the road to repeat will not be easy.
Chiben Gakuen barely made it into the field, being one of the last teams to receive a Kinki regional bid having made it only to the quarterfinals. The team seems significantly weaker than last year making their task that much harder.
In addition, they get no favors facing Kumamoto Kougyou which might actually have the 2nd best pitcher from the Kyushu teams in this tournament. In addition, the bottom of the lineup, which generally is weak, is not the case here. But the top of the lineup struggled. What that means is not certain other than Chiben Gakuen could be in for a rough ride.
Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
- RF Fukumoto Yuuma
- CF (#7) Kadou Youta
- LF (#5) Nishioka Kazuto
- SS Oota Hidetake
- 3B (#13) Okano Ryuuta
- 1B Hatakeyama Kaisei
- C Ishida Kouta
- 2B Tabuchi Ryuushin
- P Matsumoto Ryuuya
Kumamoto Kougyou (Kumamoto)
- SS Aya Kouhei
- CF Sagane Ryuuto
- 2B Hirano Haruto
- RF Yagita Takemi
- C Maruyama Ryuuji
- 3B Oda Godai
- 1B Ideo Tsubasa
- LF (#16) Anmoto Rintarou
- P Yamaguchi Shou
17:06 – First Pitch!
Well, this is not the pitcher that I thought I saw when reviewing the team. He throws hard for sure, but his control is a mess. He’s flying open and over throwing. 148 kph is cool, but Hifumi Shinta could throw that hard and he hasn’t gone anywhere since.
So he walks Fukumoto, gets a fielder’s choice, but thanks to a wide throw to 2nd by Maruyama, Nishioka single scores Kadou from 3rd. Just like that Chiben Gakuen leads 1-0.
Yamaguchi’s counterpart, Matsumoto, is having a better start. He strikes out the first two batters, and while pitching around Hirano, gets a grounder to pitch a scoreless 1st. Velocity is average to a tick above, and the stuff seems okay enough. But comparing the two he actually seems like the better pitcher.
Which leaves Kumamoto Kougyou in not a good position. And Chiben Gakuen extends their lead to 2-0 in the 3rd when Yamaguchi leaves two balls up to Kadou and Nishioka which go for a single and a double.
Their offense is also stifled. They get their 2nd base runner off a throwing error by Okano with 2 down, which means that when Maruyama fouls out, Matsumoto has a no-hitter through 4.
Chiben Gakuen maintains the pressure, though through mostly no effort on their own:
- Matsumoto – K
- Fukumoto – BB
- Kadou – K
- Then SB + E2 on throw
- Nishioka – BB
- Then WP to make it 3-0 Chiben Gakuen
- Oota – BB
And then Nishioka gets caught in between trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. They could be on their way at this rate.
It isn’t until 2 down in the 5th where bench starter Anmoto singles back up the middle. Yeah, you can blame me for jinxing the no-hitter, but whatever. Even still Kumamoto Kougyou can’t do anything with it.
Things go from bad to worse as Chiben Gakuen add 3 more right after the break thanks to walks, wild pitches and throwing errors. 6-0 Chiben Gakuen through 6 and you could probably just call it a day.
In fact there is little much to add other than Chiben Gakuen makes it a run an inning on average winning 9-0.
Two surprises and they’re both on the mound. Yamaguchi did not look great right from the get-go and it appears I overvalued his ability outside of being able to throw hard, which really gets you nowhere.
The second surprise was how effective Matsumoto was. Ignoring how feckless the Kumamoto Kougyou offense might have been, he showed an ability to spot his pitches and if he made a mistake, made it in the right places. If nothing else, it will help them get places in their bid to repeat.