(photo courtesy of Mainichi)
After all the festivities of opening day, the grind of the first 2 rounds begin. And today to most will be a non-descript day with the exception of the sandwich game once again. Day 2 starts with two teams off the map of sorts.
Both teams have pretty suspect and vague resumes, with non-dominating performances in both cases calling into question their viability in the tournament. The fact that they’re playing each other means that the game is pretty much a toss-up so I can’t really lean one way or the other at this point – especially since I seemed to have whiffed badly regarding the Kyushu region.
- SS Nakamura Kouyou
- 3B Kubo Yuuto
- 1B Shimamura Kouki
- C Ikada Hideo
- LF Ougiya Yuutai
- 2B (#12) Yoshimoto Itsuki
- CF Itou Kouki
- P Doai Shinnosuke
- RF Yachi Haruki
- CF Ueda Taku
- LF Hayashi Kazuki
- 3B Oosato Kousei
- SS Higa Kenshin
- 1B (#13) Sutou Hayate
- 2B (#14) Itou Daichi
- RF Usui Haruki
- P (#10) Miura Mizuki
- C Matsuda Nao
09:02 – First Pitch!
Miura getting the start for Moriokadai Fuzoku. Has upper 130s stuff with a slider, curve and changeup (according to the announcers), but the location is so-so. It’s evident as he goes deep into counts for the first couple of batters. 2 flyball outs and then a walk to Shimamura.
But then Ikada gets a hold of one and drives it to left. Hayashi goes back, but soon gives up as it goes deep into the bleachers for a 2-run HR! Takaoka Shougyou quickly up 2-0!
Miura’s counterpart on the mound, Doai does not throw as hard (high 120s), but carries the same arsenal. He also struggles after getting 2 outs, but unlike Miura, it’s just plain bad luck. Oosato checks his swing and it turns into the equivalent of a safety bunt, and then Higa gets out and pokes at a ball outside and drops it into RF for a double.
Doai still had a chance to get out of the jam, but Sutou squares up a fastball and lines it over Kumo and down the LF line for a game tying RBI double. Looks like we could be in for a slugfest already tied at 2-2.
Control issues persist with Miura as he walks Yoshimoto to start the inning and then with 2 down he hits Yachi to turn over the lineup. And then hits Kouyou to load the bases. There’s 2 down though so he still has a chance. I doubt Sekiguchi-kantoku is able to go to his ace this early, so he’s sticking with Miura.
Somehow, he’s able to come back and strike out Kubo on the slider and get himself out of the jam.
Doai was having an easy time versus the bottom of the Moriokadai order, until he grooved one to the #9 batter Matsuda and he drove his own HR to left that Ougiya equally gave up on. Moriokadai Fuzoku takes over the lead at 3-2.
The lead could possibly be short lived as Shimamura singles through the left side to start the 3rd. But instead of Ikada hitting, he bunts the runner along – standard thinking. After a K, it looks like he might be stranded.
That is, until Yoshimoto dumps an outside pitch into shallow right for a base hit, scoring Shimamura and tying the game at 3-3.
“That’s not all!”, they exclaim! Itou with a first pitch drive to left center and now there’s 2 runners in scoring position. Doai stands in to try and help his own cause, but he grounds out to 3rd and the inning comes to a grinding halt.
This game is turning into who can capitalize on the myriad of opportunities that they will be getting. Doai gives up a one out walk and base hit in the 3rd to put runners at the corners, but then he works himself out of the jam.
Top 4, Kouyou grooves a double to left center with 1 down and then Kubo is hit at the feet.2 on for Shimamura, and this time with about as easy as a swing you will see he drives it to deep right for a bases-clearing triple. Takaoka Shougyou retakes the lead at 5-3.
That also knocks out Miura as ace Hiramatsu comes in. He cannot stop however Ikada from hitting a sac fly to left to make it 6-3 Takaoka Shougyou before closing out the inning.
The pendulums swings both ways in this matchup and the next half inning isn’t any different. Usui doubles to left, but after 2 quick outs perhaps Moriokadai Fuzoku will find themselves wanting.
Except they go on a hit parade.
Ueda doubles to deep left (6-4), Hayashi singles to center (6-5). The throw goes home and is high and allows the tying run to move to 2nd. Oosato singles to right and just like that we’re back level at 6-6.
Higa tries to extend the inning with a single back up the middle with the hit-and-run on, but Sutou grounds out to 2nd.
Hiramatsu looks to stem the tide, and he does hit the 140s even hitting 145. He has 2 sliders, a curve and a forkball. But he doesn’t seem immune to the issues on the mound. Despite getting 2 quick outs, he leaves one over for counterpart Doai and he hits a double to the LCF wall. Throw in a wild pitch and the go-ahead run is 90 feet away. This time though, he avoids damage as he puts a forkball in the inside corner for strike 3.
The pendulum apparently didn’t stop swinging in Moriokadai Fuzoku’s favore though, a high throw by Kouyou extends what would have been a 1-2-3 inning. With that extra out, Matsuda takes an outside pitch the other way for an RBI triple, and Ueda tacks on one more with a solid single to left. 8-6 Moriokadai Fuzoku as we hit the break.
Whoops, the break must’ve given the pendulum time to swing back again…
Post-break, Kouyou walks. Then Kubo showing bunt, instead does the bust-and-run, pulling it back and driving a pitch to right center for an RBI double pulling them back to 8-7. Not only that, the throw home is wild and he actually winds up at 3rd.
That proves costly in it’s own right as Shimamura hits a deep sac fly to center, once again tying the game at 8-8.
But after that top of the 6th, something weird happens. Bottom 6th and the 7th go without a run or any major scoring opportunity. Which means something is likely to happen soon.
Takaoka Shougyou gets a leadoff HBP in the 8th, but after a sac bunt, neither Kubo or Shimamura can get the timely hit.
Bottom 8th, it’s Moriokadai Fuzoku’s turn. It’s a leadoff single for Ueda, and after their own sac bunt, Doai hits Oosato. Bad, but at least there’s a chance for a double play if they can get the ground ball.
Higa though reaches down and golfs a ball to center, loading the bases for Sutou. You would expect a base hit or at least a sac fly the way things have gone. But instead, he hits a ground ball to 2nd, and it’s a picture perfect 4-6-3 double play to end the inning!
Takaoka Shougyou tries to parlay that into something. One down Ougiya doubles to right. #16 Sakashita runs for him.
But inexplicably, on a shallow fly ball to right, he tries to tag up and is thrown out by way more than a country mile to end the inning. Why they thought it was a good idea is beyond me.
Things seemingly get worse for Takaoka Shougyou. Doai’s first pitch in the 9th, his 141st, his arm pronates into a very bad looking position. The umpire immediately goes out and calls for him to be taken off the field. Yoshida-kantoku comes out, Doai comes off, and in short order #10 Fushimi is sent in. Not good.
Fushimi has a 2-seamer and curveball from what I heard. And in quick order he actually sits down the side in order, meaning that we’re headed to enchousen!
Itou starts off extra frames with a jam shot to center for a single. He’s bunted to 2nd as now they really just want 1 run. 2 down though and Hiramatsu might just get out of the jam. Instead Kouyou grounds a ball to the right side and through for a base hit! They send Itou home as Usui fires a throw to the plate! It’s in time, Itou slides towards the foul side of the plate… SAFE!
He slides around the tag and Takaoka Shougyou retakes the lead 9-8 in extras!
But now Kouyou might be hurt and #14 Kagamiuchi comes in to run. Kubo continues the rally with a clean single through the right side. Hiramatsu gets Shimamura to chase the slider to end the inning, but Moriokadai Fuzoku is down to their last 3 outs!
It’s never going to be easy though. Fushimi walks Matsuda to lead off the bottom of the 10th. #16 Miura Shou runs for him.
Ueda hits a ball to 3rd, but it winds up bouncing off Kubo’s glove and into left! Matsuda goes to 3rd, and on the throw to 3rd, Ueda takes 2nd! Suddenly, the sayonara run is in scoring position!
And in fitting fashion Hayashi takes the first pitch and singles to center. Shou scores to tie the game, Itou fires home, but it’s much too late and Moriokadai Fuzoku walks off 10x-9.
The teams were evenly matched with ineffective pitching as both sides traded volleys back and forth for most of the match. While there was a small lull in the later innings, it only setup for the final stanza where each team gave one final shot, and in the end the final blow was by Moriokadai Fuzoku. It probably did not help that Doai was pulled from the game due to injury, but at this point you have to hope it’s not serious, except that it looked serious.
Moriokadai Fuzoku advances to the 2nd round, but the defending champions Chiben Gakuen await. This performance won’t stand I don’t think so they’ll need a bit of help for next round.