(photo courtesy of Asahi)
Rounding out Day 3, we have our 2nd Kanto team of the day facing the lone Hokkaido representative.
I would say that this could be an actual even matchup for Sapporo Dai-ichi. Kendai Takasaki was always known for being scrappy, but even that hasn’t been enough in recent times which means that a team like Sapporo Dai-ichi who hasn’t appeared to have improved could stand a chance.
The thing going for Kendai Takasaki is that they’ve seemed to move to a bullpen now. I don’t know if it’s on the level of Shuugakukan last year or what seems like Maebashi Ikuei this year, but this may be the new normal for the powerhouse teams (and I wonder why they didn’t do it sooner).
- CF Konno Katsunori
- 1B (#9) Nakamura Taiga
- 2B Satou Manato
- LF Takashina Nagumo
- 3B Shibata Sou
- SS Miyazawa Souta
- RF (#14) Ogawa Masaki
- P Togashi Souta
- C Nishimura Souma
- CF Imai Yuusuke
- LF Onodera Daiki
- SS (#4) Asato Jyura
- 1B Yamashita Kouta
- 3B Toguchi Taisei
- RF (#14) Takayama Ryoutarou
- 2B (#18) Ookoshi Koutarou
- P Itou Atsuki
- C Oogaki Rentarou
15:08 – First Pitch!
Konno quickly getting Sapporo Dai-ichi on the right foot with a base hit up the middle. Now controversial after the WBC, Nakamura bunts him along. After that the inning continues to build. A hit batter, then another out, then a ground ball by Shibata that is booted by Toguchi makes it manrui for Sapporo Dai-ichi. And despite leaving a changeup over the plate, Miyazawa grounds to 2nd for the 3rd out.
Togashi has less issues on the mound, yielding a base hit to Onodera, but little else in the 1st. The 2nd would be a different story as Togura’s grounder to 3rd goes off Shibata’s glove and picked up by Miyazawa before it goes into left.
But Togashi makes mistakes on back-to-back batters. A slider up to Takayama is hit to right center for a double. Then a fastball left over the plate Ookoshi sends over Ogawa’s head and to the wall for a 2-RBI double. Just like that Kendai Takasaki is up 2-0.
He almost gets out of the inning with no further damage as he gets a K through bunts and another with a well placed fastball. But Imai singles through the left side, scoring Ookoshi and extending the lead to 3-0.
Things only get worse in the 4th. With one down, he gives up a single and double. Then hits the next 2 batters driving in a run, 4-0. #10 Maeda comes in, but walks the first batter to make it 5-0. Kendai Takasaki gives them an out by failing to bunt and that helps them get out of the inning, but this is starting to turn ugly.
As for Itou and Kendai Takasaki it’s really hard to glean much because yes, his sidearm pitches do have movement, but Sapporo Dai-ichi is also offering at quite a few of those pitches as well.
Sapporo Dai-ichi finally gets on the board post-break. Runner on 2nd due to a walk, 2 out and Itou has one of his fastballs run back over to the outside part and Miyazawa hits it to the RCF gap for a double, putting them on the board at 5-1. Ogawa follows that up when Itou leaves another one over the plate, but Miyazawa holds at 3rd when the throw goes home. Problem is, Ogawa tries to take 2nd and is thrown out down 4.
It seems as the innings progress though, Itou’s location is getting a bit worse. A walk and two hits in the 6th, a walk and at least 1 hard hit ball in the 7th. But the batters either still can’t identify the pitches or are thinking they need to hit their way back into the game instead of perhaps playing the longer game with Itou.
Doesn’t matter after Kendai Takasaki’s lucky 7. 2 outs, runner on 1st. In the blink of an eye we see a single, hit batter, single and manrui homerun and any hope of coming back is long gone at 10-1.
What we do get to see is #10 Ono who relieves Itou. A standard pitcher who throws in the upper 130s with at least a slider and forkball. The control isn’t always there, actually it’s 50/50 at best. Walks the first batter, strikes out the next two, then doesn’t get a borderline 3-2 call, and then strikes out the side. Not the most effective, but here it works.
In the 8th, PH #16 Ueno tacks on a HR to make it a double digit lead 11-1.
#11 Takemoto comes in for mop-up duty in the 9th and seems like your standard pitcher. But with the game out of hand, not really much to glean.
Not really a great showing from Hokkaido, but they’re generally hard pressed most games. Kendai Takasaki has an unusual offensive output, but I don’t think it’s indicative of their actual ability. It’ll be hard to take much out of this game going forward, so should they advance from the 2nd round we might get a better handle.