(picture courtesy of Maincihi)
Well, this is interesting. Two days ago, we had a matchup between Takaoka Shougyou and Moriokadai Fuzoku the runner-ups of the Tohoku and Hokushinetsu regions. Day 4 begins with the champions of the regions squaring off. Rare to see that happen, but here we are.
That other game was between two average teams with average pitchers who really couldn’t get anyone out. The difference here with this matchup is that both teams here defeated those other two teams handily. Also, both teams played Riseisha in the Meiji Jingu tournament. Fukui Koudai Fukui fared batter offensively but it was not against Takeda Yuu. On the scoreboard both did well to hold off Riseisha, but underlying it Fukui Koudai Fukui’s Suriishi did better than Sendai Ikuei’s Hasegawa.
Both teams rate about the same in my opinion, but I think it might be the pitching for Fukui Koudai Fukui that could carry the day.
Fukui Koudai Fukui
- 2B Kitagawa Tomoya
- RF Yoshida Yuuya
- 1B Inoue Kaito
- LF Yamagishi Asahi
- C (#13) Shimatani Genki
- 3B Kawamura Kakeru
- SS Nishimura Rikuto
- CF Yamauchi Takafumi
- P Suriishi Tatsuya
- SS Nishimaki Kenji
- 3B Suzuki Keisuke
- LF (#9) Yamada Toshiki
- CF Sagawa Mitsuaki
- RF (#17) Sugiyama Takumi
- P Hasegawa Takuho
- 1B Maeda Souta
- C (#12) Watabe Tatsuhito
- 2B Saitou Naruki
09:00 – First Pitch!
Right off the bat, the announcers help me out in saying that Hasegawa has a slider, curve and splitter. First pitch in for a strike at 135.
From the first couple of batters, it’s pretty clear that the fastball is the only pitch he’s consistently getting over for a strike and if Fukui Koudai Fukui can hone in on it, then that might be where Hasegawa runs into trouble, and where he ran into trouble before. But for the time being, he retires the side in order with no problems.
Suriishi gets jumped on in his first pitch as Nishimaki lines a ball to left. After a grounder advancing the runner Ikuei’s batters jump on the first pitch again as Yamada singles past Kawamura.
There’s a concerted effort by Sendai Ikuei to jump on what seems to be the first pitch strike. And when Sagawa singles to center after just 2 pitches to give Sendai Ikuei the 1-0 lead, it’s clear the Fukui battery needs to change things up. Unfortunately that’s not until Sugiyama singles a ball off of Nishimaki’s diving glove and into left for a double and a 2-0 lead.
Fukui Koudai Fukui’s batters are trying to attack the fastball, but are hitting it right at the defense. Another 1-2-3 inning for Hasegawa.
The pitching strategy for Suriishi has also changed. No first pitch strike anymore necessarily and it’s working better for him. He’s also facing the bottom of the lineup so there’s that.
Suriishi also has the same repetoire – slider, curve and splitter. He goes deeper into counts in the 2nd, but happily trades that for a clean frame.
Both pitchers continue to steam along until Hasegawa hits 2nd time through the lineup. Kitagawa earns a walk by being patient, and while he’s replaced by Yoshida on a fielder’s choice they still have a chance to take back a run. Kaito gets ahead 3-1, gets a fastball, but flies out to center.
Yamagishi however, doesn’t miss. Hasegawa leaves a fastball letter high and while Yamada chases it to the wall it’s over for a 2-run HR and we have a tie game at 2-2!
Now after that, the two pitchers put up donuts, but the strategies are still the same. Suriishi not giving in anymore to getting ahead with that first pitch strike and it seems to be giving Sendai Ikuei’s batters fits. On the other hand, Hasegawa is having trouble getting ahead because Fukui Koudai Fukui is focusing directly on the fastball and laying off everything else when possible.
Before the break, Nishimura turns on one such fastball down the right field line for a double though Yamauchi and Suriishi couldn’t bring him in. After the break, Kitagawa goes down the left field line also for a double. Again however, Fukui Koudai Fukui can’t bring him in as after a sac bunt, Inoue grounds hard to 1st and Yamagishi is frozen on a slider over the plate. If you’re looking fastball, not much you can do.
Immediately, the tables turn. Grounder to short from Nishimaki goes off Nishimura’s glove and into CF. It takes forever to get the ball in and in the meantime Nishimaki takes 2nd. Then Suzuki with the bunt and the 3B is late to get to it which means the throw is late. The kicker is Yamada hitting a sac fly to center that easily gets the run home giving Sendai Ikuei a 3-2 lead. What’s worse is that the throw goes home with no chance for the out, and that allows Yamada to take 2nd.
Why they don’t learn to hold the runner I don’t know because with 2 down Sugiyama digs down and hits a ball down the LF line to make it 4-2. And when the throw home is cutoff, but dropped, Sugiyama takes 2nd. Defensive miscues all around. Now, Suriishi prevents further damage, but the offense will need to step up again with just 9 outs.
The problem is they’re running out of time, but can’t abandon the strategy of looking dead red given Hasegawa’s pitching. You do start to see some signs of panic among the bottom of the lineup though, though Nishimura does stay patient and get a 2-out hit in the Lucky 7, but that’s all they get.
But it also means the defense has to hold serve, and there are still miscues. 1 out, runner on 2nd Saitou lays the bunt down up the 3rd base side and is successful. However, no one covers 3rd and that allowed the runner to take 3rd. Now, Suriishi got out of the inning, but they can’t afford another run here.
8th inning, Fukui Koudai Fukui finally gets the offensive engine going as Suriishi singles past a diving Suzuki. Kitagawa singles off Saitou, both off fastballs.
But then as quickly as it developed, Sendai Ikuei gains the upper hand. Yamada bunts, but too hard and right at Hasegawa. He starts the 1-5-3 double play and just like that there’s 2 outs.
Hasegawa still makes it hard on himself by hitting Kaito and putting the douten runner on base. And then he walks Yamagishi, for better or worse, making it manrui with Shimatani up who’s 0-3 on the day. Sasaki-kantoku calls for time.
He’s certainly looking for the fastball, but two breaking balls actually put him behind.
But it’s on the curveball that Shimatani hits a ball to left for a base hit! 2 runs come in to score and we’re tied back up at 4-4!!
Oosuga-kantoku tries to press the initiative by sending in #18 Inoue Ryou, but he can’t lay off a curve and the inning is over.
Sendai Ikuei trying to put pressure to score a run, takes Yamada’s one out hit and bunts him to 2nd hoping Sugiyama can drive him in. But on a foul ball, Kaito chases it to the camera well reaches out and makes the catch falling in for the third out!
With that the game seems to unravel for Sendai Ikuei. One down Yamauchi dumps a ball in front of a sliding Yamada. He steals 2nd with no throw, then takes 3rd when Hasegawa throws a pickoff throw wide. The final nail is him throwing a wild pitch the very next thing, giving Fukui Koudai Fukui their first lead at 5-4.
Then with 2 down Kitagawa walks, steals 2nd again with no throw. Yoshida jumps on the fastball, hits it through the left side for a base hit. Kitagawa comes home and gives Fukui Koudai Fukui a key insurance run, 6-4.
With all the pressure on Sendai Ikuei, Suriishi is able to close the game out as they advance by the same score.
Fukui Koudai Fukui is one of the few teams I’ve seen out there not panic when time ran short. They managed to stick to the game plan of attacking the fastball and make Hasegawa pay for not being able to throw his offspeed offerings for strikes consistently enough. As a result they are rewarded with a trip to the 2nd round.
For Sendai Ikuei it’s back to the drawing board. Hasegawa will have to do better with said breaking pitches if his team is to advance.