(photo courtesy of Mainichi)
We are in our last game of Day 4 and the Natsu Koushien champs take the field in an attempt to hold both titles at once.
Sakushin Gakuin had a couple of low scoring games, but for the most part had a new starting 9 and won the Kanto (ex Tokyo) region. That’s pretty remarkable if you ask me. So many teams with more experience could have tripped them up but didn’t.
It’s not to say though that they’re favorites. There are still things that are rough around the edges before you can ask that question without being laughed at – that loss to Meitoku Gijyuku highlighted that.
However, both teams did play Meitoku Gijyuku. Teikyou Dai-go in the super-regional final, Sakushin Gakuin at Meiji Jingu. Both lost badly, but Teikyou Dai-go more so. In addition Teikyou’s pitchers are walking batters at a larger rate than striking them out which is alarming.
All signs point to Sakushin Gakuin running away with this game, and is the best warmup they could have had if they do aspire to hold both titles at the same time. We may not get much information because of the disparity in talent, but this should be a formality.
- CF Suzuki Maeto
- 2B Soeda Masato
- SS Ikezawa Kaito
- 3B Nakajima Jyun
- RF Aihara Kousei
- C Katou Tsubasa
- 1B Nanai Yuuri
- LF Ookubo Yuushi
- P Oozeki Shuutarou
- CF Fujii Kiyomitsu
- SS Miyashita Katsutoshi
- 1B Imada Ikki
- C Shinozaki Kou
- 3B Konishi Ryuuto
- RF Satou Sousuke
- LF Horiuchi Taiki
- 2B Kawamoto Taketo
- P Okamoto Kentarou
14:15 – First Pitch!
Okamoto not with the standard fare. A lefty with a slider, changeup and sinker. Suzuki tries to get Sakushin Gakuin off to a lightning start with a base hit to right, but then he takes off on a liner, which is a big no-no and Kawamoto doubles him off.
But then the walk bugaboo appears. He walks Ikezawa, then the hit parade begins.
- Nakajima to the RCF wall, 1-0.
- Aihara single to center, 2-0.
- Katou double to LCF, 3-0.
On the flip side, Oozeki pretty much average on the velo and in control versus all three batters to start the game.
Okamoto in trouble again in the 2nd with both a hit batter and a walk, but fortunately it doesn’t lead to any runs as he gets a flyout and a well-time changeup to retire the side.
Meanwhile Teikyou Dai-go actually has something going in the 2nd. Shinozaki starts with a single through the right side. After a bunt, Satou also with a single, this time to LF putting runners at the corners. A great chance to get on the board…
But then Horiuchi tries to lay down the squeeze bunt, and fails. And it was a suicide squeeze. And Shinozaki is out at 3rd. Oy.
Horiuchi tries to make up for it with a liner up the middle, but Soeda makes a diving catch behind 2nd for the 3rd out.
That then turns into momentum for Sakushin Gakuin, not that they needed it.
Nakashima gets his 2nd hit in as many at bats. After getting 2 outs, the bottom third of the linup linkup 3 straight singles bringing in 2 more runs and knocking out Okamoto. 5-0 Sakushin Gakuin and Teikyou Dai-go will be playing damage control the rest of the game.
The only thing is that Oozeki isn’t really shutting down Teikyou Dai-go. Yes, he’s put up 0’s, but he’s (a) still giving up good base hits, and (b) Teikyou Dai-go is bunting when they get a runner on.
Sakushin Gakuin continues to pile on the runs. One down in the 4th, there’s a hit batter, then a double by Nakajima to make it 6-0. Nakajima already with a 3B-1B-2B, and is a HR short of the cycle. Throw in another double by Aihara and the lead continues to grow to 7-0.
About one of the few questions left is if Nakajima can get the HR and the cycle. He’s up in the 6th, but works a walk. He’s guaranteed one more AB provided he’s not lifted.
Teikyou Dai-go gets their best scoring chance since the 2nd in the 6th. New RF Kouno hits a clean single through the right side. With 2 down, Miyashita’s hot grounder to short short hops Ikezawa and goes high in the air. Fortunately it stays around so the runners can’t advance extra bases. Throw in a HBP and it’s manrui.
They have the right batter up in Shinozaki, and he gets around an inside fastball, but lines it right to Ookubo in left, and the run is left begging.
Nakajima gets another AB in the 7th, but again walks though this time bringing in a run.
We get to also see Sakushin Gakuin’s relief corps. #10 Shinohara comes in to pitch the 8th, is isn’t really all that great. Breaking pitches not really close and the fastball command spotty. K, BB, K, BB, and then for some reason Imada swings on the first pitch and grounds back to Shinohara ending the inning.
Sakushin Gakuin was going for the shutout, but Shinohara just isn’t effective on the mound. A single and a walk start the 9th, and while he gets a snazzy 4-6-3 double play there’s a runner on 3rd.
And all it takes for Horiuchi to turn around an inside pitch and shoot it down the 3B line for a double that they avoid the shutout. They still lose to the Natsu champs 9-1.
The game pretty much went as planned with Teikyou’s pitching plaguing them all game. Sakushin Gakuin did what they needed to do, but at the same time, the pitching was also as expected, good but not great. And from the relief pitching we saw, it’s not getting any better and could in fact be their downfall later on.