(photo courtesy of Mainichi)
Well, we’re almost done with the first round of games, and much like Day 1, the place will be packed from the get-go, not necessarily for this game but for the game to follow.
That’s not to say that this game isn’t important, or the teams aren’t all that great. But the media goes all ga-ga over the name Kiyomiya so…
Anyways, Toukaidai Fukuoka has something to prove really. Yes, their matchup against Fukuokadai Oohori in the super-regional final is a plus even though they lost, but a similar close game against Kumamoto Kougyou doesn’t look as good. I also had said that I thought Kumamoto Kougyou’s ace was better than Toukaidai Fukuoka’s ace, and that may still be the case, but after seeing Kumamoto Kougyou play, there’s some leeway in that statement now. The multitude of close games though means that their position maintains as shaky at best.
Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku comes from the Kinki region that has only suffered one loss so far, and that was Takada Shougyou whose inclusion into the field I already had questioned. And with just Osaka Touin left to play, the region so far has finally shown themselves to the be powerhouse it is supposed to be. Now, we don’t really know how strong Osaka Touin is because they haven’t played, the loss to Riseisha does loom a bit over the resume. But because the rest of the resume is really strong you figure at the worst, it ends up being a close game.
Interesting that for Toukaidai Fukuoka that one of their relief P is starting at 1B. Perhaps switching based upon handedness?
Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku
- 3B Morita Takashi
- 2B Gotou Takahiro
- C Inoda Kazuki
- RF (#7) Kataoka Yamato
- LF (#18) Nakaoka Yamato
- CF (#13) Taniguchi Yoshinori
- 1B Araki Keisuke
- SS Tabuchi Yuujirou
- P Kuroda Yamato
- CF Ariyasu Seima
- 2B Kiyomizu Yuudai
- C Kitagawa Hozumi
- LF Endou Shuuto
- 3B Hoshino Kouki
- 1B (#10) Sada Kensuke
- RF (#17) Nakayama Seiya
- SS Hashimoto Naoki
- P Yasuda Daisuke
09:00 – First Pitch!
Yasuda side-arm action, understandably not much velo, but for being a righty standing on the left side of the rubber for all batters. Has a slider, sinker combo, which make sense for such a delivery. Control so-so to start, gets a clean inning, but understandably all balls in the air.
Kuroda not throwing all that hard to start, and actually leaves one over the plate for Ariyasu who knows what to do with it. Down the left field line for a double.
Now, Kiyomizu doesn’t show bunt to start his AB, but then surprises the Kobe defense with it and actually beats out the throw from Kuroda! Runners at corners, no out!
After a strikeout though, Kuroda gets a textbook 6-4-3 double play out of Endou and he’s out of the jam, but I’m just a little concerned about the pitching for Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku.
Yasuda’s control still not great in the 2nd, but I think Kobe’s batters are struggling with the “rising” fastball when it gets letter high. Kataoka is able to lead off with a ball through the right side. But after 2 more fly ball outs (one a soft liner that Hashimoto dashes back and makes a leaping catch), Aoki-kantoku decides to send Kataoka with nothing to lose and he successfully steals 2nd. And when Yasuda just leaves one not high enough, Araki takes it the other way for a base hit and an RBI. 1-0 Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku.
2nd inning would leave me less concerned with Kuroda. Location better, batters chasing the breaking stuff, and racks up 2 Ks in a clean inning. Except that in the 3rd, Toukaidai threatens again. Yasuda actually hits a soft liner to LF that Nakaoka just can’t get under in time and then Ariyasu catches one off the bat and up the middle for a base hit.
2 outs with Kitagawa up, chopper to short. Tabuchi charging, makes throw, but you can tell off his hand it’s high. Goes into the camera well allowing Yasuda to score tying the game at 1-1.
What’s really surprising is that Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku is hitting the pitches into the air for the most part and they’re just routine fly balls. 10 of his 12 outs have been via the fly ball/pop up. If you want to really drive the ball I figure you have to level the bat instead.
While they’re trying to figure that out, Kuroda is leaving stuff over the plate just enough to cause himself trouble. One down in the 4th, another fastball over the middle which Sada takes all the way down the LF line to the wall for a double. After that though, Kuroda depends on his breaking pitches to get him out of the inning, first freezing Nakayama on an inside slider and then getting Hashimoto on a sinker outside the zone.
As the break hits, Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku’s batters are trying to pound the ball into the ground as fly balls obviously aren’t working, while Kuroda is trying to improve his control on the mound for some stress-less innings. For Toukaidai Fukuoka, they’re game plan seems to be working fine as they’re not the ones having to adjust right now.
Though right after the break, Yasuda leaves a ball up for his counterpart and Kuroda just drops it in in left-center for a double. He’s about to get out of the inning with 2 outs, but then walks Inoda and then hits Kataoka to load the bases! Big chance for Kobe as Nakaoka steps in.
He hits a slow chopper up the middle, Kiyomizu charges in, and Kataoka runs into him! And for the 2nd time this tournament, a runner is called out on interference and ends a key inning!
The good news for Kobe Kokusadai Fuzoku is that Kuroda is on his game. Toukaidai Fukuoka’s batters just cannot lay off the outside pitch and are striking out at a regular pace.
A bad collision in the 7th. 2 outs, foul ball down the right field line. Kiyomizu, Sada and Nakayama converge and it’s Nakayama with the catch. But what’s only seen in replay is that when Kiyomizu goes down to try and field it, his head collides with Nakayama’s elbow and he’s certainly out of it.
He would have had some time to recover being the 4th man up in the 7th. But with just a 6 pitch inning, his offense didn’t help him and he’s replaced by #14 Oodzuru.
Kuroda having the most success against Yasuda, fouling off several pitches before singling to left. Morita blows it on the bunt and pops up to Sada. They bunt again and while Gotou hustles down the line, Hoshino’s throw is in the right place for Sada to bonk him on the head with the glove for the out.
Hoshino doubles down with a great diving stop on a grounder from Inoda, pop up and throw to 1st for the 3rd out and Yasuda continues to hold serve. The only problem is that his offense is unable to deliver much of anything right now outside of striking out.
Worst time for a walk in the bottom of the 9th as Kuroda walks Endou. Sada tries to bunt the runner over, but he fails! Nakayama lays down a bunt, but it’s right at home. Inoda fires to 2nd, but the throw pulls Tabuchi off the bag! All safe!
Hashimoto originally bunting, but starts swinging away. During the AB, I thought to myself “I really hope this doesn’t end on an error…”.
Fouls off a couple of pitches but then grounds to short. Tabuchi goes to Gotou for 1, throw to 1st and wouldn’t you know it it gets by Araki. Endou scores and that’s how the game ends 2-1 for Toukaidai Fukuoka.
Well, the game went about as well as it could have been for Toukaidai Fukuoka. They were in it the entire game, though perhaps more struggling than not, but got one lucky break to win the game. They certainly earned their keep, but I also think Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku just couldn’t figure out how to hit the side-armer and that’s what hurt them the most.
Is Fukuoka on the rise? Maybe. The showing so far at at least shows they’re legit.