(photo courtesy of Mainichi)
Okay, maybe not. But Waseda has basically tried to build an offensive lineup around Kiyomiya and they surely have done that. Problem is, the pitching is barely passable. Giving up an average of 6 runs per game in your last 5 games is not great. It’s why their grades are so skewed in both ways.
Meitoku Gijyuku has a good win against Sakushin Gakuin that I can now compare here. From what we saw yesterday, Oozeki was certainly hittable and for Meitoku Gijyuku to be able to take advantage of it, it means that the offense certainly can attack average pitching. Waseda’s pitching is actually below that in my opinion, so it’s possible they stand a chance. It all really depends on ace Kitamoto and if he can negotiate the Waseda lineup (hint: walk Kiyomiya).
- CF Fukumoto Shou
- RF Nishida Ryouta
- 1B Kiyomiya Koutarou
- 3B Nomura Daijyuu
- LF Konishi Yuuki
- C Yukiyama Kenta
- 2B Kitsunai Jyunji
- P (#11) Ikeda Tooru
- SS Noda Yuuto
- 3B (#10) Tanaka Touwa
- CF Nakatsubo Shuuma
- RF Nishiura Hayato
- LF (#11) Taniai Yuuto
- 1B Koga Kenta
- SS Imai Kyousuke
- 2B Chikamoto Kouki
- C Tsutsui Ippei
- P Kitamoto Yuuto
11:17 – First Pitch!
Kitamoto features a curve, screwball, slider, 2 seam and possibly a changeup, but Fukumoto takes a pitch easy as you like down the RF line for a double.
But Nishida’s bunt is poor and Kitamoto is able to go to 3rd to get the lead runner. That actually matters in the near term as they do attack Kiyomiya and he in turn singles to center. No RBI, but runners at corners.
They’re also pitching to Nomura which is a bit brave, but works out. He grounds into a textbook 4-6-3 double play and Kitamoto gets to hang up a donut.
Ikeda according to the announcers has a slider, curve and changeup. Speed is below average. Tanaka tries to jump on the first pitch and flies out to left. Nakatsubo works the count and draws a walk. Nishiura really standing in there, works the count as best he can before taking one the other way for a single.
Waseda already with “ace” Hattori warming up.
Taniai also patient at the plate, and he works a walk making it manrui with just 1 down. Here I would tell the batters to continue waiting and to let Ikeda struggle.
But as the pros think, Koga things Ikeda will groove a strike to get ahead, but he pops out. *sighs*
It does work out for them in the end though as Imai also takes the first pitch and singles to left. 2 runs score as there were 2 outs and Meitoku Gijyuku jumps on Ikeda for a 2-0 lead.
Chikamoto gets jammed in his AB, but he is able to fist it down the RF line and it falls in just fair for a double and another run, making it 3-0.
#12 Ishii now is warming up instead, but he’s not needed right now as Ikeda does get out of the inning without further damage, but the offense will need to make up the difference.
It is clear though that Kitamoto is tiptoeing around the lineup as best he can and will do so for the rest of the game. That will mean a ton of pitches though and his stamina will be tested. It will also mean giving up the occasional walk, as he does to Yukiyama.
But in order to be successful it can’t be followed up on by Waseda, and Kitsunai goes down on a pitch and singles to left. Two batters later, Noda reaches down on a changeup and singles to left scoring Yukiyama making it 3-1. That’s all Waseda gets, but Kitamoto should have been put on notice before the game that no lead is safe. None.
In this situation where you’re facing a weaker pitching staff, I don’t know if the best thing for them to do is bunt. At all. If Ikeda is going to struggle, giving him free outs may not be the best thing to do. But Tanaka lays down the bunt after Kitamoto singles to left. Now, he gets 90 feet close with a hard grounder to 1st, but there’s 2 outs.
Interesting timing then when Izumi-kantoku sends in #1 Hattori to face Nishiura. He has a slider, forkball and changeup.
Now Hattori spikes a forkball, but fortunately it stays in front of Yukiyama. Count 3-1 and I say “Don’t swing”. He does and flies out to deep right to end the inning.
Kitamoto pitching with no fear. Strikes out Nishida on the outside black. Leaves one for Kiyomiya who hits it high and deep and into the wind blowing in from center. Falls in just in front of the warning track. And Nomura grounds out to 2nd. A clean frame, one he should enjoy but not expect.
Hattori continues the pitching struggles by walking Taniai. Meitoku Gijyku gives him a free out by bunting the runner over. 2 down and Hattori issues another walk to Chikamoto, but again Meitoku Gijuku shoots themselves in the foot. Tsutsui swings on the first pitch and while hard hit, goes right to Kiyomiya for the 3rd out.
Meitoku Gijyuku is playing with fire being unable to bring in these runners. The more the lead stays this way, the continued pressure there will be for Kitamoto.
What’s bad now is that Meitoku’s batters are straying from the necessary game plan. First 2 batters are retired early in counts meaning Hattori isn’t working hard. Nakatsubo does work a walk but then tries to steal 2nd and is thrown out. That’s also not necessary because again, you’re trying to make the Waseda pitching work and this does the opposite.
The game pretty much continues on this path. Kitamoto able to hold down the fort, especially against the heart of the Waseda lineup while his offense continues to give the Waseda pitching outs each inning. The game remains at 3-1, but despite the 0’s, it’s a tenuous one at best.
That can be shown no other way than after Kitamoto gets Kiyomiya to foul fly out. He leaves one perfectly down and away in the zone and Nomura doubles off the base of the wall in right center.
Konishi looks to have the run in when he hits a dying liner to center, but Nakatsubo charging in, dives, and makes the catch… just.
That should get Meitoku’s warning radar up, but no, the team continues falling off the rails offensively – trying to bunt again with one out, only to run into a 2-6-3 double play. Yes there’s only 9 out left to go, but they were put on notice and seems to have ignored it.
And so the Lucky 7 for Waseda begins with a walk. Yet after a flyout, Izumi-kantoku has Hattori bunt, but instead gets the lead runner out.
But Noda swings on the first pitch and hits it to right center. With the outfield in, they have no chance. Hattori scores from 1st and it’s now 3-2 Waseda.
Toss in a walk and now Izumi is playing a double switch. #10 Nakagawa comes in to hit for Nishida and might take the hill. Kiyomiya on deck.
Meanwhile Kitamoto still can’t throw a strike until 2-0. The count goes 2-2 and Nakagawa hits a chopper back at Kitamoto. He drops it, but still has time to get to 1st for the 3rd out.
Nakagawa is not going into the game on the mound. Hattori stays in with #16 Yokoyama coming in to play right. No need to replace him if you’re getting assisted by the other team.
And so it is as Meitoku goes down in order on just 8 pitches.
Kiyomiya first pitch swings and you think he gets all of it. But even with the wind blowing out to center, the ball falls short as Taniai makes the catch in front of the warning track.
Nomura collects his 2nd hit with a grounder to the left side. Imai is able to run it down deep but the throw isn’t in time. Konishi gives a ball a ride to center, but again falls short of the fence. Yukiyama flies out and the lead is nursed one more inning.
Taniai begins the 8th with a ball to left center. Fukumoto going back, going back?!
HAITA! It’s gone!
After all this time, it’s here in the 8th where they get an insurance run via a first pitch HR of all things. 4-2, but Meitoku Gijyuku still can’t breathe easy.
This as Kitsunai drives a ball to the base of the wall in LCF for a leadoff double. #15 Narita hits for Hattori. Kitamoto, already laboring since the 7th, leaves one over and Narita singles through the right side. Runners on the corners, no out and the top of the lineup looming for Waseda.
Noda again attacks the first pitch, but hits a grounder to the left side. Imai goes to 2nd for 1, but Noda beats out Chikamoto’s throw to 1st! Kitsunai scores to make it 4-3 and the douten runner remains on base!
I say on twitter at this point, Kiyomiya cannot get to the plate. If he does it’s over.
Kitamoto continues to fight, and gets Fukumoto to foul out on the 3rd base side! 2 out, Kiyomiya on deck and new LF Yokoyama at bat. He throws 2 balls before time is called.
Fastball upper left corner, strike 1.
Curveball, strike 2.
Fastball down and away, full count.
Slider, fouled off into 3B stands.
Comebacker, off of Kitamoto! Goes behind the mound! He can’t grab it! E1!
And now Kiyomiya steps in with the gyakuten runner on base.
2 balls, not close. You can’t work around Kiyomiya because Nomura is next.
Fouled off up 1st base side.
Fastball chin high, 3-1 count.
Fastball wide, manrui for Nomura.
First pitch changeup inside.
Fastball up, 2-0.
Fastball outside the outside black, 3-0.
Ball inside, oshidashi walk. Douten at 4-4.
Konishi flies out to right and the inning ends. But the lead, and possibly the game, is lost.
#12 Ishii enters the game looking for enchousen. The longer this game goes now the more it helps Waseda.
Kitamoto works the count full and takes an easy swing for a ball back up the middle for a base hit. Once again, Mabuchi-kantoku calls for the bunt. Tanaka fails, withe Kitamoto being thrown out at 2nd. No double play though, but after Nakatsubo strikes out on a foul tip, it’s up to Nishiura.
He hits a grounder to short, Noda comes up with it but stumbles and falls down. Throw to 1st is late and the inning continues. Izumi-kantoku calls for time as Taniai steps in. #18 Taniguchi runs for Tanaka at 2nd.
But with the pressure on the other foot now, Taniai, who had reached base in his other 4 ABs, strikes out on a slider to end the inning!
With Meitoku Gijyuku unable to win in regulation, and Taniai striking out, the game can all but effectively be called in favor of Waseda.
Indeed in the 10th, with one down Kitsunai drives a ball to left center for a double. And with two out Noda singles back up the middle. 5-4 Waseda, and the game seemingly is in hand.
Meitoku Gijyuku gets a walk, but nothing else as the game is closed out.
Waseda Jitsugyou won this because Meitoku Gijyuku played this badly. Waseda’s pitching was poor and yet when they got baserunners, they bunted instead of letting Waseda’s pitching, which was their weakness, struggle. That kept the score low and kept the pressure on Kitamoto. That culminated later when he struggled in the 7th and eventually in the 9th. He had a chance to close out the game himself, but failed to do so. And with the shoe on the other foot, Meitoku Gijyuku could do nothing.
So we’re subjected to more talk about Kiyomiya. Not that he doesn’t deserve some of it. He doesn’t deserve to have the entire media. Also, add Mabuchi-kantoku to the list of managers who should be fired for mismanagement.