(photo courtesy of at-s)
Last game of Day 5 and we see the famed 10-man squad that was able to be the runner-up of Iwate prefecture and reach the super-regionals.
Was it a great story? Absolutely. Do they realistically have a chance? Probably not. The lack of offensive output once they started facing teams that people were familiar with mean that they should similarly struggle against like competition here.
And they’re getting it in Shizuoka who has supplanted themselves as the top team out of the prefecture. Not to mention the fact they easily took care of Shigakukan and actually played Waseda close.
The red flag for them is that while they handled games against former Koushien teams well, they uncharacteristically struggled against no-name competition at times. But if they need a game to warm up, this game is a perfect matchup for them.
(also, holy crap Kozukata’s kantoku is 30?)
- SS Takanohashi Reiji
- 2B Sakurai Ryuutarou
- C Kikuchi Kouta
- P Kohiruimaki Keita
- CF Kikuchi Yuuki
- 1B Yoshida Keita
- RF Iwama Tatsuki
- LF Sugawara Taketo
- 3B Funayama Jyunpei
- SS Muramatsu Kaito
- CF Maeda Yuuta
- 3B Ooishi Teppei
- LF Naruse Kazuto
- C Mori Koutarou
- 2B Fujita Seiya
- 1B Inazumi Rui
- P Ikeya Souta
- RF Koyanagi Ren
14:20 – First Pitch!
3 pitches, one K. Takanohashi swinging at anything up first.
Sakurai faring a little better, and reaches down and hits the ball off the end of the bat and up the middle past a diving Muramatsu for a base hit. They got that out of the way.
Kouta makes good contact on a slider and flies out to right.
Wait a minute. Kohiruimaki drives a fastball to center, and it’s off the wall! Sakurai scores and Kozukata leads 1-0!!
I… That’s more than other first timers have ever done!
Well, the bottom of the inning comes and Muramatsu comes and singles to center. Maeda bunts to the 1B side, but Kohiruimaki fails to field it cleanly so all safe.
Ooishi lays down the bunt and this time Kohiruimaki doesn’t miss. He goes to 3rd and cuts down the lead runner.
But he hits Naruse to load the bases. Oyama-kantoku calls for time and when Saitou goes out, it truly is a team meeting.
Kohiruimaki gets the ground ball he wants! Mori hits it to short, toss to 2nd for 1, Sakurai’s throw to 1st… just a bit high and late. Run scores and we’re tied at 1-1.
Ah~ Now the offense goes…
- Fujita doubles of Yuuki’s head. 3-1.
- Inazumi singles to right. Iwama stops, but overruns ball. 4-1.
- Ikeya singles back up the middle. 5-1.
- Koyanagi plunked.
- Muramatsu flies out to left. Change.
Well, at least Kozukata could say hey had the lead at Koushien, even if ever so brief.
As expected afterwards, Kozukata struggles at the plate. Perhaps not so expected, with the 5-1 lead Shizuoka is playing the small ball game already. But here I think it works. You shorten the game, and practice things you need to for upcoming games (sorry Kozukata, being realistic here). So when in the 4th, after a leadoff walk, they run a bunt. With runners at the corners, they execute a squeeze (it fails thanks to a diving catch by Kouta).
What they can’t prevent is Kohiruimaki walking 2 batters straight to walk in a run. 6-1. I mean they can, but it would build bad habits swinging at bad pitches.
There really isn’t much to say afterwards in terms of score. Shizuoka goes on to win 12-3.
However, a couple of things. First, Shizuoka giving up 3 runs? Don’t really count that in my opinion. They were already in cruise mode after the 1st I think. They did what they needed to do, and more importantly they didn’t over do it.
For Kozukata. They actually had a lead! They got a base hit right off the bat. Yeah they made mistakes, but you could also see them sell out on as many plays as they could, even when being blown out. That means something. Yeah, they were pretty much swinging at all the offspeed junk and striking out but they continued to get base hits and at least tried to score runs. That means something.
It all means something. They impressed me more than other schools that come here and go straight home. Maybe it’ll mean something in future years.