(picture courtesy of Chunichi – congrats guys, but…)
Shiritsu Kure should be congratulated on their performance opening game. While they certainly got a couple of assists from Shigakukan in the final stages, they did what they needed to do.
The problem is, their next challenge is a new superpower in Osaka called Riseisha. Now, their game against Nichidai-san was a slugfest with blows being given on both sides. However, in the end Nichidai-san just couldn’t hold on for the 9 rounds and were KO’d at the death.
While this would raise red flags, it may be irrelevant against Shiritsu Kure as their offense doesn’t look comparable against Nichidai-san. Takeda should be able to use this as a game to get things right in anticipation for a possible intra-regional opponent.
- LF Fuke Ryouhei
- 2B Okuda Kazuki
- 1B Kondou Daisuke
- SS Nitta Shunki
- C Kashio Kenta
- RF Aoki Yuuki
- CF Nishioka Yuuki
- 3B Kamigakiuchi Yuui
- P Ikeda Riki
- RF Ishida Ryuuji
- 2B Mizobe Touki
- 3B Yasuda Hisanori
- LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
- CF Tsutsui Taisei
- P Takeda Yuu
- 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
- C Katayama Yuu
- SS Nishiyama Koutarou
11:45 – First Pitch!
Well, the story is a bit the same here in the 2nd game between Chuugoku and Kinki regions. Kure struggling at the plate, but at least putting bat to ball. Riseisha does get on the board in the 1st, but not for 5 runs. Insead Ikeda gives up a walk, and then with 2 outs Wakabayashi takes a ball the other way for an RBI double. 1-0 Riseisha, but that’s something that is easily acceptable to Kure. Probably.
Shiritsu Kure finally gets their first base hit in Nishioka’s single to center to lead off the 3rd. However Kamigakiuchi can’t bunt and strikes out looking and after Nishioka is thrown out trying to take 2nd, Ikeda chops back to a leaping Takeda for the 3rd out.
Riseisha actually has a chance to build on the lead in the 3rd with a single and a walk. But with one down, the runners take off on a blooper to right. Which would be fine if it fell in, but Aoki instead makes a shoestring catch, and the throw to 2nd is elementary for the double play.
For Ikeda, the plan is simple, don’t give in to the batters, even if it means a walk. He issues a walk to Takeda, though perhaps that was bad timing because afterwards comes Hamauchi and he connects on a ball that goes over Aoki’s head for a double. Takeda though doesn’t score, so Ikeda still has a chance to get out of the inning unscathed.
One bullet dodged as Katayama chases the slider in the dirt for the 2nd out (Kashio completes the play at 1st).
And the second bullet is dodged when Nishiyama grounds to 2nd! Ikeda doing really well on the mound. He’s the proverbial bend-but-don’t-break kind of pitcher.
Kure’s offense is trying to find holes on the ground. Only 2 of the batted balls in play have been via the fly ball. Everything else has been pounded into the group, like Aoki’s 2-out single in the 5th.
Now you throw in a HBP and they have a small brew going on with Kamigakiuchi and his crouch stance.
Unfortunately his ground ball finds Nishiyama, and while Aoki does his best to shield the ball, it’s not enough to prevent the put-out.
Ikeda bends once again in the 5th. Leadoff 4-pitch walk to Ishida. Bunt to 2nd and two more balls before Yasuda grounds out to 1st. Riseisha’s 2nd run stands 90 feet away, but Okuda makes a great charge and throw on a slow grounder for the 3rd out!
The break can’t help Ikeda avoid a pinch in the 6th. 2 outs facing his archnemesis Hamauchi and Hamauchi wins again with a clean single through the right side. Kataoka follow that up with a ball off the end of the bat through the left side. It looks like maybe here they will get their 2nd run but instead Nishiyama hits a ground ball up the middle, Okuda with a great sliding stop and flip to 2nd for the 3rd out.
Ikeda performs his duties brilliantly the final two innings. One walk, no hits and still no runs given up save for the one in the 1st. I said then they would be fine with it. Maybe they still are, but that one run is the biggest elephant in the room at they enter the 9th.
Nakamura-kantoku sends up 2 straight pinch-hitters, because why not? You’ve only had 2 hits the entire game. But with 2 outs Kondou is allowed to be possibly the final AB for Kure. He strikes out looking and Riseisha wins 1-0.
I have not seen a game as well-planned and well-executed like Shiritsu Kure. And yet giving up just 1 run, the offense would be unable to do anything the entire game to get that single run back. They should be commended for their efforts today, despite the futility they faced offensively.
For Riseisha they win, but this game points out the vulnerabilities offensively. 1 run on 6 hits. That’s it. Otherwise, a lot of loud outs and great defensive play. Remaining teams should take note because a blueprint has been made, if only anyone else can follow it.