(photo courtesy of Nikkan Sports)
Shuugakukan is the second beneficiary of the replay games, moving on to facing Kendai Takasaki.
Shuugakukan barely survived against Sakushin Gakuin with the offense doing just enough and the pitching getting some assists from the Sakushin Gakuin batters who weren’t patient enough. In addition, Kajisha-kantoku may have been learning something as he replaced Taura with Kawabata when he started struggling though that was the time Sakushin Gakuin started being patient.
The thing is, Kendai Takasaki is actually in a better position than you think. In the replay game, they started a pitcher who had yet to pitch in the tournament, #13 Mukai Yoshiki. He did his job, spelling all the other pitchers with a 170 pitch complete game effort. He may have been the “break in case of emergency” pitcher as he struck out 11 and walked 7 in his effort.
The stretch run now approaches, and now without a day off between the quarterfinals and semifinals. I don’t think Kendai Takasaki will go away from the multi-pitcher approach, but I’m not sure someone like Mukai can return and spell the main pitchers once again.
- SS Hanjyou Touma
- 2B Takewa Ryousuke
- 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
- 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
- LF (#18) Ishii Takyua
- RF (#7) Yamashita Tatsuya
- CF Fujimoto Shun
- C Kouchi Tatsuya
- P (#10) Kawabata Kento
- SS (#4) Asato Jyura
- LF Onodera Daiki
- 1B Yamashita Kouta
- 3B Toguchi Taisei
- RF (#14) Takayama Ryoutarou
- 2B (#18) Ookoshi Koutarou
- CF Imai Yuusuke
- P Itou Atsuki
- C Oogaki Rentarou
13:20 – First Pitch!
WOW. That was quick. Settling down into my seat I see Takewa hit a single that goes off the end of Asato’s outstretched glove. And then Kimoto gets around on a slider inside and drives it out for a 2-run HR. 2-0 Shuugakukan just like that.
And in a weird defensive move, #9 Akasaka replaces Ishii and goes to his numbered position, Yamashita goes to LF. Huh.
Kendai Takasaki tries to strike back. Asato gets a leadoff single, steals 2nd and advances to 3rd when Hanjyou doesn’t catch the throw.
And yet, Kawabata comes back and strikes out the next 3 batters, all on the slider, stranding Asato at 3rd!
Shuugakukan adds to their lead in the 3rd when Kimoto hits a sac liner to right scoring Hanjyou who earlier hit a double. 3-0 Shuugakukan and it’s getting a little concerning.
That’s because Kendai Takasaki had been unable to do anything against Kawabata and either his fast fastball or his slider. But in the bottom half of the frame, Itou draws a leadoff walk and Oogaki hits a base hit up the middle.
But a failed sac bunt by Asato which cut down the lead runner and then a strikeout on a 141 fastball mean that they could be denied a run. Instead, Yamashita delivers a single back up the middle! Oogaki is sent home, as Fujimoto fires home. The tag is made, and Oogaki is out! He knows it too because he’s not giving a safe signal. Kendai Takasaki is denied and they still trail by 3.
The deficit continues to grow. 4th inning, 2 outs, runners on 1st and 2nd. Itou leaves one up for his counterpart Kawabata and he doubles into the large gap in right center. Both runners score and it’s 5-0 Shuugakukan. Toss in an RBI single by Hanjyou and it’s 6-0.
Then and only then does Aoyagi-kantoku send in #11 Takemoto and send Itou to RF. Kajisha-kantoku then sends in #14 Watanabe and he also doubles to the large gap in right center. 7-0.
Shuugakukan adds another run in the 6th before Kendai Takasaki gets on the board in the bottom half of the frame, almost exclusively because of Onodera. He gets a bunt base hit, steals 2nd, takes 3rd despite behind Yamashita grounding to short, and then scores on a wild pitch. 8-1.
The game is pretty much in hand, but Shuugakukan suffers a setback when a freak accident happens in the bottom of the 8th. Yamashita at 2nd, grounder to 3rd. Throw to 1st for the 2nd out, but then they throw to 3rd to try and get Yamashita. Hanjyou, covering the base, goes to make the tag, but in Yamashita’s slide he catches on the ground and lunges forward. That’s when his head, helmet and all, collides with Hanjyou’s head as he’s turning to make the tag. They make the play, but both players go down. Hanjyou has to be taken off by stretcher and will probably have to be checked for concussions (if they do that).
The final score ends up as 9-2 and Kawabata finished the game despite being shaky with his control in the final innings. I would be more confident in what Kajisha-kantoku had been doing if he has relieved Kawabata with Taura, but my only hope is that he’s alternating between pitchers each start. But I don’t think that’s a good idea either because we’ve seen Taura 2 days ago and now Kawabata faltering a bit late in the game. If he were to split time I think both would be more effective.
Sadly, I think I may have to put Kajisha-kantoku back on my list.