(picture courtesy of au News)
Run you clever boy, run.
Shuugakukan is here, probably deservedly so based upon talent, but perhaps in spite of their kantoku. There have been times when Kajisha-kantoku seems to have learned from the summer and then in recent games where it doesn’t look like he’s learned at all.
As it stands, it appears he plans to alternate each ace for each game, but I think he overestimates their ability to pitch a full 9 innings. Neither Taura or Kawabata really finished their games well, suggesting they were getting tired. What he should be doing is splitting time each game so that neither pitcher reaches that exhaustion point or ineffectiveness. Which is what he should have done last summer.
I’m not sure that against Osaka Touin he will get away with it. However, Osaka Touin was basically on a level playing field with Toukaidai Fukuoka if not for the fielding mistakes made. And that’s actually a bit concerning. Tokuyama has shown to be more effective than perhaps originally thought, but he too does suffer from some walk issues, even though he too has been walking more batters as the tournament has progressed.
This is a prove it game for Shuugakukan. They have to prove they can handle the big game properly.
- CF Fujiwara Kyouta
- LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
- 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
- RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
- 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
- 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
- SS (#7) Neo Akira
- C (#3) Fukui Shougo
- P Tokuyama Souma
- SS Hanjyou Touma
- 2B (#14) Watanabe Rui
- 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
- 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
- LF Yamashita Tatsuya
- P Taura Fuminari
- CF Fujimoto Shun
- C Kouchi Tatsuya
- RF Akasaka Ginjirou
13:50 – First Pitch!
Taura starting off showing he’s fine to start, gives up a single to Nakagawa, but retires Yamamoto by getting him to swing on a high fastball. It’s not going to be the start, but his finish that should concern them.
Hanjyou is also back to play today after that gnarly collision yesterday. He goes right off the bat and singles to the left side. Neo ran it down, but was too deep to realistically make the throw. He gets to 3rd, but Tokuyama pulls out the slider once again and Hirobe is all to glad to oblige.
2nd inning though and Taura runs into trouble versus the bottom of the lineup. Sakanoshita and Fukui both collect base hits to put runners at the corners. But with 2 down and Tokuyama up it’s just a weak comebacker that ends the inning.
And it continues to be Osaka Touin who has the opportunities so far. Miyazaki lines a double past a diving Hirobe. But once again Taura steps up to the occasion and retires both Nakagawa and Yamamoto to end the inning.
Oddly, it’s Hanjyou the only one with success against Tokumoto. he gets his 2nd hit in as many at bats, but it’s with 2 out in the 3rd. He tries stealing 2nd, and when I say tries, it means that they didn’t succeed.
The game settles into a pitcher’s duel with only one major chance before the break and that’s where Fujimoto and Kochi collect 2-out singles. But that leaves it to last batter Akasaka. And though Tokumoto falls behind 2-0, he eventually gets him to ground to 2nd. Side retired and it’s a 4-inning game now.
Miyazaki, leading off the 6th does what he did in the 3rd, a screamer down the 3rd base line for a double. Nakagawa bunts him over for cleanup batter Yamamoto. He gets a pop fly, but in foul territory to the 1B.
2 down and it’s looking like he’ll be stranded at 3rd. But Taura leaves a slider over the plate and he lines it to right! Akasaka charging in, dives, but it falls just in front of him! Miyazaki scores and Osaka Touin breaks the deadlock to lead 1-0!
After a walk to Sakanoshita you wonder if Taura is tiring, but he does get himself out of the inning and outside of a single to Tokuyama gets through the 7th as well.
Osaka Touin has their first misstep during Shuugakukan’s Lucky 7. One down Neo fields a grounder from Yamashita, but airmails the throw to 1st. Then Tokuyama misses on a fastball and leaves it over the plate for Taura to send to left for a single. Runners at the corners, just 1 out.
But Fujimoto pops a ball up behind home! Fukui takes a bit of a circuitous route, but makes the catch at the fence for the 2nd out. That leaves it to Kouchi to drive the douten runner home.
Instead, Tokuyama jams Kouchi and he hits a grounder up to the 2nd base bag. This time Neo doesn’t mess it up and tags 2nd for the force.
The possible back-breaker for Shuugakukan comes in the 8th. Nakagawa hits a single to right, and after a sac bunt, Taura leaves a fastball over the plate and it’s Yamada again who drives a ball to the wall in left center. Nakagawa scores and it’s 2-0.
That knocks out Taura to RF as Kawabata comes in. He strikes out the side, but again it might be too little too late.
I say might because Tokuyama is allowing baserunners, it’s just a matter of getting them home. Bottom 8th, Hanjyou gets on base. He steals 2nd and takes 3rd on a groundout.
And finally they get their break. This time Tokuyama misses his location, throws it over the middle instead of to the inside and Kimoto singles through the left side to make it a 2-1 game. Hirobe tries to keep the inning going, but chases that danged outside slider and pops out to end the inning.
Osaka Touin does nothing against Kawabata, so it’s down to the final 3 outs for Shuugakukan.
Yamashita up first, 3 pitches, 3 strikes. That danged slider again.
Taura next, grounds to short. 2 down.
Last chance in Fujmoto, nope make that #4 Takewa.
Grounder to short and we have an all-Osaka final!
Shuugakukan unfortunately fell in the manner we though it might. Kajisha-kantoku did not consider splitting time between his 2 very good pitchers who by themselves can’t get through 9. And as a result they fall short again. Kajisha-kantoku hasn’t learned and I don’t think he will.
For Osaka Touin, I think they have the same problem. Tokuyama was not as sharp late so now you have the question of how do you play the final? Do you start your ace and then go down the line? Do you try to manage the game early to steal some inning before your ace comes in? Can you really afford that in the final game?
Those questions will be answered tomorrow. There probably won’t be much planning as these teams will be very familiar with one another. It’ll all be about strategy now.