(photo courtesy of Nishi-Nippon Shinbun)
And we’re off! Opening ceremonies are done and the first two teams have taken the field.
Hikone Higashi (2nd appearance, 1st in 4 years)
- Location – Hikone-shi, Shiga
- Public school
- Student Body – 961 students (409 female)
- Club Size – 71
- Kantoku – Muranaka Takayuki (村中 隆之)
Road to Koushien
- def Hikone Kougyou 12-3 (7 inn)
- def Shiga Gakuen 3-2
- def Hachiman Shougyou 8-1 (7 inn)
- def Minakuchi 5-2
- def Oumi 4-1
Hikone Higashi navigated their way through their qualifiers beating both Shiga Gakuen and Oumi on the way to the title. They were far from dominating overall and in both of those games they were only able to pull away late, which for an average prefecture like Shiga may be more ominous in a bad way than anything else.
#10 Masui actually started both games instead of ace Matsui and struck out 11 while walking 6. In the video below it looks like he has both a 2 and 4-seamer, slider and curve. Offense is going to be at a premium perhaps so he and the rest of the staff will need to keep the games low-scoring.
|◎||1||P||松井 拓真||Matsui Takuma||3||R/R||179||66|
|2||C||條野 正宗||Jyouno Masamune||3||R/R||172||71|
|3||1B/P||吉本 孝祐||Yoshimoto Kousuke||3||R/R||173||78|
|4||2B||朝日 晴人||Asahi Haruto||3||R/L||168||55|
|5||1B/3B||岩本 道徳||Iwamoto Michinori||3||R/R||174||72|
|6||SS||原 晟也||Hara Seiya||3||R/L||175||66|
|7||LF||高村 真湖人||Takamura Makoto||3||R/R||172||72|
|8||CF||太田 剛志||Oota Tsuyoshi||3||R/R||168||68|
|9||RF||辻山 知志||Tsujiyama Chihiro||3||R/L||175||73|
|10||P||増居 翔太||Masui Shouta||3||L/L||171||59|
|11||P||原 功征||Hara Kousei||3||L/L||165||59|
|12||BN||嘉藤 修太||Katou Shuuta||3||R/R||168||72|
|13||BN||中井 知稀||Nakai Kazuki||3||R/R||168||62|
|14||BN||山崎 凜太朗||Yamazaki Rintarou||3||R/B||168||62|
|15||IF||野崎 重太||Nozaki Shigeta||3||R/R||168||66|
|16||BN||清水 亮佑||Shimizu Ryousuke||3||R/R||176||73|
|17||PH/IF||森田 昂佑||Morita Kousuke||3||R/R||180||80|
|18||OF||仲川 俊哉||Nakagawa Toshiya||3||R/R||168||67|
Hasami (3rd appearance, 1st in 16 years)
- Location – Higashi-Sonogi-gun, Nagasaki
- Public school
- Student Body – 445 students (201 female)
- Club Size – 67
- Kantoku – Tokunaga Ken (得永 健)
Road to Koushien
- def Nagasaki Nishi 5-1
- def Saikai Gakuen 15-0 (5 inn)
- def Souseikan 5-4
- def Keihou 9-2 (7 inn)
- def Seihou 4-2 (10 inn)
Hasami is pretty much in the same mold as Hikone Higashi – defeated Souseikan and Seihou, but not dominating and in a middling prefecture. Also, #10 Sumida started both games as well, striking out 7 and walking 6. Now, he gave way to ace Murakami in the last inning of the final, and he struck out the side. He also started all the other games which is strange because you figured you want your ace on the mound for the important games.
|1||P||村川 竜也||Murakawa Tatsuya||3||R/R||173||69|
|2||C||山口 裕聖||Yamaguchi Yuusei||3||R/R||174||73|
|3||1B||川口 侑宏||Kawaguchi (Masahiro)||3||R/R||180||89|
|4||2B||中澤 宏太||Nakazawa (Kouta)||3||R/L||169||60|
|◎||5||3B||濱田 倫||Hamada (Tomo)||3||R/R||173||79|
|6||SS||村川 大介||Murakawa Daisuke||3||R/L||167||62|
|7||LF/1B||内野 裕太||Uchino Yuuta||2||R/L||175||83|
|8||CF||早熊 拳太||Hayakuma Kenta||2||R/R||172||77|
|9||RF||中島 蕉陽||Nakashima Shouyou||3||R/R||173||71|
|10||P||隅田 知一郎||Sumida Tomoichirou||3||L/L||172||66|
|11||BN||山口 祥輝||Yamaguchi Yoshiki||2||R/R||177||78|
|12||BN||松尾 蓮||Matsuo Ren||2||R/R||173||74|
|13||PH/OF||重松 健太||Shigematsu Kenta||3||R/L||177||80|
|14||BN||朝田 裕己||Tomoda (Yuuki)||3||R/R||166||65|
|15||BN||吉田 星摩||Yoshida (Seima)||3||R/R||168||65|
|16||OF||田中 涼||Tanaka Ryou||3||R/R||175||79|
|17||BN||小畑 優之||Obata Masayuki||3||R/L||165||68|
|18||BN||山口 京太郎||Yamaguchi Kyoutarou||3||R/R||162||57|
The edge I think goes to Hasami, if slight. It appears that the bottom of the lineup might be better, and ace Murakami might be a wild card having not been used in major matchups.
- SS Murakami Daisuke
- C Yamaguchi Yuusei
- CF Hayakuma
- LF Uchino
- 3B Hamada
- 1B Kawaguchi
- 2B Nakazawa
- P Sumida (#10)
- RF Nakajima
- SS Hara Seiya
- 2B Asahi
- LF Takamura
- 3B Iwamoto
- RF Tsujiyama
- 1B Yoshimoto
- C Jyouno
- P Masui (#10)
- CF Oota
10:31 – First Pitch!
Masui as expected with average velocity. And Iwamoto makes a great diving catch down the 3B line for the 1st out!
Control seems okay, but not great but at least not missing in the wrong places. He gets 2 popouts and the inning is over.
On the other side, Sumida is throwing in the upper 130s and his control seems a little better right out of the gate. He does commit an error on a slow grounder back to him, but otherwise, it’s all weak grounders in the infield.
Uchino hits a liner to right center, and it clears the fence! That ball got out in a hurry and it’s 1-0 Hasami!
Masui misses on his location and Uchino takes full advantage of it. After that Hamada drives a pitch to center, and Hayakuma makes the catch right in front off the wall.
He almost gives up back-to-back homeruns, but instead he gives up a few fly balls before striking out Nakazawa to end the inning.
Hikone Higashi looking to strike back quickly though in the bottom half. Tsujiyama attacks Sumida early and singles down the 3B line. After he steals 2nd on a waste pitch, Yoshimoto draws a walk. And then on a bunt by Jyouno it’s a hard bunt past the drawn in Kawaguchi and Sumida doesn’t cover. All safe and manrui with no out!
Masui is an easy 1st out, going down on 3 straight. But still Sumida needs 2 more outs with Oota stepping in.
Oota hits a ball to right, but not that deep. Even still, Tsujiyama tags up and reaches home safely. Just like that we’re tied at 1-1.
That’s the only damage Sumida gives up, and is perhaps fortunate as they move on to the 3rd all square.
Neither team can keep a clean sheet though. Masui walks the leadoff batter, and while Nakajima can’t move the runner over, he steals 2nd instead.
Masui misses his spot again and Daisuke takes the letter high fastball to right, bringing Nakajima home and it’s a 2-1 lead for Hasami.
Sumida looked to solidify the gains made, but Hamada boots what would have been the 3rd out. Daisuke makes another mistake misreading the swing and covering 2nd when Tsujiyama inside-outs a ball the other way.
2 runners on and suddenly Hikone Higashi is about to tie it yet again.
Yoshimoto drives a ball to left with the hamakaze (RF to LF) wind in full effect. But it carries and carries, and it’s gone! Yoshimoto hits a 3-run HR to give Hikone Higashi the 4-2 lead!
Jyouno strikes out, but the game continues to go back and forth in the early stages with perhaps no signs of stopping.
Masui really wants to have a clean inning for once now that he’s been given the lead. But with 2 down Hamada doubles to left. He might give up a run again, but instead Kawaguchi ground to short ending the inning. Serve is held for now.
Sumida has a 5 pitch inning and perhaps things are stabilizing a little. Hasami would like to continue causing havoc though down 2.
Not sure I like the tack the bottom of Hasami’s lineup took down 2. There was a lot more swinging early in counts and while Nakajima had an extended AB, he like the prior 2 batters strike out.
Sumida has some help on his side with his defense putting together a clean 4-6-3 double play to send the team to the break. The advantage at this point appears to lie with Hikone Higashi though perhaps Hasami will look to use the break to regroup.
Daisuke tries to jump-start the offense immediately with a double to right center. But with 2 outs he sits at 3rd on a wild pitch. Uchino walks but there’s still 2 out.
That’s when Hamada delivers a single through the left side, bringing Daisuke home. 4-3 and can Hasami level things up? They might want to so as to gain momentum.
Kawaguchi strikes out, but the ball gets away from Jyouno! Kawaguchi reaches 1st safely and it’s manrui! Muranaka-kantoku talked about keeping the score low. Giving up 5 runs would be too much, rather preferred 2-3. Well, that’s kinda where we are now.
But with the count 3-2 Nakazawa can’t get to an inside fastball and Hikone Higashi holds onto the 4-3 lead!
Still with the lead, Hikone Higashi looked to have a response as Yoshimoto and Jyouno singled with 1-down. However, Sumida locks down the 8-9 batters like he’s done all game and gives his team a chance in the Lucky 7 to draw level.
Hasami on the doorstep again. Nakajima singles back up the middle for his first hit. With Daisuke up, he surprises the defense with a safety bunt. No one covers first and with 1 down the gyakuten runner is on base.
And now Yamaguchi correctly works the count and draws a walk! Muranaka-kantoku calling for time as now Hasami with a real threat.
Hayakuma swings on the first pitch and just puts it out of Yoshimoto’s reach in the camera well. Maybe wanting to attack the first pitch, but I would rather wait.
He’s instead looking for something to hit as the count goes 1-2. This despite being 0-3 on the day.
And he flies out to shallow center allowing no-one to tag up. 2 out and Hasami is at risk of letting the game slip away.
But instead Uchino delivers! Base hit to right brings in 2, however he’s thrown out trying to take an extra base on a throw to 3rd. 3 out and only 2 runs. His team has the lead at 5-4, but the door is still left open for Hikone Higashi.
Seiya opens that door a little more with a single to center. Asahi bunts him over.
And now Seiya takes 3rd when on a swinging K in the dirt Yamaguchi takes his time to throw to 1st. A mental error and now a base hit guarantees a tie ball game.
Instead Iwamoto hits a dribbler back to Sumida and he gets the 3rd out! Now Hikone Higashi has to find at least 1 run in the final 6 outs!
After a quick 8th, Hasami tries to get an insurance run. Sumida with another safety bunt attempt which is successful. But after a sac bunt 1st is open and Daisuke is walked.
And with both Yamaguchi and Hayakuma still hitless, Hikone Higashi chases 1 run in the bottom of the inning.
PH ace Matsui dumps a ball to shallow center for a base hit!
And now after a sac bunt, Seiya singles back up the middle putting runners at the corners.
Asahi chopper to 3rd! Matsui running on contact and Hamada has no play! Goes to 1st for out, but the game is tied at 5-5!! Sayonara runner in scoring position and now there’s a P change!
Ace Murakawa Takuya comes in for Kawaguchi and takes over on the mound. Sumida goes to RF, Uchino to LF, Tanaka to 1B.
And Takuya walks his first batter! That brings up cleanup hitter Iwamoto, but he’s hitless on the day.
But no more! It’s a single through the right side! Seiya is being waved home!! Throw in.. not in time!! Iwamoto’s only hit of the game sends Hikone Higashi to a matchup with Aomori Yamada! They win 6-5!!
It happens so suddenly, but Hasami in a bit of panic perhaps makes a change which proves fatal!
It’s hard to say if the P change was the only factor, but given that the relief starters were depended upon for the big games, it’s clear the “ace numbers” were on a must-need basis. And despite giving up the douten run, the play at first was correct, so I don’t know why you make the change then. You almost got what you wanted there, outside of an out at home.
And so it goes that despite wanting a low-scoring game, Hikone Higashi finds a way to gut out a win and move on to the 2nd round.
Hasami takes the loss well for the most part, but it has to be tough to lose in such a manner. But the 9th inning collapse is nothing new sadly and Hasami writes the most recent chapter.