99th Natsu Koushien – Day 3, Game 4 – Waseda Saga (Saga) v Seishin Ursula (Miyazaki)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 3, Game 4 – Waseda Saga (Saga) v Seishin Ursula (Miyazaki)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi)

Waseda Saga (1st appearance)

  • Location – Karatsu-shi, Saga
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 551 students (141 female)
  • Club Size – 47
  • Kantoku – Koga Kazunori (古賀 一則)

Road to Koushien

  • def Toumeikan 3-1
  • def Saga Nishi 2-0
  • def Saga Kita 3-0
  • def Saga Kougyou 9-7
  • def Tosu 6-1

Waseda Saga finally makes it to Koushien and in doing so gets past former champions Saga Kita. Most of the games were low scoring except for the final 2, which begs the question – “Which team are they?”. The performance against Saga Kita was really strong, but in the final 2 games, the pitching wasn’t as dominating despite the lesser competition. But if that’s more due to fatigue, then they could be in good shape for this inter-regional matchup.

Seishin (St.) Ursula (2nd appearance, 1st in 12 years)

  • Location – Nobeoka-shi, Miyazaki
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 349 students (186 female)
  • Club Size – 55
  • Kantoku – Odawara Hitoshi (小田原 斉)

Road to Koushien

  • def Nobeoka Shougyou 10-1 (8 inn)
  • def Tomishima 12-3 (7 inn)
  • def Nisshou Gakuen 8-4 (11 inn)
  • def Houshou 5-2
  • def Miyazaki Nichidai 5-2
  • def Hyuuga Gakuin 7-2

Seishin (or St.) Ursula has always been a seeded team, but never really made it to the top. They do it this year, with perhaps a little help from teams elsewhere in the bracket. They had a spell in the middle where they had a couple of scares, but afterwards were free and clear to take the title.

Their ace Togou Shousei has much to do with that, striking out 16 batters in 19 innings of work the final 3 games. Only problem is that he did walk 8 in the Miyazaki Nichidai game. He also walked 4 in the Nisshou Gakuen game (though he struck out 16).

I expect those strikeout numbers to go down, but the occasional control issues he has are concerning enough for one to be worried about.

In addition, the team has suffered hitting outages and depended on walks to help put runners on base (Houshou for instance they had 5 hits and 7 walks). The pitching is only going to get tougher, so that will be the elephant in the room for them.

Lineups

Seishin Ursula

  • SS Masuda
  • RF Sonoda (#11)
  • CF Miyahara
  • 1B Yano
  • LF Ukezeki
  • 3B Yanagida
  • 2B Uemura (#10)
  • C Akagi
  • P Togou

Waseda Saga

  • CF Kawamoto
  • RF Utsunomiya
  • LF Kobe
  • 3B Urabe
  • P Anzai (#11)
  • 1B Yamamoto
  • C Sakamoto
  • 2B Suzuki
  • SS Kondou

16:05 – First Pitch!

1st Inning

It’s pretty much quiet on both sides though Togou does issue a walk. Even still I’m surprised to see his slider at the high 110s when his fastball goes at the low 140s.

2nd Inning

So Yano gets on thanks to a slow roller that he beats out Anzai to the bag. Ukezeki then hits a ball off of Masuda for another base hit. The runners are bunted over and a base hit can score 2 right off the bat.

Instead it’s a squeeze!

Uemura lays it down and Anzai has to go to 1st! It’s 1-0 Seishin Ursula!

I think about it, and I think that’s the first squeeze I’ve seen from any team!? Boy have things changed in the last couple of years.

3rd Inning

While both aces have almost kept the game scoreless there’s a difference between the two. Namely that if Togou want to hit the strike zone, he can generally catch the edges, or at least enough that the batters feel like they have to swing.

On the other side for Anzai he’s getting swings and misses even though he’s missing the target.

4th Inning

Those misses come home to roost for Anzai. 2 down, runner on 1st, he leaves a slider just enough over the plate for Yanagida to inside out it down the left field line for a double.

Uemura up again and he scorches a ball that goes off Urabe’s glove and down the 3B line. Both runners score and Uemura comes through again to make it 3-0.

Ace Morita comes into the game pushing Anzai to 1st. However he can’t stop the bleeding immediately. Araki singles up the middle to make it 4-0, and then a self-inflicted wound when Sakamoto can’t get up quick enough on a high pitch and it goes to the backstop. Uemura comes home and it’s 5-0.

All the while Togou churns along. Baserunner gets on due to an error, but otherwise Waseda can make no headway.  He strikes out Morita, but the error costs him 7 more pitches.

5th Inning

Waseda Saga finally gets their first hit when Suzuki’s comebacker goes off Togou’s glove. Things get a little dicier with 2 down when Kawamoto hits a hard single back up the middle. But a slider on the outside edge is the remedy to get him out of the jam.

They might be able to say they avoided a no-hitter, but the shutout is another matter altogether.

7th Inning

Out of nowhere Waseda Saga blitzes Togou. First Morita gets Waseda’s first leadoff runner with a base hit.

Then, not only does Sakamoto pull back his bunt and paperboy a hit through the infield, but then Suzuki does the same thing. Togou, seeing bunt gives them a pitch to give themselves up on, but instead they turn it around for base hits! Morita scores on Suzuki’s paperboy and the shutout is averted at 5-1. Worse yet, the throw goes home allowing both runners to advance.

It gets a bit disturbing though when PH #14 Kasugai’s grounder to 1st is misplayed. Seishin Ursula should give up the run for an out but Togou is late to cover first and they give up the run and fail to get the out! 5-2 and Seishin Ursula needs to be very careful about letting this spiral out of control.

They still have the 3 run lead, and giving up one more run to get an out is still the right play. Togou should still pitch normally.

And he does. To the point he doesn’t even give up another run.

  • Strikes out Kawamoto on slider.
  • Utsunomiya goes after a high slider and pops it up.
  • Kobe strikes out swinging chasing a slider down and in.

8th Inning

Another leadoff single for Waseda Saga and Urabe. Anzai shows bunt, but this time it’s a pitchout! Waseda Saga called for the bust-and-run and Anzai has no chance to make contact! Throw to 2nd and they gun down Urabe killing the rally!

9th Inning

Leadoff single for Sakamoto again, Suzuki showing bunt, but Seishin Ursula already smelling it out pitch him normally.

And as if it was practice, Suzuki hits a ball back to Togou who turns around and executes the textbook 1-6-3 double play.

Kasugai strikes out swinging, and that’s that.

For 6 innings Togou dominated play. And for a split second it seemed that it might unravel. But perhaps in a “cool” manner, Togou doesn’t lose his and shuts down each subsequent attempt by Waseda Saga to make a comeback. Seikou Gakuin is going to be a challenge, but I have a feeling they might be up for it.

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