99th Natsu Koushien – Day 5, Game 2 – Nihon Bunri (Niigata) v Naruto Uzushio (Tokushima)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 5, Game 2 – Nihon Bunri (Niigata) v Naruto Uzushio (Tokushima)

(photo courtesy of Tokushima Shinbun)

Nihon Bunri (9th appearance, 1st in 3 years)

  • Location – Niigata-shi, Niigata
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 910 students (329 female)
  • Club Size – 104
  • Kantoku – Ooi Michio (大井 道夫)

Road to Koushien

  • def Niigata Dai-ichi 9-0
  • def Shibata 5-0
  • def Niigata 10-0
  • def Maki Sougou 10-3
  • def Hokuestu 7-2
  • def Chuuetsu 6-4

Nihon Bunri has had spurts of success, and by I mean success, I mean success. In 2009, not only did they win their first Natsu Koushien game, they were within 1 base hit of one of the most incredible 9th inning comebacks in history. 5 years later they reached the semifinals losing 5-0 to eventual runner-ups Mie.

They’ve disappeared off the map since then, but now they’re back. But is this a year where they’re one and done? Or is this one of those special teams?

Well, there’s ace Inagaki who in the 9th inning against Hokuetsu gave up 2 hits, walked 1 and struck out 3. Yes, 3. And then against Chuuetsu goes 7.2 IP striking out 7 and walking 1.

It looks like there might be something there with him, but it could be volatile as well. They do have some other pitchers available that they use, but Inagaki is their main guy.

The offense in the Chuuetsu game was helped out by 9 walks, almost all of them given to the top of the lineup. I will be interested to see how they play today.

Naruto Uzushio (7th appearance, 1st in 9 years as Naruto Kougyou)

  • Location – Naruto-shi, Tokushima
  • Public school
  • Student Body – 680 students (305 female)
  • Club Size – 60
  • Kantoku – Mori Kunio (森 恭仁)

Road to Koushien

  • def Anan Tousen 12-2
  • def Tomioka Nishi 11-1 (5 inn)
  • def Kawashima 4-1
  • def Itano 6-0

Naruto Uzushio breaks up a string of 5 straight appearances by Naruto, though as you can see from the games played they weren’t the ones who eliminated them.

In fact, Naruto Uzushio played no one of note, which makes projecting their players and performance to Koushien very difficult. I would probably say that their numbers would be penalized severely for facing no competition and as a result will make it very hard to project a win for them in this matchup.

Lineups

Nihon Bunri

  • CF Iida
  • 2B Terasoma
  • RF Kawamura
  • LF Matsuki (#3)
  • 1B Nagata (#13)
  • SS Kasahara
  • C Makita
  • P Suzuki (#18)
  • 3B Horiuchi

Naruto Uzushio

  • CF Toyohisa
  • 2B Yokooka
  • SS Noguchi
  • 1B Sasada
  • C Matsuzaki
  • RF Oku
  • P Kawano
  • 3B Sumie
  • LF Yokote

12:35 – First Pitch!

Kawano is reported to have a slider, fork, cutter and curve. But it doesn’t take too long for Nihon Bunri to get their first hit as Terasoma sneaks one under Sumie’s glove for a base hit.

PING.

Ah, there we go. There’s little doubt from Kawamura’s swing where that ball is going. LCF stands and a 2-0 lead.

Things get worse for Kawano when he allows two more base hits and a walk to load the bases. Fortunately for him that means he’s at the bottom of the Nihon Bunri lineup and might have a chance to get out of it.

Sanshin. Sanshin.

And there you go,

Nihon Bunri going with relief starter Suzuki, and from what I’m seeing I think he’s just there to eat innings. I mean, he throws hard, but the location I’m not that impressed with. Still, he gets a 1-2-3 opening frame.

2nd Inning

Well, there goes this game.

Single, walk, walk loads bases for Kawamura who hit that 2-run HR. Oh great.

And instead of perhaps taking a walk, he takes a letter high pitch down the RF line for bases clearing triple 5-0.

Then a double from Matsumoto also down RF line makes it 6-0.

Oh, and Kasahara hits a 2-run HR to center. 8-0.

Makita’s single knocks out Kawano.

3rd Inning

Suzuki finally ate all the innings he could. After giving up a leadoff single and a walk, he’s pulled for #11 Shinya.

Unfortunately on the very first play, Yokote’s bunt is thrown away and Suzue scores, making it 7-1.

Tomohisa then hits a grounder off of Horiuchi, but Kasahara is in the right place to barehand it and fire to 1st for the out. Sumie scores to make it 7-2.

4th Inning

Nihon Bunri is trying to nurse the game through the middle innings, but the defense isn’t really helping out at all.

After a nice pickoff at 1st and 2 outs, Oku singles, and then Suzue singles, but the throw in from Iida is so poor that Oku is allowed to score. That and Suzue takes 2nd. 7-3.

Throw in a wild pitch and Suzue moves to 3rd.

Shinya’s day ends after he walks Sumie and they finally move to ace Inagaki.

And that doesn’t get off to a good start as he hits Yokote loading the bases for leadoff hitter Toyohisa.

But they get a grounder to 1st, Inagaki covers first just in time to get the 3rd out.

Rest of game

It’s fairly clear that Nihon Bunri is going to win this game though they probably didn’t need the extra 2 runs they scored to make it 9-3.

However Inagaki, who I wondered if he was an ace in the hole, really isn’t. He put together 3 zeroes, but the counts went deep and in the 6th they might have scored if not for baserunning outs.

In the 8th Naruto finally gets to Inagaki, with 3 base hits and a walk to make it 9-4. A triple and a groundout made it 9-5 and that’s where the game ended.

Naruto Uzushio was probably outmatched in this game and did well to get where they were. At the same time, Nihon Bunri may have advanced, but the hitting went fairly silent after the 2nd inning and the pitching was passable at best. If they’re trying to bridge a way to Inagaki, I’m not sure they can.

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