99th Natsu Koushien – Day 5, Game 3 – Hokkai (Minami Hokkaido) v Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 5, Game 3 – Hokkai (Minami Hokkaido) v Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi)

Hokkai (38th appearance, 3rd consecutive)

  • Location – Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido
  • Private school
  • Student Body -1,252 students (588 female)
  • Club Size – 94
  • Kantoku – Hirakawa Atsushi (平川 敦)

Road to Koushien

  • def Sapporo Yamanote 9-0
  • def Sapporo Minami 11-5
  • def Hokushou 11-4
  • def Hakodatedai Yuuto 2-1
  • def Sapporo Ootani 11-4
  • def Toukaidai Sapporo 6-5

Hokkai has some quality wins, with all 4 games in the main prefecturals against teams who are strong in the prefecture. However, the games were not clean victories by any means which put up some red flags. Not only that, but the main pitchers for Hokkai were their outfielders Sakaguchi and Tama. I’m always concerned when your #1 doesn’t pitch at all.

Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)

  • Location – Kobe-shi, Hyogo
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 802 students (0 female)
  • Club Size – 106
  • Kantoku – Suzuki Yoshirou (青木 尚龍)

Road to Koushien

  • def Himeji Kougyou 8-0
  • def Yamasaki 13-0 (5 inn)
  • def Amagasaki Nishi 10x-0 (5 inn)
  • def Shouyou 9x-2 (7 inn)
  • def Kansai Gakuin 1-0
  • def Houtoku Gakuen 2-1
  • def Akashi Shougyou 4-0

It is surprising that in the home of Koushien stadium, Hyogo hasn’t had much success as of late at Koushien, never mind the fact that they’re still considered a metropolitan prefecture.

The scores are impressive on the runs given up in the final 3 games, but the pitching is all pitch to contact which is always a concern. So too is the lack of offense.

I would say Hyogo would have the advantage here, but we could be seeing a reverse of the Sendai Ikuei/Takikawa Nishi problem. Even still, I think at best Hokkai would have a slight advantage.

Lineups

Hokkai

  • CF Suzuki Yamato
  • SS Fuse (#16)
  • 1B Kawamura
  • C Satou (#12)
  • RF Watanabe (#2)
  • LF Inoue (#17)
  • P Sakaguchi (#7)
  • 3B Takemoto
  • 2B Suzuki Seiya

Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku

  • 2B Gotou
  • 3B Kurihara
  • LF Morita
  • C Inoda
  • 1B Kataoka
  • CF Taniguchi
  • RF Oomaru
  • SS Tabuchi
  • P Okano

15:35 – First Pitch

1st Inning

As perhaps feared, Hokkai has one of the quickest first innings I’ve seen. And I’m wondering immediately what will happen in the bottom half on the inning.

Not much Sakaguchi can do on Gotou’s high chopper up the middle for a base hit.

But while he does get out of the inning with no damage, both Morita and Inoda put really good bat on the ball.

2nd Inning

It looks like there is a directive for Hokkai’s batters to attack early in the count. Satou singles on a 1-1 pitch, and after a wild pitch and sac bunt, Inoue singles the first pitch back up the middle, scoring Satou and giving them the 1-0 lead.

3rd Inning

Hm, early on all the traffic is one way as Hokkai extends the lead.

A bunt single, an error by 1B Kataoka on the throw on Fuse’s groundball and then later a plunking of Satou load the bases.

Watanabe singles to center bringing in 1, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku finally are able to send a volley back on their own. 2 out, runner on 2nd after a bunt, Morita comes through with a single to center making it 2-1.

Inoda continues the inning with a shot through the left side, but Kataoka golfs a ball to center to end the inning.

4th Inning

The tide might have started turning because in the 4th Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku brought pressure to bear. Oomaru with a liner over short, then Tabuchi single to left, and then Okano presses the defense with a push bunt that Kawamura fails to field cleanly. The bottom of the lineup loads the bases for the top of the lineup.

Except Gotou strikes out on an outside fastball.

And here’s the switch. Sakaguchi gives way for Tama.

And Tama gets the grounder he needs. Fuse goes the short way and Hokkai holds their 2-1 lead!

6th Inning

The teams had been quiet, that was until the 6th.

PING.

Taniguchi on the first pitch in the 6th takes Tama out to left center, and we’ve got a new ball game at 2-2!

Kobe Kousaidai Fuzoku pushes and threatens to take the lead. Kuroda walks and presses to 3rd on Gotou’s single. However, Kurihara swings on the first pitch an d grounds to short.

7th Inning

Hokkai puts the game in motion themselves in the Lucky 7. Yamato gets on with a one-out single back up the middle. Then makes a heads-up running play.

Fuse hits a grounder to the gap in left. Tabuchi makes a great stop and tries the jumping throw. But the throw is late and wide. Yamato doesn’t break stride and heads straight to 3rd without a throw.

Kawamura then hits a ball to the left side, and it’s a contact play. Tabuchi bobbles the ball, then throws high to 1st. Everyone’s safe, the run scores and Hokkai retakes the lead at 3-2!

Satou hits another grounder to the left side, and while Tabuchi tries to start the double play, they only get the runner at 2nd. Fuse scores, and Hokkai reestablishes the 2-run lead at 4-2.

Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku looks for a response in their half. Morita doubles to the wall in right center. Araki singles to right, but Morita has to hold up on a great throw in.

But Taniguchi is up again.

PING.

NO WAY. NO F******* WAY!

HE DID! HE ACTUALLY DID!

On back to back at-bats in back-to back innings, Taniguchi hits a homerun to tie the game and then a 3-run home run to take the lead!! 5-4 Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku!

8th Inning

AND YET!

Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku might just give back the lead!

Runner on 1st 2 out, a wild pitch and I give the second a passed ball move the runner all the way to 3rd! #16 Ujike comes to try and deliver the timely hit…

But strikes out! He chases a splitter in the dirt for strike 3!

9th Inning

Last ups for Hokkai, but Hanamura shuts the door striking out 2 of the last 3 batters to give Kobe Kousaidai Fuzoku their first Natsu Koushien win!

And I have to say that this was the most entertaining game played so far, mostly because each of the teams were in it and when one side scored, the other had a response. It wasn’t a pitcher’s duel, but it was an even game that one man, Taniguchi Yoshiki carried his team to victory.

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