99th Natsu Koushien – Day 7, Game 3 – Aomori Yamada (Aomori) v Hikone Higashi (Shiga)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 7, Game 3 – Aomori Yamada (Aomori) v Hikone Higashi (Shiga)

(photo courtesy of some Au mobile page that actually doesn’t exist anymore)

Aomori Yamada (11th appearance, 1st in 8 years)

  • Location – Aomori-shi, Aomori
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 1,026 students (303 female)
  • Club Size – 94
  • Kantoku – Kabutomori Takaaki (兜森 崇朗)

Road to Koushien

  • def Namioka 11-0
  • def Kuroishi Shougyou 5-1
  • def Touoku Gijyuku 9-1
  • def Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi 5-3
  • def Hachinohe Kousei Gakuin 5-3

The last team to take the field, Aomori Yamada could finally say they’re back. Well, that’s the hope anyways. But they did defeat Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi and Kousei Gakuin so that is a definite plus.

But neither the pitching or the offense give positive vibes. Similar lines to what we’ve seen before, 9 Ks and 8 BBs in the final 2 games, and only the top third of the lineup with good production. The team as a whole batted 20-59.

Hikone Higashi

Road to the title

  • def Hasami (Nagasaki) 6x-5

Hikone Higashi needed to work to advance out of the first round, as relief starter Masui couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead and needed his offense to bail him out late. This despite the fact he struck out 9, because he walked 5 and gave up 9 more hits.

It will be interesting to see if he takes the mound again, or if they hand the ball of to their ace Matsui. But facing Aomori Yamada, there’s a possibility that they can advance to the “bracket final”, where Toukadai Sugao awaits.

Lineups

Aomori Yamada

  • 2B Aisaka
  • SS Kudou
  • 1B Akahira
  • CF Abe
  • C Fukuhara
  • 3B Saitou Koumei
  • LF Nakazawa
  • RF Shiratori
  • P Saitou Yuuta (#10)

Hikone Higashi

  • SS Hara Seiya
  • 2B Asahi
  • LF Takamura
  • 3B Iwamoto
  • RF Tsujiyama
  • 1B Yoshimoto
  • C Jyouno
  • P Hara Kousei (#10)
  • CF Oota

13:30 – First Pitch!

Well, there’s our answer, Hara Kousei starts the game in place of Masui. He’s not going to go the entire game as the prefectural games seem to indicate, so Masui will be in eventually.

I’m looking at the pitch tracker and Kousei’s pitches aren’t even registering at times. His fastball is in the upper 110s/lower 120s, but all his offspeed pitches are right around 100. As one would think Aomori Yamada is struggling with the slow speed.

Saitou has a sidearm delivery, but is upright which is interesting. And he’s getting it to the upper 130s, which is also interesting as well considering sidearmers are usually slower.

Either way, both teams are having trouble with these interesting pitchers. Question will be who can adapt better.

2nd time through the lineup and Aisaka gets Aomori Yamada’s first hit, a 1-out ringing double down the RF line. With two out, Kousei cement mixers a ball over the plate and Akahira singles to center. Aomori Yamada leads 1-0 and have they adjusted?

Not quite as Abe flies out to right. But still, the batters might be squaring it up.

Oh dear. 3rd inning comes around and things get worse. Fukuhara singles to center. Two batters later, Kousei leaves one over again and Nakazawa send it over the fence in left for a 3-0 lead. Kousei is still in, so he might have to eat more innings.

It’s going to be tough as Kousei walks 2 batters with 2 down. Kudou bunt squares up the pitch and slaps it through the left side. 4-0 now and Matsui comes into the ball game, but is it too late?

He gives up one more RBI single and it’s a 5-0 lead with Hikone Higashi looking for answers, and need to find them soon.

But instead it’s Aomori Yamada who continues to make their mark.

Or specifically Nakazawa. It wasn’t even that bad of a pitch, but he does down and drives a ball to center for a HR and a 6-1 lead. Matsui can only smile at the sight.

The 7th inning proves to be troublesome for Saitou as well. Despite getting the first 2 outs, he gives up a dribbler single to Yoshimoto. Which itself isn’t bad, those things happen. But then the next pitch Jyouno singles to right. Toss in a walk and it’s manrui!

#13 Nakai comes in to hit for Oota, and chops one in front of the plate!  Saitou fields it, throws to 1st… and just gets a diving Nakai for the 3rd out!

The pressure doesn’t stop though. In the 8th it comes one out sooner. Asahi and Takamura go back-to-back hits and Iwamoto has a chance to put Hikone Higashi on the board. Grounder to 3rd and Koumei goes for the double play. However Aisaka’s throw to 1st is high which means they only get one out. The runner from 3rd scores and it’s a 6-1 game.

Tsujiyama then hits a hard single to left and you have to wonder if Yuuta is at his limit.

He gets the groundout to 1st to end the inning, but I hope the bullpen is warming up, just in case.

Yuuta gives up a HR to left in the 9th, but closes it up for a 6-2 win.

Nakazawa helps propel Aomori Yamada into the 3rd round, but it was Saitou Yuuta’s pitching that had the Hikone Higashi batters off balance. They finally figured it out, but by then it was much too late. Not sure if he can be used against stronger opponents, but perhaps that’s why they used him here was to save the ace. We’ll see in just a couple of days.

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