Category: 89th Haru Koushien

89th Haru Koushien – Final Thoughts

89th Haru Koushien – Final Thoughts

(picture courtesy of MBS live feed)

With Osaka Touin winning the title and surprisingly the first in 5 years, there is time for final thoughts as the teams go through the final ceremony.

This year, more than any I can remember (maybe with the exception of 2006 Natsu Koushien), boiled down to pitching.

First is something that had already been known, but now is readily more apparent. Kantoku’s (at least the smart ones) are not relying on just the ace anymore. You are seeing teams that are not just carrying pitchers by name and only when things go bad, but switching to them before they do. You also saw cases where the kantoku actually benched an ace specifically to prevent overwork.

That’s great, pitchers won’t be taxed as much as they have in prior years. They’ll still go 140 pitchers or something like that when they start though.

What you’re also seeing are more teams carrying more than once ace. If you’re going to carry more pitchers that you plan on using, why not get the best?

This means that there could be a greater separation between the powerhouse teams that can pull in players, and the rest of the field. Yes, there were cases like Fukuokadai Oohori’s Miura where an ace could still carry a team, but as you saw it just takes something unexpected and things can be derailed. As time goes on, I would not be surprised to see the number of teams making Koushien decreasing as more and more teams fall behind.

It’s sad because it continues to move away from the narrative that any team can get to Koushien, and that any team can win, and that saddens me.

Yeah, the idea isn’t realistic, but the dream should still be there, should still be realistic. It’s already bad enough that I’ve seen too many games in the prefectural finals where an underdog loses a lead late to a known power because of course they’re supposed to do that.

I’ll probably have articles to write similar to the ones I wrote earlier detailing how much of the field actually goes and wins at Koushien to highlight those points, because they’re becoming more and more relevant now I think.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 12, Final – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Riseisha (Osaka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 12, Final – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Riseisha (Osaka)

(picture courtesy of 高校野球フォトアルブム)

They may seem friendly but…

Well, after the showers gave the players a day of respite, we are finally at the final, and for the media, outside of the fighting Kiyomiya’s making it, one could argue that not only can this matchup be hyped, you could also say the two best teams made it here.

Riseisha already was coming in as the Meiji Jingu winner, and defeated Osaka Touin and Waseda Jitsugyou in the fall and Nichidai-san here. They were the favorites and they’re now here in the finals looking to be the 4th team to perform the aki-natsu renzoku yuushou:

  • 1983-83 – Iwakura (Tokyo)
  • 1997-98 – Yokohama (Kanagawa)
  • 2001-02 – Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

For Osaka Touin, their road included defeating Shizuoka, Toukaidai Fukuoka and Shuugakukan. The offense looked good early, but has stalled in their more recent games when they started facing better pitching.

In theory Riseisha has the best pitcher out there, but at the same time this could be viewed as a rivalry game of sorts with Riseisha looking to challenge Osaka Touin for superiority over Osaka. Not that all the other schools in the prefecture needed it though.

Pitching has basically been the story of the tournament. Many good teams, some were beset by extra games, some were beset by poor managing, some were beset by the inability to ride out the schedule.

Takeda Yuu has risen to the occasion, however had they played yesterday there would have been major concerns about him closing the game as he had struggled in the latter innings of their semifinal. Now, Tokuyama Souma also had similar troubles, but if you can’t score you can’t win and perhaps playing on back-to-back days would have helped them. That’s out the door now and I think the advantage lies back with Riseisha on paper.

But as I said, this game you may as well take that and throw it out the window. All bets are off in front of a capacity crowd.

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara Kyouta
  • LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS Izumiguchi Yuuta
  • P Tokuyama Souma

Riseisha

  • RF Ishida Ryuuji
  • 2B Mizobe Touki
  • 3B Yasuda Hisanori
  • LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
  • 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
  • P Takeda Yuu
  • CF Tsutsui Taisei
  • C Katayama Yuu
  • SS Nishiyama Koutarou

12:32 – First Pitch!

Um, what?

Fujiwara is able to turn around an inside slider and drives it over the fence in right! Osaka Touin is already up 1-0!

1 out and Takeda walks Nakayama to bring up Yamamoto. He grounds into the 6-3 double play, but it will be interesting to see how the teams react now. Takeda’s control not quite as sharp early, and both team’s strategy should be to make the pitchers work. To what extent will be determined how they can battle at the plate.

Tokuyama already going to that outside slider. Ishida is able to hold off on it, until the count goes 3-2, and then he reluctantly goes around.

Osaka Touin is working the bottom outside corner to righties and the umpire is giving those strikes. That will not help Riseisha at all as Mizobe is frozen on a fastball that paints the corner. Yasuda gets frozen too and Tokuyama strikes out the side. Very good start for him, and Riseisha perhaps just under a little bit more pressure.

Make that more pressure. Osaka Touin’s batters are making contact on the ball. While Yamada has a routine fly to center. Fukui lines a ball that requires a fully stretched diving catch by Nishiyama.

And then on a not that bad pitch, Sakanoshita takes a letter high fastball and deposits it in the ouen-dan seats in left! It’s 2-0 Osaka Touin!

Takeda really not looking himself and Osaka Touin is having absolutely no mercy early on!

Riseisha gets it’s first base runner, but not by contact. Wakabayashi draws a hard-earned walk. Okada-kantoku will play for 1, putting him in scoring position for Takeda.

Except he too goes down on that outside slider. 2 down.

The first contact for Riseisha though does not bring the runner home. Tsutsui grounds out to 2nd and the inning is over.

But, if nothing else the 3rd shows that despite Tokuyama’s start he’s still vulnerable. He issues another walk, this time to Nishiyama with one out. The control isn’t sharp, but what they have to do is unlock that outside corner of the strike zone – which they haven’t quite done.

The 4th yields another walk, again by Wakabayashi. Hamauchi though is jammed and grounds into the 4-6-3 double play. Still more contact, and better contact.

All this while Takeda continues to settle down. Osaka Touin perhaps thinks there is blood in the water after the 2 home runs, but instead Takeda settles down and just about pitches 3 clean frame with the exception of Izumiguchi who inside-outs one past a diving Nishiyama into left center in the 5th.

But Riseisha with no base hits yet and would like to get that monkey off their backs. Takeda would just like to get on base, and almost does when a 3-2 pitch just gets a piece of the bat when he pulls it back.  Instead Tokuyama paints that corner again and it’s 1 down.

The next 2 batters quickly fly out and Riseisha still has no hits through 5 and now time is working against them.

Oh, that bottom 5 proves very costly as Fujiwara leads off the 6th, and of all things hits another letter-high fastball out to right-center for his 2nd HR of the game. 3-0 Osaka Touin and all 3 runs scored via solo HRs!

Takeda gets himself into further trouble with hits to Nakagawa and Yamada, but gets out of it. At this point the difference seems to be that Takeda may be a more polished pitcher overall than Tokuyama, Tokuyama has that slider that gives right-handed batters fits.

Is it too late? Nishiyama jumps on a fastball meant for the outside part but instead lands middle-middle and he drives it off the padding in right for a triple.

Ishida tries to hit a sac fly, but the runner doesn’t tag as Yamamoto throws home on the fly. That’s an arm.

Mizobe perhaps not wanting to hit a ball to right because of Yamamoto, instead chops one back to Tokuyama. 2 down.

With a base open and another righty on deck, Tokuyama does the right thing and walks Yasuda.

Wakabayashi up, falls behind, and once again Tokuyama clips that outside corner, this time with the slider and Riseisha’s best chance is gone.

The futility is completed in the 7th when Hamauchi gets a base hit and then Takeda hits into a double play. PH Takemura walks, but Izumiguchi makes a great pick on a ball back up the middle and completes the play at 1st.

With just 2 innings to go to get 3 runs, I don’t see a way for Riseisha to get back into this game.

A peculiar move by Osaka Touin in the 8th. Despite there being 2 down and a runner on 1st, they pitch to Yasuda anyways. You may bring the tying run to the plate with a walk, but there was no need to pitch to him and he singles through the left side. Next thing you see is Wakabayashi scooting one past a diving Yamada. Ishida scores and Riseisha is on the board, 3-1.

Before I can write my twitter reply saying Riseisha had scored Tokuyama misses with his slider and Hamauchi sends it to deep left center and it falls in. Both runners come around to score and just like that it’s 3-3!

Well, there you go. Riseisha can’t get the gyakuten run home, but the game is tied and we’re basically in sudden death.

Top 9th, Osaka Touin still trying to end it in regulation. Sakanoshita singles to right and is bunted over.

Nishitani-kantoku sees Tokuyama’s day is over and sends in #18 Nishijima to bat.

He hits an inside pitch to left, and Wakabayashi goes to the fence and looks up!

It’s gone! It’s a pinch hit 2-run HR! Just as quickly as Riseisha had tied it up, Osaka Touin retakes the lead down the home stretch! 5-3!

After that it all goes to heck. Osaka Touin’s top 4 batters go triple, single, triple, single and a tie game goes to 8-3 as Matsui replaces Takeda on the mound.

Matsui stops the bleeding there, but if down 3 was a challenge, down 5 is just impossible. Neo in relief of Tokuyama is a bit shakier than his prior games, letting 2 runners get on base, but he gets the job done with a double play and Osaka Touin wins the title with an 8-3 victory!

The game was dictated early by Osaka Touin’s no fear of Takeda. Without an out pitch to really mess with the batters, they hit him early for 2 home runs, eventually becoming 4 before being pulled. If he is to take the next step, he needs to develop some type of pitch like Tokuyama’s slider. Because that pitch frustrated batters up and down the lineups and Riseisha was no exception. Unless teams can figure out a way to combat that, there may be no limit as to how far they can go.

Riseisha unfortunately is shown that they’re still 2nd best in their prefecture. They may have made strides, but there still is a ways to go. And in the meantime, everyone else has to look out for Osaka Touin yet again.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 2 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 2 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

(picture courtesy of au News)

Run you clever boy, run.

Shuugakukan is here, probably deservedly so based upon talent, but perhaps in spite of their kantoku. There have been times when Kajisha-kantoku seems to have learned from the summer and then in recent games where it doesn’t look like he’s learned at all.

As it stands, it appears he plans to alternate each ace for each game, but I think he overestimates their ability to pitch a full 9 innings. Neither Taura or Kawabata really finished their games well, suggesting they were getting tired. What he should be doing is splitting time each game so that neither pitcher reaches that exhaustion point or ineffectiveness. Which is what he should have done last summer.

I’m not sure that against Osaka Touin he will get away with it. However, Osaka Touin was basically on a level playing field with Toukaidai Fukuoka if not for the fielding mistakes made. And that’s actually a bit concerning. Tokuyama has shown to be more effective than perhaps originally thought, but he too does suffer from some walk issues, even though he too has been walking more batters as the tournament has progressed.

This is a prove it game for Shuugakukan. They have to prove they can handle the big game properly.

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara Kyouta
  • LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS (#7) Neo Akira
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • P Tokuyama Souma

Shuugakukan

  • SS Hanjyou Touma
  • 2B (#14) Watanabe Rui
  • 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
  • 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
  • LF Yamashita Tatsuya
  • P Taura Fuminari
  • CF Fujimoto Shun
  • C Kouchi Tatsuya
  • RF Akasaka Ginjirou

13:50 – First Pitch!

Taura starting off showing he’s fine to start, gives up a single to Nakagawa, but retires Yamamoto by getting him to swing on a high fastball. It’s not going to be the start, but his finish that should concern them.

Hanjyou is also back to play today after that gnarly collision yesterday. He goes right off the bat and singles to the left side. Neo ran it down, but was too deep to realistically make the throw. He gets to 3rd, but Tokuyama pulls out the slider once again and Hirobe is all to glad to oblige.

2nd inning though and Taura runs into trouble versus the bottom of the lineup. Sakanoshita and Fukui both collect base hits to put runners at the corners. But with 2 down and Tokuyama up it’s just a weak comebacker that ends the inning.

And it continues to be Osaka Touin who has the opportunities so far. Miyazaki lines a double past a diving Hirobe. But once again Taura steps up to the occasion and retires both Nakagawa and Yamamoto to end the inning.

Oddly, it’s Hanjyou the only one with success against Tokumoto. he gets his 2nd hit in as many at bats, but it’s with 2 out in the 3rd. He tries stealing 2nd, and when I say tries, it means that they didn’t succeed.

The game settles into a pitcher’s duel with only one major chance before the break and that’s where Fujimoto and Kochi collect 2-out singles. But that leaves it to last batter Akasaka. And though Tokumoto falls behind 2-0, he eventually gets him to ground to 2nd. Side retired and it’s a 4-inning game now.

Miyazaki, leading off the 6th does what he did in the 3rd, a screamer down the 3rd base line for a double. Nakagawa bunts him over for cleanup batter Yamamoto. He gets a pop fly, but in foul territory to the 1B.

2 down and it’s looking like he’ll be stranded at 3rd. But Taura leaves a slider over the plate and he lines it to right! Akasaka charging in, dives, but it falls just in front of him! Miyazaki scores and Osaka Touin breaks the deadlock to lead 1-0!

After a walk to Sakanoshita you wonder if Taura is tiring, but he does get himself out of the inning and outside of a single to Tokuyama gets through the 7th as well.

Osaka Touin has their first misstep during Shuugakukan’s Lucky 7. One down Neo fields a grounder from Yamashita, but airmails the throw to 1st. Then Tokuyama misses on a fastball and leaves it over the plate for Taura to send to left for a single. Runners at the corners, just 1 out.

But Fujimoto pops a ball up behind home! Fukui takes a bit of a circuitous route, but makes the catch at the fence for the 2nd out. That leaves it to Kouchi to drive the douten runner home.

Instead, Tokuyama jams Kouchi and he hits a grounder up to the 2nd base bag. This time Neo doesn’t mess it up and tags 2nd for the force.

The possible back-breaker for Shuugakukan comes in the 8th. Nakagawa hits a single to right, and after a sac bunt, Taura leaves a fastball over the plate and it’s Yamada again who drives a ball to the wall in left center. Nakagawa scores and it’s 2-0.

That knocks out Taura to RF as Kawabata comes in. He strikes out the side, but again it might be too little too late.

I say might because Tokuyama is allowing baserunners, it’s just a matter of getting them home. Bottom 8th, Hanjyou gets on base. He steals 2nd and takes 3rd on a groundout.

And finally they get their break. This time Tokuyama misses his location, throws it over the middle instead of to the inside and Kimoto singles through the left side to make it a 2-1 game. Hirobe tries to keep the inning going, but chases that danged outside slider and pops out to end the inning.

Osaka Touin does nothing against Kawabata, so it’s down to the final 3 outs for Shuugakukan.

Yamashita up first, 3 pitches, 3 strikes. That danged slider again.

Taura next, grounds to short. 2 down.

Last chance in Fujmoto, nope make that #4 Takewa.

Grounder to short and we have an all-Osaka final!

Shuugakukan unfortunately fell in the manner we though it might. Kajisha-kantoku did not consider splitting time between his 2 very good pitchers who by themselves can’t get through 9. And as a result they fall short again. Kajisha-kantoku hasn’t learned and I don’t think he will.

For Osaka Touin, I think they have the same problem. Tokuyama was not as sharp late so now you have the question of how do you play the final? Do you start your ace and then go down the line? Do you try to manage the game early to steal some inning before your ace comes in? Can you really afford that in the final game?

Those questions will be answered tomorrow. There probably won’t be much planning as these teams will be very familiar with one another. It’ll all be about strategy now.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(picture courtesy of Sanspo)

You. I’ve got you.

Riseisha’s Takeda Yuu is really the real deal. Yeah, there was the game against Nichidai-san, but they were one of the more offensive powers in the tournament, so that was to be expected. But his last 2 games have been absolutely stellar, making a 1-0 lead look insurmountable to Shiritsu Kure and then being pitcher perfect through the first 6 innings against Moriokadai Fuzoku.

The offense is actually a bit concerning. In their last matchup against Moriokadai Fuzoku the team implemented a small ball strategy that lower tier teams use which is completely inexplicable because when they had to swing away they actually hit the darned ball. So it’s really shooting themselves in the foot.

Houtoku Gakuen is here mainly because Fukuokadai Oohori made a conscientious decision to sit their ace Miura, and that had to be the main reason for their loss. I do believe they have been the beneficiary of an easier schedule but you can only play who’s put in front of you.  Ace Nishigaki did not give up a run until their last game and has averaged a K per inning. But the walk numbers have slowly gone up as well, and that just won’t do here.

In addition, they have not faced an ace like Takeda, and yet in the Maebashi Ikuei game when ace Maruyama came in, the Houtoku offense shut down.

Houtoku Gakuen is probably on the back foot, but if they can survive the first couple of innings they may stand a better chance. They just might too, because Takeda isn’t starting.

Riseisha

  • RF Ishida Ryuuji
  • 2B Mizobe Touki
  • 3B Yasuda Hisanori
  • LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
  • 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
  • CF Tsutsui Taisei
  • C Katayama Yuu
  • SS Nishiyama Koutarou
  • P (#10) Matsui Hyakudai

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

11:00 – First Pitch!

Yasuda, really?

Nishigaki leaves one right over the plate and Yasuda deposits it in the first couple rows in right. 1-0 Riseisha just like that.

Matsui’s job will be to nurse the game as best he can. And if Takeda doesn’t need to take the mound all the better.

But the very first batter goes to a full count and singles past Nishiyama into center. Nagayama bunt fails to move the runner over, and then to add insult to injury Mizobe makes a great diving stop on Kataoka’s ground ball, gets the out at 1st, and then throws to 3rd where they get Nagayama who tried to take the extra base. 3rd out at 3rd. Oy.

Riseisha notches another run on it’s belt in the 2nd. Leadoff walk to Hamauchi, but no bunting by Riseisha. 2 down and Nishiyama at bat. Drives a ball to right, Okamoto under it, until he’s not! He makes a last minute leap and it’s over his head! Runner scores and it’s 2-0 Riseisha.

I mention the little things to Houtoku Gakuen, but that also applies to Riseisha.

Shinohara’s ground ball to the right side is run down by Mizobe, but his footing goes from under him and he can’t make a play. Later, Ikegami singles to center and Shinohara takes 3rd, but then the ball rolls up Tsutsui’s arm and toward right. Shinohara restarts and goes home, giving back the gift run 2-1.

Despite that Riseisha continues to pressure Nishigaki. Ishida drives a ball to center left and it’s by Nagayama for a double. Now Mizobe strikes out, but after that Nishigaki walks both Yasuda and Wakabayashi to load the bases.

Nagata-kantoku has seen enough. Ikegami comes in from 3B to pitch and #13 Hosoki takes over at 3B.

The outside corner though seems to be an engima, because on the 2-2 pitch it looks like the corner but is called ball 3. Ikegami looks like he puts it in the same place and this time he gets the punchout. 2 down.

Tsutsui pops out to Shinohara at home and for now they’re holding on.

Houtoku though is trying to do more than that. One down, top of the lineup due in the 3rd. Kozono and Nagayama square up a pair of fastballs for singles. Things get worse for Matsui when he spikes a 55-foot curveball. Both runners advance and now a base hit can give Houtoku Gakuen the lead.

Kataoka square up a ball and drives it to right, but not only is it right at Okamoto, but Kozono was not tagging up. 2 down.

No matter though because Shinohara is there again! He takes the outside fastball the other way for a base hit and Kozono scores to tie the game 2-2. Takeda starts warming up…

And he’s coming in. Matsui is PH for in the 4th which means his day is done. He gave them 3 innings, but probably could not go further.

Ikegami rudely welcomes him with a single back up the middle. He’s bunted over, though not for Okamoto, but PH (#13) Shiodzuki. Puts in a good AB, but lines out to Nishiyama.

Hosoki grounds back to Takeda to end the inning, but as you could prolly understand Takeda’s control is not quite all there to start his stint. Next inning will be a good indicator of his effectiveness.

Ikegami though threatens to throw it away. Gives up 2 two-out singles on his fastball before finally getting a routine ground ball from Hamauchi to end the inning.

Houtoku Gakuen goes in order, much to Takeda’s pleasure certainly, so we’re at the break knotted at 2. Houtoku Gakuen has held on so far, so they do certainly stand a chance in the final 4 innings, especially with Takeda not as sharp.

More small things for Riseisha, and again with Mizobe. Kantou with a ball back up the middle, Mizobe runs that one down too, but again he can’t control his slide and the ball slips away. He gets to advance to 2nd when Ikegami hits a ball slowly back up the middle. And wouldn’t you know it Nagao singles to center on the next pitch and Houtoku Gakuen has the 3-2 lead.

Riseisha suddenly finds themselves needing a run and only 9 outs to go. But the batters are struggling with Ikegami’s delivery, especially his high pitches to which they can’t square them up. Soon there’s 2 down for Yasuda and they basically put him on. Which is fine because Wakabayashi pops out.

More trouble for Takeda. Kantou takes an outside forkball the other way down the line for a one-out double. Bears down to get the final 2 outs, but Riseisha running out of time.

In fact before you know it, it’s the top of the 9th and Riseisha still trailing by 1.

#3 Shirataki to hit for Nishiyama, maybe as a last gasp with the bottom of the order up.

Instead though Ikegami leaves a ball middle-middle and Shirataki takes it to the wall in right center for a double! Douten run on base with no out! #16 Matsubara replaces him at 2nd. He’s bunted to 3rd, though that can be dangerous.

But now Ishida draws a 4-pitch walk and Nagata-kantoku calls time.

This time Mizobe shows bunt and it’s a safety squeeze. Fouls off the first one.

Does it again and somehow the defense isn’t ready! Shirataki comes home and beats the throw tying the game at 3-3!

That’s it for Ikegami as he goes back to 3rd and #10 Tsudaka takes the mound. Facing Yasuda isn’t the ideal way to enter, but with a base open (even if it’s 3rd) they’re apparently comfortable enough walking him. This to bring up Wakabayashi, who’s 1-3 on the day.

But he delivers! Liner to right falls in front of Shiodzuki and Ishida scores to make it 4-3! And still 1 down!

Hamauchi up to try and add to the lead. Instead he hits a grounder to short. Kozono home for 1, throw to 1st, oh dear…

The throw is high right from the get go and sails down the RF line. Both runners score and Riseisha has a 6-3 lead as Houtoku Gakuen melts down.

Now it’s Houtoku who has to chase, and it’s not 1, not 2, but 3 runs.

One down they do start something. Shiodzuki draws a walk and then PH #18 Yamamoto singles past Hamauchi. That turns the lineup over to Kozono, and he works the count full.

Takeda throws what looks like ball 4, but Kozono instead swings on the shoulder high pitch and pounds it through the right side! One run scores making it 6-4 and runners at the corners!

Making things worse is that Takeda isn’t really finding the strike zone. He falls behind Nagayama 3-1 with pitches that aren’t really chaseable. And then on 3-2 he grooves one that Nagayama pulls foul.

OH MY. Nagayama rips one up the middle, but it’s Mizobe! Mizobe makes the diving stop, goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st and that’s the game! After his misplays earlier, he comes through in the end to save the game!

While Riseisha celebrates in the victory, the Houtoku Gakuen players are taking it hard because Nagata-kantoku is retiring after this tournament and it’s hard to go out in this manner. And perhaps that played a little role in how the 9th turned out. Just 3 outs, 3 outs to reach the final and give their kantoku a parting gift. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Riseisha moves on, but the immediate concern is Takeda. The relief pitching was anything but and Takeda was not sharp at all. They may very well be in a bind tomorrow no matter what happens.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

(picture courtesy of Nikkei)

Osaka Touin got lucky in a sense. The first inning was so ridiculous against Shizuoka that it might have been right for the game to be tied at 6-6 after all that.  Shizuoka had the lead late, lost it, had a chance to retake it, but a very bad strategical decision cemented the game for Osaka Touin.

I totally did not expect Toukaidai Fukuoka to be the team to defeat Waseda Jitsugyou, but they jumped all over Waseda’s poor pitching, built a large lead – and still almost blew the lead late.

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as it were as they go from one offensive power to another. The bigger problem for them is that Osaka Touin’s pitching is better than Waseda Jitsugyou. Not top tier, but certainly an upgrade and could make a difference.

And given how the games have gone today, they’re gonna need a lot of help.

Toukaidai Fukuoka

  • CF Ariyasu Seima
  • 2B (#14) Ootsuru Yuuto
  • C Kitagawa Hozumi
  • LF Endou Shuuto
  • 3B Hoshino Kouki
  • 1B (#10) Sada Kensuke
  • RF (#12) Koga Takeshi
  • SS Hashimoto Naoki
  • P Yasuda Daisuke

Osaka Touin

  • LF (#8) Fujiwara Kyouta
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • CF (#7) Neo Akira
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS Izumiguchi  Yuuta
  • P Tokuyama Souma

15:04 – First Pitch!

At least Toukaidai Fukuoka’s batters are squaring up the ball. But right now they’re homing in on the fielders. Scorcher to 1st and liner back to Tokuyama.

He throws in a K for good measure and it’ll be Toukaidai Fukuoka on defense. Not like they weren’t already.

But Osaka Touin struggling a bit with Yasuda’s sidearm delivery. Two infield outs and a strikeout of his own put his team back on offense.

More decent contact from Toukaidai Fukuoka in the 2nd, but the one pitch that seems to be giving batters trouble is the slider outside, especially to the right handed batters.

It’s Yamamoto who gets the first base hit of the game, crushing a hanging slider to right for a leadoff triple. All they need is a fly ball, but Fukui chases the rising fastball and Yamada grounds out to short.

Before I can say Yasuda’s almost out of the inning, he’s actually out of the inning! Sakanoshita swings on the first pitch, gets jammed and pops out!

Toukaidai Fukuoka tries to strike back immediately. Yasuda actually collects their first base hit, a double to left center that one hops to the wall. But with 2 down, he’s stranded there when Ootsuru flies out to center.

Osaka Touin panicking a little bit? Nakagawa gets a leadoff base hit, and then Nakatani-kantoku calls for a hit-and-run on a waste pitch where Kitagawa was standing? That strike-em-out throw-em-out double play from a mile away.

In the 5th a small play immediately triggers in my mind an “uh-oh” moment. One down, Yamada with a slow grounder up the middle. Hashimoto runs behind 2nd to field it, but it glances off his glove and into right. Would’ve been a tricky play and it is rightly ruled a base hit, but he could have made that play. And with that I wonder if that will cost them later.

It does.

Yasuda doesn’t get his fastball inside enough and Izumiguchi laces it down the RF line for a triple. Yamada scores and Osaka Touin leads 1-0 before the break.

Toukaidai Fukuoka continues to get close, but no cigar. Top 6th, Ootsuru singles back up the middle and with 2 down Endou walks to put the douten run in scoring position. But with lefty Hoshino up, Tokuyama climbs the ladder instead to get the K.

The 7th may have put the game away. Yamamoto gets a leadoff single up the middle. He’s bunted to 2nd, steals 3rd, scores on Yamada’s single, 2-0 Osaka Touin.

Sakanoshita with a blooper to shallow center, Ootsuru and Ariyasu go to field it, there’s a miscommunication and it drops in. That missed out costs them because they would have been out of the inning before Tokuyama singles through the left side. As it stands, it scores Yamada to make it 3-0.

Toukaidai Fukuoka down to their last outs. 2 down they mount yet another rally. Ootsuru singles through the right side. Kitagawa draws a walk. That brings up cleanup batter Endou, who is hitless on the day, but at least is a lefty, so the slider to his inside may be out of bounds.

Uh oh! Tokuyama leaves one over the outside half and Endou drives it to deep left! Fujiwara chasing it to the wall, but can’t make the catch! Both runners score and it’s a 3-2 ballgame!

Hoshino has a chance to tie the ballgame with a base hit, but his chopper finds Yamada and they still trail.

Just when they get close, they threaten to undo their good work.

Nakagawa with a grounder to 1st, but it goes through Sada’s wickets. A base hit, sac bunt and sac fly make it 4-2.

And that’s how the game ends. Toukaidai Fukuoka fights hard, but self-inflicted wounds are what cause their demise. Small fielding mistakes late culminate in a pair of runs which turn out to be the difference.

The good news is that it looks like for at least this year Fukuoka has some good teams. Too bad only one can qualify, if either one qualifies, for the summer.

For Osaka Touin, they are one step closer to a rematch with Riseisha. Hoo boy.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 3 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 3 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

(photo courtesy of Nikkan Sports)

Shuugakukan is the second beneficiary of the replay games, moving on to facing Kendai Takasaki.

Shuugakukan barely survived against Sakushin Gakuin with the offense doing just enough and the pitching getting some assists from the Sakushin Gakuin batters who weren’t patient enough. In addition, Kajisha-kantoku may have been learning something as he replaced Taura with Kawabata when he started struggling though that was the time Sakushin Gakuin started being patient.

The thing is, Kendai Takasaki is actually in a better position than you think. In the replay game, they started a pitcher who had yet to pitch in the tournament, #13 Mukai Yoshiki. He did his job, spelling all the other pitchers with a 170 pitch complete game effort. He may have been the “break in case of emergency” pitcher as he struck out 11 and walked 7 in his effort.

The stretch run now approaches, and now without a day off between the quarterfinals and semifinals. I don’t think Kendai Takasaki will go away from the multi-pitcher approach, but I’m not sure someone like Mukai can return and spell the main pitchers once again.

Shuugakukan

  • SS Hanjyou Touma
  • 2B Takewa Ryousuke
  • 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
  • 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
  • LF (#18) Ishii Takyua
  • RF (#7) Yamashita Tatsuya
  • CF Fujimoto Shun
  • C Kouchi Tatsuya
  • P (#10) Kawabata Kento

Kendai Takasaki

  • SS (#4) Asato Jyura
  • LF Onodera Daiki
  • 1B Yamashita Kouta
  • 3B Toguchi Taisei
  • RF (#14) Takayama Ryoutarou
  • 2B (#18) Ookoshi Koutarou
  • CF Imai Yuusuke
  • P Itou Atsuki
  • C Oogaki Rentarou

13:20 – First Pitch!

WOW. That was quick. Settling down into my seat I see Takewa hit a single that goes off the end of Asato’s outstretched glove. And then Kimoto gets around on a slider inside and drives it out for a 2-run HR. 2-0 Shuugakukan just like that.

And in a weird defensive move, #9 Akasaka replaces Ishii and goes to his numbered position, Yamashita goes to LF. Huh.

Kendai Takasaki tries to strike back. Asato gets a leadoff single, steals 2nd and advances to 3rd when Hanjyou doesn’t catch the throw.

And yet, Kawabata comes back and strikes out the next 3 batters, all on the slider, stranding Asato at 3rd!

Shuugakukan adds to their lead in the 3rd when Kimoto hits a sac liner to right scoring Hanjyou who earlier hit a double. 3-0 Shuugakukan and it’s getting a little concerning.

That’s because Kendai Takasaki had been unable to do anything against Kawabata and either his fast fastball or his slider. But in the bottom half of the frame, Itou draws a leadoff walk and Oogaki hits a base hit up the middle.

But a failed sac bunt by Asato which cut down the lead runner and then a strikeout on a 141 fastball mean that they could be denied a run. Instead, Yamashita delivers a single back up the middle! Oogaki is sent home, as Fujimoto fires home. The tag is made, and Oogaki is out! He knows it too because he’s not giving a safe signal. Kendai Takasaki is denied and they still trail by 3.

The deficit continues to grow. 4th inning, 2 outs, runners on 1st and 2nd. Itou leaves one up for his counterpart Kawabata and he doubles into the large gap in right center. Both runners score and it’s 5-0 Shuugakukan. Toss in an RBI single by Hanjyou and it’s 6-0.

Then and only then does Aoyagi-kantoku send in #11 Takemoto and send Itou to RF. Kajisha-kantoku then sends in #14 Watanabe and he also doubles to the large gap in right center. 7-0.

Shuugakukan adds another run in the 6th before Kendai Takasaki gets on the board in the bottom half of the frame, almost exclusively because of Onodera. He gets a bunt base hit, steals 2nd, takes 3rd despite behind Yamashita grounding to short, and then scores on a wild pitch. 8-1.

The game is pretty much in hand, but Shuugakukan suffers a setback when a freak accident happens in the bottom of the 8th. Yamashita at 2nd, grounder to 3rd. Throw to 1st for the 2nd out, but then they throw to 3rd to try and get Yamashita. Hanjyou, covering the base, goes to make the tag, but in Yamashita’s slide he catches on the ground and lunges forward. That’s when his head, helmet and all, collides with Hanjyou’s head as he’s turning to make the tag. They make the play, but both players go down. Hanjyou has to be taken off by stretcher and will probably have to be checked for concussions (if they do that).

The final score ends up as 9-2 and Kawabata finished the game despite being shaky with his control in the final innings. I would be more confident in what Kajisha-kantoku had been doing if he has relieved Kawabata with Taura, but my only hope is that he’s alternating between pitchers each start. But I don’t think that’s a good idea either because we’ve seen Taura 2 days ago and now Kawabata faltering a bit late in the game. If he were to split time I think both would be more effective.

Sadly, I think I may have to put Kajisha-kantoku back on my list.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 2 – Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 2 – Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(photo courtesy of Yahoo)

Houtoku Gakuen has yet to give up a run so far this tournament, annihilating Tajimi and demoralizing Maebashi Ikuei though in that second game they scored 4 in the first and nothing else. But despite the fact that they seem dominating, if you exclude that first inning in the game against Maebashi Ikuei there may be signs that they could still be a bit average.

Now, normally seeing them play Fukuokadai Oohori and the grades given pre-tournament, you would think that they would have no shot. But then you take into account their run so far, which has been 3 games long and with their ace (and probably their only pitcher) Miura Ginji with the following lines:

  • Day 3 – v Soushi Gakuen – 9 IP, 149 pitches
  • Day 7 – v Shiga Gakuen – 15 IP, 196 pitches
  • Day 9 – v Shiga Gakuen – 9 IP, 130 pitches

So already, he’s pitched in 3 games and thrown 475 pitches and would be coming back on 0 days rest. In fact he would be pitching on 0 days rest until they are elminated. There is only so much he can do on the mound before the body finally gives. The question only becomes when.

But for now, it appears he will be on the bench, for how long, we don’t know.

Fukuokadai Oohori

  • SS Kubota Yuuya
  • RF Hirano Koutarou
  • C Koga Yuuto
  • 1B Higashi Reo
  • 3B Inamoto Yuusei
  • CF (#11) Nakata Keisuke
  • 2B Saitou Tomoya
  • LF Kabashima Ryuutarou
  • P (#10) Tokuwara Sera

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

11:00 – First Pitch!

For Fukuokadai Oohori the start offensively couldn’t have gone any worse. Nishigaki strikes out the side, Tokuhara retires the first batter then walks the next 2. Toss in a stolen base and a blooper to no mans land in right center and it’s quickly 1-0 Houtoku Gakuen.

That gets things moving. #8 Nishi comes in to take over on the mound and Miura is sent to warm up. He gets them out of the jam, but even if he is able to hold serve, the offense will have to do better than 5 Ks in the first 2 innings…

Unfortunately however, Houtoku’s offense gets to Nishi first. 4 In the blink of an eye the top 4 of the lineup gets base hits culminating in a Shinohara triple down the RF line, making the score 3-0 (Nagayama was thrown out going from 1st to 3rd). Ikegami singles later to make the lead 4-0.

And yet, Nishigaki almost lets them back into the game. 2 down in the 4th, he hits higashi, walks, Inamoto and then hits Nakata to load the bases. A base hit here cuts the lead in half, a walk at least scores a run.

Instead, Saitou swings on a 3-1 pitch and grounds to short. Side retired.

5th inning and things continue to happen to Houtoku Gakuen. Kabashima gets a leadoff hit and is bunted to 2nd. No big deal until Kubota hits a ball to short and Kozono just about whiffs on the ball. It trickles into the outfield and Kubota scores to make it 4-1.

Hirano walks, and is there something there for Fukuokadai Oohori?

Koga really works the count, runs it full, but just can’t check his swing and goes down. Higashi pops out early and nothing more results from it.

Houtoku Gakuen jumps on that momentum in the 5th. Nishi gives up a single to Kataoka and then a double down the line to Shinohara puts more runners in scoring position. A wild pitch and then a single brings both runners home, extending the lead to 6-1. With the break coming this should allow Houtoku Gakuen to consolidate the gains and move on to the 2nd half of the game.

Except they don’t.

Inamoto with a leadoff single. Then Saitou and Kabashima both single past a scrambling Kataoka and a run scores to make it 6-2. With only one down there’s another chance to claw back the lead. However, Nishi grounds into a double play and again an opportunity is lost.

Not only that, but when C Koga takes the mound, it’s clear Miura won’t be coming in to save them. Houtoku Gakuen adds on another run in the 6th to restore the margin at 7-2. There doesn’t appear to be a path to victory for Fukuokadai Oohori. Because getting 1 run at a time just won’t be enough. It was enough to knock out Nishigaki as 3B Ikegami took the hill, but 7-3 with 2 innings isn’t going to cut it.

The final score ends up being 8-3 for Houtoku Gakuen with Miura never having taken the mound. That’s 2 kantoku’s now that have made a conscientious decision not to start their pitchers who certainly have been overworked over the last couple of games.  Whether this is the start of a welcome trend I don’t know, but two teams have lost in part because of their principles, and you can’t fault them for that.