(picture courtesy of Baseball King)
Road to the title
- def Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi) 10-6
- def Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) 6-1
- def Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) 6-4
- def Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) 10-4
Kouryou did exactly what I thought it might against pitchers who lacked control – jump all over them. I’m still surprised Osaka Touin’s offense couldn’t do the same to Sendai Ikuei, but that’s another story.
Their #10 Yamamoto is apparently their de facto ace, being the most effective pitchers of the staff. And while they were comfortably in the lead, all the pitchers that followed him were not that effective. Which means that they’re pitching staff could be even worse off than Tenri if he cannot go longer stretches.
Road to the title
- def Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu) 6-0
- def Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo) 2-1 (11 inn)
- def Meihou (Oita) 13-9
The crowd roared, the Meihou bench was all excited, and I had finally gotten a bit nervous as the tying run for Meihou stood on the on-deck circle. They guy who earlier that inning hit a manrui HR. Given the way homeruns were leaving the park like it was going out of style it was entirely possible that he could do it twice in the same inning.
That didn’t happen though and Tenri moves onto the semifinals – something they haven’t done since 1997, and in Natsu Koushien since 1990.
Perhaps Nakamura-kantoku wanted to see is bullpen in action without the backup of their ace and a 10-run lead was the best time to do it. But it was close to completely backfiring as Meihou went from 13-3 to 13-9.
Well, hopefully he’s learned that his relief staff is just about unusable. Or if he does use them, Usui better be on the field still to come back in. That would be one kokoyakyu strategy I think he’d better keep around instead of flat relieving him.
That also means that Tenri’s pitching staff is back to the traditional ace system for the final 2 games, which being on back-to-back days may put them in one of the worst positions of the remaining teams.
So it’s a matter of which pitching falls apart first. Both teams have proven they can punish bad pitching. Which ace will falter first?
- CF Takada Masaya (#9)
- 2B Yoshioka
- C Nakamura
- RF Murakami (#14)
- LF Kagawa
- 1B Oohashi
- 3B Matsuoka
- P Yamamoto (#10)
- SS Maruyama (#15)
- LF Miyazaki
- 2B Yamaguchi
- SS Oota
- RF Jinno
- C Shiroshita
- 1B Yasuhara
- 3B Morimoto
- CF Sugishita
- P Usui
10:03 – First Pitch!
Usui immediately gives up a single to Masaya and is bunted over. With Nakamura coming up for Kouryou I expected Nakamura-kantoku to walk him being the danger he…
WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ARE YOU PITCHING TO THIS GUY WITH A BASE OPEN??!!
Nakamura homers to center tying Kiyohara Kazuhiro’s (PL Gakuen) record of 5 HRs at a single Natsu Koushien tournament, and giving Kouryou the 2-0 lead.
And at this point I know Tenri’s in trouble, because when I thought they were being smart, they weren’t at all, and this is going to be a long game.
The game wasn’t pretty in general as both starters were running on empty.
Tenri in the bottom of the 1st, gets a Yamaguchi walk and Oota single, but can’t score.
Usui gets into trouble again in the 2nd giving up 2 singles to the bottom third of the lineup, but gets bailed out with a Masaya 6-4-3 double play. Almost the same story in the 3rd where Yoshioka singles to left, but in this case he tries to steal 2nd and is thrown out. They still pitch to Nakamura (he pops out), and thankfully for Usui a Murakami single leads to nothing.
Finally in the bottom of the 3rd Tenri gets something going. One out singles by Miyazaki and Yamaguchi but the tying runners on and then Yamamoto hangs one for Jinno, who knows what to do with it. He gaps it to right center for a triple, tying the game at 2-2.
That though starts a flurry of run-scoring as the teams go back and forth beating up on the already tired pitching.
Top 4, an error by Oota on a grounder by Oohashi comes around to score on Yamamoto’s double down the RF line.
Bottom 4, Tenri lines up 3 straight base hits with Yasuhara and Moriomoto driven by yet another triple, this time by Sugishita over Masaya to give Tenri their first lead at 4-3.
OH FOR CHRIST’S SAKE.
That ping was Nakamura breaking Kiyohara’s record as he hits his 6th HR to left, tying the game at 4-4 in the 5th.
Tenri threatened again in the bottom of the 5th with a double by Oota past a diving Matsuoka and a single to left by Nomura.
At this point, Kouryou goes to the bench and sends in Hiramoto, but not as a straight replacement for Yamamoto. Instead Yamamoto goes to 1st in reserve and Oohashi goes to LF.
With Sakashita up, Tenri tries the suicide squeeze, only for Shiroshita to pop it up, Hiramoto to catch it and double off Oota at 3rd, effectively killing the rally.
After the break, leadoff hits by Maruyama and Masaya would knock Usui out of the game as Tenri would bring in #17 Sakane as a straight sub.
Sakane, despite his best efforts couldn’t keep Kouryou off the board. A walk to Nakamura (with 1st open mind you) would load the bases. He got a comebacker to force the out at home, but new P Hiramoto would hit a single to right center giving Kouryou the 6-4 lead.
And after Tenri failed to score in the bottom of the 6th despite a leadoff double, Kouryou would add on 3 more in the 7th, expanding the lead to 9-4 and effectively ending Tenri’s chances.
Now some would argue that Tenri made it interesting in the bottom of the 9th, scoring 3 runs, and having the douten run at 1st with no out, but I’ve seen too many games to expect Tenri to come back. Not only that but Kouryou was able to bring back in Yamamoto who effectively shut down Tenri and end the game.
Tenri put themselves behind early when they didn’t need to in the 1st, doubled down on it when giving up their 2nd HR to him, and then waving the white flag by straight subbing out Usui who could not return like Yamamoto did if the relief corps struggled. Add it all together and there’s your L.
Kouryou rightly though makes the finals, but given the upcoming matchup their pitching is in very poor shape at this point. If Tenri could batter both of their pitchers on the mound, whomever they face will be able to do much worse.