99th Natsu Koushien – Quarterfinals, Game 1 – Sanbonmatsu (Kagawa) v Toukaidai Sugao (Nishi Tokyo)

99th Natsu Koushien – Quarterfinals, Game 1 – Sanbonmatsu (Kagawa) v Toukaidai Sugao (Nishi Tokyo)

(photo courtesy of Sankei)

Sanbonmatsu

Road to the title

  • def Shimonoseki Kokusai (Yamaguchi) 9-4
  • def Nishogakushadai Fuzoku (Higashi Tokyo) 5-2

Sanbonmatsu pulled off (at the time) one of the biggest upsets out there making clock-like work of the Higashi Tokyo champions. Part of that was Nishogakushadai Fuzoku’s own doing, letting ace Satou throw a ridiculously low 87 pitches. But on the other side, Sanbonmatsu played with no fear facing a perennial team from the big city. They played their game, took advantage of their opponent’s tendencies and here they are. Which is great, but now they have to face their “brother” as it were.

For a spot in the Best 4, Sanbonmatsu will have to effectively slay the entirety of Tokyo prefecture…

Toukaidai Sugao

Road to the title

  • def Takaoka Shougyou (Toyama) 11-1
  • def Aomori Yamada (Aomori) 9-1

With the prohibitive favorite (at least fan favorite if nothing else), eliminated, the door is not only wide open, it’s been blown open by C4.

To that extent, Toukaidai Sugao, having defeated Nichidai-san and Waseda Jitsugyou in the prefecturals have basically laid waste to those that have stood before them. That’s about as much as you can do. They’ve been in control, and at no point have I thought that the team has been in trouble. So until they prove me otherwise, they’ve got to be considered one of the front-runners for the title now.

Lineups

Sanbonmatsu

  • LF Ookubo
  • 2B Tada
  • P Satou
  • 1B Morita
  • RF Kawasaki
  • C Watanabe
  • CF Uragami
  • 3B Shimochi
  • SS Kuroda

Toukaidai Sugao

  • SS Tanaka
  • RF Matsui
  • 2B Kodama
  • 1B Katayama
  • 3B Okuyama
  • LF Satou
  • CF Ushiyama
  • C Shikakura
  • P Matsumoto

08:00 – First pitch!

Oh no…

Bottom 1st and Toukaidai Sugao continues crushing dreams.

PING.

After a Matsui single, Kodama goes the other way and hits the netting in right center for a 2-run HR. Throw in a double from Katayama that hits the wall in left center and another past a diving Shimochi down the 3B line and by the time the 1st inning is over Toukaidai Sugao has the 3-0 lead.

Boy, that’s gotta be demoralizing for Sanbonmatsu.

And they’re trying the best they can, fighting the way they know how but…

PING.

Satou drives a 2-run HR around the LF pole for a 5-0 lead. This after ace Satou had picked off a runner at 1st and had his defense hold Katayama at 3rd after a triple…

There isn’t much else to write. Sanbonmatsu continues to fight, but doesn’t score a run until the 8th. By then Toukaidai Sugao had scored 4 more runs, 2 of them via their 3rd HR of the day from Matsui. The final score is 9-1 and Toukaidai Sugao is looking more and more like an unstoppable force.

For Sanbonmatsu, beating one Tokyo team was impressive, beating 2 perhaps impossible. But they can at least say that they were in the Best 8 and that for one day they were on top of the world. Can’t beat that feeling.

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 4 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 4 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

(photo courtesy of Gunosy)

 

Osaka Touin

Road to the title

  • def Yonago Shouin 8-1
  • def Chiben Wakayama 2-1

I was not expecting a close game here too. Osaka Touin’s generally strength in offense combined with Chiben Wakayama’s general dearth in pitching in recent years would have equated to an easy win.

It wasn’t.

Chiben Wakayama outhit Osaka Touin, struck out more batters than Osaka Touin, but unfortunately was wilder than Osaka Touin – as a wild pitch brought home the winning run. So what now? Where does this put them? Are they still a title contender? It would behoove them to put a good showing on here to allay their fans’ fears.

Sendai Ikuei

Road to the title

  • def Takikawa Nishi 15-3
  • def Nihon Bunri 1-0

I did not expect to see the game I did between Sendai Ikuei and Nihon Bunri. A game bereft of any action, and the only run scored was due to a passed ball and a groundout – a complete contrast to their first game. Good in the sense that they could play a close low-scoring game, but bad in the sense that they were basically stymied by arguably a so-so team.

Osaka Touin is not a so-so team though…

Lineup

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara
  • LF Yamamoto
  • 1B Nakagawa
  • RF Neo (#10)
  • C Fukui
  • 3B Yamada
  • 2B Sakanoshita
  • SS Izuguchi
  • P Kakigi (#11)

Sendai Ikuei

  • SS Nishimaki
  • 3B Suzuki
  • LF Yamada
  • CF Sagawa
  • RF Sugiyama
  • C Hirobe
  • 1B Maeda
  • 2B Saitou
  • P Hasegawa

16:45 – First Pitch!

(I was half awake just spending the energy I had left watching the game, but believe me there is a LOT to go over)

So the game early on was to be honest a lot of nothing. Neither team really having any success offensively, and the pitching not only wasn’t overly dominating, but they were missing the gloves on a fairly consistent basis.

Osaka Touin had a chance in the 4th with a leadoff double, but then there were 3 straight groundouts to 2nd. Maebashi Ikuei had a leadoff single in the 5th,  but after a sac bunt the 8-9 batters were up and did nothing.

There was some concern in the bottom of the 7th when on a grounder by Hirobe, he and 1B Nakagawa had a collision at the bag. The online feed cut out with him still on his knees, but by the time the commercials were over things seemed fine.

And boy were things fine because Yamamoto hit a double down the LF line with one out in the 8th. And the aforementioned Nakagawa hit a soft liner to left bringing him home for a 1-0 lead for Osaka Touin!

Bottom of the 8th and Sendai Ikuei has to find a run somewhere in the final 2 innings when they’ve done nothing for 7.

But there was a flicker of hope when PH Sutou singled with one out. But PR Katou would be thrown out at 2nd for the 2nd out. Relief starter Kakigi would get himself into trouble with a walk and a hit batter and perhaps he’d be relieved.

He wasn’t though and Suzuki hit a single through the left side! Hasegawa was being waved around! The throw in from Yamamoto comes in plenty of time and the inning is over!

Bottom of the 9th now, Osaka Touin still holding onto the 1-run lead.

Again 2 quick outs from Kakigi.

But then Sugiyama singles to center. And Hirobe walks… This feels like last inning. Perhaps Kakigi should be relieved.

He’s not and Wakayama steps in.

He hits a grounder to short, and the throw to first ends the game!

SAFE!

The 1st base umpire calls safe! He calls Nakagawa as off the bag! But how? Why?

There’s no replay as the game quickly continues.

With Katou up the camera from the 1B stands shows for a split second. I see the LF playing in.

My immediate thought was “that outfield is too far in”.

And on the next pitch Katou lines a ball to left center, splitting the drawn in defense and ending the game as Sendai Ikuei walks off 2-1 in stunning fashion.

But as they celebrate, the question still begs, what happened at that play at 1st?

I thought perhaps Nakagawa was celebrating the win too early and left the bag. There didn’t seem to be another explanation.

But then comes the .gif of the camera angle that shows Nakagawa off first. And then someone on twitter posted the collision in the 7th and it all comes together in a flash.

In all likelihood, that collision at first led Nakagawa or Nishitani-kantoku to tell him to keep the foot at the edge of the bag instead of directly on it to avoid injury.

And probably in the final play, he just so happened to miss the edge of the bag. So perhaps if not for that play in the 7th, it would be Osaka Touin that moves on, not Sendai Ikuei.

And that’s a real crushing way to lose. People know of my disdain for Osaka Touin, but if they win they win, and that’s how it goes. But to lose when you should have won by any stretch of the imagination? That really hurts, and you could see it on the faces of the Osaka Touin players. They’re not immune to the pain of the summer ending, and perhaps the pressure of being at Osaka Touin exacerbates it even more.

It’s a tough way to learn the lesson for sure…

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 3 –  Kouryou (Hiroshima) v Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 3 – Kouryou (Hiroshima) v Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi)

Kouryou

Road to the title

  • def Chuukyoudai Chuukyou 10-6
  • def Shuugakukan 6-1

Kouryou looked much better on the mound against Shuugakukan, though it could be argued Shuugakukan’s offense wasn’t all that good. And their offense struggled until Taura came in and then all heck broke loose. Do they then expect to just force the opposing team to the bullpen and win that way? Though I suppose if a team doesn’t have a backup they hope that pitcher falls apart.

Seikou Gakuin

Road to the title

  • def Okayama Sanyou 6-0
  • def Seishin Ursula 5-4

Seikou Gakuin should be sprinting here like they stole one, because they did. In a spate of game decided by errors, their game against Seishin Ursula was decided on a passed ball. Otherwise, relief starting Maeda did not work. And if Kouryou’s idea is to get to the weaker parts of the pitching staff, Seikou Gakuin better hope that Saitou can go start to finish because Seishin Ursula has shown that they’re more than vulnerable.

Lineups

Kouryou

  • RF Takada Masaya
  • 2B Yoshioka
  • C Nakamura
  • LF Kagawa
  • CF Satou (#13)
  • 1B Oohashi
  • 3B Matsuoka
  • SS Maruyama (#15)
  • P Hiramoto

Seikou Gakuin

  • LF Matsumoto
  • 2B Yabuki
  • SS Segawa
  • 1B Yaginuma
  • RF Nihira
  • CF Komizunai (#17)
  • 3B Oohira
  • C Satou Kouichi
  • P Hirano (#11)

13:50 – First Pitch!

Seikou Gakuin going to Hirano Savi for the start today. Perhaps to manage the gaem as he gets into early trouble giving up singles to Yoshioka and Kagawa. Not only that but uncorking a wild pitch as well.

PING?

Segawa gets around on an inside fastball and turns it around to left! It’s gone! And just like that Seikou Gakuin has the 1-0 lead!

Kouryou though, makes more inroads against Hirano. An Oohashi walk comes around to score when Maruyama hits one to the center field wall. He in turn is brought in by a Takada timely single to center, giving Kouryou the 2-1 lead.

Seikou may have scored first, but it’s their relief starter Hirano that in trouble longer-term.

Kouryou looks to score again in the 3rd when Nakamura splits the defense to the right center-field wall. But he gets bailed out when after a walk Oohashi lines into a double play to end the inning.

And as for Hirano, his day is done after 3 innings. #15 Satou Yuuhei comes in to hit for him in the bottom half of the inning. 2 runs given up, but it could have been worse.

#13 Hotta comes into the game and proceeds to shut down Kouryou’s offense in the 4th. Chances are he’ll stay around until his next AB when he will be pinch hit for too.

Seikou Gakuin has a chance to draw level in the 4th when Segawa drew a leadoff walk. However, in trying to steal 2nd, Nakamura guns him down. Which is unfortunate as Yaginuma doubles to right center. In addition he gets stranded at 3rd which means they’re still behind.

Kouryou gets one more chance at Hotta. Takada hits a leadoff single. After that it’s trading outs and of all things, hit batters. So after a sac bunt, Nakamura is hit. After Kagawa grounds out to 1st, Satou is hit.

But continuing the trend Oohashi grounds out, Kouryou doesn’t score, and Hotta will be pinch hit for next inning in theory.

PING.

That sound is Kouryou’s lead evaporating as Satou hits a douten HR to left.

And as expected, Hotta is PH for and ace Saitou Fumiya will come in next inning. Meanwhile, PH Koizumi singles to left.

The shoe seems to be on the other foot now as Matsumoto singles past a diving Maruyama and it’s Hiramoto who’s in trouble now.

With a stolen base the infield comes in, but that comes back to bite them as Yabuki singles past a diving Yoshioka. Both runners score and Seikou Gakuin has a 4-2 lead.

Post break and ace Saitou is in the game. 2 quick outs and you get the feeling that Kouryou is in deep trouble.

But then Yamamoto singles to right center. Takada singles through the left side.

Yoshioka hits a chopper back to Saitou, but he drops the ball! Has to go back to get it and it’s all safe! That should have been the 3rd out.

But instead Nakamura reaches out and pokes a ball past a diving Segawa! 2 runners come in to score and the error costs Seikou Gakuin the lead!

Kouryou though cannot take the lead as Kagawa’s comebacker is stopped dead in its tracks by Saitou and he makes the putout at 1st. Still, for now it’s a new ballgame!

Seikou Gakuin perhaps had a chance in the 8th inning with a leadoff walk, but Nihei’s bunt dies right in front of home. Nakamura rifles a ball to 2nd for one, relay to 1st in plenty of time for a double play.

And just when Kouryou looks to get the 3rd out, Oohashi makes a great play on a grounder only to throw it away at 1st because he can’t get back to the bag in time. And while Yamamoto gets the 3rd out it does cost him in terms of pitch count.

Top 9th, Yoshioka hits a grounder to Segawa, but he boots the ball! Leadoff runner on for Kouryou!

PING.

Nakamura is barely out of the batters box and he’s raising his fist. That ball is long gone, he has his 4th HR of the tournament, and more importantly, Kouryou has the 6-4 lead!!

Seikou Gakuin has no further response and winds up falling 6-4. It’s too bad because their strategy had been working so well. But perhaps some humility was needed to say, “We shouldn’t pitch to Nakamura”, because he’s been carrying the team on his back and you can’t let him beat you.

But he did.

So the final scenes of Seikou Gakuin is one of sadness as the players, especially ace Saitou cry at he end of their summer. Though, if their record is anything to indicate, the next iteration will be here once again.

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 2 – Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma) v Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 2 – Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma) v Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi)

Hanasaki Tokuharu

Road to the title

  • def Kaisei (Shimane) 9-0
  • def Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Ishikawa) 9-3

One more game has passed, and the story stays the same. Dominated opponents, bottom of lineup struggling, pitching doing enough to win. So the question will be now that they’re arguably facing the best competition in this bracket, how will they fare? I don’t think the bottom of the lineup can be totally ineffective and the team be successful.

But outside of that and asking the pitching to completely dominate, they’ve done all they’ve been asked to do. The question is, is it good enough for the Best 8?

Maebashi Ikuei

Road to the title

  • def Yamanashi Gakuin (Yamanashi) 12-5
  • def Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) 3-1

In hindsight, looking at the matchup with Meitoku Gijyuku the result could have been predictable. Meitoku Gijyuku already wasn’t that known for their offense, so having a pitching staff like theirs, even if not dominating, could still cause them fits (because most teams don’t have even 1 guy who can throw 140).

Hanasaki Tokuharu will be yet another test, and as I put in my review the main team to advance out of this bracket. Will their pitching once again rise to the occasion?

Lineups

Hanasaki Tokuharu

  • CF Tachioka
  • 2B Chimaru
  • LF Nishikawa
  • 1B Nomura
  • C Sunaga
  • 3B Takai
  • RF Ogawa
  • P Sunawaki (#10)
  • SS Iwase

Maebashi Ikuei

  • P Maruyama (#8)
  • 2B Horiguchi
  • C Tobe
  • 3B Iijima
  • CF Minagawa (#1)
  • LF Yoshizawa
  • 1B Koike
  • RF Iidzuka
  • SS Kurosawa

10:58 – First Pitch!

Maebashi Ikuei doesn’t even really get a chance to settle in before Hanasaki Tokuharu rocks the apple cart.

Chimaru doubles over Iidzuka. Nishikawa triples over Yoshizawa for a 1-0 lead.

Nomura with another double to right makes it 2-0.

After a four-pitch walk to Sunaga, the hit parade continues as Takai singles home Nomura for a 3-0 lead. Throw in a fielder’s choice and the damage all in all is 4 runs.

Hanasaki Tokuharu gifts one of those runs back in the bottom half of the 1st. Leadoff walk to Maruyama, bunted to 2nd, and Sunawaki throws it away allowing Maruyama to score. 4-1.

Tag on another run for Maebashi Ikuei in the 2nd. Yoshizawa laces a ball down the right field side and hustles it out for a triple. Koike grounds out to 2nd, bringing him in for a 4-2 game.

And while they get out of the inning, a bunt single by Iidzuka that causes Sunawaki and Nomura to collide show that the defense right now is eating a struggle sandwich.

Apparently the answer to a struggling defense is more offense. So that’s what they get. First 3 batters in 3rd reach safely, and two batters later Sunawaki brings one home on a single. 5-2.

Then in the 5th Tachiok awalks, Chimaru singles, and Nishikawa doubles bringing in the two ahead of him. 7-2 and Maebashi Ikuei in all kinds of hurt.

The rest of the game was inconsequential. Maebashi Ikuei really had no way back in the game. They added a couple of runs, but still in the end fell 10-4.

So maybe one of the challengers to the title makes it to the best 8, however we’ll need to check up on ace Shimizu. Might have been radar gun watching hitting 150 in the final inning. Should remember that in that final inning he gave up a double and a walk. Speed does not equal dominance. It helps, but you need control.

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 1 – Saibi (Ehime) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 1 – Saibi (Ehime) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

(photo courtesy of Yahoo!)

Moriokadai Fuzoku

Road to the title

  • def Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) 4-1
  • def Matsushou Gakuen (Nagano) 6-3

Not sure what to make of Moriokadai Fuzoku? Well, I don’t know either. They send home last year’s champions pretty handily, and then against a lesser team in Matsushou Gakuen played a much closer game.

But what we did know was that their pitching was going to be hit and miss, despite the fact they had multiple people who threw over 140. They and Maebashi Ikuei had effectively poor men’s Shuugakukan.

That’s not to say it’s not effective. It’s just not as effective as it could be.

Saibi

Road to the title

  • def Touchiku (Fukuoka) 10-4
  • def Tsuda Gakuen (Mie) 7-1

Saibi did all that you could ask them to do, they upset what seemed like a strong Touchiku squad, and then dominated a weaker team in Tsuda Gakuen. But Moriokadai Fuzoku should present them with as tough, if not tougher challenge than Touchiku.

Which then circles back to Yatsudzuka. He certainly looked better in the Tsuda Gakuen game, but what is of concern was the Touchiku game. You are probably going to expect the same type of difficulty. If so, then Kageyama needs to be at the ready to come in.

Lineups

Moriokadai Fuzoku

  • LF Hayashi
  • 3B Oosato
  • CF Ueda
  • SS Higa
  • C Matsuda
  • 2B Kobayashi
  • 1B Sutou (#13)
  • P Hiramatsu
  • RF Usui (#11)

Saibi

  • CF Watanabe
  • 1B Utsunomiya
  • 3B Kameoka
  • RF Yatsudzuka (#1)
  • LF Yoshioka
  • C Hashimoto
  • SS Yano
  • 2B Itou (#14)
  • P Kageyama (#10)

08:00 – First Pitch!

1st Inning

So Saibi took my advice and started Kageyama. There’s just one problem…

Moriokadai Fuzoku is squaring up the pitches…

Hayashi singles to center. Then gives up two loud outs to right.

Higa lines a single to right, and things don’t look good.

Looks worse when Yano fields a grounder from Matsuda only to find the short way at 3rd isn’t available. Manrui and they’re at risk for giving up a run right off the bat.

But Kobayashi strikes out on a low slider and for now Kageyama is out of a jam.

2nd Inning

Surprisingly, it’s Saibi who gets on the board first.

With one down, Hashimoto singles back up the middle and Yano draws a walk.

2 down now and last batter Kageyama up and one thinks Hirayama will get out of the pinch.

That wouldn’t be the case though as Kageyama puts bat to the ball and sends it the other way into the left center field gap. It gets by Ueda and to the wall allowing both runners to score for a 2-0 Saibi lead!

3rd Inning

Moriokadai Fuzoku gets one of those runs back though, but not of their own doing.

Hayashi singles to leadoff the first and is bunted to 2nd. But Ueda’s grounder to short is airmailed by his counterpart Yano and having gone into the camera well Hayashi is awarded home. And just like that 2-1.

4th-5th Innings

Saibi continues to try and press for more runs in the 4th. They get a leadoff walk, only to be erased by a 5-4-3 double play, and then another walk, but that brings up the #9 batter who grounds out.

But then out of nowhere in the 5th Moriokadai Fuzoku finally strikes.

With one down, Hayashi, Oosato and Ueda all strike with hard singles. Ueda’s ties the game at 2-2.

Higa also makes good contact, but grounds into a fielder’s choice.

Not out of the woods yet, Kageyama walks Matsuda to load the bases.

PING.

Huh?

What?

Kobayashi with a drive to left, and it’s a manrui HR! Morioka not only ties the game, but blows it open with a manrui HR! They lead 6-2!!

Well, I’m not sure how Saibi will respond to it. They’ve had the better of it, but now find themselves behind.

With one out, Utsunomiya hits one to the RF wall for a double. That’s a start.

Then Kameoka walks, and Yatsudzuka hits a ball off of Sutou’s glove to load the bases. Maybe they can get back a run or two here with a base hit.

PING.

Eh?

EH?

EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH?????????

Yoshioka drives the ball to dead center and it lands on the first level of platforms! He’s just hit a manrui home run of his own?!

We’re tied at 6-6??!!!

Eh?

6th Inning

Perhaps better for all of us that this inning went without much fanfare. Yeah, I know we had the break but still.

7th Inning

Moriokadai Fuzoku though wants that lead back. Ueda singles to start the inning, but is forced out on Higa’s grounder.

Matsuda takes a letter high fastball to center and with 1 down, they have runners at the corners.

But then they try the suicide squeeze and Kobayashi, of all people and he pops it up. That fails, and with it their scoring chance.

PING.

But we’re back at it again. This time Utsunomiya drives a ball down the left field line. Hayashi goes to the foul pole He looks up and it’s gone! Utsunomiya gives Saibi the lead back at 7-6!!

8th Inning

Moriokadai Fuzoku deploys their ace in the hole, Miura Shou, when Miura Mizuki walks. No one’s been able to cut him down yet, and on the 1-1 pitch to Hayashi he steals 2nd.

But Yatsudzuka retires both Hayashi and Oosato stranding him and perhaps their best chance at tying the game!

9th Inning

PING.

I didn’t even get a chance to write about this being the last chance for Moriokadai Fuzoku before Ueda drives a ball to left center, clearing the fence for a douten HR!

The 4th HR of the day and we’re all tied at 7-7!

And then things get dicey.

Matsuda singles with one down, followed by Kobayashi and now they gyakuten runner is in scoring possition.

#3 Nabana comes in to hit and you think perhaps Saibi is in deep trouble.

But Yatsudzuka strikes out Nabana meekly on a ball in the dirt, 2 out.

And Hiramatsu strikes out on a check swing and the side is retired, but not before Ueda ties the ballgame!

Saibi can’t do anything in the bottom of the 9th, so we’re headed to enchousen.

10th Inning

An auspicious start to the inning when Miura Shou chops one to the right side and Yatsudzuka can’t beat him to the bag. You already know he’s going to be stealing bases at the first opportunity.

But instead, it’s a wild pitch that sends him to 2nd.

Hayashi then singles to right, bringing him home for an 8-7 lead.

After a bunt that say Yatsudzuka flub the ball, that brought up Ueda.

PING.

And just like that the game is probably over. Ueda hits his 2nd HR of the game, giving Moriokadai Fuzoku the 11-7 lead. They would tack on one more and advance by the final margin of 12-7.

Saibi just plain ran out of gas and arms. That’s about all there is to it. They fought as hard as they could, but were unable to close out the game. And as a result the team with the better depth moved on.

Kudos to Saibi for hanging in there, when things once looked dim, but they just fell 3 outs short. That’s about all you can do for them.

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Aomori Yamada (Aomori) v Toukaidai Sugao (Nishi Tokyo)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Aomori Yamada (Aomori) v Toukaidai Sugao (Nishi Tokyo)

(photo courtesy of Au one)

Aomori Yamada

Road to the title

  • def Hikone Higashi 6-2

Aomori Yamada, or more specifically relief starter Saitou, kept Hikone Higashi at bay. I don’t think he’ll start this game, which may leave it up to ace Mikami. Which is just as well considering who they’re playing. There will still be other issues, mainly the bottom of the lineup. Well, outside of maybe Nakazawa who hit 2 HRs. They knew that the road to the Best 8 went through Toukaidai Sugao, now they’ll have to put the money where their mouth is.

Toukaidai Sugao

Road to the title

  • def Takaoka Shougyou 11-1

If we took out the 7-run 9th, Toukaidai Sugao underwhelmed a bit. Facing what should have been an inferior opponent, they were tied at 1-1 going into the break. It wasn’t until after the break that they finally put the foot down in the game.

Also, 11 runs on 11 hits with 6 walks and helped out by 3 errors. If we want to call this a warmup game, I can go with that, but they’re facing a team on the rise again and it might be a bit more close than they would like.

Lineups

Aomori Yamada

  • 2B Aisaka
  • SS Kudou
  • 1B Akahira
  • CF Abe
  • C Fukuhara
  • 3B Saitou Koumei
  • LF Nakazawa
  • RF Shiratori
  • P Miura (#11)

Toukaidai Sugao

  • SS Tanaka
  • RF Matsui
  • 2B Kodama
  • 1B Katayama
  • 3B Okuyama
  • LF Satou
  • CF Ushiyama
  • C Shikakura
  • P Toda (#11)

17:00 – First Pitch!

You had a feeling things weren’t going to go well when Nishougakushadai Fuzoku scored in the 1st inning thanks to 2 doubles.

And then again in the 2nd inning with a double and a single. All this while Aomori Yamada was doing nothing.

The 3rd was pretty much the backbreaker. Matsui singles to leadoff the inning, and then Kodama parks it in left field for a 4-0 lead. Katayama almost goes back-to-back hitting it off the top of the padding in right. Satou, Ushiyama and Shikakura all get base hits extending it to 7-0.

Oh, and as for Katayama? He got his HR his next AB in the 4th to make it 8-0.

Aomori Yamada avoids the shutout with a Nakazawa HR in the 7th, but that’s all they get. Nishougakushadai Fuzoku destroys Aomori Yamada 9-1 and will play Sanbonmatsu for a spot in the Best 4.

Yeah, this review was short, but there wasn’t much to see or take away to be honest.

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 10, Game 3 – Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima) v Meihou (Oita)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 10, Game 3 – Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima) v Meihou (Oita)

(picture courtesy of Mainichi)

Kamimura Gakuen

Road to the title

  • def Kyoto Seishou 3x-2

Kamimura Gakuen and Kyoto Seishou were entrenched in a low-scoring battle. Most of the game wasn’t even all that memorable.

And yet in the 9th there was a ton of action. Shigeki homers for Kyoto Seishou to tie the game, and then in the bottom half, a failure to cover the bag puts the leadoff runner on and then with runners at 2nd and 3rd they decide not to load the bases for the force play, which immediately comes back to bite them as they try to make the play at home only to hit the runner in the back instead, walking them off.

In the end, it comes down to whether Kamimura Gakuen’s Aoyagi can hold down Oita’s offense. The bracket as a whole was uninspiring anyways, so seeing either of these two teams advance wouldn’t surprise me, because I had no real idea to begin with.

Meihou

Road to the title

  • def Sakai 7-6

Meihou and Sakai were in a back and forth battle with Sakai matching blows with Meihou until finally taking the lead in the 8th… only to see Hamada take it back for good with a 2-run HR. But the fact that they were in a close match with a debutante despite annihilating their prefectural competition says something about the latter than the former. The offense was still able to perform, but on both sides of the ball it will get much harder from here.

Lineups

Kamimura Gakuen

  • CF Gotou
  • SS Hatsuki
  • C Tanaka Reona
  • 1B Maehata
  • LF Shimanaka
  • 2B Tanaka Yuudai
  • 3B Akasaki
  • RF Kado
  • P Aoyagi Takahiro

Meihou

  • SS Mimura
  • 2B Ryuu
  • LF Hamada (#17)
  • 1B Sugizono (#7)
  • RF Satou Yuuki
  • 3B Honda
  • C Yoshimura
  • P Satou Fuuma (#10)
  • CF Kan

13:30 – First Pitch!

1st Inning

Meihou threatens to score right off the bat. Mimura doubles to right center, and then Aoyagi issues 2 four-pitch walks.

But then his defense saves him. And boy does it ever.

Sugizono hits a ball to deep right, and should bring the runner in. But Kado catches it, fires a laser home, and out of nowhere Mimura finds himself out at home! Yuuki then grounds out to end the inning and Meihou is denied!

3rd Inning

The pace of the game feels like Meihou’s in control. And in the 3rd they finally convert that into a lead.

Last batter Kan bunts his way on base. After a walk and a sac bunt, Hamada hits a double to right bringing in both runners for a 2-0 lead.

4th Inning

Kamimura Gakuen tries to come right back as a Reona single and a HBP puts the first 2 runners on. But Shimanaka pops up his bunt and that doubles off Reona, killing the rally.

5th Inning

PING.

As if that wasn’t enough, Hamada extends his team’s lead with a HR to left. 3-0 Meihou and Kamimura Gakuen needs a lot of help in the 2nd half.

6th Inning

Kamimura Gakuen gets one of those runs back thanks to an error. Hatsuki gets on when Sugizono can’t pick a low throw from Ryuu. Two batters later Maehata drives him in. But still needing 2 runs and seeing how they got this one, it still seems like a tall order.

7th Inning

It feels like the game is put out of reach in the 7th when with one out and a runner on due to a failed sac bunt, Hamada and Sugizono single to bring in a run making it 4-1, and then a self-inflicted mistake when Yuuki hits a ball to short, but in the 6-4-3 double play, Yuudai airmails the throw to 1st allowing Hamada to score and making it a 5-1 lead.

8th-9th Inning

Kamimura Gakuen got a run back in the 8th thanks to a Hatsuki hustle triple to right and a single by Reona. Still at 5-2 and getting runs in this manner still made it seem that a comeback was out of reach.

And so while Yuudai led off with a single, 2 quick outs seemed to signal the end. PH #13 Minamikawa comes up and hits a grounder to 2nd. But it takes a bad hop before reaching Ryuu and it goes into right. That scores Yuudai to make it 5-3.

Satou then singled putting runners at 1st and 2nd, but it would still take a big hit to tie the game so with 2 outs it still seems unlikely.

Hatsuki comes right back and drives a ball down the right field line, and I know what that means. We actually have a tie ball game!

Pretty legit there from Kamimura Gakuen. And it knocks out Fuuma and brings in #18 Mizogami. He walks the first batter, but Maehata pops out to end the inning. Without being able to take the lead, they’re still in a precarious spot.

However, all Meihou could do against new P Kinjyou was a 1-out single, so to enchousen we go.

10th Inning

The script at least for now seems to have been flipped. Shimanaka doubles over Hamada’s head to start the inning. After a sac bunt, it’s up to the 7-8-9 batters to bring him home.

But despite a walk, both Kado and new P Kinjyou strike out, and he’ll have to hold off Meihou for one extra inning.

12th Inning

The inning was going innocuously enough with Yuudai getting a one-out single. But a walk and then a HBP made it manrui in no time.

Kinjyou tried to lay down the squeeze, but instead pops out. 2 down and Kamimura Gakuen is at risk of letting a big opportunity get away from them.

But instead Gotou lays down a bunt! Mizogami goes to field it, but his throw to first is wild! All 3 runners come home to score and Kamimura Gakuen leads 8-5!!

Then the bottom of the 12th…

2 outs, just one to go for Kinjyou. Matsutani singles. Yoshimura singles. Not too bad, you still have a 3-run lead.

But PH Miyoshi walks for manrui.

Kan up now and Kinjyou throws a wild pitch scoring 1. 8-6 and the pressure mounts.

Kan then chops a ball to 3rd, and over Akazaki’s head! Both runners score and we’re at 8-8… Now the pressure is at critical.

Mimura hits a ball back at Kinjyou but he can’t field it! It dribbles towards short and everyone’s safe!

Creating the force they walk Ryuu to load the bases, but there’ll be nowhere to put Hamada.

Kinjyou falls behind 3-0, then gets strike 1, strike 2…

The final pitch?….

Takes off Reona’s glove, but the umpire doesn’t move. Ball four, oshidashi sayonara walk.

And that’s how the game ends…

And it’s unfortunate. It would have been unfortunate for either team. For Meihou, had Kinjyou got that last out, that throwaway at 1st would have been their moment. Instead, it’s Kinjyou’s manrui walk. Either way somebody loses.

Doesn’t even matter if the right team won, one team may have just gotten a break simply by being the home team. We’ll never know. But what is certain is that despite their best efforts Kamimura Gakuen is going home and Meihou is into the best 8.