(photo courtesy of Mainichi)
Road to the title
- def Oogaki Nichidai 6-0
I’ve been a bit more skeptical of Tenri in recent years. Sure they were the 2nd team in Nara next to Chiben Gakuen, but their performance at Koushien left something to be desired. Yet, in the matchup versus Oogaki Nichidai, they completely dominated, scoring 6 runs on an efficient 7 hits. Given, Jinno hitting 2 home runs (which is becoming a recurring theme), helps but they made the most of their few opportunities.
And yes, it was few because they got just those 7 hits in 29 at bats. Generally that’s a losing combination, so it will be interesting to see if they can continue doing that (not that it is a skill or anything, but their offense wasn’t anything to write home about to begin with).
Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku
Road to the title
- def Hokkai 5-4
Kobe Kokusadai Fuzoku would have already been eliminated if not for the fact that Taniguchi came through with 2 home runs and 4 of their 5 RBIs. If not for that they looked dead to rights.
And that was despite the fact that the combination of Okano, Kuroda and Hanamura struck out 9 on the day while walking 1 and they offense collected more hits (14) than Hokkai did (11).
But it’s not like they had black holes anywhere in the lineup, it was just that one man carried the team.
I had Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku advancing out of this bracket, and they probably still can by winning this game. But Tenri could make a game of this yet, though I’m still skeptical.
- LF Miyazaki
- CF Sugishita
- SS Oota
- RF Jinno
- C Shiroshita
- 1B Yasuhara
- 3B Morimoto
- 2B Yamaguchi
- P Usui
Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku
- 2B Gotou
- 3B Kurihara
- LF Morita
- C Inoda
- 1B Kataoka
- CF Taniguchi
- RF Oomaru
- SS Tabuchi
- P Okano
08:00 – First Pitch
Tenri working the count sorta, Miyazaki runs it full before grounding out, and then after a quick out by Sugishita, Oota decides to green light on a 3-0 pitch and pop out. I might have let the first ball go though because the game is still early and you want to test to see if he’s still got some nerves.
Usui too having some early issues on the mound gets the first out, but then Kurihara hits a ball the opposite way to right center and hustles his way to a triple! Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku looking to take the quick lead.
Usui dodges one bullet as Morita hits a dribbler back to him, and then dodges both as he jams Inoda, grounding him out to short!
Both aces already having to work hard early…
Tenri’s batters exhibiting a lot of patience at the plate right now. Both Jinno and Jyoushita both have the counts go 2-2 before being retired. Morimoto gets ahead 2-0 and gets a green light driving a ball over Morita for a 2-out double. Yasuhara is hit on the next pitch, and Inoda goes out to talk to Okano.
Not helping things, Okano walks Yamaguchi on 4 straight to load the bases and time is called. The good part is that the P is up as the #9 hitter.
If Usui knows any better he won’t swing unless he has to.
Ball 1… Ball 2… Finally hits the outside corner for strike 1…
And the next pitch gets away from Inoda! Morishita comes home and Tenri leads 1-0!
Usui grounds out to end the inning, but yet another self-inflicted wound.
Kataoka though tries to reclaim that run immediately. Drive to right, Jinno running to the wall, leaps, and it’s off his glove as he hits the wall. He stumbles a bit and that allows Kataoka to reach 3rd.
Taniguchi poorly swings at a slider in the opposing batters box for out #1.
Oomaru hits a ball to 2nd, Yamaguchi fires home and instead puts it into the back netting. The only positive is that Shiroshita fires to 2nd to nab Oomaru trying to take extra base.
That’s all the damage Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku does, but it’s clear offensively they’re ahead of the game.
Nothing happens. Well, almost nothing. 1 base hit on each side. The rest nothing.
Oh and a strikeout.
But Usui settled down, and both offenses, already figuring to be struggling in nature are now living up to expectations.
Some action starts happening after the break.
In the 6th, Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku gets a 1-out single, but then Kurihara is thrown out trying to steal 2nd which pretty much kills the rally.
Tenri in the 7th gets a couple of good breaks. Morimoto bloops a ball to center, and then Yasuhara hits a higher popup to the same place, and it just evades Taniguchi for a double.
But with both runners in scoring position, Tenri opts for the contact play and a grounder to 3rd by Yamaguchi equals an easy out at home. Usu strikes out, and the opportunity is lost.
Though come to think of it they didn’t call for the squeeze that they normally would in the past.
8th inning, Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku threatens to take the lead. Leadoff single by Hanamura and after a bunt, they intentionally walk Kurihara. Morita grounder to short would end the inning, but he boots the ball and instead everyone’s safe!
Manrui with only 1 down, Tenri appears to be giving up a run here.
But instead Inoda hits a grounder to 3rd! Morimoto to 2nd for 1, Yamaguchi to 1st… double play! Tenri gets out of a major jam!!
I start getting real surprised about how each kantoku is playing this game.
Tenri’s Shiroshita gets a one out single. After a bunt, they walk Yasuhara to get to Yamaguchi and already 0-2 on the day strikes out.
Then in the bottom half, Taniguchi hits a ball to deep left and gets away from Miyazaki after he collides with the wall. He ends up at 3rd and with just 1 out they threaten to walk it off.
But instead of loading the bases to create the force, they pitch to Oomaru who was hitless. Oomaru hits a hard chopper right back to Usui, who fields it and make the out at 1st holding the runner.
And then when #16 Araki comes in to hit for Tabuchi, they intentionally walk him to get to Hanamura…
And it works! Hanamura grounds out to short and Tenri gets out of the jam! We’re headed to enchousen!!
Tenri gets the first real opportunity in enchousen as Shiroshita doubles over Taniguchi in right center. After a flyout, they intentionally walk Yasuhara again to bring up Yamaguchi.
But this time he delivers! He reaches out and pops a single to center! Shiroshita scores and Tenri has the 2-1 lead!!
And with that Usui shuts down Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku in the bottom of the 11th and Tenri advances to the Best 8!!
Wow. I’m generally non-impressed when teams who can’t do anything offensively nor strike out the opposition play because it feels more like ineptness. But here we had two teams who actively worked around the dangerous parts of the lineup to keep the game tied. It’s the right strategy and for 10 innings it worked for Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku.
If these 2 kantoku’s stay at their schools, and they get better talent… watch out.