(photo courtesy of Mainichi)
Kounan (11th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
- Location – Naha-shi, Okinawa
- Private school
- Student Body – 928 students (360 female)
- Club Size – 130
- Kantoku – Gakiya Masaru (我喜屋 優)
Road to Koushien
- def Kouyou 9-2
- def Mawashi 6-0
- def Yomitan 3-2
- def Miyako 3-0
- def Itoman 2-0
- def Mirai Kouka 15-1
There is less information about Kounan outside of their championship game which was completely non-competitive. But if the prior games were any indication, they will live and die with low-scoring ballgames. The good news is that they may have a pitcher in #11 Miyagi Hiroya who pitched in the final and struck out 13. If he can pitch even about 80% of that Kounan could be a force in the tournament. But the pressure may be squarely on his, and the rest of the staff’s, shoulders.
Chiben Wakayama (22nd appearance, 1st in 2 years)
- Location – Wakayama-shi, Wakayama
- Private school
- Student Body – 783 students (342 female)
- Club Size – 32
- Kantoku – Takashima Jin (高嶋 仁)
Road to Koushien
- def Tsukashima 12-2
- def Wakayama Nanryou 10-2
- def Tanabe Kougyou 15-1
- def Shiritsu Wakayama 8-3
- def Kioukan 3-2
For some reason I thought Takashima-kantoku retired, but he’s done anything but. Chiben Wakayama is still on the edge of relevance but it has been a while since we’ve considered them contenders for a Koushien title as the team has just been average. And one wonders if this team is more of the same. The one wild card might be Hirata Ryuuki who put up some good numbers against Shiritsu Wakayama but didn’t pitch against Kioukan.
- CF Tsuda
- 2B Morimoto
- 3B Hayashi
- C Kurano
- RF Oozaki (#11)
- 1B Fumimoto (#15)
- LF Tomita
- SS Nishikawa (#17)
- P Kita (#12)
- 1B Nakamura
- 2B Nerome
- 3B Uehara
- LF Fukumoto
- RF Kawamitsu (#1)
- CF Kakazu (#9)
- C Watanabe
- P Miyagi (#11)
- SS Kinjyou
14:07 – First Pitch!
Clean frame on both sides of the ball meaning a rare 0-0 opening frame.
Miyagi throws with average velocity, and the location is a touch spotty as they’re hitting the ball either hard or far – Kurano flies out to deep left, Oozaki lines a ball down the LF line and Uehara makes a great diving catch.
Fumimoto walks, Tomita lines a ball off Uehara’s glove on a similar diving attempt, and Nishikawa is hit.
But Kita grounds out to short and the crisis is averted.
Miyagi gets a break in the third because despite giving up another hard hit, the next pitch goes for a 1-6-3 double play.
Kounan gets their first hit when Miyagi is able to get around on a not so bad inside pitch and singles to right.
Chiben Wakayama’s pitching hasn’t been exceptional either, but Kouryou’s batters have been having bad pitch recognition. But with 2 down, their 2-3 batters of Nerome and Uehara both take a walk. Time is called, but Kita goes 3-0 to Fukumoto before pouring in a strike.
And another so the count runs full…
Ball 4! Oshidashi walk! Kounan scores the first run on a walk and lead 1-0!
Haisai Oji-san plays as Kita still can’t find the strike zone.
Kita gets a dribbler up the right side, but the defense goes awry. Both the first and second baseman go for the ball and Kita is late to 1st. All safe and it’s 2-0 Kounan.
Kakazu punishes another pitch in the zone, singles to left. 2 runs score. 4-0 and Kita makes way for #10 Hirata.
But because of a throw home allowing the runners to advance, Watanabe’s single tags on 2 more runs making it 6-0 before Chiben Wakayama finally gets the 3rd out.
Well, Kounan might have the lead, but Miyagi is still struggling on the mound. With one down his defense fails him when Kinjyou short hops the throw to 1st. After that a hard single to center and a walk to Tomita to lead the bases.
Nishikawa finally gets Chiben Wakayama on the board with a liner to shallow center. 6-1. Hirata follows that up with one past a diving Kinjyou for a 6-2 game.
Miyagi gets another double play to prevent more damage, but Kounan should really do something about their pitching situation soon.
Well, there goes that big lead. Morimoto hits a solid single and then Hayashi drills a mistake out to the LCF stands and it’s a 6-4 ballgame.
After Kurano singles, Miyagi is finally lifted as 3B Uehara takes the hill. Kinjyou goes to 3B and #16 Sato replaces Miyagi and goes to SS.
Uehara immediately gets a 1-6-3 double play.
Looks like they’re going to hold the lead. But then Fumimoto draws a walk, and then…
Oh dear. Uehara leaves a ball letter high and Tomita clears LCF for the second 2-run HR of the inning, and costs Kounan the lead. 6-6 before Uehara finally strikes out Nishikawa to retire the side.
When Uehara walked both PH Oohoshi and Morimoto with 1 down you would have expected a pitching change. The fact that Gakiya-kantoku moved ace Kawamitsu in after Uehara threw ball 1 means that that was their last straw and they weren’t all that confident. And if that’s the case Kounan is a good as dead.
And sure enough Kawamitsu walks Hayahshi and gives up a single to left. 7-6 Chiben Wakayama and that should be it.
Rest of game
Chiben Wakayama by merely taking the lead probably had the game won, but in the 8th scored one more. Oohoshi had a popup to shallow LCF, new SS Kinjyou calls for it, but then misses it allowing Oohoshi to take 2nd. A sac bunt and a sac fly later and it’s an 8-6 game.
They add on 1 more in the 9th thanks to a pickoff error to make it a 3-run margin at 9-6 and that’s where it ends.
So Kounan jumped out to an early lead, but their pitching never made you feel like that lead was safe, and in the end it wasn’t. Chiben Wakayama jumped all over every pitcher who came to the mound and won in rather easy fashion. Given Kounan’s low-scoring games, I would be concered about Chiben Wakayama’s pitching in the following game, especially as they expect Osaka Touin in the next round.