(picture courtesy of Au One)
Road to the title
- def Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu) 6-0
- def Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo) 2-1 (11 inn)
This might be a new version of Tenri. Instead of hiring a manager who is part of the school staff, they went to Nakamura Ryouji, who played in the pros with Kintetsu and Hanshin, and before taking the Tenri job in 2014, was the Tenri Daigaku kantoku.
And I think his influence is showing. He’s built a team centered around defense, which then allows his pitching to have more leeway (which they’ve needed because they don’t have the top talent other teams have). But I think he’s doing the most with what he has.
In addition, his strategies, especially in the Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku game, lead me to think he’s in a more pro mindset which is amazing all things considered. I’m finally turning around on Tenri, but not fully there yet.
Road to the title
- def Sakai (Fukui) 7-6
- def Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima) 9x-8 (12 inn)
Meihou has been in two very tough, hard fought games – coming from behind to defeat Sakai, and then having to rally after blowing a late lead to Kamimura Gakuen and then again down 3 in extras.
Having those types of games you wonder if (a) this team is just mentally built for these games, or (b) they’re just one step away from falling apart. The Kamimura Gakuen game showed that they perhaps were the latter, but when they survived Kamimura Gakuen’s comeback in regulation they were able to win the battle of pitcher attrition (though being the home team might have helped).
How many lives do they have left?
- LF Miyazaki
- CF Sugishita
- SS Oota
- RF Jinno
- C Shiroshita
- 3B Morimoto
- 1B Yasuhara
- 2B Yamaguchi
- P Usui
- SS Mimura
- 2B Ryuu
- LF Hamada (#17)
- 1B Sugizono (#7)
- RF Satou Yuuki
- 3B Matsutani (#14)
- C Yoshimura
- P Hashidzume
- CF Kan
10:20 – First Pitch!
So Hashidzume is on the mound, an the question will be if his pitching can hold up against Tenri.
Miyazaki single up middle and Sugishita single to the right side not a great start. A one out walk to Jinno loads the bases.
Shiroshita avoids the double play with hustle to 1st, but Meihou still gets the force at home.
Morishita though gets Tenri on the board with a soft liner to left. Sugishita and Jinno score to make it 2-0.
Oh boy. Hashidzume grooves one of his pitches into the strike zone and Yasuhara does not miss. In fact it goes out to dead center and it’s a 5-0 ball game.
Yamaguchi drives one to left and are you kidding me, it’s gone!
Back-to-back home runs for Tenri and they’re up 6-0!
Meihou has come back before, but 6 runs?
Well, they’re going to try if nothing else because early on they’re battering Usui.
Mimura liner to right, then Ryuu does a push bunt into no-man’s land for a base hit. Throw in two hard shots to left by Hamada and Sugizono each bring in a run to make it 6-2.
Meihou changes pitchers to #18 Mizoguchi but that doesn’t get off to a good start as he gives up a walk and a single to start the inning. But after a sac bunt, he gets the heart of the lineup to fly out to end the inning.
It’s not easy for Usui either. 2 down and he should have gotten out of the inning, but Oota whiffs on a grounder and the lineup turns over. Mimura gets his 2nd single in as many at bats and one wonders if he’s in trouble.
But a great throw and swipe tag nails Mimura trying to steal 2nd and the inning is over.
Not sure I agree with Tenri’s strategy in the 3rd. Despite Morimoto and Yasuhara getting base hits, Nakamura-kantoku has Yamaguchi bunt, which he fails and gets the lead runner thrown out. Usui also lays down a bunt to turn over the roster, but with 2 out Miyazaki strikes out to end the inning. You might has well have then swing away.
Meanwhile Meihou perhaps unbenounced to Tenri is clawing back the margin. Ryuu hits a single to center and Sugishita overruns it allowing him to reach 2nd.
Hamada singles to center putting runners at the corners and Sugizono’s sac fly cuts the original lead in half at 6-3.
Yuuki then singles to left and once again runners are at the corners. Tenri is quickly letting this lead slip away.
Finally though, Tenri shows their defense as Oota charges a slow grounder and starts the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. But they should look at that scoreboard and not get complacent because Meihou is not going away anytime soon.
But whatever momentum Meihou had seems to have dissipated. They don’t create any additional opportunities on offense while Tenri is still getting runners on base.
Next thing I know, Tenri gets right on the warpath after the break.
Sugishita triples to right center. Oota bloops a ball just out of the fielder’s reach down the RF line to make it 7-3. Jinno doubles to right center and now it’s 8-3.
Mizogami gets 2 flyouts and perhaps he’s gotten out of the jam. But then he walks Yasuhara and…
Yamaguchi with all the freedom in the world to swing away homers to left putting Tenri up 11-3.
Tenri adds on two more runs to make it 13-3 and I was about to write about a comprehensive victory.
Tenri sends in Wajima to finish out the game.
Except he doesn’t.
And PH Miyoshi hits a manrui HR to left center making it 13-7.
Wajima out, Sakane in.
Kan triples past a drawn in Miyazaki, and is sent home…
SENT HOME AND THROWN OUT. YOU’RE DOWN 6. THAT RUN DOESN’T MATTER YET.
So Tenri finally has the first out. But the pitching struggles as Sakane hits Mimura.
Ryuu pops out and now they just need one more out, but as we’ve seen it’s not easy…
Yuuki up again with the bases loaded… singles past a diving Yamaguchi bringing in 2 and making it 13-9…
With 2 on, PH Miyoshi is on deck as the potential tying run. At this point you have to be concerned that Tenri will completely crater despite the fact that they’ve been slowly getting each out.
Honda up for the 2nd time, and pops it up! Yasuhara secures it and the game is finally over. Tenri makes the 10-run lead stick, but wins 13-9.
My only critique of the situation is that given the nature of Meihou, Nakamura-kantoku should have kept Usui in the game on the field in case he needed to bring him in. By subbing him out completely he could not go back to him in case of an emergency.
But if he’s learned anything from this, it’s that he really can’t depend on his relievers at all. Which means that Usui will have to pitch 2 more games to give Tenri the title.