(photo courtesy of Gunosy)
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.
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.
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…
- CF Fujiwara
- LF Yamamoto
- 1B Nakagawa
- RF Neo (#10)
- C Fukui
- 3B Yamada
- 2B Sakanoshita
- SS Izuguchi
- P Kakigi (#11)
- 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!
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…