Tag: Osaka Touin

89th Haru Koushien – Day 12, Final – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Riseisha (Osaka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 12, Final – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Riseisha (Osaka)

(picture courtesy of 高校野球フォトアルブム)

They may seem friendly but…

Well, after the showers gave the players a day of respite, we are finally at the final, and for the media, outside of the fighting Kiyomiya’s making it, one could argue that not only can this matchup be hyped, you could also say the two best teams made it here.

Riseisha already was coming in as the Meiji Jingu winner, and defeated Osaka Touin and Waseda Jitsugyou in the fall and Nichidai-san here. They were the favorites and they’re now here in the finals looking to be the 4th team to perform the aki-natsu renzoku yuushou:

  • 1983-83 – Iwakura (Tokyo)
  • 1997-98 – Yokohama (Kanagawa)
  • 2001-02 – Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

For Osaka Touin, their road included defeating Shizuoka, Toukaidai Fukuoka and Shuugakukan. The offense looked good early, but has stalled in their more recent games when they started facing better pitching.

In theory Riseisha has the best pitcher out there, but at the same time this could be viewed as a rivalry game of sorts with Riseisha looking to challenge Osaka Touin for superiority over Osaka. Not that all the other schools in the prefecture needed it though.

Pitching has basically been the story of the tournament. Many good teams, some were beset by extra games, some were beset by poor managing, some were beset by the inability to ride out the schedule.

Takeda Yuu has risen to the occasion, however had they played yesterday there would have been major concerns about him closing the game as he had struggled in the latter innings of their semifinal. Now, Tokuyama Souma also had similar troubles, but if you can’t score you can’t win and perhaps playing on back-to-back days would have helped them. That’s out the door now and I think the advantage lies back with Riseisha on paper.

But as I said, this game you may as well take that and throw it out the window. All bets are off in front of a capacity crowd.

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara Kyouta
  • LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS Izumiguchi Yuuta
  • P Tokuyama Souma

Riseisha

  • RF Ishida Ryuuji
  • 2B Mizobe Touki
  • 3B Yasuda Hisanori
  • LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
  • 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
  • P Takeda Yuu
  • CF Tsutsui Taisei
  • C Katayama Yuu
  • SS Nishiyama Koutarou

12:32 – First Pitch!

Um, what?

Fujiwara is able to turn around an inside slider and drives it over the fence in right! Osaka Touin is already up 1-0!

1 out and Takeda walks Nakayama to bring up Yamamoto. He grounds into the 6-3 double play, but it will be interesting to see how the teams react now. Takeda’s control not quite as sharp early, and both team’s strategy should be to make the pitchers work. To what extent will be determined how they can battle at the plate.

Tokuyama already going to that outside slider. Ishida is able to hold off on it, until the count goes 3-2, and then he reluctantly goes around.

Osaka Touin is working the bottom outside corner to righties and the umpire is giving those strikes. That will not help Riseisha at all as Mizobe is frozen on a fastball that paints the corner. Yasuda gets frozen too and Tokuyama strikes out the side. Very good start for him, and Riseisha perhaps just under a little bit more pressure.

Make that more pressure. Osaka Touin’s batters are making contact on the ball. While Yamada has a routine fly to center. Fukui lines a ball that requires a fully stretched diving catch by Nishiyama.

And then on a not that bad pitch, Sakanoshita takes a letter high fastball and deposits it in the ouen-dan seats in left! It’s 2-0 Osaka Touin!

Takeda really not looking himself and Osaka Touin is having absolutely no mercy early on!

Riseisha gets it’s first base runner, but not by contact. Wakabayashi draws a hard-earned walk. Okada-kantoku will play for 1, putting him in scoring position for Takeda.

Except he too goes down on that outside slider. 2 down.

The first contact for Riseisha though does not bring the runner home. Tsutsui grounds out to 2nd and the inning is over.

But, if nothing else the 3rd shows that despite Tokuyama’s start he’s still vulnerable. He issues another walk, this time to Nishiyama with one out. The control isn’t sharp, but what they have to do is unlock that outside corner of the strike zone – which they haven’t quite done.

The 4th yields another walk, again by Wakabayashi. Hamauchi though is jammed and grounds into the 4-6-3 double play. Still more contact, and better contact.

All this while Takeda continues to settle down. Osaka Touin perhaps thinks there is blood in the water after the 2 home runs, but instead Takeda settles down and just about pitches 3 clean frame with the exception of Izumiguchi who inside-outs one past a diving Nishiyama into left center in the 5th.

But Riseisha with no base hits yet and would like to get that monkey off their backs. Takeda would just like to get on base, and almost does when a 3-2 pitch just gets a piece of the bat when he pulls it back.  Instead Tokuyama paints that corner again and it’s 1 down.

The next 2 batters quickly fly out and Riseisha still has no hits through 5 and now time is working against them.

Oh, that bottom 5 proves very costly as Fujiwara leads off the 6th, and of all things hits another letter-high fastball out to right-center for his 2nd HR of the game. 3-0 Osaka Touin and all 3 runs scored via solo HRs!

Takeda gets himself into further trouble with hits to Nakagawa and Yamada, but gets out of it. At this point the difference seems to be that Takeda may be a more polished pitcher overall than Tokuyama, Tokuyama has that slider that gives right-handed batters fits.

Is it too late? Nishiyama jumps on a fastball meant for the outside part but instead lands middle-middle and he drives it off the padding in right for a triple.

Ishida tries to hit a sac fly, but the runner doesn’t tag as Yamamoto throws home on the fly. That’s an arm.

Mizobe perhaps not wanting to hit a ball to right because of Yamamoto, instead chops one back to Tokuyama. 2 down.

With a base open and another righty on deck, Tokuyama does the right thing and walks Yasuda.

Wakabayashi up, falls behind, and once again Tokuyama clips that outside corner, this time with the slider and Riseisha’s best chance is gone.

The futility is completed in the 7th when Hamauchi gets a base hit and then Takeda hits into a double play. PH Takemura walks, but Izumiguchi makes a great pick on a ball back up the middle and completes the play at 1st.

With just 2 innings to go to get 3 runs, I don’t see a way for Riseisha to get back into this game.

A peculiar move by Osaka Touin in the 8th. Despite there being 2 down and a runner on 1st, they pitch to Yasuda anyways. You may bring the tying run to the plate with a walk, but there was no need to pitch to him and he singles through the left side. Next thing you see is Wakabayashi scooting one past a diving Yamada. Ishida scores and Riseisha is on the board, 3-1.

Before I can write my twitter reply saying Riseisha had scored Tokuyama misses with his slider and Hamauchi sends it to deep left center and it falls in. Both runners come around to score and just like that it’s 3-3!

Well, there you go. Riseisha can’t get the gyakuten run home, but the game is tied and we’re basically in sudden death.

Top 9th, Osaka Touin still trying to end it in regulation. Sakanoshita singles to right and is bunted over.

Nishitani-kantoku sees Tokuyama’s day is over and sends in #18 Nishijima to bat.

He hits an inside pitch to left, and Wakabayashi goes to the fence and looks up!

It’s gone! It’s a pinch hit 2-run HR! Just as quickly as Riseisha had tied it up, Osaka Touin retakes the lead down the home stretch! 5-3!

After that it all goes to heck. Osaka Touin’s top 4 batters go triple, single, triple, single and a tie game goes to 8-3 as Matsui replaces Takeda on the mound.

Matsui stops the bleeding there, but if down 3 was a challenge, down 5 is just impossible. Neo in relief of Tokuyama is a bit shakier than his prior games, letting 2 runners get on base, but he gets the job done with a double play and Osaka Touin wins the title with an 8-3 victory!

The game was dictated early by Osaka Touin’s no fear of Takeda. Without an out pitch to really mess with the batters, they hit him early for 2 home runs, eventually becoming 4 before being pulled. If he is to take the next step, he needs to develop some type of pitch like Tokuyama’s slider. Because that pitch frustrated batters up and down the lineups and Riseisha was no exception. Unless teams can figure out a way to combat that, there may be no limit as to how far they can go.

Riseisha unfortunately is shown that they’re still 2nd best in their prefecture. They may have made strides, but there still is a ways to go. And in the meantime, everyone else has to look out for Osaka Touin yet again.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 2 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 2 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

(picture courtesy of au News)

Run you clever boy, run.

Shuugakukan is here, probably deservedly so based upon talent, but perhaps in spite of their kantoku. There have been times when Kajisha-kantoku seems to have learned from the summer and then in recent games where it doesn’t look like he’s learned at all.

As it stands, it appears he plans to alternate each ace for each game, but I think he overestimates their ability to pitch a full 9 innings. Neither Taura or Kawabata really finished their games well, suggesting they were getting tired. What he should be doing is splitting time each game so that neither pitcher reaches that exhaustion point or ineffectiveness. Which is what he should have done last summer.

I’m not sure that against Osaka Touin he will get away with it. However, Osaka Touin was basically on a level playing field with Toukaidai Fukuoka if not for the fielding mistakes made. And that’s actually a bit concerning. Tokuyama has shown to be more effective than perhaps originally thought, but he too does suffer from some walk issues, even though he too has been walking more batters as the tournament has progressed.

This is a prove it game for Shuugakukan. They have to prove they can handle the big game properly.

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara Kyouta
  • LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS (#7) Neo Akira
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • P Tokuyama Souma

Shuugakukan

  • SS Hanjyou Touma
  • 2B (#14) Watanabe Rui
  • 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
  • 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
  • LF Yamashita Tatsuya
  • P Taura Fuminari
  • CF Fujimoto Shun
  • C Kouchi Tatsuya
  • RF Akasaka Ginjirou

13:50 – First Pitch!

Taura starting off showing he’s fine to start, gives up a single to Nakagawa, but retires Yamamoto by getting him to swing on a high fastball. It’s not going to be the start, but his finish that should concern them.

Hanjyou is also back to play today after that gnarly collision yesterday. He goes right off the bat and singles to the left side. Neo ran it down, but was too deep to realistically make the throw. He gets to 3rd, but Tokuyama pulls out the slider once again and Hirobe is all to glad to oblige.

2nd inning though and Taura runs into trouble versus the bottom of the lineup. Sakanoshita and Fukui both collect base hits to put runners at the corners. But with 2 down and Tokuyama up it’s just a weak comebacker that ends the inning.

And it continues to be Osaka Touin who has the opportunities so far. Miyazaki lines a double past a diving Hirobe. But once again Taura steps up to the occasion and retires both Nakagawa and Yamamoto to end the inning.

Oddly, it’s Hanjyou the only one with success against Tokumoto. he gets his 2nd hit in as many at bats, but it’s with 2 out in the 3rd. He tries stealing 2nd, and when I say tries, it means that they didn’t succeed.

The game settles into a pitcher’s duel with only one major chance before the break and that’s where Fujimoto and Kochi collect 2-out singles. But that leaves it to last batter Akasaka. And though Tokumoto falls behind 2-0, he eventually gets him to ground to 2nd. Side retired and it’s a 4-inning game now.

Miyazaki, leading off the 6th does what he did in the 3rd, a screamer down the 3rd base line for a double. Nakagawa bunts him over for cleanup batter Yamamoto. He gets a pop fly, but in foul territory to the 1B.

2 down and it’s looking like he’ll be stranded at 3rd. But Taura leaves a slider over the plate and he lines it to right! Akasaka charging in, dives, but it falls just in front of him! Miyazaki scores and Osaka Touin breaks the deadlock to lead 1-0!

After a walk to Sakanoshita you wonder if Taura is tiring, but he does get himself out of the inning and outside of a single to Tokuyama gets through the 7th as well.

Osaka Touin has their first misstep during Shuugakukan’s Lucky 7. One down Neo fields a grounder from Yamashita, but airmails the throw to 1st. Then Tokuyama misses on a fastball and leaves it over the plate for Taura to send to left for a single. Runners at the corners, just 1 out.

But Fujimoto pops a ball up behind home! Fukui takes a bit of a circuitous route, but makes the catch at the fence for the 2nd out. That leaves it to Kouchi to drive the douten runner home.

Instead, Tokuyama jams Kouchi and he hits a grounder up to the 2nd base bag. This time Neo doesn’t mess it up and tags 2nd for the force.

The possible back-breaker for Shuugakukan comes in the 8th. Nakagawa hits a single to right, and after a sac bunt, Taura leaves a fastball over the plate and it’s Yamada again who drives a ball to the wall in left center. Nakagawa scores and it’s 2-0.

That knocks out Taura to RF as Kawabata comes in. He strikes out the side, but again it might be too little too late.

I say might because Tokuyama is allowing baserunners, it’s just a matter of getting them home. Bottom 8th, Hanjyou gets on base. He steals 2nd and takes 3rd on a groundout.

And finally they get their break. This time Tokuyama misses his location, throws it over the middle instead of to the inside and Kimoto singles through the left side to make it a 2-1 game. Hirobe tries to keep the inning going, but chases that danged outside slider and pops out to end the inning.

Osaka Touin does nothing against Kawabata, so it’s down to the final 3 outs for Shuugakukan.

Yamashita up first, 3 pitches, 3 strikes. That danged slider again.

Taura next, grounds to short. 2 down.

Last chance in Fujmoto, nope make that #4 Takewa.

Grounder to short and we have an all-Osaka final!

Shuugakukan unfortunately fell in the manner we though it might. Kajisha-kantoku did not consider splitting time between his 2 very good pitchers who by themselves can’t get through 9. And as a result they fall short again. Kajisha-kantoku hasn’t learned and I don’t think he will.

For Osaka Touin, I think they have the same problem. Tokuyama was not as sharp late so now you have the question of how do you play the final? Do you start your ace and then go down the line? Do you try to manage the game early to steal some inning before your ace comes in? Can you really afford that in the final game?

Those questions will be answered tomorrow. There probably won’t be much planning as these teams will be very familiar with one another. It’ll all be about strategy now.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 4 – Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

(picture courtesy of Nikkei)

Osaka Touin got lucky in a sense. The first inning was so ridiculous against Shizuoka that it might have been right for the game to be tied at 6-6 after all that.  Shizuoka had the lead late, lost it, had a chance to retake it, but a very bad strategical decision cemented the game for Osaka Touin.

I totally did not expect Toukaidai Fukuoka to be the team to defeat Waseda Jitsugyou, but they jumped all over Waseda’s poor pitching, built a large lead – and still almost blew the lead late.

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as it were as they go from one offensive power to another. The bigger problem for them is that Osaka Touin’s pitching is better than Waseda Jitsugyou. Not top tier, but certainly an upgrade and could make a difference.

And given how the games have gone today, they’re gonna need a lot of help.

Toukaidai Fukuoka

  • CF Ariyasu Seima
  • 2B (#14) Ootsuru Yuuto
  • C Kitagawa Hozumi
  • LF Endou Shuuto
  • 3B Hoshino Kouki
  • 1B (#10) Sada Kensuke
  • RF (#12) Koga Takeshi
  • SS Hashimoto Naoki
  • P Yasuda Daisuke

Osaka Touin

  • LF (#8) Fujiwara Kyouta
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • CF (#7) Neo Akira
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • SS Izumiguchi  Yuuta
  • P Tokuyama Souma

15:04 – First Pitch!

At least Toukaidai Fukuoka’s batters are squaring up the ball. But right now they’re homing in on the fielders. Scorcher to 1st and liner back to Tokuyama.

He throws in a K for good measure and it’ll be Toukaidai Fukuoka on defense. Not like they weren’t already.

But Osaka Touin struggling a bit with Yasuda’s sidearm delivery. Two infield outs and a strikeout of his own put his team back on offense.

More decent contact from Toukaidai Fukuoka in the 2nd, but the one pitch that seems to be giving batters trouble is the slider outside, especially to the right handed batters.

It’s Yamamoto who gets the first base hit of the game, crushing a hanging slider to right for a leadoff triple. All they need is a fly ball, but Fukui chases the rising fastball and Yamada grounds out to short.

Before I can say Yasuda’s almost out of the inning, he’s actually out of the inning! Sakanoshita swings on the first pitch, gets jammed and pops out!

Toukaidai Fukuoka tries to strike back immediately. Yasuda actually collects their first base hit, a double to left center that one hops to the wall. But with 2 down, he’s stranded there when Ootsuru flies out to center.

Osaka Touin panicking a little bit? Nakagawa gets a leadoff base hit, and then Nakatani-kantoku calls for a hit-and-run on a waste pitch where Kitagawa was standing? That strike-em-out throw-em-out double play from a mile away.

In the 5th a small play immediately triggers in my mind an “uh-oh” moment. One down, Yamada with a slow grounder up the middle. Hashimoto runs behind 2nd to field it, but it glances off his glove and into right. Would’ve been a tricky play and it is rightly ruled a base hit, but he could have made that play. And with that I wonder if that will cost them later.

It does.

Yasuda doesn’t get his fastball inside enough and Izumiguchi laces it down the RF line for a triple. Yamada scores and Osaka Touin leads 1-0 before the break.

Toukaidai Fukuoka continues to get close, but no cigar. Top 6th, Ootsuru singles back up the middle and with 2 down Endou walks to put the douten run in scoring position. But with lefty Hoshino up, Tokuyama climbs the ladder instead to get the K.

The 7th may have put the game away. Yamamoto gets a leadoff single up the middle. He’s bunted to 2nd, steals 3rd, scores on Yamada’s single, 2-0 Osaka Touin.

Sakanoshita with a blooper to shallow center, Ootsuru and Ariyasu go to field it, there’s a miscommunication and it drops in. That missed out costs them because they would have been out of the inning before Tokuyama singles through the left side. As it stands, it scores Yamada to make it 3-0.

Toukaidai Fukuoka down to their last outs. 2 down they mount yet another rally. Ootsuru singles through the right side. Kitagawa draws a walk. That brings up cleanup batter Endou, who is hitless on the day, but at least is a lefty, so the slider to his inside may be out of bounds.

Uh oh! Tokuyama leaves one over the outside half and Endou drives it to deep left! Fujiwara chasing it to the wall, but can’t make the catch! Both runners score and it’s a 3-2 ballgame!

Hoshino has a chance to tie the ballgame with a base hit, but his chopper finds Yamada and they still trail.

Just when they get close, they threaten to undo their good work.

Nakagawa with a grounder to 1st, but it goes through Sada’s wickets. A base hit, sac bunt and sac fly make it 4-2.

And that’s how the game ends. Toukaidai Fukuoka fights hard, but self-inflicted wounds are what cause their demise. Small fielding mistakes late culminate in a pair of runs which turn out to be the difference.

The good news is that it looks like for at least this year Fukuoka has some good teams. Too bad only one can qualify, if either one qualifies, for the summer.

For Osaka Touin, they are one step closer to a rematch with Riseisha. Hoo boy.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 8, Game 3 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shizuoka (Shizuoka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 8, Game 3 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Shizuoka (Shizuoka)

(picture courtesy of Asahi)

Runs, runs and more runs.

Both of these teams come into this game off blowout wins. It meant they weren’t put under pressure, but it also means that we’re not really in the know as to how strong each of these teams are.

You could look at regional success, but what we’ve learned is that even that isn’t a good indicator for a team. I mean, take a look at what Shiritsu Kure did to Riseisha, and then look what Osaka Touin did to Ube Koujyou, and then think about the prefecural semifinal and what Riseisha did to Osaka Touin. Sure, that last game mentioned wasn’t an elimination game, but it forced the loser into one, and I don’t care what you think, you don’t want to have to go there, no matter how good you are.

So then I go back to grades. Shizuoka probably has the edge in pitching, but Osaka Touin has the edge on hitting. Osaka Touin’s pitching isn’t great, but neither is Shizuoka’s offense. In that case, I think the pressure is all on Shizuoka. Can Ikeya stave off the Osaka Touin offense? Can their offense get to Osaka Touin’s pitching?

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara Kyouta
  • LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • SS (#7) Neo Akira
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • P (#11) Yokogawa Gai

Shizuoka

  • SS Muramatsu Kaito
  • CF Maeda Yuuta
  • 3B Ooishi Teppei
  • LF Naruse Kazuto
  • C Mori Koutarou
  • 2B Fujita Seiya
  • 1B Inazumi Rui
  • P Ikeya Souta
  • RF Koyanagi Ren

14:20 – First Pitch!

Well, any hopes of having a regular game are gone. Even some scoreless innings. But perhaps Osaka Touin is just getting the runs in now so we can get zeroes the rest of the game.

I’m just going to go through what happened, because it was just me looking at the screen shaking my head.

  • Fujiwara – Single to center
  • Miyazaki – Walk
  • Nakagawa – Sac bunt, Ikeya throws it away 2 runs score. 2-0.
  • Yamamoto – Walk
  • Neo – Sac fly to left. 3-0.
  • Yamada – Bloop single down RF line
  • Fukui – Single to center, 4-0.
  • Sakanoshita – K
  • Yokogawa – Slicer over SS for a single, 6-0.
  • Fujiwara – K

Well, that’s over.

No? K. Just let me know when the nonsense ends.

Wait, it doesn’t?

So Shizuoka comes to bat and then this happens:

  • Muramatsu – Walk
  • Maeda – Sac bunt, Yokogawa boots ball near 1B line.
  • Ooishi – Sac bunt, Yokogawa picks it up looks to 3B, throw to 1B late.
  • Naruse – Double to left, clears bases. 6-3.
  • Mori – Passed ball, K
  • Fujita – Single through right side, 6-4.
  • Inazumi – Wild pitch @ 0-2
  • #10 Kagawa replaces Yokogakwa
  • Inazumi (cont) – Double to left center, 6-5.

Really? Are we really going there?

  • Ikeya – Grounder up middle, great stop and throw by Sakanoshita
  • Koyanagi – Single to center, 6-6.

I guess so.

  • Muramatsu – Single through left side.
  • Maeda – Flyout to left. Change.

So 6 is the new 0, got it.

Ikeya has a 1-2-3 2nd inning, though Yamamoto puts up a fight for the 3rd out.

And then Osaka Touin goes to its ace in Tokuyama to start the 2nd.

Are we really going to go through this again? K.

  • Ooishi – Walk
  • Naruse – Double over CF to wall.
  • Mori – Line single to RF, 7-6.
  • Fujita – Walk
  • Inazumi – K looking, fastball inside
  • Ikeya – Sac bunt, force at home (Sure, I’m already shaking my head, but why? Both pitchers are struggling, just make Tokuyama work)
  • Koyanagi – Lineout to right near RF line

So in the end it was 1 run, but why squeeze when both teams are tripping all over themselves is beyond me. It makes the game go faster so there’s that.

After that it takes me a while to reset my mind to the game. The silliness that ensued made me wonder if it was going to continue. It didn’t, but at the same time, nothing really happened at all.

In fact until the break, there was just 1 base hit combined on both sides. Almost like the two teams had a truce.

If they did though, perhaps it was only until the break because then both Yamada and Sakanoshita both collected peculiar base hits. Yamada with a blopper landing on the RF line or close to it, and Sakanoshita with a high chopper that left Ikeya with no play. Ikeya gets out of the inning but perhaps the action will pick up once again.

It does in Shizuoka’s Lucky 7.

Naruse walks, Mori lays down the bunt, but Tokuyama goes to 3rd and Yamada anticipates the tag and doesn’t secure the ball. Runners at the corners, Fujita singles to right and the lead is 2 now at 8-6.

Ikeya fails to bunt and move the runners over, leaving it to Koyanagi. He walks and the lineup turns over. Nishitani-kantoku calls time. He knows that at this point he’s going to his position players. SS Neo was warming up earlier.

But Matsumura chases a high and outside fastball. Side retired and Osaka Touin chasing a not-impossible 2 runs.

Well, there goes that.

Neo singles through the left side. Yamada almost has an identical hit. But then out of nowhere Naruse flubs the ball and that allows Neo to score. 8-7.

Shizuoka maybe getting lax with all these clean innings.

Fukui bunts Yamada along to try and tie the game, which Sakanoshita does with yet another single through the left side. 8-8 and Shizuoka has to really be careful.

18 Nishijima to hit for Tokuyama meaning that Neo will take the mound.

And now Ikeya hangs one ahead 1-2! Nishijima drives it to deep right for an RBI triple and Osaka Touin has their first lead since the 1st, 9-8! Ikeya keeps it there, but now Shizuoka finds themselves on the back foot with precious little time left.

But, they build something in the 8th.

One down, Ooishi gets a walk. Naruse follows that up with a clean single through the left side. A base hit ties the game.

However, instead they try the hit and run, not once, but twice. And on the second attempt, Mori swings and misses at a ball above eye-level for strike 3 and then Nakagawa throws out Ooishi at 3rd for a double play and side retired.

That was completely uncalled for and a sign of panic.

With that Osaka Touin scored 2 in the 9th to lead 11-8 and effectively seals the game away.

The game started completely ridiculous and ended in almost the same fashion. But really no matter the silliness, the cardinal sin was the unnecessary hit-and-run in the 8th which cost them their only chance to come back.

Yet another kantoku who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Today is done. We have 2 replay games tomorrow. Hopefully the silliness will end sometime.

List of kantoku’s who don’t know what they’re doing:

  • Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei – Nakai-kantoku
  • Shuugakukan – Kajisha-kantoku (on probation)
  • Meitoku Gijyuku – Mabuchi-kantoku
  • Shizuoka – Kuribayashi-kantoku
89th Haru Koushien – Day 6, Game 1 – Ube Koujyou (Yamaguchi) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 6, Game 1 – Ube Koujyou (Yamaguchi) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)

(photo courtesy of Asahi. Nishitani didn’t want to even shake hands. Kidding. They did.)

Last game of the first round and they leave the best for last. No, not really, but they leave a headliner for last in Osaka Touin.

It’s not like the Osaka Touin we’ve seen in prior years though. Yeah, they’re still strong, but not the dominating force anymore. Perhaps Riseisha has replaced PL Gakuen as their competition.

There are uncharacteristic cracks in their resume – the close game against Osaka Kaisei, the loss to Riseisha in a high scoring game, the close game against Chiben Gakuen, and the loss to Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku that while perhaps not in jeopardy, pushed them down to the 5th and 6th slots from the region. The pitching as usual is spotty but I don’t think it’s Waseda bad, and the hitting doesn’t instill as much fear as it normally does.

Ube Koujyou probably has their work cut out for them. The Soushi Gakuen game is the only good game on their resume, as Sapporo Dai-ichi being routed doesn’t help them one bit, yet Soushi Gakuen has already been eliminated.

I won’t harbour much hope for Ube Koujyou. Yes, Osaka Touin is not as strong, but they prolly don’t need to be for this game.

Ube Koujyou

  • LF Furutani Shingo
  • CF (#18) Tateishi Yoshinori
  • RF Hyakutome Yuusuke
  • SS Shimatani Shouhei
  • 1B Aratake Yuudai
  • 3B Uchida Hironobu
  • C Masaki Yuuta
  • P Waseda Reo
  • 2B Naraki Yuuma

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara Kyouta
  • LF (#12) Miyazaki Jinto
  • 1B (#5) Nakagawa Takuya
  • RF Yamamoto Dante Musashi
  • SS (#7) Neo Akira
  • 3B (#13) Yamada Kenta
  • C (#3) Fukui Shougo
  • 2B Sakanoshita Haruto
  • P Tokuyama Souma

09:00 – First Pitch!

It’s just the first inning and things are already bad. While Ube Koujyou goes down in order, Waseda cannot record a single out before being pulled 5 batters into the game. He winds up having all 5 batters he faced come home to score as Aratake does his best to manage the situation, but allows all inherited baserunners to score. 5-0 Osaka Touin after the 1st inning and the rout is on.

Only a couple of notes as the game moved to the break. Aratake tried to hold down the fort as best he could, but a run in the 2nd, a 2-run HR by Yamada in the 4th and multiple errors by his 2B (when it rains it pours), meant that they trailed 10-0.

Both pitchers appear to be benefiting from a larger strike zone, especially inside. Tokuyama’s control is about what I thought it was, which was not very good – especially in the 5th where he walked and hit a batter to load the bases. And as for Osaka Touin’s batters it’s always harder to gauge when on the right side of a blowout, but they are getting fooled at times as well as freezing on those inside pitches.

In the end, the score is 11-0. The only further thing to report is that we see 2 other people take the mound in #10 Kagawa and #2 (!) Iwamoto. Both pitchers can throw hard, but as is generally the case the control isn’t there so the problem remains for their staff.

So first things first, Ube Koujyou really disappointed me. Based upon the other games from the region, I thought they could at least be respectable, but the game was anything but. Bad start on the mound, poor fielding and hitting just let them down.

Osaka Touin was pretty much what I thought. They’re going to need some work over the next couple of months to beat Riseisha. Perhaps the pieces are there, but not right now.

Handicapping the field – Osaka Touin (9th appearance, 3rd consecutive)

Handicapping the field – Osaka Touin (9th appearance, 3rd consecutive)

(photo courtesy of Yahoo! News)

Road to Haru Koushien

Prefecturals

  • def Izumi 14-1 (5 inn)
  • def Kansaidai Hokuyou 12-1 (8 inn)
  • def Osaka Kaisei 3-2
  • def Osaka Han-ai 8-1 (7 inn)
  • def Kitano 8-1 (7 inn)
  • lost Riseisha 4-7
  • def Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan 12x-5 (8 inn)

Super-Regionals

  • def Ryuukokudai Heian 7-0 (7 inn)
  • def Chiben Gakuen 6-4
  • lost Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku 3-5

It sort of feels odd to be this far into covering the Kinki region and only now getting to Osaka Touin. It shouldn’t though because in 2014 they only made it to the quarterfinals, and the year before that lost in the 4th round of the prefecturals to, yep you guessed it, Riseisha.

But this iteration doesn’t seem quite right. Osaka Kaisei isn’t a bad team, but also shouldn’t be pushing Osaka Touin to the limit. The loss to Riseisha is certainly understandable, but allowing Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan to make a run isn’t, and neither does the loss to Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku. Nothing here really screams out the Osaka Touin we’re “used” to seeing.

So let’s see what we can find digging in. Their ace is Tokuyama Souma (徳山 壮磨), promoted over the “off-season”. As you can see, he did get a cup of coffee last spring, pitching an inning against Tosa at Koushien. He gave up a hit, but did not walk or strike out a batter. Statistics are hard to find for the prefecruals, but he did pitch the first 2 games of the super-regionals. Against Ryuukokudai Heian he was stellar, giving up just 4 hits, striking out 9 and walking 1. But versus Chiba Gakuen, he struggled, striking out just 4 while giving up 8 hits and walking 5. More importantly he did not pitch the Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku game, which might explain some things. Still, the latter line may be more of an indicator of his ability and could explain the Osaka Kaisei game as well. He throws in the upper 130s, with a slider/curve combo as standard.

The two pitchers who took the mound in their last game were Inoue Daisuke (井上 大輔) and Kagawa Reiji (香川 麗爾). Inoue is a taller southpaw with an apparent high release point. Kagawa is a righty who some say is a sidearmer, but it seems more like a compact three-quarters delivery.

All 3 pitchers actually played at Meiji Jingu in 2015 against Takamatsu Shougyou. Kagawa got the most time on the mound, going 1.2 innings giving up 2 runs on 5 hits striking out 1. Location was spotty as he left pitches up in the zone. It was also hard to tell what pitches he has from the video. There’s the fastball in the mid-130s and the slider in the mid 120s. I don’t see a traditional curve but perhaps a changeup in the 120 range. There’s a pitch in the 130 range that either might be a cutter or a shuuto, but it doesn’t really move much.

Inoue was up next, and pitched to just 2 batters, getting out of a manrui pinch. There’s only 2 pitches I think we saw, and that was the fastball in the low-mid 130s and a swooping curve in the high 100s.

Tokuyama pitched the 8th, giving up 2 hits (thought one was a bunt that stayed fair) and striking out 1. He only threw 1 off-speed pitch, otherwise it looked like it was all 2-seamers and 4-seamers.

All 3 pitchers though struggled with control and that appears to be an ongoing issue with them still and may be one reason why their performance is not perhaps what people expect, though if we were to be fair, Osaka Touin has not been known for it’s ace pitchers, Fujinami Shintarou notwithstanding.

Which then brings us to the meat of the team which should be their offense. They’re generally known to have power hitters which can just run up the score on their competition. It would appear they still have that ability, but they may have to work overtime to make up for their pitching. They did hit 3 HRs in the super-regionals, 2 against Ryuukokudai Heian (OF Fujiwara Kyouta 藤原 恭大 and CIF Nakagawa Takuya 中川 卓也), and 1 against Chiben Gakuen (2B/CF Neo Akira 根尾 昴). By the way, all 3 HRs in the loss to Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku game were hit by Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku.

On a side note, Neo was on the NOMO Japan team when it headed to the US to play a couple of exhibition games. Not only that but he even spot started in their game against Kitano though I find it hard to think that he would start at Koushien.

Nakagawa could probably be considered one of their more consistent hitters, going 6-11 in the super-regionals with 5 RBIs. Neo was 3-6 before going hitless in their loss. 2B Sakanoshita Haruto (坂之下 晴人) was 5-13 recording a hit in each of their 3 games. The team as a whole though hit 27-96 in the super-regionals for a not-so-spectacular 0.281. It’s still good, but not mind-blowing.

And so I think we’re back looking at an Osaka Touin team that perhaps isn’t quite where Nishitani-kantoku imagines it to be. They certainly look vulnerable, but don’t go looking for a first-round exit. Probably. I imagine them looking to use this to help them round into form for the summer. I mean, they’ll more than likely have to play Riseisha to get there.