Tag: Riseisha

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 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(picture courtesy of Sanspo)

You. I’ve got you.

Riseisha’s Takeda Yuu is really the real deal. Yeah, there was the game against Nichidai-san, but they were one of the more offensive powers in the tournament, so that was to be expected. But his last 2 games have been absolutely stellar, making a 1-0 lead look insurmountable to Shiritsu Kure and then being pitcher perfect through the first 6 innings against Moriokadai Fuzoku.

The offense is actually a bit concerning. In their last matchup against Moriokadai Fuzoku the team implemented a small ball strategy that lower tier teams use which is completely inexplicable because when they had to swing away they actually hit the darned ball. So it’s really shooting themselves in the foot.

Houtoku Gakuen is here mainly because Fukuokadai Oohori made a conscientious decision to sit their ace Miura, and that had to be the main reason for their loss. I do believe they have been the beneficiary of an easier schedule but you can only play who’s put in front of you.  Ace Nishigaki did not give up a run until their last game and has averaged a K per inning. But the walk numbers have slowly gone up as well, and that just won’t do here.

In addition, they have not faced an ace like Takeda, and yet in the Maebashi Ikuei game when ace Maruyama came in, the Houtoku offense shut down.

Houtoku Gakuen is probably on the back foot, but if they can survive the first couple of innings they may stand a better chance. They just might too, because Takeda isn’t starting.

Riseisha

  • RF Ishida Ryuuji
  • 2B Mizobe Touki
  • 3B Yasuda Hisanori
  • LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
  • 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
  • CF Tsutsui Taisei
  • C Katayama Yuu
  • SS Nishiyama Koutarou
  • P (#10) Matsui Hyakudai

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

11:00 – First Pitch!

Yasuda, really?

Nishigaki leaves one right over the plate and Yasuda deposits it in the first couple rows in right. 1-0 Riseisha just like that.

Matsui’s job will be to nurse the game as best he can. And if Takeda doesn’t need to take the mound all the better.

But the very first batter goes to a full count and singles past Nishiyama into center. Nagayama bunt fails to move the runner over, and then to add insult to injury Mizobe makes a great diving stop on Kataoka’s ground ball, gets the out at 1st, and then throws to 3rd where they get Nagayama who tried to take the extra base. 3rd out at 3rd. Oy.

Riseisha notches another run on it’s belt in the 2nd. Leadoff walk to Hamauchi, but no bunting by Riseisha. 2 down and Nishiyama at bat. Drives a ball to right, Okamoto under it, until he’s not! He makes a last minute leap and it’s over his head! Runner scores and it’s 2-0 Riseisha.

I mention the little things to Houtoku Gakuen, but that also applies to Riseisha.

Shinohara’s ground ball to the right side is run down by Mizobe, but his footing goes from under him and he can’t make a play. Later, Ikegami singles to center and Shinohara takes 3rd, but then the ball rolls up Tsutsui’s arm and toward right. Shinohara restarts and goes home, giving back the gift run 2-1.

Despite that Riseisha continues to pressure Nishigaki. Ishida drives a ball to center left and it’s by Nagayama for a double. Now Mizobe strikes out, but after that Nishigaki walks both Yasuda and Wakabayashi to load the bases.

Nagata-kantoku has seen enough. Ikegami comes in from 3B to pitch and #13 Hosoki takes over at 3B.

The outside corner though seems to be an engima, because on the 2-2 pitch it looks like the corner but is called ball 3. Ikegami looks like he puts it in the same place and this time he gets the punchout. 2 down.

Tsutsui pops out to Shinohara at home and for now they’re holding on.

Houtoku though is trying to do more than that. One down, top of the lineup due in the 3rd. Kozono and Nagayama square up a pair of fastballs for singles. Things get worse for Matsui when he spikes a 55-foot curveball. Both runners advance and now a base hit can give Houtoku Gakuen the lead.

Kataoka square up a ball and drives it to right, but not only is it right at Okamoto, but Kozono was not tagging up. 2 down.

No matter though because Shinohara is there again! He takes the outside fastball the other way for a base hit and Kozono scores to tie the game 2-2. Takeda starts warming up…

And he’s coming in. Matsui is PH for in the 4th which means his day is done. He gave them 3 innings, but probably could not go further.

Ikegami rudely welcomes him with a single back up the middle. He’s bunted over, though not for Okamoto, but PH (#13) Shiodzuki. Puts in a good AB, but lines out to Nishiyama.

Hosoki grounds back to Takeda to end the inning, but as you could prolly understand Takeda’s control is not quite all there to start his stint. Next inning will be a good indicator of his effectiveness.

Ikegami though threatens to throw it away. Gives up 2 two-out singles on his fastball before finally getting a routine ground ball from Hamauchi to end the inning.

Houtoku Gakuen goes in order, much to Takeda’s pleasure certainly, so we’re at the break knotted at 2. Houtoku Gakuen has held on so far, so they do certainly stand a chance in the final 4 innings, especially with Takeda not as sharp.

More small things for Riseisha, and again with Mizobe. Kantou with a ball back up the middle, Mizobe runs that one down too, but again he can’t control his slide and the ball slips away. He gets to advance to 2nd when Ikegami hits a ball slowly back up the middle. And wouldn’t you know it Nagao singles to center on the next pitch and Houtoku Gakuen has the 3-2 lead.

Riseisha suddenly finds themselves needing a run and only 9 outs to go. But the batters are struggling with Ikegami’s delivery, especially his high pitches to which they can’t square them up. Soon there’s 2 down for Yasuda and they basically put him on. Which is fine because Wakabayashi pops out.

More trouble for Takeda. Kantou takes an outside forkball the other way down the line for a one-out double. Bears down to get the final 2 outs, but Riseisha running out of time.

In fact before you know it, it’s the top of the 9th and Riseisha still trailing by 1.

#3 Shirataki to hit for Nishiyama, maybe as a last gasp with the bottom of the order up.

Instead though Ikegami leaves a ball middle-middle and Shirataki takes it to the wall in right center for a double! Douten run on base with no out! #16 Matsubara replaces him at 2nd. He’s bunted to 3rd, though that can be dangerous.

But now Ishida draws a 4-pitch walk and Nagata-kantoku calls time.

This time Mizobe shows bunt and it’s a safety squeeze. Fouls off the first one.

Does it again and somehow the defense isn’t ready! Shirataki comes home and beats the throw tying the game at 3-3!

That’s it for Ikegami as he goes back to 3rd and #10 Tsudaka takes the mound. Facing Yasuda isn’t the ideal way to enter, but with a base open (even if it’s 3rd) they’re apparently comfortable enough walking him. This to bring up Wakabayashi, who’s 1-3 on the day.

But he delivers! Liner to right falls in front of Shiodzuki and Ishida scores to make it 4-3! And still 1 down!

Hamauchi up to try and add to the lead. Instead he hits a grounder to short. Kozono home for 1, throw to 1st, oh dear…

The throw is high right from the get go and sails down the RF line. Both runners score and Riseisha has a 6-3 lead as Houtoku Gakuen melts down.

Now it’s Houtoku who has to chase, and it’s not 1, not 2, but 3 runs.

One down they do start something. Shiodzuki draws a walk and then PH #18 Yamamoto singles past Hamauchi. That turns the lineup over to Kozono, and he works the count full.

Takeda throws what looks like ball 4, but Kozono instead swings on the shoulder high pitch and pounds it through the right side! One run scores making it 6-4 and runners at the corners!

Making things worse is that Takeda isn’t really finding the strike zone. He falls behind Nagayama 3-1 with pitches that aren’t really chaseable. And then on 3-2 he grooves one that Nagayama pulls foul.

OH MY. Nagayama rips one up the middle, but it’s Mizobe! Mizobe makes the diving stop, goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st and that’s the game! After his misplays earlier, he comes through in the end to save the game!

While Riseisha celebrates in the victory, the Houtoku Gakuen players are taking it hard because Nagata-kantoku is retiring after this tournament and it’s hard to go out in this manner. And perhaps that played a little role in how the 9th turned out. Just 3 outs, 3 outs to reach the final and give their kantoku a parting gift. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Riseisha moves on, but the immediate concern is Takeda. The relief pitching was anything but and Takeda was not sharp at all. They may very well be in a bind tomorrow no matter what happens.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

(picture courtesy of Mainichi – Let it out, you deserved it)

Well, we’re here in the quarterfinals or block finals, however you want to look at it. Riseisha and Moriokadai Fuzoku take the field in the first time in what seems like ages, but is really 3 days.

Riseisha is makes itafte defeating Nichidai-san in the opening day. However, their 1-0 win over Shiritsu Kure does put things a little bit into question.

Moriokadai Fuzoku’s performances seem like a tale of two teams, but perhaps put in context it isn’t. There was their ineffective pitching matchup in the first against Takaoka Shougyou, and then their outlasting of former champs Chiben Gakuen.

The results seems contradictory, but in both cases these were battles of teams who were either average, or slightly above average. So in those types of games there is even more of a razor thin margin wherein the pendulum can swing in any direction, so in the first game, both pitchers happen to be ineffective. In the 2nd game the pitching was on early, but then Chiben Gakuen faltered late. So the scores may be strange, but the team is what it is probably. Average.

Sadly, this isn’t going to cut it against someone like Riseisha. We think. Shiritsu Kure made it seem like there’s a chance, but today is their chance to prove that that game was more of a fluke than anything else.

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

Moriokadai Fuzoku

  • CF Ueda Taku
  • LF Hayashi Kazuki
  • 3B Oosato Kousei
  • SS Higa Kenshin
  • 1B (#13) Sutou Hayate
  • C Matsuda Nao
  • RF Usui Haruki
  • P (#10) Miura Mizuki
  • 2B Kobayashi Yoshinobu

08:30 – First Pitch!

Miura was cruising along in the 1st, but that was until he left a fastball for Yasuda who cleared it over Ueda’s head for a 2-out double. But Wakabayashi hits a hard grounder to short and that’s that for now.

As expected Moriokadai Fuzoku is a bit out of it’s level right not against Takeda. They’re making contact, but so far have been routine plays for the Riseisha defense.

Miura is holding his own for now as Riseisha seems to be really attacking early in counts. Though, when Katayama gets a single to  right, both base hits for Riseisha have been on 3-1 counts.

Perhaps the other batters are picking up on this as Ishida in his 2nd AB draws a walk. Interestingly, Okada-kantoku calls for a bunt even with 1 out and Mizobe lays it down.

With 1st base open and Yasuda coming up to bat, already with a double, it’s no surprise he’s walked. It’s manrui for cleanup hitter Wakabayashi, but as quickly as he’s up he routinely flies out to right. Inning over, Riseisha wastes a good chance.

In fact Riseisha continues to play this small ball when they do get baserunners. They do so in the 4th when Hamauchi gets a leadoff hit. But they can’t when Mizobe gets a 2-out base hit.

Now, Miura should have gotten out of the inning when Yasuda grounded to short, but with Kobayashi perhaps anticipating the putout too much, lets the ball slip by into right. Things get even more compounded when Miura walks Wakabayashi despite being ahead in the count.

It all culminates with a pitch that goes through the legs of Matsuda.  Mizobe scores and Riseisha has the 1-0 lead.

Hamauchi is walked to reload the bases for a force on any base, but again, there is nowhere to put Takeda.

First pitch curve, Takesda lines it past a diving Oosato. 2 runs score and Riseisha has broken the gates open at 3-0.

Tsutsui doubles to deep left center scoring two more, making the game 5-0. Why they were bunting in earlier innings baffles me.

If that weren’t bad enough that an error led to all 5 runs, perhaps the fact that they’re being no-hit by Takeda makes things just a little worse. Ok, a lot.

Yasuda continues to rake at the plate, connecting on another double, this time to right center adding yet another run to the lead. 6-0 and the only question is if Moriokadai Fuzoku can get a base runner.

Well, the answer is yes, kinda. First pitch to Ueda in the 7th we hear the distinctive ping. Wakabayashi barely gives chase, and just like that all the things Takeda could have been going for are gone. 1 pitch, 1 run, 6-1.

That pretty much wraps up any remaining drama in the game. Riseisha tacks on a couple more runs and the final margin stands at 8-1. Takeda dutifully finishes the game, though he probably shouldn’t have.

Riseisha wins going away, but all that bunting with runners on really concerns me. All a team might do is intentionally (unintentionally) put a runner on base with 1 out. If they bunt the runner over, there’s 2 outs. I’d gladly take those chances. What you can’t do is allow a 2-out baserunner because then they don’t have a choice. It’s just bizarre.

Moriokadai Fuzoku was expectedly outmanned in this game, though lucky to get a HR because that might have been the only way they were going to score a run.

Anyways, Riseisha to Best 4. No surprise there.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 6, Game 2 – Shiritsu Kure (Hiroshima) v Riseisha (Osaka)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 6, Game 2 – Shiritsu Kure (Hiroshima) v Riseisha (Osaka)

(picture courtesy of Chunichi – congrats guys, but…)

Shiritsu Kure should be congratulated on their performance opening game. While they certainly got a couple of assists from Shigakukan in the final stages, they did what they needed to do.

The problem is, their next challenge is a new superpower in Osaka called Riseisha. Now, their game against Nichidai-san was a slugfest with blows being given on both sides. However, in the end Nichidai-san just couldn’t hold on for the 9 rounds and were KO’d at the death.

While this would raise red flags, it may be irrelevant against Shiritsu Kure as their offense doesn’t look comparable against Nichidai-san. Takeda should be able to use this as a game to get things right in anticipation for a possible intra-regional opponent.

Shiritsu Kure

  • LF Fuke Ryouhei
  • 2B Okuda Kazuki
  • 1B Kondou Daisuke
  • SS Nitta Shunki
  • C Kashio Kenta
  • RF Aoki Yuuki
  • CF Nishioka Yuuki
  • 3B Kamigakiuchi Yuui
  • P Ikeda Riki

Riseisha

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

11:45 – First Pitch!

Well, the story is a bit the same here in the 2nd game between Chuugoku and Kinki regions. Kure struggling at the plate, but at least putting bat to ball. Riseisha does get on the board in the 1st, but not for 5 runs. Insead Ikeda gives up a walk, and then with 2 outs Wakabayashi takes a ball the other way for an RBI double. 1-0 Riseisha, but that’s something that is easily acceptable to Kure. Probably.

Shiritsu Kure finally gets their first base hit in Nishioka’s single to center to lead off the 3rd. However Kamigakiuchi can’t bunt and strikes out looking and after Nishioka is thrown out trying to take 2nd, Ikeda chops back to a leaping Takeda for the 3rd out.

Riseisha actually has a chance to build on the lead in the 3rd with a single and a walk. But with one down, the runners take off on a blooper to right. Which would be fine if it fell in, but Aoki instead makes a shoestring catch, and the throw to 2nd is elementary for the double play.

For Ikeda, the plan is simple, don’t give in to the batters, even if it means a walk. He issues a walk to Takeda, though perhaps that was bad timing because afterwards comes Hamauchi and he connects on a ball that goes over Aoki’s head for a double. Takeda though doesn’t score, so Ikeda still has a chance to get out of the inning unscathed.

One bullet dodged as Katayama chases the slider in the dirt for the 2nd out (Kashio completes the play at 1st).

And the second bullet is dodged when Nishiyama grounds to 2nd! Ikeda doing really well on the mound. He’s the proverbial bend-but-don’t-break kind of pitcher.

Kure’s offense is trying to find holes on the ground. Only 2 of the batted balls in play have been via the fly ball. Everything else has been pounded into the group, like Aoki’s 2-out single in the 5th.

Now you throw in a HBP and they have a small brew going on with Kamigakiuchi and his crouch stance.

Unfortunately his ground ball finds Nishiyama, and while Aoki does his best to shield the ball, it’s not enough to prevent the put-out.

Ikeda bends once again in the 5th. Leadoff 4-pitch walk to Ishida. Bunt to 2nd and two more balls before Yasuda grounds out to 1st. Riseisha’s 2nd run stands 90 feet away, but Okuda makes a great charge and throw on a slow grounder for the 3rd out!

The break can’t help Ikeda avoid a pinch in the 6th. 2 outs facing his archnemesis Hamauchi and Hamauchi wins again with a clean single through the right side. Kataoka follow that up with a ball off the end of the bat through the left side. It looks like maybe here they will get their 2nd run but instead Nishiyama hits a ground ball up the middle, Okuda with a great sliding stop and flip to 2nd for the 3rd out.

Ikeda performs his duties brilliantly the final two innings. One walk, no hits and still no runs given up save for the one in the 1st. I said then they would be fine with it. Maybe they still are, but that one run is the biggest elephant in the room at they enter the 9th.

Nakamura-kantoku sends up 2 straight pinch-hitters, because why not? You’ve only had 2 hits the entire game. But with 2 outs Kondou is allowed to be possibly the final AB for Kure. He strikes out looking and Riseisha wins 1-0.

I have not seen a game as well-planned and well-executed like Shiritsu Kure. And yet giving up just 1 run, the offense would be unable to do anything the entire game to get that single run back. They should be commended for their efforts today, despite the futility they faced offensively.

For Riseisha they win, but this game points out the vulnerabilities offensively. 1 run on 6 hits. That’s it. Otherwise, a lot of loud outs and great defensive play. Remaining teams should take note because a blueprint has been made, if only anyone else can follow it.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 1, Game 2 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Nichidai-san (Tokyo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 1, Game 2 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Nichidai-san (Tokyo)

(photo courtesy of Asahi)

The crowd is still full and for good reason. The front-runners for the Senbatsu title take the field in a very critical matchup against mainstay Nichidai-san. Perhaps you would want a matchup to make sure your team is in form, but right off the bat anything can happen.

Riseisha comes after winning the Meiji Jingu tournament and almost completely having their way with the competition. A lot of the credit has to go to ace Takeda Yuu who shut down the competition, including Waseda Jitsugyou. They have 3 big hitters in their lineup, but the rest may be questionable – still they averaged 7 runs in the super-regionals and Meiji Jingu tournaments combined.

Nichidai-san’s resume is rather weak outside of the Waseda Jitsugyou game, but the fact that they played them close and Waseda is considered a contender gave them enough credit over the possible Kanto representative. The thing is, it’s questionable if their talent is there because that was just one game. And they’re starting off by facing the front-runners. This game is a double-edged sword for both sides.

Riseisha

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

Nichidai-san

  • 3B Inoue Taisei
  • 2B Oonishi Kakeru
  • P Sakurai Shuuto
  • 1B Kanari Reo
  • RF Hiruma Kaito
  • SS Hioki Wataru
  • LF Mizoguchi Kouhei
  • CF Yagi Tatsuya
  • C Tsuhara Ryuuto

14:00 – First Pitch!

Well, Sakurai can hit 140 after all. The control looks good on the fastball but the slider just looks like a chase pitch so far. It does get him 2 K’s though in the 1st, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, Takeda struggles right out of the gate. A 4-pitch walk to Inoue and then leaving a hanger over the plate to Oonishi for a triple. He’s able to settle down after that, but by the time the 1st is over, Nichidai-san leads 2-0.

And right now it’s all one way in favor of Nichidai-san. Riseisha seems unable to cope with Sakurai as he racks up 2 more Ks in the 2nd.

Takeda still having issues with the Nichidai-san lineup, giving up singles to Yagi and Tsuhara at the bottom of the lineup. It’s not like he’s missing location, Nichidai-san’s batters are just hitting the ball. Takeda gets out of the inning, but he’s certainly on the back foot.

Of course, timing dictates I say that and something opposite happens. Hamauchi in for matchup purposes singles back up the middle. After a sac bunt, $9 batter Nishiyama hits a letter high fastball deep and over the LF head for a double, cutting Nichidai-san’s lead to 2-1.

Sakurai looking vulnerable now as he hits Mizobe with 2 down, but he strikes out Yasuda for the second time in as many ABs. Still up 2-1, now with 6 Ks.

Takeda is settling down, but Nichidai-san isn’t making it easy on him. He is yet to have a clean inning, but it’s not like he’s pitching poorly in my opinion. The speed is just a tick over average, he’s not missing his spots by a large margin, but it’s not missing bats (though he did get 2 Ks in the 3rd).

Riseisha continues to struggle offensively outside of that 3rd inning. Sakurai has had 3 clean frames and the 4th is the first one he didn’t have 2 Ks so I guess there’s that.

Of course I say that and then in the 4th Yagi gets a fortunate infield hop that eats up Mizobe and Takeda walks Tsuhara. The bottom 2 have reached base in every appearance.

And yet he retires the top of the lineup to end the inning. I have no idea.

Defensive replacement in LF as #15 Yanagizawa comes in for Mizoguchi. Maybe as a result of the ball over his head? It seems weird.

So does Riseisha’s lineup. The heart of the lineup is 0-6 with 5 Ks. And yet in the 5th, after Katayama walks and Nishiyama singles, the bottom of the lineup is 3-4 with a double, run, RBI and just 1 K.

What’s this? Ishida looks to have crushed a ball. Yagi goes back to the wall and is slowing down! Wait, really?!

Yes! It’s gone for a home run! The top of the lineup comes through in a big way as Ishida hits a 3-run HR to give Riseisha a 4-2 lead!

With that one mistake the script totally flips. Takeda gets his first clean inning before the break, and Sakurai is at 80 pitches already through 5, and trails despite striking out 9.

7th inning now, and once again, Sakurai faces the bottom of the Riseisha order. And he walks Hamauchi to lead it off. Katayama sacs again and after a wild pitch, Sakurai cannot find Nishinomiya and walks him on 4 straight, turning the lineup over, again.

He strikes out Ishida although he gives up a hard foul ball. But after Mizobe also drives a ball deep and foul he lines a ball to left, driving in Hamauchi to make it a 5-2 Riseisha lead.

A HBP to Yasuda, his 3rd free pass, has to mean he’s out of gas. Yet Ogura-kantoku is sticking with him and that could be dangerous.

Fortunately, cleanup batter Wakabayashi is up and he swing on a ball in the dirt for his 4th K of the night. I don’t think the term Golden Sombrero translates though.

But as quickly as Riseisha took the lead, Nichidai-san uses the Lucky 7 to claw back the margin. After striking out Tsuhara, Inoue and Oonishi single back up the middle. And then he leaves one up for his counterpart Sakurai and he rips it down the right field line, clearing the bases! It’s back to a 5-4 Riseisha lead!

After a timeout, Takeda pitches around Kanari to create a force. He doesn’t need it though for Hiruma as he strikes him out on 3 straight pitches! 2 down and Hioki is their last chance this inning.

And he hits a foul fly to right to end the inning! Takeda gets out of the jam, but his control seemed not as sharp as in prior innings, and was certainly leaving pitches up in the zone.

Could the script flip once again? Bottom 8, Yanagisawa singles back up the middle. Yagi moves the potential douten run into scoring position for Tsuhara.

It does! Takeda leaves a ball over the plate and Tsuhara drives it deep to right center for an RBI triple! We’re all square at 5-5!

Inoue tries to put Takeda in the coffin, turning an inside pitch deep but foul. He succumbs to the slider, as does Oonishi, stranding Inoue at 3rd.

So heading into the 9th we’re basically under sudden death. And for Sakurai it came at the worst time as the 8-9-1 batters were due up.

And wouldn’t you know it, he walks Katayama on 4 straight. Ogura-kantoku can’t risk it now and sends in #10 Okabe. He takes over Yagi’s spot and Sakurai goes to center.

The fortunate thing is that the best the bottom 2 can do is put a runner in scoring position. Now, with Sakurai in center can the Riseisha lineup do something? It’s certainly change of pace as Okabe does not throw as hard, but does he have the stuff?

For now yes. Ishida meekly waves at a pitch outside in slow motion as he knows he’s walking back to the dugout.

2 straight changeups get him ahead of Mizobe before a waste pitch.

Mizobe reaches out and pokes a ball to the left side. It somehow gets under Inoue and past Hioki into left! Katayama with a wide turn coming home, the throw comes in and… he’s safe! Katayama slides under the tag and Riseisha has a 6-5 lead!

And if Shigakukan’s collapse in the 12th was one thing, Nichidai-san’s in the 9th was another.

Sakurai and Okabe switch places, but on the first pitch Yasuda doubles to deep left giving Riseisha a 7-5 lead. After that…

  • Wakabayashi hits ball back up middle, Hioki stops it, but boots it so there’s no play. 8-5.
  • Tsutsui singles to right.
  • Okabe retakes the mound.
  • Takeda with hot shot to Inoue and it bounces off of him to SS for no play.
  • PH #3 Shirataki drives a ball to deep right, clearing the bases with a triple. 11-5.
  • #14 Kuwayama comes in to run for Shirataki
  • Katayama hits swinging bunt, Tsuhara falls down fielding it, throw is late. 12-5.
  • Nishiyama walks.
  • Ishida singles to left, this time Katayama is thrown out to end the inning.

That basically ended the game for Nichidai-san. They got a couple of baserunners on in the 9th, but it was too hard of a hill to climb that late.

The thing is, if somehow Nichidai-san had found a way to advance, their viability going forward could be an issue. Yes, they would still be favored to reach the quarterfinals but the fact that in game 1 Sakurai was already unable to finish a game would bring up huge red flags. It’s not to say that Riseisha has their own pitching troubles, but Takeda didn’t look as bad in the late innings. He could be tiring a bit, but he didn’t look done. Some of Sakurai’s pitches suggested he was done.

Nichidai-san did well with their converted CF turned ace. But in the end it just wasn’t enough. It’s actually a wonder how they held on against Waseda Jitsugyou if you ask me.

Riseisha is fortunate the game wound up the way it did. Takeda shows bit and pieces of being a good pitcher, but hopefully for them this is just him warming up.

 

Handicapping the field – Riseisha (7th appearance, 1st in 3 years)

Handicapping the field – Riseisha (7th appearance, 1st in 3 years)

(photo courtesy of Shizuoka Shinbun – at-s.com)

Road to Natsu Koushien

Prefecturals

  • def Kunijima 24-0
  • def Osaka Shiritsu 14-1
  • def Nishi-Noda Kouka 10-0
  • def Osaka Taiikudai Namishou 8-1
  • def Kansai Souka 10-2
  • def Osaka Shoudai Sakai 9-2
  • def Osaka Touin 7-4
  • lost Uenomiya Taisha 3-10

Super-Regionals

  • def Ikuei 8-1
  • def Takada Shougyou 7-0
  • def Shiga Gakuen 6-3
  • def Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku 8-2

Meiji Jingu Taikai

  • def Sendai Ikuei 5-1
  • def Fukui Koudai Fukui 4-3
  • def Sapporo Dai-ichi 7-2
  • def Waseda Jitsugyou 11-6

And so we’re probably at the prohibitive favorites to win it all. Or so the pundits I bet will say. You can’t necessarily blame them. Defeating Osaka Touin is always a plus (though it wasn’t a win or go home game – there was still the 3rd place game to get into the super-regionals). Then the relative dismantling of Tier 2 schools in the Super-Regionals, and then going through the Meiji Jingu Taikai using part of their B squad before outlasting the Kiyomiya’s in a slugfest. It’s hard to say they aren’t at least one of the front-runners.

Their problem at Natsu Koushien was actually not starting Terashima in the loss to Jyousou Gakuin. Given, Terashima would have started on 1 full days rest, so it certainly wasn’t ideal, but once Yamaguchi let the flood gates open, Terashima could do very little to stem the tide before it was much too late.

Terashima though is gone, drafted 1st by the Yakult Swallows. Riseisha now starts from scratch, but has found a new ace in Takeda Yuu (竹田 祐). Thanks to the video we see that he has a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 130s. He has a curve in the lower 120s, and early in the video there is a ball that is recorded at 128 that looks like a fastball. I have to assume that it is a forkball of some sort. So we know he has those two pitches, and I imagine he has to have a slider though we didn’t see it in that video. And while this video shows the curveball even as low as the high 110s, it doesn’t help me figure out the slider.

The only hangup for Takeda might be his stamina. After 2 solid performances, against Shiga Gakuen he went the distance, but gave up 3 runs on 15 hits, striking out just 6 and walking 3. Then in the final against Waseda Jitsuyou, while he didn’t give up a run, he gave up 6 hits and 5 walks while striking out 7 in 6.1 innings of work. His line at Meiji Jingu was the following:

  • 4 G, 1 GS, 20.1 IP, 1 CG, ER, 15 H, 17 K, 8 BB
  • 0.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.65 K/9, 3.58 BB/9, 2.125 K/BB

He may not be an overpowering strikeout artist, but he is certainly getting the job done even despite the poor numbers against Waseda. But I’m skeptical right now that he can do the job alone, which means that #11 Tanaka Raita (田中 雷大) will need to shoulder his fair share of the innings, if not outright start. The only problem is there is little information on him compared to Takeda. The few reports I do have of him are pitching in the 130s, and I assume lower 130s if anything. And from his lines, he looks like a general innings eater:

  • 3 G, 1 GS, 9.2 IP, 3 ER, 13 H, 7 K, BB
  • 2.79 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.52 K/9, 0.93 BB/9, 7 K/BB

Note that 6 of his 7 Ks were against Fukui Koudai Fukui in 6 innings of work.

There is a 3rd option available, but maybe only against weaker competition. That’s #10 Matsui Hyakudai (松井 百代). He handled Sapporo Dai-ichi much like Tanaka, but struggled against Waseda giving up 4 earned runs in 2+ innings of work. There is understandably even less information on him, so we can only assume he like Tanaka is another innings eater at best.

  • 2 G, 2 GS, 6+ IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 3 K, 2 BB
  • 6.00 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, 3 BB/9, 1.5 K/BB

Offensively, the most consistent hitter is by far their C Katayama Yuu (片山 悠), who actually sits 7th in the lineup. Which is completely amazing if you ask me.

  • Meiji Jingu – 6-15, 3 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 0 K, 2 BB

There seems to be more chatter about 3B Yasuda Hisanori (安田 尚憲) instead. Can’t be helped though because he returns to the roster having hit 0.333 with 2 doubles at Natsu Koushien. His line at Meiji Jingu though was a bit less stellar:

  • Meiji Jingu – 3-13, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 K, 5 BB

Sure 2 of his hits went for extra bases, but 3-13 doesn’t quite inspire confidence.

One last person to keep an eye on offensively is 2B Matsubara Touya (松原 任耶) who didn’t even wear a starting number. That might change come the spring though if he continues hitting like this:

  • Meiji Jingu – 7-15, 2 2B, 3B, 7 RBI, 2 K, 2 BB

The rest of the lineup went a combined 16-82 (0.195) which is to say the least uninspiring. It also means that the offense could suffer a power outage much like the Jyousou Gakuin game last summer. Sure, this was against all the super-regional champions, but there are certainly better teams out there than some of them. They may be a front-runner, but they’re certainly far from invulnerable.