Tag: Shuugakukan

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 9, Game 1 – Kouryou (Hiroshima) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

(photo courtesy of)

Kouryou

Road to the title

  • def Chuukyoudai Chuukyou 10-6

I couldn’t take too close look at this game as I was busy on a call, but noted that Kouryou needed a pitching change to get ahead of Chuukyoudai Chuukyou. And despite all the runs, the middle of the lineup was the most effective, and the team averaged a K per inning. And when trying to get other pitchers in for work, they could take away that they have just 2 usable pitchers.

What happens when they face a team with good pitching through and through? Well, given their next opponent, we’ll find out

Shuugakukan

Road to the title

  • def Yokohama 6-4

Yokohama probably wasn’t a title contender, but was still a tough first round matchup for Shuugakukan. And they performed as best as they could have, jumping ahead and if not for an error in the 7th, they could have won 6-1. Otherwise, the combination of Taura and Kawabata gave up just 4 hits and walked 3 while striking out 9.

The offense, much like Kouryou, is strongest in the middle, and the bottom was pretty much easy outs (outside of PH Hashiguchi who had a 2-RBI hit in his appearance).

So it will probably be up to the remaining aces to bring the team a title. Which is pretty much where they were last year.

Lineups

Kouryou

  • RF Takada Masaya
  • SS Takada Kiri
  • C Nakamura
  • LF Kagawa
  • CF Satou (#13)
  • 1B Oohashi
  • 2B Yoshioka
  • 3B Matsuoka
  • P Hiramoto

Shuugakukan

  • CF Takewa
  • SS Hanjyou
  • 1B Kimoto
  • 3B Hirobe
  • RF Yamashita
  • 2B Watanabe
  • LF Ishii
  • C Kouchi
  • P Kawabata (#10)

08:00 – First Pitch!

Away from the computer, and will be for most of the day unfortunately. But I’m still watching the games.

It’s been a pitchers duel throughout, and we knew that had to be the case with Shuugakukan, but Kouryou’s Hiramoto has been keeping pace. Hasn’t been easy though, allowing runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out in the 2nd.

4th inning rolls around, and Kouryou makes a bid for the opening run. Nakamura gets on with a leadoff hit, and then on a bunt Kawabata throws it away! Runner at the corners no out and it looks like they’re going to score.

But a fly to shallow right and a foulout to 3rd and suddenly Kawabata could really get out of it!

Unfortunately, Kawabata makes his 2nd error of the inning with a wild pitch and Nakamura comes home to score. 1st run scored on a wild pitch of all things and Kouryou had the 1-0 lead!

PING.

That is, until the bottom of the 5th. Hiramoto leaves a curveball (the 4th and only pitch he’s thrown in the AB), and Kouchi deposits it into the seats in left tying the game at 1-1.

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99th Natsu Koushien – Day 4, Game 2 – Yokohama (Kanagawa) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 4, Game 2 – Yokohama (Kanagawa) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi)

Yokohama (17th appearance, 2nd consecutive)

  • Location – Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 813 students (0 female)
  • Club Size – 65
  • Kantoku – Hirata Tooru (平田 徹)

Road to Koushien

  • def Minami 12-0 (7 inn)
  • def Shuuei 9-2
  • def Busou 6-4
  • def Fujisawa Shouryou 6-2
  • def Souyou 9-1 (7 inn)
  • def Toukou Gakuen 10-6
  • def Toukaidai Sagami 9-3

Yokohama, much like Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, could be on the come again and that will not be good news for a lot of teams. After a 3 year absence, they came back and won one game before exiting. In making a repeat appearance, they went and defeated Toukou Gakuen and Toukaidai Sagami back-to-back.

Yokohama also subscribes to the theory of building a big offense and then find a pitcher who can manage the game. I’ve never liked that method because it means that the offense can’t have a day off. In fact, those two games the scores could have easily been much closer. Not surprisingly, the top of the lineup is the most dangerous in OF Chounan, 3B Yamazaki and CF Masuda.

But in the end watch the pitching. They’ll tell you if they have a chance or not.

Shuugakukan (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)

  • Location – Yatsushiro-shi, Kumamoto
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 1,164 students (414 female)
  • Club Size – 100
  • Kantoku – Kajisha Takumi (鍛治舎 巧)

Road to Koushien

  • def Chiharadai 4-2
  • def Kumamoto Nougyou 8-0
  • def Kumamoto Kokufu 9-4
  • def Yatsushiro 7-0
  • def Kyushu Gakuin 3-1

Perhaps due to being hospitalized due to heart arrhythmia at the end of the Kumamoto qualifying, Kajisha-kantoku has indicated that his will be his last year managing the team. It’s sad to see, because while I wanted him to be removed for incompetently managing the pitching staff it was just because of that. Having to see a person retire due to health concerns is something completely different. Hopefully he can get his health in order and if he can come back in some capacity that would be great.

Shuugakukan is certainly weaker now that they’ve lost 2 of their 4 aces, but Taura and Kawabata have made strides and could still make them a title contender.

So it boils down to if Kajisha-kantoku can manage the pair effectively (which is harder because you have no backup should you switch, unlike last year), and if the offense is good enough because they have been known to fold.

Lineups

Shuugakukan

  • CF Takewa
  • SS Hanjyou
  • 1B Kimoto
  • 3B Hirobe
  • RF Taura (#1)
  • LF Yamashita (#9)
  • 2B Watanabe
  • C Kouchi
  • P Kawabata (#10)

Yokohama

  • LF Koizumi
  • 3B Yamazaki
  • 2B Saitou
  • CF Masuda
  • RF Mannami
  • C Fukunaga
  • 1B Ichimura
  • P Shiobara (#10)
  • SS Endou

11:15 – First Pitch!

1st Inning

Takewa getting Shuugakukan off to a quick start hitting a triple to right. Hanjyou with a deep fly to left, Koizumi securing it near the foul pole, but Takewa walks in for 1-0 lead.

And then a line single up the middle, a loud double to left center makes it 2-0.

Ace Taura, starting in RF, pokes a ball through the drawn in infield (necessary because of a wild pitch), makes it 3-0!

Shiobara still reeling as Shuugakukan continue to get hits off of him. Yamashita flies out to right, but Watanabe shoots one past Endou for Shuugakukan’s 5th hit already.

Kouchi strikes out to end the inning, but Yokohama needs to find a response quickly.

2nd Inning

Shuugakukan had a chance to extend the lead further but Takewa wipes out his own walk by trying to take 2nd.

Yokohama got a leadoff runner on in Masuda, but when they try the hit-and-run, it catastrophically turns into a strike-em out, throw-em out double play which kills any momentum.

3rd Inning

Shiobara is finally knocked out after giving up another triple, this time to Hirobe and then throwing away a ball after it had ricocheted off of his 1B making the game 4-0.

They could have had more, but they unwisely send home Yamashita on a base hit to left. He’s meat, and all these outs on the basepaths is giving Yokohama hope.

4th Inning

Yokohama finally gets its first base hit in Yamazaki, but on another hit-and-run Saitou lines out to center and Yamazaki has less than 0 chance of getting back to the bag. Double play. Change.

5th Inning

Yokohama’s 3rd P of game #11 Oyokawa is holding Shuugakukan off the board for the past 2 inning, while finally Yokohama gets on the board, but I don’t know if I would have approved of the method.

Masuda gets a leadoff base hit, and after Mannami walks Masuda is given the green light to steal 3rd! Down 4!

And that leads to the run because Fukunaga flies out to deep right allowing Masuda to come home. If nothing else, the run gives them something to build on, as Kawabata might be getting hittable. Still they’re down 4-1.

7th Inning

With Yokohama to their 4th P in Mannami in the 7th, it starts well with 2 quick outs. But then a single and double threaten to break Yokohama. An intentional walk to load the bases brings up Kawabata, but Kajisha-kantoku already has PH prepared.

But a small procedural mistake proves costly. Hirata-kantoku changes P’s to his ace Itagawa first. Because of that, Kajisha-kantoku changes his PH for the handedness matchup. #15 Hashiguchi comes in and hits a single down the RF line scoring 2 and perhaps putting the nails in the coffin. 6-1.

With Kawabata PH for, that means that unless they have secret weapons, ace Taura will take the mound.

It goes off to an inauspicous start as Hanjyou flubs a grounder for the first out. Taura gets 2 out but then Hanjyou singles to right.

PING.

And that would have been fine if he got the third out. But instead that familiar ping means that something quite different happened. Indeed the outfielders give up near the wall as it goes over the LCF wall for a 3-run HR. It’s now 6-4 and with Kawabata PH for, they’re left with either Taura or one of the unknown pitchers on the roster.

8th Inning

I was already getting that feeling before the HR in the 7th and seeing Yokohama’s defense in the 8th you have to wonder if Shuugakukan will let this slip away.

Well, Taura gives up a one-out walk to Endou right when the lineup flipped back over.

Koizumi strikes out for the 2nd out, and in a complete and utter mistake Endou takes off and then retreats back to 1st and is thrown out. Not even the tying run and you make the 3rd out. Oy.

9th Inning

Yokohama gets one last chance to claw back the margin.

Taura goes 3-1 to Yamazaki before throwing 2 strikes for the 1st out.

Saitou too succumbs to the changeup and that leaves it to Masuda to continue Yokohama’s summer. Instead he flies out to left and the game is over.

It actually looked like Yokohama had built a pitching staff the way they were putting in their pitchers. But it was the first inning that really put them on the back foot. Throw in that mistake at the pitching change and that was enough to do them in. They also were working backwards going from relief staff to the ace instead of the other way around which is dangerous for the reasons seen in this game.

I’d be interested to see how Yokohama does in the fall.

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 3 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 3 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)

(photo courtesy of Nikkan Sports)

Shuugakukan is the second beneficiary of the replay games, moving on to facing Kendai Takasaki.

Shuugakukan barely survived against Sakushin Gakuin with the offense doing just enough and the pitching getting some assists from the Sakushin Gakuin batters who weren’t patient enough. In addition, Kajisha-kantoku may have been learning something as he replaced Taura with Kawabata when he started struggling though that was the time Sakushin Gakuin started being patient.

The thing is, Kendai Takasaki is actually in a better position than you think. In the replay game, they started a pitcher who had yet to pitch in the tournament, #13 Mukai Yoshiki. He did his job, spelling all the other pitchers with a 170 pitch complete game effort. He may have been the “break in case of emergency” pitcher as he struck out 11 and walked 7 in his effort.

The stretch run now approaches, and now without a day off between the quarterfinals and semifinals. I don’t think Kendai Takasaki will go away from the multi-pitcher approach, but I’m not sure someone like Mukai can return and spell the main pitchers once again.

Shuugakukan

  • SS Hanjyou Touma
  • 2B Takewa Ryousuke
  • 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
  • 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
  • LF (#18) Ishii Takyua
  • RF (#7) Yamashita Tatsuya
  • CF Fujimoto Shun
  • C Kouchi Tatsuya
  • P (#10) Kawabata Kento

Kendai Takasaki

  • SS (#4) Asato Jyura
  • LF Onodera Daiki
  • 1B Yamashita Kouta
  • 3B Toguchi Taisei
  • RF (#14) Takayama Ryoutarou
  • 2B (#18) Ookoshi Koutarou
  • CF Imai Yuusuke
  • P Itou Atsuki
  • C Oogaki Rentarou

13:20 – First Pitch!

WOW. That was quick. Settling down into my seat I see Takewa hit a single that goes off the end of Asato’s outstretched glove. And then Kimoto gets around on a slider inside and drives it out for a 2-run HR. 2-0 Shuugakukan just like that.

And in a weird defensive move, #9 Akasaka replaces Ishii and goes to his numbered position, Yamashita goes to LF. Huh.

Kendai Takasaki tries to strike back. Asato gets a leadoff single, steals 2nd and advances to 3rd when Hanjyou doesn’t catch the throw.

And yet, Kawabata comes back and strikes out the next 3 batters, all on the slider, stranding Asato at 3rd!

Shuugakukan adds to their lead in the 3rd when Kimoto hits a sac liner to right scoring Hanjyou who earlier hit a double. 3-0 Shuugakukan and it’s getting a little concerning.

That’s because Kendai Takasaki had been unable to do anything against Kawabata and either his fast fastball or his slider. But in the bottom half of the frame, Itou draws a leadoff walk and Oogaki hits a base hit up the middle.

But a failed sac bunt by Asato which cut down the lead runner and then a strikeout on a 141 fastball mean that they could be denied a run. Instead, Yamashita delivers a single back up the middle! Oogaki is sent home, as Fujimoto fires home. The tag is made, and Oogaki is out! He knows it too because he’s not giving a safe signal. Kendai Takasaki is denied and they still trail by 3.

The deficit continues to grow. 4th inning, 2 outs, runners on 1st and 2nd. Itou leaves one up for his counterpart Kawabata and he doubles into the large gap in right center. Both runners score and it’s 5-0 Shuugakukan. Toss in an RBI single by Hanjyou and it’s 6-0.

Then and only then does Aoyagi-kantoku send in #11 Takemoto and send Itou to RF. Kajisha-kantoku then sends in #14 Watanabe and he also doubles to the large gap in right center. 7-0.

Shuugakukan adds another run in the 6th before Kendai Takasaki gets on the board in the bottom half of the frame, almost exclusively because of Onodera. He gets a bunt base hit, steals 2nd, takes 3rd despite behind Yamashita grounding to short, and then scores on a wild pitch. 8-1.

The game is pretty much in hand, but Shuugakukan suffers a setback when a freak accident happens in the bottom of the 8th. Yamashita at 2nd, grounder to 3rd. Throw to 1st for the 2nd out, but then they throw to 3rd to try and get Yamashita. Hanjyou, covering the base, goes to make the tag, but in Yamashita’s slide he catches on the ground and lunges forward. That’s when his head, helmet and all, collides with Hanjyou’s head as he’s turning to make the tag. They make the play, but both players go down. Hanjyou has to be taken off by stretcher and will probably have to be checked for concussions (if they do that).

The final score ends up as 9-2 and Kawabata finished the game despite being shaky with his control in the final innings. I would be more confident in what Kajisha-kantoku had been doing if he has relieved Kawabata with Taura, but my only hope is that he’s alternating between pitchers each start. But I don’t think that’s a good idea either because we’ve seen Taura 2 days ago and now Kawabata faltering a bit late in the game. If he were to split time I think both would be more effective.

Sadly, I think I may have to put Kajisha-kantoku back on my list.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 8, Game 1 – Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 8, Game 1 – Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

(photo courtesy of Asahi)

Well, I’m looking forward to this matchup because it is a battle of managers. Sakushin Gakuin’s Kobari-kantoku has built a program. At the age of 23(!) he took over as manager of Sakushin Gakuin, which was mired in obscurity. 5 years later, his team went to Natsu Koushien, and reached the semifinals where they lost to Kousei Gakuin. From that moment on they would appear and reappear at the tournament Now there was some rebuilding after that year, but eventually it culminated this past summer in a Natsu Koushien title. That certainly will aid him in being able to turn around the program faster  Now, I may not like powerhouse programs, but for someone that young to do what he did, it’s certainly not set in archaic ways and I completely respect what he’s done.

Now, they annihilated Teikyou Dai-go and that was expected. I’m still not convinced the pitching is there and the offense you can’t take much from from their blowout win.

Shuugakukan last summer seemed like they were following a blueprint I thought powerhouse teams should have followed – recruit several top of the line pitchers and rotate as needed to get the title.

Of course, you still have to manage the pitchers. And no, I’m not letting that go.

Now, Kajisha-kantoku returns with a reduced staff looking to do the same thing, and from his first game I’m not sure if he’s learned anything. Also, Shuugakukan also had a blowout win, but that was due to one big inning. About the only team I remember that could depend on such an inning was Tokoha Kikugawa many moons ago, but I don’t think that applies here.

As I said before though, Sakushin Gakuin’s pitching staff isn’t top notch, so there may be an opportunity, but I’m not sure.

Sakushin Gakuin

  • CF Suzuki Maeto
  • 2B Soeda Masato
  • SS Ikezawa Kaito
  • 3B Nakajima Jyun
  • RF Aihara Kousei
  • C Katou Tsubasa
  • 1B Nanai Yuuri
  • LF Ookubo Yuushi
  • P Oozeki Shuutarou

Shuugakukan

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

09:00 – First Pitch!

Taura trying to get off to a quick start, freezing Suzuki on a fastball on the outside black. However he leaves on too much over the plate and Souda takes it the other way and it slices fair down the LF line for a double.

He’s moved to third on a ground ball, but it’s an unforced error that brings the run home. Taura spikes a changeup and it gets away from Kouchi and like that Sakushin Gakuin is up 1-0. He goes back to the changeup to strike out Aihara, but his team will be fighting from behind.

Shuugakukan’s batters not wasting any time, swinging away when they feel like and Oozeki has a 7 pitch first inning.

Taura’s control still isn’t great, but it’s good enough to get Katou looking on a looping curve and two groundouts (though the defense is working a bit as they are not really routine).

Oozeki has his first little hiccup in the 2nd. Hirobe hits a ball that goes through Soeda and into right center. 2 down, and with Hirobe now at 3rd, Oozeki falls behind Kouchi 3-1, but gets a loud flyout to end the inning.

I’m not really that confident in Sakushin Gakuin’s offense right now. Yes, Suzuki collects a base hit in the 3rd, but he’s swinging at pitches at eye level. He missed such a pitch before hitting his single. In addition he’s wiped out with a 6-4-3 double play.

Not that Shuugakukan is faring much better. Outside of Hirobe’s hard hit single, it’s been all routine plays for the Sakushin Gakuin defense. Oozeki’s control though still meh.

That pops back up in the 4th when after he makes a great play in the field, Watanabe rips a ball down the left field line for a leadoff double. No bunt, but Kimoto hits the ball the other way to advance him to 3rd.

Again no bunt from Hirobe, instead it ends up being a chopper right to Ikezawa. He drops it, but still holds the runner while getting out.

This time though Oozeki can’t get out of his own jam. A pitch meant to be inside he leaves middle-middle and Yamashita hits it off the actual fence for a double. Watanabe scores to tie the game at 1-1.

And again Oozeki makes a mistake. This time Taura, who actually isn’t bad with the bad, drives it to the fence in right center, this time for a triple and gives his team the 2-1 lead.

Kouchi goes down swinging, but if Oozeki can’t get his control straightened out, I’m not sure there’s much they can do.

Shuugakuan extends the lead in the 5th. Fujimoto and Hanjyou with similar hits just out of the diving reach of Soeda put the runners at the corners. And despite Oozeki getting a groundball for a possible double play, Watanabe beats out the throw at 1st and before the break Shuugakukan leads 3-1.

Sakushin Gakuin gets a chance in the 7th. A walk by Nakajima starts off the inning, but lack of situational awareness hurts them. Aihara singles to center, but Nakajima tries to press to 3rd and is thrown out when his run isn’t the tying run.

But that does allow a warning sign to be raised. And after Katou lines out to right, Kajisha-kantoku replaces Taura with Kawabata with PH #14 Ishido coming to bat. Now he gives up a base hit to him, but then gets Ookubo on a slider, much to his own disappointment.

In the 8th, a surprise. One down, top of the Sakushin Gakuin order, and now they decide to play the waiting game with Kawabata. Suzuki walks. Soeda walks. Ikezawa slices a ball over Hirobe, and Suzuki scores from 2nd easily. 3-2 Shuugakukan.

Kawabata is hitting the gun hard. 145, 148. But he’s not finding the zone. Nakajima walks. Manrui as Kajisha-kantoku calls for time.

Aihara didn’t sick to the game plan and fell behind. Tried to fight off a couple before he swung on a slider inside and eye-high. That leaves it up to Katou.

But he too falls behind in the count and has to try and hang in there. The count runs full and now everything will be put in motion.

Fastball letter high, fouled off.

Fastball down, swung on and missed. Kawabata escapes with the lead.

Not much to be done with that pitch, but falling behind by swinging at 1-1 didn’t help him.

Shuugakukan goes quietly, meaning that Sakushin Gakuin left to their last ups. Ishido in a PH role earlier gets ahead 2-1 and then gets a pitch to hit. He lines it down the RF line for a double!

#15 Kanno comes in to hit for Ookubo, but doesn’t show the same discipline. Falls behind 0-2 and is frozen on a curve right over the plate.

Oh? A wild pitch from Kawabata goes high in the air and now Ishido stands 90 feet away from a tie game!

All this while Oozeki has to stand in. He falls behind (though he would have had he not swung at the 1-1 pitch. And now he too just stands there as the curve falls in again for strike 3.

Last out, and top of the order in Suzuki. Holds up on a couple of pitches, gets ahead 3-0, and lets the next pitch through. 3-1 pitch somehow is called on the outside black (yes I know there’s like an additional ball width outside the black available).3-2 and now it’s sudden death.

Two fastballs, two foul balls.

Cut ball outside, ball 4 and the game continues on. Soeda now to try and get the run home, or at least extend the game.

Suzuki steals 2nd, dangerous because his run technically doesn’t matter right now.

Soeda also gets ahead 3-0 and also lets the next pitch go. Gets a fastball down the middle and fouls it off. 3-2 again…

Fastball outside, fouled off. He’s leaning over, I think they should pitch inside.

Curveball and he holds off! It’s low and it’s manrui! Ikezawa, who had the base hit to bring it within 1 two innings ago steps in.

Swings on the first pitch! Fortunate to foul it off of himself. But attacking the first pitch now?

Cut ball just low and it’s 1-1. Fastball, again low, 2-1 and now he’s ahead.

Connects, but it’s a fly ball to center. Fujimoto barely has to move and he makes the catch! Sakushin Gakuin rallies, but it’s not enough as Shuugakukan holds on for a 3-2 win.

There were bits and pieces of the lineup, specifically the top 4 batters, who really showed the discipline I think was needed to win the game. The rest of the lineup struggled to hold off on the breaking pitches that weren’t even close. That short circuited several innings which made it harder for them to make a comeback. I bet you Kobari-kantoku will have that straightened out come the summer.

You can also see that the pitchers for Shuugakukan have velocity, but control continues to escape them. Had Sakushin Gakuin been able to show just a little more discipline more of those ABs would have turned into walks and who knows what would have happened. Still, they were good enough today and they move onto the quarterfinals.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 4, Game 2 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Takada Shougyou (Nara)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 4, Game 2 – Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) v Takada Shougyou (Nara)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi)

Well, here we are again. Shuugakukan finds their way back after the debacle that was last year’s Natsu Koushien. They’ve lost 2 of their 4-headed monster and perhaps their best opportunity to win a title. But their road starts again against the Meiji Jingu bid invitee Takada Shougyou.

As mentioned, Shuugakukan was polarizing because they had amassed 4 above average pitchers that Kajisha-kantoku could have mixed and matched to save their arms and win the title. Yet somehow, he failed to do that and they exited under dubious circumstances. He’s back, but the question is whether or not he’s learned. Not to mention the fact that he has less flexibility than before, both on the mound losing half of his staff, and offensively from their blanking against Fukuokadai Oohori.

Takada Shougyou was about as questionable of a pick as I could have thought of. Given the results of the nominations, it was clear that the committee loathed to give Osaka a third team even though they (Uenomiya Taishi) deserved it. The one positive you can take for this team is the fact that they played Chiben Gakuen close in the prefectural final, but the close game against a Wakayama prefecture that has fallen with the loss of Chiben Wakayama and a mercy rule loss to Riseisha mean that I don’t think this team is ready. But, if they had to face a hard team, this one would be it because I think even still they could have a chance. Not great, but a better one.

Shuugakukan

  • SS Hanjyou Touma
  • 2B (#14) Watanabe Rui
  • 1B Kimoto Ryuuga
  • 3B Hirobe Shuuhei
  • LF (#18) Ishii Takuya
  • CF (#17) Hirayama Rikuto
  • C Kouchi Tatsuya
  • RF Akasaka Ginjirou
  • P (#10) Kawabata Kento

Takada Shougyou

  • CF Nakao Tsubasa
  • 2B Ueda Yuuki
  • 3B Yamazaki Tomoya
  • RF Ookubo Takumi
  • LF Takahoko Souma
  • 1B Kamibeppu Shun
  • SS Yamamoto Tomoya
  • C Takemura Kouhei
  • P Furukawa Hibiki

11:40 – First Pitch!

Furukawa with a quick tempo, but doesn’t throw hard at all. Looks like high 120s-130 with a curve in the upper 100s and a slider in the mid 110s. Can locate the fastball, the breaking stuff not as much. Still gets a clean first inning.

No surprise from Kawabata, upper 130s-140 stuff. Cutball, slider and changeup in the arsenal. But Takashou is seeing it well early. Nakao flyball to center. Ueda laces a single to center.

What’s bad though is that Yamazaki as the #3 hitter looks really bad at the plate flailing at a couple of pitches before grounding into the 4-6-3 double play.

Shuugakukan not exactly doing much better, though Ishii gets a break when his grounder 5-holes Yamamoto. That is compounded by Furukawa when he hits Hirayama.

Kouchi though really wants a base hit and swings on two straight sliders outside for the 2nd out. And Akasaka swings at a ball outside and fouls out to end the inning. They don’t look all that comfortable either.

Takada Shougyou does get a walk in the 2nd, but they test Kouchi’s arm and lose pretty badly. Which is unfortunate because the next batter also walks which means they are showing patience. However you also need to survive in an AB and Yamamoto can’t do that.

Shuugakukan jumps on that momentum as Kawabata hits a ball that just lands fair down the LF line. It gets by Takahoko and to the wall and Kawabata hustles for a leadoff triple. Hanjyou with a clean single past Kamibeppu makes it a 1-0 game for Shuugakukan. Furukawa leaves the damage there, but perhaps that run came a little earlier than they’d like.

After the 4th inning for Takada Shougyou wherein their 2-3-4 batters looked pretty bad at the plate, I mentioned on twitter that at this point all that is needed is for Shuugakukan’s bats to come alive and the game was over.

Little did I know that as soon as I said that it happened.

  1. Akasaka – Double to left
  2. Kawabata – Bunt base hit
  3. Hanjyou – Clean single through the right side, 2-0
  4. Watanabe -Single to left, 3-0
  5. Kimoto – Double past diving Yamazaki, Watanabe out at 3rd, 4-0
  6. Hirobe – Walk
  7. Ishii – Grounder bobbled by Ueda
  8. Hirayama – K
  9. Kouchi – Manrui HR to left, 8-0

Well, that’s pretty much game. And Uenomiya Taishi must be thinking we could do better than that.

Perhaps Kajisha-kantoku is learning. Bottom 6, Kawabata walks Furukawa and after a double play Ueda works the count full. At that moment, there was #11 Nishimura warming up.

But an error prolongs the inning, and then Yamazaki doubles to right center. Ueda scores making it 8-1. And after a hit batter, Kawabata should be relieved. But with the large lead, he stays in and does get out of the inning thanks to Takaoko swinging on a pitch way outside. But still, with the game supposedly in hand, he should be in the dugout.

Before he is pulled for a PH in the 9th, Shuugakukan scores 3 more runs to make it 11-1.

When he is pulled #11 Nishimura comes in. He certainly is not like the 2 pitchers that remained. A sidearmer, he tops out in the low 130s. It’s not pretty, but he closes out the game.

So unless Kajisha-kantoku is planning to run one of his pitchers out each game instead of running them all out, he hasn’t learned. In fact, you could see Kawabata having a harder time of it after the 5th. And with the game out of hand there was no reason not to put in Taura for instance to finish the game. He gets some work in, you rest Kawabata for the following game, and you should have both arms fresh.

I guess we’ll have to see.

Handicapping the field – Shuugakukan (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)

Handicapping the field – Shuugakukan (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)

(photo courtesy of Daily Sports)

Road to Haru Koushien

Prefecturals

  • def Yabe 10x-0 (5 inn)
  • def Kumamoto Dai-ichi 15-1 (5 inn)
  • def Tamana Kougyou 6-1
  • def Yashiro Higashi 8-1 (7 inn)
  • def Kyushu Gakuin 1-0
  • def Kumamoto Kougyou 6-3

Super-Regionals

  • def Nagasaki Higashi 8-0 (7 inn)
  • def Houshou 6-1
  • lost Fukuokadai Oohori 0-5

The photo is apropos in my opinion. Shuugakukan had a wealth of pitchers and yet were unable to fulfill their destiny falling 2 victories short of a title each time losing what seemed like winnable games. The calendar has turned, and half of the 4-headed monster are gone. What remains is still powerful, but big questions still remain.

The ace number is inherited by Taura Fumimaru (田浦 文丸). He was on the low side of 140 at Koushien, showing a slider, curve and changeup. His performance at Koushien was certainly passable, but certainly not overly dominant giving up just 1 run in 9.1 total innings, with just 5 Ks to 4 BBs.

Kawabata Kento (川端 健斗) is the other pitcher remaining, promoted to #10. Interestingly, he worked more innings at Natsu Koushien, pitching 13.1 innings, giving up 3 run though striking out 14 while walking 6. His repertoire is much the same as Taura – low 140s, slider, curve, change.

Their stuff certainly plays against weaker competition. Taura against Nagasaki Higashi struck out 17 while walking 2. Kawabata against Houshou struck out 14 while also walking 2. But then against Fukuokadai Oohori, they both pitched 4 innings, but Taura and Kawabata went 3/3 and 5/3 respectively. And given their historical performances, I think their Fukuokadai Oohori numbers are more representative than their complete game performances, which means it probably will be more of the same at Koushien.

The team also appears to struggle offensively as well. Their output declined each game of the super-regionals to the point where they managed just 5 hits over Fukuokadai Oohori. Even in the Houshou game, those 6 runs were scored on just 9 hits. And even if Fukuoka is finally staking their claim as a metropolitan power, these numbers are not appealing. What is even more puzzling is that one of their more successful hitters in their loss, Ishii Takuya (石井 卓弥) did not play in the Houshou game.

Overall, the team can still be considered strong but their ceiling is certainly lower than last year – at best they could probably get back to the semifinals. The biggest benefit of having 4 “power” pitchers was that you could always go to someone else if any one of them was struggling. With just 2 pitchers available now there is still some leeway, but given Kajisha-kantoku’s managerial moves in the past, I find it hard to see them making it any farther than they made it last year.