Thursday, August 17, 2006

Koshien Quarterfinals, Day One

At approximately 7pm Friday night, my brain is going to explode.

The only Mariners-Angels game of the weekend I really feel like watching is starting then -- Jered Weaver vs. Felix Hernandez. I have both of them on my fantasy team, and figure that if I'm lucky, they'll strike out 20 guys between the two of them.

But, more importantly, the semi-finals for the Koshien tournament are starting then -- and after today's match results, the first game will feature Chiben Wakayama and Komadai Tomakomai. This is going to be a GREAT match. I may end up setting an entry to either liveblog or game thread it. We'll see.

Both quarterfinal games played today were absolutely amazing, seriously.

Komadai Tomakomai 5, Toyodai Himeji 4

This one was going on during the Mariners-A's game. I watched as Himeji jumped out to a 4-0 lead (coincidentally, at the same time the A's were leading the Mariners 4-0). Ryo Hayashizaki, who hit a home run in their last game as well, hit a 2-run homer in the first inning, and the team small-balled another run in the fourth on an RBI double by pitcher Kinya Tobiishi. He went to third on a groundout, and then scored on a throwing error.

Komadai finally started beating up on the Himeji pitching in the 6th inning. Catcher Suguru Kobayashi walked with one out, and after that the next four batters all got hits. Tadao Mitani singled to left, and Yuuya Miki followed that with a double down the first base line. 4-1. Ryuya Nakazawa smacked the ball to the left-center gap for another double, scoring everyone else on base. 4-3. Atsushi Honma hit a grounder to third that bounced badly, and Nakazawa scored on it. 4-4. Himeji then changed their pitcher to Masahiro Inui, who struck out two of the next three batters to end the threat.

Yamaguchi walked to start off the 7th for Komadai, and was subsequently bunted to second and moved to third on a grounder. Then Mitani grounded into a 3-1 play but apparently dove into the base ahead of the pitcher covering, and boom. 5-4 Komadai, and that's where it stayed.

Masahiro Tanaka pitched the entire game for Komadai, striking out 11 and walking 2. The guy's a machine.

The last time Toyodai Himeji made it to the Koshien quarterfinals was when former Mariner Shigetoshi Hasegawa was their ace pitcher.

I didn't actually see the last 2 innings because I headed out to play volleyball. I also, incidentally, only barely got to see Eric O'Flaherty's debut, as I walked by a TV inbetween volleyball games just in time to see him strike out Eric Chavez. Good stuff.

Chiben Wakayama 13, Teikyo 12

And as if the Komadai comeback wasn't crazy enough, when I got home from volleyball, I saw the last inning of the Chiben-Teikyo game. 13 runs were scored in that inning. No joke. It was 8-4 in favor of Chiben going into the 9th inning, and then Teikyo scored eight runs in their half of the inning, making it 12-8. But was Chiben going to take that? No way!

Of course, the actual way Chiben won the game was a little embarrassing. The first two Chiben guys walked, and then the catcher, Hashimoto, hit a 3-run homer, bringing the score to 12-11. After the pitcher walked another guy, Teikyo switched pitchers to Okano. Okano hit the next batter with a pitch, and then the next guy singled into center, making it 12-12. The next batter walked, loading the bases. After a foul and a bunch of bad pitches, suddenly the count's at 1-3, where one more ball will end the game immediately. Next pitch is fouled off, and the next one pretty much comes inside right under the batter's elbows, walking in a run and winning the game for Chiben.

So they won on walks. Insane.

The foul territory at Koshien is almost as big as the foul territory at McAfee Coliseum, come to think of it. A lot of those kids really lucked out on not having their foul popups caught.

Anyway, the Mariners have now lost 15 straight games to Oakland, which is just getting kind of nuts. Now they head off to Anaheim, but without Jeremy Reed, which means they won't have any offense. On the other hand, new callup Eric O'Flaherty's kind of cute. And amusingly enough, one of the runs in the game came in on a Meche balk -- a genuine Major League Balk! If you order a balk now, we'll include an Edgar Martinez statue!

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