There's also a chatroom on japanesebaseball.com if you want to come in and chat about the playoff games, both Central and Pacific League.
Takasu 2b Kensuke 2b
Naoto ss Hichori lf
Teppei cf Inaba rf
Takeshi SMASH dh Shinji 1b
Seggy 1b Sledge dh
Nakashima lf Koyano 3b
Miyade! rf Itoi cf
Kusano 3b Ohno c
Nakatani c Kaneko! ss
Fujiwara (5-4, 4.04) Fujii (7-5, 3.53)
Almost exactly the same lineups except Miyade in place of Linden and Ohno in place of Tsuruoka.
Still waiting for the BS1 broadcast to start. I have to admit -- I might kind of screw things up today a bit just because I'm feeling kind of crappy. I'm half doing the liveblog in order to make myself pay closer attention to what is going on.
Top of the first (F 0, E 0)
Takasu fly out to second, Watanabe lineout to third. NOW we get signal... just in time to see Teppei out on a called third strike.
Bottom of the first (F 1, E 0)
Kensuke grounds out to second. Hichori gets an infield single to short (seems Seggy dropped the ball at 1st base). Inaba singles to right-center, Hichori moving to second. Shinji walks, bases loaded! Sledge hits a fly ball out to center for a sac fly as Hichori scores and Inaba goes to third. 1-0! Two out for Koyano, who lines out to second.
Top of the second (F 1, E 0)
Yamasaki hits one out to center.... caught by Itoi. Seguignol hits a hard grounder that glances off Fujii's left arm before going just right of up the middle, and Kensuke Tanaka dives for it and makes the throw to second in time. (Coaches check Fujii - guess he's okay.) Nakashima grounds back to the mound to end the inning.
Bottom of the second (F 4, E 0)
Itoi hits a single to left that falls in front of a running Nakashima. Ohno bunts, successfully, to the mound, moving Itoi up, one out. Kaneko hits a pop up that Takasu catches just in fair territory by third base. Kensuke hits a huge fly ball that arcs out to center and almost looks like a home run but bounces off the wall -- he makes it to third for a triple! Itoi scores. 2-0. Hichori OMG HICHORI HITS A HOME RUN TO LEFT-CENTER, RIGHT OVER THE WALL INTO THE FIRST FEW ROWS OF THE "HICHORI SEATS"! Kensuke scores too, so that's 4-0. Inaba grounds out to first, Seggy throwing it to a covering Fujiwara.
Top of the third (F 4, E 0)
Miyade! strikes out swinging. Kusano grounds back to the mound and Nakatani grounds out to short and that's a quick inning.
Bottom of the third (F 4, E 0)
Koji Aoyama in to pitch for Rakuten.
Shinji singles to left past two diving outfielders. Sledge also singles to left, advancing Shinji to second. Koyano fails to bunt and hits a popup pretty much straight up, caught by Nakatani, one out. Itoi walks, and that is bases loaded!! ...for Ohno, who strikes out (Shota, sweetie, you need to stop swinging at those totally low and outside pitches). Kaneko grounds to third for the force at second. So much for bases loaded with one out :(
Top of the fourth (F 4, E 3)
Takasu singles to left (first hit for Rakuten... huh). Watanabe grounds into a fielder's choice, 5-4. Teppei hits a pop fly out to center. Yamasaki singles to center too, Watanabe going to second. Seguignol singles to right past a lunging Kensuke, and Naoto Watanabe scores, Yamasaki going to second. 4-1. Then Nakashima walks, so the bases are loaded for His Tallness, Miyade, who singles to center. Yamasaki scores. Seguignol comes home but the ball is a little off-course for Ohno to make a play on it, so Seguignol also scores. 4-3. Kusano hits a pop fly to short to end the inning.
Bottom of the fourth (F 4, E 3)
Kensuke grounds out to second. Hichori singles to center. Inaba... well, Inaba gets to a full count, but at 2-2, Aoyama succeeds in picking Hichori off first base. Oops. Two out. Inaba grounds out and that's all for the inning.
Top of the fifth (F 4, E 3)
Nakatani singles to right. Takasu bunts up Nakatani. Rakuten chance music starts for Naoto Watanabe, who hits a pop fly up to Itoi in center, nobody goes anywhere. Teppei hits a pop fly... foul! Caught by Shinji! Yay.
I have to tell you that I am losing concentration for this game, but I'm going to try to make it through, hopefully to see the Fighters clinch. My brain keeps telling me, "You really want to go lie down and be more comfortable than sitting at your computer..."
And to make things worse, Hosei lost 5-1, and Kagami has the flu, so I won't see him pitch again at all this year (well, I suppose he might be in one of these other college games, maaaaybe, but unlikely).
Bottom of the fifth (F 4, E 3)
Shinji grounds out. Sledge walks. Koyano hits a fly out to Teppei. Itoi hits a fly ball caught by third base. Three down.
Top of the sixth (F 4, E 3)
Shintaro Ejiri takes over on the mound for Fujii. I feel indebted to point out that they are also both Waseda graduates, since my brain is still lamenting missing Big 6 today.
Yamasaki hits a pop fly up, caught by Kaneko. Seguignol lofts one to left field, caught by Hichori. Linden pinch-hits for Nakashima and hits one to the left-field wall that Hichori has to step back on to get the rebound from the wall, for a double. Miyade is pinch-hit for by Masato Nakamura, and we get a pitching change, Ejiri to Hayashi.
Nakamura grounds out to short to end the inning.
Bottom of the sixth (F 4, E 3)
Aoyama still on the mound. Linden to left and Nakamura to right.
Ohno is BEING PINCH-HIT FOR BY SHO NAKATA who goes down on three pitches, two swinging and one looking. Doh. Kaneko fakes everyone out with a shot to left but it's caught in front of the wall. Kensuke walks. Hichori hits a pop fly to right and that's the inning.
Top of the seventh (F 4, E 3)
Hayashi still on the mound. Tsuruoka enters as catcher.
Kusano strikes out swinging.
Okay, Hayashi is out, Kanamori is in.
Kenshi pinch-hits for Nakatani and grounds out to second. Takasu grounds out too. Yay.
Bottom of the seventh (F 6, E 3)
Motohiro Shima in as catcher.
Inaba grounds out to short. Shinji singles to right. Sledge... well, first Shinji advances to second on a pitch that gets away from Shima. Anyway, Sledge singles to right, and Shinji scores! 5-3!!. Koyano singles up the middle, Sledge to second. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang chance music for Itoi...
...and Koji Aoyama is off the mound in place of Shinichiro Koyama. Seriously not a bad outing by Aoyama, who apparently is from Hakodate anyway.
Anyway, Itoi grounds to short and Koyano is out on the force at second, but Sledge goes to third, so two outs and runners at the corners. Tsuruoka grounds up the left-field line... to third... it stays fair and there is no throw, so Sledge scores. 6-3! Tsuru safe at first and Itoi goes to second. Kaneko grounds into a fielder's choice, 6-4, force on Tsuruoka, to end the inning. But that was a PRETTY BIG INNING!
Also, in the meantime, Tokyo University, who was in a 1-0 game for 9 innings, tied it at 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th and goes into extra innings against Rikkio! I'd love to see Todai actually win a game this year, but it doesn't seem likely. And Rikkio's Tomura is on the draft hopefuls list. But still.
Top of the eighth (F 6, E 4)
Watanabe singles to right. Teppei hits a pop fly out to center. Yamasaki walks, and here's a mound conference. Seguignol singles to right, scoring Watanabe, moving Takeshi to second. 6-4. Linden strikes out! Nakamura strikes out too! Hooray. Kanamori gets out alive.
Bottom of the eighth (F 9, E 4)
Kensuke hits a fly ball out to left. Hichori singles to right. Inaba...
...has to wait a minute, pitching change to Kanehisa Arime.
Anyway, Inaba walks. So that's two on, one out.
And here's another pitching change! Arime changes to Kawagishi.
Shinji grounds out to short. Two outs. But Hichorinaba advance to 2nd and 3rd. Also, Jingisukan chance music. Sledge...
..will also have to wait for a pitching change as we have just switched from Kawagishi to HISASHI IWAKUMA. Yes, Kuma has entered the building! We can also see Darvish hanging out in the Fighters dugout. Oh, and Shima changes to Fujii at catcher, too.
SLEDGE HITS A 3-RUN HOMERUN WAY THE HECK ALL THE WAY OUT TO THE RAKUTEN CHEERING SECTION. OH MY.
Okay, so Sledge, Hichori, and Inaba all score -- we now have a 9-4 ball game.
I'll admit it, I didn't even see how Koyano got out to end the inning after that. That was cool.
Top of the ninth (F 9, E 4)
Hisashi Takeda has entered the building. Also Naoto Inada takes over at first base.
Kusano singles to right, Fujii hits a pop fly out, and Takasu grounds to second... oh. Kusano is tagged out on his way past by Kensuke, so two outs, but Takasu is safe at first.
And a whole bunch of fans thought it was a double play and threw streamers onto the field, so now they have to take a minute to clean those up before play can continue. Heh.
Anyway, Naoto Watanabe is up... and he grounds out to short and that is ACTUALLY the game, and the Fighters are GOING TO THE JAPAN SERIES AGAIN.
Hichori is game hero and Sledge is CS MVP. Wow!
TV shots and silly camera tricks:
Hichorivision homerun highfive.
Sho Nakata split.
Now if only there was ANY chance in hell that I could actually get a ticket to a Japan Series game :( Seriously, if there is anyone out there who can help me out...