Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photopost: Hosei-Chuo Preaseason Game, or OMG YOSUKE SHIMABUKURO!

It's Senbatsu time, so what did I end up doing today? I ended up going to a college preseason game and seeing a fantastic former high school pitcher. :)

It was actually entirely by accident -- I knew Hosei was playing Chuo today, I'd called to confirm the game was on, and then I got really lost trying to get to the Hosei baseball field because both the train line I wanted to take wasn't running due to blackouts, and then once I did get there, I couldn't figure out how the hell to actually get into the ground itself. (Beyond baseball, I also saw the football and soccer and some other teams practicing as well, from walking around the entire sports ground.)

Showed up in the 3rd inning, ran into both my scorekeeping buddy Suda and my retired-actress buddy Hanako Tokachi... so I ended up sitting in the front row with Suda for the entire game and we kept score together and he told me about the other preseason games. Of course, umm... we were in front of the entire Hosei baseball club that were in the stands (the rest were on the field or in the dugout). I heard one of the guys talking about me from a few rows back like "Oh, she comes to a lot of our games at Jingu, she writes Japanese really well and always keeps score and takes photos... but I thought she was a Kagami fan..."

And Kazuki Mishima (3rd-year pitcher) was sitting in the row right behind me, so when I came in I said "Long time no see!" and he was like "Whoa! Hi!"

Anyway, the really really really big deal about the game was the starting pitcher for Chuo University...

...YOSUKE FREAKING SHIMABUKURO!!! The boy who won Spring AND Summer Koshien last year!

He's only a freshman -- he hasn't even started college classes yet! But he's already practicing with the team and I guess they figured since Hosei's theoretically one of the stronger teams they're playing in the preseason, might as well have him pitch against them. He's SO GOOD! He still has that ridiculous tornado motion that makes him look like a lefty Nomo. Here he was facing college juniors and seniors and just mowed through them.

He pitched 7 innings, allowed exactly 4 runners (3 hits and one error), and struck out 6, including striking out the entire side at one point. It was really neat seeing him!

Hosei's pitcher were Ryoto "Yoshiko" Yoshikoshi for 6 innings and Kazuki Funamoto for the last 3. Funamoto is also a tall righty from Toin Gakuen who wears #19 now, but I don't think he's going to be the next Kagami for me or anything. And it's not like Yoshiko and Funamoto were bad or anything -- Chuo infact only won the game 2-0. Personally, besides Shimabukuro, the Chuo player I was most impressed with was a sophomore named Junji Kageyama, batting 9th and playing right field. He has LEGS. In his 4 plate appearances, I saw him hit a triple, then get a bunt single up the left line, then get on base on a fielder's choice and a single and steal second both times. Super runner, super bat. He's also from Toin Gakuen, for the record.

Oh, and the Chuo player I was most amused by was the boy wearing uniform number 28. He's a kid from Iwakuni named Takahiro Tsuchiya. Which doesn't seem special at all unless I tell you that the kanji for his name is 二十八貴大. Yes, his last name is the number 28, and he wears #28. Cool, huh?

Anyway, some photos. Mostly of Shimabukuro but not all. :)

And for a few that aren't of Shimabukuro....

Ryoto Yoshikoshi, starter for Hosei. I'm guessing he'll get a decent amount of time in league games this year...

Kazuki Funamoto, the new wearer of Hosei #19. But can he possibly wear it as majestically as Kagami did?

Ryosuke Itoh, freshman from Shinko Gakuen HS. (I saw him play at Senbatsu last year.) I am mostly including this photo because it amused me how you could see his name written on his belt strap.

Seiya Inoue being a big stout 3rd baseman.

Yohei Watanabe, the guy who finished the last 2 innings for Chuo.

Masashi Nanba, the Hosei captain.

Kageyama. This dude can run. I was quite impressed with him.

A dive back to the bag at first base.

Teams line up to bow to each other afterwards.

Hosei field... I tried to get the big "HOSEI" into the shot but it was impossible.

The scoreboard. Sadly I didn't get the final score! Whoops!

Me, because this represents yet another new stadium in Japan that I saw a game at!

After the game I hung out a bit; the Chuo players all did come out past the stands but Shimabukuro had already hit the figurative showers apparently since he only pitched 7 innings, maybe they didn't want him to be mobbed (a la Yuki Saitoh in the past). So I didn't get to meet him, unfortunately.

Instead I waited for the Hosei players' meeting to be over, and when it was, the players filtered out; some that recognized me nodded hello, and then Eiji Egashira came up to me with a big smile like "Hey! You're here! Remember me?" and I'm like "Dude! I went to Saga Kita this winter!!" and we got into a conversation about that for a while. He told me there was also some other stuff from the 2007 Koshien team that I didn't get to see because it was all either in the school or on the field ("I was in Saga when you were there... next time tell me and I'll show you around!") He's a very nice boy, I enjoyed talking to him for a few minutes. I had some photos to give Mishima and Yoshikoshi among others, so when Mishima came out I handed him the photos and apologized that I never got around to making him a photo book ("It's ok. These are really good. You're like a pro photographer or something!") And I gave a box of Seattle chocolates to him and Egashira (I think they're roomates now though I might be wrong) and told them to share with their teammates.

Unfortunately I kinda wanted to get Masashi Nanba's autograph, since I never did and he's the new captain. But he was still in meetings and stuff, and everyone was putting things away, like the batting nets and so on. Kota Imamura, one of the co-captains, also saw me and had a huge smile like "Hey, long time! Thanks for coming to our game!" and I told him "I hope you kick ass this season but I won't be here for it!"

So I dunno, I left and went home after that. It was nice though, a year or two ago I felt like the players only talked to me because I was with my Hosei alum friends, but today I was there by myself and they still took a second to chat, so that was neat! Maybe they were all surprised that I showed up despite Kagami having graduated :)

I Met Shuhei Fujiya! And Other Stories -- Fighters vs. Marines @ Lotte Urawa

So, today was meeting up with the Shinozawas for a Fighters vs. Marines minor-league game up at Lotte Urawa. I used to go to Lotte Urawa a ton in 2008 when I lived in Saitama because it was an easy bike ride from my place, and went a few times in 2009, and after I thought that I picked up all those damn ticks or whatever in the middle of that summer, never went back. Working a normal 9-5 job kind of meant no free weekday afternoons, and Urawa gets stupid crowded on weekends because it's free admission and there are only 3 benches per side for seating.

Either way, it was long time no see for the stadium and for the Fighters and Marines and for my friends as well. Tomoko actually showed up early to save seats for everyone; I got there at 11:30 and she'd fortunately already put out stuff for 5-6 people in the front row. (Kon-chan was also supposed to be coming.) I basically just sat there for an hour and a half waiting for the game to begin, for the most part; didn't really have anything else to do, and was watching the practices anyway, trying to spot new players' faces. Took photos, etc.

The Shinozawas were actually both late so I felt kinda bad that we'd taken up so much space, but they did show up. I gave everyone Easter bunnies as omiyage and they were like "This is too cute to eat!"

The Fighters won the game 4-1; the only Marines run came in on a solo homer by Kei Hosoya. Fighters starter Keisaku Itokazu was kinda shaky and the win ended up actually going to Yodai Enoshita, who came in to pitch the 6th inning and struck out the side, and then the Fighters went up while he was still the pitcher of record. Enoshita's one of my favorites of the new draft class, so that's fine with me.

Aaaaaaanyway, after the game, I had two goals basically:

1) stalk Shuhei Fujiya
2) stalk Shota Koike

and vaguely 3) stalk Masaru Saitoh

And I was successful on all three!!

What happened is, the majority of Marines players lined up with donation boxes for earthquake relief -- this is a normal thing now for games. But as I was standing outside with my friends trying to figure out who was in there, I realized that the tall Marines pitcher walking out was Shuhei Fujiya! Fujiya actually lived in California for most of his life and the Marines drafted him out of USC (the Padres actually drafted him too last year but he didn't sign with them) so I approached him and said, "Fujiya-senshu, sign kudasai? Can I have your autograph please?" and he did a double-take, looked at me, and replied in English, "Sure, no problem," and I got out a shikishi and a marker and he signed it. I was like "I've read about you for months but this is my first time to see you, thank you so much". He ended up signing for a few other people too... so I asked after that, "Can I get a photo with you?" and he said sure, and so Shinozawa K took this:

He's so tall!

I asked, "How do you like it here so far, anyway?" and he said with a half-laugh, "It's pretty... DIFFERENT here." I asked if he liked chocolate and he said yeah, so I gave him the remaining two easter bunnies I had :) I should have probably introduced myself and explained who I was, but I wasn't really thinking straight, I guess.

But still! It was cool that I actually spotted him and got to talk to him a little since I'd been so intrigued by him these last few months! No idea if I'll get to stalk him again or not this trip, we'll see.

After that, my friends and I lined up to give money to the earthquake victims. Shinozawa J and Tomoko both had lots of 100-yen coins so they basically just were putting coins in various players' boxes and stuff, but I had no coins so I was like "Okay, I'm gonna put 1000 yen in someone's box. Whose box?" I looked at the players and was like "Dare... saa, Hattori-kun!" and put my 1000-yen note in Yasutaka Hattori's box, because I was (am?) a fan of his. He laughed and said thanks, as did the other players standing next to him. Maybe I'm a little weird, but I claim gaijin rights on weirdness!

And I also am making a point of putting 1000 yen in a donation box at every baseball game I go to, as I said I would. (It's the best way I can think of to donate to earthquake relief -- I want to encourage them to continue doing this stuff, to have charity games and so on.)

So after a few minutes of the donation-box parade, Shingo Ono made a speech thanking everyone, and then all the players went back into the clubhouse.

Bizarrely, the Marines mascots were actually out to help with the donation stuff too (it makes sense, they're not doing anything with the top-league team so they might as well come to the minor-league game and entertain people and help for the collection cause). So... I got my photo with Rine-chan. She patted the Fighters bear mascot keychain on my bag and I'm like "Gomen!!" But we took a cute picture anyway:

Marines players started filtering out of the stadium then. Almost every player did get stopped by some kids or some people for autographs and whatnot. I saw Shota Koike try to escape and so I pretty much bolted after him and caught up with him out on the street, where some cute girls had cornered him for a photo together. Ha. Anyway, I had a photo of him that I'd taken when he was still at Aoyama Gakuin University and so I asked him politely to sign it and also to sign a shikishi, and I told him that I was a big fan of his when he was in college and I hoped he'd do really well, and he looked me straight in the eye and smiled and said thanks. I wish I coulda gotten a photo with him too, but all my friends were elsewhere.

Various other players came out. Fighters players too... a lot of the guys were actually in street clothes and were just going to drive home themselves rather than taking the team bus. It was funny because I still recognize a lot of them so, if you didn't know better, you'd wonder why I was saying "otsukaresama" to these various good-looking guys walking by! A few of them got a few people asking for autographs, though most of them didn't stop. Takahiro Imanami was surprisingly gracious and signed for a huge group of people though, I even saw him smiling, I guess he's changed a little over the last few years. Enoshita signed for a few people, but I was too far down to get to him. The younger boys, Nishikawa and Taniguchi, pretty much darted out, sadly.

BUT! I got a photo with Masaru Saitoh!

He was the 6th-round draft pick by the Fighters this fall, a lefty from the Sega Sammy corporate team, but he went to Shutoku HS, where one of my JHS kids is going next year, so I've been cheering for them. So I got a photo with him and then a few minutes later got him to sign a shikishi and I told him how I cheer for Shutoku's team and their alumni and he looked kinda surprised but laughed and thanked me. He seems like a really nice guy, I saw him give a baseball to some kids before the game, and players totally aren't supposed to do that.

I really wanted to meet him, so I'm happy I could. He was Shutoku's ace when they were at Senbatsu in 2005. And he was one year ahead of my friend Ogura's son, apparently, so they were in the Shutoku baseball club together. (I think he was also one year ahead of Naoki Satoh, one of the Hosei ballclub manager boys who graduated this past year...)

I probably could have tried for some more autographs, but I didn't want to push my already-fantastic luck.

Oh, so the amusing thing was, Tomoko wanted to wait for the umpires to come out. She and Shinozawa J spent the entire game talking about how hot the 2nd-base umpire was. No joke. Both the 1st- and 2nd- base umpires were really really young guys, like 24-25 years old. I thought the 1st-base umpire was pretty cute, couldn't really see the 2nd-base one. But... we waited a while, and all the players were gone, even Shinya Tsuruoka (who left by taxi), and Takumi Kohbe, who pretty much ran by like "no not signing today sorry everyone" though one little boy bolted after him anyway. And so the umpires didn't seem to be coming out, so we left.

(This post somehow never got posted back in March when I wrote it, so if you're wondering why it's showing up in your RSS feed now, that's why.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Photopost: Senbatsu, Day 2!

Got to Koshien a little too late -- 8:30am. Ended up in the 2nd row instead of the first row, behind the 1st base dugout. Doh. But I have a new lens that I bought last night (still the same cheap 70-300 zoom, but at least it doesn't have chips and scratches and dirt like my old one did).

They've really sped up the pacing, so you barely have time to do anything between games anymore. I did manage to buy souvenirs and donate money to earthquake relief before the first game, but between games, all I had time to do was go to the bathroom, pretty much. It's like, they sing the winner's school song, then it's OFF the field for you, ON for the next two teams, very short pre-game warmup, and next game!

First game was Tenri, a Nara powerhouse, vs. Odate Homei, an Akita newcomer. Homei, as a matter of fact, were pictured with their baseball team posing in a huge snowfall, in the Senbatsu magazine. So, it was an expectation that Tenri would win. And they did. The funny thing in that game was that Tenri's #11 pitcher, the lefty Nakatani, was pretty good, while their #1 "ace" righty Nishiguchi was terrible (he threw the last 2 innings when it pretty much didn't matter).

The second game was Yokohama vs. Hasami. Tatsuya Yamauchi started for Yokohama. He's a lefty freshman-upcoming-sophomore (this time of year is so annoying to refer to years by). I saw him pitch last summer, and was psyched to see him again since it sounded like he'd just gotten better in the fall and spring. Except, apparently, not so much... he gave up 2 runs in the first inning, both oshidashi runs where he walked in or hit by pitch in the run. And Yokohama never really recovered from that. Hasami's starter was a tall sturdy boy named Ryoma Matsuda who also batted cleanup (this is usually a BAD sign), and he basically pitched a whole game and somehow Yokohama's batters just never managed to capitalize on the chances they had. (I think Matsuda's strategy was to walk captain/cleanup batter Kensuke Kondoh, that worked out well for him.) So, if you consider that Tenri never wins when I see them the first upset of the day, then Yokohama losing to Hasami was certainly the second.

What was crazy about Game 2 for me was that I inadvertantly ended up sitting with Yokohama right-fielder Tomo Otosaka's family. If you don't know who Otosaka is, this is him...

Yeah, a half-Japanese kid -- father's American. I actually am not sure what his English name romanizes as (乙坂・ルーセロ・智・ニコラス - "Nicholas Lucero"?). They've been calling him "Yokohama's Ichiro" because he steals ninety bazillion bases. (It's true. He stole two in today's game even.) I'd seen him in Kagayake Koshien no Hoshi magazine, and from afar at last summer's Kanagawa taikai, but that was it.

Anyway, his entire (Japanese) family had come down from Fukui Prefecture, so his grandma was next to me, a high-school-aged cousin was next to her, and an aunt was next to her, and various other family members were in other nearby rows. They were all at Koshien for the first time ever, but BOY were they psyched. I think the cousin girl didn't even really understand the game very well, but she kept yelling "TOMO-CHAN! GANBATTE!!!" at the top of her lungs.

I kinda regret not asking more questions about him while they were there, but I'm never quite sure how much is or isn't rude to ask. Cousin said something like "Tomo's dad is from Kansas. I heard he might be here today but we don't really know." And Grandma showed me a family photo from a while back, and also pointed out where some other family members were sitting ("there's my son over there, he's a high school teacher...") and so on. She told me how Tomo's older brother is studying abroad in England right now and wants to be an interpreter. And I guess she felt bad that I wasn't eating anything, because she even gave me an onigiri (rice ball with nori) when the rest of them were eating lunch!

And despite Yokohama losing the game, Otosaka's family was remarkably chipper. I think they were mostly just very psyched to be at Koshien and to have a relative of theirs on the field. They were like "oh well, that's too bad that first pitcher gave up so many walks and runs. Everyone tried their best, it's too bad they lost. We're gonna go try to catch up with Tomo-chan." I joked, "See you at summer Koshien!" and they laughed.

Game 3 was Kanazawa vs. Kakogawa. Kanazawa had a boy I'd heard of quite a bit already named Yoshinao Kamata, who could supposedly hit 150km/h on the radar gun. Well... he CAN infact do that! His pitching speed was basically pro speed, like in the mid-140's on just about every pitch. He struck out a bazillion guys over the first few innings. And then... well... Kakogawa's pitcher Inoue, while not as fast and not as much flair, managed to outpitch him, because, quite frankly, I don't think Kanazawa's team can actually hit or field. So once Kakogawa had a few points on them, it just kinda fell apart from there. I think Kanazawa was the favored team in this match because of the flashier, more famous pitcher, but well, this is a team sport, see, and one guy can't do it all. Still, I was totally in love with Kamata for the first few innings, and I expect to see great things out of him in the future, assuming he can get onto a good college/shakaijin team. Kanazawa always has these awesome pitchers and this crappy team behind them for some reason.

Anyway, if you want full logs/commentary for these games, you should look at Edwin's Koshien blog, because he wrote them all up (I even had to look at his writeups a few times to figure out things like WTF WAS WITH THE KAKOGAWA BASERUNNING IN THE 7TH AND 8TH INNINGS). Me, I was sitting behind the dugout with a camera, so clearly what I've got to offer you all is photos.

I didn't have time to really tailor this set; I took over 1000 photos today so I just kinda picked out ones I like. They're Game-2-heavy because Yokohama is Yokohama. They've been churning out pro players left and right since the Matsuzaka heyday, after all.

Game 1

Tenri's Nakatani, the lefty pitcher. He was pretty good.

Komei's starter Saitoh, a little lefty kid.

I just like this photo of Tatsuki Kameda jumping.

Tenri's "ace" Nishiguchi. I am not sure why he is wearing #1 when he doesn't seem like that great a pitcher, although he LOOKS like he should be.

Game 2

Naoki Date

Hasami captain Yudai Yamaguchi

Hasami pitcher Ryoma Matsuda batting

...and Matsuda pitching

Yokohama lefty Tatsuya Yamauchi, who had a rough first inning

Yokohama captain and cleanup and catcher Kensuke Kondoh, who was pretty solid (here he is tagging out yet another runner at the plate)

Yokohama's righty pitcher Yuya Yanagi

View of the final score from behind the Yokohama dugout.

Game 3

Kanazawa's fireballer Yoshinao Kamata

I didn't catch him getting 150 km/h, but here's a 149

Kakogawa's starter Maito Inoue, who had a much more solid team behind him

"Guys, uh, look, you know that, uh, baseball thing? You're supposed to hit it with a bat when you're at the plate. And get it with your glove and throw it to the proper place when you're in the field. Uhh... guys?"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photopost: Seibu vs. Baystars 1.5-gun

So, last Sunday, March 20, I decided I was going to go to a ni-gun game of some sort. The easy option would have been the Marines-Swallows at Lotte Urawa, which is an hour from me by bicycle, or 25 minutes from me by train and walking. The "hard" option would be Yokosuka Stadium for the Baystars-Lions, which is more like 1.5-2 hours from me by train and walking. However, I'd heard that the Baystars were getting practice time for their ichi-gun players in the ni-gun games, so I could see Hichori! Plus I'd never seen a game at Yokosuka before, plus I was kinda hoping to meet Takayuki Makka and Taketora Anzai again and give them some Seattle omiyage because of how nice they were to me back in January. (Unfortunately, I didn't, so it's unlikely I will at all, but it's the thought that counts, maybe?)

Anyway, there's really kind of 2 parts to this photopost. The first is more of interest to people who are all about the earthquake and the charity things people are doing to help, so I'll cover that.

Before the game, there was a table set up outside the stadium. The Searex mascot Reck, who has apparently kept his job despite the Searex ceasing to exist as a moniker, was out at the table, along with a few staff who had the donation boxes. I bought my ticket to the game for 1000 yen and then went up and put 1000 yen into their donation box. I received a Reck postcard that was basically a cute "Come cheer for the ni-gun team in 2011!" as well as a "Play for Nippon" business card which may or may not be a typo. But the back of the card says "This is a receipt that you donated money to help the Tohoku earthquake victims," and also says "Bring this card to Yokohama Stadium and get a 300 yen discount off your game ticket."

The Yokohama Baystars are clearly DOING IT RIGHT.

Here's the donation table out front.

Me with Reck!

A whiteboard with the starting lineups, as well as information about which ni-gun games are being moved from night games to day games to conserve power. (They didn't actually have the lineups on the scoreboard, maybe also to conserve power?)

So that was before the game.

During the game, I'm not making this up, one of the women I was sitting with tagged another one of her friends who's a huge Takayuki Makka fan (even moreso than I am now), and was like "I just read Daisuke Miura's blog and he is going to be at the Sotetsu Yokohama Station from 2:30pm collecting donations along with a bunch of other players and look there's Makka and Ejiri and...!!!!!" So two of the other women looked up the train info and said "We can get there in about 29 minutes! Let's run!"

It was basically a bunch of guys who weren't going to be playing in the ni-gun game, and since there's no ichi-gun games or anything yet, they basically worked out in the morning and then went to collect donations in the afternoon.

(I think every day since then Miura's posted a "Here's where I'll be today collecting donations and here's the other Baystars players I've managed to drag with me. Come say hi and give money to charity!")

After the game, the ENTIRE BAYSTARS TEAM came out with donation boxes and were swarmed by the 1500 or so fans who were there! The players also had those "Play for Japan" business cards so the more popular players got TOTALLY swamped by people wanting to throw money into their box in order to get a card from that particular player, not that there is anything different about any of the cards. Players weren't signing things or taking photos or anything, just basically saying "Please help out with a donation," or saying thank you and whatnot to people who did put in donations; I saw some people shake hands, but that was about it.

Hichori was clearly not only the most popular but he was also the most engaging with people; I think the two biggest swarms of people basically were going for Hichori and for Shuichi Murata, who yes, had played in the game that afternoon. Some of the lesser-known players looked kinda sad that nobody was coming up to them. Keijiro Matsumoto looked distinctly almost like "WTF am I doing here," although Takeshi Hosoyamada was standing next to him with his usual easygoing smile like "Thank you for your help!" to everyone. (I later commented on this to a Waseda friend of mine, who said "Keijiro can be shy. I don't think he realizes that he comes off as so standoffish. I'll go complain to his brother.")

And Hichori even made a speech to address the crowd and thank everyone, reiterating how important it is for everyone to band together in a tough time and help each other out.

Team members being swamped by fans.

Shuichi Murata in the middle (I believe the other two are Shinji Niinuma and Yoshiyuki Kuwahara)


Hichori makes a speech to the crowd and the press.

As for the game itself... well... these were the starting lineups:

Seibu Yokohama
----- --------
Asamura, 1B Watanabe Naoto, 2B
Kumashiro, CF Ishikawa, SS
Akiyama, RF Kinjoh, LF
Gotoh, DH Murata, 3B
Abe, 3B Yoshimura, LF
Kurose, 2B Ikki, DH
Sakata, LF Hichori, CF
Takeno, C Tsutsugoh, 1B
Hayashizaki, SS Takeyama, C

Nakazaki, P Ohka, P

Notice that the Baystars lineup is pretty much completely ichi-gun players, but the Seibu one is clearly ni-gun? Heck, 3 of those Lions players (Akiyama, Hayashizaki, Kumashiro) were just drafted last fall.

To be fair, by the 5th inning the Baystars team out there was mostly ni-gun, but still.

The amusing thing, really, is that the Baystars still lost.

The first batter of the game, Hideto Asamura, singled off of Tomokazu Ohka, was bunted up, advanced on a groundout, and then scored on a double by Taketoshi Gotoh, to make it 1-0. Then in the 5th inning Tatsuya Takeno led off with a double, was bunted up by Ryo Hayashizaki, and scored on a single by Asamura, to make it 2-0. (Though Asamura was subsequently and amusingly picked off first.)

Lefty Yuta Nakazaki started for the Lions and pitched 5 decent innings, and then Ryohei Fujiwara and Tomoki Hoshino and Yosuke Okamoto held the Baystars scoreless for the next 3 innings, so it was still 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th. Tetsuya Iwasaki took the mound for Seibu. He has a BIZARRE motion, I'm not sure I ever remember seeing him pitch in person before. But basically he has a hitch in his motion where he kinda crouches and kicks out backwards before stretching forwards. Kinda like this:

Anyway, so Yuta Naitoh grounded out, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh struck out. People packed up their stuff to go home, but Shingo Takeyama singled to right. Kazuya Fujita then grounded to first... except... the ball went right through Asamura into right field for an error! Takeyama made it to third and Fujita ended up on 2nd. And then Junya Ohhara, who the people around me were cheering "J! J! J!" for -- there were two Ohhara's drafted this fall, the other being pitcher Shinji, so they've apparently been nicknamed "S" and "J" -- anyway, "J" hit a clean double to left, scoring Takeyama and Fujita to make it 2-2. Iwasaki intentionally walked Keijiro Matsumoto after that, and struck out Shotaro Ide to end the inning.

We thought there'd be no extra innings thanks to the recent rulings, but it seems that they went ahead with it anyway (after all, Yokosuka stadium uses like ZERO power). So, there was extra innings. Yataro Sakamoto took the mound for the Lions. Shoma Satoh took the mound for the Baystars. (After 7 innings of Ohka, Takehiro Fukuda and Shun Yamaguchi each threw an inning.) And the 10th inning was scoreless.

Suguru Matsuyama, another former Fighter, and alum of Yokohama Shokodai HS, and a pretty nice kid as well, took the mound for the top of the 11th, and immediately gave up 4 hits in a row to Akiyama, Gotoh, Takuya Hara, and Kurose, and that was the game pretty much and the Lions won the game 4-2.

Here's some photos. They kinda suck, probably because I was way in the back and because my lens has a lot of crap in it. I ended up replacing it tonight with another cheap zoom lens. Who knows if it'll help.

Yuki Yoshimura

Tatsuya Takeno

Lions starter Yuta Nakazaki


Baystars starter Tomokazu Ohka

Shogo Akiyama, from Hachinohe University

Masahiro Abe can hit

Shuichi Murata can hit

Ryo Hayashizaki can bunt

Keijiro Matsumoto can pout

Tomoki Hoshino can be left-handed

Shingo Takeyama can accidentally foul a ball into his own head

"J" Ohhara can throw a bat

Takehiro Fukuda can throw a ball

Shun Yamaguchi

Shoma Satoh

Yataro Sakamoto

Final score.


Yokosuka Stadium

My "tourist shot" so I can collect this stadium too

This one is kinda hard to explain but basically, whenever pitching coach Takeo Kawamura came out to the mound, this one dude a few rows ahead of us would yell "KAWAMURA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" really loud. Kawamura is a former Baystars player and was pretty popular. And so these two guys were waving these huge fans out in the stands and yelling "KAWAMURA!!!!!!!! NICE COACHING!!!!!" every time there was a pitching change. It was amusing, I guess. The guy also started yelling a lot of the players' names too. "TAKEYAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


This game was crazy for me because I showed up by myself, the stadium was pretty full, so I ended up taking a seat on the Seibu side. But due to the way the stadium is with the fences, I kept climbing to the back of the stands to go take photos of stuff going on on the field. After an inning or so I walked over to the Baystars side anyway, so I could take photos of right-handed batters (and Nakazaki the lefty pitcher) from the proper side.

I was hanging out in back on the Baystars side when a lady comes up to me like "Hey! Do you remember me?" I didn't. But I'm figuring... well... she had to be someone from that infamous day at Baystars Kyujo, so despite that no, I did not recognize her face, I said "Yeah! I met you at Baystars Kyujo in January?" and she said "Yeah! The day that we all met Kagami! You were so happy!"

So she invited me to come sit with her. Her group was in a FANTASTIC set of seats with a great view of the field for taking photos. Plus they kept calling out to random friends of theirs who walked by like "This is that girl we told you about, the big Kagami fan! She came BACK to Japan! Isn't that amazing?"

I guess sometimes the stupid things I do end up having some positive repercussions after all.