May 28th 2014, vs Hokkaido

May 28th, 2014

Nippon HamHokkaido Fighters 4

Tokyo Swallows 4

Streak: Drawn 1  Last 5: WLLWD

W: No one
L: Us all

The Swallows had plenty of chances to take home the W in this one (and it was a pretty exciting affair in regulation) but alas it wasn’t to be as the two teams played to a tie that was ultimately as lengthy as it was unfulfilling.

Nishikawa (2B)1Yamada (2B)
Sugiya (RF)2Hiyane (CF)
Yoh (CF)3Kawabata (3B)
Nakata (DH)4Balentien (DH)
Miranda (1B)5Yuhei (RF)
Obiki (SS)6Hatakeyama (1B)
Kondo (3B)7Araki (SS)
Ugumori (LF)8Nakamura (C)
Ono (C)9Iihara (LF)

Otani was perfect over the first two of this one, striking out four in the process, but he came unstitched a touch in the 3rd. Araki and Ihara both drew walks, sandwiching a Nakamura Tak-bunt, to put two men on for Tokyo. Yamada continued his highly impressive season by poking one through the infield to right to score the game’s first run, 1-0 Tokyo. After Hiyane hit a harmless shallow fly for out number two, Kawabata legged out an infield single to load the bases for Balentien. But Otani was up to the task, limiting the damage by getting Coco to hit a harmless ground out for the second time in the evening.

A solo homer from Yuhei doubled the lead in the 4th, his 9th long ball of 2014 making it 2-0.

Ishikawa meanwhile, after putting up goose eggs over the first four innings despite allowing four hits (aided by a couple of double plays along the way), finally allowed the Fighters on the board in the top of the 5th, giving up a run off two hits for 2-1.

Singles from Yamada and Kawabata put men on once more with two outs for Balentien in the bottom of the 5th, but Otani continued to come out on top of that personal battle, as Coco was sat down swinging.

The Otani vs Balentien battle continued in the 7th, with a Yamada single and Kawabata walk once again setting the table for Coco with two outs, but again Otani came out on top, with Coco flying out to centre to end the inning.

After allowing his only run in the 5th, Ishikawa was sat as Matsuoka and Iwahashi came in from the ‘pen to pitch a perfect inning each in relief. Yamamoto came in to work the 8th, and things didn’t go quite so smoothly. After a lead off single and subsequent bunt put the tying run on second, Yoh came to bat to try and tie up the game. Cue the Fighters not at all annoying Chitty Chitty Bang Band chance theme. With the count full, the proceedings were delayed for 30 seconds or so by a fireworks display somewhere in the vicinity of Jingu, which was visible over the left field bleachers. When they’d come to a halt, Yoh hacked a sharp one to third, which Kawabata fielded and threw to first, only for Yoh to be called safe as Hatake’s foot had left the bag. It was ruled an infield single, so I’m not sure if Kawabata was at fault with the throw, or it was a fuck up of the Hatake persuasion (though I think it may have been the former), but it would prove crucial. Crucial, because with men now on the corners with still just the one out on the board, Nakata hit a sac fly to left which tied up the game at 2-2.

And it got worse, as after Miranda was intentionally walked to occupy first, Obiki hit what should have been an inning ending fly to left, but Ihara for some reason kind of crouched as he caught the ball, with the ball slipping from his grasp (if he ever had it under control at all) and dribbled through his legs (amazingly, not ruled an error), allowing Yoh, the same Yoh who should have been the second out of the inning, home from second to make it 3-2 Hokkaido. Cue shots of Otani jizzing his pants on the bench and cue a bit of sick in my mouth.

But hold the presses! The Swallows were not done yet, as with Ishii entering the game in relief of Otani and his now soiled pants, Yuhei decided one home run for the evening was just not enough, as he hit another one deep into the right field stands to make it 3-3. That would be all for Ishii, as Crotta came in to try and preserve the tie. Hatake was up next, and he hit one to right, with Sugiya making a hash of it in the field, sliding and allowing the ball past him, with Hatake reaching second on the error. Hatake was duly replaced by Miwa on second, and Keizo Kawashima (MY GOD DOES HE LOOK OLD NOW) came in for a pinch hit bunt to move the go-ahead runner along to third for the first out of the inning.

Next up was Nakamura, and he took one off what appeared to be his right wrist, and the Swallows had men on the corners for Ihara. After laying down a squeeze bunt attempt for a foul to start the at bat in a pretty shitty way, he hit a fly ball to pretty shallow right, and while the throw seemed to beat Miwa to home plate by a good foot or so, the wee man made a great slide under the outstretched glove of the Hokkaido catcher, with his left hand making contact with home plate before any tag could be applied, and it was 4-3 Tokyo. Yamada was intentionally walked to put two on, before Morioka came in for Hiyane, but he couldn’t quite manage to extend the lead as he hit a sharp liner to short which was snagged to end the inning.

All that was left was for Akiyoshi to try and shut things down in the top of the 9th, and unfortunately he failed at that task early, as the pinch-hitting Kita hit the first pitch of the inning out of the park to left. 4-4. The rookie then put two outs on the board before allowing Sugiya on via his own fluffed catch error. He then allowed Sugiya to steal second, despite taking off far too early, as Akiyoshi made the wrong call by throwing to first instead of second. Cue more shitty shitty bang bang chance theme, but unlike in the previous inning, the shitty chant did not bring on more shitty luck for the Swallows as he got Nakata to fly out to left to end the inning.

Tokyo would have a chance to win it in the bottom of the 9th. Balentien finally got on base, as he was pitched around to occupy first with one out. Yuhei hit a shallow fly for out number two, before Miwa hit a dribbler up the middle to put two on. Keizo Kawashima then singled to centre to load the bases for a pinch-hitting Aikawa, but just like in the top of the 9th at Seibu this last Saturday, he couldn’t get it done, as he hit a fly to right and we were in to extras after pretty much exactly four hours of play.

Ishiyama pitched a perfect top of the 10th, aided by a nice leaping catch from Miwa to end the inning, and then a bearded Carter took the mound for Hokkaido in the bottom of the inning.

A walk for Yamada, and single for pinch hitter Ueda put men on first and second with one out on the board, but Kawabata hit the first pitch he saw into an inning ending play, and we were on the the 11th.

With options now limited, Ogawa opted to put Ishiyama out there for a second inning, and he delivered once more. He put a man on via a two-out walk, but that man (Nishikawa) was caught trying to steal second thanks to an excellent throw from Aikawa to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 11th, Masui walked Coco to get the inning started, which brought up Yuhei who couldn’t continue his heroics as he struck out for out number one. Miwa then laid down a bunt, but it wasn’t up to snuff and the out was made at second. Keizo was next but again struck out looking to move this one on to the 12th.

With Akgawa taking care of business in the top of the 12th, the Swallows had one last chance to convert this game into a win. Facing Fujioka on the mound, Aikawa singled to lead off the last chance saloon, and with Tanaka replacing the catcher on base, Tokyo had used all of their position players. Two outs later saw Tanaka now at third, and Ueda and Kawabata were walked, which brought up rookie Ryota Fuji for a chance at glory in his first career at bat (he entered the game as a pinch-runner for Coco in the 11th) with the bases now loaded. Alas, it wasn’t to be as the rookie could only hit one back to the pitcher and we had ourselves a 4-4 Final.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. A 5 hour 13 minute (and 1475 word) tie.

Baseball Tie


About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto