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Hanshin Tigers vs Yakult Swallows (Koshien)

3rd October 2009

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Its crunch time. Hanshin have five games left. Yakult have eight. Hanshin have a one game lead over Yakult- the team that finishes with the better record gets into the playoffs. Pretty simple really.

Line Up: Hirano, Sekimoto, Toritani, Kanemoto, Arai, Brazell, Sakurai, Yano, Andoh

Battery: Andoh -> Tsutsui -> Sajikihara -> Egusa -> Kanemura / Yanoh

Preview: The chips are down, and unfortunately Yano and Andoh are in charge of this one. Unfortunate why? Because Kanoh is a better catcher paired with almost any pitcher, and Andoh is also unreliable- I’d prefer Kubo or Nohmi anyday.

Match Report: The Swallows took the lead in the second, before Hanshin surged back in the third. Brazell, Sakurai and Hirano combined to get the two runners round, to give us a 2-1 lead. Then Andoh fell apart in the third- first a deep hit to right field got the Swallows back on level terms, and then the next batter- Aoki- hit a home run to the same area to put the Swallows 4-2 up. Not good. In the forth though Sakurai and Yano combined again to get  runners home- both tight at home plate- and we were back level at 4-4! This seems to have all the makings of an epic contest. In the sixth Swallows went one up once again- another home run, this time of Sajikihara (who!?), who had replaced Tsutsui, who in turn had replaced the ailing Andoh. 5-4, and then in quick succession another run- 6-4 Swallows! Things are going downhill fast. Now its the seventh, and Egusa has loaded the bases. Kanemura has replaced him- what a horrible situation for a relief pitcher to have to contend with. Still, he contends with it well- first out is at home plate, then a fly catch is drilled efficiently home to prevent the runner from getting there. Finally, another fly catch. Unfortunately Tigers seventh had nothing. Atchison came in for Swallows eighth, and got the outs with no problem. And so to the Tigers eighth- dwindling prospects, disappearing chances. Can they do it? Toritani- out! Next up Kanemoto- out! Grrr. Arai- fly out. Dammit! Swallows ninth- with runners on first and third they had a good chance, but nothing came of it. Tigers ninth- again, disappointment. Brazell was narrowly out running to first, the next batter grounded out, and third a fly out- shiai shuryou!

Disappointment all round. Hanshin and Yakult are now TIED on third, with exactly the same average! The Carp are two games behind.

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