Intermittent showers wrecked havoc on the third day of the 11th Men Softball Asian Cup, Kochi, 2022 (World Cup qualifier) Super Rounds as the match between host Japan and Philippines were delayed to start and later halted at the fourth bottom inning at the Shimanto Stadium.
Despite the earnest effort by the hardworking groundsmen to have the pitch playable, the ground was soggy and not in the best of conditions.
Slides to bases became a common sight with the slippery pitch.
Play resumed after 40 minutes in the 4th inning, despite a slight drizzle with Japan continuing to bat, before rain got heavy again but play continued before the rain eased up again.
But it was the rain that ruled coming in intervals to further worsen the pitch.
After every inning, groundsmen had to come in to soak up the water with sponge and level the pitch with rakes.
However at the opposite pitch – Yasunami Field – Singapore and India continued to play despite the rain, as the pitch was a full sand pitch and water dried up faster or was absorbed into the ground.
Japan who were expected to dominate play against a determined Philippines, failed to get any runs in the first two innings despite denying Japan any runs either.
Japan finally got going in the third inning, when Une Ryoyu hit a home run and with two bases loaded, had three runs to lead finally.
Japan picked up another in the 5th inning, before Kitazawai Keisuke home run in the 6th inning gave them a comfortable 5-0 lead before storming ahead with another two runs for a 7-0 runs ahead victory.
“It was playing under difficult conditions and the many stoppages effected the game flow for both teams,” said Japan’s coach Yoshimura Hiroshi.
“But my pitchers did well to shut out Philippines and we did what we had to win the game.”
Philippines coach Apolonio Rosales too agreed that the weather and ground conditions, created havoc.
“But it was the same for both teams. Under the circumstances, we did well to prevent Japan from getting any runs in the first two innings.
“Our pitches did well, but our catcher had problems because of the slippery conditions and the ball too.
“But generally we did well against a world class team like Japan and now look forward to our match against India, with the hope to reach the final and qualify for the World Cup.
“It is a tough situation, with India doing well in the tournament and the surprise team, but nothing is impossible.
Indeed India has emerged the surprise team in the tournament and their latest win over Group B champions Singapore this morning in the Super round at the Yasunami Field, has indeed raised eyebrows.
Earlier they had defeated Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei in their Group A matches, to reach the Super Round as runner-up to Japan.
Today, it was the Lions who took a 7-0 lead on top of third inning, before India closed the gap with 3 runs for 7-3 score.
It began raining in the 4th inning and with game continued, Singapore had problems adjusting, while India flourished with 8 runs to take the lead 8-7.
Singapore came back with 2 runs in the fifth inning, but India did not take their feet off the pedal and went onto bag another 4 runs for 15-9 lead.
Singapore tired their best to come back into the game and added another 3 runs in the sixth inning, but India continued to put the pressure, to add another two runs for 17, against Singapore’s 12.
India shut Singapore out in the top of 7 to win 17-12.
India play Philippines later and it will be a do-or die mission for both but India have the advantage.
Singapore play Japan.
Imagine a Japan versus India final!
STANDINGS AFTER PRELIMINARY ROUND
- Hong Kong
- Chinese Taipei
SUPER ROUND AND PLACING MATCHES RESULTS AND SCHEDULE
9.00AM: Japan 7 Philippines 0 (Shimanto Stadium)
9.00AM: Singapore 12 v India 17 (Yasumani Field)
12.30PM: Chinese Taipei v Thailand (Shimanto Stadium)
2.00PM: Japan v Singapore (Shimanto Stadium)
2.00PM: India v Philippines (Yasumani Field)