Saturday, March 21, 2009

Let's go Shonan Searex!!! Never a dull moment at Yokosuka Stadium.

Hello all. So, with the recent 3 day weekend here in Japan, I decided to go on an adventure. It was back to Kanagawa for me, more specifically I went to Yokosuka Stadium to catch the Shonan Searex vs. the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. This was a game between the minor league teams of the Yokohama Baystars and Nippon Ham Fighters (二軍 or ni-gun in Japanese) but ironically too, the top league teams (一軍 or ichi-gun in Japanese) also were playing at Yokohama Stadium on the same day. If you ever get the chance to attend a 二軍 Japanese Baseball game, I highly reccomend it. The atmosphere is much more laid back than that of a normal game and most often you can even get autographs and pictures of the players after the game. I've started quite a collection of signatures and today, I probably landed one of my biggest catches as I was able to get Sho Nakata of the Fighters to sign one of my sign boards (色紙 or Shikishi in Japanese).

As I said earlier, this game was and up and down game. The game probably went a little longer than it should've as it took 3 hours and 5 minutes to complete. But, again, it was well worth it as it was an exciting game. The starting pitchers were Toshiyuki Yanuki for the Fighters and Yoto Kosugi for Searex. The one thing that you should all know is that errors played a huge part in this game and ultimately decided the outcome of the game as well. Oh, and both starters today were rookies for each of their teams. So, who would come out on top? Let's find out, shall we?

Nippon Ham wasted no time getting on the board in the first as DH Tomoyuki Oda smashed a 2 run Home Run to right field driving in Toshimasa Konta as well who walked to start off the inning.

Searex struck back quickly in the bottom of the first as Takayuki Kajitani, Atsushi Kita, Tatsuya Shimozono all singled to load the bases. After that, Shigenori Kuremoto hit a Sacrifice Fly to deep left field to make it 2-1. Next, catcher Toshiki Kurobane tripled to deep right to give Searex a 3-2 lead.

Nippon Ham scored again in the top of the third. Takuya Nakashima singled to start things off while Toshimasa Konta struck out swinging. Yuji Iyama then sinlged to left. Tomoyuki Oda grounded into a force out at second and after that, Yohei Kaneko hit a double to deep left making it 4-3 Nippon Ham.

In the bottom of the fourth, Takuya Sakamoto doubled to left (and then was picked off at second by catcher Ryota Imanari, shame on you Sakamoto) and Takayuki Kajitani walked after that. Takayuki Kajintani then stole second while Atsushi Kida was batting and then, Tatsuya Shimozono hit and RBI double to left to tie it up 4-4.

Shonan would continue it's assault on the Fighters in the bottom of the 5th. Yuki Takamori grounded out to short to start things off. Kurobane then singled to center. It should be noted to that Kurobane was also setting himself up for a possible run at the cycle as he tripled and singled in his first 2 at bats, but he could get the double and home run that was needed. Next, Yuta Sekiguchi reached first due to an error by Fighters second baseman Kenshi Sugiya and then Toshiyuki Kitagawa tripled to deep right to make it 6-4 Searex. Strange actually, there was a lot of triples in this game.

But again, the Fighters started to make a comeback in the top of the 6th. Tomoyuki Oda doubled to left and then was lifted for pinch runner Seichi Ohira. Yohei Kaneko then reached first thanks to an error by Shonan first baseman Yuki Takamori. Atsushi Ugumori then grounded into a force out at second allowing Ohira to score and make it 6-5 Shonan.

Seriously, neither team wanted to lose this game. Shonan came right back in the bottom of the 6th inning to take the lead. Atsushi Kita walked to start off the inning. Shimozono then bunted Kita over to second and DH Kuremoto reached first thanks to yet another Fighters error, this time by third baseman Yuji Iyama. Takamori then doubled to left to make it 7-5 Shonan.

Heading to the top of the 7th, Fighters catcher Ryota Imanari walked to start things off. Then, Kenshi Sugiya reached first on an overthrow error by third baseman Atsushi Kita and Takuya Nagashima grounded out to first to make it 7-6. Then, Toshimasa Konta tripled to right to tie the game at 7 a piece.

This took us to the bottom of the 9th inning. Shingo Takeyama had come into the game to replace Kurobane as the catcher in the 7th inning (I can't remember exactly when because I was distracted by the Searex Ouendan when they announced it but pretty sure it was when Kosugi left the game) and singled to start off the inning. Then, in possibly the longest at bat I've ever seen at an eastern league baseball game, Yuta Sekiguchi laid down a sac bunt after about 10 minutes of pickoff attempts by Fighters pitcher Takayuki Kanamori. But, Kanamori went to the well once to often and botched a pickoff attempt by overthrowing the ball to Sho Nakata. This allowed Takeyama to go to second and of course advance to third on the bunt and the next batter Toshiyuki Kitagawa walked. Takuya Sakamoto then hit a sacrifice fly to left to end the game with a score of 8-7 Shonan. やった!!

The winning pitcher was Teruaki Yoshikawa who pitcher 2 solid innings of relief starting in the 8th and the losing pitcher was Takayuki Kanamori. As I said earlier, errors were ultimately the undoing of the Fighters but regardless, I felt that the 2 teams played strong and exciting baseball as I enjoyed the game very much. Eastern League Games ROCK!!!!!!

So, after the game I stayed around the stadium like I always do. I waited by the Fighters exit for the players to exit. And finally they all did. Fighters pitchers Suguru Matsuyama and Yanuki stopped by and actually chatted with the fans for a little bit while signing things. But when Nakata came out he seemed like he wanted to get on the bus ASAP despite the huge number of people calling to him. Finally, I just said "Mr. Nakata, could you please come over and sign my board". I wasn't yelling or anything or going hysterical like the 10 Japanese women behind me I just asked him to sign my thing in a polite normal manner. Needless to say, he turned around took one look at me and came over. He signed my board but instead of giving me the pen back, he just kinda flipped it to me and the pen landed on my board and almost rolled off. He didn't even smile or look at me or nothing it was like someone was forcing him to do it. Even when he started to sign for the elementary school kids, he was the same. I thanked him and walked off but the encounter left me with a bad impression of him being a jerk. But, I'm not going to say anything more about it or Sho Nakata.

After that, I wandered over to the Searex bus and waited for a few minutes and caught Sekiguchi as he was going into the bus. I asked him to sign my board. He looked at me and said yes and started to walk over. Then, some Japanese lady shoved her little ticket holder in front of me and insisted that he sign her thing first. Sekiguchi was right in front of me and he kinda looked at me like "what do you want me to do" and to top it all off, some old Japanese guy that she was with said in English "Ladies First" and thought it was cute so I let him sign it. I swear, many people nowadays have zero manners and lack common courtesy. It took him like 3 minutes to sign the thing as she had him write his real name in Kanji I believe then a message or something and they couldn't figure out which Kanji were the correct ones to use. So, he signed my thing and after that I caught our new Chinese players Chen Wai and Wang Jing Chao and they signed my Team China WBC hat. All the while, Suzuki Takanori was next to his car looking cool in a leather jacket and sunglasses. I missed the chance to get my picture with him but next time Suzuki-coach. I also caught Shingo Takeyama and Toshiyuki Kitagawa and got their signatures too.

All in all a fun day at Yokosuka Stadium, but the next day wouldn't be so fun as I'll tell you about in my next report.

Yokosuka Stadium field. The entire infield is brand new and is the same turf as Jingu Stadium I believe. At least that's what it reminded me of at first glance.

Nippon Ham Fighters First Baseman Sho Nakata (#6) doing who knows what. Any ideas anyone?

The Searex Crew promoting "team togetherness" or something like that after warmups.

I absolutely LOVE the Konta chant!!! The melody just draws you in and before you know it you're also cheering for Konta. It's my new favorite Fighters cheer second only to Jason Bott's first cheer song with the Fighters (which is now no longer in use. -sad face-)

Searex Starter Yota Kosugi

Nippon Ham Starter Toshiyuki Yanuki

Former pitcher now infielder Atsushi Kida. He wasn't that bad in the game actually.

The Final Score

My good friend the Yokosuka Panther. The unofficial mascot of the Shonan Searex.

2 of my 色紙 I managed to get signed. The one on the right is Sho Nakata and the one on the left is Yuta Sekiguchi of Shonan. Seriousuly, I'm not making this up as his signature is a picture of a cat. A FREAKING CAT!!! How funny is that eh? I also managed to get Shingo Takeyama's and Toshiyuki Kitagawa's of Shonan signatures as well.


My Team China WBC cap signed by Wang, Jing Chao(#55) and Chen, Wei(#42)of Shonan who also played for the team. The numbers on the cap are their Team China numbers and not their Searex ones. I wasn't really sure if they could speak Japanese and since my Chinese or "普通话" doesn't go beyond "What's your name" and "My name is Matt" and "I like American food" and "Where's the restroom", I decided to try and speak English with them and it turns out they can speak a little English. I both think they were a bit surprised that someone asked them to sign something and weren't expecting it to be honest.


  1. Poor Yanuki. I wanted him to be my favorite Fighters rookie this year because he's so tall, but I'm not sure it's going to work out that way.

    Ryota Imanari is awesome, I just wish he wasn't doomed to be forever BLOCKED in the Fighters organization.

    And good job getting Sho-kun's autograph. I actually don't really have any Fighters signatures... I do need to stalk more of them for 2-shots at some point though :)

  2. I wanted to get some more signatures from the Fighters but I just didn't know who any of the players were. When I was waiting for Nakata, all I could think about was "Man, I wish Deanna was here with me right now cause she knows who all of these guys are". Seriously. But I learned about a few of them so it's a start.