(photo courtesy of Shizuoka Shinbun – at-s.com)
Road to Natsu Koushien
- def Kunijima 24-0
- def Osaka Shiritsu 14-1
- def Nishi-Noda Kouka 10-0
- def Osaka Taiikudai Namishou 8-1
- def Kansai Souka 10-2
- def Osaka Shoudai Sakai 9-2
- def Osaka Touin 7-4
- lost Uenomiya Taisha 3-10
- def Ikuei 8-1
- def Takada Shougyou 7-0
- def Shiga Gakuen 6-3
- def Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku 8-2
Meiji Jingu Taikai
- def Sendai Ikuei 5-1
- def Fukui Koudai Fukui 4-3
- def Sapporo Dai-ichi 7-2
- def Waseda Jitsugyou 11-6
And so we’re probably at the prohibitive favorites to win it all. Or so the pundits I bet will say. You can’t necessarily blame them. Defeating Osaka Touin is always a plus (though it wasn’t a win or go home game – there was still the 3rd place game to get into the super-regionals). Then the relative dismantling of Tier 2 schools in the Super-Regionals, and then going through the Meiji Jingu Taikai using part of their B squad before outlasting the Kiyomiya’s in a slugfest. It’s hard to say they aren’t at least one of the front-runners.
Their problem at Natsu Koushien was actually not starting Terashima in the loss to Jyousou Gakuin. Given, Terashima would have started on 1 full days rest, so it certainly wasn’t ideal, but once Yamaguchi let the flood gates open, Terashima could do very little to stem the tide before it was much too late.
Terashima though is gone, drafted 1st by the Yakult Swallows. Riseisha now starts from scratch, but has found a new ace in Takeda Yuu (竹田 祐). Thanks to the video we see that he has a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 130s. He has a curve in the lower 120s, and early in the video there is a ball that is recorded at 128 that looks like a fastball. I have to assume that it is a forkball of some sort. So we know he has those two pitches, and I imagine he has to have a slider though we didn’t see it in that video. And while this video shows the curveball even as low as the high 110s, it doesn’t help me figure out the slider.
The only hangup for Takeda might be his stamina. After 2 solid performances, against Shiga Gakuen he went the distance, but gave up 3 runs on 15 hits, striking out just 6 and walking 3. Then in the final against Waseda Jitsuyou, while he didn’t give up a run, he gave up 6 hits and 5 walks while striking out 7 in 6.1 innings of work. His line at Meiji Jingu was the following:
- 4 G, 1 GS, 20.1 IP, 1 CG, ER, 15 H, 17 K, 8 BB
- 0.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.65 K/9, 3.58 BB/9, 2.125 K/BB
He may not be an overpowering strikeout artist, but he is certainly getting the job done even despite the poor numbers against Waseda. But I’m skeptical right now that he can do the job alone, which means that #11 Tanaka Raita (田中 雷大) will need to shoulder his fair share of the innings, if not outright start. The only problem is there is little information on him compared to Takeda. The few reports I do have of him are pitching in the 130s, and I assume lower 130s if anything. And from his lines, he looks like a general innings eater:
- 3 G, 1 GS, 9.2 IP, 3 ER, 13 H, 7 K, BB
- 2.79 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.52 K/9, 0.93 BB/9, 7 K/BB
Note that 6 of his 7 Ks were against Fukui Koudai Fukui in 6 innings of work.
There is a 3rd option available, but maybe only against weaker competition. That’s #10 Matsui Hyakudai (松井 百代). He handled Sapporo Dai-ichi much like Tanaka, but struggled against Waseda giving up 4 earned runs in 2+ innings of work. There is understandably even less information on him, so we can only assume he like Tanaka is another innings eater at best.
- 2 G, 2 GS, 6+ IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 3 K, 2 BB
- 6.00 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, 3 BB/9, 1.5 K/BB
Offensively, the most consistent hitter is by far their C Katayama Yuu (片山 悠), who actually sits 7th in the lineup. Which is completely amazing if you ask me.
- Meiji Jingu – 6-15, 3 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 0 K, 2 BB
There seems to be more chatter about 3B Yasuda Hisanori (安田 尚憲) instead. Can’t be helped though because he returns to the roster having hit 0.333 with 2 doubles at Natsu Koushien. His line at Meiji Jingu though was a bit less stellar:
- Meiji Jingu – 3-13, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 K, 5 BB
Sure 2 of his hits went for extra bases, but 3-13 doesn’t quite inspire confidence.
One last person to keep an eye on offensively is 2B Matsubara Touya (松原 任耶) who didn’t even wear a starting number. That might change come the spring though if he continues hitting like this:
- Meiji Jingu – 7-15, 2 2B, 3B, 7 RBI, 2 K, 2 BB
The rest of the lineup went a combined 16-82 (0.195) which is to say the least uninspiring. It also means that the offense could suffer a power outage much like the Jyousou Gakuin game last summer. Sure, this was against all the super-regional champions, but there are certainly better teams out there than some of them. They may be a front-runner, but they’re certainly far from invulnerable.