(photo courtesy of Kokoyakyu.com)
Road to Haru Koushien
Sapporo Block F
- def Sapporo Ryuukoku 10-4
- def Sapporo Kotoni Kougyou 15-4
- def Ritsumeikan Keishou 17-5 (7 inn)
- def Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo 4-3
- def Sapporo Minami 7-3
- def Shirakaba Gakuen 4-3
- def Tomakomai Chuo 10-3 (7 inn)
- def Engaru 18-2
- def Sapporo Nichidai 8-2
Meiji Jingu Taikai
- def Ube Koujyou 6x-5
- lost Riseisha 7-2
As you can see, this is why Hokkaido has its own super-region. Sapporo Dai-ichi still needed 9 games to win the prefecture, 4 regional, 5 prefectural. Plus the prefecture is just way too big.
That said, the resume doesn’t stand out. The only real quality win was their final against Sapporo Nichidai, who while they have been strong in recent times, are still a borderline Tier 2/Tier 3 school.
The biggest knocks against it are the face that they barely got out of the regionals, barely beat the Chuugoku champs Ube Koujyou, and lost handily to a Riseisha squad who wasn’t fielding their normal starting 9 (they themselves did not start their ace either). Still, none of this looks all that great.
Looking on the mound, it looks like they just went next in line. With the graduation of Kamide, they turn to Togashi Souta (冨樫 颯大) as their ace. In relief last year against Kisaradzu Sougou he went 2.1 innings, giving up 2 runs on 1 hit, striking out 2 and walking 1. His command at the time wasn’t great, and by my account at the time it felt like they were waving the white flag.
He’s certainly improved a little since then, but the reports are still spotty. Some say he tops out at 145, but realistically it probably sits in the upper 130s at best. He has the standard slider/curve combo, but it looks like the control still isn’t all there, which means he’s predicted to struggle against any tough competition.
The relief staff also just moved up one position with Maeda Tsuyoshi (前田 剛志) taking the #10 spot. But it’s hard to tell if he’s proven anything. Last spring against Kisaradzu Sougou he faced 4 batters, struck out 1 and walked 2. At Meiji Jingu he started against Riseisha giving up 5 runs in 7.2 IP, striking out 2 while walking 5. It’s Riseisha, sure, so you can’t knock him too hard for that. The control still isn’t quite there, but it may be better than Togashi despite the walks.
Defensively, the team looks rather poor, especially the infield. The left side of the infield struggles to get throws to 1st, especially if they have to chase a ball down. And the outfield arms aren’t all that spectacular either. None of this will help either pitcher.
Offensively, the main threats are cleanup batter Takashina Nagumo (高階 成雲), and last batter C Nishimura Souma(西村 壮真). Overall though, the team is not a threat to explode for runs against an opponent.
As a result, I expect the team to struggle unless the draw helps them steal some games. But the first hint of facing a stronger team, and they could be gone just like that.