(photo courtesy of Yahoo! News Japan)
Road to Haru Koushien
- def Kiryuu Kougyou 10x-0 (6 inn)
- def Tomioka 11x-1 (6 inn)
- def Kitoku 5-0
- def Takasaki Keizaidai Fuzoku 9-0 (7 inn)
- lost Maebashi Ikuei 4-3
- def Meishuu Hitachi 8-1 (7 inn)
- def Yokohama 5-2
- lost Sakushin Gakuin 5-1
The always scrappy Kendai Takasaki is back once again. After their comeout party 4 years ago at Haru Koushien reaching the semifinals, they’ve made several reappearances doing well, but unable to repeat that performance. After a year off to rebuild, perhaps they’re coming back again?
Looking at the form for the fall, Kendai Takasaki looks like it slots perfectly as a middle of the road team. They easily handled the no-name and lower tier schools, lost against upper-tier competition, and were competitive in the middle. They are no real key wins or losses per se, as you can forgive the final against Maebashi Ikuei and the win over Yokohama while still worth something, isn’t worth as much right now.
On the mound, Aoyagi-kantoku is seemingly going with a pro-style pitching staff. Starting games is their ace Itou Atsuki (伊藤 敦紀). The video while a little old (Natsu Koushien qualifying) is good enough for now. It looks like there is a little zip to the ball, but control seems to be a bit lacking. The biggest thing that gets me when I see the video is the delivery. He starts out looking like he’s going sidearm or even submarine, but when he finally delivers the ball it actually looks like either a three-quarter or a high sidearm delivery because he seems to pop back up.
Whatever it is though, the information I am able to find suggests he’s not a dominating pitcher. Against Maebashi Ikuei he lasted just 4 innings with a line of 2 ER on 4 H, 1 K, 3 BB and a HBP. He was in a relief role against Meishuu Hitachi going just 2.2 IP, didn’t give up a run, striking out 2, with 1 hit and also hitting a batter. And unfortunately, I can’t get any more information on the Yokohama game other than he went 7.1 IP, giving up both runs that Yokohama scored.
Behind him, the next in line is #10 Mukai Yoshiki (向井 義紀), their C Ono Haruka (小野 大夏), and #11 Takemoto Kouki (竹本 甲輝). Takemoto was actually on the 2011 Marines junior team that competed against the trio now at Sendai Ikuei. And they were in the same pool no less.
But outside of that information, there’s very little on any of them. But given Takemoto gave up a 2-run HR to Maebashi Ikuei, and Takemoto and Ono gave up 2 runs in the 9th against Sakushin Gakuin, it may be the Mukai is the line in the sand when it comes to their pitching staff, and he gave up a run in 2 innings versus Sakushin Gakuin himself.
Offensively, there are concerns as well. The two biggest are that they managed just 2 hits against Sakushin Gakuin, and the other is that when they did pile on the hits, it was all at the top half of the lineup. If you already have a black hole at the bottom of the lineup when you’re doing well, it does not bode well for when you trek to Koushien. That’s pretty much giving up at least 3 innings of offense.
If that’s the case, they may fare worse than middle of the pack at Koushien unless they get a favorable draw.