(picture courtesy of baseballgate.jp – yes that’s Waseda, but it was one pitch that changed things)
Road to Haru Koushien
Regionals – Block 17B
- def Seiryou 10x-0 (6 inn)
- def Ouji Sougou 15-1 (5 inn)
- def Komadai 8-0 (8 inn)
- def Higashi-Yamato Minami 12x-2 (5 inn)
- def Souka 4-1 (13 inn)
- def Waseda Gakuin 6-2
- def Toritsu Hino 7-0 (7 inn)
- lost Waseda Jitsugyou 6-8x
So my Kanto/Tokyo bid goes to Nichidai-san. Keio Gijyuku can make a case and Laga-san thinks they will go. But given Waseda’s good run at Meiji Jingu, and that Nichidai-san was 3 outs away from defeating Waseda, I think they have the inside track.
That said, the team does not have a key win to circle on the list. In fact, the game you would circle IS the Waseda Jitsugyou game. You can see wins over Tier 3 schools such as Souka, Waseda Gakuin and Toritsu Hino which count for something, but if Nichidai-san is back on the rebound these teams should pose no threat. To that end the enchousen affair against Souka is a bit alarming.
What makes Nichidai-san intriguing is their ace, Sakurai Shuuto (櫻井 周斗), who oddly wears #8. Now, there are little reports as to his pitches, but given he pitched at Meiji Jingu, the reports of him touching 140 seem legit, though I think he sits in the upper 130s. He also appears to have 3 offspeed pitches. You can tell the slider, and curve, but I think he has a changeup or fork or something like that for righties. When I watch the video, the delivery seems off for some reason. First, it feels like a delivery I would do (and I’ve never played baseball), and it looks like his finish isn’t consistent either. I don’t think it has to do with the pitch he’s throwing, though it might have to do with where his target is.
Nonetheless in the final 4 games he pitched 31.2 innings, giving up 9 runs on 18 hits, with a 41/12 K/BB ratio for an ERA of 2.56.
Offensively, the big guy in the room (and I do mean big) is cleanup hitter 1B Kanari Reo (金成 麗生). Half Japanese and half American (and the father is apparently a former football player), Reo stands almost 2 meters tall and weights over 100 kg (that’s 6’4″, 220 if you want to know. In the video you can see how tall he stands in the box. Also, he hit a letter-high fastball over the fence. And you can also see the Waseda defense shifted so that the 2B was in shallow right. Which didn’t matter because next AB he sliced one opposite field. It’s not a pretty swing at times, but he knows where to go with the ball.
Side note, he’s apparently named Reo after Leo, after Leonardo DiCaprio. No joke.
Anyways, the rest of the offense is a bit more dodgy. It’s harder to get box scores for Tokyo for some reason so unless you can scrounge it up from fans, there’s little to go on. If the offense was bad enough, teams would consider pitching around Kanari. It certainly would be easier to pitch around 1 batter than 4. That doesn’t seem to be the case though, so either (a) no one’s really decided to go that route, or (b) the Nichidai-san offense is good enough that it’s not an option. If nothing else, what I’ve seen is that they are not beneath taking the free base. That is something I wished the underdog teams would do against the powerhouse teams, and now Nichidai-san seems to be taking that strategy for their own.
So there are concerns with the team, don’t get me wrong. And as I mentioned before, it’s possible the JHBF goes with another Kanto team instead of Nichidai-san. But I think there also enough there to think that if they do get invited, they could make some sort of run.