Handicapping the field – Waseda Jitsugyou (21st appearance, 1st in 2 years)

Handicapping the field – Waseda Jitsugyou (21st appearance, 1st in 2 years)

(picture courtesy of baseballgate.jp)

Road to Haru Koushien

Regionals – Block 7A

  • def Hachiouji Soushi 24-0 (5 inn)
  • def Risshisha 12-0 (6 inn)

Super-Regionals

  • def Nihon Gakuen 10-1 (7 inn)
  • def Nichidai-ichi 7-1
  • def Katakura 12x-2 (5 inn)
  • def Kanto Dai-ichi 8-4
  • def Kokushikan 9-0 (7 inn)
  • def Nichidai-san 8x-6

Meiji Jingu

  • def Shizuoka 5-3
  • def Fukuokadai Oohori 6-4
  • lost Riseisha 6-11

Ok, so Kiyomiya Koutarou. Done. Right?

Well, I’m sure if Waseda is mentioned, it will be the fighting Kiyomiyas. He hit 3 HRs in the super-regionals, and another against Riseisha, so the story gets even bigger. He’s like all the hype of Saitou Yuuki while at Waseda (all of it) all rolled up together.

I can’t say all of it isn’t warranted, but I wonder how the teammates are handling it. Could be that it takes the pressure off of them because it’s all on Kiyomiya. Could be it’s all on them because if they don’t win it won’t necessarily be Kiyomiya’s fault, especially if he has a good performance.

There’s good news and bad news here about this team. The good news is that even if we don’t include Kiyomiya the team has offense to spare. The bad news is that the pitching is average at best leaving them right now like a copy of Teikyou.

As the team progressed through the final stages of the Tokyo super-regional and the Meiji Jingu tournament Waseda mostly has to go through 3 pitchers to complete the game. They were composed of a combination of Hattori Masaki (服部 雅生), Akamine Hiroya (赤嶺 大哉), Nakagawa Hiroto (中川 広渡), and Ikeda Tooru (池田 徹). The problem is that in the Meiji Jingu tournament where information is readily available, only Ikeda had a higher strikeout total than their walk total:

  • Hattori – 3 G, 6 IP, 26 batters faced (BF), 1 R, 6 H, 2 K, 2 BB
  • Akamine – 3 G, 5.2 IP, 41 BF, 7 R, 8 H, 0 K, 3 BB
  • Nakagawa – 2 G, 8.1 IP, 38 BF, 6 R, 9 H, 5 K, 5 BB
  • Ikeda – 1 G, 3 IP, 12 BF, 0 R, 1 H, 2 K, 1 BB

So in 23 IP, the combined staff struck out 9 and walked 11. On the surface, Hattori and Ikeda’s numbers are the best, but the lack of K’s mean that they may be in trouble. Now, Hattori did pitch at Natsu Koushien back in 2015, appearing in 3 games, pitching 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 3 hits, with 3 Ks and 1 BB with all those counting stats occurring against Hiroshima Shinjyou.

Information is a bit sparse with the 4 pitchers. Hattori is your run of the mill average pitcher, throwing in the mid 130s with a slider and curveball. From what I could find about Nakagawa, he’s about the same. None of the videos though I think inspire confidence in the pitching staff as a whole.

So it looks like the plan is for Waseda Jitsugyou is to try and power their way to the title. Kiyomiya is a given, but he certainly can’t be the only one.

Well, Kiyomiya received 7 walks during Meiji Jingu, and I bet some of those were of the actual intentional kind (most pitchers will throw not in the strike zone but not give the arm out intentional walk. I call those the unintentional intentional walk). But there is one other person who had a line that I thought was a Kiyomiya line:

vs. Shizuoka, 0 AB, 4 BB

Yes, that’s right 4 walks. And here too I bet they were intentional in nature. But it wasn’t Kiyomiya. Instead it’s for their actual cleanup hitter, 3B Nomura Daijyu (野村 大樹), who went 5-9 with a 2B, 3B, and HR at Meiji Jingu. Shizuoka’s plan was to face Kiyomiya, pitch around Nomura, and hope to get RF Konishi Yuuki (小西 優喜) out. It almost worked, until the 7th where Konishi hit a 2-RBI triple to seal the game. The trio in all had 12 of the 17 RBIs. If you throw in C Yukiyama Kanta (雪山 幹太), who has a ton of videos of him several years ago hitting home runs. A LOT of them. Throw in his 3 RBIs and that’s over 80% of the offensive output. And it’ll be hard to pitch around 4 batters. So you’re going to have to pick your poison sometime, somewhere.

The rest of the team was 15 for 59 (0.254). That’s not terrible by any stretch, but you can see why Shizuoka was trying to tiptoe through that part of the lineup. As for Riseisha they simply didn’t care, they just beat up the pitching staff.

So here’s the rub. As I said before the team profiles like a Teikyou, looking to overpower teams and get away with middling pitching. The formula never worked for Teikyou, but the results above show that Waseda has had better success. There is no doubt lower level teams will certainly have a very difficult time dealing with the offensive quartet, and Waseda’s pitching is enough to get by. But the holes leave ways that a team can combat them. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a deep run.

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