(photo courtesy of @lambanekko)
Road to Haru Koushien
Chubu Regionals (scores only)
- def Shimada 11-1
- def Shizuoka Shougyou 10-3
- def Shimada Shousei 3-0
- def Shimizu Sakuragaoka 9-5
- def Fujieda Meisei 3-1
- def Hiryuu 8-2
- def Iwata Higashi 4-1
- lost Seirei (Christopher) 0-1
- def Toukaidai Shizuoka Shouyou 6-1
- def Sakuragaoka 4-1
- def Kaisei 8x-1 (8 inn)
- def Mie 9-2 (8 inn)
- def Shigakukan (至学館) 5-1
Meiji Jingu Tournament
- lost Waseda Jitsugyou 3-5
Well, this is certainly a most interesting resume we have here. There is some questionable results early on, especially the loss to Seirei Christopher 1-0. And yet when you look at the super-regionals and the Meiji Jingu tournament, the resume is about as strong as you could realistically ask for a team. So, what gives?
Well, the key man in this situation is generally the ace, and that is Ikeya Souta (池谷 蒼大). If you exclude the probable 4 “intentional” walks to Waseda Jitsugyou’s Nomura, his total lines during that time span look like the following:
36.2 IP, 9 R, 23 H, 40 K, 7 BB
That’s not bad all in all. ~10 K/9 and a 5.9 K/BB ratio. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable with a stronger opponent from Aichi, but with Gifu seemingly cratering it’s not bad. And with 7 Ks against Waseda Jitsugyou, that also seems like a plus. From the ABs against Kiyomiya it looks like he has a fastball sitting in the mid-130s, with a curve(?) in the upper 110s. There’s another pitch that seems to sit around the same speed, but it doesn’t appear to be a slider, and it looks like a fastball still. If it was closer to his fastball I’d say it would be a cut-ball as they call it, but the difference in speed makes it confusing.
The biggest problem with his game is his control. From the highlight video of the game you can see him missing his spots and really in the wrong places. Those pitches that were punished were pitches his C was framing outside and Ikeya missed back over the plate, which you don’t have to be told is a big no-no. It does make one pause a little about his numbers as a whole translating to Koushien, and certainly they’d be revised downwards anyways, but again the Waseda game certainly eases some concerns.
Offensively, the easiest person to point to is cleanup hitter LF Naruse Kazuto (成瀬 和人) who had multiple hits in each of the super-regional and Meiji Jingu games. Otherwise maybe you can throw in C Mori Koutarou (森 康太朗) or 1B Inazumi Rui (稲角 塁), but outside of those no one really stands out. The team doesn’t appear to have clear holes in the lineup though, so there won’t be empty innings.
The Toukai region is rather small, and has a smattering of strong teams. Shizuoka at least is one of the teams that pokes its head above the clouds though finding success once they get there is a different story. I’m not sure they have a team that has a good chance of taking the title, but they should be able to avoid the one-and-done scenario.