(photo courtesy of @princes12756764)
Road to Haru Koushien
Nagoya Regionals 1st stage – E Block (for 2nd stage)
- def Kouzouji 5-4
- def Zuiryou 10-1 (7 inn)
- def Shouwa 10-1 (7 inn)
- def Kasugai Nishi 24-0 (5 inn)
Nagoya Regionals 2nd stage – E Block (prefectural seeding only)
- def Aikoudai Meiden 5-3
- lost Touhou 4x-3 (13 inn)
- def Aikoudai Meiden 5x-4 (10 inn)
- def Handa Kougyou 7-1
- def Chuubudai Haruhigaoka 1x-0 (11 inn)
- def Touhou 8x-7
- lost Sakuragaoka 0-2
- def Kyousei 3x-2
- def Komono 9-0 (7 inn)
- def Tajimi 2-1
- def Chuukyoudai Chuukyou 4x-3
- lost Shizuoka 1-5
Shigakukan can be considered the cardiac kids this year. Trailing by 2 to Aikoudai Meiden they scored 2 in the 8th to tie the game and won in 10. The Touhou game they blew a 4-1 lead in the 9th only to take it back in the bottom half. Just to make the super-regionals, they clawed back a run twice and then won in the 9th. Finally, against Chuukyoudai Chuukyou they were down 3-0 only to score 1 in the 8th and 3 in the 9th to make the finals.
What the heck are we supposed to make of this? They defeated quality squads along the way, but none of it was easy and a lot of it was coming from behind. The clue is the regionals which did not eliminate a team and was for seeding only. There they had to play Aikoudai Meiden and Touhou which meant that the games in the prefecturals were their 2nd times around. That could easily explain the close games – not that the first ones weren’t in their own right. So the road was doubly hard because it’s hard to beat a team twice, and similarly they had a chance to figure out things against Touhou.
Well, we know they use a duo of pitchers each game. There’s ace number and Niimi Ryousuke (新美 涼介) and then #10 Kawaguchi Ryouichi (川口 龍一). Little information is to be had on either, in fact the only one is that Niimi throws in the 120s(!). That makes sense though because the combined K and BB rates aren’t all that great, which means they’re probably contact pitchers at best. But they have to be at least decent ones to hold off the teams that they defeated. The Shizuoka loss is problematic, but that is expected to happen because there’s little room for error. While it was Kawaguchi responsible for most of the runs in that game while Niimi shut things down, it’s clear you can’t just have 1, so the partnership could hinge on the relief starter.
Offensively, I’m not sure how they did it. No one batter stands out in the final couple of games, expect for perhaps Niimi, and he doesn’t even start the game in the lineup! But when it comes to the fact that they come from behind, perhaps it’s just a team thing as opposed to an individual player thing.
Shigakukan is a puzzling team in that they have defeated quality teams while struggling against no-names. Grit isn’t exactly something that can be quantified, but seems to be the MO of the team because nothing individually stands out. That’s great for the super-regionals, but it will certainly be put to the test at Koushien and I’m not sure it will be able to hold.