(photo courtesy of Mainichi Shinbun)
Possible Road to Haru Koushien
- def Jyoushou Gakuen 8x-1 (8 inn)
- def Minoo Gakuen 12-6
- def Shijounawate 5-1 (called top 9 due to rain)
- def Naniwa 15-0 (6 inn)
- def Imamiya 10x-0 (5 inn)
- def Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan 7-0 (7 inn)
- def Riseisha 10-3
- def Kouyasan 7-5
- lost Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku 3-11 (7 inn)
So the good thing about Uenomiya Taishi is that it completely ran through the Osaka prefecturals, even taking Takeda for a loop in the final (he didn’t finish the 2nd inning). The problem is that outside of Riseisha, all the other teams are relative no-names. The super-regionals would have provided a better barometer, but that’s where the resume becomes really shaky.
The ace for Uenomiya Taishi is Morita Akira(?) (森田 輝). There almost no information I can find, but this tweet from the Riseisha game shows he struck out 10 in the victory. And in the Kouyasan game, he stuck out 11 which should indicate good things.
Yet in the Kouyasan game they had to come from behind. It seems that Kouyasan’s relief pitcher Fujiwara Aki (藤原 愛貴) was afraid to throw a fastball, and for good reason. Most of the time when he threw it it was hit and hit hard. What makes the game odd is that in the 7th, in what was ace Shioji Ayato’s (塩路 彩斗) last inning, the run he gave up was primarily due to poor defense where there were some dropped balls in the infield. Take any one of those and convert them to an out and the 7th didn’t look like he was struggling at all. And yet he was pulled for Fujiwara instead.
Then there’s the Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku game wherein they gave up the big inning which was partially due to poor defense and perhaps the standard excuse of not going to your relief corps sooner. And it’s not like there weren’t signs beforehand. Morita had held his own, but had not struck out a single batter which means there were balls always in play. In that inning, aside from the miscues, Morita walked and hit a batter before giving up that huge double which would put his team behind.
Offensively, there is less information to go off of. Certainly, they should be credited for soundly defeating those teams in Osaka. But the power outage in the super-regionals is an issue. In addition, there isn’t a player I can really point to and say that they are a cornerstone of the offense.
And yet, the resume of the two probable choices from the 4 quarterfinal losers are so weak in my opinion, that win over Riseisha could reintroduce them into the conversation.