Handicapping the field – Toukaidai Fukuoka (2nd appearance, 1st in 32 years)

Handicapping the field – Toukaidai Fukuoka (2nd appearance, 1st in 32 years)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi Shinbun)

Road to Haru Koushien

Regionals – Kita “D” Block

  • def Higashi-Chikushi Gakuen 6-0
  • def Kokura Nishi 10x-0 (6 inn)
  • def Orio Aishin 6x-5 (11 inn)
  • def Koga Kyouseikan 4-2

Prefecturals

  • def Kurume Shougyou 7-2
  • tie Kokura Kougyou 1-1 (game called during top 9 due to rain)
  • def Kokura Kougyou 2-0
  • lost Fukuokadai Oohori 2-11

Super-Regionals

  • def Meihou 3-2 (10 inn)
  • def Reimei 5x-4
  • def Kumamoto Kougyou 2-1
  • lost Fukuokadai Oohori 3-4x

So, who would have thought that the top 2 schools in Kyushu would have come from Fukuoka? Certainly not me that’s for sure. But despite the anomalous feat done this year, as you can see from their resume, there are a lot of red flags out there that do not necessarily bode well for Toukaidai Fukuoka.

Much like the champs, Toukaidai Fukuoka relies on just one person on the mound – ace Yasuda Taishou (安田 大将). He’s a side-armer who goes low, but not so much as to be a submariner. It’s certainly an odd delivery. However, outside of the Kumamoto Kougyou game, his stats in the super-regionals indicate he is not a strikeout pitcher:

  • 4 CG, 10 ER, 31 H, 17 K, 5 BB for a 2.432 ERA, 0.919 WHIP, 4.135 K/9, 1.216 BB/9, 3.4 K/BB

It’s certainly understandable that he’s not a strikeout pitcher given his delivery. It’s also interesting that he almost gives up no walks as well. The question becomes if he gives up hard contact, and in those games he gave up 4 doubles and 2 home runs for a 0.246/0.245/0.325 slash line which is again pretty good for the type of pitcher he is. As one would expect he throws in the mid 120s with a slider. He’s certainly different than Fukuokadai Oohori’s Miura, but keeps his team in the game.

But with all the close low-scoring games, it’s clear that they lack offensive power. The team’s offensive line was comparable to Fukuokadai Oohori:

  • 37-129, 2B, 3B, 22 K, 4 BB for a 0.286/0.289/0.310 slash line

Higher batting average, less walks, and an equally station-to-station squad which may be slightly more inclined to get a base hit to drive in a run. The bottom of the lineup is understandably the weakest link going 8-40, with the exception of Yasuda, who in the #9 spot who went an amazing 6-13. In fact, if you throw in C Kitagawa Hozumi’s (北川 穂篤) 6-16 effort and 3B Hoshino Kouki’s (星野 光紀) 7-16, the rest of the team was 18-84 or 0.214. Yikes.

The team is walking a fine line. Sure, Yasuda isn’t going to beat himself, but with the offense unable to provide much support and concentrated into a small portion of the lineup Yasuda has less leeway than his counterpart Miura. It’s prolly the reason why they could not reverse the result of the first game. They are certainly better off than some of the other teams, but as to whether they can make a deep run, that’s probably unlikely.

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