(photo courtesy of Daily News)
Road to Haru Koushien
- def Aki 2-0
- def Kochi 6-5
- def Kochi Higashi 4-1
- def Tosa 5-1
- def Meitoku Gijyuku 2-0
- lost Eimei 5-7 (13 inn)
At first the picture suggests the team only had 10 men, but that certainly couldn’t have been true because they would have made mention of it. The team though does have just 16 members. (FYI, the team seen in the picture are the 2nd years. The first years were on a trip and were not present for the presentation which is unfortunate because the moment can only happen once).
The resume for Nakamura is the best of the 3, defeating 2 teams that have attended Koushien before, and taking a former participant to 13 innings.
Kitahara Noa (北原 野空) is their ace and the one responsible for shutting out Meitoku Gijyuku giving up just 7 hits, striking out 4 and walking 2. The game against Eimei he could not close it out in the late innings, giving up 3 runs in the final 2 innings eventually capitulating 4 innings later. His combined line in his last 2 games was 4 ER on 23 hits with 10 Ks and 6 BBs.
Offensively, the team has some good and bad news. The good news is that their offense seems to at least carry some weight. No one person really seems to carry the offense, but there may not be a vacuous hole at the bottom of the lineup that other teams carry. In addition they do not strike out at ridiculous rates which would suggest that they’re over their skis. The bad news is that despite the fact that no obvious holes exist, the team versus Meitoku Gijyuku and Eimei were 16-74 or a paltry 0.216.
Still, of all three 21st century teams, it seems that Nakamura may have the best chance of escaping the 1st round. Nakamura’ inclusion into the field of 32 also signals that the JHBF’s method of selecting teams is still a bit of a black box. Tohoku gets more than their fair share of 21st century bids while Kanto and Tokyo do not. Non-baseball criteria only add to a team’s resume, but don’t become the main reason for selection (unless of course you are from Tohoku). Resume is important, but sometimes a team in form isn’t selected (Engaru), perhaps due to times before where they succeeded beyond expectations (Rifu).
Really then what is the 21st century team bids for?