(photo courtesy of Mainichi Shinbun)
Takaoka Shougyou (18th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
- Location – Takaoka-shi, Toyama
- Public school
- Student Body – 712 students (440 female)
- Club Size – 75
- Kantoku – Yoshida Makoto (吉田 真)
Road to Koushien
- def Namerikawa 6-5
- def Toyama Kougyou 8-5
- def Toyama 7-0 (7 inn)
- def Shin-Minato 6-2
- def Kouhou 8-2
It’s really strange to see a lot of these schools from rural prefectures not facing the same competition over and over again. In Takaoka Shougyou’s case they faced recent competitors Toyama Kougyou and Shin-Minato, but both have only had 1 appearance and have kind of recessed back into Tier 3 status.
And then you throw in the fact that they had 2 close games early leaves some cause for concern. The final 2 games may have been relative blowouts, but it took later in the game for them to pull away.
What might help them is that they have not 1, but 2 pitchers who seem to rack up the strikeouts, which is always a good thing. Ace Doai Shinnosuke and Yamada Ryuusei combined average over a K/IP and while that will regress, it’s always better to start from a higher number.
The problem will probably be offensively. The team hit 21-70 in the final 2 games and 0.300 is not a good batting average to have actually, unless you’re in a very competitive prefecture. Also, the bottom of the lineup is predictably weak.
All of it means that the onus will be on the pitching to deliver. Yeah, it’s the same story for the most part. Most teams won’t have strong enough hitting to overcome poor pitching. But there may be some signs that they can do it.
Toukaidai Sugao (3rd appearance, 1st in 17 years)
- Location – Akiruno-shi, Tokyo
- Private school
- Student Body – 1,481 students (532 female)
- Club Size – 138
- Kantoku – Wakabayashi Hiroyasu (若林 弘泰)
Road to Koushien
- def Touhou 3-2
- def Shouwa Dai-ichi Gakuen 12-1
- def Setagaya Gakuen 8-1
- def Nichidai-san 5-0
- def Nichidai-ni 11-8
- def Waseda Jitsugyou 6-2
Toukaidai Sugao not only comes from a competitive prefecture, but defeats 2 of the bigger powerhouses in it in Nichidai-san and Waseda Jitsugyou.
Not only that, but then #11 Matsumoto pitched the majority of those 2 games as well. He’s now the ace, and rightly so (he probably didn’t have it due to the fact that he’s a 2nd year). But his lines against the best Tokyo has to offer speak for themselves:
- v Nichidai-san – 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 10 K, 1 BB
- v Waseda Jitsugyou – CG, 2 ER, 7 H, 5 K, 1 BB
He throws in the low 140s, and you can bank that given they play at Meiji Jingu.
If for some reason he has to be relieved, there is former #1 Toda, who certainly is not as effective, having given up 3 in 5 innings to Nichidai-ni, while striking out just 3. Not to say he isn’t serviceable, but he perhaps isn’t the best backup option.
The only problem is the bottom of the lineup. Yes it did not fare well in those two key matchups, but if you’re going to win it all, you’re going to face at least one of those teams along the way.
But for their part of the bracket they’re heads over heels better than the competition.
- SS Tanaka
- RF Matsui
- 2B Kodama
- 1B Katayama
- 3B Okuyama
- LF Satou
- CF Koyama (#14)
- C Shikakura
- P Matsumoto
- CF Itou
- 3B Kubo
- RF Shimamura
- C Ikada
- SS Nakamura
- 2B Yoshimoto
- P Doai
- 1B Ougiya
- LF Yachi
10:35 – First Pitch!
Well, one though that Toukaidai Sugao would run away with this and Satou leading off the 2nd blasts a HR to left and you could have thought that was the start.
Not so fast, Takaoka Shougyou says. After some self-inflicted baserunners with Matsumoto walking 2 with 2 down, Taniuchi singles back up the middle tying the game right back up at 1-1.
The game actually ran even with Takaoka Shougyou holding Toukaidai Sugao at bay, interesting given who they had defeated in qualifying. But there they were tied at 1-1 still at the break.
Then came the 6th when Matsui would send a ball to deep right center, Itou and Shimamura both converged, but neither would get to it. As a result, he was in with an easy triple. Kodama would bring him home immediately with a fly to deep left. 2-1 Toukaidai Sugao.
But it still doesn’t feel all that comfortable because of how Doai has shut down their offense.
As if on cue, Nakamura scorches a grounder past Okumura down the line for a double.
And yet as quickly as that opportunity appeared, a couple of pitches and 2 popouts later it was gone.
To which Toukaidai Sugao made full use of that opportunity.
Satou singled to lead off the 7th, and when on 2nd with 2 out, ace Matsumoto delivered a liner over a leaping Yoshimoto and Satou came around to score comfortably giving them a 3-1 lead and Doai being moved to 1B.
They would add yet another run in the 8th. Tanaka would draw a leadoff walk, and in a fielding mistake, Kubo would field Matsui’s bunt and fire to 2nd, but it would be wide and into center. Tanaka would advance to 3rd and then score on Kodama’s single to right. 4-1.
But they would still leave runs at the table. Runners at the corners, contact play on and Kubo would be thrown out at home.
9th inning, and as can be the case, a team behind could just collapse knowing that the end may be near. So was the case with Takaoka Shougyou.
Walk, bunt popout but with error on throw, walk, bunt single down 3B line loads the bases.
Matsui triples to right center making it 7-1. And another single from Kodama makes it 8-1 before Doai returns to the mound.
Okumura puts the final point on the game with a 3-run HR to left making the final margin 11-1.
Toukaidai Sugao advanced as we expected, but it unexpectedly took until the late innings before they could pull away. Matsumoto wasn’t as dominant as he had looked in the prefecturals despite the 1-run and it will be very interesting to see how he manages the game going forward because Takaoka Shougyou still got their hits in.