Tag: Houtoku Gakuen

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 11, Semifinal 1 – Riseisha (Osaka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(picture courtesy of Sanspo)

You. I’ve got you.

Riseisha’s Takeda Yuu is really the real deal. Yeah, there was the game against Nichidai-san, but they were one of the more offensive powers in the tournament, so that was to be expected. But his last 2 games have been absolutely stellar, making a 1-0 lead look insurmountable to Shiritsu Kure and then being pitcher perfect through the first 6 innings against Moriokadai Fuzoku.

The offense is actually a bit concerning. In their last matchup against Moriokadai Fuzoku the team implemented a small ball strategy that lower tier teams use which is completely inexplicable because when they had to swing away they actually hit the darned ball. So it’s really shooting themselves in the foot.

Houtoku Gakuen is here mainly because Fukuokadai Oohori made a conscientious decision to sit their ace Miura, and that had to be the main reason for their loss. I do believe they have been the beneficiary of an easier schedule but you can only play who’s put in front of you.  Ace Nishigaki did not give up a run until their last game and has averaged a K per inning. But the walk numbers have slowly gone up as well, and that just won’t do here.

In addition, they have not faced an ace like Takeda, and yet in the Maebashi Ikuei game when ace Maruyama came in, the Houtoku offense shut down.

Houtoku Gakuen is probably on the back foot, but if they can survive the first couple of innings they may stand a better chance. They just might too, because Takeda isn’t starting.

Riseisha

  • RF Ishida Ryuuji
  • 2B Mizobe Touki
  • 3B Yasuda Hisanori
  • LF Wakabayashi Shouhei
  • 1B (#17) Hamauchi Taiyou
  • CF Tsutsui Taisei
  • C Katayama Yuu
  • SS Nishiyama Koutarou
  • P (#10) Matsui Hyakudai

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

11:00 – First Pitch!

Yasuda, really?

Nishigaki leaves one right over the plate and Yasuda deposits it in the first couple rows in right. 1-0 Riseisha just like that.

Matsui’s job will be to nurse the game as best he can. And if Takeda doesn’t need to take the mound all the better.

But the very first batter goes to a full count and singles past Nishiyama into center. Nagayama bunt fails to move the runner over, and then to add insult to injury Mizobe makes a great diving stop on Kataoka’s ground ball, gets the out at 1st, and then throws to 3rd where they get Nagayama who tried to take the extra base. 3rd out at 3rd. Oy.

Riseisha notches another run on it’s belt in the 2nd. Leadoff walk to Hamauchi, but no bunting by Riseisha. 2 down and Nishiyama at bat. Drives a ball to right, Okamoto under it, until he’s not! He makes a last minute leap and it’s over his head! Runner scores and it’s 2-0 Riseisha.

I mention the little things to Houtoku Gakuen, but that also applies to Riseisha.

Shinohara’s ground ball to the right side is run down by Mizobe, but his footing goes from under him and he can’t make a play. Later, Ikegami singles to center and Shinohara takes 3rd, but then the ball rolls up Tsutsui’s arm and toward right. Shinohara restarts and goes home, giving back the gift run 2-1.

Despite that Riseisha continues to pressure Nishigaki. Ishida drives a ball to center left and it’s by Nagayama for a double. Now Mizobe strikes out, but after that Nishigaki walks both Yasuda and Wakabayashi to load the bases.

Nagata-kantoku has seen enough. Ikegami comes in from 3B to pitch and #13 Hosoki takes over at 3B.

The outside corner though seems to be an engima, because on the 2-2 pitch it looks like the corner but is called ball 3. Ikegami looks like he puts it in the same place and this time he gets the punchout. 2 down.

Tsutsui pops out to Shinohara at home and for now they’re holding on.

Houtoku though is trying to do more than that. One down, top of the lineup due in the 3rd. Kozono and Nagayama square up a pair of fastballs for singles. Things get worse for Matsui when he spikes a 55-foot curveball. Both runners advance and now a base hit can give Houtoku Gakuen the lead.

Kataoka square up a ball and drives it to right, but not only is it right at Okamoto, but Kozono was not tagging up. 2 down.

No matter though because Shinohara is there again! He takes the outside fastball the other way for a base hit and Kozono scores to tie the game 2-2. Takeda starts warming up…

And he’s coming in. Matsui is PH for in the 4th which means his day is done. He gave them 3 innings, but probably could not go further.

Ikegami rudely welcomes him with a single back up the middle. He’s bunted over, though not for Okamoto, but PH (#13) Shiodzuki. Puts in a good AB, but lines out to Nishiyama.

Hosoki grounds back to Takeda to end the inning, but as you could prolly understand Takeda’s control is not quite all there to start his stint. Next inning will be a good indicator of his effectiveness.

Ikegami though threatens to throw it away. Gives up 2 two-out singles on his fastball before finally getting a routine ground ball from Hamauchi to end the inning.

Houtoku Gakuen goes in order, much to Takeda’s pleasure certainly, so we’re at the break knotted at 2. Houtoku Gakuen has held on so far, so they do certainly stand a chance in the final 4 innings, especially with Takeda not as sharp.

More small things for Riseisha, and again with Mizobe. Kantou with a ball back up the middle, Mizobe runs that one down too, but again he can’t control his slide and the ball slips away. He gets to advance to 2nd when Ikegami hits a ball slowly back up the middle. And wouldn’t you know it Nagao singles to center on the next pitch and Houtoku Gakuen has the 3-2 lead.

Riseisha suddenly finds themselves needing a run and only 9 outs to go. But the batters are struggling with Ikegami’s delivery, especially his high pitches to which they can’t square them up. Soon there’s 2 down for Yasuda and they basically put him on. Which is fine because Wakabayashi pops out.

More trouble for Takeda. Kantou takes an outside forkball the other way down the line for a one-out double. Bears down to get the final 2 outs, but Riseisha running out of time.

In fact before you know it, it’s the top of the 9th and Riseisha still trailing by 1.

#3 Shirataki to hit for Nishiyama, maybe as a last gasp with the bottom of the order up.

Instead though Ikegami leaves a ball middle-middle and Shirataki takes it to the wall in right center for a double! Douten run on base with no out! #16 Matsubara replaces him at 2nd. He’s bunted to 3rd, though that can be dangerous.

But now Ishida draws a 4-pitch walk and Nagata-kantoku calls time.

This time Mizobe shows bunt and it’s a safety squeeze. Fouls off the first one.

Does it again and somehow the defense isn’t ready! Shirataki comes home and beats the throw tying the game at 3-3!

That’s it for Ikegami as he goes back to 3rd and #10 Tsudaka takes the mound. Facing Yasuda isn’t the ideal way to enter, but with a base open (even if it’s 3rd) they’re apparently comfortable enough walking him. This to bring up Wakabayashi, who’s 1-3 on the day.

But he delivers! Liner to right falls in front of Shiodzuki and Ishida scores to make it 4-3! And still 1 down!

Hamauchi up to try and add to the lead. Instead he hits a grounder to short. Kozono home for 1, throw to 1st, oh dear…

The throw is high right from the get go and sails down the RF line. Both runners score and Riseisha has a 6-3 lead as Houtoku Gakuen melts down.

Now it’s Houtoku who has to chase, and it’s not 1, not 2, but 3 runs.

One down they do start something. Shiodzuki draws a walk and then PH #18 Yamamoto singles past Hamauchi. That turns the lineup over to Kozono, and he works the count full.

Takeda throws what looks like ball 4, but Kozono instead swings on the shoulder high pitch and pounds it through the right side! One run scores making it 6-4 and runners at the corners!

Making things worse is that Takeda isn’t really finding the strike zone. He falls behind Nagayama 3-1 with pitches that aren’t really chaseable. And then on 3-2 he grooves one that Nagayama pulls foul.

OH MY. Nagayama rips one up the middle, but it’s Mizobe! Mizobe makes the diving stop, goes to 2nd for 1, throw to 1st and that’s the game! After his misplays earlier, he comes through in the end to save the game!

While Riseisha celebrates in the victory, the Houtoku Gakuen players are taking it hard because Nagata-kantoku is retiring after this tournament and it’s hard to go out in this manner. And perhaps that played a little role in how the 9th turned out. Just 3 outs, 3 outs to reach the final and give their kantoku a parting gift. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Riseisha moves on, but the immediate concern is Takeda. The relief pitching was anything but and Takeda was not sharp at all. They may very well be in a bind tomorrow no matter what happens.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 2 – Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 10, Game 2 – Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(photo courtesy of Yahoo)

Houtoku Gakuen has yet to give up a run so far this tournament, annihilating Tajimi and demoralizing Maebashi Ikuei though in that second game they scored 4 in the first and nothing else. But despite the fact that they seem dominating, if you exclude that first inning in the game against Maebashi Ikuei there may be signs that they could still be a bit average.

Now, normally seeing them play Fukuokadai Oohori and the grades given pre-tournament, you would think that they would have no shot. But then you take into account their run so far, which has been 3 games long and with their ace (and probably their only pitcher) Miura Ginji with the following lines:

  • Day 3 – v Soushi Gakuen – 9 IP, 149 pitches
  • Day 7 – v Shiga Gakuen – 15 IP, 196 pitches
  • Day 9 – v Shiga Gakuen – 9 IP, 130 pitches

So already, he’s pitched in 3 games and thrown 475 pitches and would be coming back on 0 days rest. In fact he would be pitching on 0 days rest until they are elminated. There is only so much he can do on the mound before the body finally gives. The question only becomes when.

But for now, it appears he will be on the bench, for how long, we don’t know.

Fukuokadai Oohori

  • SS Kubota Yuuya
  • RF Hirano Koutarou
  • C Koga Yuuto
  • 1B Higashi Reo
  • 3B Inamoto Yuusei
  • CF (#11) Nakata Keisuke
  • 2B Saitou Tomoya
  • LF Kabashima Ryuutarou
  • P (#10) Tokuwara Sera

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

11:00 – First Pitch!

For Fukuokadai Oohori the start offensively couldn’t have gone any worse. Nishigaki strikes out the side, Tokuhara retires the first batter then walks the next 2. Toss in a stolen base and a blooper to no mans land in right center and it’s quickly 1-0 Houtoku Gakuen.

That gets things moving. #8 Nishi comes in to take over on the mound and Miura is sent to warm up. He gets them out of the jam, but even if he is able to hold serve, the offense will have to do better than 5 Ks in the first 2 innings…

Unfortunately however, Houtoku’s offense gets to Nishi first. 4 In the blink of an eye the top 4 of the lineup gets base hits culminating in a Shinohara triple down the RF line, making the score 3-0 (Nagayama was thrown out going from 1st to 3rd). Ikegami singles later to make the lead 4-0.

And yet, Nishigaki almost lets them back into the game. 2 down in the 4th, he hits higashi, walks, Inamoto and then hits Nakata to load the bases. A base hit here cuts the lead in half, a walk at least scores a run.

Instead, Saitou swings on a 3-1 pitch and grounds to short. Side retired.

5th inning and things continue to happen to Houtoku Gakuen. Kabashima gets a leadoff hit and is bunted to 2nd. No big deal until Kubota hits a ball to short and Kozono just about whiffs on the ball. It trickles into the outfield and Kubota scores to make it 4-1.

Hirano walks, and is there something there for Fukuokadai Oohori?

Koga really works the count, runs it full, but just can’t check his swing and goes down. Higashi pops out early and nothing more results from it.

Houtoku Gakuen jumps on that momentum in the 5th. Nishi gives up a single to Kataoka and then a double down the line to Shinohara puts more runners in scoring position. A wild pitch and then a single brings both runners home, extending the lead to 6-1. With the break coming this should allow Houtoku Gakuen to consolidate the gains and move on to the 2nd half of the game.

Except they don’t.

Inamoto with a leadoff single. Then Saitou and Kabashima both single past a scrambling Kataoka and a run scores to make it 6-2. With only one down there’s another chance to claw back the lead. However, Nishi grounds into a double play and again an opportunity is lost.

Not only that, but when C Koga takes the mound, it’s clear Miura won’t be coming in to save them. Houtoku Gakuen adds on another run in the 6th to restore the margin at 7-2. There doesn’t appear to be a path to victory for Fukuokadai Oohori. Because getting 1 run at a time just won’t be enough. It was enough to knock out Nishigaki as 3B Ikegami took the hill, but 7-3 with 2 innings isn’t going to cut it.

The final score ends up being 8-3 for Houtoku Gakuen with Miura never having taken the mound. That’s 2 kantoku’s now that have made a conscientious decision not to start their pitchers who certainly have been overworked over the last couple of games.  Whether this is the start of a welcome trend I don’t know, but two teams have lost in part because of their principles, and you can’t fault them for that.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 7, Game 1 – Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 7, Game 1 – Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma) v Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

(photo courtesy of SportsNavi)

Into the 2nd round now and already a little bit of surprises so far. Riseisha challenged by Shiritsu Kure and Moriokadai Fuzoku making Chiben Gakuen look pedestrian.

Hopefully today continues to build the tension for tomorrow’s games too.

Houtoku Gakuen completely annihilated Tajimi, but extreme blowout games such as that doesn’t generally portend well for the team in the next round. But there’s just little to really take from that game that could be useful.

Maebashi Ikuei did handle Nakamura, but they looked about as they should. Good, not great, and certainly vulnerable.

So what do we make of it? At first there may have been the impression that the Kinki region was even stronger than originally though. However the last couple of games have brought that image back down to earth. Houtoku Gakuen, as one of the last teams invited from the region, will be put to the test here today in front of their home crowd.

Maebashi Ikuei

  • CF (#1) Maruyama Kazuya
  • 2B Kurosawa Shunta
  • RF (#8) Minagawa Kyousuke
  • 3B Iijima Hiromu
  • C Tobe Kaito
  • SS Horiguchi Yuuga
  • LF (#14) Tanaka Kouki
  • 1B Koike Yuuhei
  • P (#10) Negishi Takahiro

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#11) Shiotsuki Rikuto
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

09:00 – First Pitch!

Maruyama not on the mound for Maebashi Ikuei, perhaps for rest. But more importantly he’s moved to the top of the lineup.

Maebashi Ikuei attacking Nishigaki early looking for pitches in the zone to drive. Maruyama and Kurosawa with deeper fly ball outs. Minakawa on the other hand, proves to be stubborn at the plate, fouling off several pitches before being paid off in the 11th pitch. He’s jammed completely, but the ball just flutters over Nishigaki’s glove and into no-mans land for a base hit.

Bit of an odd moment as the 3B camera is on and Minakawa is seen jumping to 2nd, but scrambling back when nothing happens on the mound.

Iijima proves almost as stubborn, but he’s in fact twisted in knots on a slider inside. Side retired, but early on there is a good sense of the strike zone.

Houtoku Gakuen on the other hand quickly trying to prove their first game wasn’t a fluke. Nagayama starts it with one down surprising the defense with a safety bunt. After that Negishi appears out of sorts, walking Kataoka on 4 straight and hitting Shinohara to load the bases.

He still can’t find the strike zone agaainst Kantou but appears to get a break when Kantou hits one to short. But a charging Horiguchi can’t field it cleanly and barely gets his backup play at 1st. 2 out, but Houtoku Gakuen up 1-0.

When Ikegami hits a ball to the left side, I’m shocked to see the defense somewhat in with 2 outs. As a result the ball sneaks through for a base hit and a 2-0 lead.

Nagao finishes the scoring in the 1st with a bloop hit that falls in just fair own the RF line. 2 more runs score and just like that it’s 4-0.

Maruyama goes back to the mound after the relief start plan fails. He stems the tide, but can’t help his offense get base hits. He himself pops out to end the 2nd.

What we’re seeing out of Nishigaki is quite a bit of movement on his breaking pitches, and while Maebashi Ikuei is holding off on some of it, they’re not able to lay off of it enough to make a difference. In fact, they get their 2nd base hit in the 4th, but is stranded at 2nd when Iijima and Tobe both whiff on large breaking pitches.

It’s also got to be frustrating for Maebashi Ikuei in that since Maruyama takes the mound, Houtoku’s offense still gets a baserunner each inning but for the most part he’s shutting them down. Control is ok, but not quite hitting the framed glove. At worst, they could have been tied at 0-0 had he started, although you would have to say Houtoku Gakuen was having the better of it even then.

The last couple of innings are an exercise in futility for Maebashi Ikuei. They get runners on in each inning after the break, twice they’re caught stealing. And they only get 2 runners on base during their last ABs.

It was a speedy and dominating performance by Houtoku Gakuen, but this time on the defensive side of the ball. They avoided a letdown though one could argue had Maruyama started the game they could have been in for a dogfight. Such a game was avoided, though they certainly can’t depend on that going forward.

That will be what Maebashi Ikuei and their fans will be wondering as they head home. Was it necessary to start their reliever instead of riding Maruyama first? Oh, what might have been.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 2, Game 2 – Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) v Tajimi (Gifu)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 2, Game 2 – Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) v Tajimi (Gifu)

(photo courtesy of Nikkan Sports)

The stands should be filled because of both teams involved. Houtoku Gakuen is basically a stone’s throw away from Koushien Stadium. So it’s basically a home game for the team whenever they play. One of Tajimi’s points what that their ouen-dan traveled well, so if it’s anything like Shin-Minato some years back (2011), then it should be one packed stadium.

It’ll be also be interesting because I had Houtoku Gakuen compared to Shigakukan, and Tajimi actually played Shigakukan and narrowly lost. And of course we saw how Shigakukan played yesterday. Houtoku Gakuen has talent that was good enough to play on the U-15 teams for Japan and yet the resume, though extensive, is underwhelming. Their only quality games were losses to fellow qualifiers and that’s almost never a good thing (see Nichidai-san for a double-edged example). For Tajimi, their only quality was the Shigakukan game. So what we’re left with are two teams that project to be average. It’s just a matter of who executes, who gets a fortunate bounce, or who wakes up on the right side of the bed. Even Houtoku Gakuen’s former experience won’t necessarily help them here.

Houtoku Gakuen

  • SS Kozono Kaito
  • CF Nagayama Yuuma
  • 2B Kataoka Kokoro
  • C Shinohara Shouta
  • 1B Kantou Yuusuke
  • 3B Ikegami Hayate
  • LF (#17) Nagao Ryouya
  • RF (#7) Okamoto Sou
  • P Nishigaki Masaya

Tajimi

  • C Yamada Tomoya
  • 2B Kumazaki Yuuto
  • CF Katou Masaki
  • 1B Satou Kouki
  • 3B Okai Toshiki
  • RF (#13) Mori Shouta
  • LF (#14) Mito Yuuhei
  • P Kawachi Keita
  • SS Konishi Katsuki

12:10 – First Pitch!

Ace Kawachi anything but a fireball. He’s a side-armer who throws in the high 120s. It’s a side arm throw, but he ducks down leaving the trajectory low. As expected from a side-armer he has a slider and curve and that’s it.

He manages to freeze Kozono on a fastball inside, but Nagayama singles to right. Immediately Nagata-kantoku sends the runners in motion, and despite a pitchout the throw isn’t in time.

Things seemingly getting out of hand quickly. Kataoka inside-outs a pitch and slices one to center to score Nagayama, 1-0 Houtoku Gakuen. Shinohara gets plunked and then Kantou singles to center on the first pitch making it 2-0 home team in the tip of the cap.

Kawachi is able to salvage the inning thereafter, but it’s not the start they envisioned.

Conversely Nishigaki makes Yamada and Kumazaki look silly before Katou hits a routine fly to center.

Kawachi has a clean 2nd inning which is great, but it highlights the tightrope he walks. Being a sidearmer and not throwing hard, he must locate and move around to be successful. Oh and to not leave one up unless it goes way up like in the K to Nishigaki.

Tajimi early on looks over their skis against Nishigaki. he touches 140 with a slider and curve and Tajimi is just trying to catch up to it. Bench starter Mori has the best success, and really any success against Nishigaki as he is paid off on the 10th pitch of his AB lining a curveball to right.

Meanwhile Houtoku Gakuen looks to pull away. A leadoff single by Nagayama turns into a run just 1 batter later when a ground ball to short instead of possibly turning 2 ends up in right field and a 3-0 Houtoku Gakuen lead.

There will be no respite for Tajimi this game. A walk to setup the double play just means more runs. In fact, this game if put in Sportscenter would be buried in the middle of the show.

There’s not really any need to go through the rigor-mural of detailing how it all goes down but Kawachi makes it through just 1 out in the 3rd. 10 batters come up and the lead balloons to 10-0 before #17 Tsuge enters the game.

He does his best to salvage the situation, but at the same time Houtoku Gakuen is ready to speed the game up so they can get back the hotel room. Less effort now means possibly more effort to give later. Weird part is Tsuge throws just as hard but has more success than Kawachi.

The game ends up with a 21-0 win in favor of Houtoku Gakuen. Teams have a tendency to struggle after posting a large win so it’ll be interesting to see how they do in the next game. Nishigaki was pulled, but he still pitched 7 innings.

Early on it was evident that it was going to be a blowout. But 21-0? And if you use logic (which can be dangerous), Kure played Shigakukan close as a Tier 3 school, Tajimi played Shigakukan close in the aki taikai, and Houtoku Gakuen blew out Tajimi.

This could mean that… (a) the Toukai region is really, really weak. (b) Chuugoku may not be much better. (c) the Kinki region is really that strong this time around.

The thing is I wonder about Nishigaki. It’s not like his stuff was top level and Tajimi right from the get-go was over-matched so there’s little to take from this.  Control was ok, he buried quite a few balls and left some way up. I won’t really decide one way or the other just yet. But I’m still a bit skeptical.

Handicapping the field – Houtoku Gakuen (21st appearance, 1st in 3 years)

Handicapping the field – Houtoku Gakuen (21st appearance, 1st in 3 years)

(photo courtesy of zebura nubaronn‘s YouTube channel)

Road to Haru Koushien

Regionals – Hanshin D Block

  • def Itami Nishi 10-0 (6 inn)
  • def Kenritsu Itami 11-0 (5 inn)
  • def Takaradzuka Higashi 5x-4

Prefectuals – D Block

  • def Himeji Shikisai 10-0 (6 inn)
  • def Tsuna 6-4
  • def Higashi Harima 5-1
  • def Shiritsu Amagasaki 4-2

Prefecturals

  • def Ikuei 5-3
  • lost Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku 1-2

Super-Regionals

  • def Higashiyama 9-7
  • lost Shiga Gakuen 0-1

Houtoku Gakuen’s resume isn’t really all that enthusing to anyone who reads it. The game against Takaradzuka Higashi technically didn’t matter as both advanced to the prefecturals. But then there’s the Tsuna game where they faltered late, the Shiritsu Amagasaki, Ikuei and Higashiyama games where they had to come from behind late, and the finally the Shiga Gakuen game where they were just to be rather blunt – feckless.

No quality wins, and yet here they are more than likely going to receive a bid because in a had-to-have game, they played Shiga Gakuen close, even if they did almost nothing.

They are in the Kinki region though, so it’s not like their so-so resume doesn’t mean that they have little to no chance to advance. But it does make their margin of victory a bit smaller.

Nishigaki Masaya (西垣 雅矢) is the team’s ace. No speed figures for him that I can find, but in the video, it looks like he has a slider/curve combo, and it doesn’t look like he throws extremely fast, meaning he probably sits in the mid-130s. Interestingly, the other pitcher that they went to in the super-regionals was actually their 3B Ikegami Hayate (池上 楓). Obviously from that angle it’s difficult to figure out what he has or how fast, but there’s certainly a curve/changeup in there, and probably a slider at least.

Boxscores are tough to come by in Hyogo prefecture, so all I have are the super-regional games, and 2 games is a really small sample size to work with. Worse yet, that aforementioned feckless game against Shiga Gakuen, the team as a whole managed just 3 hits, all at the top of the lineup. That combined with the game against an unknown Higashiyama team makes it all the more harder to make heads or tails of them.

I did manage to find some things though. Their C Kantou Yuusuke (神頭 勇介) and SS Kozono Kaito (小園 海斗) were on the 2015 U-15 Japan team where they went 4-9 with a 2B and an RBI and 2-9 with a 3B and an RBI respectively against Chinese Taipei in the Asia Challenge Cup. They’re certainly not without talent, but the question is whether there is enough there to be competitive. Both players don’t seem to be power hitters, and yet Kantou sits in the #5 spot in the lineup. That isn’t a great sign for them.

As a result, I could easily see them struggling against rural regional teams (i.e Shikoku, Chuugoku, Tohoku), and could easily be one-and-done if they draw a metropolitan team. And if it weren’t for the other 2 quarter-finalists losing badly, I’d say their position in the tournament would be more at risk to a team like Uenomiya Taishi who at least beat Riseisha (though that game didn’t really matter).