Tag: Sendai Ikuei

99th Natsu Koushien – Quarterfinals, Game 3 – Kouryou (Hiroshima) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

99th Natsu Koushien – Quarterfinals, Game 3 – Kouryou (Hiroshima) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

(photo courtesy of Sankei)

Kouryou

Road to the title

  • def Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi) 10-6
  • def Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) 6-1
  • def Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) 6-4

Kouryou apparently had met an equal in Seikou Gakuin, having to face 3 separate pitchers, throwing their strategy into chaos it seemed. They tried to jump on the relievers, but in Seikou’s case they were throwing them first and relieving one with another when their spot in the lineup came about – which is actually a smart idea. Now, they flirted with danger many times and avoided serious damage, so when they brought in their ace I though the game would get tough for Kouryou.

And it was. It took until the 9th inning and an error for Kouryou to finally make good with a 2-run HR by Nakamura.

Their strategy is working, the question is can they carry it to the title?

Sendai Ikuei

Road to the title

  • def Takikawa Nishi (Kita Hokkaido) 15-3
  • def Nihon Bunri (Niigata) 1-0
  • def Osaka Touin (Osaka) 2x-1

Sendai Ikuei shouldn’t be here. Really they shouldn’t. Nakagawa should have gotten that 3rd out, but a collision in the 7th might have put the thought in the back of his head and next thing you know his foot misses the edge of the bag and the very next batter Osaka Touin is walked off.

The game for the most part was uninspiring. I didn’t think either side pitched well despite the low score as the starters were missing locations constantly. They just weren’t missing in the wrong places to get punished. At least until the 8th when Osaka Touin scored.

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, but at the same time if you can hold Osaka Touin to 1 run, you can’t entirely discredit that either.

Lineups

Kouryou

  • CF Takada Masaya (#9)
  • 2B Yoshioka
  • C Nakamura
  • LF Kagawa
  • RF Murakami (#14)
  • 1B Oohashi
  • 3B Matsuoka
  • SS Maruyama (#15)
  • P Yamamoto (#10)

Sendai Ikuei

  • SS Nishimaki
  • 3B Suzuki
  • LF Yamada
  • P Sagawa (#8)
  • RF Sugiyama
  • C Ozaki (#12)
  • 1B Maeda
  • 2B Saitou
  • CF Funaki (#18)

13:00 – First Pitch!

1st Inning

A good start as Masaya strikes out to start the game, albeit on a 3-2 pitch.

But Sagawa leaves a fastball over the plate and Nakamura doesn’t hit it for a home run, but instead a double to center. And with runners in scoring positon Kagawa drives a ball to deep right. Sugiyama makes the over the shoulder catch, but Yoshioka scores to make it 1-0.

Sagawa then uncorks a wild pitch bringing home Nakamura to make it 2-0. Oohashi would single to center making it 3-0.

Kouryou’s ouen-dan wearing out Miyajima-san in the 1st.

They test Sugiyama’s arm with Maruyama’s single to right. Oohashi is sent home.. and is thrown out by a country mile.

Probably not the best thing to do there with Sagawa on the ropes.

3rd Inning

After a quiet 2nd in which the CF is pinch-hit for (and I swore that Hasegawa was coming in at that point, but didn’t), Kouryou’s bats come alive again.

Nakamura leads off the inning with a single. 2 out and Nakamura on 2nd Oohashi doubles to the wall in center bringing him in, making it 4-0.

Matsuoka and Oohashi trade places on his double down the LF line, 5-0.

With that Segawa is traded straight up for ace Hasegawa which is also surprising.

He gets out of the inning, but not before allowing the inherited runner to score on a base hit by Maruyama. 6-0.

Sendai Ikuei gets one run back thanks to a Nishimaki double and two productive outs…

4th-5th Innings

But otherwise nothing of note happens until the break as Kouryou continues to sit on their lead.

6th Inning

Post-break, Sendai Ikuei starts hitting Yamamoto.

2 down, Hasegawa starts the hit parade with a single to center. Sugiyama follows that up with a ball through the left side.

Ozaki lands the final blow to Yamamoto with a double past a diving Matsuoka driving in 1. 6-2 and Hiramatsu is in the game now with Yamamoto on standby at 1st.

Hiramatsu isn’t really close and he loads the bases. Sendai Ikuei sends #16 Manome to hit. He’s the one who got the sayonara hit to defeat Osaka Touin.

No such luck this time as he grounds out.

7th Inning

Kouryou gets that run back right away. Hiramatsu leads off with a single, moved to 2nd and scores via Oohashi’s base hit. 7-2.

Sendai Ikuei continues to make more headway it seems. This after 2 outs here in the lucky 7th. Suzuki hits a ball off Maruyama and reaches safely. Yamada hits a ball also to the left side and Maruyama makes a great running stop but his only throw to 2nd isn’t in time. Throw in a hard Hasegawa single to right and it’s manrui for Sugiyama.

But he flies out to 2nd and the inning is over.

Rest of game

The teams trade runs in the 9th as Yamamoto has to return to the mound to finish the game. The final tally is 10-4 as Kouryou moves on to the Best 4 and is one step away from the finals.

But the pitching is strained and Yamamoto is trying to be saved as much as possible but the relief staff is not as effective anymore.

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99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 4 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 11, Game 4 – Osaka Touin (Osaka) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

(photo courtesy of Gunosy)

 

Osaka Touin

Road to the title

  • def Yonago Shouin 8-1
  • def Chiben Wakayama 2-1

I was not expecting a close game here too. Osaka Touin’s generally strength in offense combined with Chiben Wakayama’s general dearth in pitching in recent years would have equated to an easy win.

It wasn’t.

Chiben Wakayama outhit Osaka Touin, struck out more batters than Osaka Touin, but unfortunately was wilder than Osaka Touin – as a wild pitch brought home the winning run. So what now? Where does this put them? Are they still a title contender? It would behoove them to put a good showing on here to allay their fans’ fears.

Sendai Ikuei

Road to the title

  • def Takikawa Nishi 15-3
  • def Nihon Bunri 1-0

I did not expect to see the game I did between Sendai Ikuei and Nihon Bunri. A game bereft of any action, and the only run scored was due to a passed ball and a groundout – a complete contrast to their first game. Good in the sense that they could play a close low-scoring game, but bad in the sense that they were basically stymied by arguably a so-so team.

Osaka Touin is not a so-so team though…

Lineup

Osaka Touin

  • CF Fujiwara
  • LF Yamamoto
  • 1B Nakagawa
  • RF Neo (#10)
  • C Fukui
  • 3B Yamada
  • 2B Sakanoshita
  • SS Izuguchi
  • P Kakigi (#11)

Sendai Ikuei

  • SS Nishimaki
  • 3B Suzuki
  • LF Yamada
  • CF Sagawa
  • RF Sugiyama
  • C Hirobe
  • 1B Maeda
  • 2B Saitou
  • P Hasegawa

16:45 – First Pitch!

(I was half awake just spending the energy I had left watching the game, but believe me there is a LOT to go over)

So the game early on was to be honest a lot of nothing. Neither team really having any success offensively, and the pitching not only wasn’t overly dominating, but they were missing the gloves on a fairly consistent basis.

Osaka Touin had a chance in the 4th with a leadoff double, but then there were 3 straight groundouts to 2nd. Maebashi Ikuei had a leadoff single in the 5th,  but after a sac bunt the 8-9 batters were up and did nothing.

There was some concern in the bottom of the 7th when on a grounder by Hirobe, he and 1B Nakagawa had a collision at the bag. The online feed cut out with him still on his knees, but by the time the commercials were over things seemed fine.

And boy were things fine because Yamamoto hit a double down the LF line with one out in the 8th. And the aforementioned Nakagawa hit a soft liner to left bringing him home for a 1-0 lead for Osaka Touin!

Bottom of the 8th and Sendai Ikuei has to find a run somewhere in the final 2 innings when they’ve done nothing for 7.

But there was a flicker of hope when PH Sutou singled with one out. But PR Katou would be thrown out at 2nd for the 2nd out. Relief starter Kakigi would get himself into trouble with a walk and a hit batter and perhaps he’d be relieved.

He wasn’t though and Suzuki hit a single through the left side! Hasegawa was being waved around! The throw in from Yamamoto comes in plenty of time and the inning is over!

Bottom of the 9th now, Osaka Touin still holding onto the 1-run lead.

Again 2 quick outs from Kakigi.

But then Sugiyama singles to center. And Hirobe walks… This feels like last inning. Perhaps Kakigi should be relieved.

He’s not and Wakayama steps in.

He hits a grounder to short, and the throw to first ends the game!

SAFE!

The 1st base umpire calls safe! He calls Nakagawa as off the bag! But how? Why?

There’s no replay as the game quickly continues.

With Katou up the camera from the 1B stands shows for a split second. I see the LF playing in.

My immediate thought was “that outfield is too far in”.

And on the next pitch Katou lines a ball to left center, splitting the drawn in defense and ending the game as Sendai Ikuei walks off 2-1 in stunning fashion.

But as they celebrate, the question still begs, what happened at that play at 1st?

I thought perhaps Nakagawa was celebrating the win too early and left the bag. There didn’t seem to be another explanation.

But then comes the .gif of the camera angle that shows Nakagawa off first. And then someone on twitter posted the collision in the 7th and it all comes together in a flash.

In all likelihood, that collision at first led Nakagawa or Nishitani-kantoku to tell him to keep the foot at the edge of the bag instead of directly on it to avoid injury.

And probably in the final play, he just so happened to miss the edge of the bag. So perhaps if not for that play in the 7th, it would be Osaka Touin that moves on, not Sendai Ikuei.

And that’s a real crushing way to lose. People know of my disdain for Osaka Touin, but if they win they win, and that’s how it goes. But to lose when you should have won by any stretch of the imagination? That really hurts, and you could see it on the faces of the Osaka Touin players. They’re not immune to the pain of the summer ending, and perhaps the pressure of being at Osaka Touin exacerbates it even more.

It’s a tough way to learn the lesson for sure…

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 9, Game 3 – Nihon Bunri (Niigata) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

(photo courtesy of )

Nihon Bunri

Road to the title

  • def Naruto Uzushio 9-5

Nihon Bunri also had no problems (relatively) with their opponents. They jumped on the debutantes early and never looked back, though Naruto Uzushio sort of found a way to keep up.

Their pitching staff worked backwards, using their relievers first to eat innings before handing it off to their ace Inagaki. None of them were dominating, and all just managed the game. Which is fine. At least they’re cognizant of the fact that their pitching will need to be patchworked together. The question will be how long will they be able to do that.

Sendai Ikuei

Road to the title

  • def Takikawa Nishi 15-3

Sendai Ikuei just dominated Takikawa Nishi right from the get-go. I thought perhaps that Hokkaido had made headway as a prefecture relative to others, but this game was just plain bad for Takikawa Nishi. Sendai Ikuei looked like the team 2 years ago who just missed the title against Toukaidai Sagami. Production up and down the lineup, and the pitching giving up just 4 hits.

But certainly they’re not that good, especially again taking their prefectural qualifying into account. Not to mention the fact that despite the 4 hits, they gave up 10 walks. That certainly won’t fly going forward.

Lineup

Nihon Bunri

  • CF Iida
  • 2B Terasoma
  • RF Kawamura
  • LF Matsuki (#3)
  • 1B Nagata (#13)
  • SS Kasahara
  • P Inagaki
  • C Makita
  • 3B Horiuchi

Sendai Ikuei

  • SS Nishimaki
  • 3B Suzuki
  • LF Yamada
  • CF Sagawa
  • RF Sugiyama
  • C Hirobe
  • 1B Maeda
  • 2B Saitou
  • P Hasegawa
99th Natsu Koushien – Day 5, Game 1 – Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) v Takikawa Nishi (Kita Hokkaido)

99th Natsu Koushien – Day 5, Game 1 – Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) v Takikawa Nishi (Kita Hokkaido)

(photo courtesy of Mainichi)

Takikawa Nishi (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)

  • Location – Takikawa-shi, Hokkaido
  • Public school
  • Student Body – 798 students (444 female)
  • Club Size – 50
  • Kantoku – Onodera Taiki (小野寺 大樹)

Road to Koushien

  • def Iwamizawa Higashi 6-0
  • def Kuriyama・Yuubari・Tsukigata・Naie Shougyou 9-4
  • no game Asahikawa Jitsugyou 3-3
    • called mid 6th, Takikawa Nishi away team
  • def Asahikawa Jitsugyou 2x-1 (11 inn)
  • def Ohihiro Ootani 6-1
  • def Asahikawadai 3-1
  • def Shirakaba Gakuen 3-2 (10 inn)

Takikawa Nishi comes back from last year where they lost to Clark Kokusai to defeat 3 major players to win their first title in 2 decades. And that includes a no-game against Asahikawa Jitsugyou that might have done in other teams. But as with some of the other cases we’ve seen, they won low scoring games, and here in extra innings. Hokkaido has started gaining some success, in recent years, but seeing their pitching put out 21 K, 9 BB in 30 innings while their offense went 22-103 in the games italicized above do not fill me with confidence that they will be able to have success at Koushien.

Sendai Ikuei (26th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

  • Location – Sendai-shi, Miyagi
  • Private school
  • Student Body – 2,868 students (1,136 female)
  • Club Size – 119
  • Kantoku – Sasaki Jyunichirou (佐々木 順一朗)

Road to Koushien

  • def Tsukidate 12-3 (7 inn)
  • def Sendai Dai-ichi 5-1
  • def Kogota Nourin 11-0 (5 inn)
  • def Kurokawa 8-4
  • draw Touryou 2-2 (15 inn)
  • def Touryou 5-1
  • def Tohoku 7-2

Sendai Ikuei comes back to Koushien, a place where they have had some modicum of success, but has yet to make it all the way.

This iteration of the team I have questions about. The fact that they drew a game against Touryou, a team probably a couple of levels below them, and then looking at the 10 K/3 BB ratio the final 2 games while the offense went 15-63 isn’t that great either. Combine that with Haseagawa’s relatively poor performance earlier this year at Haru Koushien (vs Fukui Koudai Fukui – CG, 6 ER, 10 H, 6 K, 4 BB), and their chances to win the title are slim.

Both teams seem to exhibit the same properties making it hard to project who might win. Despite Sendai Ikuei’s struggles, I think their ability to create offense will give them an edge.

Lineups

Sendai Ikuei

  • SS Nishimaki
  • 3B Suzuki Keisuke
  • LF Yamada
  • CF Sagawa
  • RF Sugiyama
  • C Watanabe
  • 1B Maeda
  • 2B Saitou
  • P Hasegawa

Takikawa Nishi

  • CF Hirasawa
  • 3B Takami (#12)
  • SS Horita
  • 1B Yusa
  • LF Sano
  • RF Okumura
  • P Suzuki Manato
  • C Hosoya
  • 2B Takehara (#5)

09:30 – First Pitch!

1st Inning

PING.

Wasn’t expecting that. Keisuke had doubled to right center, and then Yamada drills a ball by Manato to left for a 2-run HR. Already Sendai Ikuei on the scoreboard 2-0.

2nd Inning

Things going from bad to worse Leadoff single to start, then on a bunt Yusa shotputs the ball over 1st and the runners move a base.

PING.

And then of all things, their #9 batter and ace Hasegawa deposits a changeup to left center, and it’s 5-0 Sendai Ikuei. Oy.

5th Inning

With Takikawa Nishi doing nothing offensively, their only hope (if there was still any), was to keep the deficit at 5. But in the 5th after a leadoff walk, a bunt goes past a charging 1B. Takami, the 2B changes course to backup the ball. No one’s covering 1st so he’s told to go to 2nd.

And then he goes and throws it away.

Runners at 2nd and 3rd, and yet Manato almost got out of the jam. A hard groundout and lineout to right were not enough to get the runners home.

But Saitou singles through the left side, scoring 2 and making it a 7-0 game.

6th Inning

Takikawa undergoes a P change perhaps to get more people in down 7-0.

Another error starts off another flurry of scoring for Sendai Ikuei. Sagawa brings in 1 on a contact play and then Sugiyama triples to right center making it a 10-0 game.

Rest of game

Sendai Ikuei adds on more runs as Takikawa Nishi goes from Suzuki to Takashima to RF Okumura.

Meanwhile it is also Sendai Ikuei emptying their bench using the bottom of the lineup to get the reserves in.

As a result when CF Sagawa takes the hill, he walks 1, hits 2, and then gives up a bases clearing triple to #9 batter Takehara. Still inconsequential as they trail 12-3.

Some nice things for Takikawa Nishi to take away, as while Suzuki struggled on the mound, he makes a fine throw home in the 8th to cut down the runner.

Eventually the game comes to a close with Sendai Ikuei advancing 15-3. Biggest thing to avoid is the letdown after scoring a large amount of runs. In addition, it’s clear Sagawa may not be a viable option on the mound given his performance in the late innings.

89th Haru Koushien – Day 4, Game 1 – Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

89th Haru Koushien – Day 4, Game 1 – Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

(picture courtesy of Maincihi)

Well, this is interesting. Two days ago, we had a matchup between Takaoka Shougyou and Moriokadai Fuzoku the runner-ups of the Tohoku and Hokushinetsu regions. Day 4 begins with the champions of the regions squaring off. Rare to see that happen, but here we are.

That other game was between two average teams with average pitchers who really couldn’t get anyone out. The difference here with this matchup is that both teams here defeated those other two teams handily. Also, both teams played Riseisha in the Meiji Jingu tournament. Fukui Koudai Fukui fared batter offensively but it was not against Takeda Yuu. On the scoreboard both did well to hold off Riseisha, but underlying it Fukui Koudai Fukui’s Suriishi did better than Sendai Ikuei’s Hasegawa.

Both teams rate about the same in my opinion, but I think it might be the pitching for Fukui Koudai Fukui that could carry the day.

Fukui Koudai Fukui

  • 2B Kitagawa Tomoya
  • RF Yoshida Yuuya
  • 1B Inoue Kaito
  • LF Yamagishi Asahi
  • C (#13) Shimatani Genki
  • 3B Kawamura Kakeru
  • SS Nishimura Rikuto
  • CF Yamauchi Takafumi
  • P Suriishi Tatsuya

Sendai Ikuei

  • SS Nishimaki Kenji
  • 3B Suzuki Keisuke
  • LF (#9) Yamada Toshiki
  • CF Sagawa Mitsuaki
  • RF (#17) Sugiyama Takumi
  • P Hasegawa Takuho
  • 1B Maeda Souta
  • C (#12) Watabe Tatsuhito
  • 2B Saitou Naruki

09:00 – First Pitch!

Right off the bat, the announcers help me out in saying that Hasegawa has a slider, curve and splitter. First pitch in for a strike at 135.

From the first couple of batters, it’s pretty clear that the fastball is the only pitch he’s consistently getting over for a strike and if Fukui Koudai Fukui can hone in on it, then that might be where Hasegawa runs into trouble, and where he ran into trouble before. But for the time being, he retires the side in order with no problems.

Suriishi gets jumped on in his first pitch as Nishimaki lines a ball to left. After a grounder advancing the runner Ikuei’s batters jump on the first pitch again as Yamada singles past Kawamura.

There’s a concerted effort by Sendai Ikuei to jump on what seems to be the first pitch strike. And when Sagawa singles to center after just 2 pitches to give Sendai Ikuei the 1-0 lead, it’s clear the Fukui battery needs to change things up. Unfortunately that’s not until Sugiyama singles a ball off of Nishimaki’s diving glove and into left for a double and a 2-0 lead.

Fukui Koudai Fukui’s batters are trying to attack the fastball, but are hitting it right at the defense. Another 1-2-3 inning for Hasegawa.

The pitching strategy for Suriishi has also changed. No first pitch strike anymore necessarily and it’s working better for him. He’s also facing the bottom of the lineup so there’s that.

Suriishi also has the same repetoire – slider, curve and splitter. He goes deeper into counts in the 2nd, but happily trades that for a clean frame.

Both pitchers continue to steam along until Hasegawa hits 2nd time through the lineup. Kitagawa earns a walk by being patient, and while he’s replaced by Yoshida on a fielder’s choice they still have a chance to take back a run. Kaito gets ahead 3-1, gets a fastball, but flies out to center.

Yamagishi however, doesn’t miss. Hasegawa leaves a fastball letter high and while Yamada chases it to the wall it’s over for a 2-run HR and we have a tie game at 2-2!

Now after that, the two pitchers put up donuts, but the strategies are still the same. Suriishi not giving in anymore to getting ahead with that first pitch strike and it seems to be giving Sendai Ikuei’s batters fits. On the other hand, Hasegawa is having trouble getting ahead because Fukui Koudai Fukui is focusing directly on the fastball and laying off everything else when possible.

Before the break, Nishimura turns on one such fastball down the right field line for a double though Yamauchi and Suriishi couldn’t bring him in. After the break, Kitagawa goes down the left field line also for a double. Again however, Fukui Koudai Fukui can’t bring him in as after a sac bunt, Inoue grounds hard to 1st and Yamagishi is frozen on a slider over the plate. If you’re looking fastball, not much you can do.

Immediately, the tables turn. Grounder to short from Nishimaki goes off Nishimura’s glove and into CF. It takes forever to get the ball in and in the meantime Nishimaki takes 2nd. Then Suzuki with the bunt and the 3B is late to get to it which means the throw is late. The kicker is Yamada hitting a sac fly to center that easily gets the run home giving Sendai Ikuei a 3-2 lead. What’s worse is that the throw goes home with no chance for the out, and that allows Yamada to take 2nd.

Why they don’t learn to hold the runner I don’t know because with 2 down Sugiyama digs down and hits a ball down the LF line to make it 4-2. And when the throw home is cutoff, but dropped, Sugiyama takes 2nd. Defensive miscues all around. Now, Suriishi prevents further damage, but the offense will need to step up again with just 9 outs.

The problem is they’re running out of time, but can’t abandon the strategy of looking dead red given Hasegawa’s pitching. You do start to see some signs of panic among the bottom of the lineup though, though Nishimura does stay patient and get a 2-out hit in the Lucky 7, but that’s all they get.

But it also means the defense has to hold serve, and there are still miscues. 1 out, runner on 2nd Saitou lays the bunt down up the 3rd base side and is successful. However, no one covers 3rd and that allowed the runner to take 3rd. Now, Suriishi got out of the inning, but they can’t afford another run here.

8th inning, Fukui Koudai Fukui finally gets the offensive engine going as Suriishi singles past a diving Suzuki. Kitagawa singles off Saitou, both off fastballs.

But then as quickly as it developed, Sendai Ikuei gains the upper hand. Yamada bunts, but too hard and right at Hasegawa. He starts the 1-5-3 double play and just like that there’s 2 outs.

Hasegawa still makes it hard on himself by hitting Kaito and putting the douten runner on base. And then he walks Yamagishi, for better or worse, making it manrui with Shimatani up who’s 0-3 on the day. Sasaki-kantoku calls for time.

He’s certainly looking for the fastball, but two breaking balls actually put him behind.

But it’s on the curveball that Shimatani hits a ball to left for a base hit! 2 runs come in to score and we’re tied back up at 4-4!!

Oosuga-kantoku tries to press the initiative by sending in #18 Inoue Ryou, but he can’t lay off a curve and the inning is over.

Sendai Ikuei trying to put pressure to score a run, takes Yamada’s one out hit and bunts him to 2nd hoping Sugiyama can drive him in. But on a foul ball, Kaito chases it to the camera well reaches out and makes the catch falling in for the third out!

With that the game seems to unravel for Sendai Ikuei. One down Yamauchi dumps a ball in front of a sliding Yamada. He steals 2nd with no throw, then takes 3rd when Hasegawa throws a pickoff throw wide. The final nail is him throwing a wild pitch the very next thing, giving Fukui Koudai Fukui their first lead at 5-4.

Then with 2 down Kitagawa walks, steals 2nd again with no throw. Yoshida jumps on the fastball, hits it through the left side for a base hit. Kitagawa comes home and gives Fukui Koudai Fukui a key insurance run, 6-4.

With all the pressure on Sendai Ikuei, Suriishi is able to close the game out as they advance by the same score.

Fukui Koudai Fukui is one of the few teams I’ve seen out there not panic when time ran short. They managed to stick to the game plan of attacking the fastball and make Hasegawa pay for not being able to throw his offspeed offerings for strikes consistently enough. As a result they are rewarded with a trip to the 2nd round.

For Sendai Ikuei it’s back to the drawing board. Hasegawa will have to do better with said breaking pitches if his team is to advance.

Handicapping the field – Sendai Ikuei (12th overall, 1st in 2 years)

Handicapping the field – Sendai Ikuei (12th overall, 1st in 2 years)

(photo courtesy of Nikkan Sports)

Road to Haru Koushien

Chubu Regionals

  • def Sendai Higashi 9x-2 (7 inn)
  • def Sendai Dai-san 3-2
  • def Tohoku 5-3 (11 inn)
  • def Tohoku Seikatsu Bunkadai 4-3

Prefecturals

  • def Natori Kita 1-0
  • def Tohoku Gakuin 10x-0 (5 inn)
  • def Sendai Jyounan 7-0 (7 inn)
  • def Touryou 6-0

Super Regionals

  • def Kakunodate 7-1
  • def Hachinohe Gakuein Kousei 6-0
  • def Seikou Gakuin 3-1
  • def Moriokadai Fuzoku 6-2

Meiji Jingu

  • lost Riseisha 1-5

Sendai Ikuei returns to Haru Koushien after a brief absence, winning the Tohoku Super-Regionals but the resume looks two-faced, and there are more red flags than green.

You could start with the Chubu Regionals which while it did feature a repechage, perhaps allowed the team to play around with their rosters. And that they did because they mainly started their games with Maentou Hiroto (前武當 大斗), and he was never seen again. Even still, 3 straight games wherein you are taken to the wire is still a bit concerning, even with a repechage.

Even with their main roster going into the prefecturals, it took a herculean effort by their ace to defeat Natori Kita in the first round. Ace Hasegawa Takuho (長谷川 拓帆) struck out 15 in a 1-hit shutout. His team could manage just 5 hits and 1 run.

The team basically jumped on Hasegawa’s back as he deliver start after dominating start, all the way to the super-regional title. But against Riseisha in the Meiji Jingu Tournament it all fell apart as he walked 8 and gave up 3 runs in 6 innings before being pulled.

So clearly, the pivot of the team falls under their star ace. He’s not overpowering, topping out at 143 at Meiji Jingu, but again probably sitting in the mid to upper 130s at best. The arsenal appears to include a changeup and splitter in addition to the standard fare (curve/slider). Despite all that I think he’s probably at best a 7 K/9 player. Combine that with the few videos we do have of him, and it’s obvious he was missing his locations against Riseisha, and given that was the first game of the Meiji Jingu taikai, fatigue can’t be used as a reason unless he perhaps had a dead arm, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

Behind him, Sasaki-kantoku has several options he can apparently go to, but all seem to be stopgaps at best just to get to the end of the game. They include SS Nishimaki Kenji (西巻 賢二), CF Sagawa Mitsuaki (佐川 光明), and Satou Sena’s younger brother, RP Satou Reo (佐藤 令央). I really don’t have much detail on any of the pitchers save for the fact that:

  • Nishimaki can apparently throw 140, but may be a straight fastball
  • Reo is nothing like his older brother, sitting in the upper 120s.

Also, random fact but perhaps pertinent as to why they ended up together – Hasegawa, Nishimaki, Sagawa and 2B Saitou Naruki (斎藤 育輝) were all on the Rakuten Eagles 2011 Junior team, though they did not advance past pool play.

Offensively, you probably have to circle back to Nishimaki and Sagawa which perhaps speaks more to their athletic ability as a whole. But outside of them, and perhaps C Ozaki Takumi (尾崎 拓海), offensive production is spotty especially at the bottom of the lineup – evidenced by being 5-hit by Riseisha.

With Hasegawa, the team has a better chance of clearing the lower levels of competition that may be present, and can at least keep the team in games against mid-level competition. The bullpen depth either means good flexibility or not having good options, and judging from the information available it may be the latter. They certainly can take a couple of games if the bracket breaks right, but against a quality squad they are still expected to struggle.