Monday, August 18, 2008

90th Summer Koshien Championship Game Review

First of all, the Best 4 stats post has been updated with the Best 4 games for Tokoha Kikugawa and Osaka Toin.

Now onto the analysis... It really boils down to this:

Osaka Toin's Offense vs. Tokoha Kikugawa's Big Inning

Osaka Toin's Offense
It's no secret Osaka Toin can hit. It's just amazing the clip in which they do.
  • The team as a whole is hitting 0.406 and has averaged 9 runs per game
  • 2 players are slugging over 0.900 (Hagihara - 0.952 and Asamura - 0.917)
  • Over 1/3 of Osaka Toin's hits are for extra bases.
  • There are 3 players now with 2 HR's each (1B Hagihara, SS Asamura, RF Okumura)
It's partially stunning since Asamura has been their leadoff hitter. Hagihara and Okumura meanwhile are cemented in the middle of the lineup.

This team is for the most part a free swinging team. If they find a pitch they like, they won't hesitate to swing.

Tokoha Kikugawa's Big Inning
In each of Tokoha Kikugawa's 4 games, they have had a big inning that has delivered the team to victory.

vs. Fukuchiyama Seibi (8th inning, down 1-0)
  • The game, similar to Saga Kita last year, was the one that they struggled the most in.
  • Runners on 1st & 3rd, Matsumoto goes for 2nd. C Fukumoto throws to 2nd, but neither the SS or 2B makes a play for the ball. Togari scores. Matsumoto heads for 3rd. The throw comes in to Nakatani at short, but he's paying no attention to Matsumoto. He breaks home and gives Tokoha the lead 2-1.
vs. Kurashiki Shogyo (5th inning, down 6-0)
  • Key play in this inning came early on. One down, runner on 2nd, Tochigi grounds to short. SS Kanetani makes the throw to 1st, but it's low and gets past Uemori. This keeps the inning going after Sakai's grounder to 1st 2 batters later. After what would have been the 3rd out, Tokoha Kikugawa delivers 5 straight hits, with Itou delivering the go-ahead 3-run homerun to make it 7-6.
  • 11 batters - 7 runs on 6 singles, 1 homerun
vs. Chiben Wakayama (6th inning, up 3-2)
  • This inning came about when Tokoha had just taken the lead the previous inning thanks to defensive miscues by Chiben Wakayama.
  • Tokoha jumps quickly. After a walk and single by the first 2 batters and then Maeda with a 3-run homerun to left sets the tone of the inning and knockout their ace Okada.
  • Later on in the inning, another defensive gaffe by 3B Nishikawa with 1 down gives Tokoha an extra out. After what would have been the last out, the next 3 batters reached safely, driving 4 runs en route to a 10-run inning, giving them a commanding 13-3 lead.
  • 15 batters - 10 runs on 4 singles, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 3 walks, 1 hit-by-pitch
vs. Urasoe Shogyo (2nd inning, down 1-0)
  • Urasoe gambled by starting #15 Shimane. He had done exceptionally in the last game, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings of 3-hit ball.
  • Tokoha exploded out of nowhere. The first 5 batters reach safely with 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit-by-pitch, and 2 runs scored. Shimane is then replaced by #1 Iha who by far has been the best pitcher this tournament.
  • He retires the first two batters and is about to get out of the inning. But Itou again comes through with a timely shot to center that goes of Nakazato's head and clears the bases.
  • Iha is about to get out of the inning again when the next batter grounds to short. But SS Ueji Toshiki doesn't pick the ball off the ground, has to double back and his throw is late.
  • That error comes back to haunt Urasoe. After a walk to the next batter to load the bases, Maeda hits a 2-0 pitch to left for a manrui (grand slam) homerun to make it 9-1.
  • 12 batters - 9 runs on 3 singles, 1 double, 1 homerun, 2 walks, 1 hit-by-pitch
Total - 26 runs in the key innings for the last 3 games


So on the flipside, for Tokoha Kikugawa the question is whether its pitching can even contain Osaka Toin's offense. The tandem of Togari and Nojima has been shaky at best. They allow about 1.5 baserunners each inning. And while Togari (btw a small part of Tokoha's championship run as #10) has been effective (4 ER in 16.1 IP), Nojima has not (7 ER in 16 IP with 8 BB).

And for Osaka Toin, can they stop the big inning before it starts? In each of the 4 games, a defensive error has extended the inning for Tokoha Kikugawa. Osaka Toin has only committed 3 errors this tournament. However, 1 was in the Best 8 game, and the other 2 was in their semifinal game. It almost doesn't matter that ace Fukushima Yuuto has been for the most part effective (15 ER in 37 IP - 3.62 ERA with only 8 BB and 31 K).

So... who will win?

1 comment:

JapanVidMan said...

Well, I think that for all of Tokoha's previews you have said that on paper they should lose, even though I think you are rooting for them. The same would seem to go for today. Toin appears to be the stronger team...on paper. But Kikugawa has shown again and again that you have to play the game and they have a knack for never getting rattled and always battling back, (I'll never forget the dramatic 3 run homer they got in the quarterfinals last summer to tie up a game they were completely out of) it might be wise to lay off the predictions for this one and just enjoy it!