Road to Senbatsu
Hokubu Regionals Round-Robin - Zone A
- def. Miyoshi Seiryou 12-0 (5 inn)
- def. Nisshoukan 7-1
- def. Sera 7-1
- def. Miyajima Kougyou 4-0
- def. Hiro 10-3
- def. Hiroshima Shougyou 11-2 (7 inn)
- def. Kouryou 6-2
- def. Soutoku 5-3
Super-regional play got off to a bit of a shaky start with a narrow win against Tottori's 3rd place team Iwami though ace Yamaoka Shuuya (山岡 就也) did limit them to just 3 hits. Then after their 2nd win over Kouryou, Yamaoka was involved in a battle with Soutoku and ace Sakai. In general Shinjyou had the better of it, but miscues by Sakai (including a wild pitch) sent Shinjyou to the finals.
In those finals though, two fielding errors in the 1st inning - first a poor FC choice by C Tanaka Keisuke (田中 啓輔) when on a bunt he fielded he threw to 3rd where there was no chance for a play, then later he threw to 2nd on a pickoff, but the defense wasn't ready for it. So both mistakes led to 2 runs in the first. Iwakuni would continue to be patient against Yamaoka, drawing walks and picking their spots, scoring another run in the 4th thanks to 2 walks and a base hit by leadoff batter Kawamoto.
It wouldn't be until the 8th inning when Hiroshima Shinjyou would fight back. Top of the order, back-to-back singles to the left side by Nakabayashi and LF Tanaka got the inning started. 2B Nishijima Haruto (西島 晴人) would then line a ball down the right field line scoring 1. Sakagaki Kazuya (阪垣 和也) would get a sac fly to score another, and after an errant throw by Azuma, new RF Nikaku Hiroaki (二角 太陽) - younger brother of Yuudai who plays for Rikkio, pokes one to right tying the game. Nikaku would steal 2nd and 3rd but be stranded there when #10 Funabashi would strike out.
But Yamaoka would go completely off the rails, walking Kawamura, throwing a wild pitch, and then after a bunt, throwing another wild pitch, giving Iwakuna a run without the benefit of a hit. That would be all she wrote for Hiroshima Shinjyou as they would fall 4-3.
Videos of Yamaoka are available, predominantly against Soutoku in the Hiroshima finals (1, 2, 3). He can throw in the upper 130s and possibly has a cutter/two-seamer to go with the standard set of pitches. However, he doesn't strikeout a lot of batters, and as seen in the Iwakuni game, he walks quite a few. In fact in his 4 games in the super-regional, he almost allowed the same number of hits, walks and strikeouts (22, 18 and 21 respectively)!
The pitching once again worries me. What Yamaoka reminds me of is Toukaidai Sagami's Hifumi Shinta. You know, the one who struck out and walked a ton of people and was wildly effective - and couldn't win the big one as a result.
It is generally not a recipe for success, and with no backups he's it for Hiroshima Shinjyou. Yamaoka has shown it can work, but if opposing teams are patient I think he'll struggle.
Next up, across the water to the Shikoku champs Imabari Nishi!