Sunday, February 9, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Mie (Mie)

So, before I actually did my research on all the schools, I had thought that Mie was a public school.  Color me surprised then when I found out that Miekou was a private school! And it carries the prefecture's namesake!

Despite that, they are an entertaining team to watch in my opinion. They're certainly not the best team, but for some reason I like watching them play.  Dunno if it's becuase of kantoku Okita Nobuo's (沖田 展男) coaching philosophy or what, but I do like seeing them (doesn't change the fact I'd like to see lesser known schools make it (like Ise).

Road to Senbatsu
Matsusaka/ Muro Regionals
  • def. Matsusaka 10-0 (5/6 inn)
Mie Prefecturals
  • def. Uji-Yamada Shougyou 8-0 (8 inn) [1 hitter!]
  • def. Tsu Nishi 8-0 (7 inn)
  • def. Inabe Sougou Gakuen 1-0
  • def. Ise 5-1
Tokai Super-Regionals
  • def. Chuukyoudai Chuukyou 9-2 (7 inn)
  • def. Shizuoka Shougyou 10x-0 (6 inn)
  • def. Toyokawa 4-3
Meiji Jingu Tournament
Mie probably had one of the shorter roads to senbatsu. Helps though if you were the summer champion.  That allowed Mie to skip straight to the regional final.

Not to say thought that they didn't deserve it. After wiping out Matsusaka, they basically advanced to ISG where ace Imai Jyuutarou (今井 重太郎) had to put up his best performance.  Pitching opposite ace Ishigaki Koudai, who may have a future in the NPB (he touches 145 but sadly had his defense failed him in the super-regionals) and struck out 12 Mie batters on the night, Imai gave up just 6 hits and shutout ISG 1-0.

With that out of the way, it became a victory lap in the prefecturals as Ise never had a chance.

And so they went to the super-regional where Chuukyoudai Chuukyou awaited. Known more recently for that Koushien final against Nihon Bunri, they haven't quite returned to that form.  Even though they held on for a while, a 6-run 5th pretty much did them in.  Then, against a Shizuoka Shougyou squad who took advantage of ISG errors to advance, Mie put up numbers every inning as they just pulled away for the win.

But the good times came to a halt against Toyokawa in the final.  Imai would give up a point in the first 2 innings and then tacked on 1 more in the 8th for a 3-0 lead.  But Mie didn't give up.  An error  led to the first run for Mie, and then they managed to load the bases with 2 outs.  2B Sada Hiroki (佐田 泰輝) hit a grounder to the left side, Toyokawa SS Takakuwa Hirashirou (高桑 平士郎) fielded it and made a running throw to 1st.  However, it short-hopped him and it got away. 2 more runners would score giving Mie the 4-3 lead.  Imai would close out the game and secure just their 4th super-regional title and first in 19 years.

But up against Ryuukokudai Heian, Imai struggled yet again as his team fell behind 5-0.  Mie did a good job rallying late, but it wouldn't be enough.

For Imai, I ound just 2 videos.  One from the fall, and the other video I found was this back in Natsu Koushien when he faced of all people Anraku (who he ended up walking) and Saibi.  I don't imagine his speed has improved (high 120s), though given their success I would imagine his control has.

Offensively, Mie's consistent hitters not surprisingly reside at the top of the lineup.  Leadoff batter and captain Nagano Hayato (長野 勇斗), and cleanup batters Seko Ren (世古 錬), and Nishioka Musashi (西岡 武蔵) provide most of the oomph in the offense.

I think Mie can give any team a good challenge - I liken them similar to Hanamaki Higashi in terms of their grittiness, rarely ever losing a game by a blowout loss.  Even against Saibi, they rallied late to make a 9-2 game a 9-7 game - and that was against Anraku no less.  They may not win a game, but they will make it entertaining nonetheless.

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