Saturday, February 22, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Misato Kougyou (Okinawa)

Congratulations are in order for Misato Kougyou.  They have been trying really hard to break through in Okinawa and have been close.  This time around though, they did it and all the while having the eventual fall champions continuously in their way!

Road to Senbatsu
Okinawa Prefecturals
  • def. Urasoe Kougyou 12-2 (7 inn)
  • def. Maehara 13-2 (5 inn)
  • def. Kadena 7-1
  • def. Yaeyama Shoukou 1-0
  • def. Okinawa Shougaku 3-0 (10 inn)
Kyushu Super-Regionals
  • def. Oita Shougyou 1-0
  • def. Souseikan 1-0
  • def. Kamimura Gakuen 5-1
  • lost Okinawa Shougaku 4-3
Misato Kougyou may have made it, but they could have just easily have lost earlier and it would have been another disappointment.  I don't have any information on the Yaeyama Shoukou game other than the fact that Misato Kougyou scored the only run in the top of the 9th inning while ace Iha Tomokazu (伊波 友和) completed the shutout for the ギリギリ win.

Then in the super-regionals, they would be outhit by Oita Shougyou 8-5 and yet a 1st inning run scored thanks to a walk and a timely base hit by Sunagawa Ryuunosuke (砂川 隆之佑) held up.  Then against Souseikan runners were at a premium on both sides as Nagamine Tsubasa (長嶺 飛翔/Iha and Souseikan ace Hirowatari Yuuki (広渡 勇樹) gave up just 4 hits each.  But in the 8th cleanup batter Kajyou Kou (花城 航) would get a base hit and be driven in later by a timely 2-out double by Yonamine Shou (與那嶺 翔).  Once again, Iha would make that run stick.

Compared to those two games, the semifinal match versus a seasoned Kamimura Gakuen was a piece of cake.  Kamimura's starter Oomura got himself into trouble in the 3rd, giving up a leadoff single to Iha, then hitting CF Kanda Daiki (神田 大輝) and getting unlucky in an infield hit by Nishikuratari Shou (西藏當 祥) to load the bases.  He then would walk Kajou for an oshidashi run, and a hard grounder by LF Miyagi Ryouta (宮城 諒大) would score another.  Misato Kougyou would never look back as they would win 5-1.

Standing in their way once again in the finals would be Okinawa Shougaku and again kantoku Kamiya Yoshimune (神谷 嘉宗), who actually managed Urasoe Shougyou before taking the Misato Kougyou job in 2012, sent out Nagamine instead of Iha.

This time around though, neither starter would be able to keep zeros on the board and by the time both Iha and Daichi would leave the game it would still be tied up 2-2.  Misato Kougyou would get the upper hand in the 6th when Kamizato would enter the game.  He would give up a leadoff basehit and walk the next 2 batters loading the bases!  Daichi would have to immediately return from RF to take the mound, but the pinch would be too much.  PH Azama Itsuki (安座間 樹) would hit the first pitch to center for a sac fly and the 3-2 lead.

Daichi would hold their ground afterwards until his team could come back in the 8th with a pair of runs against Iha for the 4-3 win.  Still it would be more than enough to get the call from the JHBF.

According to reports, Iha can throw in the low 140s, but generally settles in the high 130s and has a slider and forkball.  As for Nagamine, I haven't found any info on him at all other than the videos.  However, we only saw him in 3 games, the 2 vs. Okishou and the Souseikan game.  He seems serviceable enough, but we won't know for sure without more information.

Offensively, pretty much some of the names you see above are the key players.  Kajyou, Kanda and Nishikuratari can be solid hitters in the offense.  But oddly for Okinawa their federation website does not provide inning scores or even battery information.  That had to be obtained from other websites which makes it a little more difficult identifying the better hitters on the team.

The fact that they have played Okinawa Shougaku close, not once but twice, does count for something - but at the same time they should be familiar with them being a prefectural opponent.  It's not quite like a rivalry, but there is some familiarity there.  The other concern is that their offense for the most part struggled to score runs especially against Oita Shougyou and Souseikan - 2 about average teams.  So despite being able to finish as the prefectural runner-up, with little run support they will struggle to advance past the first game.  Not to say they can't, but it will be hard.

Coming up to bat, Kamimura Gakuen!

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