Tuesday, February 11, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)

Ryuukokudai Heian makes its 2nd consecutive and 38th total appearance at senbatsu having won the Kinki Super-Regionals.  Heian has been a recurring character at Koushien, though achieving total victory has been out of their grasp.  Winning the Kinki super-regionals may be a good sign, but how are they really?

Road to Senbatsu
Regionals - Block F
  • def. Kyoto Kougakkan 6-0
  • def. Doushisha 9-0
  • def. Kyoto Subaru 11-1 (5 inn)
Kyoto Prefecturals
  • def. Kyoto Gakuen 8-1 (7 inn)
  • def. Kyoto Shouei 11-2
  • def. Nishi-Jyouyou 11-1 (6 inn)
  • def. Fukuchiyama Seibi 10-5
Kinki Super-Regionals
  • def. Oumi 5-0
  • def. Chiben Gakuen 2-1
  • def. Riseisha 11-7
  • def. Chiben Wakayama 6-4
Meiji Jingu Tournament
  • def. Mie 5-4 
  • lost Nihon Bunri 6-5
Thank God for Heian's baseball website.  It's a great website that has a lot of information that I don't need to dig up elsewhere.

Looking at their roster from last summer, it's amazing they only kept as many as 4 people from that roster:

  1. Shimada Yuuto 嶋田 侑人 (#5)
  2. Arita Kouji 有田 浩之 (#7)
  3. Kobayashi Kazuki 小林 和気 (#12)
  4. Ishikawa Takuya 石川 拓弥 (#16)
and still turn around to win the Kinki super-regionals!  To boot, only Ishikawa is left on the roster at all (starting SS)!

Kantoku Harada Hidehiko (原田 英彦) used a bevy of pitchers to win the title, and as far as I know of never had a pitcher go a full 9 innings.  That is impressive because he seems to be more flexible than other managers regarding this issue.  And furthermore, none of these were used last year and he still managed to be successful!

#11 Takahashi Keiji (高橋 奎二)
  • vs. Mie (5.1 IP, 66 pitches, ER, 3 H, 2 K, BB)
  • vs. Chiben Wakayama (5 IP, 2 R)
  • vs. Riseisha (5.2 IP, 6 R)
  • vs. Chiben Gakuen (5.1 IP, R)
  • vs. Oumi (8.1 IP, 0 ER)
Keiji apparently was given the task of starting every super-regional game as well as the Meiji Jingu opener over Mie.  He's pretty much your standard lefty, throwing in the low-mid 130s with a slider in the 110s and a slow curve around 100.

#1 Nakata Ryuuji (中田 竜次)
  • vs. Nihon Bunri (5.2 IP, 64 pitches, ER, 3 H, 4 K, BB)
  • vs. Chiben Gakuen (3.1 IP, 0 ER)
  • vs. Oumi (0.2 IP, 0 ER)
Nakata also pitched in regional block play, but it's odd that he wasn't used much in prefectural play and then only when the game was out of hand against Nihon Bunri.  It could be the case that he only has the ace number by seniority only, though the performances seem to suggest that perhaps Harada-kantoku is holding him back.  Even then though, why send him out at Meiji Jingu where more cameras could be watching?  There is precious little information on him though, and the only thing I did find is that he supposedly has reached 145 on the gun.  However, reported speeds tend to be fast, so perhaps upper 130s/low 140s is right.

#10 Inudzuka Takaya (犬塚 貴哉)
  • vs. Nihon Bunri (2+ IP, 61 pitches, 5 ER, 3 H, 0 K, 4 BB)
  • vs. Mie (1.2 IP, 27 pitches, 0 ER, 0 H, K, BB)
  • vs. Chiben Wakayama (2.1 IP, 0 ER)
  • vs. Riseisha (3.1 IP, R)
Inudzuka in addition pitched in regional block play games.  Harada-kantoku appeared to trust him enough to finish out the game against Mie, as well as start him against Nihon Bunri (though apparently control issues led to his poor outing).  However, otherwise his performances look rather stellar.

#18 Tamaru Yura (田丸 由羅)
  • vs. Nihon Bunri (0.1 IP, 9 pitches, 0 ER, 1 H)
  • vs. Chiben Wakayama (1.2 IP, 2 R)
Now Tamaru is an interesting person in that he is a side-armer/submariner with a seemingly violent motion.  However, he was used rather sparingly pitching a grand total of 2 innings.

#17 Minato Youichi (湊 耀一)
  • vs. Nihon Bunri (1 IP, 14 pitches, 0 ER, 2 K, BB)
Other than this game, Minato came out only in the regional block play games.  He was the last reliever used against Nihon Bunri, so it's possible Harada-kantoku got him some in-game experience ahead of senbatsu.

Harada also had used Motouji Reiji (元氏 玲仁) and Aoyama ? (青山?) in regional block play, though they weren't seen in any level higher than that and chances are they were part of the expanded roster allowed in the prefecrual tournaments.  Carrying more than 5 on an 18 man roster probably is overkill.

It is apparent though that Harada-kantoku is limiting pitcher's pitch counts seeing though that no pitcher went higher than the 60-70 pitch limit.  Keiji appears to be tagged as Heian's more "used" pitcher.

Leadoff batter CF Tokumoto Kentarou (徳本 健太郎) is a pretty solid leadoff hitter.  Himeno Taisei (姫野大成), who bats cleanup (cleanup in Japan seems to include the #3 batter, which oddly by sabermetric terms is where the best hitter should be) also takes walks and had some solid extra base hits in the prefecturals.  Tsune Hiroshi (常 仁志), despite being near the bottom of the lineup also isn't afraid to take a walk.

I will be very interested to see how Harada-kantoku's setup plays at Koushien. It does appear that he will play matchups with his pitchers as well as not allow them to go for long stretches like most other schools would with their ace.  The team is not necessarily starved for runs either it would seem, so as long as the pitching holds, they might be one of the contenders for the title.

Next up, runner-up and Koushien mainstay Chiben Wakayama and Takashima-kantoku...

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