Saturday, February 8, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Toukai Dai-san (Nagano)

While perhaps I'm not a fan of Toukaidai Sagami, it doesn't mean I don't like all Toukaidai schools.  There's Toukai Dai-yon up in Hokkaido who is definitely an above-average team, but can't break through.  And in Nagano, Toukai Dai-san is the same.  While I would favor Chikyuu Kankyou (since an environmental school making it sounds really cooler), I kind of wanted Toukai to make it.

And guess what, they did!!

Road to Senbatsu
Nanshin Regionals
  • def. Ina Kita 3-1
  • def. Okaya Kougyou 3-0
  • def. Suwa Seiryou 5-1
  • lost Okaya Minami 6-2
  • def. Matsukawa 7-6
Nagano Prefecturals
  • def. Matsumoto Agatagaoka 4-2
  • def. Ueda Higashi 3-0
  • def. Matsushou Gakuen 3-1
  • def. Iiyama 13-5 (7 inn)
  • def. Chikyuu Kankyou 3-2
Hokushinetsu Super-Regionals
But it doesn't look like they really had an easy time of it.  Two close games to start against relative unknowns and then they lost to Okaya Minami in the Nanshin semi-finals.  With 6 teams advancing though they were fine and finished 3rd in a close game against Matsukawa.

But they really had to put the pedal to the metal once the prefecturals began.  But if by pedal to the metal you mean more close game, then yes they did.  They defeated Matsumoto Agatagaoka (whose campus is kitty corner from the HS from the Onegai! series) and Ueda Higashi, then put up a similar score this time against a weathered Matsushou Gakuen - their first real test.

After that win, they actually had an uncharacteristic blowout win over Iiyama before kantoku Fujii Kouji (藤井 浩二) let his ace rest, and still prevailed over Chikyuu Kankyou to win the prefecturals.

Onto the Super-Regionals and first up was a school that eliminated my friend's former school.  That would be no problem as ace Takai Julian(!!) (高井 ジュリアン) pitched a complete game 6-hitter.

Julian then went on to shut down Niigata Meikun for 8 innings before walking his team home in the 9th.  The worst may have been over, but they still needed at least one more win.  And Julian delivered that as he helped lead them wire-to-wire over Hokuriku to perhaps secure them a spot at senbatsu.

While Nihon Bunri sent their ace Iidzuka out, once again Fujii-kantoku sent out his reserves on the mound.  And you know what? They still almost won the super-regional behind the pitching of Nakamura Kaisei (中村 海誠) and Hirabayashi Shunta (平林 俊太).

So, onto the players.  Ace Julian as you can see is a righty, has the standard fare of pitches, but outside of that, and the fact that his mother is Filipino, I got nothing else on him.  For #11 Kaisei, I have this blurry video of him, and outside of the digests the only thing on Hirabayashi is that he throws in the low-mid 130s.

Offensively, the only player seemingly noted is C Hara Yuuji (原 雄士), who has a twitter account, but I'm not sure why he's mentioned.  One person who had success at the plate (as far as I can tell anyways) is Urano Masaya (浦野 雅也) who has several extra-base hits and is the team's cleanup hitter.  2B Aoki Koudai (青木 洸大) is mentioned as a good player in the field, and did have a triple in the super-regional final.

Pitching and defense certainly can win a title, and Toukai Dai-san seems like the Hokushinetsu version of Touyoudai Himeji, where they try to keep the score low and score enough runs to win.  It's hard to say given the little information we have on the pitching staff, so we'll just have to see how they do in their first test.  But region must be taken into account, and in that sense Toukai Dai-san would fall short. But then again Toyama Dai-ichi fell in that same category, and yet they reached the Best 8.

Next up, one of the more entertaining teams on the field, Mie!

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