Sunday, February 9, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Toyokawa (Aichi)

Congratulations are in order to Toyokawa for making their first ever Koushien!  They had some good chances in the past, but they finally put things together this fall and almost won the entire thing if not for a couple of errors late against Mie.

Road to Senbatsu
Higashi-Mikawa Regionals Round-Robin - Block F
  • def. Kozakai 12-0 (5 inn)
  • def. Atusmi Nougyou 7-1
  • def. Toyokawa Nougyou 23-1 (5 inn)
Higashi-Mikawa Regionals 2nd Stage Play-in
  • def. Gamagoori 12-3 (7 inn)
Higashi-Mikawa Regionals 2nd Stage
  • def. Seishou 8-1 (7 inn)
  • def. Atsumi Nougyou 8-1 (7 inn)
Aichi Prefecturals
  • def. Toyota Kougyou 4-0
  • def. Seijyou 11-0 (5 inn)
  • def. Aichi Sangyoudai Mikawa 9-1 (7 inn)
  • def. Chuukyoudai Chuukyou 10-0 (6 inn)
  • lost Touhou 3-1
Tokai Super-Regionals
  • def. Tokoha Kikugawa 6-4
  • def. Oogaki Nichidai 6-3
  • def. Shizuoka 3-2
  • lost Mie 4-3
Holy crap is Aichi convoluted.  Perhaps in an attempt to give teams more chances they made it that much harder for teams to make it.  So, here's an explanation of how Toyokawa got out of Aichi:

First of all within the Higashi-Mikawa regionals, there is block play where groups of 4 play round-robin.  Top 2 teams of each block advance into the 2nd stage play in where block winners play a different block runner-up.  The winners of those games go to the 2nd stage main bracket, while the losers enter a repechage bracket.  Now, the teams that enter the main bracket automatically advance to the prefecturals while only the winner of the repechage advances.  While you think that playing in a bracket that all teams advance doesn't matter, finishing in the top 2 in the bracket means you get a seed and a first round bye. How that actually helps you playing 2 extra games to save 1 game in the prefecturals, I'm not sure.  Then you finally play the prefecturals.

Got it?

Thankfully for Toyokawa, their regional play went through with no hitches as they had just one non-mercy rule game and had to play a team twice (Atsumi Nougyou).

In the prefecturals, they finally had their first "tough" game as they had to go the full 9 to defeat Toyota Kogyou.  Then after 3 decisive victories, including one against Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, Toyokawa pressed for the win against Touhou, as kantoku Imai Youichi (今井 陽一) sent out their ace Tanaka Sora (田中 空良).  However, they would fall to Touhou 3-1.

Still, they advanced to the Super-Regionals but would not receive a bye.  Tanaka would take the hill for all the games in the super-regional, and did not face any pushovers.  And yet, his team trailed for just twice: 1-0 at the end of the 2nd inning versus Tokoha Kikugawa and that final half inning against Mie.

If Toyokawa is going to make a deep run, it will have to be on the back of Tanaka.  He throws in the upper 130s with a splitter to go with the standard slider/curve combo.  He pitches to a lot of contact.  But outside of him, there is very little on the other players.  Two of the offensive standouts for the team is leadoff batter 3B Nakamura Kazuya (中村 胤哉) who had 2 extra base hits against both Oogaki Nichdai and Mie, and LF Yamada Daichi (山田 大地) who also had some XBH against Shizuoka and Mie.  Strangely enough, cleanup batter SS Takakuwa Heishirou (高桑 平士郎) doesn't have much info and the only video is this one of a manrui HR.

Ace Tanaka seems to give Toyokawa a chance, but the extreme pitch to contact can be an issue.  If Tanaka can continue to keep batters off-balance (think Satou Kazuma from Obihiro Ootani), then they might just surprise some people.  Plus, their uniforms are interesting.

Next up, the Kinki region and champions Ryuukokudai Heian!

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