Monday, March 16, 2015

Reviewing the field - Kanto champs Urawa Gakuin

I mentioned in a previous post that I thought Urawa Gakuin, given their recent performance, may be locked and loaded for a deep run at Senbatsu.

I say this because in their 14 games during the fall taikai, they gave up more than 1 run just 3 times.


And that includes the games they played at Meiji Jingu. That's mighty impressive no matter how you look at it. They also included teams such as Toukou Gakuen and Kisaradzu Sougou. Not top tier, but relative mainstays.

This was accomplished not only on the back of ace Eguchi Shouri (江口 奨理), but on 3 other pitchers led by Ogura Kyousuke (小倉 匡祐). Only one other has made the roster, and that was the next man down, Imamura Kazuto (今村 一登). Now, Ogura appears to be the clear #2 that Mori-kantoku goes to, sending him out to start the super-regional semfinals and finals as well as the Meiji Jingu final. Interestingly, they're both southpaws, so that should be interesting to see if lefty-righty matchups become a problem.

Offensively, the team posted good numbers despite the deep run. 7 of their 9 starters batted over 0.300. The only problem is that they had an ISO of 0.095, which is very low. So they can get on base at a good clip, but it looks like they need to string hits together to score runs - which for the most part wasn't too hard to do - though perhaps Toukou Gakuen had a new ace that stymied them to the tune of 2 hits.

Their cleanup hitter, Yamazaki Kouta (山﨑 滉太) does not profile as your traditional cleanup man. He did drive in 16 in his 14 games, and got 6 extra base hits in his 18, but they were all doubles. There's some XBH pop in the bottom of the lineup as well in the form of LF Araki Yuuya (荒木 裕也). He has a 3B and HR to his name as well as 15 RBIs. We'll see if he stays in the 7-hole or gets moved up.

The depressed ISO is a bit concerning, but the hits do seem to keep coming despite the competition. The inability to get a big hit though could prove to be their undoing like in the Meiji Jingu title game. Still, they have the resume to make a deep run, especially given their draw.

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