Monday, March 16, 2015

Reviewing the field - Kanto semifinalist Kendai Takasaki

And now to the semifinalists of the Kanto tournament. First up, the one who lost to the eventual champs - Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi (i.e. Kendai Takasaki).

They're a private school yes, but they play like the dog that nips at you constantly - playing to their competition, good or bad. You can bever count them out of a game, and perhaps that's testament to their coach Aoyagi-kantoku.

So you can look at their stats all day long, but this team may be the one exception whereby we throw them out the window. But, since that's what I have to go on, I do a pump fake and bring those papers back in.

I'm going to look at offense, because that's where the team is the most gritty. The team, up until their defeat against Urawa Gakuin, hit the ball. Not hard, but hit the ball. Their team racked up double digit hits in every game except for 2, and in both games still got 8 hits. And this wasn't against no-name competition either. It was against schools like Kiryuu Dai-ichi, and former champs Maebashi Ikuei, and the aforementioned Urawa Gakuin (they got 17 hits in that one!). But unlike their profile in prior years, they do not really run, averaging just 3 SBs per game.

7 of their starting 9 in fact, hit over 0.300, and their #5 hitter 1B Ooshima Kyouhei (大島 匡平) went 10-19 with half of those hits going for extra bases! I could highlight other hitters, but the fact really is, this team at the plate does not cheat itself - ever.

On the mound, Aoyagi-kantoku used a mess of pitchers in every game except 3, and they were the 3 biggest games on their schedule - the prefectural final, and the first 2 rounds of the super-regional.

Why are they the most important? Well, winning the prefectural final means facing a 2-seed in the first round of the super-regional. And the first 2 rounds would get them to the semifinal where the odds of being omitted from the field is almost nil.

And so it was that ace Fukui Tomoya (川井 智也) would take the hill. In each progressive game though he would give up more runs, 3 to Meishuu Gakuen Hitachi, and 6 to Matsudo Kokusai.

Now, Aoyagi-kantoku has supposedly brought 3 other pitchers to Koushien - #10 Hashidzume Naoya (橋詰 直弥), #17 Miyamoto Takahiro (宮本 隆寛), and #18 Takahashi Ryousuke (髙橋 涼輔). Problem is, none of them seem usable.  Hashidzume and Takahashi have terrible ERAs, while Miyamoto was used early on, but was never seen past the prefectural semifinal. Weirdly however, Miyamoto was part of the Nomo Baseball Academy and travelled to the US. Even weirder, while wearing the #1 jersey, he never pitched a game...

Ube Koujyou isn't a completely soft opener, and a possible game against Tenri might not be great either, but while the pitching will be always a query, but you can never count out this team in any game.

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