Oh, the love-hate relationship I have with Tenri. When I first got into kokoyakyu, I cheered for them as they were a dominant team in a prefecture, plus one of my mom's customers was a missionary for the Tenrikyo Church and had let me use her dormitory room when I traveled there for the first time. The religion itself I admit is a bit odd, but I won't disparage it.
Anyways, as time passed I began to realize that Nara wasn't exactly a strong baseball prefecture, and that they - along with Chiben Gakuen, pretty much dominated the soft scene. Not only that, but the success didn't translate to Koushien.
So when I started to give up on Tenri, here they come again. They're still not reaching the top like they did before, so despite winning the Kinki tournament, it still feels like they're not a contender. But let's go to the data.
First, they got through the prefecturals defeating Chiben Gakuen in the semifinals, and then up-and-coming Naradai Fuzoku (who is trying to permanently breakup the duo monopoly). Note that Naradai Fuzoku has made the field as well.
The list of opponents they defeated in the super-regionals was a list of Koushien mainstays. Houtoku Gakuen, Osaka Touin (dear Lord I glanced at their numbers and I'm a bit worried they won't get their comeuppance), Ryuukokudai Heian and Ritsumeikan Uji.
Every game with the exception of 1 they won by 4 or more runs. The only game that wasn't? Osaka Touin in the quarterfinals, where despite 10 strikeouts, they advanced with a 3-2 win. And yet, they put up double digit hits in each of their games.
The problem with all this? In their very first game against Sendai Ikuei, they struck out 12 times, delivered only 6 hits, and lost 6-1.
And this may be why I have to wonder if the Kinki region as a whole is perhaps weaker than you'd expect.
So, what is under the engine of this team that won the central region?
Hm... I don't really know.
The team batted 0.329, which given the competition seems to be good. 7 HRs in 11 games is also not bad - 3 of which came from cleanup hitter 1B Sakaguchi Hiroya (坂口 漠弥). Over 20% of their hits (24 total) went for extra bases, 4 of which came from their leading RBI guy SS Sadamitsu Hiroto (貞光 広登). And only two people in their lineup had a batting average of less than 0.300. Weirdly, one of those people is cleanup hitter CF Funabiki Wataru (舩曳 海), who made up of a 0.262 BA with 11 walks in 53 plate appearances and stole 11 of the team 16 bases - though a lot of those came early against weaker competition.
On the mound, ace Saitou Yuu (齋藤 佑羽) gets most of the work, but is generally spelled on a consistent basis by Moriura Daisuke (森浦 大輔). Another anomaly, he doesn't wear the traditional #10 the main relieve usually gets. Instead he wears #11 while another reliever, Ouji Shuu (王子 修), who was used sparingly instead received the #10.
Back to Saitou, he carries a K/9 rate of less than 7, and a WHIP a tick over 1.10. But despite being the champs, there is little information about his pitching.
I really don't know what to make of this team - and they're the champions no less! The resume appears sound given the competition, but the sound defeat to Sendai Ikuei is a huge query. If they can handle Itoman, a possible matchup with Kendai Takasaki will be a great barometer of their chances.