Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reviewing the field - Kinki quarterfinalist Oumi

And now the final team to make the field from the Kinki region, Shiga's Oumi.

To be honest, it was pretty much a simple process of elimination to determine that Oumi would be the final team to advance.

They probably played the fewest number of games for any of the qualifying teams, playing 5 in the prefecturals and 2 more in the super-regionals. They weren't tested until the prefectural semifinals where they face Hikone Higashi and Kita-Ootsu, winning those games barely 2-1 and 3-1. That continued with a 3-2 squeaker against PL Gakuen before Ritsumeikan Uji finally put them to bed.

From that, pitching becomes a huge key, and Taga-kantoku generally turns to ace Ogawa Ryouken (小川 良憲). As you can see, he was the ace last summer when Oumi went to Natsu Koushien. He wasn't disgraceful on the mound as he shutout Seikou Gakuin and only gave up 2 earned to Nagato in a loss. Back then, he didn't strike out a lot of batters, and that still applies even now. This despite hitting the low 140s and featuring a splitter to the standard repertoire of pitches. In fact he has a K/9 rate of 3.56, this while still managing a WHIP of 1.15.

He'll be the main starter, but Taga-kantoku brought along the 2 other pitchers he used, #10 Alexander Eiji Salazar (サラサル・アレキサンダー・英二), and #11 Kyouyama Masaya (京山 将弥). Alexander was on the roster at Koushien last year, but only saw action in the game against Ritsumeikan Uji. it went well though as he pitched 3 scoreless, striking out 2 and walking 2.

Offensively, the team hit 0.310 which is average at best given the competition, but they did draw more than their fair share of walks (their OBP is over 80 points higher than their BA). The most bizarre part is that they had more triples (8) than doubles (6)! That's generally more a sign that the defenses played them poorly unless perhaps they have team speed, which they don't. LF Sugino Shougo (杉野 翔梧) had 4 of those 8 triples, but just 1 double. So I don't really know if some of those triples should be doubles, or even singles. 1B Yamamoto Daichi (山本 大地) was the only hitter with more than 1 double (2).

The offense seems suspect, though it does at least look like they're somewhat patient at the plate. Of course, that only works if you're facing a pitcher who's either fatiguing or who has poor control, which at this stage is very hard to find (it does exist though, as we've seen). Kyushu Sangyoudai Kyushu may be a good matchup to start, but despite a power arm it would appear that this team has a very small margin of error only because of their offense.

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