Saturday, March 21, 2015

Reviewing the field - Shikoku runner-up Imabari Nishi

And to round out things before we skip across the Setouchi Umi to Kyushu is the runner up to the first-timers Eimei - the established Imabari Nishi.

Kuroki-kantoku apparently takes the helm very recently (January 22nd), inheriting a team who is making their 2nd consecutive appearance and 14th overall.

Like some of the recent schools covered, they almost stumbled early. After a blowout first win, they went 13 against Imabari Kita, but then safely beat Uwajima Higashi thereafter. They gained momentum after that facing easier competition to win the Ehime prefecturals. With that came a first round bye, then outlasted Meitoku Gijyuku in the semifinals before falling to Eimei in the finals.

Ace Sugiura Kouki (杉内 洸貴) took almost all of the innings for the squad. While he carried a tidy 1.78 ERA, the peripherals indicate that he pitches to a lot of contact. He recorded just 25 Ks in 70.2 innings of work. He survived by keeping base runners off with a 0.92 WHIP, but you have to wonder if the step up in competition will flip his fortunes around. #10 Yoshimoto Shungo (吉本 春悟) is on the roster, but only pitched a third of an innings, giving up 2 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs.

Offensively, the team hit 0.300, which against the competition they faced doesn't look good. Even worse is that their ISO is just 0.054. And it's actually down in the order where we find their best hitter, RF Sugino Akihiko (杉野 彰彦).

The team gets a chance to win against 21st century invite Touin of Wakayama. It's not a guarantee, but it's better than the alternatives. If they survive that, they have another shot in their next game to reach the Best 8. The bracket looks as favorable as it could be, but issues on both sides of the ball mean that at best it's a 50-50 proposition.

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