Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reviewing the field - Tokai champions Shizuoka

It's not a straight shot, but a Limited Express Shinano and a Shinkansen Hikari away brings us to the Tokai region and their champion Shizuoka. Not much of a surprise here given they have surged to the top of the prefecture, passing schools like Tokoha Kikugawa and their sister school Tokoha Tachibana.

Speaking of which, right off the bat they had to play Tokoha Tachibana. They still won via mercy rule, but they gave up 5 runs - which normally that early on is not a good sign. But given their opponent and it was their first game, they get a pass. After that, it was a breeze to the final wherein ace Muraki Fumiya (村木 文哉) probably tired out. They still defeated Hamamatsu Shuugakusha 13-8, but by that time it was his 4th game in the span of 1 week.

The super-regionals went just about as easy mercy-ruling both of their opponents - including Nichidai Mishima (again), setting up a final against Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou. Once again, Muraki was pitching multiple games on short rest, and he was again relieved. Shizuoka would eventually win 7-6 in 12 innings to claim the title.

Despite almost 3 weeks off, Muraki wasn't on his A-game against Toukaidai Sugao at Meiji Jingu and as a result were one-and-done.

Muraki is apparently a standard fare pitcher who can throw in the mid-130s. He only struck out a tick over 7 batters per 9, while his WHIP is a shade under 1.20. #10 Muramatsu Ryuutarou (村松 遼太朗) is the main backup, but his numbers were not better.

Offensively, the team hit a gaudy 0.419, with double digit hits in 9 of their 11 games. But given the competition, it certainly should be scaled back. 5 players were able to tack a HR to their stats, but the 2 players to look out for are the 4-5 combo of C Horiuchi Kengo (堀内 謙伍) and SS Yasumoto Ryuuji (安本 竜二). There's also LF Hirose Shun (廣瀬 舜), but for the most part everyone else are singles hitters.

Shizuoka gets a bit of an ask in Ritsumeikan Uji to start. It's not out of their reach, and the next game against either Kisaradzu Sougou or Okayama Ridai Fuzoku isn't out of the question either given that Muraki will get 4 full days off between games. After that though may prove to be too much for the Tokai champs.

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