Friday, December 18, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)

Tsuruga Kehi is back yet again. They were in a purple patch there for a while with aces Kishimoto and Hiranuma. But last summer, with Hiranuma hurt, they couldn't get past the 2nd round and Hanamaki Higashi.

It's surprising that they're back though. Because even with Hiranuma hurt, they started him in the game, and despite reliever Yamazaki Souichirou (山崎 颯一郎) pitching 2 scoreless innings when Hiranuma struggled, they went back to Hiranuma. If you're Yamazaki, what are you thinking? "I pitched 2 innings of no-hit ball, got 4 strikeouts, and yet when the middle of the order comes around I'm relieved for a pitcher who is injured?!"

You'd think it wouldn't sit well.

Now, Yamazaki is the ace, an above-average throwing righty who can hit 140, with a slider and curve. The mechanics aren't there at times, leaving his ball up and away. Despite that, he doesn't walk many batters, but stamina may be an issue as shown when he was only pitching his 2nd complete game at Meiji Jingu (he pitched a CG then only 1.2 in the next game). Despite striking out 9, he cratered the final 2 innings, yielding 8 runs.

Nishimoto Taiki (西本 汰生) is a sidearmer who doesn't throw hard (mid-120s), though he did 3-hit Fukui Koudai Fukui in the prefectural final and limited Aomori Yamada to 3 runs in 7.1 IP.

While the pitching is necessary for a title run, they're also known for their powerful offense having scored less than 4 runs just twice in the fall. But the three to look at are leadoff hitter RF Uemura Motoki (植村 元紀) who sets the tone, returning player SS Hayashinaka Yuuki (林中 勇輝), and freshman CF Kaminakao Masaki (上中尾 真季).

If the pitching can hold up, and that's a big if, they have a good chance.

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