Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reviewing the field - Tohoku's Meiji Jingu Bid Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei

And now to the school indebted to Sendai Ikuei - Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei. There were on the outside looking in having lost in the super-regional semifinal, but were reprieved when Sendai Ikuei won the Meiji Jingu tournament, thereby giving the region one extra bid. And much to the script, the JHBF went with the bigger name over Yamagata's Tsuruoka Higashi.

Kousei, as they now like to be called, got a free pass to the prefectural finals with their win in the summer. They took full advantage of it, blowing through the field all the way to the finals where they eked out a 5-4 win over Aomori Yamada.

Their games in the super-regional were also underwhelming. A 3-1 win over Yamagata Jyouhoku and a 4-1 win over Noshiro Shouyou put them in the semifinals, but a 7-2 loss to Sendai Ikuei ended things.

Kousei has been pretty much rebuilding since their 3 consecutive final appearances. 2 pitchers have been promoted to take over duties on the mound. They are 3rd years Goya Kaito (呉屋 開斗) - who wore #18 last spring, and Nakagawa Masashi (中川 優) - who wore #11. Nakagawa appears to have more pitches at his disposal (slider, curve, change and fork), but Goya's results on the mound are much better.

The only other holdovers from last spring are C Baba Ryuusei (馬場 龍星) and SS Adachi Yuuya (足立 悠哉). Both of them played against Yokohama last year and did well (though Yokohama didn't deserve to be there in the first place).

I found a roster for the team, and a starting lineup:
  1. CF Arai Shouki (新井 勝貴)
  2. RF Kasumi Shouta (加角 翔太)
  3. SS Adachi Yuuya (足立 悠哉)
  4. LF Sawada Shunichi (澤田 俊一)
  5. 1B Nakajima Yuuki (中嶋 勇希)
  6. 2B Nakazaki Jyukiya (中崎 寿希也)
  7. 3B Endou Taisei (遠藤 大誠)
  8. C Baba Ryuusei (馬場 龍星)
  9. P Goya Kaito (呉屋 開斗)
I put Goya in for Nakagawa in the picture because he started the games in the super-regional.

The problem is that last year they had pitchers that were supposedly better than this pair and got routed by Ryuukokudai Heian. The offense, who again consisted of mostly seniors, was ineffective. While they get to go back to Koushien, it seems unlikely that they will be able to improve on that performance. Consider them still in rebuilding mode.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reviewing the field - Tohoku runner-up Oomagari Kougyou

And now our first surprise in Akita's Oomagari Kougyou. Akita in the Tohoku region is generally the weakest of the 6 prefectures. So to see a school - and not one necessarily top tier - get to Koushien is shocking.

It wasn't a fluke either. Early on, you might have thought it was as they struggled to win the Nanbu regionals beating teams like Oomagari, Yokote and Yokote Jyounan. They continued to struggle, but this time it was more understandable as they face the top teams, defeating Kakunodate, Akita Chuo, Akita Shougyou and Noshiro Shouyou to claim the title.

After a scare in the opening game of the super-regionals against Matsushima, they had to play 2 against Hanamaki Higashi. Fortunately for them, Hanamaki Higashi already had to do that the round before against Higashi-Nihondai Shouhei. Hanamaki Higashi couldn't play 2 extra games, and lost a slugfest. And while they defeated Tsuruoka Higashi the next day, they couldn't win 4 games in 4 days, getting drubbed by Sendai Ikuei in the final.

While the loss against Sendai Ikuei could be looked at as a negative, it was their 4th game in as many days. It might not be a positive for them if you were considering their title chances, but they seem to be solid otherwise.

The game starter for Oomagari Kougyou is not their ace number, but #7 Takeda Ryuusei (武田 龍成). I can't find much info on him other than the video though. But while he occupies the cleanup spot, it's the projected 5th batter Nakamura Kazuki(?) (中邑 一生). Against Hanamaki Higashi in the replay and Tsuruoka Higashi he delivered with 2 2-RBI triples in his first AB.

The lineup used against Hanamaki Higashi in the replay I will use as their starting 9 absent of a full roster

  1. CF Sasaki Shunichi (佐々木 駿一)
  2. SS Akagawa Shun (赤川 駿)
  3. 2B Nakano Seiya (中野 星夜)
  4. P Takeda Ryuusei (武田 龍成)
  5. RF Nakamura Kazuki (中邑 一生)
  6. 3B Sawatari Akito (佐渡 敬斗)
  7. 1B Okamoto Atsushi (岡本 昌真)
  8. LF Odajima Kouta (小田嶋 康太)
  9. C Suzuki Taira (鈴木 平)
Their chances at senbatsu are probably not good, but at the same time you cannot completely discount their run given playing Hanamaki Higashi twice and easily understandable excuses against Sendai Ikuei.

Reviewing the field - Tohoku champs Sendai Ikuei

Sendai Ikuei comes into Senbatsu as probably the favorite to beat - this despite the fact that they weren't even the qualifier out of Miyagi (that was Rifu, by the way).  What is even more impressive is that in their 16 games, they lost only once (that was early on to Seiwa Gakuen), and only one other team was within 5 when the siren sounded (that was Urawa Gakuin after they lost 4-1 in the Meiji Jingu title game!).  All this while beating teams such as the aforementioned Rifu, Tohoku, Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei, and Kyushu Gakuin.

Leading the way is staff ace Satou Sena (佐藤 世那). He throws right around 140, and reportedly actually has a forkball, sinker and splitter instead of the usual curve and slider.

Offensively, the team looks to catcher and cleanup batter Gunji Yuuya (郡司 裕也). He was 5-12 in the Meiji Jingu taikai and drove in 6 runs. The person who really revved things up as the tournament progressed was #3 batter Hirasawa Taiga (平沢 大河). Despite being the SS, he hit 5-10 with a 2B, 3B and a HR plating 5. That 3-4 combo may be a force to be reckoned with.

The roster as of the Meiji Jingu tournament was as follows:
  1. P Satou Sena (佐藤 世那)
  2. C Gunji Yuuya (郡司 裕也)
  3. 1B Sasaki Ryousuke (佐々木 良介)
  4. 2B Yatsu Koudai (谷津 航大)
  5. 3B Satou Shouta (佐藤 将太)
  6. SS Hirasawa Taiga (平沢 大河)
  7. LF Kii Kaishuu (紀伊 海秀)
  8. CF Aoki Reima (青木 玲磨)
  9. RF Sasaki Tooya (佐々木 柊野)
  10. (P) Domeki Yuuki (百目木 優貴)
  11. (P) Kobayashi Yuuta (小林 勇太)
  12. (C) Wakasa Takeru (若狭 武瑠)
  13. (IF) Seto Taichi (瀬戸 泰地)
  14. (IF) Sasaki Keita (佐々木 啓太)
  15. (C) Maeno Koudai (前野  広大)
  16. (OF) Yoshino Katsutoshi (吉野 克駿)
  17. (OF) Saida Kaito (齋田 海斗)
  18. (OF) Tateyama Takehiro (立山 貴大)
Their strong showing throughout the fall taikai will put them as one of, if not the favorite. If there is an apparent weakness it might be the bottom of the lineup (minus ace Sena). They did relatively little at Meiji Jingu and giving up free innings to the opponent might catch up with them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Reviewing the field - Hokkaido champs Toukai Dai-yon

Over the next month or so I will be trying to review all 32 teams that have qualified for this year's Haru Koushien noting players to watch, and chances in the tournament. First up is the Hokkaido champs Toukai Dai-yon.

Toukai Dai-yon makes a return trip to Koushien after qualifying for the Natsu Koushien last summer. It certainly wasn't an easy trip back as they had lost all of 4 of their declared roster from the summer. But they advanced out of the regionals despite narrow victories over Sapporo Ryuukoku, Sapporo Asahigaoka and Sapporo Ootani.

Onto the super-regionals, and they certainly faces tougher competition rallying from down 2-1 to defeat Kitami Kougyou 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th in the quarterfinals before trading blows with Hokkai eventually winning 3-2.

From the Meiji Jingu roster it looks like former #18 Oosawa Shiiya (大澤 志意也) has taken over duties as the staff ace. He's not a dominator on the mound, topping out at a reported 138 with a standard curve/slider combo. If you wish to follow him, you can do so. I can add more players who have twitter accounts if you like to follow them. Just let me know.

The roster as of the Meiji Jingu tournament was as follows:

  1. P Oosawa Shiiya (大澤 志意也)
  2. C Oogawa Kouhei (小川 孝平)
  3. (1B) Nakajima Hiroki (中島 弘貴)
  4. 2B Kanemura Kousei (金村 航成)
  5. 3B Saitou Ryuusei (斎藤 龍生)
  6. SS Tomita Yuuki (冨田 勇輝)
  7. 1B Sou Kangi (邵 広基)
  8. LF Sakon Taisei (左近 太勢)
  9. CF Yamamoto Kousei (山本 浩平)
  10. (OF) Miyazaki Hayato (宮崎 隼斗)
  11. CF/(P) Watanabe Atsushi (渡邉 敦史)
  12. (C) Nouguchi Daiki (納口 大樹)
  13. (OF) Sakamoto Towa (酒本 永遠)
  14. (IF) Tachibana Sou (立花 奏)
  15. (IF) Yoshida Yuuma (吉田 祐真)
  16. (IF) Murase Wataru (村瀬 渉)
  17. (OF) Ueno Daiki (上野 大貴)
  18. (P) Gon Towon (権 濤源)
I haven't really found much information on the team, but given their path in the fall and their 10-0 loss to Urawa Gakuin at Meiji Jingu suggest that their time will depend on their matchup.