1.2 kg of White Rice for Dinner and Not Afraid of Staying in School — Number 4 at Nishimatsu Gakusha and Kiyohara’s Second Son is Now in Spotlight! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

1.2 kg of White Rice for Dinner and Not Afraid of Staying in School — Number 4 at Nishimatsu Gakusha and Kiyohara’s Second Son is Now in Spotlight!

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Last October at the baseball ground of the baseball club attached to Nishimatsu Gakusha University in Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture. He is eating his favorite lunch box of ginger yaki (ginger-yaki).

[Joon] eats 600g in the morning, 800g at lunch, and always 1.2kg of white rice at dinner. His favorite dish is ginger yaki. If I go to a curry restaurant, I can eat a large serving of curry weighing 1 kg.

In an interview with “FRIDAY” (November 25, 2022 issue), Kaito Katai, a student at Futamatsu Gakusha University (Tokyo), was eating his lunch box. With a height of 175 cm and a weight of 97 kg, Katai is a first-year player but has been assigned the No. 4 position, and he hit a home run in the second round of last summer’s Koshien (Koshien) tournament. He was the second right-hander to hit a home run in the second round of the Koshien Tournament last summer, and the first in 39 years since Kazuhiro Kiyohara (PL Gakuen, Osaka) hit a home run in the summer of 1983.

Katai will be one of the players to watch at Nishimatsu Gakusha, which will participate in the National High School Baseball Tournament, which opens on March 18, for the seventh time in two consecutive years. It is hard to believe that Katai is a freshman. Last June, when the team traveled to the Kansai region, he slept soundly in the same room with his seniors, snoring heavily. When he made an error in defensive practice, he would say, “I’m sorry,” and smile sullenly. In the interview mentioned above, he also said, “I’ve never been too nervous.”

I’ve never been too nervous. Maybe my first at-bat at Koshien. I always enjoy it. If I make an error, there’s no point in getting depressed. If I make a mistake, I feel like I should make up for it.

Manager Katsuto Ichihara was also impressed by the performance of the first-year starter.

Seiya can hit to right field from center, similar to Seiya Suzuki, an alumnus of the school who plays for the Cubs. Even Seiya couldn’t play this well as a freshman. His unassuming personality is also suited to actual competition.

Why is he a first-year player even though he entered the school two years ago?

Katsuji started playing baseball at the age of five. In the sixth grade, he was selected for the Giants Jr. His older brother Shogo is a sophomore at Keio University and a member of the baseball team

Another notable freshman is Katsuji Kiyohara, who plays third base for Keio Gijuku (Kanagawa Prefecture), which is making its 10th appearance in the Sembatsu Tournament after a five-year absence. His number is 5. His father, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, who hit 525 homers, the fifth most in his professional career, wore this number when he was with the Orix.

Katsuji entered Keio High School two years ago in April 2021. He should be a sophomore now. Why is he still a first-year student?

“He stayed in school. At the prestigious Keio High School, it is not enough to just play baseball; students are expected to be both literate and skilled. If your grades in all subjects do not reach a certain level, you are not retained. Unfortunately, Katsuji did not receive enough credits. Even so, he is cheerful and acerbic. People around him make fun of him and tease him about it,” says a reporter for a sports newspaper.

Katsuji is 173 cm tall, which is small compared to his father, who is 188 cm tall. He says his ideal hitter is his father because “I can hit home runs anywhere from left to right. He is also good at taking chances.” How good is he?

Keio High coach Takahiko Mori said, “He is one of the best hitters on the team. However, he is not a slugger like his father. He is a dexterous type who is good at small tricks, such as deciding a squeeze in an important game.”

His father, Kazuhiro, seems to have this assessment of his sons. The older son (Shogo, the eldest) is my type of long-distance hitter. The younger one (Katsuji) is a Kazuyoshi Tachinami type (a junior at PL Gakuen, who recorded 2,480 hits as manager of the Chunichi baseball team). He is only a freshman, but his body is sharp and he has a lot of potential for growth.

On the back of the brim of Katsuji’s hat, Kazuhiro wrote “relax” and “chi” in his own handwriting. A father-son home run record at Koshien may be a dream come true. This year’s Senbatsu tournament will focus on “big freshmen.

Kazuhiro was often seen cheering from the stands at last year’s Fall Kanto Tournament.
Kazuhiro cheering from the stands at last year’s Fall Kanto Tournament
Katsuji’s position is third base.
Katai is aiming for a home run in the Koshien Tournament, as he did last summer as the fourth baseman for the first-year team.
  • Photographed by Yuri Adachi, Hiroyuki Komatsu

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