The day before the opening day of the season, Omi’s veteran coach, Taga, shed tears. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The day before the opening day of the season, Omi’s veteran coach, Taga, shed tears.

Inside report on the 2010 Senbatsu

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Due to Kyoto International’s regretful withdrawal, the decision to compete was made the day before the opening of the tournament. Suddenly, the ticket ended up at the finals. It was the longest road. The coach, the ace who overcame injury and threw the ball, the No. 4 pitcher, the captain, and the key player of the fan… The team was a great success. A look back at the spring in Omi, a time that will remain in both record and memory.

Akihito Taga, Manager, Omi High School

Only I can make the decision to bring him off the board.

Omi (Shiga) coach Akihito Taga can’t stop crying.

In the semifinal game against Urawa Gakuin (Saitama), with the score tied 1-2 in the bottom of the 5th inning, ace pitcher Yousho Yamada was hit by a dead ball near the heel of his left foot. It was an accident that made it painful for him to even walk, and he even considered replacing him. However, the

I am aware that I am the axis of the team. If I get off the mound, I might not be able to keep going. I was determined not to get off the mound. Please let me go.” I begged him.”

After the 6th inning, Yamada, who had iced and taped his leg and appealed directly to continue pitching, probably limping with a very sore leg, pitched even better than before, not even allowing a runner to steal third base. Even so, manager Taga was conflicted.

He said, “He has a bright future.As long as he says he wants to go, I am the only one who can make the decision to let him off the mound. Should I replace him or ……? As I watched Yamada on the mound, hesitating but holding on through the pain, I couldn’t stop crying even though the game was still in progress.

After the dead ball, he took one more pitch. Pitch 1 The soul that went into every pitch was amazing. In the quarterfinal against Kinko’s Osaka, we won but made too many ordinary mistakes in base running and defense. Therefore, we had to play with a “ Urawa Gakuin in the semifinals is a notch or two above (the opponent) in terms of ability. Let’s be prepared. I told him, “I’m not going to let you down. Yamada’s pitching showed his determination. He is a strong man. I have never felt that more than today. I wonder if the stage of Koshien made him that way. ……

Yohsho Yamada pitching a strong game

Ace, No. 4, and captain. Because he trusts him the most, he entrusts Yamada with more than just the mainstay of the team. When he was moved up to the second round of the Kyoto International Games after a player withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for the new strain of corona, he told his teammates, I’ ll go with you for allfivegames. Taga himself was unable to sort out the reasons why Yamada was allowed to continue to play. But perhaps it was because, “After the dead ball, Yamada-kun kicked up a gear. Yamada’s spirit,” said even his rival manager, Dai Mori, “was so impressive, his spirit was so different.

Loving Catching

There was more reason for tears in the 11th inning, when the score was 2-2 with one out and the bases loaded, Taisho Ohashi, the catcher who had not allowed a hit in 11 at-bats in the second inning, the quarterfinals, and this game, smashed a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers for the goodbye run. It was the 22nd dramatic hit by the No. 8 hitter in the history of the team. Manager Taga revealed.

Catcher Daisho Ohashi with a three-run shot in the 11th inning of the semifinal game against Urawa Gakuin.

Ohashi was helping Yamada with his great catching even though he didn’t have that many hits. He would catch even the falling breaking pitches with firmness and, how should I say, affection. I think that led to that one hit that I didn’t expect.”

Catching with love is a very nice way of putting it.

I remember something.

Director Taga grew up in Hikone. The location of Omi High School. His birthplace is Kengakuji Temple of the Honganji sect of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism, which stands on the shore of Lake Biwa, and he himself is a qualified Buddhist monk. He started playing baseball in his second year of elementary school, mainly as a batter on the Hikone Minami Junior High School baseball team, and in his third year, when Shigeo Nagashima of the Giants retired, he said while watching the ceremony , “I will be the next Nagashima. He was confident in his arm, and his dream was to play in the Koshien (the National High School Baseball Championship) and become a professional baseball player.

At the time, however, Shiga was a weak prefecture in the high school baseball world. By the time Taga finished junior high school, the team had won three games in the Summer League, but had not won a game in the summer of its eight appearances in the tournament. That is why he wanted to go to Heian (now Ryukoku University Heian) in neighboring Kyoto. The school is a powerhouse, having participated in the Koshien tournament every year and won the national championship, and is also affiliated with Honganji Temple, to which his parents’ family, Kengakuji Temple, belongs.

However, when he entered the school, he found that the level of the older students was a completely different world. Practice was tough, and he felt as if he was about to give up. However, he could not just sit on his hands because he had entered the school over the objections of his parents. In mid-May, when he got a chance to bat regularly, he had three hits in three at-bats. He became a member of the team as a first baseman and catcher.

A “milestone” as a leader with “three arrows” in his quiver

By the time he entered Ryukoku University, he had given up on his dream of becoming a professional baseball player. It was not until his senior year at the university that the idea of becoming a coach came to mind. After graduation, he took classes as an auditing student while working as a coach at the university, obtained a teaching license, and became Omi’s coach in 1983.

He coached the team for six years under Tetsuya Tanaka, who made his first appearance in the Koshien Tournament in the summer of 1981, and was appointed coach in 1989; in the summer of 1992, the team made its first appearance in the tournament, defeating Yawata Sho in the semi-finals after losing three years in a row. Although they lost to Jutoku (Gunma) in their first game, they made one more appearance in the spring and three more in the summer, and the summer of 2001 was “a milestone,” according to Taga. With a pitching staff consisting of Kazuya Takeuchi (former Seibu), Nobuya Shimawaki (former Orix), and Shinnosuke Shimizu, the team became the first team from Shiga Prefecture to reach the finals.

Taga recalls that the presence of catcher Hiroyuki Komori, who supported the “three arrows” as a key figure in the team’s success, was a major factor in the team’s success. Komori, who had been the winning pitcher in the prefectural tournament in junior high school, switched to catcher in high school. He became the captain of his new team, and when he saw Komori struggling to catch and lead, he asked him, “Why don’t you quit being the captain and concentrate on being a catcher? In the end, however, he always ends up saying, “Please let me be the captain. As in the game against Urawa Gakuin, in which Yamada volunteered to continue as captain, it was Taga who broke down.

Komori, who continued as captain, also developed his skills as a catcher. Takeuchi’s slider, for example, runs wide outward when it is caught, and Shimawaki’s vertical slider, a left-handed slider, also has quite a drop-off. Komori, even with those rampant balls ( LOL) He managed to stop them as if he was wrapping them up. We called it “loving catching. Komori at that time, from the prefectural tournament through the Koshien Tournament, must not have made a single caught ball.

In the final, they lost badly to Osaka Toin. Yamada vows revenge in the summer.

This affectionate catching was also inherited by Ohashi. Ohashi said, “I trust him. He just throws at the mitt. After the dead ball,I couldn’t step on myleft foot, and the ball started going high. So I increased my slider and tried to get him to hit ground balls. That led to his soulful 170-pitch, 11-inning complete game performance.

The “Omi Spring” will remain in both records and memories.

By the way, it was a rushed and productive two weeks at ……. On March 17, the day before the opening day of the tournament, Kyoto International was chosen as the first alternate for the Kinki region to compete in place of Kyoto International. The tournament was postponed one day due to rain, but the team was unable to arrange accommodations in time for their first game on March 20, so they had to be bussed from school to Koshien for their first game. There, they defeated Nagasaki Nichidai in a tiebreaker in the 13th overtime, and went on to accumulate three more wins to reach the finals. Yamada, who had reached his limits, gave himself up and suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Osaka Toin, a team he had beaten the previous summer, but manager Taga spoke with a deep emotion.

In the semifinals, it was a fateful win. In recent years, even I have been surprised by the games they have played.

This was the first time in the history of the tournament that a Shiga Prefecture team and an alternate school made it to the finals. It was an Omi spring that will remain in both records and memories.

  • Interview and text Junko Yang Photography Yoshihiro Koike

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