Three Reasons Why “Great Candidate for the Championship,” Toin Osaka, Was Eliminated in the Final 8 | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Three Reasons Why “Great Candidate for the Championship,” Toin Osaka, Was Eliminated in the Final 8

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After the defeat, right ace Kawahara (center left) cried in public.

The goal of winning the triple crown of major high school tournaments came to an end halfway through the tournament.

The third game of the Koshien quarterfinals was held on August 18. Osaka Toin faced Shimonoseki Kokusai (Yamaguchi Prefecture) and lost 4-5. Osaka Toin won the Meiji Jingu Tournament last fall and the Senbatsu Tournament this spring with overwhelming strength, and was considered certain to become only the second high school in history to win the triple crown of major high school tournaments since Yokohama High School in 1998.

This year’s Osaka Toin had a lineup of pitchers of such high caliber that it was called a “pitching kingdom,” including right-handed ace Tsugutaka Kawahara, who threw a straight ball at a maximum speed of 148 km from his 188 cm, 85 kg frame, and lefty left fielder Yugo Maeda, who in his second year is already being called the “best left arm in Toin history. The team is led by the left-handed ace Maeda Yugo, who is already being called “the best left fielder in Toin’s history,” as well as the 150 km/h right-handed pitcher Bessho Kosuke and the left-side thrower Minami Kosei. In the three games leading up to the quarterfinals at Koshien, they scored 29 runs and allowed 3 runs, showing their overwhelming strength and winning the tournament.

Why did such a major contender for the championship lose? What came to light in the course of our coverage was the pitfalls of being called the “strongest of the generation.

Three reasons for Osaka Toin’s defeat Three reasons for defeat

Maeda, the left-handed ace, took the mound in the middle of the 5th inning. He showed glimpses of his talent with a fastball averaging in the mid-140s and excellent control, but gave up two runs in the top of the 9th inning. He ran out of power in the last inning.

Sports journalist Masahiko Abe attributed the loss to “the high level of Shimonoseki Kokusai’s pitching staff, which was higher than Toin had expected.

The starting pitcher, Yasumasa Koga, didn’t have his natural command and control of the ball at the beginning of the game, so Osaka Toin hit a series of sweet balls to score two runs, but this was not good. I think they got a little naive and thought, ‘Shimonoseki Kokusai Kumishi Easier ……’. He swung wildly and hit a slider that was not a hit even if it did hit him, and he kept missing. However, by nature, Koga is one of the best left-handed pitchers in the tournament. His slider, in particular, is at the level of a pro. He throws two types of sliders: a small, sharp one that hits the strike zone, and a bigger one that cuts right into the batter’s feet. In fact, as Koga’s condition improved, he became more and more difficult to hit.

On the other hand, relief pitcher Shin Nakai is an overhand right-hander. His fastball is the opposite of Koga’s, and at 140 km/h, it is a difficult ball to hit, as it appears to hop from the batter’s point of view, like the straight ball of Fujikawa (formerly of Hanshin, etc.). He also had a change-up that would throw off his timing, making him a very difficult pitcher to hit. I think that because Nakai’s reputation was not that high, he was unable to adjust to the discrepancies he felt when he was in the batter’s box.

The cause of the defeat was also hidden in the way the players were used. Michio Toda, former editor-in-chief of the high school baseball magazine Homerun, said.

Michio Toda, former editor-in-chief of the high school baseball magazine “Homerun,” said, “We noticed that some of the players were selected based on a backward calculation from the final and semifinal games. This was especially evident in the pitching: Kawahara pitched the first inning, Maeda the second, and Kawahara again in the third, and Nishitani alternated between the two aces. If the original pitching routine was followed, Maeda should have started the quarterfinals. However, it was Bessho who was sent to the mound to start. If it had been decided to leave the final to Maeda, he may have decided to pitch in relief in this game in order to pitch in a more complete condition. Of course, Bessho is a very good pitcher. It is all a matter of consequence, but if Maeda had been allowed to start as per the rotation, the result might have been different.”

The last reason lurked in an unexpected place. Toda was actually at Koshien to watch the game, and he was uncomfortable with the fans’ cheering. There was a distortion created by the “overwhelming Toin dominance.

From the beginning, I felt that the applause was louder when Shimonoseki Kokusai attacked. I felt something was definitely wrong in the 9th inning. Even before a runner was hit, there was clapping from all over the stadium to the accompaniment of Shimonoseki Kokusai’s brass band. In addition, Shimonoseki Kokusai was cheered on from the bleachers on the first base side, where the Osaka Toin bench is located, making the game a complete away game for Toin. Of course, Coach Nishitani and the Toin players were used to such an atmosphere, but I think the pressure was quite intense.

In fact, captain Tenma Hoshiko told an interviewer after the game, “We had practiced that much, but I felt like we were going to be swept under the rug.

For better or worse, they were too strong, and many fans wanted to see a team that could beat Toin. As far as entertainment goes, that is more interesting. I think the tens of thousands of spectators who came to the stadium stood up to Toin at the very end.

The game was the biggest upset of the tournament. Osaka Toin’s defeat may have been inevitable.

  • Photo Kyodo News

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