As I type this, the World University Baseball Championship (English website!) is starting, although I'm on the other side of the planet now so I'm not going to it. I have to admit that looking at the teams it seems a bit odd that all the USA players are sophomores, whereas the other teams have a mix of all 4 years, including that Cuba has a few graduated players as well -- not sure what the eligibility rules are exactly.
I have to wonder about the usage of KAIT and Utsumi-Shimaoka (Meiji University) for the event, because they're both pretty much in the middle of nowhere and have no seating, but I guess that's what was available. One of the Hosei boys wrote that the Canada and Cuba teams came to practice with the Japan team at the Hosei baseball field too.
Anyway, the big news to me was that two Big 6 kids were added to the roster for the event -- before it was just Yuki Saitoh, Tatsuya Ohishi, Yusuke Nomura, Fumiya Araki, Hiroshi Taki, Keisuke Okazaki, and Hayata Itoh. They are all awesome, to be sure. But then due to injury, Toyodai's Ryo Hayashizaki had to duck out of the tournament and was replaced by Rikkio's Koichiro Matsumoto... and Chuo's Hirokazu Sawamura had to duck out of the tournament and was replaced by none other than my favorite college pitcher Kisho Kagami!
My guess is that with Saitoh and Nomura in the mix as well as the fantastic Tomoyuki Sugano from Tokai and the solid lefty Takahiro Fujioka from Toyodai, there is very little chance of Kagami getting in as a starter, but I could see him getting a few innings of relief pitching before bridging to Ohishi as closer. I hope Kagami does well and doesn't get injured. The draft is only 3 months away...
So far, the USA one-hit Sri Lanka and won 15-0 in a 5-inning called game, with 14 strikeouts. Ouch. Canada beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 in a much closer contest. 50 people came to the USA game, and 300 to the Canada game. Go figure, they're during the day and the USA game was in the middle of nowhere.
5000 people showed up to see Japan beat Korea 4-0 at Jingu. As expected, Yuki Saitoh started, struck out 9 in 6 innings, Masahiro Inui followed him and struck out 5 in 2 innings, and Tatsuya Ohishi pitched a perfect 9th, striking out the side, also as expected. As I've been saying for ages, Ohishi is an awesome strikeout machine. The 4 Japan runs came in on two 2-run homers, one by captain Shota Ishimine and one by Hayata Itoh. Itoh is the best pure hitter in the Tokyo Big 6 league (my nickname for him, especially this spring, has been "Mr. Clutch") and Ishimine is a solid ballplayer, I saw him launch a good home run off Daisuke Takeuchi during the Keio-Tokai game in the All-Japan semifinals.
It'll be interesting to see where the series goes next. I predict Japan will annihilate China, but what happens in the Cuba game could be interesting.