It's been so long since I got to do a good Tatsuya Ohishi fangirling post! Hooray!
Last Wednesday, I had planned to go to Seibu for both the minor-league Lions-Fighters game during the day, and the major-league Lions-Fighters game at night. Mostly, this was because I had a hunch that Ohishi would start for Seibu in the ni-gun game, and also, it'd be a nice way to spend a day out in Seibuland. The weather had other plans, though, and a typhoon completely cancelled every game in the area that day. The top team game still hasn't been rescheduled, but the ni-gun game got rescheduled for the 28th.
I decided to go for the rescheduled game anyway, because it'd be the last Seibu minor-league game of the year, and I still hadn't been out to a game at Seibu #2 stadium. Plus, I was at Kamagaya on Monday and it rained the whole time, so it'd be nice to see the Fighters without the rain.
I got to the stadium around 12:40pm. Seibu #2 is very close to the Seibu Dump; from the train station, instead of just turning left and seeing the dome, you go straight, up a hill and across a parking lot, up some more stairs, and there's the field. It's really barebones, but suffices for a minor-league park I guess. They have a clubhouse building behind it and then the player dormitory and indoor practice building by the outfield. Seating for fans is pretty much a row of benches along the 1st-base side in the outfield, a row of benches behind the 3rd base (home) dugout, and a lot of ground to sit on. I happened to be lucky and ask if a spot of concrete right by the dugout was taken, and it wasn't, so I sat behind a fence about 4 feet from the dugout for the whole game. It was an excellent spot to take photos as well as an excellent spot to listen in on players' conversations, AND as it turned out to talk to players, and as well, it meant the starting pitcher was throwing right in front of me between innings.
And guess who the starting pitcher for the Lions was? None other than Tatsuya Ohishi!!!!!
(If you are not a longtime reader of this blog you may not know that I had this ridiculous crush on him for his 4 years at Waseda despite that I hate Waseda. He was just lights-out as a closer, and his interviews and such were also interesting, and crazy stuff kept surrounding him, like when he was a shortstop at Soukeisen.)
Of course, this meant that I was sitting right by the Lions dugout. Cheering for a Lions starter. Against the Fighters, who have been my team for the last 8+ years.
Whatever, these things happen. I only ran into a few Fighters friends of mine, after the game, and they saw my Tokyo Big 6 shirt and were like "Ahhh, of course, you were here to see Ohishi... he was good, wasn't he?"
Anyway, it was a kind of crazy game. Ohishi started for Seibu, and the Fighters starter was Kenji Tsuchiya, a lefty from Yokohama HS who's been with the team a few years.
Nishikawa, dh Ishikawa, cf
Murata, cf Hayashizaki, ss
Sekiguchi, rf Hirao, dh
Watanabe, c T. Gotoh, 1b
Ichikawa, 3b T. Satoh, lf
Taniguchi, lf Onizaki, 3b
Arahari, 2b Misawa, 2b
Asanuma, 1b Takeno, c
Nakashima, ss Hoshi, rf
Tsuchiya, p Ohishi, p
(It's kinda crazy how the Fighters really don't have a minor-league 2B right now since Kensuke is injured and Imanami and Sugiya are up with the top team, so they've been putting all their extraneous catchers in there, like Masaya Ozaki, Ryota Imanari, and now Yuji Arahari as well.)
The Fighters got in on Ohishi first, in the 2nd inning. Ryuichi Watanabe led off with a single, Suguru Ichikawa followed that with another single, and then Yuta Taniguchi hit a double to left that scored the other two, 2-0. The Fighters put two more on that inning but left them there. They added a run in the 5th inning when Kazuya Murata led off with a triple, and then Yuta Sekiguchi brought him in on a squeeze bunt play to make it 3-0.
Tsuchiya sailed through the first 6 innings for the most part; the most he allowed was 2 runners in the 1st, and in reality it shouldn't have even been that if Arahari hadn't dropped a throw in from the outfield on a catch.
But then in the bottom of the 7th he got into a bit of a jam as he walked a pinch-hitting Kosuke Noda. It was Noda's retirement game, and so his whole family was out there cheering for him as well as a bunch of other people, so his at-bat took something like 10 pitches to get through. It probably seemed harmless enough, but then with 2 outs Mitsugu Ishikawa singled to center, moving Noda to 2nd, and then Ryo Hayashizaki doubled to left and that scored the other two, making it 3-2. Tsuchiya came out of the game and Yodai Enoshita came in to strike out the next batter (who happened to be Ryan Mulhern. More on that in a second).
Enoshita, who is generally awesome, was not awesome enough to keep Shogo Saitoh from hitting a triple in the bottom of the 8th, and then Masanori Hayashi allowed him to score on an infield single that Takuya Nakashima was amazing to get to but couldn't throw in time. 3-3.
So, it was tied in the 8th and stayed that way for the rest of the game. Amazingly, Ohishi pitched the first 9 innings. I don't think I ever saw him throw a complete game EVER in college -- he was generally a reliever and pretty good at that. But here he was, going the distance, 130 pitches for 9 innings on the Fighters, 3 runs, 6 hits, 6 strikeouts. Hironori Matsunaga took the 10th inning and former Keio guy Shuichiro Osada took the 11th.
On the Fighters side of things, after Hayashi was Kikuchi, and after Kikuchi was Masahiro Inui! Inui was lucky enough to end the game on a lineout by Ishikawa -- I was kind of wondering what'd happen if he faced Hayashizaki next. The two were teammates pretty much not only through college at Toyo University, but they were ALSO teammates on the Toyodai Himeji HS team that went to Koshien in the summer of 2006! I'm not sure if they've faced each other this summer, but it must lead to some funny conversations afterwards.
But yeah, it was a 3-3 tie game. Probably for the best for me, really -- I didn't have to see my Fighters lose and I didn't have to see my Ohishi lose.
Also, since I was sitting by the Lions dugout, somewhere around the 9th or 10th inning Ryan Mulhern, who'd looked over a few times at me before, came over like "hey, so are you American? can you speak English?" and we got to talking for a while. That was pretty interesting. He said something about working on his swing and trying to figure out what was weird about his hands; I noted that he has his index finger sticking out weird but I couldn't tell anything else. But I said I'd show him the photos I took of his AB if he wanted.
Well, after the game I stuck around for a while because I really wanted to meet Ohishi. Instead, I ended up meeting a bunch of Fighters players, and I got my photo with Enoshita and Nishikawa (!!), and eventually when it started getting dark, I was thinking to leave, and Mulhern came out again, signed stuff for a bunch of fans, and he ended up getting Ohishi to sign a shikishi for me, like "Your boy's doing his laundry, so he's not coming out." I'm happy about it, but I hope I'm not getting a reputation as a whiny gaijin (like the entire Kagami incident). Plus this means I still need to stalk Ohishi next year -- I want to meet him someday! But Waseda players never EVER interacted with fans outside Jingu during the Yuki Saitoh regime.
Anyway, I rode the Seibu train with Mulhern part of the way home. That was interesting and awesome -- but I felt kind of stupid because I really wasn't up on my Lions stuff and barely knew what he was up to in the organization at all, whereas a year or two ago I would have totally been like "Dude, can I interview you for my blog?" Overall it sounds like he's enjoying his time here and he has a really good attitude about the country, wanting to get out and see things, and interact with fans, and just do his best to help the team and all that stuff. (Plus it certainly sounds like Japan is a great step up from Mexico, to be sure.) Hopefully the team will pick up his option next year!
Alright, enough babbling out of me. Photos!
First, the man, the myth, the legend, the Tatsuya Ohishi. Fear him.
Pre-game bullpen. Bit of a true "on the farm" feeling going on here with that warehouse-looking dormitory in the background.
On the mound.
Warming up between innings. Oh, that smile :)
Some other Lions players...
Showin' some love for Yuji Onizaki, who just got traded to the Lions mid-season from the Swallows.
Hidekazu Hoshi. He was sitting like 5 feet from me for most of the game, when he wasn't in the field.
Ryan Mulhern during his at-bat in the 6th inning. I can't really tell what's up with his hands...
Kosuke Noda's last at-bat in a Lions uniform, and his cheering section.
Yoshihito "Pride of Saitama" Ishii. No, just kidding, but I do cheer for Urawa Gakuin guys in general...
Shuichiro "Pride of Keio" Osada. Probably a misnomer, I think more people can remember Tomoaki Satoh :)
And Fighters players!
Fighters starter Kenji Tsuchiya.
Yodai Enoshita. (Yes, he really looks that scary mid-throw, but other than that he's adorable)
Super high-tech bullpens at this stadium...
Ryuichi Watanabe hitting a single.
And as a catcher.
Suguru Ichikawa hitting a single, striking out, and in the field playing 3rd base.
Taniguchi at 3rd, waiting to run home... where he was left both in the 2nd and 4th inning. Aww.
Kazuya Murata almost getting an inside-the-park homer but stopping at 3rd.
Misc stuff, Stadium, players, etc.
Final score, tied 3-3 in 11.
View along the pathway by the right field fence.
My view during the game (I was on a concrete bunker about 2 feet back from this fence, but I was also about 4-5 feet away from the dugout). You can see the Dome in the background.
And another shot of the dome in the background from the #2 stadium outfield.
GG Satoh signing for people. I got him to sign a shikishi too :) He wouldn't take photos with anyone, just signed stuff... most people were okay with that but one lady was really really insistent, eventually she got her friend to take a photo of her in front of GG while GG was signing for other people. Kinda funny.
I didn't ask Yodai Enoshita to sign anything, I just wanted a photo together. This is mostly to make Dani jealous if she's reading this. :)
Haruki Nishikawa!!!! I saw him play at Koshien and thought he was really awesome, and I'm happy I finally got to get a photo with him! He's super-popular, you can tell by the amount of random gift bags he's holding, stuff that his fans gave him.
With Ryan Mulhern on the Seibu train. He had just been talking about how he likes signing for fans and getting photos with them all, so I asked if I could also get a photo, even though it was not a baseball setting.
What a crazy day, really. And this was coming off of me thinking that I really ought to just stop talking to baseball players altogether after a few awkward moments at college games earlier in the week. Go figure.
(Yeah, I really don't have time to write up all the games I go to, because I'm too busy going to games every day. It's a catch-22, I suppose... BTW, if anyone's in either Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, or Hiroshima, and reading this blog, I'm hoping to head to games in your cities over the next few weeks. I'll be in Japan through the end of October. Hooray! Well, and of course I'll be at a ton of games in the Tokyo area too.)