Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tokyo Big 6 Photopost: Hosei vs. Meiji - Futagami's Last Stand (No, Really, I Mean It This Time)

The school I work at cancelled classes from Tuesday to Friday this week because half of our students have the flu, so they figure if nobody comes to school, the uninfected students won't get infected, and besides, we can't really do a lot when our classes are all half empty anyway.

In theory, teachers are still supposed to come there, but since I was feeling sick over the weekend and I'm ahead on planning all of my lessons anyway, they told me it'd be okay to stay home and rest and recover for a few days rather than come to school and do nothing for 9 hours a day.

So I decided my rest-and-recovery routine would be best kicked off with going to Jingu for a sunny afternoon of watching some Tokyo Big 6 baseball. What could possibly be more relaxing than that?

The Hosei-Meiji rubber match had been rained out on Monday, so it was postponed to Tuesday.

I decided to sit on the 3rd-base side just because I figured anyone I wanted to photograph was going to be a right-handed pitcher or a left-handed batter. What this meant, though, was that I was on the Meiji side rather than the Hosei side... sitting in the middle of a group of college baseball fan acquaintances who are mostly around twice my age. (The other regular in the group who's closer to my age showed up in the 7th inning or so and yelled his lungs out on Meiji cheers right in my ear, which was helpful.)

Meiji predictably started Yusuke Nomura, as they would have done whether the 3rd game was Monday or Tuesday. Hosei, on the other hand, started... Kazuhito Futagami? AGAIN? On two days' rest, two days before the draft? Something seemed odd here. Part of why Futagami has been so effective, in my opinion, is that he has only been pitching once per weekend for the last few semesters, and hasn't been subjected to the typical 300-pitches-per-weekend thing.

As for me, I just chalked it up to another case of Futagami following me or vice versa. And hey, at least this meant I was going to see his last ever college game for the second time!

So, Futagami. Wonder when the next time I'll see you on a mound will be. I don't think seniors will be in the U-26 vs NPB game, so...

Kazuhito Futagami (4th-year, Kochi)

And here's Yusuke Nomura. If nothing else, I know the next time I see him on a mound should be sometime around April 11th, assuming I'm still here. Wow, that's a long time, though.

Yusuke Nomura (2nd-year, Koryo)


Fumiya Araki, playing centerfield, led off with a walk, and was bunted up by captain Yuta Tohyama. Junpei Komichi ALSO walked, which was kind of crazy -- Futagami usually gives up two walks per complete game, not two walks in the FIRST INNING. But anyway, Takayuki Chida came up with two on and one out, and he... struck out. Oops. But Shogo Shashiki got the job done -- kind of. And worse, I didn't really see the play. He hit an infield single to short that led to some bizarre things like a collision by second base and a rundown between 2nd and 3rd, and in the end the result was that Araki scored and Komichi was tagged out by Chida on the basepath, which ended the inning at 1-0.

Fumiya Araki (3rd-year, Nichidai San) comes up bunting.

Shogo Shashiki (3rd-year, Osaka Toin) bats in the first run of the game.

Hosei quickly made it clear they weren't going to take that lying down. Shota Waizumi led off with a single to right, and Kaoru Kita bunted him up. Hiroshi Taki singled to center, moving Waizumi to third, so with runners at the corners, Masatoshi Matsumoto hit a big fly ball to center for a sac fly, the fleet-footed Waizumi having no trouble tagging up and running in, 1-1. Kento Kameda grounded out after that to end the inning.

Shota Waizumi (4th-year, Yokohama) leads off with a single.

Waizumi slides in as Meiji catcher Ryota Yasuda (4th-year, PL Gakuen) waits for the throw.

Meiji continued their attack in the top of the 2nd inning. Hayato Tada led off with an infield hit to second (it was a nice stop by Masatoshi but no time for a throw), and then Takashi Uemoto hit a double out to left, and Tada ran, and ran, and kept running all the way home, making it there at about the same time as the ball, but he was apparently safe. 2-1. Ryota Yasuda bunted Uemoto up to third, and then Uemoto ended up scoring on a wild pitch to Yusuke Nomura. 3-1.

Nomura, for his part, managed to hit a single to left! He advanced on a wild pitch to Tohyama and went to third when Tohyama hit another similar infield single, but that's all that happened as Komichi hit a fly ball out to end the inning.

Oddly, I just looked and Nomura finished the year with a .267 batting average, which is better than many Meiji batters, including even cleanup and 5-spot batters Chida and Shashiki.

Hayato Tada (4th-year, Nichidai San) slides into home plate as Hosei captain Shuhei Ishikawa (4th-year, Oyama Nishi) gets the ball as well. But Tada was called safe.

Takashi Uemoto (1st-year, Koryo) runs to third on the bunt.

Futagami attempts a pickoff at third.

Uemoto slides into home on the wild pitch under Futagami covering the plate.

Uemoto is called safe.

Anyway, stuff simmered down for a few innings until the bottom of the 5th, when Waizumi struck again, this time with two outs. He hit a ground ball down the right-field line that took a CRAZY bounce off first base and went right over Shashiki into right field for a single. Kaoru Kita followed that up with a scorching liner down the left-field line that went through a diving Chida for a double into the left-field corner, and Waizumi showed off his speed again by scoring from first, though it was a really close call at the plate. 3-2.

Waizumi slides in yet again.

And he's safe!

But Yasuda doesn't think so. And I don't blame him.

Anyway, neither team scored any more so the game ended at 3-2. Hosei made it DRAMATIC though by loading the bases in the bottom of the 9th, but Takayuki Morita ended the game by striking out Hiroshi Taki. There was actually a reasonable amount of craziness in the 9th inning overall, with hit batters, fielder's choices, stolen bases, close calls at the bags, and a bunch of smart fielding to get runners out at third base rather than first, which kept each team from scoring a point, I think.

Also, this means Futagami lost the game, as he gave up those 3 runs. Sucks to be him -- not nearly as high a point to go out on as it would have been had Sunday REALLY been his last game!

So, since I'm running low on time, Go Go Gadget Photopost!

Fumiya Araki at bat in the 7th.

Araki steals second.

Hosei's Tomoya Mikami, 2nd-year from Ken Gifu Sho. He's 190 cm tall, and a big stringbean. He pitched 2 outs of the 8th inning.

Suguru Fujita, Hosei 4th-year out of Marugamejo Nishi. I am fairly sure he was only in this game because he's a senior and it's his last appearance. He got one out, then gave up one hit, then left. I couldn't really get a good shot of him for some reason, plus he has a bizarre lefty sidearm delivery anyway.

Kazuki Nishijima, big (186/89) left-handed 3rd-year guy from Yokohama HS. He really stepped up for Meiji in a big way this semester once Nanba started struggling.

Takayuki Morita, 2nd-year, from Ogaki Nichidai HS. Pitched the bottom of the 9th, which means he's responsible for getting into that huge jam but also getting out of it (with a little help from Shogo Shashiki).

Hisashi Takeuchi, Hosei 4th-year, from Tokushima. Takeuchi is a big kid who can throw pretty fast, and he wants to be drafted, but who knows what'll happen. Unfortunately, he also hit Takashi Uemoto with a pitch, which looked pretty bad... but then got his act together and finished out the top of the 9th.

Here's Uemoto getting helped up by the plate umpire after taking a Takeuchi fastball. I'm not even sure where it hit him exactly, but he went down quick.

This is what happens when first baseman Masatoshi Matsumoto overcharges on a bunt. WHOOOSH! He ended up sprawled on the ground, though he didn't seem unhappy about it.

This was almost a double play, but not quite. Alas. (Chida throws to Tohyama.)

Nishijima in the dugout... not sure if he is encouraging people or directing them or just heckling, but it was funny.

Final score.

Both teams bow to their respective fans.

Ryota Yasuda waves to the Meiji cheering section, as this was his final game as a senior.

The game hero types gather with the press after the game.

Team captain Tohyama gives a post-game interview.

Tatsuya Yasui, the Meiji team manager, was crying. Basically, with Meiji winning this.. if Waseda loses Soukeisen, Meiji will get the championship. It's not likely, but possible, so he was pretty happy about that.

And here are just some more photos that don't really fit into the story, but I feel like posting anyway. Big 6 is pretty much my sports photography practice ground in some ways :)

Actually, they're all of Hosei players...

Kento Kameda (3rd-year, Chiben Wakayama)

Takashi Nakao (2nd-year, Hotoku Gakuen)

Shota Waizumi at 3rd, with Hiroshi Taki in the background behind him.

Hiroshi Taki (1st-year, Sakaide). I hoped to get a good photo of him to get signed one of these days, since I think he's going to be a superstar someday.

Anyway, the draft is upon us, so I'm going to end this and maybe add to it later, we'll see.

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