Furuya and Ogawa have settled in and now it’s up to the offense to make any momentum.
What They Say:
“The Resolve for Responsibility”
Seiko is behind by five runs at the top of the fourth. Their cleanup, Nagata, is up at bat and pressures Furuya with his powerful swing. Miyuki calls for a quick time out to regain Furuya’s focus. However, as he goes to catch the throw for a double play, a stabbing pain runs through his ankle.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a man on in the top of the fourth, Seiko is still swinging hard trying to get a run in. Furuya forces the batter into a double play and that’s the end of the inning. Furuya’s keeping the ball low in the zone, but there’s clearly something wrong with his foot. If it keeps going, Furuya could hurt himself seriously and put Seidou in a bad position further in the tournament.
With Seidou back up, it’s two men out in quick order. He has a screwball that, up to this point, was particularly effective against right-handed batters. Kuramochi steps up to the mound in a left-handed stance, but still got out from the screwball. Seiko and Seidou both have a lot of defensive momentum from their pitching, but it could turn very quickly. Miyuki, Kataoka, or even Sawamura has to notice the injury before something happens.
I don’t know if it was just a good swing off a good pitch or a bad pitch as a result of the injury, but Seiko’s Ogawa gets a home run in the top of the fifth. Shirasu ends the inning after a deep fly ball, but Furuya’s affected physically. But Miyuki knows exactly what to say to get him pumped mentally. He says he has the potential to be a true ace, which is true, but not quite yet. He has a little while to go before he can be a true ace, but he definitely is damn close. His fastball is probably the best in high school right now as long as he can place it and the addition of a slider has made him much more three dimensional than before.
Haruichi starts the bottom of the fifth with a single to the outfield. Kataoka said he starts most of his at bats with inside pitches and it held true. With Miyuki up to bat, it could be Seidou’s best chance to pad their lead. He walks Miyuki to a lot of balls well to the inside and it’s two on with Maezono up to bat and no outs. Maezono tries to bunt to move the runners forward, but the pitcher is surprisingly spry and Haruichi gets out at third. It’s still runners on first and second. Furuya hits a hard ground ball to the short stop that, had it gone through, would have certainly put Seiko in a bad position.
There’s eight important words Furuya says as he gets checked out for injury: “I can’t walk off the mound right now.” That’s absolutely not true and speaks to Furuya a lot more than anything else he’s said in the past—mostly because it’s probably the most lines he’s had all series. Furuya, at this moment, is definitely the best pitcher they have. Kawakami is an excellent middle reliever and Sawamura is not quite there in terms of consistency compared to Furuya. He has confidence in his skills more than anyone else, and he should if he’s truly not hurt that badly. But he’s cocky as hell. He’s shown this a lot of times with his “aura,” but it’s never really been said in a non-comedic moment. And if it has, it’s been in much less tense situations. Furuya is only thinking back to the Inashiro game that they lost when they had a lead. Furuya is right, no lead is safe. But he also has to recognize that he is not the team. If we’re talking pure skill, I’d pick Furuya every time. If we’re talking the long term ace of this team, I’d pick Sawamura every time. He has the energy to really insert into this team and give them momentum when they have none to speak of. Furuya speaks strongly with his actions, but even Yuki knew when to say something to the team.
Kataoka will have a very tough decision to make come next spring if he chooses to stay around: Furuya or Sawamura. A first year likely isn’t going to come in and dazzle them more than their current best pitchers have and, if Kawakami hasn’t done it by now, he won’t become the ace either. It’ll depend a lot on the tournament right now and how they grow in the offseason, but I’d push hard for Sawamura. Both have a good foundation and both need to develop more breaking balls. But the series gives no indication that one is heads above the other.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Equipment: PS3, LG 47LB5800 47” 1080p LED TV, LG NB3530A Sound Bar