What They Say:
Eijun Sawamura finally makes his first appearance at the spring invitational! He wants to restore Seido’s reputation as a first-rate team and make them national champions! Seido High School Baseball Club’s new run is about to begin!
Episode 47 – “Under the Feet”
The summer tournament is finally under way. Seido’s first opponent, Yura Sogo led by Coach Sasaki, is preparing themselves thoroughly for the game. Narumiya starts the first game for Seido’s rival, Inashiro. Even though their opponent is no match for them, Inashiro never wants to show any sign of weakness in a baseball game. In stadiums around the country, powerful schools begin their battles. And now it is time for Sawamura to take the mound for the first time as ace…
Episode 48 – “Get Back”
Sawamura takes the mound with the ace number for Seido’s first game of the summer tournament. But the first batter gets on base which messes up his rhythm, and he gives up one run in the first inning. With another runner in scoring position, Coach Sasaki has the Yura Sogo batters aim for Sawamura’s inside fastballs. Sawamura’s been caught in Sasaki’s cunning trap. Can they get back in the game?
Episode 49 – “Seido Goes All Out”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There’s not much in these episodes besides game content, which I thought would be a good idea—and still might be!—but it does also mean that this is going to be a review full of bullet points, as per my usual format starting with Act II on games.
Though with the tournament coming into full gear, I doubt there’ll be many episodes where it’s NOT games, so maybe this will just be the norm going forward. In any case, Seido’s first match of the summer tournament is the third round overall. They received a few byes, I assume as a result of their spring Koushien appearance, though I don’t know the intricacies of seeding in Japanese high school baseball.
Seido v. Yura Sogo:
- This is not just the first game of Seido’s summer tournament, but by all indications the first matchup between Kataoka and his former coach and mentor, Sakaki. Kataoka played for, and coached under, Sakaki during his time at Seido.
- And for such a big match—it’s also Sawamura’s first start with the ace number—Ace of the Diamond frustratingly ends the deep dives into each inning by the 4th. The 5th inning is completely skipped, then stuff after the 7th is largely ignored, replaced instead with their typical montages or explaining monologues.
- On the upside, there is a lot from innings one through four, so here it goes for real.
- The starting lineup is largely as my previous review detailed, except Yuki replaces Aso in left field. I find this rather interesting, and more an indication of Kataoka’s preference for a little more offense with Sawamura on the mound (who is not good at batting) as opposed to Furuya (who is good at batting). As was shown previously, Aso is by far the better defender and Yuki is perhaps fated for the same position as his brother.
- As previously mentioned, Sawamura starts the game for Seido, and Miyuki calls for a first pitch outside fastball to get the ball rolling, so to speak. The batter shows bunt, and hits it over to the third base side, but Sawamura is able to get there before Kanemaru, and sails the throw to first way over Maezono’s head. An auspicious start.
- It doesn’t get better after this for Sawamura, who allows a walk then RBI single to the next two batters, and the score is quickly 0-1 in favor of Yura Sogo.
- It’s at this point that Furuya comes out from the dugout with a message from the coach. Miyuki already used one of their three timeouts (which is apparently a thing in Japanese high school baseball? MLB gets five mound visits per game, lowered from six which was earlier lowered from infinity, so three seems low. But maybe it’s never an issue.), so this is two of three without even an out gained.
- Furuya goads Sawamura into anger by saying he can take the ball at any time. What’s really wrong with Sawamura here is that he’s too tense, with both this being the first game of the tournament and this being the first start with the ace number. He’s not pitching like he has been or should.
- Sawamura induces a groundout, but it’s a little too slow to hit the runner going home, so it ends up being an RBI fielder’s choice. Kominato made a nice play behind Maezono whiffing on the grounder, and managed to flip the ball to Kuramochi for the first out of the inning. A very important out, even if it resulted in another run in. The score stands at 0-2 in favor of Yura Sogo.
- Sawamura gets out of the inning after this with relative ease, allowing a sacrifice bunt to move the runners forward, but making an expected throw to first this time to get the out. That’s followed by a groundout off a changeup, which ends the inning and the threat.
- For how much traffic was on the bases, and how bad Sawamura looked over all, the inning could have been far worse. Slick plays by Kominato and Kuramochi, and good game calling by Miyuki stymied worse damage done.
- In the bottom of the frame, Kuramochi leads off with a triple, and Kominato quickly follows with an RBI double, taking back one run from the two they lost. 1-2 Yura Sogo is the score.
- Shirasu I think just got out and moved Kominato to third in the process, but they didn’t show it at all, just skipping straight to what seemed like pitching around Miyuki to a walk.
- Maezono lined out to the second baseman, and Tojo flied out to the left fielder, leaving Seido in a one run deficit.
- Sawamura gets through the top of the second without much issue. The only play they showed was a groundout to Kanemaru, ending the scoreless frame.
- Sawamura batted in the bottom of the frame, and subsequently dove head first into first, causing mini-panics from everyone on Seido’s side. This is trademark Sawamura, who’s playing harder than he’s thinking. It’s a hustle play, and maybe spurred the rest of the team to play a little harder (something that Sawamura is very good at doing with both his actions and his words), but he also has to understand that he’s the ace of this team now, and those kinds of reckless plays just aren’t worth it for him anymore.
- The top of the third is also scoreless, for Sawamura. Maybe he’s settling in after all.
- Higashiyama, Yura Sogo’s ace, begins the inning for them, and is creating the same kind of relay Seido could have at their peak. He starts with two sliders for strikes to Kuramochi, and follows with inducing weak groundouts from both Kuramochi and Kominato. The only good hit ball of the inning is from Shirasu, who flied out.
- The top of the fourth starts with Miyuki saying he wants to attack them without changeups, and to pitch to contact with their improved cutter and two-seam fastballs.
- It doesn’t end up working out, since Sawamura’s four-seam fastball is so weak this game. He starts off with another walk, and is immediately pulled for Kawakami.
This is a good time to break briefly and talk about Sawamura the dude. He’s just been given the ace number, he feels this huge weight upon his shoulders, and he can’t really pitch to the best of his abilities due to a combination of stiffness, nervousness, and maybe something else. But, after being taken out of the game, he wants to see this inning to completion. It isn’t some stats thing like not wanting to see that walk on his scoresheet turn into a run, but he genuinely cares about the team. He knows he’s lowered morale because of his play. He understands that, as the ace, he holds something more than just the number on his back and the ball in his hands. His pitching can sway the feel of a game, if not its entire outcome. The way he pitched, they might never have come back if he didn’t get taken out or if Miyuki wasn’t as good of a game caller as he is. But he does know, either consciously or subconsciously, that anything he says can affect how the team performs ahead of this. He needs to cool down, and Yui is willing to help with that, but he says only after he watches this inning. He wants to know that this team can get out of it. And he wants to cheer them on doing so. His first sentence out is that they can perform at a much higher level than they have been with now competent pitching on the mound with Kawakami. And everyone responds to that.
- Kawakami gets out of the inning easily, inducing a popout to Kominato, then striking out the final batter to end the inning. I don’t know where the other out came from.
- In the bottom of the 4th, Miyuki leads things off with a home run, showing that it’s not all up to the pitchers.
- Maezono follows with a double, and Tojo follows with another, and Seido finally has their first lead of the game with the score at 3-2.
- Yuki breaks up the momentum with a strikeout that swung his helmet around a bit on his head. Very Todd Frazier-like.
- Kanemaru followed him with a single, sending Tojo to third, and Kawakami hits an RBI single. 4-2 Seido.
- In the top of the 5th, it’s suddenly 5-2 and it’s a quick montage of Kawakami still being his reliable self, and getting the outs Seido needs.
- In the bottom of the 6th, Osu has entered for Yura Sogo, but he doesn’t do that well. Kuramochi is on at the beginning of this montage, Kominato gets an RBI hit, Miyuki gets an RBI fly out, and the score is 8-2 with one run unaccounted for, unless Kominato had two RBIs that hit.
- In the bottom of the 7th, the game is called after Yuki hits a two-run home run. Seido wins with a score of 10-2.
We’re back to game action, and this is about as good of game content as can be this early in the tournament. Despite the early deficit, Seido was able to set up in the end and sequence their hits in the right way to get enough runs to ground Yura Sogo into the ground. The performance by Sawamura is concerning, but he’s shown an ability to get over adversity before, starting with the yips. Plus, Seido will always have Furuya’s talented arm if Sawamura falters. Let’s hope not.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Equipment: LG 47LB5800 47” 1080p LED TV, LG NB3530A Sound Bar