Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Koshein Tournament Grind

So there is a lot of stuff written about the abuse of HS pitchers in the US. However, it seems to pale in comparison to the year-end Koshien tournament which pits regional HS powers against one another (and here). Pitchers can start games as much as 6 times in 15 days. Take Kikuchi's workload. He made 4 starts over 10 days (8/12, 8/17, 8/20, 8/21, and skipping his 8/23 start due to an injured back with the possibility of a 6th start for the championship game)and pitched 3 complete games, with his fourth shortened by injury.In those three complete games his pitch counts were at 124, 118, 125.

Here is some rudimentary play by play for each game from http://goroshigeno.blogspot.com:

August 12 CG
August 17 CG (9ip/5h/1er/1bb/8so)
August 20 CG

So first three games: 27ip/22so, and about 360 pitches, was sitting 88.9-92.6 his first 2 starts (but 92-95 in his next two starts).

August 21 injury shortened (back)
Note the blogger's pregame commentary on Kikuchi:
Turn to Hanamaki Higashi, we have the start of the tournament - Kikuchi Yuusei. But the comments about him have been far from dominating. He almost lost his first round game against Nagasaki Nichidai - and perhaps should have if not for the questionable decision by the Nagasaki Nichidai kantoku. He then kept his team in the games against his kantoku's old team - Yokohama Hayato, before pulling ahead late. And in the bracket final, he finally started turning it on against Miyagi's Tohoku squad.
Still, people have commented that he's not the fireballer we'd thought we'd see. In fact his K rates are rather lower than expected (22 K in 27 IP). Plus, he didn't hit the 150's until his last game versus Tohoku.So what gives?Perhaps he knew from Senbatsu that he lost a lot of speed by the time he reached the final and is pacing himself through the first rounds...Perhaps in a way to prepare for the NPB or MLB, or wherever he goes, he's been learning to throw his secondary pitches (slider, curve) for strikes so that he's not regarded as just a fastball pitcher...But whatever the reason, this is where the road will get tougher, and I don't have any doubt that he'll start pitching 100% if he hasn't already.

August 23 skipped,injured (back)

Here are some vids, a few of them from the tournament:


Edit: the video of him hitting 154 and 152km/h (95.7, 94.5) in the 9th is from a game he closed (rather than starting) on 9/29 in another tournament, fyi.


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