If a high school boy can do it…

On Aug. 20, 1998, Yokohama High School’s Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a 250-pitch, 17-inning complete game victory over powerhouse PL Gakuen High School in the quarterfinals of the national high school championships.

Ten days later, 24-year-old Chunichi Dragons left-hander Shigeki Noguchi gave his best shot at matching Matsuzaka, whose heroics at Koshien Stadium made him a household name in Japan.

Pitching against the defending CL champion Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome, Noguchi allowed 10 hits and issued six walks and ended up the losing pitcher in a 5-3, 12-inning complete-game defeat. Eric Anthony, who played in the majors with five different big league clubs, singled in the tie-breaking runs in the top of the 12th.

Asked the next day about his 203-pitch count, Noguchi said, “I was inspired by Daisuke Matsuzaka. If he can do it, so can I.”

Noguchi, in his fifth pro season, would go 2-3 the remainder of the year to finish with a 14-9 record and posted a Central League-leading 2.34 ERA. However, over 34 innings in his remaining five starts,
he allowed 18 runs, 12 earned. The Dragons finished runner-up in the CL pennant race, four games back of the Yokohama BayStars.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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