NPB news: Aug. 23, 2023

Yoshinobu Yamamoto got back on the winning track and Gregory Polanco went wild on Wednesday.

The day also marked the culmination of the national summer high school baseball championship, with a manager who has written books on the subject of changing the high school baseball culture, winning the championship and earning himself a soapbox, while a reader commented on the development.

Wednesday’s games

Buffaloes 3, Lions 0: At Seibu Half Dome, Orix stranded 13 runners through the first seven innings, while Yoshinobu Yamamoto (12-5) allowed five hits and a walk over seven. Tatsuya Imai (7-4) was really good at pitching out of trouble, allowing one run despite five walks and seven hits over six innings with the only score coming on a bases-loaded walk.

Yuma Mune singled and scored in the second, Tomoya Mori doubled in the seventh and scored and delivered a sac fly after Keita Nakagawa’s ninth-inning triple.

The win keeps Yamamoto on track to win his third straight PL MVP award and third straight Sawamura Award as Japan’s most impressive starting pitcher.

Tigers 7, Dragons 2: At Osaka UFO Dome, Chunichi catcher Takuya Kinoshita, just recently returned from injury, singled and opened the scoring on an RBI single from pitcher Shinnosuke Ogasawara (6-9), and homered in the fourth to make it 2-0 off Kotaro Otake (9-1).

Hanshin’s Teruaki Sato homered in the fourth, and singled in rookie Shota Morishita with the tying run in Hanshin’s two-run fifth. Koji Chikamoto chased Ogasawara with a sixth-inning leadoff homer.

Giants 4, Swallows 3, 11 innings: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, minutes after Yakult threw away a two-on no-out 11th-inning opportunity, the Swallows gave the game away. Two infield singles and a two-out two-base throwing error handed the Giants a walk-off win.

Yasuhiro Ogawa worked six scoreless innings and two outs into the seventh before five straight batters reached and the Giants had tied it 3-3 on RBI singles by Takayuki Kajitani and Yuto Akihiro.

Jose Osuna had given Ogawa a 3-0 lead against Tomoyuki Sugano with a two-run homer, his 18th. The Swallows had two on with no outs in the 11th but failed to get a run against Alberto Baldonado.

Carp 5, Deniers 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Hiroshima’s Kaito Kozono and Ryoma Nishikawa each had three hits. Kozono doubled and scored on Nishikawa’s two-out first-inning single, and singled in another run in the second. DeNA tied it on Keita Sano’s two-run homer in the home half. Nishikawa singled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth, and singled in the first of two runs in Hiroshima’s seventh. Ryoji Kuribayashi needed only 10 pitches in the ninth to record his 12th save.

Fighters 10, Eagles 4: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayer’s Burden Field, the Nippon Ham Fighters, a seemingly chill bunch under manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo, may have had some pent up aggression, because it spilled out in nine early runs against Rakuten. Yuya Gunji singled in two runs in the six-run second and two more in the three-run third as the Fighters overturned the 3-0 first-inning lead Rakuten had taken against Cody Ponce (), who worked five innings and left with a 9-3 lead.

Hawks 9, Marines 5: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Gregory Polanco had a big night Tuesday and had a bigger one Wednesday with three solo homers, giving him 19 on the season. SoftBank, however, saved its aggression for late, breaking open a close 5-3 game with a four-run six-hit ninth. Akira Nakamura hit a three-run homer for the Hawks, and Kensuke Kondo extended his career best season home run total to 19.

High school revolution

When Keio won the 105th summer high school championship, it was a chance for manager Takahiko Moribayashi to preach.

Moribayashi is a staunch advocate of a more liberal high school baseball culture. A visible symbol of that is players wearing their hair normal length, instead of closely cropped in the fashion that has long been a high school ball hallmark.

“I have strived to overturn what was considered to be the norms, and was able to create a kind of baseball I wanted to have.” Moribayashi said. “Perhaps this was a victory that will lead to a new look for high school baseball.”

Teruyo has repeatedly mentioned how Keio’s brand is now about “thinking baseball,” and she has been trying to find a copy of Moribayashi’s last book.

Reader Steve Zurcher, who has had a front-row seat for his kids’ Japanese baseball experience had this to say:

“We are taking hope in the victory by Keio today at Koshien that the make baseball not fun strategy for the game will relax somewhat.  Was amazing to see the Keio kids with their normal haircuts and seemingly happy dispositions during the biggest game of their lives. Sendai also is a new style team with the kids helping to manage the team. “

He went on to say that his son, who played in a high school connected to Waseda University, and who now attends Waseda, was pulling for Keio in order to make a difference.

Thanks, Steve.

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