Twenty two years ago the whole nation started the discussion about sportsmanship vs winning when Meitoku Gijuku of Kochi defeated Seiryo High School from Ishikawa. Coach Mabuchi of Meitoku, known as one of the most successful high school baseball coaches in the nation, did not let his pitcher pitch to the Seiryo’s clean up hitter, Hideki Matsui. Matsui went 0 for 0 with five walks during his last high school game. Coach Mabuchi’s comment after the game was ‘As a Kochi Prefecture’s representative, we could not afford to lose in the first round. There was a professional slugger in the high school game so we took a risk by giving him a base each of his at bat’. Mabuchi’s Meitoku ended up defeating the tournament favorite Seiryo 3-2 but his strategy led never ending controversies.
Meitoku Gijuku will play against Chiben Gakuen this summer. Chiben’s cleanup hitter Okamoto is ranked A+ by many professional teams. Okamoto has hit 72 homers in his high school career and is aiming for his 73rd at Koshien. Coach Mabuchi’s strategy against this slugger will be very interesting. Kishi, this year’s Meitoku’s ace pitcher, throws 146 km/h fastball, cut-ball, slider, forkball, and change up. It is his forth time appearance to Koshien and has already won five games. He is an experienced team leader and some professional teams are paying attention to his performance during this tournament.
Will Meitoku walk Okamoto although they have such a strong pitcher, or fans will be able to watch the fight between the first class pitcher against the first class slugger?