At this point I’m so used to seeing early adversity for Seidou that I wasn’t quite sure how to react to the first two innings of their matchup with Seikou. I mean, this kind of thing just doesn’t happen – a 5-0 lead in the second inning? And it could have been a whole lot worse, too. Even knowing that there’s no way Seidou can lose this game from a narrative standpoint, it’s still shocking to see them get off the blocks so well.
That applies specifically to Furuya too, of course. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him get out of the first inning without giving up a run – or at least a walk or two – but in a sense Seikou may just be the perfect opponent for him. Apart from their catcher and leadoff Masu-kun they’re a bunch of extreme free swingers – not remotely interested in drawing walks. And when you’re a pitcher who almost always struggles to find the strike zone, that’s a Godsend.
Indeed, the most interesting happenings are probably not on the field but up in the stands, where Ochiai is holding court with the trustees who hired him to replace Kataoka. You have to give the guy credit for this much – he doesn’t claim credit for the team’s success (which he could, given that he was the one who taught both first-year pitchers breaking balls), and actually admits that if it had been up to him he would have bagged the fall tournament in order to prep Furuya for the summer.
This is an interesting scene, as many of them with Ochiai have been lately – you can see how uncomfortable he is with the sycophantic school administrators. And something may have to give here, since Ochiai declares to them that if Kataoka wins the fall tourney he’ll withdraw as the coach – and Kataoka has already said he’s going to be leaving, win or lose. The narrative path of least resistance is for Seidou to lose to Yakushi in the final and Kataoka to step down, but my gut is telling me that isn’t how it’s going to play out.
The player on the Seikou side that’s getting the most attention is (yoku)Tsune (“He’s huge!!”). He’s portrayed as a bit of a simpleton but ironically, he’s the first character in the series smart enough to point out that it’s faster to run through first base than slide into it. I wasn’t feeling hum much, but I confess I thought it was kind of cute how he sang the “Anpanman” song (slide over and make room, OPM and Osomatsu-san) to buoy his flagging spirits on the mound. Seikiou is strictly chum here, I think, but it probably makes sense that they’ll at least make a game of it – which means Tsune settling in on the mound (the bases-loaded double-play against ‘Zono sure helps) and those sumo batters turning around a few Furuya heaters. The big question for me in terms of the game is whether or not we’ll see Kawakami called on to close it out.