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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Japanese High-School Baseball Game Goes 50 Innings

Yup… 50 innings.

For those unaware, a standard baseball game goes nine innings, so this one a baseball game between two Japanese high schools was 5.6 times as long as the standard baseball game.

The game started on August 28, 2014, and finished on August 31, 2014.

The final score was 3-0 for Chukyo High School over Sotoku High School, with NO score over the first 49 innings - so if you like pitching duels and defense, this must have been the gold standard.

Chukyo High School is from Gifu-ken (Gifu Prefecture), while Sotoku High School hales from Hiroshima-ken (Hiroshima Prefecture). The tournament was held in Akashi, Hyogo-ken.

After the scoreless draw through nine innings, the two teams played six more, for a total of 15 innings on that first day.

After that, it was broken up into 15-inning days, so that the game finally ended on the fourth day!

Apparently, if the game had gone 54 innings, the tournament organizers would have decided the game with a draw - IE, picking one out of a hat, for example.  WHY? Because there are apparently
tournament rules for just this sort of game!

There are rules for going 54 innings?

Obviously, (I think), this was the first time the rule had been evoked, as the previous longest game was 25 innings long. 

Want to know what was really nuts?

The two starting pitchers each pitched the whole game!

Whining about your pitcher only going seven innings for the win? Try going 50 innings for the loss!
The starting pitcher for winning Chukyo is Matsui Taiga (surname first), who threw a total of 709 pitches, allowing a mere 26 hits.

Losing pitcher Isioka Jukiya (surname first) tossed only 689 pitches and allowed 22 hits.

So… either a great display of defense, or a lousy display of offense. But who cares! It's a stunning display of gamesmanship by the two teams, and, I am sure a stunning display of lack of concern for the pitchers.

There's a reason why pitchers have a limit of 100-130 pitches in a game nowadays - as well as four days off between starts - it's to protect their arms for the future.

While these kids might not show it right now, they might have arm problems soon enough.

The game, however, was played with a rubber baseball, which is supposed to cause less stress to the young arms.

So, it's easier to throw, but if evidence is correct, more difficult to hit - at least for these two teams.    

The worst part of this baseball game (for me), however, was the fact that it was only the SEMI-Final game of the 59th National High School Rubber Baseball Tournament.

Chukyo High School still had one more game to play, and in the same afternoon of Day 4, Chokyo played in the Finals - beating Miura Gakuen High School from Kanagawa-ken (Kanagawa Prefecture) by a score of 2-0 at Akashi Tocalo Baseball Stadium.

So the marathon team managed to have enough gas left over for one more win! That is stunning, but perhaps the other team got bored waiting four days to play. Not. 

All I can say is - they have a rule for games going longer than 54 innings????!!!!

Andrew Joseph
PS: Photo from The Asahi Shimbun newspaper

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