As the rain finally came to a drizzle, the two teams are ready to face off once again. Nishiura is now down by 3-2, but there is always a chance with Suyama coming on as the third batter in the eighth inning. It is coming close to the end of the match, and the knowledge that Kanou’s team has reached the next round definitely motivated Mihashi to do better. However, Tosei is clearly gaining some momentum, and it will not be easy to break this elite team apart.
Will Nishiura gain this one more point, or will the title refer to Tosei getting the point instead?
As the rain stopped, Kawai was wondering about Mihashi’s straight ball. It was strange that it felt like it traveled faster than the estimated 120km/h speed. Kawai tried to intimdate Suyama by getting Junta to throw a foul ball very close to his head. Suyama was thinking how unstable the ground was at the pitcher’s area, and even Mihashi threw a wild pitch. Nevertheless, he convinced himself as he tried to hit a good pitch by Junta. Miscommunication from the outfield players meant that Suyama got to first base. It was Tajima’s turn.
Momoe was thinking that they could not steal a base, not with Tajima observing Junta’s body movements. Kawai realized that Tajima had a relaxed posture, and looked like he would hit any pitch. He wondered if it was because Tajima was incompetent, but his body movements stated otherwise. The first shuuto pitch was nearly hit for a line shot, as Junta explained his shuuto had a bit of swerve to make it hard for the batter to hit it. The next pitch was a ball to unnerve Tajima, while the third pitch was hit back for a foul ball. Junta tried fastballs but Tajima continued to hit foul shots, extending Junta’s throwing count.
Both teams started to rope in their support for the batter (Tajima) and the pitcher (Junta) and Kawai was glad that Junta was relaxed at the start of the game. That meant that he still had enough energy to continue pitching. The slugging fest continued as Tajima continued to hit foul balls. Kawai decided to hit a sinker to disrupt the pattern. Junta pitched the sinker, and it was a ball. Tajima was unable to see the exact swirl of the ball, but he knew when to time his swing. Kawai realized his attempt to break Tajima’s concentration failed. Junta threw to catch Suyama but failed.
Kawai realized that it was impossible to beat Tajima with a fastball, as he decided to ask Junta to pitch a slider right at the middle. Junta was shocked but trusted Kawai as he struck out Tajima and let out a huge shout of celebration. Tajima was crestfallen, shocked at how he was not good enough for high school batting. He returned to the bench, with Momoe noting that he was completely down. However, he quickly apologized, and got ready to go out to assist at the first base. Momoe realized that the fourth batter got to pick his spirits up because others will be affected if he was down.
Junta made two balls, as he was a bit too relaxed after the tension with Tajima. However, Tajima’s nice coaching meant that they were able to steal base from first to second. Tosei’s team wondered why Nishiura did not steal base previously in the inning. Tosei’s coach thought they could do it when Tajima was batting. As Suyama stole third base, Tosei’s coach realized that it was Tajima who knew the instructions. Hanai was then allowed a base as there were four foul balls. Oki was next, as Tajima gave Hanai instructions to steal base. Now, Nishiura had second and third base. Oki was allowed a walk to let Mizutani play with all bases filled.
Momoe realized it was too stressful for Mizutani to play a squeeze play, and asked him to bat. Mihashi also gave him moral support, but Mizutani remembered the Renren nickname, and started to giggle. Mizutani realized that Mihashi worked hard to be where he was, and worried if he could hit the ball if even Tajima could not. The first ball was out of the zone, but Mizutani was unable to stop his swing. Suyama was wondering what Mizutani was excited about, as he reminded Mizutani with a shout of “third base”. Mizutani returned to his senses and Kawai decided to give Mizutani a slider, and make a double out.
Mizutani hit a ground ball around second base, and it passed through as Suyama ran in for a point but Hanai was not in time. Mihashi was next and he was struck out easily. As they returned to the bench, Tajima told Mihashi not to mind, and had to tell himself not to mind too. Tajima was sad that he proclaimed to get the points back, but was struck out so easily. Mihashi added that they would stop Tosei from scoring any points in a stumbling mumbling way. Hanai told Tajima that he had no time to be depressed, and the ninth inning would need Tajima again. Tajima regained his energy, as they got ready to defend against Tosei.
This is a very interesting scenario. Considering how Tosei has such a huge momentum, the way that Nishiura returned back with such a huge confidence and not letting their heads go down is a great achievement. I mean, I have my share of playing sports, and the pain where the opponent got up with you after you are leading is a tremendous stress for any player. Nishiura really proved themselves as a mentally strong team, and every member is willing to support anyone who falters.
I really like the ending when Tajima realized that even he has limitations. I fully expect and thought that Tajima will be the player that will regain the point for Nishiura. It is good to see that the anime knows how to play with your logical influence, and used Mizutani, the least likely to be a hero to be the one winning the point for Nishiura.
Tajima must be perplexed and lost much of his confidence. I mean, he is batted out so many times by the pitcher, and other Nishiura batters that should not be of his ability are hitting pitches very well. It must be a huge pain to his ego, as well as the sudden realization that he is on a different ball game. I still think that Tajima is the best batter for Nishiura, just that he lacks a bit of luck and that he has been a bit over confident during the past few innings. With his confidence rather in check, I am sure that if he still has any chance to get onto the batter’s field, he will hit a sinker. For sure.
I am also rather impressed nevertheless by Tajima’s coaching for the steal base. Stealing a base from a top team like Tosei is hard enough, much less stealing a bloody base at third. I mean, I cannot imagine how difficult and daring it is to actually try to steal something like the third base. It’s just pure genius stuff, if you ask me. Tajima’s strength of observation will probably be the clincher for Nishiura, if they are to win this Tosei squad.
Next week’s preview title is “Defend”. Let’s hope Nishiura nicks this but with this anime being totally unpredictable, you never know when the direction will be.