High School Baseball in a Changing Era: A Look at the Rise and Fall of Home Runs

High school baseball has experienced its fair share of ups and downs in recent years. One notable highlight was the 2006 Koshien tournament, where a total of 60 home runs were hit, marking a historic first for the event. Another standout moment came in 2012, when Osaka Toin emerged victorious in both the spring and summer championships, with pitcher Shintaro Fujinami leading the team to victory. Not only did they claim the titles, but they also managed to hit more home runs than strikeouts in those games.

In the following years, the tournament saw a slight decline in home runs. In 2018, there were 51 home runs recorded in 55 games, followed by 48 home runs in 48 games in 2019. However, it’s important to note that the last two tournaments were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in fewer games being played. Despite these challenges, it is evident that pitchers are facing a tough time.

On a positive note, last summer saw a historic win for Sendai Ikuei, the first Tohoku team to clinch the championship. The team’s success can be attributed to their pitchers’ incredible strength, as all five of them were able to lift over 140kg. Interestingly, no pitcher managed to pitch a complete game, with the highest number of innings pitched standing at 14 and two-thirds. By allowing their powerful pitchers to compete without exhaustion, Sendai Ikuei effectively reduced the number of runs conceded and secured victory without relying heavily on batting power.

Looking ahead, as the effects of the pandemic diminish and practice and game restrictions are lifted, high school baseball faces a turning point. The introduction of low-resilience bats in spring 2024 is a significant development to watch out for. These bats have undergone modifications to reduce their repulsive force, including a 3mm decrease in the top diameter and a 1mm increase in the hitting surface. It is estimated that the batting speed with these new bats will be around 3.6% slower than with the current ones. While the true impact remains to be seen, this change could potentially level the playing field and alter the previous advantage enjoyed by batters.

Given these circumstances, all eyes will be on Sendai Ikuei’s performance this summer. Apart from the standout players from last year’s championship, such as Koki Hashi and Touma Yuda, left-hander Haruto Nita has recorded an impressive speed of 150km. Additionally, Yuto Tanaka and Yosei Muto, who possess formidable left arms of over 140 kilograms, are the envy of other pitchers in the league.

High school baseball is on the brink of transformation, and it will be fascinating to observe how these changes shape the future of the sport.

High and low pitch —- High school baseball in recent years has been in this state.

Looking at the number of home runs in Koshien in the summer, in 2006, when Minoru Waseda and Tomakomai Komadai played the second last game, the total number of home runs in the tournament reached 60 (49 games) for the first time. In 2012, Osaka Toin, with Shintaro Fujinami, won consecutive spring and summer titles with 56 (48 games) and more home runs than the number of games he struck out.

After that, he recorded 51 (55 games) in 2018 and 48 (48 games) in 2019. The last two tournaments have fallen due to the lack of real games due to the wreckage of the corona (21 years = 36 games, 2010 = 28 games, the two 48 games), but there is no doubt that it is a difficult time for the pitcher.

Last summer, Sendai Ikuei won the championship for the first time as a Tohoku team. See the photos linked to this article

[Piseri cryf iawn yn falch o Sendai Ikuei]

Sendai Ikuei, who won the first championship as a Tohoku group last summer, to break through this situation. All five pitchers had lifted over 140kg. No pitcher has pitched a complete game, and the pitcher with the most pitches has 14 2/3 innings. In summer high school baseball, which is forced to fight in the intense heat, he reduced the number of runs lost by allowing the powerful pitchers to pitch in a fresh state without being exhausted, and he won without relying on batting power .

The corona wreckage ends, and there are no restrictions on practice time or actual games. The focus is on a return to the high-throw-low era, but high school baseball will reach a turning point next year.

This is because low resilience bats will be introduced from spring 2024. In order to reduce the repulsive force, the top diameter of the cylindrical bat has been reduced by 3 mm, and the part that hits the ball has been increased by 1 mm. The batting speed is said to be around 3.6% lower than the speed of the current bat, and although it will not be known until use begins, there is a possibility that the situation where batsmen have an advantage so far will change.

In that sense, attention will be focused on Sendai Ikuei’s performance this summer. In addition to right-hander Koki Hashi and Touma Yuda, who were the main players last summer, left-hander Haruto Nita recorded 150km. Yuto Tanaka, who also has a left arm of over 140 kilograms, and Yosei Muto, are the envy of other pitchers.

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