Japan Samurai U-18 National Team Prepares for WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup
August 26, 2023
On August 26th, the Japan Samurai U-18 National Team held a training camp in preparation for the upcoming “31st WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup,” scheduled to take place in Taiwan from August 31st to September 10th. In a practice match against Dai Komazawa, the team had the opportunity to play with a full roster of 20 players, including newly joined members Minato Maruta from Keio University and Ikuei Sendai.
In the morning session, interim coach Hirokazu Ibata, who is also the Samurai Japan U-12 National Team Manager, led practice drills at the request of Manager Mabuchi Shiro. The focus was on bunting, and the players enthusiastically participated in warm-ups and drills for about two hours. Coach Ibata highlighted the difference in bat materials, emphasizing the need to adjust when using a wooden bat, which is used in international tournaments, as it absorbs the ball’s momentum differently from the metal bats used in high school competitions.
The practice games commenced at 1:00 pm. The previous day’s match against Waseda University showcased the team’s dominance over younger players. However, the game against Komazawa University proved to be a tougher challenge, with the majority of their players belonging to the top tier of college baseball.
Despite the initial setback where Ao Higashionna (Okinawa Shogaku) allowed an opening goal with a sacrifice fly, the Samurai U-18 National Team fought hard to reduce the score difference. Itsuki Ogata (Sendai Ikuei) and Riku Takeda (Yamagata center) made significant contributions, bringing the team closer to victory with their performances.
Yuto Kimura (Kasumigaura), a top candidate in the upcoming draft, displayed his pitching prowess in the third and fourth innings. Utilizing a powerful straight ball and a two-seam curveball, Kimura prevented runs with three strikeouts and only one walk. Daito Morita (Riseisha) and Ogata further narrowed the score difference, giving the team a chance to triumph in the game.
Although the team failed to score in the later innings, they showcased their resilience against their more experienced opponents. The tie-break exercise provided an additional opportunity for the Samurai U-18 National Team to showcase their tenacity, with Kyosuke Niizuma (Hamamatsu Kaiseikan) and Takeda making crucial contributions.
After the game, Manager Mabuchi commended Dai Komazawa for their strong base running and expressed his gratitude for the learning experience. He also highlighted the team’s tactical approach, emphasizing the importance of attacking early in the game. While the batting lineup is still a work in progress, Mabuchi expressed confidence in Morita’s performance and acknowledged the challenges faced by the team.
Despite the sweltering heat, the Japan Samurai U-18 National Team continues to evolve and grow as a cohesive unit. They have further practice sessions scheduled for August 27th in Tokyo, followed by a send-off match against the Japanese Samurai National Collegiate Team at the Tokyo Dome on August 28th.
Comments from Team Members:
Minato Maruta (Keio): “(Since joining the team), I have received a warm welcome. I feel comfortable using a wooden bat, even in batting practice. It was satisfying to make a hit when the pressure was on during the game. I hope to continue performing well, just like the first batter who hit a home run without stepping in the Koshien final.”
Hiroto Morita (Riseisha): “Hitting with a wooden bat feels different compared to a metal bat; it has a biting sensation. I want to improve my balance and fill in any gaps in my technique.”
Yuuto Kimura (Lake Kasumigaura): “I was able to pitch confidently, relying on my own strength. I noticed that my opponents were predominantly hitting straight balls, so I utilized two-seam pitches. Catching whiffs and fouls on straight pitches boosted my confidence. I haven’t been in a competitive environment since losing in the finals of the prefectural tournament, so I’m looking forward to enjoying this upcoming opportunity.”
Hirokazu Ibata (U-12 National Team Coach): “We have players capable of executing various strategies, and our pitchers possess powerful throws. I have high expectations for the team. Players often follow the coach’s instructions, and if we continue to work together and maintain good communication, I believe we can achieve success.”
31st WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Schedule
- Friday, September 1, 19:30: Japan vs. Spain
- Saturday, September 2, 19:30: Japan vs. Panama
- Sunday, September 3, 19:30: USA vs. Japan
- Monday, September 4, 19:30: Venezuela vs. Japan
- Tuesday, September 5, 19:30: Japan vs. The Netherlands
Between September 7th and September 9th, 2023
Final Round / 3rd Place Match
September 10 (Sunday)
Participating Countries and Regions
- Group A: Mexico, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Australia, Puerto Rico, Czech Republic
- Group B: Japan, USA, Venezuela, Netherlands, Panama, Spain
(Note: The content has been edited and reformatted for a professional newspaper article, with appropriate headings, paragraphs, and grammar corrections.)
August 26, 2023
On August 26th, the training camp was held for the Japan Samurai U-18 National Team, which will participate in the “31st WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup” (August 31st to September 10th / Taiwan). On this day, a practice match was held with Dai Komazawa. Four players, Minato Maruta (Keio University) and Ikuei Sendai, joined the day before, and it was a valuable opportunity for a real game with 20 players for the first time.
In the morning, Samurai Japan U-12 National Team Manager Hirokazu Ibata, who has been serving as interim coach since that day, coached bunts at the request of Manager Mabuchi Shiro, and warmed up and practiced for about two hours .
Regarding the pound, Coach Ibata said, “The metal bat (used by high school students) bounces the ball, so it feels good to hit the ball, but the wooden bat ( used in international tournaments) absorbs the ball’s momentum to some. I told him I needed to feel like I was pushing the button and grabbing the ball with my right hand,” he recalled. The athletes listened intently as he enthusiastically conveyed tips and techniques with occasional smiles and gestures.
At 1:00 pm, practice games begin. Waseda University the day before was dominated by underclassmen, but Komazawa University consisted mostly of top players, so it was a development that was pushed from the first time.
Ao Higashionna (Okinawa Shogaku), who went up to the mound in the starting lineup, was hit in front and was in a pinch, allowing the opening goal with a sacrifice fly. After that, despite getting two outs, the runner on third returned one run due to an infield hit, and the runner on second also took home in the interim, losing by three runs. this time.
In the top of the 2nd inning, he lost 1 point with consecutive hits and a sacrifice fly, but a counterattack began behind him. Itsuki Ogata (Sendai Ikuei) chose a walk, and Riku Takeda (Yamagata center) scored the final run to extend the chances to 1st and 3rd base. Here, captain Junsho Kobayashi (Koryo) returned a run with an infield hit that sent a sudden blow to Sanyu.
In addition, in the 3rd and 4th innings, Yuto Kimura (Kasumigaura), who is one of the top candidates in the draft, pitches a powerful straight ball and a two-seam curveball, creating a rhythm that prevents the pitching with only one walk. and no hits and three strikeouts. . Then, in the bottom of the 4th inning, the 4th batter, Daito Morita (Riseisha), doubled and Ogata ran from the base, and Takeda hit second base to reduce the score difference to 2 points.
Although he failed to score in the fifth to seventh innings, Yuzuki Nakayama (Chiben Gakuen) had two hits and four hits in the second inning, and Riku Takeda (Yamagata Central) allowed no runs in the final seven innings, giving him make it 2-4 .The game ends. I struggled with game development not much different than the higher ranked university student.
Then, in the tie-break exercise held after that (resuming from first base and second without death), Takeda missed 3 points in the front defense, but behind him was Kyosuke Niizuma’s sacrifice fly (Hamamatsu Kaiseikan ) and Takeda’s. fighting hard, such as closing in on the difference by one point in a timely manner.
After the game, Manager Mabuchi thanked Dai Komazawa for his strong sense of base running, saying, “I learned a lot.” I had a feeling that I might somehow be able to reach the lower ranks,” he said.
In terms of tactics, considering the 7 inning system, he said, “When the opposing pitcher tries to take a strike, I want to attack even early innings.”
The batting line-up is said to still be in the process of searching for the best form, but for the 4th, it appears that Morita, who hit two long hits that day, will be set, saying, “Morita will be fine. It’s hard.”
The U-18 national team continues to evolve as a team despite the heat wave. On August 27th, they will practice in Tokyo, and on August 28th, they will face the send-off match against the Japanese Samurai National Collegiate Team (at Tokyo Dome from 18:00).
Comment from manager/player Minato Maruta (Keio)
“(I joined the other day) I got a warm welcome. From batting practice, I don’t feel bad even with a wooden bat. (First hit in the third at-bat of the day) I was cornering, so the I’m keeping my eyes on the line. In the Koshien final, the first batter hit a home run without stepping, and I want to continue like this after being cornered.”
Hiroto Morita (Riseisha)
“Unlike the feeling of hitting a metal bat, a wooden bat feels like it’s biting, so it feels good to hit it. So, I want to fill in the blanks when thinking about things like balance.”
Yuuto Kimura (Lake Kasumigaura)
“I could throw my own foot. I had a strong impression that my opponent was going straight, so I threw two seams. I could catch whiffs and fouls even on straights, which gave me confidence me. (After losing in the finals of the prefectural tournament) ) I’ve been making the same menu as before, so there’s no problem, but I’ve been away from the real competition, so I would like to enjoy that opportunity.”
Hirokazu Ibata, U-12 national team coach served as interim coach
“There are players who can execute various strategies, and the pitchers throw powerful balls, so I’m looking forward to it. In many cases, things go according to what the coach says. If we continue to do this, I think we can win. Also, I feel it would be good if we could have more conversations between the players so that we can maintain good coordination.”
Japan Samurai Under 18 Japan High School National Team vs Japan Collegiate National Team 31st WBSC U-18 World Baseball Cup send-off game
Summary of the tournament Participants
August 31 – September 10, 2023
Friday, September 1, 19:30 Japan – Spain
Saturday, September 2, 19:30 Japan – Panama
Sunday, September 3, 19:30 USA – Japan
Monday, September 4, 19:30 Venezuela – Japan
Tuesday, September 5, 19:30 Japan – The Netherlands
* Start time is Japan time (Taiwan: time difference -1 hour)
Between September 7th and September 9th, 2023
Final Round / 3rd Place Match
September 10 (Sunday)
Participating countries and regions
Mexico, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Australia, Puerto Rico, Czech Republic
Japan, USA, Venezuela, Netherlands, Panama, Spain
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