Japanese high school pitcher throws 709-pitch, 50 inning shutout to win tournament semi-final
By RYAN GORMAN
A high school pitcher in Japan lasted dozens of innings and threw several hundreds, yes hundreds, of pitches this weekend.
Taiga Matsui, of Chukyo High School, threw 709 pitches over 50 innings in the semifinal match of the National High School Baseball Tournament which lasted a whopping fours days that created a national sensation in Japan. And yes, he got the win.
Opponent Jukiya Ishioka, from Sotoku High School, also lasted all 50 innings. He threw 689 pitches but was given the loss after surrendering three runs in the top of the 50th inning.
"This game was the physically hardest ever for me," Matsui told the Asahi Shimbun after the marathon game. "But I showed my (fighting) spirit. As my teammates scored three runs (in the 50th inning), I was able to throw in a relaxed manner in the bottom of the inning. Ishioka was a good rival for me."
Chukyo, which also produced megastar outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, won the game 3-0, but the losing pitcher remained upbeat.
"Though I was beaten in the end, it was a good experience for me to pitch until the last," Ishioka told the paper. "I had fatigue not only today (Aug. 31) but also yesterday and the day before yesterday. But I asked our coach to use me as a starter today."
The 50-inning game was by far the longest in tournament history, according to the Asahi Shimbun. The previous longest game was only 25 innings, according to the paper. It was twice suspended and had to be played over the course of three days.
The record-setter came only weeks after officials of the tournament, which is broadcast on national television and rivals March Madness in terms of fervent viewership and importance, said they were looking into ways to shorten the games, according to the Associated Press.
Former Red Sox star, and current New York Mets journeyman, pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka rose to national fame after a 250-pitch, 17-inning effort in 1988 – the day after tossing a 148-pitch complete game shutout.
Japanese coaches and pitchers believe the extreme amount of throwing strengthens arms, but Matsuzaka never lived up to the hype generated when he came to the United States due to arm problems.
Japanese superstar pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, 25, joined the New York Yankees this season but has spent the last month on the disabled list due to a partial tear of the ligaments in his right elbow.
Those injuries could have been a product of the Japanese style of play.
By comparison, Little League Worlds Series standout Mo'Ne Davis was allowed no more than 85 pitches per day. Reaching that limit resulted in a mandatory four-day rest period.
U.S. high school pitcher Dylan Fosnacht, of Rochester (WA) High School, threw 194-pitches over 15-plus innings during a game earlier this year, according to ESPN. He was subject to only a two-day mandatory rest.
His manager initially defended the decision to let Fosnacht throw nearly 200 pitches but later backed down.
Tournament rules state that if the game had gone 54 innings, the winner would have been decided in a draw.
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