|Seidou High vs. Hakuryuu High|
|Score||3 - 1|
|Manga||Act II, Chapter 66-75|
The Golden Week was a busy period for Seidou as both the 1st string and the 2nd string teams have arranged to play practice matches every day throughout the week. One of the most elite and powerful school they faced was Hakuryuu High, a regular participant of Koshien. The practice game between Seidou and Hakuryu takes place on the 2nd day of the Golden Week in Gunma. Sawamura was designated as the starting pitcher by Kataoka.
Summary of the GameEdit
First Inning: EditThe hometown’s host, Hakuryu is on attack first. On top of the first inning, the lead-off batter was retired at 1st base with a jammed hit; however, Seidou immediately recognized the strength of Hakuryu’s mobility as the runner almost made it safety to base. The 2nd batter persisted by chopping the balls to foul them to prevent Sawamura from getting into a rhythm. Miyuki ordered a Changeup to mess with the batter’s timing; however, Sawamura’s pitch was high and the batter hits a Single. Up at bat is Mima, Hakuryu’s star player. He hits a long hit to left field on Sawamura’s out-low fastball. Furuya quickly try to defend but his throw to 3rd was too high and the first base runner barely got to 3rd base safely while Mima himself ran to 2nd base. Facing the clean ups after Mima, Sawamura upped his gear and struck out the 4th batter with his Cutter Kai while the 5th batter was retired by a grounder to 1st, averting the early crisis and closing out the starting inning. Kuramochi brought the early assault to Ouno, Hakuryu’s Ace pitcher, by targeting his first pitch and got on 2nd base. Haruichi, who now bats 2nd, hits a line drive to the right and Kuramochi made it home to open the score for Seidou. Shirasu’s long hit was caught by Mima and Miyuki was then struck out.
Third Inning - Fourth: EditOn top of the 3rd inning, with no out and runner on 1st, Sawamura pinned down the runner by varying his pick-off timing, forcing the runner to reduce his lead on base. Miyuki then made a quick pick-off to 2nd on a strike and retired the stealing runner. He also ordered a Changeup to the exact batter who managed to hit it in the first inning and Sawamura retired the batter on a forced grounder. At bat, Mima commends Miyuki for having a understanding kouhai that allow the battery to pull of harmonious pick-off and wonder is that due to Miyuki’s guidance. Miyuki, on the other hand thinks that Sawamura is still in the process of growing and the experience of this match will further his strength. Mima popped a fly ball right field and was retired, ending the inning. Sawamura and Ouno continued to shutout their respective opponent and the game progresses to the 4th inning. Zono was retired on a fly ball and at bat next is Furuya. Furuya felt fired up playing against a strong opponent like Hakuryu and wanted to stand on the mound himself. He hits a long outfield hit to center; however, as if to showcase his strength, instead of stopping at 2nd base, Furuya attempted a risky run to 3rd which resulted in an awkward out. Kataoka; however, wasn’t amused by the reckless play and immediately pulled Furuya out of the game by replacing him with Asou. Kataoka then lectured Furuya on the differences between Hakuryu’s mobility and his own. He concluded that considering Hakuryu’s solid defense and the stalemate state of the game, he can’t understand why Furuya would attempted what seems to him as an impossible play on a rare opportunity given by the opposing pitcher. He further adds that Furuya can’t distinguish between assertive and arrogance play and that the team does not need such player.
Fifth Inning - Sixth: EditOn the bottom of the 5th inning, Hakuryu’s battery recognizes that Seidou has been purposefully avoiding the Slider so they changed their tactic and started using the Slider inside the zone to go up in the count instead. In Seidou’s dugout, Miyuki notices this tactic change and discusses with Kataoka. Kataoka said then it’s time for them to change tactic as well and ordered the players to target the Slider starting on the next inning. On top of the 6th inning, Hakuryu’s coach also gives their team new directions to disrupt Seidou’s battery rhythm. The batters start standing close to the edge of the batter box as if to seal away incourse pitches but instead that’s the exact pitch they’re targeting, as they have realized Miyuki’s aggressive game calling will give them what they expect. The first batter got on base by targeting an in-course pitch. He then tries to distract Sawamura by taking a massive lead over first base. At bat is Mima and Miyuki signals Sawamura to focus on the batter instead. At first Mima followed the team’s direction; however, his desire to challenge Seidou’s battery took over and he returned to normal position, he also shows a batting stance similar to that of Ichiro, demonstrating his determination and focused state. Sawamura and Miyuki attempted to throw off Mima’s balance by utilizing everything in Sawamura’s arsenal but Mima was unfazed by the challenge. At full count, Miyuki decided they need a pitch the opponent hasn’t got information on and lifted the ban on Sawamura’s Splitter. However, Sawamura got tensed and failed his execution on the Splitter. He ended up walking Mima as a result. Facing the 4th batter, Miyuki asked for a close pitch outside of the zone but Sawamura’s execution was again less than desired and batter hits it to right field. Thanks to Shirasu’s well played pass, the home-in runner was retired. Then, Sawamura again, stepped up his game and closed out the inning, squandering yet another scoring opportunity for Hakuryu even with Mima on 3rd base.
Seventh Inning - Ninth: EditOn the bottom inning, Seidou’s batters began targeting Ouno’s Slider, they managed to land consecutive hits and widen up the lead to 3 - 0. Sawamura continues to shut out Hakuryu in the 7th inning. On the bottom of the 7th, Ouno throws 3 consecutive Sliders to strike Sawamura out as if to show frustration that Hakuryu still hasn't managed to get a point from Sawamura while Seidou was able to widen up the gap by targeting his favorite pitch, the Slider. Hakuryu then managed to score 1 run in the 8th inning from Seidou's failed attempt of getting a double-play. On top of the 9th inning, Sawamura faced Ouno with 2 outs. He catches Ouno's grounder and passes to Zono to retire him at 1st base, ending the practice match with Seidou winning 3 - 1.
Sawamura's pitching stats for the match were: 110 pitches over 9 innings, 9 hits, 1 walk, 6 strike outs and 1 lost run.
After the match, Furuya congratulates Sawamura for a good performance. Sawamura on the other hand says he is not yet satisfied with himself noting he has been helped by the fielders a lot in this match. Furuya then states he's glad because with that, they can still compete with each other. He is also convinced that the Ace is a pitcher who has to continue winning by shutting out opponent by force, pitches better than the opponent's pitcher and not giving away any run and that he'll become such pitcher.
Mima of Hakuryu also developed a kind of friendly rivalry with Miyuki and they exchanged contacts after the match.
After the Golden Week, Sawamura would be featured in an article by the Monthly Baseball Kingdom. The article compliments his stellar performance in the match against Hakuryu, emphasizing the way he carry himself calmly on the mound under high pressure situations exudes the presence of an Ace. It is also claimed that with both Sawamura and Furuya appearing at the same time for Seidou, the team may soon experience the advent of their Golden Age.
- Sawamura's pitch count for the match was originally listed as 121 pitches in Act II - Chapter 75; however, Vol. 09 release later changed the pitch count to 110 pitches.