There are going to be SPOILERS everywhere in this thread. If you don't like it, then just don't read anything past this sentence.
Seidou players' profiles 1-10, 11-22
Inajitsu players' profiles 1-4
- A day before the match Sawamura learns to throw the cutball (with the help of Azuma's second coming)
Seidou vs Inashiro Jitsugyou (called Inajitsu for short):
- The longest and the most heartwretching match.
- Through a flashback, we learn that 2 years previously, in their last year of middle school, Narumiya Mei gathered a few of the most promising players his age and proposed all of them go to Inajitsu, wanting to make his dream team that would be able to even take the national championship title. He invited Miyuki to be his catcher. Miyuki refused the offer - he had been invited to Seidou from long ago (remember that extra chapter in vol.6?), but that's not the only reason he said no.
Mei: Seidou, huh... After the previous coach resigned, they've been to Koshien only once. Compared to coach Kunitomo's track record, coach Kataoka is still too young, I think.
Kazuya: Nah, I don't really care about all that... It's just that your team's gonna have this superb lineup, right? Then I just can't help wanting to try and fight it.
Mei(thoughts): This... When facing a strong team, your eyes always sparkled with desire to defeat them, even though your own team was weak. This is what I came to like about you.
Yabe: Are you a moron?!
Kazuya: Ohh, thanks.
Yabe: This isn't a compliment!
Mei: I'll ask one last time...
Kazuya: Sorry, but no can do.
Mei: Looking cool, aren't ya. But can't blame me when you regret this.
And so, 'this is the fight you desired, Kazuya?' Mei, who couldn't sleep the night before, thinks.
- Both teams are strong and pretty equal, so the match is heavy and tense; after Furuya (basically, his pitching worked great until Inajitsu's batters got used to it) and Tanba (leg cramps), Sawamura gets on the mound.
- With Miyuki's clever game calling, he starts by shutting out Narumiya Mei himself.
- Just like last year's Narumiya, the then 1st year, became the wall in Seidou's way they couldn't scale, this year Inajitsu just can't do anything about Sawamura's pitching; as a result, eventually Seidou is leading by 1 point after Tetsuya hits Narumiya's changeup.
- Inajitsu's coach Kunitomo is a cold calculating type; he knows that Seidou has 3 inexperienced 1st years on the field (Furuya as the left fielder, Haruichi replaced his older brother whose leg wasn't in a good condition as the second baseman, and Sawamura as the pitcher), and he sees them make mistakes under pressure and due to inexperience; "There are plenty of weak spots for us to take advantage of." "I don't ask for 2 points. 1 point is all we need. If the game reaches extra innings, we'll win." His foremost priority is, of course, stopping the seemingly unstoppable Sawamura.
- The intense pressure they're putting and the weight of responsibility gets to Sawamura in the end, culminating in a dead ball, which finally breaks him bad. Upon sending him to the bench Miyuki says to him, "Sawamura... You never ran away, attacking till the very end. I seriously respect you. You pitched well." also thinking to himself, 'Even if he's strong-willed, he's still only a first year... And this is the last inning our going to Koshien rides on... There is no way he doesn't feel the pressure...'If it's Sawamura, then he just might pull through somehow'... at some point we all started to think this without us noticing.'
- Kawakami replaces Sawamura; he tries to fight but the pressure Inajitsu'a cleanup player is putting is just off scale, Miyuki has to have Kawakami walk him, loading bases; Inajitsu's captain/catcher Harada hits his pitch, Harucchi first saves the day, then immediately makes a mistake, and as a result Inajitsu scores 1 point. The score is tied.
- The extra inning is... just painful; Mei hits Kawakami's pitch and... Seidou loses quick. An incredibly close game, but... The end of the line for the 3rd years. Had Inajitsu not managed to break Sawamura, they'd've been the ones losing, that's for sure. Looks like the only ones on Seidou's team to be able to stand with their heads held high during the obligatory bow after the game were Tetsu and Miyuki. Tetsu even congratulates Harada on the win, and Miyuki never cried a single tear, not at the stadium, not after. What unbendable guys.
- After the match two reporters are talking, and one of them, Mine (male one), says that either team winning wouldn't have been strange as they both are strong with their unique character, but if he has to define the reason why Seidou lost, it would be because the team's pitching department is such that they had no choice but put a first year on the mound in the overwhelmingly important last inning; his pitching worked thus far, reinvigorating the team, and the dead ball itself is just a consequence of him attacking with all of his might, so Sawamura can't be blamed for it; it's just that the risks of the pitcher relay, using which Seidou made it this far, were always big, and this is where it showed. Narumiya had 2 ball fours while 4 Seidou's pichers had 8. The small difference of having and not having an unquestionable ace is maybe what decided the match.
The life goes on.
- The players are given 2 days off to rest after the match; they're gloomy and depressed. All but Miyuki who watches the video of the match, analysing their play. He sees that in the last inning both Sawamura's expression and demeanor clearly changed, and he should've have taken a timeout to go to Sawamura and talk to him, but he himself unknowingly got caught up in the rush to win as quick as possible, so he hadn't noticed at the time. The conclusion he comes to and states to Kuramochi is, "We lacked power. The team as the whole, me included. Even the team that had such reliable senpais didn't reach Koshien. Our unshakeable captain is now gone... and so is the ace... As we are now... to our generation, Koshien is only wishful thinking."
- Those on the second string and the rest of the none-first-stringers move on. "From here on, it's our era. I get excited thinking this," as Maezono puts it as he goes off to train.
- After the 3rd years retire, there're 59 members left on the team.
- Furuya declaires to Sawamura that he won't let anyone else to stand on the mound anymore as he will become the ace of this team.
- Everybody except Kawakami manages to more or less move on.
- When on Sawamura's request Miyuki and Sawamura watch the match again, Miyuki thinks about Mei, 'Hmph. If we're gonna have to fight again anyway, go power up and come back even stronger! The higher our objective is, the better.'
- The new captain is Miyuki. Yuuki recommended him to coach Kataoka (in his opinion, with Miyuki as the captain the team can get stronger, and, even though it's unimaginable load being both the captain and the catcher, Miyuki can pull it off; besides, they were defeated by the team that had Harada, the catcher doubling as the captain). Both Kuramochi and Maezono approved the choice, the former because Miyuki has a helluva strong will being able to watch and analyze the match with Inajitsu when everybody else was still hurting bad at the very thought of that match, nevermind watching it, and the latter because Miyuki has the most charisma, presence and is the most knowledgeable about baseball. Kataoka asks the two to support Miyuki because his load is going to get even heavier.
Kataoka: And now, a word from the team's new captain.
Miyuki: ... Umm... Erm. What am I supposed to say?
Kataoka's assistant: Just greet everybody! A few encouraging words will do!
A 2nd year student: Bhukuku... Don't tell me he's nervous!
Sawamura: Pull yourself together, leader-in-training!!!
- In his speech Miyuki says he'll probably never forget that final, they were shown how weak they are and how strong the opponent is, and for the first time in his life he thought that baseball is scary. He wants to obsess with producing the results and to hunger for victory.
- Kataoka files in his resignation as the coach; the principal tried to make him change his mind but Kataoka didn't budge, feeling responsible for the loss (he probably decided to resign even before the summer tournament if Seidou lost, the principal surmises). Kataoka only asked to let him stay in the position till the fall tournament is over so that the team won't be inconvenienced. The players have no idea about his imminent resignation, only the principal, vice-principal and Kataoka's two assistants, Rei and the other guy (I don't remember his name, sorry), know.
- Training continues, there still will be a chance to go to Koshien, although a different one - that is, to Senbatsu aka Spring Koshien - if Seidou wins the regional fall tournament: the block games for it start in September, the final stage of the tournament - in October.
- Sawamura is haunted by the image of the dead ball from the final when he pitches, but there is seemingly no problem with his pitches in the bullpen. Kawakami, on the other hand, isn't in a good condition, he tries to avoid pitching altogether. Miyuki says to Ono (the 2nd year catcher from the second string, now promoted to the reserve catcher) that unless Kawakami himself tries to move on, there's nothing they can do. Miyauchi, who happens to hear it, doesn't like it one bit, "What the heck is with those irresponsible words? Not everyone is as strong as you little bastard. You fix Kawakami, new captain." Miyuki's way of accomplishing this is to entrust Kawakami with the task of pitching easy to hit but strong balls so that the batters could practice hitting them as much as possible ("I can entrust such a difficult task only to you.")
- The Koshien championship tournament begins for Inajitsu. They're going strong, and Narumiya Mei is nicknamed 'The prince of the capital' by the mass media; eventually, Inajitsu will make it as far as the final, only to lose there, becoming the runnerups. The winner is Komadai Fujimaki from South Hokkaido
- A new (additional for now) coach, Ochiai Hiromitsu, comes to Seidou (in the past, he trained a school that regularly appeared at Koshien) and starts by calling the players masochists because they train all day long, haha.
- Seidou plays a few practice games against various teams, mainly with Furuya and Sawamura as the pitchers. Although they win, Sawamura keeps getting haunted by the image of that dead ball when he pitches, and Miyuki keeps reproaching him for easy to hit trajectories of his pitches.
- Yakushi requests a practice match with Seidou, and this is where huge problems come up - or rather, get revealed for all to finaly notice.
Vol.30 part1; Vol.30 part2
Vol.31-33 part1; Vol.31-33 part 2
Vol.34 part 1; Vol.34 part 2
Vol.34-36 part 1; Vol.34-36 part 2
Vol.36 part 1; Vol.36 part 2
Vol.36-37 part 1; Vol.36-37 part 2
Vol.38-40 part 1; Vol.38-40 part 2; Vol.38-40 part 3; Vol.38-40 part 4; Vol.38-40 part 5
The managers' diary
Recent chapters spoilers
359-361 362 363 364 365 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412
THE MANGA IS ON A BREAK TILL SPRING