What the 77-year-old master got at Koshien was 11:42 on April 19th.

Koshien is a longing for all high school baseball players and leaders.

Keizo Sakaguchi of Gifu / Ogaki Nihon University High School, who became the first director to win the three eras of Showa, Heisei, and Reiwa at the Koshien.

What did the 77-year-old master get at this spring's Senbatsu tournament, where he thought he wouldn't participate 100%?

<< Gifu Bureau Seto Hikaru Network Press Department Yuki Matsumoto >>

Restart from Senbatsu

"If you hit it like that, you'll lose like Senbatsu,"

Sakaguchi said to the players who had begun to move toward the summer.

This spring, Senbatsu, who said, "I will show you the right baseball because I was selected," was eliminated in the second round.

Sakaguchi, who returned from Koshien, became more aware of the national tournament.

"Can I go to that stage again?"

January 28th.

At the baseball club ground, eight kilometers away from school, Sakaguchi was watching the practice as usual.

After 3:00 pm, one report was sent to his mobile phone from the baseball manager, saying, "I have decided to participate in Senbatsu."

Director Sakaguchi

"I thought it was a lie when I heard it. I thought it was a joke because I thought I wouldn't participate 100%. I was surprised and joyful and cried."

Sakaguchi achieved national domination at a high school in Aichi with strict guidance.

It was once called "Oni no Sakaguchi".

It was a surprising election that the commander who was a demon cried.

Ogaki Nihon University was in the top four at the Tokai tournament last fall, but he entered the two slots in this area and won the Senbatsu participation, saying that "individual ability is superior".

"Can I go to that stage again?" I

was gradually happy, but it took a while to sort out his feelings and I couldn't immediately report to the players.

However, the next day, when he entered the ground, he returned to the appearance of a matchmaker, saying, "I was only thinking about how to win in Senbatsu," and the days of facing the players for the spring Koshien began.

To win, change your mindset

This is Sakaguchi's 33rd Koshien in spring and summer.

Thinking that his team still doesn't have the power to win the national tournament, he reviewed his team-building policy.

Nowadays, many teams are aiming to win by reliever by raising multiple pitchers to prevent injury.

Sakaguchi agrees with that trend, but he wants to set up an ace pitcher firmly, create a rhythm from the defense, and proceed with the game.

In winter practice, four pitchers of different types, including Miki Goshima, who carried the ace number on his back, competed in the fall.

I thought about raising the level of pitching power as a whole.

Director Sakaguchi

"I had always thought that there would be three pitchers even when there are many ace pitchers. This spring, I was thinking of changing my eyes to make it difficult for the other party to do it."

The starting lineup for Senbatsu was ...

Sakaguchi did not fix the pitcher to start in the practice game that started in March.

And Goto, who has the number 1 uniform, was appointed as the starting lineup for the Tadami High School game, which was the first game of Senbatsu.

Pitcher Goto

"Three days before the game, I came to Koshien and was told to start in the first practice. To be honest, I was surprised because I didn't think I was the starting pitcher."

In his long career, Sakaguchi has appointed a pitcher with a strong mentality as a starting pitcher in the first match of Koshien.

Based on that policy, he started Goto in the first game.

Director Sakaguchi

"(In practice games up to Senbatsu) I was calm on the mound above all. The straight ball power was rising over the winter, so I went there."

Goto has a straight ball speed in the low 130km range, but he threw it into the course exactly and kept the opponent from hitting the line.

Still, the reliever was in my head.

However, at the end of the game, the words that Director Sakaguchi said ...

"I'll go to the end."

Goto responded to his wishes and won a complete game with only two hits.

He took 18 strikeouts, his most in the official game.

Sakaguchi explained the intention of completing the game.

Director Sakaguchi

: "When the ace gets excited, the team gains momentum. I think it is important to give the team momentum in the first match of the national tournament. There was also a part that I wanted to give Goto confidence. Look at the pitching. I decided to throw it to the end. "

Goto was started in the second round against Seiryo High School, but his control was disturbed and he was hit by a home run.

The relieved pitcher also scored a goal and Ogaki Nihon University lost.

Pitcher Goto

"I was hit by a ball that I never thought would be a home run. I felt that the current control wouldn't work nationwide. I want to level up and come back in the summer."

Director Sakaguchi

: "I think I felt that the pitchers wouldn't work with my current strength, so I'd be happy if you could change your mind. Even if you can win the prefectural tournament as it is, you can't win the whole country in the summer. think"

Growth of players seen in Senbatsu participation

Having experienced the big stage called Koshien this time, Sakaguchi feels that the players have become mentally stronger.

The representative is No. 4 captain and catcher Akira Nishiwaki.

Sakaguchi said about Nishiwaki, "I've been a coach for 55 years, and I'm in the top eight as a captain."

Nishiwaki hurt his leg at the autumn prefectural tournament, and it took time to recover.

I couldn't even run in winter, and I continued to pick up balls in the corner of the ground.

Captain Nishiwaki

"I was afraid to move my injured leg even if I wanted to practice. The director told me that I should fix it by summer, but I am sorry that I could not contribute anything to the team. bottom"

It was the decision to participate in Senbatsu that made Nishiwaki's feelings positive.

He decided not to be more aware of the recurrence of the injury than necessary, and from the next day he took the lead in the overall run.

Do not disturb your heart with various opinions

Nishiwaki demonstrated leadership as a captain even outside the ground.

While various opinions were expressed regarding the selection of Ogaki Nihon University's participation in Senbatsu, at the end of January immediately after the decision on Senbatsu, a meeting was held only for the players after the practice was over, and he told his teammates.

"Let's do it positively, not negatively, even if it is a painful thing or something that we do not like in the future."

He called for concentration only on the battle at Koshien.

In this interview, Nishiwaki revealed that there was a surprise to support the team.

It is the existence of about 200 people's messages made mainly by the teacher in charge of junior high school in Nishiwaki.

Captain Nishiwaki

"It was very encouraging to feel that there are people who support us more than we think."

Koshien who got over the recurrence of the injury

However, just before the tournament, a trial occurred in Nishiwaki.

One week before heading to Koshien, the injury recurred.

Sakaguchi was looking at the desperate condition.

Immediately before he left Gifu, he shared his thoughts on his role in the match.

Director Sakaguchi

"There was something that made me want to use it when I saw the sincere attitude toward baseball and the way people worked hard."

Nishiwaki finally recovered by the time the bat shook three days before the first round.

In the game, he took painkillers, played to the end, and made timely hits, but it was hard to run at the end of the game.

Captain Nishiwaki

"I was afraid of injury, but I had the most fun time in my life at Koshien."

Sakaguchi dared not check Nishiwaki's physical condition during the match.

Director Sakaguchi

: "If you ask me if it hurts, I think he answered,'It's okay.' But the moment I heard about the pain, I thought that the tension might be cut off. This has broadened my concern for others and my horizons for play, and he has grown a lot as a captain as a player. "

After going through Senbatsu, the team grew once

The spring Gifu prefectural tournament on April 16th, which was the first official game after Senbatsu.

Sakaguchi realized that the players had grown rapidly after going through Koshien.

A match with Gifu Johoku High School, which has participated in Koshien.

Goto went to the mound in a pinch immediately after being tied in the middle stage.

Goto made a good throw here and did not give a score, and the team also scored a goal in the final stage and won a good victory.

Obtained the seed right for the Gifu tournament, which leads to the summer Koshien.

Director Sakaguchi

"Goto seems to have gained more mound courage after experiencing Koshien. I feel once again that Koshien is a place where players can really grow dramatically."

An unabated passion for baseball

What did you get at this Koshien?

Finally I asked Sakaguchi.

After thinking a little, he replied:

Director Sakaguchi

: "After a clear goal was set, the children's attitude toward practice clearly changed. Even if it was a sudden decision, the children desperately chased the white ball to win at Koshien. The growth of the athletes over the last two months has been a pleasure as a leader, and I have learned from the children the importance of having goals. "

And Sakaguchi will enter the summer with one more win until the milestone Koshien 40 wins.

A famous general who turns 78 in May, his passion for baseball never diminishes.

Director Sakaguchi

: "My motto is,'The ground is a battlefield.' That's why every day is desperate. This ground leads to Koshien. Baseball is a class, for me. Forget about blinking and chase the white ball. I play baseball in an environment. I study all the time, and if I lose, I lose and study. "

Gifu Broadcasting Station Announcer

Hikaru Seto

Joined in 2017 When I was in

high school, I was a ball child who chased a white ball, and since that time I have been good at making voices, and I was a mood maker on the bench.

Now I'm chasing a white ball with a grass baseball team in Gifu prefecture.

Yuki Matsumoto  ,

Reporter, Network News Department Joined the station

in 2005.

I have been covering sports all over the country.

I believe in the power of sports, including high school baseball.