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[NPB NOTEBOOK] Samurai Japan Pitchers Impress in a Combined Perfect Game Against Team Europe

New Samurai Japan manager Hirokazu Ibata is looking beyond the professional ranks for prospective players as he continues to put his stamp on the team.



Samurai Japan
Samurai Japan starter Yumeto Kanemaru, a Kansai University student, fires a pitch to a Team Europe batter in the first inning of the Global Baseball Games finale on March 7, 2024, at Kyocera Dome Osaka. (©SANKEI)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [NPB NOTEBOOK] Samurai Japan Pitchers Impress in a Combined Perfect Game Against Team Europe

If two recent exhibition games are any indication, new Samurai Japan manager Hirokazu Ibata appears ready to give some of the country's young baseball players a shot at playing for the national team.

Japan beat Team Europe by scores of 5-0 and 2-0 in two exhibition games earlier this month.

The nation's pitching prowess was on full display when Samurai Japan beat the European squad 2-0 on Thursday, March 7.

Collegiate lefty Yumeto Kanemaru, who is just 20, struck out four batters to kick off a six-pitcher perfect game relay over Europe in the finale of the Global Baseball Games.

Kanemaru was the game winner. He was also just one of four university players Ibata named to his squad for the two games at Kyocera Dome in Osaka.

As the starter, Kanemaru faced a total of six batters and left with a lead thanks to an unearned second-inning run.

Samurai Japan
Samurai Japan pitcher Shinya Matsuyama in action on March 7. (©SANKEI)

For Samurai Japan, the other pitchers used in the game were 23-year-old Shinya Matsuyama of the Chunichi Dragons, collegiate participant Yuto Nakamura, 23-year-old Shota Watanabe of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Chihiro Sumida, 24, of the Saitama Seibu Lions and Atsuki Taneichi, 25, of the Chiba Lotte Marines.

A Showcase for Samurai Japan Players

Another collegiate player, center fielder Misho Nishikawa, an Aoyama Gakuin University student, made a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning to preserve the no-hit bid. 

"I'm really excited to see what the established stars and the young prospects will do this season to make our autumn team selection difficult," Ibata was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.

Samurai Japan
Samurai Japan manager Hirokazu Ibata (©SANKEI)

Ibata, who took over as Samurai Japan manager in October 2023, wasn't the only one impressed with Japan's young players.

"He's a college pitcher," Team Europe manager Marco Mazzieri said of Kanemaru, a Kansai University student, according to MLB.com. "But look at him. His fastball tops 95 [mph], and he throws a splitter and a changeup for strikes. He is just a good pitcher." 

Samurai Japan
Samurai Japan's Misho Nishikawa hits a single in the first inning on March 7. (©SANKEI)

A Quick Look Ahead for Samurai Japan

The next step for Ibata and the senior national team will be November's Premier12 tournament. 

That tournament features the top 12 national teams in the world, according to the World Baseball Softball Confederation rankings.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.



Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.

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