Ep 5: Don’t Ease Up
Mihoshi and Nishiura remain scoreless after the second inning. Oda was surprised at Kanou’s sudden outburst. Oda thinks back and realized that Kanou has been acting weird lately. Yesterday, Kanou was humming in the bath and today, during warm-up, he was showing off his forkball. It seems Kanou has been anxious about this for a while now. Oda understands that because this may be the last chance Kanou gets to face Mihashi, which is why he is so bent on winning this match.
Abe scolds Mihashi a bit for striking out. He tells Mihashi that, when he is on the mound, he is a pitcher just as when he is at bat, he should concentrate on being a batter. As Mihashi admires Kanou’s pitching from the dugout, Abe hopes that he is not thinking that Kanou’s pitches cannot be hit. Mihashi guiltily denies it and quickly makes his way to the mound, then he sprints right back to the dugout, forgetting to bring his glove.
Abe catches Mihashi gazing at Kanou, who is preparing to take up bat. Abe realizes that Mihashi admires Kanou as a pitcher. Thus, it is understandable that Mihashi is happy knowing that Kanou’s skill is still as sharp as ever. However, Abe still does not buy it completely as there seems to be something else going on.
Kanou moves to the batter’s box. He knocks the dirt off his shoes, swings the bat a few times, and raises his bat upwards for a stretch before he finally gets ready to bat. As he gets ready for the second pitch after hitting a foul, Kanou knocks off the dirt from his shoes, swings, and stretches, again. Abe recognizes it to be the same thing he did earlier and concludes that it is not the batter’s habit. Rather, it is a jinx.
Abe becomes suddenly aware that Kanou is seriously batting against Mihashi. The first ball ended up foul because Kanou was too serious and used too much power. Abe uses this to his advantage and calls for the same pitch. Mihashi hesitates for a while, but in the end, decides to comply. As Abe predicted, Kanou adjusted and hits a grounder. Kanou slides into first, but he's out.
Hatake tells Kanou that he should know better than to slide and risk injury over a practice match. Kanou stresses that they have yet to get a hit and that Hatake is the one who needs to take the game more seriously. Oda comes just in time to break up the two, before the situation gets out of hand.
Mihoshi goes on the defensive. Kanou has yet to recover his composure and pitches poorly. In the 4th inning he walks Oki. Abe gets a sac bunt. Tajima pulls the ball and gets a hit. Oki's safe at home! Tajima reaches second during the relay.
From the sideline, Mihashi admits that he sympathizes with Kanou a little, when Abe questions him.
Next up at bat is Hanai. Hatake calls for a forkball early, knowing that Hanai would not be able to hit it. However, Hatake is unable to catch the forkball allowing Tajima to steal third. Momoe gives the Hanai the signal to go for the fastball. Sure enough, Hanai hits a long fly ball bringing Tajima home. Thus, it is two to zero, in favor of Nishiura! To Mihashi's dismay, Kanou then walks Suyama walks on 4 pitches.
This prompts Mihoshi to call for a timeout. In the huddle, the Mihoshi players argue amongst themselves as they continue to look down on Mihashi’s abilities. Kanou reiterates that Mihashi is a good pitcher. The only people to blame for their losses were themselves, not Mihashi. Kanou names Hatake’s bullying and lack of recognition for Mihashi’s abilities as the biggest factor for their failure. One of them speaks out and says that Hatake did it for Kanou’s sake.
Oda cuts in and tells them that they should at least acknowledge Mihashi’s strength and that Kanou went a bit too far with his comment on Hatake. Kanou apologizes. He tells them that they cannot win if they continue to think of Mihashi in this manner. Hatake backs Kanou up and rallies the others to help him prove that Kanou is better than Mihashi with a win.
Abe asks if Mihashi wants to be part of that huddle as he was looking with such longing eyes. It is clear to Abe that Mihashi must think that it would be the greatest feeling to actually play with his former teammates without all the hate. Abe took a gamble coming to Nishiura, a nameless public school. But now that he has found a good pitcher, there is no way he is giving up Mihashi. Moreover, if Mihashi wants to win, he is better off with him.
Abe is about to go off to the catcher’s box when Momoe comes over to help him tie his leg guards. They take this time to discuss a bit of strategy. Before she sends him off, she tells him to take care of Mihashi. Abe agrees that Nishiura needs Mihashi. As he throws the ball to Mihashi, he swears to make Mihashi choose him over his former teammates. He locks his gaze onto Mihashi and silently declares, “Mihashi… I am your catcher.” Mihashi returns his gaze with his own thoughts, “I’ll pitch, Abe, with all my might…”