Ep 6: The Qualifications for a Pitcher
Mihashi retires the side as Tajima catches the fly ball to end the fourth inning.
Nishiura’s turn on offense is uneventful as Kanou also retires the side. For Mihoshi, Oda strikes out again, being unable to properly anticipate and adjust his body to Mihashi’s pitches. He walks away frustrated at himself for thinking too much.
With Oda striking out, these thoughts fill Abe’s mind: “Feels good doesn’t it?”
Mihoshi’s (substitute) coach is slow to believe that a no-name team with first year players headed by a female coach could upstage a high-standard team like theirs. He is also stumped at why their players are not hitting, when they should already be accustomed to Mihashi’s pitching.
In the sixth inning, Kanou strikes out the first batter, but throws four balls on the next, sending Abe to first base. Tajima readies to take on the first pitch when Hatake stands to the side to catch the ball. The Nishiura players are surprised that the opposition decided to intentionally walk Tajima. Abe advances to second base as Tajima takes first. Next is Hanai, who hits a grounder, but it lands near third base throwing Abe out.
Mihashi hands Abe his catcher’s gear and tries to comfort him that there is still a chance for them to score. “Even if it means scoring against Kanou?” Abe retorts. Mihashi is slightly saddened that Abe misunderstood him. He knows very well that everyone at Mihoshi treats him as the enemy.
The score remains 2-0 in favor of Nishiura at the end of the sixth inning. Kanou retires the side at the top of the 7th inning. The Mihoshi coach tells Kanou to take a good rest, instead of practice throws, while they are on offense, since he is nearing his maximum pitch count of 100 pitches. Oda asks Kanou in what way is he inferior to Mihashi. Oda worries that at this rate, they will lose to Nishiura and asks Kanou for hints on how to score against Mihashi.
Kanou asks for Oda’s take on what are the conditions to being a pitcher, that is, how to determine if a person is suitable to become one. Oda suggests velocity or control, but admits that he never really thought about it. Kanou explains that the determining factor is one’s desire to pitch. It is that same passion and desire that will sustain you to concentrate and focus on pitching.
Kanou shares a bit of Mihashi’s baseball history. There was a time in middle school that Mihashi did not throw a single bad pitch and when he was a senior, he had 0 hit by pitch and only 1 base on balls. Kanou also adds that Mihashi made himself a target with 9 strike zones.
Oda is astounded! He could not believe that Mihashi possessed that much control over his pitches. Mihashi’s ability to accurately place his pitch sounds like something out of a dream. Being able to pitch outside then inside, breaking ball then fastball, with perfect control is a very difficult feat that Hatake and the other players do not realize since they're just used to Mihashi. Kanou knows how hard it is to believe that Mihashi could be so formidable. He attributes it to Mihashi’s problems with his personality. Hatake insists Mihashi's pitches are slow and insignificanr. All the while, Mihoshi’s coach was listening intently. He has a plan for Oda’s that may enable him to hit Mihashi’s pitches.
At the mound, Mihashi strikes out his second player. Abe eyes the next batter, thinking how getting this batter out would slowly solidify Mihashi’s perfect game. The batter hits a fly ball to the left field, but Mizutani fails to catch it! Abe struggles to control his anger, but consoles himself that there is still a chance of closing the game with a no hits and no runs.
As Oda approaches the plate, Abe does a quick analysis on what pitch to call. Abe reminds himself to be cautious as that intentional walk means that Mihoshi is getting serious. Furthermore, Oda will not hesitate to hit the ball and he can manage the breaking ball as well.
As Oda sets to bat, he recalls the conversation he had earlier with the coach. Oda was having difficulty with hitting the ball because the afterimage of the previous pitch lingered in his mind. So, the coach proposed that Oda closes his eyes. He swings and right after, he looks at where the pitch landed—outside. Oda anticipates that the next pitch will definitely be an inside shoot and since he has already seen two of those - all he needs to do is to remember the trajectory.
As soon as Mihashi reads the sign, his pitcher’s instinct tells him that Oda would hit that pitch. Even though Mihashi is convinced that it would turn out that way, his fear of being disliked by Abe is greater. As Mihashi predicted, Oda hits a triple, helping Mihoshi to score their first run. And with that, Abe’s hopes of a no hitter go up in smoke.
This angers Abe further. He desperately tries to figure out where he went wrong. Mihashi watches Abe and wonders whether he did the right thing or not.
The game continues with Hatake at bat. Hatake is 2-0 on the plate because of Abe. A blind determination takes a hold of Hatake. He does not know exactly how he can score, all he knows is that he must. On the mound, Mihashi thinks that Abe might be saying, “No matter how good my instincts are, there is a limit to my abilities.” Abe, on the other hand, is trying to come up with a good strategy for Hatake. He decides on a fastball.
Mihashi rubs his thumb and middle finger together. Hatake notices this and recognizes it as Mihashi’s habit when he is about to throw a fastball. He lunges in, takes advantage and hits the ball out of the ballpark! Mihoshi now leads by a run. Abe and Mihashi are both stunned.
Momoe starts to worry as soon as she sees that Mihashi’s confidence is about to waver. Mihashi beats himself up because no matter how good Abe’s reads are, he is still the one pitching. If the team loses, it is his fault. Mihashi suddenly stands up much to Momoe’s surprise. Momoe sees that Mihashi has not lost his confidence after all and acknowledges his tenacity. Mihashi’s eyes fill with determination as he promises to continue pitching.
Manga cuts: Not a cut, maybe translation difference, anime calls the pitch Oda hits a "shoot," while the manga calls it a screwball.