Ep 7: I Want to Play Baseball
Nishiura is down by a run at the end of the 7th inning. As they get ready for their turn on offense, Mihashi decides not to enter the dugout. Abe finds him on the ground by the side, hugging his knees. Abe realizes that although he calls the pitches, Mihashi is the one who gets the blame if they get hit. Guilty over failing Abe, Mihashi’s eyes starts to water, not noticing that Abe is standing in front of him.
Abe offers his apologies for costing them their lead, while commending Mihashi for his good pitching. Abe admits that he was aiming for a perfect game. He wanted so badly to get a clear win because he feels that Mihashi still wants to be a part of Mihoshi! Abe then leaves a speechless Mihashi to get ready for bat.
The three Nishiura batters talk strategy in the dugout with Momoe. Their plan is to get the bases loaded, so the opposition would think twice about giving Tajima the intentional walk. Momoe also wants to tire out Kanou as he has almost reached his limit.
Sakaeguchi opens the 8th inning at bat. He forces two balls out of Kanou when Hatake notices Momoe signaling to the batter to increase the pitch count. Sakaeguchi hits foul on the next two pitches bringing the count to 2-2. Hatake calls for forkball in hopes to strikeout the batter. Sakaeguchi chooses not to swing which goes in his favor. Momoe has her crazy look on, happy at how things are turning out. Sakaeguchi eventually ends up getting a walk.
Kanou is starting to feel the pressure and exhaustion. He recalls that he can pitch this much with ease in the bullpen and wonders how Mihashi has been managing doing it for years. Mihashi, still sulking on the side, questions himself if he wants to return to Mihoshi or not.
Hatake, knowing that Nishiura plans to increase the pitch count, decides that he will call middle fastballs from the get go to get strike the batters out. Oki limps to first base after being hit by the pitch. Kanou is depressed, but gathers himself to face Abe, the third batter.
Kanou silently protests pitching fastballs which are taking a toll on him. Abe notices that Hatake has been calling for fastballs. He get a hit on the first pitch and now, all bases are loaded with Tajima next at bat!
The Mihoshi players huddle up and agree to do a force play. Hatake suggests a double play when Kanou suddenly kicks his cup! Kanou asks if he can grip his forkball deeper to make his pitches fall lower. Apparently, he has been holding out, unsure if Hatake could handle it. Hatake, who is still in pain, assures him that he will catch it.
Tajima is in high-spirits over the thought of scoring runs. For the first pitch, Tajima misses, as the course of the forkball was noticeably lower. Tajima focuses and in the process completely ignores Momoe’s signals. He strikes again, but this time he observed and calculated the trajectory. “I’ll hit the next pitch.” The next ball is a changeup, but Tajima manages to send the ball deep into right field. Sakaeguchi scores; Oki advance to third, then tries to go home since the second baseman arm is weak according to Nishihiro the third base coach, but Oki is out at homeplate.
Tajima goes over to Mihashi and tells him that even with the bases were loaded, the team only managed to get one run with him batting cleanup. For sure, he has let the team down. However, he is still going back to the dugout and he invites Mihashi to join him.
Back on the field, Abe is hoping that Hanai will bring him home. Hanai lays down a bunt. Kanou picks up the ball, but loses his footing, allowing Abe to score and take the lead! Kanou loses his cool and breaks down. Oda wishes that Kanou would not show these types of emotions, as the team looks up to him. Kanou quickly wipes away his tears after Oda notices them. He picks himself up without apologizing for losing the lead, earning Oda’s respect.
Momoe’s trembling with joy over Hanai’s great bunt when she notices Tajima dragging a defiant Mihashi back to the dugout. Tajima gives Mihashi an encouraging “nudge” to bring him safely to the dugout. A flood of concerned sentiments welcomes Mihashi. The others try to cheer him up and even offer him a glass of water. Sitting on the bench, Mihashi reflects on Abe’s words earlier. He finally realizes that Abe was right. A part of him is still attached to Mihoshi.
Mihashi stutters as he tells Abe that he knew Oda would hit the pitch because he noticed that he closed his eyes while waiting out the first pitch. Despite that, Mihashi stresses that he does not want to go against Abe’s decisions. Before Mihashi could say anymore, Abe scolds him and demands that he should report these things to him earlier.
Over at the Mihoshi side, the coach sees Mihashi and Abe talking. Thus, he knows that the tactic they used with Oda has been found out. Since that is the most he could do, he leaves it to the players to turn the game around.
Finally, bottom of the ninth with two outs, Mihoshi pin their last hopes on Oda. Terrifying as it may be for Mihashi, having to face the person who was responsible for Mihoshi’s comeback, he stays focus on the challenge at hand. The first pitch takes Oda by surprise, shortly forgetting that Mihashi is able to juice up his pitch with some speed. Mihashi acknowledges that he is nervous, but a different kind from what he had experienced in middle school.
Oda hits a foul on the second. Mihoshi is desperately praying for Oda to keep this game alive. As Mihashi winds up, he thinks about how he is truly enjoying pitching from the mound right now. Mihashi throws the pitch. Oda focuses, recognizes the pitch, swings—“STRIKE!” Nishiura wins!!! Nishiura wins!!! In that moment, Mihashi has truly become a real ace.
As Momoe hollers for the boys to ready themselves to leave, Hatake approaches Mihashi. Abe grabs Mihashi by the collar to stop him from running away. Hatake speaks up first and apologizes for his past sins, the others quickly follow suit, admitting that they are to blame as well. Mihoshi asks Mihashi to come back and give them another chance. However, Mihashi declines, much to Kanou’s dismay. Kanou encourages Mihashi to come back, now that he has gained the team’s respect.
Mihashi still insists that he ruined baseball for Mihoshi back in middle school. He also adds that Mihoshi has always had their ace in Kanou. Mihashi is very happy that he finally got what he longed for—a chance to play baseball with everyone. “Won’t you be lonely?” Kanou asks. Mihashi looks back to his teammates and knows that he will not be. Hatake tells Kanou that he has to come out of Mihashi’s shadow as he will lead the Mihoshi team from now on. After telling Mihashi a few tips about his pitching, Hatake declares that despite their loss, Kanou is still the better pitcher.
Back at the training site, Abe finds Mihashi fast asleep. He asks Momoe to let him rest as Mihashi lacks sleep. Later on, Momoe tells Abe:
“You’ve given him this peace.”
As Abe watches over Mihashi, he promises that for the next three years, he will spend it making sure Mihashi will not regret choosing Nishiura.
Manga cuts: No significant differences noted.