Now this was a pitching duel.
A semifinal in Japan’s National High School Rubber Baseball Tournament took 50 innings and four days to play, ending Aug. 31 in the top of the 50th. Scoreless — yes, scoreless — to that point, Chukyo High School scored three runs to put away pesky Sotoku High School. The Asahi Shimbun reports that the game “captivated a nation” and it’s easy to see why: Both pitchers went the distance. The stats are mind-boggling:
Jukiya Ishioka, the losing pitcher, threw a complete game of 689 pitches. Not to be outdone, the winning pitcher, Taiga Matsui threw 709 pitches. Not only that, but Matsui came on in relief in the next game and was the winner as Chukyo won the championship.
“This game was the physically hardest ever for me,” Matsui said after the semifinal. “But I showed my spirit. As my teammates scored three runs (in the 50th inning), I was able to throw in a relaxed manner in the bottom of the inning. Ishioka was a good rival for me.”
Ishioka said it was “a good experience for me to pitch until the last. I had fatigue not only today [Aug. 31] but also yesterday and the day before yesterday. But I asked our coach to use me as a starter today.”
In a rubber-ball tournament, a slightly different baseball, one that doesn’t travel as far off the bat as a regular baseball, is used. The teams totaled only 48 hits in the game.
Here’s how the game played out (you can see the zero-filled linescore here):
In the semifinal, the game was suspended in a scoreless tie after the 15th inning on Aug. 28. The extended contest continued from the 16th inning to the 30th inning on Aug. 29, and from the 31st inning to the 45th inning on Aug. 30 but was still deadlocked at 0-0.
On Aug. 31, however, Chukyo broke the tie in the top of the 50th inning and won 3-0, putting it in the record books as the longest game in tournament history. The previous record was 25 innings.
What, you ask, would have happened if the teams had played on? Rules mandate that, if the score is tied after 54 innings, the winner will be decided in a drawing.