"The Practice Match"(練習試合 "Renshū Shiai") is the third episode of season one.
The episode begins with Mihashi practicing his pitching. Coach Momoe asks Mihashi how much he knows about Mihoshi's pitcher, Kanou. He tells them that his strikeout pitch is the forkball. Mihashi remembers how he stayed on the mound despite the fact that Hatake and Kanou would stay after practice so Hatake could try and catch Kanou's forkball. Mihashi starts to cry as Abe, concerned, stares at him.
The episode cuts to back at the training camp after dinner,
where Coach Momoe is holding a board containing the numbers 1-25. She tells the team to touch and say aloud each number in order as fast as they can. She claims that it'll improve their observation skill and that it'll help train the nerve circuits in their brain to react faster from signals from their eyes. She also explains that it'll help them in baseball by making them aware of things much faster.
Coach Momoe asks who wants to try and Tajima volunteers. Tajima easily completes the exercise in 7.9 seconds. Hanai and the others are wondering if Tajima was actually pointing at the numbers. Coach Momoe however, is grateful that Tajima joined the team.Coach Momoe tells the team to partner up and try this exercise 3 times. The player with the best time gets to pick the batting order for the next game which scares everyone. Hanai tries, but manages to do it in 18.6 seconds.
Mihashi and Abe aren't doing as well however as Mihashi is too busy thinking about something. Abe snaps him out of his daze and asks him if he was sleeping any better. Mihashi lies and says that he is, but Abe can tell that he is lying as he can't the Mihoshi game out of his head. Abe asks if he is having any fun and that he is always very nervous during practice. He also says that it has been 4 days but the battery barely know anything about each other. Abe also tells Mihashi that when he talks to Mihashi he barely gets any response. But whenever he actually shows any concern for Mihashi, he just lies to him. Mihashi starts to cry and Abe yells at him to stop as he looks like he's bullying Mihashi. He also tells Mihashi to forget throwing fast and just to follow his signs or they'll lose.
Mihashi stops crying as he wonders why it's so hard for him to talk. He hopes that Abe will not hate him and refuse to give him signs or his decision to leave Mihoshi would be meaningless. Later on Mihashi struggles to sleep again. He thinks that the problem is himself and that he does not have what it takes to be a pitcher.The next morning on the Mihoshi baseball field, Sakaeguchi is admiring the field. Coach Momoe tells the team to start warming up. Coach Momoe notices that the team doesn't look nervous at all even though it's their first game as a team. With the exception being Mihashi who is losing accuracy not because he is throwing harder but because he is nervous. Mihoshi walks on the field and Kanou tries to greet Mihashi but Mihashi runs of somewhere.
Hatake follows Mihashi who is hiding in the bushes. Hatake mentions that Mihashi still talks the same and asks him why he came for a game against a bunch of players that know how bad he is. He says that Mihashi knows how much the team hates him because 'Grandpa's boy' had to be their starting pitcher. Hatake launches his foot at the wall and says that he should have broken his arm last year if that is what it would have took to make Mihashi understand.
Abe interrupts them as he suddenly appears. Hatake and Abe exchange greetings as Hatake walks away. Abe asks him if he threatened Mihashi. Mihashi says that Hatake is actually a nice guy but he wanted Kanou to pitch as everyone liked Kanou better than Mihashi. Abe remembers what Coach Momoe did to him and tries the same thing. Abe grabs Mihashi's hand and tells him that he is a good pitcher. Mihashi starts to cry again and says that he is a bad pitcher. Abe continues to say Mihashi is a good pitcher but Mihashi says that he is lying.
Mihashi continues to cry making Abe think he is a stubborn person. He notices that Mihashi's hand is cold and that his fingers are rough and covered in calluses. He notices that Mihashi has worked hard to earn each of these. He realizes that Mihashi is not stubborn, he just has no self confidence. His old team-mates stripped him of his confidence without even trying to understand a guy that worked so hard.
Mihashi notices that Abe is busy thinking about something and slowly stops crying. Abe says that he likes Mihashi even though he irrates him and makes him angry. He says that he likes the fact that Mihashi has worked so hard and that he likes him not just as a pitcher, but as a person. Abe wants to do something to help him believe that he is a good pitcher. He wonders if looking out for his pitcher is the catcher's role.
Abe notices that Mihashi's hand is starting to warm up and Mihashi asks him if he really means what he said about Mihashi. Abe says that he does and Mihashi says he likes being a pitcher. Mihashi promises to become better because all he wants to do is win. Mihashi says that he likes Abe as well which creeps Abe out. Abe asks Mihashi to tell him all he knows about the batters on the way back.
Afterwards the scene cuts to 2 men from Mihoshi asking Shinooka to be the announcer. On the way back Mihashi and Abe meets Oda, and Abe asks Mihashi if he knows him. Mihashi says he doesn't and asks why. Abe says that he has an accent (Kansai dialect in Japanese version) and asks if Mihoshi is the kind of school to recruit players from the outside. Mihashi says that they have a preferred athletes program but they don't usually come from far away. Abe asks Shinooka for the roster and Mihashi remembers overhearing his teammates discussing an awesome new guy coming that year. Abe asks Mihashi who he doesn't know on the list and Mihashi says he doesn't know batters 4,6,7 and 8.
Kanou calls out to Mihashi as he is about to pitch. Abe notices his grip on the ball which means he is about to throw a forkball. The team wonders why he is revealing a pitch like that during practice. Abe asks Tajima if he can hit a forkball. Tajima says that in a game situation there is never a ball he can't hit which impresses the entire team.
Coach Momoe suddenly appears and says that she is counting on Tajima as this is an important game. She tells the team that if they can win this game then Mihashi would officially be their Ace pitcher. She asks who wants Mihashi. Abe grabs Mihashi's shoulder and shouts that he does. Coach Momoe asks who wants an Ace and the entire team responds with an I do. The team gets in a circle and Coach Momoe shouts out that they will win it for Mihashi causing him to blush.
Later on Mihashi is watching Kanou pitch and starts to get worried. Abe tells Mihashi to practice with Izumi as he will need to get his catcher gear off. Hanai mentions that the way Mihashi and Mihoshi act like nobody would be able to tell they use to be a team. Abe says that the team still holds a grudge against him and Mihashi thinks he deserves what they're doing. Mizutani asks why it's so important for them to win in this practice game. Abe yells at him that it's important for them to win for Mihashi to get over the past. If they were to lose then they would be stuck with Mihashi for 3 years and that they would be losing the games they would win.Abe says that if Mihashi will ever become the pitcher Abe knows he can be they must win this game. Hanai asks if this isn't just a practice game but like a battle for their starting pitcher. Sakaeguchi says that he know understand what the Coach meant when she asked who wanted Mihashi earlier.The team says that they will all play their best today. Coach Momoe smiles as she planned this practice game for Mihashi.
The game soon begins with Sakaeguchi batting first. Sakaeguchi bunts to third but Kanou manages to throw the ball to first making the first out. Afterwards Oki swings but also gets out. Abe goes up to bat and strike out. Abe goes back to the bench and Mihashi is there eager to help him with his equipment. Abe tells Mihashi that he knows Mihashi is hiding behind Abe but there's no place for him to hide when he's on the mound.
Manga Cuts Edit
- Field of vision test results.