"An Amazing Pitcher" (スゴイ投手 "Sugoi Tōshu") is the eighth episode of season one.
On the way to practice, Mihashi meets Sakaeguchi and learns about the Senior League and how Abe was teamed up with an “amazing pitcher”. During practice, Shiga-sensei teaches all of the players how to meditate, saying that it will help them build a relaxing reflex that they can use when they are in a pinch. Thus, the team starts to perform a 5-minute daily routine of meditating before practice. After a bit of practice, Momoe takes the team to go see a prefecture tournament game, Urawa Composite vs. Musashino First. There it turns out that the “amazing pitcher”, Haruna, pitches for Musashino.
A blissful Nishiura team runs toward Mihashi to congratulate him. Mihashi hears the rings of telephones as calls start to pour in to greet him. He hears a distant voice calling him, his mother commands as she reminds him that he has practice this morning. Mihashi wakes up with a jolt whilst looking at the alarm clock.
His mother drops him off in her car while Sakaeguchi thinks how they have practice on the last day of Golden Week and they won't have a break for the next three years, but it's fun. He sees Mihashi and calls out to him. After a short debate with himself, Mihashi gathers up the courage to greet Sakaeguchi. Sakaeguchi says good morning back to Mihashi and thinks how he is making more eye contact. As they continue to walk, Sakaeguchi asks Mihashi about where he lived during middle school. Mihashi shares that he lived with his relatives. If he had stayed for high school, he would have to transfer to a dormitory because there was a girl of his age living there.
A smile crawls up to Sakaeguchi’s face at the thought and asks if the girl is cute or not. Mihashi dodges the question. Instead, he tells that the girl got angry for not informing her of their recent practice match with Mihoshi. He feared that she might go to root for him and he did not think he looked cool pitching. After exchanging teases, Sakaeguchi shares that he and Abe went to the same middle school and were on teams in the Senior League. However, they were not on the same team. Abe’s team was the strongest in their block and he played an amazing pitcher who was a year older. They were the 16th strongest in Kanto. Mihashi wonders what kind of pitcher is an amazing pitcher.
Shortly after Sakaeguchi and Mihashi arrive at the practice site, Shiga announces that they are going to have an exercise on meditation. Shiga uses Shinooka, the manager, as an example to illustrate the salient points of alpha waves, which are brain waves produced when one is relaxing and focusing. (He does this by scaring her, pretending there's a snake near her.) Contrary to common belief, alpha waves are not only produced when engaging in leisurely activities or when resting. They are also produced when one is focused and alert, but not tense or anxious.
The ability to stay relaxed in tense situations can be developed as a conditioned response such that when one sees a baseball, they will be relaxed. Shiga continues to say that everybody produces alpha waves in their daily lives, just that not everyone is conscious of it. One way to know if a person is relaxed is through the temperature of their palms. Those who are anxious and nervous have lower body temperature, while those who are relaxed have higher body temperatures.
He ends the discussion by inviting everyone to join hands in a circle to engage in the meditating exercise. After that, Momoe calls for them to start batting practice because their time is limited and that they will be watching a game later today between Urawa Sogo and Musashino.
The team arrives at the stadium to watch the game to determine the top 8 (winner advances to top 8). Abe thinks that it is strange for them to watch a game like this. It would have been better if they would watch the finals. However, Momoe insists that a match like this has its own merits and is worth watching. Right after stepping into the stadium, Tajima feels right at home and starts to strip down to his boxers. He is entertaining the idea of undressing all the way, when Momoe gives him the “Akuma” eyes.
Hanai and the others start a discussion on who they think is the stronger team. They agree that Urawa Sogo is stronger. Musashino’s strength is in their soccer such that girls would go cheer for them. Meanwhile, a player from Musashino approaches their side of the bench and starts calling “Takaya! Takaya!” Shinooka overhears and brings this to Abe’s attention. Abe goes over to the Haruna, the amazing pitcher Sakaeguchi talked about earlier.
Haruna asks where Abe’s school is, which he answers Nishiura. Haruna does not seem to know where Nishiura is when Musashino’s catcher comes over to pickup Haruna because the match is about to start and he has yet to do his warm-ups. Haruna is annoyed over the catcher’s needless worrying since he will not be up till the fourth inning. The catcher scolds Haruna and demands that he should take the game more seriously.
Haruna asks Abe to stay after the contest, but Abe declines. Haruna remembers how it took Abe a half year’s time to catch his pitches, how he was covered in bruises and how they lost a game because of Abe’s passed balls. Although Abe settled in the last half of the year, Haruna taunts he can't catch his pitches now. Haruna leaves Abe after telling him to watch.
An irritated Abe goes back to sit with Mihashi and Sakaeguchi. Sakaeguchi notes that Haruna has gotten bigger. Then he reveals that he told Mihashi about Haruna. He thought that Abe would go to the same school as Haruna. “I absolutely don’t want that!” stresses Abe. Sakaeguchi finds that odd since Haruna is an amazing pitcher. Abe ends the conversation saying, “That guy is the worst kind of pitcher!” Mihashi is bewildered with Abe’s statements.
The others ask Abe about Haruna. Abe reveals that Haruna is a pitcher, but he will not start pitching till the fourth inning. Apparently, Haruna has a self-imposed pitch limit of 80. Once he reaches the limit, no matter what the situation, he will go down from the mound.
Different teams as well as scouts have gathered to watch the game. All eyes are on Haruna.
The Nishiura team, most particularly Tajima and Mihashi, watch Haruna intently as he throws some warm-up pitches. Mihashi’s insecurities act up again.
Mihashi stops sobbing and remembers how Abe had praised him and supported him. He swears that he will never forget it. He realizes that he is not competing with Haruna. Also, the team is with him and if it is for them, he can pitch with his all.
Anime-Manga differences Edit
- The animators forced two chapters into the episode.
- Sakaeguchi calls out to Mihashi from across the street in the anime but manga Mihashi gets abruptly out of car when he sees Sakaeguchi.
- Mihashi mom drives a Volvo.
- Mihashi has onigiri in his hand his mom says to share.
- Urawa General or Urawa Integrated.
- Saitama City, Urawa.
- Missing protein drink and scorecard contest.
- Shino'oka sees someone cute. She enjoys wearing school uniforms.