Hanamaki Higashi has advanced to the semi-finals at Koshien, but not without a little scare - ace pitcher and current MLB scout darling Yusei Kikuchi left the mound in the fifth inning with back pain. Third baseman Takuro Sarukawa took to the hill and finished the game as Hanamaki won in extra innings.
Kikuchi did not appear to be seriously hurt as he watched the game from the top step of the dugout and even joined the team for a conference on the mound. He had his back x-rayed, but no irregularities were found. Said Kikuchi,"there was pain, so just in case, I had it checked. Tomorrow I'm going to take care of my body and not throw. I will consult with my manager about the semi-final game." I'd be surprised if he doesn't play.
Meanwhile, Mets GM Omar Minaya has commented on having some interest in the lefty.Gossipy publication ZakZak quotes Minaya as saying, "I haven't seen him throw myself, but I've heard his name. He wants to come to the majors? If so we'll continue watching him". Mets Pacific Rim Scout Isao Ojimi commented "I don't thoughtlessly tell high school students 'come to the majors'. However he [Kikuchi] is different. If his hope it is to take the challenge, it would be a waste not to."
I'm going to shelve this topic until the end of Koshien, and just enjoy the rest of the tournament. We'll see what happens after that.