Oda realizes Kanou always took Mihashi seriously as a rival. He recalls the day before, Kanou took great pains to prepare for the match: stretching his wrists and training some more right after in preparation to battle Mihashi.
Momoe sizes up Hatake. He isn’t the best catcher but he’s focused and signs quickly, giving batters little time to prepare. In the dugout, Abe chastises Mihashi for being upbeat even though he struke out. “Striking out isn’t something to be happy about… pitch when your on the mound but when your in the batter’s box, be a batter!”
Abe grows suspicious of Mihashi’s preoccupation with his former team especially Kanou. Abe thinks it’s a mixture of guilt and admiration for the pitcher. “But… is that all?”
Kanou does a jinx everytime he’s at plate because of Mihashi. Kanou is so hell bent on beating Mihashi, he overexherts himself unnecessarily such as swinging at a pitch meant to be a ball. He’s an open book in front of Abe who asks Mihashi for the same pitch. Even though he disagrees, Mihashi delivers for Abe. Kanou hits it and dashes for first base but he’s struck out despite his effort. Just as planned by Abe.
Hanai thinks Kanou’s slide was reckless. “Don’t slide head-first in a practice game. It’d be stupid if you were injured.” says Hanai. Irritated Kanou snaps back, “We still have no hits! You’re the one who should be more serious!” Oda intervenes before it gets out of hand.
It’s the top of the 4th inning. Oda can see Kanou is still agitated because of the arguement. “Ah man, he’s way too tense. Usually he’d ignore Hatake—” (Oda) As a result, his pitching suffers. Momoe already knows and signals the batter to wait. Kanou throws 4 balls in a row and gives Nishiura a free run.
Abe makes a sacrifical bunt and advances the runner to 2nd. The next batter, Tajima!
Hatake decides to walk Tajima but energetic star hits the ball to outfield again and brings the runner home.
“Your not sympathizing with Kanou, are you?” asks Abe. “Not at all… just a little,” stutters Mihashi. Abe confirms Mihashi still has lingering feelings of attachment for his old team.
During Hanai’s turn at bat, Hatake fumbles the ball and Taijima steals 3rd. Then Hanai hits a pop fly, just far enough to help Taijima run home.
Kanou’s composure breaks down and he walks another player. There’s no saving the pitcher, thinks Momoe. Mihashi feels terrible for Kanou. Mihoshi calls a time out.
The team gathers around the mound to calm down Kanou. He snaps at them instead for continuing to understimate Mihashi and blowing off the practice game.
“Calm down, Kanou,” says Hanai.
“We’ll get the two runs back,” says player 1.
“The opponent is Mihashi!” cajoles player 2.
“Stop it already! How many times do i have to tell you? Mihashi’s a good pitcher!” shouts Kanou.
“But we didn’t win during middle school,” refutes player 1.
“We didn’t win because of you guys! No matter how many times I told you, you all said Mihashi was riding on the coat-tails of a favor, and so during games, you all slacked off!” fumes Kanou.
He reserves his livid accusations for one person in particular:
“The reason Mihashi’s showing his strength today, isn’t it because of the catcher— Hatake?!
‘”If you hadn’t made a fool of Mihashi and used him properly, he would’ve pitched like he did today back in middle school!
“You always beat down on Mihashi! The real reason we lost is because of you!”
“That’s going too far! Hatake was being the bad guy for you, Kanou!” shouts player 2.
“Th-that’s right!” stammers player 1. “Mihashi was there b/c of a favor! He was the only one the director differed to! There were lots of others!”
“Your wrong! He’s the real deal!” retorts Kanou.
“Kanou, your the only one saying that!” shouts player 2.
“Calm. Down. Now!” Oda bops the arguing players in the head.
“I don’t think it was because of a favor either,” he tells Kanou and the others. “At least acknowdge that much about Mihashi, then there’d be no need to explain the situation right now.
“Also, Kanou. You went too far.”
“I know Hatake did it for me…But listen! We won’t win today if you keep underestimating him. If you want to make me better than Mihashi, help me win today! Stop looking down on him and start taking him seriously!” pleads Kanou.
“You are better than Mihashi!” states Hatake.
Hatake believes Kanou is better than Mihashi and he aims to win the game to prove it. The team recover from the fallout, banding together to help Kanou beat Mihashi.
“You want to be part of that circle?” asks Abe, directly questioning Mihashi’s loyalty.
Abe is conviced Mihasi wants to make up and go back to his old team but he has no intention of letting go of Mihasih without a fight. “I took a big gamble entering an unknown public school and finding a good pitcher. I’ll never let you go— Besides, in order to win, Mihashi’s better off with me!”
After the pep talk, Momoe helps Abe properly adjust his gear. She gives him advice about the batters then bluntly tells him to look after Mihashi. She reminds Abe that not only does he need him to succeed but Nishiura needs Mihashi too.
Momoe’s reality check wakes up Abe and he’s able to focus on the game again. He intends to convey the hopes of the team and himself to Mihashi through the baseball. The only catcher for you, is me! (Abe)
Tags: Ookiku Furikabutte