The Japanese monster pitcher, who also admitted to the KBO home run king, took off his hat after a four-ball and even apologized, saying, “It hurts so much…”
South Korea’s Lee Yi-ri pitched well, but Japan had a pitcher who pitched even better. Chihiro Sumida, 24, a second-year left-hander for the Seibu Lions, has made a name for himself in Korean baseball.
South Korea lost 1-2 to Japan in the second game of the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) qualifiers at the Tokyo Dome on April 17. Despite a quality start from starter Lee Yi-ri, who topped out at 153 kilometers per hour with six innings of six-hit ball (one home run), three walks and two strikeouts, the offense was unable to get anything going, with Kim Hui-jip’s solo home run two batters into the ninth inning being the only run scored.토토사이트
It was a game that belonged to Japanese left-hander Sumida. Sumida shut down the Korean bats in seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball, striking out seven. He needed just 77 pitches through seven innings, including a perfect game in the third inning on just 26 pitches. His fastball topped out at 149 mph and he mixed in a changeup, curveball, and splitter to throw off the timing of the Korean hitters.
He struck out Kim Do-young on three pitches in the first inning, using a first-pitch curve, a second-pitch changeup, and a third-pitch splitter to put all three pitches in the strike zone. In the second inning, Noh Si-hwan struck out on a dropping changeup. In the third, Park Seung-kyu watched a curveball for two strikes and then struck out swinging on a three-pitch changeup, while Choi Ji-hoon watched a two-pitch changeup outside and then struck out swinging on a three-pitch splitter that dropped even lower.
Worked the count with his fastball and curve, then used a dropping changeup and splitter as his deciding pitches. Hitters couldn’t get their timing right as his mid-90s fastball switched to a slower 120s changeup near the zone. The splitter had more velocity than the changeup, but it had more drop. South Korea’s No. 4 hitter Noh Shi-hwan, the KBO’s home run leader this year, lined a changeup down the middle of Sumida’s fastball into clean left field in the fourth inning, but struck out in the sixth when he was hit by a low, falling changeup on three pitches.
“When I hit in the fourth inning, I was aiming for a changeup and it came on the right course,” said Noh, who went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout against Sumida. “He throws a lot of changeups, but his pitches are really good. For me, it was mostly a changeup, but it was harder to hit because it fell well,” he said.
South Korean manager Ryu Jung-il also praised Sumida in an official interview. “He throws the ball easily. He gets strikes with his fastball and then with his changeup. I like the forkball (changeup-splitter) when he gets the last strike. He’s a very good athlete.” “I think he has better command than I’ve seen on video, and he’s a good pitcher. He throws his changeup in favorable counts and unfavorable counts. He has a lot of pitches. I think he has five or six, but he’s not easy to hit because of his ability to get strikes in unfavorable counts.”
Sumida didn’t give up any walks on the day, but there was one ball that stuck out. In the fifth inning, with the bases loaded, he threw a six-pitch, 148-kilometer fastball to Kim that slipped out of his hand and hit him in the tailbone. As Kim dropped to the ground in pain, Sumida’s panic was evident. As Kim walked to first base in pain, Sumida took off his hat and apologized to him.
After the game, Sumida apologized again for the dune situation, saying, “I used too much force, and I’m sorry that (Kim) was in so much pain.” Japan coach Hirokazu Ibata said, “I was relieved that Chogu was okay after the dune. It’s great that he continued to pitch well after the dunes,” said Ibata Hirokazu. “He can throw any ball for a strike. I couldn’t have asked for a better pitch.”
A finesse pitcher with a variety of pitches for his small frame (5-foot-11, 76 kilograms), Sumida has upped his fastball’s velocity to 150 kilometers this year. He’s been a highly touted prospect since his college days. He was selected first overall by Seibu in the 2021 draft after bidding against four other clubs. Last year, his rookie year, he struggled with batting support and lost 10 straight games after his first win, but the numbers weren’t bad with a 3.75 ERA in 16 games (81⅔ innings). This year, he went 9-10 with a 3.44 ERA in 22 games (131 innings) and has established himself as a mainstay in the Seibu lineup.
The APBC was his first time representing Samurai Japan, and he made a successful international debut against South Korea. “For my first international tournament, I wanted to do my best,” Sumida said. I wasn’t nervous. It was my first time facing batters, and I focused on what I could do. I was able to throw rhythmically while catching first-pitch strikes, and I threw confidently, as falling balls are my strength.” “It was great to be able to pitch on such a big stage,” he said.