Kubasaki set for marathon baseball weekend
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 15, 2018
Nothing like getting a chance to get a preview of teams you’ll be facing in the Far East Division I Baseball Tournament by seeing a couple of them early on in the regular season.
That’s Kubasaki’s and Nile C. Kinnick’s narrative heading into Friday’s showdown at 5:30 p.m. at Yokota Park. It’s the second of four games scheduled for the Dragons during a marathon weekend.
Kubasaki first faces host Yokota at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by Kinnick, then a doubleheader Saturday at 10 a.m. and noon at four-time defending D-I champion American School In Japan’s Mustang Valley.
“It’ll be good to see them,” Dragons coach Randy Toor said. “We’re expecting some good games.”
Toor also said he’s expecting both the Mustangs and Red Devils to be “tough.” ASIJ opened its season by pounding Division II Zama 30-0 on Tuesday, while Kinnick has won twice over D-II foes Matthew C. Perry and Yokota.
“They’re always loaded,” Toor said of ASIJ. “They’ve won the last four Far Easts. As far as we know, they’re the team to beat again.”
That’s not to say Kinnick will be a cakewalk, not with experienced batting and pitching hands Terrence Berg, Jonathan Acosta and Kacey Walker to deal with.
“We know Kubasaki is always one of the best teams,” Red Devils coach Chad Stark said. “They’re well coached, they do everything right baseball-wise, it’s always fun to face a quality team.”
Walker, in particular, says he’s motivated this season, being that this is his senior year at Kinnick, which has never won the D-I title. “We have to win it all. This is our last chance,” he said.
Rain is forecast for Friday afternoon, followed by clear skies but cold temperatures on Saturday. “It’ll be cold for us,” Toor said. “We’re not used to that.”
Though the spring season actually launched in late February with soccer, softball and baseball games in Japan, this is the first weekend that all districts will be in action, with Korea baseball and softball and Japan track and field joining the mix.
Among key weekend events is the Perry Cup soccer tournament, hosted by Matthew C. Perry. The seven-team tournament features Yokota and E.J. King as the Samurai’s DODEA-Japan opposition.
Track and field is the last sport to launch in Japan, and Dan Galvin, coach of host Yokota, said he believes that with a full five weeks to prepare, “the first-meet results might look better than usual.”
The meet takes place at Yokota. The DODEA-Japan field will include Perry, fielding a track team for the first time since the late 1970s, and all Tokyo-area international schools except for two.
Sunny skies are expected, though the forecast high is just 52 degrees. “We’re used to that,” Galvin said. “First meet of the season is always pretty raw.”