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Some Stories are Meant to be Told

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In the year where he reach the age of 40, Nakatani Shouta watched the kid who used to live next to his house and taught baseball to took the mound during summer Koshien under the eyes of hundreds.

He can't help the pride that swelled up inside his chest.

 


 

Amongst the soft sound of chirping birds and the soft lull of winds, the sound of someone dragging their suitcase could be heard on the street of a small town in Nagano.

A man who looks to be around in his 30s with dark shades and sharply pressed light blue shirt could be seen walking through the dirt path or the small town. Completely ignoring the dirt and mud that begun clinging on his polished shoes.

The countryside is a whole new experience for one Nakatani Shouta. Born and raised in the bustling city of Tokyo before continuing to spent most of his adult life working in the same city and moving to a big city in the states, the male felt almost like an alien in this small quiet town.

Nagano is different from Tokyo, he should've expected that.

For one, on the small walk he took, dragging his suitcase behind him, he hardly seen any car passing by. Its bizzare for him, thinking that back in the city the said vehicle could be seen anywhere. For the first time in his life too, he could see that the sky is actually blue. Not the dreary gray that seems the only color painting the said sky back in the city. Hell, now he's standing next to a rice field. Rice fields! Who would've thought.

Well, nevertheless he won't complain. After all, it's his decision to retire from the countryside after his long and victorious career in the MLB.

Arriving in front of his new house, he let his eyes wander to the building. He had never thought to have an actual house for himself. Considering he had been living in apartments, and how expensive it is to buy one in the city, he had never thought to have a house with yard and trees surrounding it.

Well, thank god for professional baseball athlete money and the countryside relatively cheap housing.

Shuffling inside the gates of his new house, Shouta decided there's an anomaly straight away.

A blop. A blop of dark hair can be seen peering from a tree just beside his house. He narrowed his eyes, as a celebrated pitcher he likes to think that he already has a good eyesight, so when the blop of dark hair still stayed in his line of vision he decided that he's not hallucinating.

"Hey" he said, voice gruffer than he intended. "It's no use if you stay hidden when your hair is out in the open you know"

The blop flinched before a dark blur appeared, replacing the blop. In front if him, is a child, maybe around eight or nine? With wide golden eyes and puffy cheek. "HOW DID YOU KNOW!?" Screeched the child, voice booming. "DO YOU HAVE A SIXTH SENSE MISTER!?"

Shouta cringed at the voice. God, this child is loud. "I told you, your hair revealed your hiding spot"

"Lies!" Screamed the child as he pointed small finger towards him. "You must be a ninja! To be able to sense my presence is no easy feat!"

He blinked. "What-"

"Ohh!! Mister how about you show me your ninja way!?" The child asked, small feet bounding towards him. Huh, is that sparkles inside his eyes? "We can- we can play hide and seek together if you teach me!"

"Kid- just- just shut up okay?"

The child eyes widened before he reeled back as if he had just heard the worst atrocities someone could manage. "Don't tell me to shut up!" He said. "And I'm not a kid! I'm 7!"

"Where the hell did you even come from anyway?" Asked Shouta, pressing the space between his eyebrows because he can already feel the oncoming feeling of headache. "It's rude to just trespass someone property you know"

The child blinked, head cocked sideways slightly. "Tress- tressi- Tressip?"

"Trespass" repeated Shouta, beckoning the child to come closer with his hand before he crouched down to be in the same level as the younger. "It means to go to someone house without asking permission"

An imaginary lightbulb appeared beside the child head. God, Shouta eyesight must've gone bad. To think that he starting to imagine things.

"Oh!" Said the child, bowing slightly in an act of regret. "I am sorry then! I don't wanna be rude!"

"Good good" replied Shouta as he ruffled the top of the younger head. "By the way, where did you come from?"

As if he just remembered something, the child started to rummage the bright red backpack he's been wearing. It was not long before a container wrapped in plastic appeared out of it. The child immediately thrusted it towards him, a bright and proud smile etched across his face. "Mom said that this Sawamura Eijun is old enough to run errands! So she tasked me to deliver this cake to our neighbor!"

Shouta blinked. "Neighbor?"

"Yes! I live there with Mom, Dad, and Grandpa!" Said the child - now dubbed as Sawamura Eijun - as he pointed towards a house next to Shouta own's.

Staring, he can only utter a simple "Ah"

 


 

It only took Sawamura Eijun one week before he felt at home in Shouta's house.

Hell, he doesn't even know how the kid did it. During the one week he knows Eijun, and the lovely sawamura family next door, the kid is a hyper one. One with beaming smile and never ending energy. He would ran around the fields, laughing and screaming with his friends while sporting the biggest smile Shouta ever seen. The sound of Eijun loud shriek as well as laughter is now always accompanying him as he gone through the day.

He too, learned that Eijun is awfully persistent. The first day the kid ended up in his doorstep is the next day after he first moved in. Eijun had appeared, with another container filled with cake - the cake he received the day before had been so fucking good - that he doesn't have the heart to turn the kid away. After that, Eijun always ended up in his house one way or another.

For the record, he's not attached okay? It's Shouta's own choice to not marry, so he doesn't have a child of his own. And its also not Shouta fault that Eijun is just so... endearing.

Maybe its because the sunshine smile and the never ending enthusiasm the child held. Maybe its because the Sawamura family next door is also sweet people who always send him food and dinner invitations. Or maybe its just Shouta 32 year old self parenting instinct that finally kicks in after years of hibernation.

From what he heard from the Sawamura family next door when he was invited to one of their dinner, they've been living here in Nagano all their life and never ventured outside of the city. They also said that Eijun is an only child, and that mostly won't change for the years to come because how long they've waited for Eijun. ("10 years?" Asked Shouta, shocked at the news. Sawamura-san merely laughed, "Yes, 10 years, Eijun is our little miracle")

"I'm sorry that Eijun always visits your place Nakatani-san" said Eijun's mother during the dinner. "We've tried to stop him but somehow that child always found his way to your house"

"It's okay Sawamura-san" replied Shouta. "I... don't really have anything much to do after all"

"Oh?" Asked Eijun's grandfather from the head of the table. "You don't work?"

Shouta let out a sheepish smile. "I used to be a professional baseball player, both in Japan and the States" he started. "Now i have nothing to do after i retire"

"Now that you said it..." said the older man as he leaned forward on the table. "I reckon i've seen you before... did you get into a tv?"

He bites down a reply that yes, i'm pretty famous actually. "Couple of times"

"Cool!" Said Eijun, from his spot besides his mother. His holding a chopstick, after recently graduating from using practice chopstick as his mother told Shouta just a few moments earlier. "You're fa- fam- famous then!?"

"Hush Eijun" scolded his father as the man took a tissue. "Don't talk when your mouth is full"

"But!" Protested the child. "Sho-san-"

"Nakatani-san Eijun" reprimanded his mother.

"Sho-san is Sho-san!" Protested Eijun again. "Anyway Sho-san is really cool! I never met someone who's in tv before! I tried to get into the tv too but-"

"That's different dear" laughed the only woman in the table.

"How!?"

The lighthearted conversation continues after that. Shouta told them stories about his time as a professional athlete and they seems intrigued by it. Baseball after all is the number one sport in Japan, everyone loves it.

The next day, just like usual, Eijun ended up playing in his house. Shouta had left him in his own device as he stirred the tea in his cup. One of the perks living in the countryside now is having the time to enjoy a relaxing tea time everyday.

"Sho-san! Sho-san!" Yelled an overly excited voice. Shouta peered up a little from his cup to see the bundle of sunshine appearing in the kitchen. Small hand clutching what it seems to be a DVD. "Is this a movie Sho-san!? The cover is so cool! Can we watch it!? Can we!?"

"Okay, slow down brat" replied Shouta as he put his tea tray down on the table. "What you get in there?"

The child shoved the DVD cover towards him proudly. "I found it on that stacks you got under your tv!"

Shouta let his eyes wander towards the familiar cover of the said DVD. "Ah" he said.

"Ah?" Repeated Eijun. "Hey, what is that Sho-san? Can we watch it?"

"This" he said as he traced the box on his hand. "Is a recording of one of my baseball matches"

"Baseball?" Asked Eijun. "The sport you played that made you get into tv?"

He huffs out a laugh. "Yes brat, that one" he confirmed. "You sure wants to watch this? I don't think this kind of thing will be interesting enough for a kid like you"

Eijun immediately pouted. "I'm not a kid!" He said, puffing his cheeks. "I'll- i'll watch this! Because i'm not a kid and i also want to get into tv!"

"Oh?" Asked Shouta as he steered Eijun to where the living room is. "You want to get into tv huh?"

"Yes!" Replied Eijun as he climbed to the sofa. "Because Wakana-chan from class 1 said that only cool people get into tv and you're cool Sho-san! I'm also cool so i'm going to get into tv and everyone will watch me!"

"Of course of course" replied Shouta indulgently before he crouched right in front of his tv and put the cd on the DVD player. When he's sire that it's up and running, he step back and sat next to Eijun in the sofa. "Don't fall asleep okay?"

"I won't!"

Turns out, Eijun is right. Not only does he not fall asleep during the duration of the game, he keeps asking Shouta about all the rules and techniques in the game. Well, Eijun is still a kid, so Shouta tried to explain to him as simple as he could.

Eijun looks bewitched, because the boy doesn't even took his eyes off the screen. Wide golden eyes kept staring and watching how the game plays out.

"Sho-san" called out the younger as he tugged Shouta's shirt.

"Hm?"

"What position are you?" He asked. "The one that throws the ball to the crouching man?"

"I'm a pitcher" replied Shouta, ruffling the younger hair. "Doesn't it looks cool?"

Eijun nodded. "Yes!" He said. "Its like- it's like Mr. Robot-kun!"

Shouta raised an eyebrow. "And who is this Mr. Robot-kun Eijun?"

"He's this super cool robot that defends the earth from aliens! Sho-san should also watch him every Wednesday night!"

Ah, so its's a cartoon.

"Pitcher is like that right Sho-san? Cause you said that you have to hit the ball to score, so if the one who throws the ball really really good they can't score right!? Just like Mr. Robot-kun when he'a defending the earth!" Babbled Eijun.

"Well, in a way" drawled Shouta as he shifted his eyes towards the screen again. "You sure really into this huh brat?"

The kid merely puffed out his chest as we continue to watch the game.

Truthfully, Shouta doesn't think much about this. When he walked Eijun towards the Sawamura front door, everything is normal. The kid still gave him a big wave and sunny smile. It was also a quiet night.

So when the next day Eijun doesn't show up at his front door like usual, Shouta found it kind of odd. Maybe the kid finally got bored visiting him?

He found his answer two days after watching the game in the form of Sawamura Eijun with his usual wide smile and baseball glove in hand.

"Sho-san teach me baseball!"

 


 

Chapter Text

 

When Eijun was seven, he fell in love with baseball.

He doesn't remember what exactly made him so interested in the said sport, maybe because at that time he thought Sho-san is the coolest adult out there and he wants to be like him? Maybe its because pitchers reminds him of Mr.Robot-kun? Maybe its just his seven year old brain randomly deciding that baseball is his next one day interest?

Though what he can remember is, begging his father to buy him a baseball equipment. Of course his father refused, knowing full well how short his son attention span is. But no one can say no to Eijun's wide tearful golden eyes.

So that very day, just one day after watching his first baseball match in Sho-san's DVD, Eijun managed to convinced his father to buy him a kid baseball glove, baseball ball, and baseball bat for kids. The baseball glove itself is blue and yellow with a picture of Spongebob in the middle of it. Eijun loves it.

Immediately, after eating his breakfast, he ran towards his neighbor house. He only needs to wait for a bit after knocking before the familiar sight of Sho-san standing there still with his pajamas appeared.

"Sho-san teach me baseball!"

 


 

There's not much about what he can teach to a seven year old about how to play baseball.

"You know the rules?" He asked when the both of them arrived in an empty field near their house. Usually kids would play football here. Oddly, today the field has been left empty.

It seems baseball gods is on their side.

Eijun nodded with all the seriousness a seven year old could muster. "I tried to memorize it last night!" Replied the child.

"Good work then" Shouta hummed, bags now slumped down on the ground as he began thinking what he can teach Eijun about.

It's not like he can teach him the change up considering the boy is only a seven year old or fielding only with the two of them. He's also not sure if Eijun's sudden interest in baseball is only temporary or if the boy really do find the sport interesting.

Kids are like this right? Getting fascinated easily but also bored as easily.

After pondering about the options he had, he decided that complex moves that happens in an actual game is obviously out of question. So Shouta settled in the game of catch and simple batting exercise.

"First, we're going to do batting exercise okay?" He said, rolling his sleeves up as he casted a look towards the kid next to him.

Eijun eyes widened before he deflate in disappointment. "Eehhhh??" He complained loudly, fists clenched. "But i want to be a pitcher!"

"Brat" said Shouta as he peered down at the younger. "You know a pitcher should bat too right? What use a good defense if you can't score?"

The boy let out a long suffering sigh as if batting is a great sin before he trudged to where their things are piled up in this empty filed. He took out a bat that's seems for kiddies, obvious from the size and the fact there's Spongebob plastered across it.

"Okay, do you remember about how to score?" He asked as he stood not far where Eijun is, fiddling the baseball ball on his hand.

At this, Eijun finally brightened. "I just need to swing it right?" Asked the kid loudly.

"Yes yes" nodded Shouta, readying his stance. "Okay here we go"

He released the ball from his grip, slow and steady. Completely easy to bat even for kids.

Only for Eijun to completely missed it.

"Augh!" Grunted Eijun when he met air as he swung his Spongebob bat with all his might.

Shouta blinked, a bit surprised. "Ah, thats okay, not everyone can hit my pitches"

Eijun huffed, glaring at his bat as if the thing is the one responsible to his inability to hit the ball. "More Sho-san!"

"Allright allright" he nodded before retrieving the ball and once again, released the ball in a slow and steady manner.

Eijun still completely missed the ball at his second, third, even sixth try. On the seventh try, the kid completely missed the ball too and looking like the world has done him a great injustice.

"This is no fun!" Complained Eijun, eyes completely wet in tears and brows furrowing in frustration. The kid let out a betrayed scream before he hurled his bat down. Shouta internally panicked because he's not good at handling kids, especially crying kids. "I can't hit the ball!"

He immediately walked towards where Eijun stood, swiping the incoming onslaught of tears with his thumb. "Hey, hey, kid" he said, trying to sound placating. "Its okay kid, not everyone is good at the first go okay?"

"But! But!" Yelled Eijun, his face completely red and wet from tears. "I want to be in tv and- and show Wakana-chan!" As if that was the last straw, the kid began wailing loudly.

Fat tears running down the boy face as he let out a loud wail. Face red, and snot marred his nose as he continue to cry.

Shouta cringed and fumbled. He whipped his head around, making sure that no one is around or thinking that he made little kids cry on his free time. "No, no, kid stop crying okay?" He said, hands frantically trying to wipe the tears on the boy face. "I'll buy you ice cream after this, so stop crying allright?"

Kids like ice cream right? That kind of thing should work right?

Eijun still let out this sad wailing noise but it's not as loud nor as intense as before. He managed to nodded a bit before continuing his small bout of hiccups and crying.

He sighed in relief a bit. "Okay, kid, let me teach you how to hit the ball okay?" Said Shouta as he took the kiddies bat, previously discarded from the boy frustration. "See, look at my hand, this is how you have to hold it"

He adjusted his grip to what he use usually during matches. He could feel Eijun's gaze on his hand amidst the small sniffling the kid let out. "And then you positioned it like this" he said as he draw the bat back, in a position a batter would use. "You can try swinging it a bit, just to see how far you reach is" he started swinging the bat. "Got it?"

Eijun nodded as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

"Okay, so keep your eyes on the ball alright?" Said Shouta. "Keep your eyes on the ball, never lose it, and when you see the ball around the place where you swing reach-" he swing his bat, "-its an easy homerun"

The kid nodded his head. There's still snot on his nose and there's still tears running down his face, but there's a new kind of determination inside his eyes. "Okay" he mumbled out after letting out little sad hiccups, as he started to fiddle with his shirt.

"You want to try?" Asked Shouta as he hand back the Spongebob bat towards the crying kid.

"Want" mumbled Eijun lowly as he reached towards the bat.

Shouta let out a small smile before he ruffled the kid hair once again and retreated back towards where he previously stood.

"Okay, remember what i said, eyes on the ball"

Eijun nodded his head as he began the batting stance that Shouta just show him earlier. There's a lot of flaws and in need of improvement, but what can he expect from a seven year old kid who just cried?

"Okay, here we go-" he released the ball again, making sure carefully to throw a ball that's slow and steady enough this time for a kid to bat.

Eijun once again failed to make contact with the ball. The kid stared at the ball on the ground for a few seconds before he looks like that he's going to burst into another fit of tears once again.

Shouta's eyes widened immediately.

"Hey, hey kid its okay alright?" He called out. "Let me tell you a secret"

The kid perked up at that, eyes still red from holding tears. "What secret?" Asked the younger.

"Do you know where the best high school baseball players play baseball?" He answered, motioning for the kid to come closer in which he did.

Eijun seems to  think about the question a bit. "The- the field?" He answered.

Shouta laughed. "No, there's this tournament, called Koshien where all the best high school player in Japan gather" he let his voice to drop lower, making a show as if he's whispering the words to Eijun.

"Ko- Kushin?" Repeated the boy.

"Close, but anyway, imagine Eijun, in a place where the best high school player in Japan gather, no one can bat my pitches!" At this, he made a grand gesture with his hand. "No one!"

Golden eyes widened and now no sign of tears could be seen. "No- no one?" Asked Eijun, a trace of awe could be heard from his tome.

"Yes, no one Eijun" he doesn't say that actually there's some who could, but hey, Shouta is the best pitcher of his generation, the statement is still valid. "So it's no wonder that you can't bat my pitches okay?"

The child looks sullen at that but nodded. Eyes dry of tears.

"Lets try again alright?" Asked Shouta, standing up from his crouching position.

Eijun nodded before he shuffled back to his position previously.

He still didn't manage to bat the next pitch. Or the one after. But he doesn't look like that he was about to cry anymore so Shouta counted that down as a victory.

It was then, during the 5th pitch after his Koshien story that Eijun managed to make contact and flung the ball to the area nearby.

Both he and Eijun watch, with wide eyes, as the ball soar a couple meters from where they stood.

It doesn't make sense.

Shouta had done more impressive pitches. He had watch people bat a more impressive and hard pitches before. Hell, he had scored a homerun in pitches harder than that one. Oddly though, there's this feeling that blooms inside his chest. Something akin to the feeling when his high school team won Koshien. Akin to the feeling when he reached his dream to play in the MLB.

This mixed feeling of pride and happiness.

He doesn't even realize that there's a wide smile on his face or that his eyes is full of pride. All he can register is Eijun managed to hit his pitch. Turning towards where Eijun stood, he was about to offer his appreciation. "Woah kid-"

What Shouta about to say immediately got cut off because he found an extra weight hurling towards him.

The older let out a soft grunt when the extra weight began clinging ton his stomach.

"Sho-san!" Yelled Eijun, eyes so full of happiness and excitement. "Sho-san! Sho-san!" He continue yelling, mouth stretched full in obvious happiness.

"Slow down kid" he grunted out, trying to not toppling down to earth with this extra weight clinging to him.

"I hit your pitch!" Exclaimed the kid, as if he's not crying just a few minutes ago because he can't hit a MLB pitcher pitch. "I hit it!" Repeated the kid again, happiness still dripping down his tone.

Shouta is not soft. He's a tough athlete and completely not soft to this kid. "Yes you did" he doesn't register how his eyes and tone gone softer.

"I'm better than those in Ko- Kosyiyn!" Exclaimed Eijun again.

Shouta chocked down a laughter at that. "That you are kid" he said as he ruffled down the boy hair. "Now that your a master batter, how about i teach you about pitching huh?"

"Yes!"

 


 

"Huh" Shouta found himself saying. "You're really good at this"

Eijun, still on the position for bunting, laughed loudly. "Of course! Who do you think you're talking to, Sho-san!?"

 


 

The next week, Shouta found Eijun father standing in front of his doorstep.

"By any chance..." said the other man, scratching his cheek awkwardly. "Can you recommend a youth baseball club Eijun can join?"

Shouta found himself smiling.

He's not soft damnit.

 


 

Nakatani Shouta is 33, still single, still living next to the Sawamuras, and now on a train to Hyogo, or to be precise, the Hanshin Koshien Stadium.

Truth to be told, the last thing he expect to do during the summer is a twelve hour train towards a prefecture on the other side of Japan. He was expecting to drink some beer on his foyer, maybe a dinner with the Sawamuras once in a while? Ah, the grocery shop down the street is having a discount, he should go there too. Maybe continue becoming Eijun's slash coach, slash baseball teacher?

Certainly not in a train filled to the brim with both Sawamura Eijun and Sawamura Eitoku sitting in front of him.

"Grandpa! Grandpa!" Yelled Eijun as he thrusted the bento box he just bought towards the older man. "Try this! Itsh sho ghud!"

"Don't talk when your mouth still full of food" Shouta reprimanded the boy, at this point its more of an instinct than the need to because Eijun is a messy eater as a child.

"Don't mind if i do then" said Eitoku-san before grabbing Eijun's chopstick and shoving a big bite towards his mouth. Eijun watched bit big eyes and complain already on his tongue.

"Grandpa no fair! That's a big bite!"

"Ah, but i'm a grown up, i need big bite Eijun" laughed the elderly as he flicked the top of the child forehead.

Eijun pouted as he scratched the now reddened forehead of his. "I'm not a kid! I'm a big boy so i need a big bite too!" Protested Eijun as he puffed out his cheeks.

"Maybe when you're as tall as Shouta-kun there" teased Eitoku-san as he give him a look full of teasing glint.

Ah, that's not fair, thought Shouta idly. He's a little over 6ft, certainly not that tall in comparison to many foreign people, but theres actually not many Japanese actually as tall as he is.

Apparently Eijun has the same thought as him because the boy protested indignantly. "That's no fair! Sho-san is a giant!"

"Oi brat" reprimanded Shouta. "Remember who got you tickets to see the actual Koshien"

"Yes, be grateful to Shouta-kun, Eijun" nudges Eitoku as if the boy haven't thanked him a hundred times and even wailed in delight when he saw the tickets to see Koshien.

For Eijun eight birthday, he gave the boy four ticket to watch Koshien. He needs to contact some of his connection in the baseball community to manage to get four tickets two months ahead of the actual event. Considering he manage to get the ticket for free, he's not complaining.

He thought it would also be a good opportunity for the Sawamuras to ventured outside of Nagano for awhile. Turns out, both Eijun's parents can't come because of a sudden business trip. So here he is. Sitting inside a twelve hour train ride to Hyogo after being dragged by Sawamura Eitoku.

Its been around one year since he first become Eijun kind of personal coach for baseball. In that time, he had taught the younger basics about batting, pitching, as well as trying to make an eight year old understand gameplay that's a bit more complex. He's in the middle on teaching the kid variations of fastballs at the moment.

Eijun had also  joined a local youth baseball team where boys around Eijun age played together, a good exercise to learn about teamwork.

Despite being an 8 year old, Shouta could see the potential Eijun held as a pitcher. He soak up everything like a sponge (He likes to think its funny because the kid baseball gears is full of Spongebob). Honestly, he was a bit spooked with how fast Eijun mastered the four seam fastball. Soon, he'll have to teach the younger a two seam fastball.

The kid himself is also a really passionate one, never complaining about the exercises that Shouta gave him and will always follow through Shouta guide with enthusiasm. After his initial burst of tears, it seems that Eijun has found a new kind of determination for the said sport. It's not long before Eijun become the star player of his youth baseball club despite how his batting needs more improvement than his pitching and his odd mastery in bunting.

"Say, Kid" he called out Eijun who's still munching down the bento box on his hand. "Are you excited?"

Eijun brightened. "Of course!" Said the kid. "You said Koshien is the place where best high school player gather right?"

"Yeah" replied Shouta. "I played there through all my high school years"

"Yes yes! That story where no batter can hit your pitches!" Replied Eijun with full enthusiasm. "Can you believe it Grandpa? Sho-san is really good!"

"I know brat" replied Eitoku-san. "Shouta here, used to be a really famous baseball athlete"

Ah, that's kinda an embarrassing reminder.

"The one on tv!" Agreed Eijun.

"Yes yes" replied Shouta tiredly.

A few hours pass, and before they know it, it's time to check in their hotel. Shouta decided that tomorrow will be a long day under the sun heat and Eijun's screeching, so he better sleep first. Collapsing head first on the soft mattress, Shouta let the soft lull of sleep overtaking him.

Turns out, he's right.

Right under the scorching sun of the summer, with thousands of people screaming and marching bands playing their school song, today really will be a long day.

Summer Koshien, the main stage that he had dreamt of back in high school. The very stage where he first show the world about his skills in baseball and how Shouta is the next big thing in the baseball scene.

His musing was broken when a familiar voice appeared besides him. "Sho-san?" Called out Eijun as he sat on the bleachers next to him. "You're not hot with that mask?"

The surgical mask and the dark tinted sunglasses is his measly attempt to hide his identity. It's only been one year since his retirement and he's pretty sure that his face is still pretty recognizable at this point.

"No" he lied. "I'm alright kid, just focus on the game" unconsciously, he adjusted the surgical mask on his face again. Highly aware of the gazes that was casted into his form.

Eitoku-san throw him a knowing look and a crooked grin (Shouta has the urge to flip him off but that's a way too adult gesture for Eijun to see) but nevertheless, he stayed silent and focused on the game.

It's been awhile since he watch a Koshien game live. The first one after his high school graduation in fact. During the first and second year post graduation he has been busy with the drafts and adjusting with his new professional team. After that, he immediately leave for the states and only went back to Japan scarcely before he finally retire to the countryside.

A wave of nostalgia washed over him as he heard the familiar blaring horns and how loud the marching band with school song is.

Ah, how many sweat and tears did he shed to stand in this stage all those years back? He still could always remember vividly how grueling the practice is, how much pressure he felt when he finally stood in the mound he dreamt so much about.

"Sho-san"  called out Eijun, once again, breaking him out if his thoughts. "What is quarterfinals?"

"It means there's only four teams in the tournament" replied Shouta. "We're watching who will be the final two for the finals"

"Ohhh"

After that, Eijun seems way too enraptured by the game. He constantly asked about what did that player do, why did the pitch is a ball, and so on so on. He also seems over the moon, with how loud and excited his yells is.

The winner of the game is some private school from Tokyo and will advance to the finals. After a loud bout of cheers and claps, all three of them immediately moved out from their seat after the game to catch their going to home train.

Almost immediately, Eijun immediately talked about the game with stars in his eyes. He said that even though watching baseball games is not as fun as playing, it's still fun! The kid talked about, in his words, the pitch with light speed, and once again in his words, batters with monster like arm strength.

The conversation continues even when they entered the train and settled into their seat. He learns early that Eijun always act like a kid high on sugar, but apparently, Eijun who just finished a baseball game is like a kid high on a mountain of sugar and this is the first time he released the pent up energy in 10 years.

Shouta, obviously, is not excited for the 12 hour train ride ahead of them.

 


 

For his 9th birthday, Sho-san gave him an actual baseball glove.

Its too big him for him, obviously, but Eijun still marveled at it as if its the world most precious diamond.

"Grandpa! Grandpa! Look!" He yelled excitedly to where his grandpa sat, eating Eijun's birthday cake. "Its a baseball glove! Like the one the big kids use!"

His grandpa saw the glove in Eijun's hand before turning towards Sho-san. "Are you sure? " he asked the silent man who was also eating Eijun's birthday cake. "I know baseball gear doesn't come cheap"

Sho-san huffed slowly. "It's fine, i used to spent more on gears than this, if its like this we don't need to buy him a new glove in the future"

Grandpa laughed at that before he pat the back of Sho-san's loudly. The said man let out a few pained grunt at that action. "Hahahah! You're really a good man Shouta!"

Sho-san let out a nod before he managed to escape grandpa painful back pats. Eijun can relate to that. Grandpa's pats hurt.

He immediately shuffled towards the seat next to Sho-san again, holding the glove close to his chest. "Thank you Sho-san!" He said, eyes brimming full of happiness. "This is like the best birthday gift ever!

The older raised an eyebrow. "Even better than the Koshien trip?"

Eijun actually needs to mull that question up because last year gift was amazing too. But it's a baseball glove! Something that's only used by like really good players! "Yes!" he replied. "I'll use it everyday when I grow big enough!"

Sho-san's lips quirked a bit at that. "If you win your local youth tournament, i'll buy  you a new bat, brat" said the older man as he ruffled the top of his head.

Eijun immediately whipped his head towards where Sho-san stood. "Really!?" He asked, wide eyes shone with excitement. While his Spongebob bat is amazing, he wants a bat like Azu-kun who has this cool shiny looking bat! 

"Pinky promise" 

Two weeks later, after the finals of Nagano Youth Tournament, he presented his shiny golden trophy to Sho-san. Sho-san let out a huff before a small smile crept up on his face.

"Well done Brat" praised the older as he reached down to pat his head. "When should we go to the sports store?"

"Tomorrow!"

Not long after that, during their usual afternoon practice, Eijun saw Sho-san holding a book as he sat on his porch.

"What's that?" Asked Eijun, peering down to see what kind if book Sho-san is reading. Only to found odd symbols and writings that he can't understand at all.

"This?" Sho-san hummed, flicking another page open. Eijun still can't understand anything written on the book even when he furrowed his brows and trying to inch closer to have a better look. "This is baseball scorebook"

"Scorebook?" Repeated Eijun, head turning towards the older.

"Yeah" answered the man.

"Hos do you read it?"

Sho-san glance up, looking at him. Eijun merely blinked, holding the stare. Sho-san seems to have come to a decision internally because the man nodded his head a bit.

"You want me to teach you how do game calling?"

 


 

When Eijun was 10, he went on his first competition outside of Nagano.

Thinking back, it's not that big of a competition. It's just a game for all the youth team in Japan with members ranging from 10-12 years old to play each other. Considering the players are elementary schoolers that mostly play just for fun, yeah.

Nevertheless, Eijun is highly competitive and highly passionate about baseball. Now he's the ace ("Tiny tiny little ace" teased Sho-san when Eijun proudly shower the number one on his back) of his small youth club, he decided that he'll make sure to win this tournament for kids.

He lost, in the finals.

Amidst the crying teammates around him who was being consoled by their parents, Eijun stared at the winning team who got snack box as their winning gift and a shiny golden trophy. He stared at the silver trophy on his hand and found himself frowning. Completely unsatisfied.

"You're not happy?" Asked Sho-san who decided to chaperone him for this tournament because he took his role as Eijun's personal coach more seriously than the older likes to admit.

"No" said Eijun, puffing out his cheeks. "Second place is just the first loser"

Sho-san snickered. "That they are" said the man as the gave Eijun a stick of chocolate in which the kid immediately give. "You found something different from that team and yours?"

"Uh" said the kid, eyes flicking towards the winning team who was flocking around a tall kid with foreign name who is also their main catcher. "It looks like they played together for a loooong time" he said, opening his arms wide as if to emphasize. "And i noticed the catcher was making some signs to the pitcher"

"Yes he did" agreed Sho-san. "Baseball is a team sport remember? A pitcher is nothing without a good catcher"

"Eh?" Asked Eijun. "But the catcher is only there to catch the pitcher's ball right Sho-san"

"Not quiet" answered the older. "See, let me tell you about some of the catcher job, they need to survey the field and saw where is the team position in the game. Like what innings are they, is there any runners on the base, what kind of batter are they facing, what kind of play are they doing, and so on so on"

"But i can decide what pitches I want!" frowned Eijun. "You taught me"

"Well yeah" agreed Sho-san. "But remember Eijun, a catcher can actually see the whole field you know from his position, while i know being aware of your surrounding is good, its not like you can constantly looked back or around" explained the man.

"Ohhh" marvelled Eijun.

"Yes, and from that, they can guide the pitcher to pitch they way they like"

Eijun eyes widened. "I thought the catcher job is only to catch" he said. "Nabe-kun didn't make any signs for me!" Huffed out the young pitcher.

"I think you're still too young for that complex thing" laughed Sho-san.

"Hmm" hummed Eijun. "So they're really don't just catch pitchers pitch?"

Sho-san snickered. "Well if that really is the case, Catcher is a really easy job don'cha think? Besides a catcher needs to look cool too"

"Well, Catchers are cool, but Pitchers are the coolest of them all!" Declared Eijun proudly, mouth staining with chocolate and hands cocked on his hips.

"Of course pitchers are the coolest" agreed Sho-san. "Do you know what you call a pitcher and catcher pair?"

"What?"

"A battery"

 


 

Eijun's elementary school graduation is getting nearer when Shouta's approached him.

"You're graduating elementary soon" said the man.

Eijun blink, looking up from the plate of cookied in front of him. "Yeah?" He asked, a bit confused. "Why are you asking Sho-san, are you getting old? Are you starting to forget things?"

"Brat" grunted the older male as he started to ruffle Eijun's already messy hair. "Say that again i dare you"

"You look really youthful Sho-san!"

"Thats what i thought" replied the man. "I should start giving you training plans"

"Eehh?"

 


 

Chapter Text

 

Eijun is in his second year of middle school, and he held the silver trophy for the National Junior High School Baseball Championship in his hand.

Around him, he could see the rest of his teammates in Akagi Junior High wiped the tear off of their face. He's not sure if its tears of happiness or if its tears of sadness. Though, there are smiles on their face, so he guess it could be the former. He can't bring himself to cry, be it for joy or sadness. All he could think of is that he failed to bring gold for his team.

What kind of ace is that? Whispered a voice in the back of his mind. He had offered a wide smile and energetic thank you every time someone took him to the side and congratulate him. The spectators too, had shouted their encouragements to his team when the final score had been announced.

0-1

The lost belong to Akagi Junior High.

Drowned in the loud cheering and the sea of congratulations, he let the realization sink in that he only managed to win silver. No shiny golden trophy in his hand, just a silver one just like years ago during his first baseball tournament outside of Nagano.

"Ei-chan" called out Wakana as she stood next to him. Her eyes are red and there are wet streaks on her cheeks but she's sporting a large smile. "Why the long face?"

Eijun stared at the silver trophy on his hand sullenly as if he's a ten year old again and just lost his first baseball tournament. "Its silver" he mumbled out.

The girl blinked before her eyes widen as if she just remembered something. "Ah" said Wakana, face full of understanding. "What are you? An elementary schooler? To be upset on getting silver" teased the girl as she nudged his shoulder.

"I'm not upset" he stressed out the last word because Eijun is mature okay? He's not upset that they're second place. Being upset at losing is only for sore losers (at least that's what Sho-san said) and he's most definitely not a sore loser. "Its just-" What Eijun was about to say got cut off when a new voice piped up.

"Second place is just the first loser?"

Eijun immediately brightened when he heard the new yet familiar voice. "Sho-san!" He exclaimed, turning his head to see where Sho-San is approaching both him and Wakana.

The older man has his hands stuffed into his pants pocket. Akagi Junior High familiar baseball jersey could be seen on his form as the man winced at how loud Eijun's voice is.

Akagi middle school, the only middle school in Eijun's small town doesn't have a baseball club. Eijun, upon knowing this, become completely horrified considering he can't join the youth team for practice anymore because of his age.

Immediately when he came home, he had whined about it to his family, saying that there's no way he has to wait until high school to play in a baseball tournament again. It was his grandpa that give him the idea to build his own baseball team.

The idea itself is insane considering that Akagi Middle will most likely be close down in the coming years so it's hard to ask them to fund something. But not only Eijun is determined, he's a man on mission. He will make that baseball club and nothing will stop him.

After long weeks of begging, appeasing the teachers, and running around the school in search of members, he finally managed to gain the approval of his teachers to make his own baseball club. The members mostly consists of Eijun childhood friends and some friends he made during his time in the youth club, not that he's complaining.

He also managed to drag Sho-san out of his house and beg him to be the team coach. Eijun likes to think that Sho-san is softer than what he likes to portray, and the bad boy vibe the older seems to ooze is only a way to attract someone to date his lonely self. So it only took him one day of begging and the school promising to pay him to make Sho-san agree to coach the team.

It's the best decision ever.

And now here they are, in Eijun second year of middle school inside a small stadium in Tokyo where the National Junior High School Baseball Championship was held.

"Brat" said Sho-san  when her arrived as his side as he ruffled the top of Eijun's head in which the younger pitcher protested at. "You don't know how amazing it is for an unknown middle school from the backwater to get a second place amongst these famous private schools"

Wakana laughed from his side. "Nakatani-sensei is right Eijun-kun" said the female. "If it's not because you or Nakatani-sensei, i don't think we'll even win the championship in Nagano"

"You guys worked hard too!" Protested Eijun as he evade another ruffle from Sho-san. "Baseball is a team sport, I'm not the only one contributing to our win!"

"You heard yourself" grunted Sho-san. "It's a team sport so stop blaming yourself on today loss"

Bullseye. As expected of Sho-san.

"Fine fine" grumbled Eijun, pout still marring his face. "I'll be grateful... i guess"

"You should be grateful" snarked the older as he casted him a look. "Considering all the effort i did to train you"

"Sho-san you should just admit that you have soft spot for me" sing songed Eijun as he latched his arms on the older shoulder.

"See if i let you play in the next match, brat"

"S-Sho-san!? That was a joke!"

 


 

Oh no, thought Eijun as he fumbled with his baseball bag as he stepped outside of the stadium. The queue to the bathroom was so packed that he thought he's going to piss himself earlier. He's so late, the bus is going to leave him and he will have to live off scraps here in this big city of Tokyo with no one else-

"Hey you!"

Eijun stopped, hand full of his baseball bag because he accidentally broke the strap shortly after arriving in Tokyo. Sho-san said that it was his karma for being too excited.

Blinking, he made sure that he doesn't misheard that. He doesn't know anyone in Tokyo, so who is calling him?

Maybe he should get his hearing checked?

"You, the pitcher from that backwater middle school!"

Oh that's him then. Wait- did he just called his school backwater middle school!?

Bristling, he turned around, only stopping when he saw a teen around his age with blond hair and blue eyes. It took him a second to recognize the familiar jersey. Ah, he thought, annoyance starting to rise inside of him. Its the team that beat him. The pitcher to be exact.

"You!" Said Eijun instead, catching the other teen off guard.

"Yes, me!" Huffed the other pitcher sounding haughty. "Anyway, hey, you!"

"Me!" Replied Eijun, not wanting the other teen to feel some kind of accomplishment by not answering.

"This conversation is so confusing gah!" Yelled the other, mussing his hair with his hand. "You, pitcher from backwater school!"

"How rude! Akagi is not a backwater school!" complained Eijun. "I have a name you know, Mr. Pitcher!"

"I also have a name"

Both of them stared at each other.

"Sawamura Eijun" said Eijun, outstretching his hand towards the pitcher. The blond teen stared down at his hand with a raised eyebrow before huffing.

"Who says i'm going to give you my name?" Challenged the blond.

How rude. Does Tokyo kids really don't have any manners? "Its rude if you don't" retorted Eijun, huffing.

"What are you? An elementary student?"

Frowning, Eijun retracted back his hand. "Well okay then Mr. arrogant" said the dark haired male. "'Scuse me then" he made the move to leave but was stopped when a hand  was stopping him by grabbing his shoulder.

"I'm not done with you!" Protested the blond. "You- did you just throw a change up earlier!?"

Eijun blinked. Oh, he wants to talk about baseball, thought Eijun in a full blown realization.

He likes to talk about baseball. No, he loves to talk about baseball. So far, the only conversation he can have about baseball is with Sho-san. Suddenly the haughty teen in front of him doesn't look all that bad.

"Ah, yeah" he admitted. "Circle change up"

"When did you first learned it?" Pressed the blond.

"When i was around 9!" He declared, puffing his chest a bit. "My coach said that it's better to try develop it when my hand is big enough to hold the ball" explained Eijun as he made a grabbing motion with his hand, remembering the first time Sho-san informed him that he's going to teach him more complex grips for pitchers.  "I haven't perfected it yet, though my coach said its normal considering i'm still growing and what with my hand is still not that big"

"You got a coach since then? Did you play in youth league? What kind of pitches do you know?" The blond continue prodding, leaning forward towards Eijun.

Eijun blinked before he took a step back. "Don't you think you should tell me your name first?"

"Fine, Narumiya Mei. Now answer my question" answered the blond - now dubbed as Narumiya Mei, the pitcher from the other team.

Well, rude.

Back then, during the match, Eijun felt that he was seven and consistently failed to hit Sho-san pitches all over again. His bat always meet air and he was this close to yelling in frustration. The other team pitcher was great, amazing even. Not to mention, he’s a southpaw like Eijun. He was so excited and amazed when he watched the pitcher’s pitch. Even Sho-san shared the same opinion with him. Though, after knowing how haughty the blond is, Eijun internally blanched at how starry eyed he was earlier.

"Yes, i used to play in the youth league back in elementary. I got a couple of fastballs, my coach just started to teach me breaking balls recently" explained Eijun after realizing that no, Narumiya will not back down and will only do so after he get what he wants.

"You started on breaking balls already?" Murmured Narumiya.

"Yeah?"

Years ago, shortly after he got the four seamer and two seamer down, Sho-san was reluctant to immediately jump to breaking balls. He explained that he wants Eijun to grow more and adjust to his growing body first in fear of him having an injury.

It's only recently that Sho-san begun teaching him breaking balls. So far he's trying to improve his cutter and slider, though Sho-san warned him to not practice breaking balls so frequently in fear of, once again, injury.

Narumiya narrowed his eyes. "I see"

"What about you?" Asked Eijun. "What kind of pitches can you use?"

"Ha! As if i'll tell you! We're rivals after all!" Declared Narumiya as he pointed his fingers towards Eijun. "My pitching repertoire is a secret"

"Haaa!?" Yelled Eijun indignantly. "Thats- thats not fair! I told you about my pitching! You should told me too!"

"Nope! You're just too dumb to give away your secret!" Laughed the blond as he crossed his arms together. "What kind of idiot told a rival team their pitches!?"

"No! You're just too mean! Bullying other kids!" Cried out Eijun, brows furrowing.

"What the hell are you saying!?"

Eijun huffed out an annoyed breath. "You're really annoying" said the dark haired teen. "Can't believe i actually thought you're cool when you pitch"

Narumiya smirked. "Ha, so you admit i'm the better pitcher"

"Who said that!?"

Narumiya snickered. "I would love to hear more of you praising my pitching skill but if i stay here i would get left out from my bus"

"Go then!" Yelled Eijun. "I don't wanna talk to you again Mr. Arrogant!"

"Bleh" Childishly, the other teen stuck out his tongue towards Eijun.

Eijun can feel his eyebrow twitched before turning around, and stomping towards where his team is. How rude! How annoying! What a menace! If in the future he will ever stepped foot in Tokyo, he will make sure to not be that arrogant or rude! His mother taught him better than that!

"I guess i'll see you in Koshien next year then!" Yelled out Narumiya from his spot.

Stopping, Eijun almost thought that he misheard that. "What are you talking about!? I'm still in my second year!" He yelled back.

He pointedly ignore the enraged yell of, "What do you mean you're in your second year!?"

 


 

A few days after the National Junior High School Baseball Championship, he found his own face staring at him.

Eijun stared, golden eyes wide and agape. "Eh?"

"Amazing Eijun-kun!" Exclaimed Wakana as he shoved the magazine towards Eijun. "You're in a magazine!"

"Huh?" Eijun repeated.

"Man!" Laughed one of the boys in his class. "We have a celebrity in our school!"

Spread out before him is a magazine spread. To be exact, baseball magazine with a whole spread full of Eijun's picture. Eijun in the picture is in a mid windup, eyes shaded by the hood of his cap and piercing golden eyes wide, fully focused on the batter in front of him. Besides that photo, there's also a photo of Eijun, laughing and arms spread wide as his teammates celebrated all around him.

'Sawamura Eijun, a New and Upcoming Pitcher' was written in a bold text on top of the spread.

"This must be written by that reporter right?" Asked Wakana as she stared at the spread in front of her. "The one that called you out during quarter finals"

"Ahhh" said Eijun in a moment of realization.

Just after winning quarter finals, Eijun was called by a pair of woman and man with formal outfit and notepads on their hand. They introduced themselves as a reporter from baseball weekly and with a permission from Sho-san, is there to ask him some question.

He was incredibly flattered, talking about it nonstop towards his personal coach and family all evening. Though, he may forgot about it the next day immediately.

Nevertheless, Eijun felt himself grinning as he let his eyes wander around the article. It detailed the game between Akagi middle school, a no name school from a small town, who was facing a team that is favorites to win who also has a prodigy catcher.

'One man team' was written in bold.

Eijun found himself frowning, excitement gone from his face.

Under that sentence, a picture of Eijun giving a v sign towards his teammates in the dugout could be seen. 'Though Akagi Middle is a dark horse, basically bulldozing their way in the tournament without anyone expecting, anyone would realize that this team is actually a one man team. Leading his team through victories and victories, it will only took you one inning to realize that the one who carry the entirety of the team is the ace, as well as captain, Sawamura Eijun'

"What?" He muttered out.

"What's wrong Eijun?" Asked Wakana, eyes scanning the article on the teen hand. "Ah, they're not wrong though"

He snapped his head towards the girl. "You're not angry!?" He hissed out. "They basically doesn't acknowledge all of your efforts!"

"Well-"

"What are you guys talking about?" One of Eijun's childhood friends and his designated catcher, Nobu, appeared as he slung one of his arms over Eijun's shoulder.

"This" answered Wakana as she pointed towards the sentence.

The male was silent as he read the article for awhile. "Oh, they're not wrong" continued Nobu without blinking.

"Nobu!?" Yelped Eijun, face full of betrayal.

"Well" started the catcher. "I may played with you in the youth baseball club Ei-chan but I won't disillusioned myself to say that I'm as talented or as passionate as you are for baseball" explained the teen. "Hell, during games I'm not even the one who was making the call, it was you, you alone chose what kind of pitches you think will be right and most of the time, you're right"

"But you-"

"Ei-chan" cut the male. "Nakatani-sensei didn't spent the whole year training me to become a good catcher, he spent the whole year to train me to be able to catch your pitches"

That shut him off.

He's not daft. He knows that the one that really took the sport seriously in the club is him. The others, well they just have nothing better to do and just follows along Eijun's whim. Winning baseball tournaments is a bonus and will look good in their high school application after all.

"This is something that I felt really guilty about for awhile, but really, the phrase one man team is true regarding our team" continued Nobu. "Well, I'm not complaining really, you're enjoying yourself and can feel the exhilarating feeling of winning" he joked.

"Ugh" muttered Eijun. "I really don't like this"

"What are you getting upset about?" Asked Wakana, a teasing tilt could be heard from her tone. "We're not even upset, hell you should be the one upset because we're basically relying the full of weight of our team on you"

"But!" Complained the pitcher. "Baseball is a team game! Everyone took part in it!"

"Of course it is" agreed the girl. "But we're not as passionate as you are Ei-chan, nor did we put the same effort as you do, that's why I think being called a one man team... is kind of fitting for us"

Eijun wilted.

Nobu, realizing how down Eijun is, spoke up. "That's why you want to go to a big baseball school right?" Asked the male. "Because you want to play with people as passionate as you about baseball"

The other teen nodded.

"Well, with this article, let me tell you" he leaned closer as if what he about to say is secret and let his voice drop into a whisper. "Those big baseball schools will definitely scout you"

Eijun brightened.

 


 

It was around one week after the championship that Eijun noticed an unknown shoe in his house.

He blinked.

Its a pair of high heels.

Eijun knows that his mom only using high heels on special occasions and never leaving it in the front porch. Nor had he seen this red high heels before. Did mom bought a new one?

Are they having guests?

"Ah Eijun!" Called out his grandpa, the older head appeared just outside of the door towards their living room. "Someone is here to see you!"

"Eh?" Voiced the teen, confused.

Entering the living room, he saw both of his parents as well as grandpa sitting opposite a woman wearing white shirt and dark skirt. The woman had a short hair and got a glasses perched on top of her nose. She was talking politely with her mother before she caught his eyes.

Noticing his arrival, the woman stopped talking, giving him a polite nod before she spoke up. "Sawamura-kun" said the woman. "It's very nice to finally meet you"

"Umm" he casted his family an unsure glance. "You know me?"

"The right question is, how can someone in the high school baseball scene doesn't know you Sawamura-kun" answered the woman with a grin. "It's nice to meet you, my name is Takashima Rei, a scout as well as assistant manager from Seido High School Baseball Team"

Eijun can't see his face but he knows he's gaping.

Of course he knows Seido. Ever since Sho-San took him to watch Koshien all those years ago, it had been Eijun's dream to also step into that mound inside the Hanshin Koshien Stadium amidst thousands of cheering. If things go his way, he would have gone to a baseball based middle school somewhere out there, but of course, his parents didn't allow him considering he, well, just graduated elementary school.

Sho-san had told him that if he performed excellent enough, big baseball high school team would come and scout him. Though the older also made a backup plan in case he doesn't get scouted, what with Akagi Middle School is an unknown school in the middle of nowhere. The backup plan is basically him studying his ass off so he could be accepted in some fancy private baseball school.

It seem Sho-san backup plan won't be used after all.

"Eijun!" Whispered-yelled his grandpa from his side. "Seido is like a big name in Tokyo, they've gone to Koshien dozens of times!"

"I know!" Said Eijun, excitement appearing on his face. "Sho-san showed me some of their previous games! They're really good!"

"Are you here to scout Eijun?" Prodded Dad.

Takashima-san smiled as she nodded. "I came during the National Junior High School Baseball Tournament where Akagi middle is playing during quarterfinals against Edogawa middle" explained the woman. "It was impressive, the way Sawamura-kun led his team, and not allowing any run throughout the game"

Eijun felt his face heat up.

"That's why I'm here to offer a baseball scholarship to Seido High School for Sawamura-kun" finished the woman.

"Oh my" marveled Mom. "Should i call Shouta-san? He knows about this kind of things more than we do, I'm scared that we'll do something wrong here" ended the woman with a laugh.

"I was about to call him too" said Dad, ruffling his hair. "But I remembered him telling me that he's having a blind date and only will back in the evening"

"Date!?" Screeched Eijun. "Sho-san choose date over my practice!?"

Grandpa hit the top of Eijun's head. "Today is your rest day!" Grumbled the older. "Don't overestimated your body capability!"

Takashima-san who has been listening to their conversation tilted her head. "Shouta-san?" Inquired the woman.

"Our neighbor" explained Grandpa. "He has been Eijun's personal coach for years now, used to play baseball"

"Ah, I see" nodded Takashima-san. "So how about it Sawamura-kun? Do you need time to think about my offer?"

Eijun was about to say yes, was about to nod his head enthusiastically before remembering something. The first one is Sho-San warning him to consult anything regarding baseball to him first. The second one is that Eijun's still in his second year of middle school.

"Uhh" started Eijun unsurely. "I don't know if you're aware about this, but I'm still in my second year"

"Of course i know that" replied the woman. "I was making sure that no other school scouted you before me"

"Other school?" Asked Dad, tilting his head. Confusion could be heard on his tone. "There's other school interested in our Eijun?"

Takashima-san smiled wryly before she began rummaging through her bag. Immediately, four different magazines appeared on her hand. "As you can see" explained the woman. "Eijun here has been making a splash in the world of High School Baseball"

"Oh my..." muttered Mom quietly as she reached towards one of them.

Eijun gaped because out of the four magazines here, he had only see one. "I- I'm in this many articles!?" He screeched, eyes spinning and hands gripping the hand blindly.

"Well, not to be rude Sawamura-kun, frankly Akagi middle is an unknown school" explained the woman, eyes glinting. "When the team made it into the junior high school nationals, people thought that it was merely a fluke and you will be eliminated in the first game but-" she reached towards one of the magazine and flipping it open. Her hand landed on one spread. "- not only you beat Edogawa middle who is a favorite to win, you managed to reach the finals and only lose to a team that had a winning streak for the last three years"

The teen watched in fascination as the article that's detailing the finals of the National Junior High Baseball Competition. He was a bit bumped out that he only got silver in the tournament, but if Takashima-san put it in that way, well, he really done a pretty good job huh.

"I'm sure that many high school are eyeing you Sawamura-kun, that's why I'm making sure that I reached you before anyone else" finished the woman.

Eijun nodded his head, flattered to the bone.

"I know this is a pretty hard decision, I'll give you some time to think about it, and if you reached a conclusion, please contact me" said Takashima-san as she rummaged her back again before handing him her card.

"Uhh... when should i decide?" Asked Eijun as he scratched his cheek.

The woman smiled. "Just make sure to inform me before it's time for High School submission"

His eyes widened. It's like, next year. She really will wait that long?

Nodding his head mutely, he bid farewell towards the woman.

 


 

After his morning run the next day, Eijun knocked Sho-san's house like always.

Just like usual, the man appeared still wearing his pajamas before ushering him inside. He learnt years ago even though he doesn't look like it, Sho-san is a morning person. When Eijun was younger, the man used to accompany him during his morning run, saying that with how he is, Eijun will definitely get lost.

Back then, he had protested loudly. That at the grand age of 9, he can go on a morning run by himself.

Sho-san laughed at him. "What? our tiny little ace can go on a morning run by himself?" said the man all those years ago, hand reaching down to ruffle Eijun's hair.

The day after the protest, he went on a morning run alone, hell bent on proving Sho-San wrong.

Only to get lost.

He remembered being on a verge of crying on the side of the street only to see Sho-san running towards him. Still in his pajamas, hair all ruffled up, and panting. "You're such a problem child" muttered Sho-san back then only to have Eijun full on sobbing on his shoulder next.

They spent around one hour like that, sitting on the side of a street with one crying child and one grown man still in his pajamas.

Good memories.

"Seido?" Asked Sho-san as he stood in his backyard, one hand fiddling with a baseball ball.

Eijun stood in front of him, already readying his stance to bat. This bat is a new one, something that Sho-san had bought him in celebration on getting silver for the National Junior High School Baseball Competition. "Yeah, I remember you have some of their tapes Sho-"

Before he can finished his sentence, a baseball ball came hurling towards him. Surprised at the sudden motion, Eijun obviously failed to hit the ball.

"Sho-san!?" He yelled, throwing a betrayed look toward the older male. "I was talking!"

"Constant vigilance brat" answered Sho-san before he crouched and took another ball near his feet. "You were saying?"

"Well, if you didn't interrupt me, we would've had this conversation already!" He complained. "Anyway, I remember you have some of their tapes, are you familiar with them?"

"Sure, played with them a couple of times back in high school" said Sho-san as he did his windup.

Eijun immediately swung when he saw Sho-san throwing the ball. It made contact, a pathetic one.

"That would be a foul" drawled Sho-san, eyes watching the ball that's rolling on the grass.

"I know!" Huffed Eijun. "This Sawamura Eijun knows!"

He can visibly see Sho-San cringed. "Brat how many times do I have to tell you to stop watching those period dramas, you'll start speaking weirdly" well, the only reason he still watch those ancient dramas is because how annoyed the older is when he start talking like that. Not that he need to know.

"Anyway, aren't you surprised? Your favorite student got scouted by a big baseball team!"

"You're my only student" corrected the older.

"Details!"

"And no, I'm not surprised, you're my student after all. If someone has a teacher as great as me, they will bound to be great"

"What does that supposed to mean!?" Complained Eijun. "Don't you think it's amazing? I'm still in my second year and someone scouted me already!"

Sho-San hummed, fiddling with another ball before doing another windup. "Well, you should expect more scouts"

"Huh?"

A ball came hurling towards him.

 


 

As if magic, after Sho-san said that, once again, Eijun stared at an unfamiliar shoe on his front porch.

"Huh?" He mumbled out, confused at another pair of shoe.

"Ah Eijun!" Exclaimed Grandpa as his head popped out from the opening of the living room door. "Someone is here to see you!"

Eijun had this odd feeling of deja vu as he walked towards the living room and found both his parents as well as grandpa sat in front of a man with balding head and formal suit.

"Sawamura-kun" greeted the man when he noticed Eijun's appearance. "It's very nice to meet you" he held out his hand in a handshake.

The younger nodded his head before reaching out for the extended hand. "Nice to meet you, Uh- Mr?" He asked as he took a seat between his parents.

"My name is Hayashida Masayoshi, Inashiro Industrials baseball club president" introduced the man. "I'm here to offer you a baseball scholarship to our school"

 


 

Still dizzy on yesterday event, today once again, he stared at an unfamiliar shoes on his front porch after school.

"Oh god" muttered Eijun when he saw his grandpa head appeared from the living room.

"Eijun! Someone is here to see you!"

It's deja vu all over again when he saw both of his parents and his grandpa sitting in front of a woman wearing a dark shirt and dark skirt.

"Sawamura-kun" greeted the woman with a serene smile. "It's very nice to finally meet you"

"I'm- thanks?" Said Eijun.

"My name is Sakurai Akino, assistant coach from Komadai Fujimaki" introduced the woman as he extended her hand in a handshake. "I'm here to offer you a baseball scholarship to our school"

Maybe Sho-San is a magician after all.

 


 

Chapter Text

 

Sawamura Eijun is in his last year of middle school, and is holding a golden trophy in his hand.

His teammates are crying around him, cheeks wet and face flushed in happiness. He could see the wide grin they all are sporting as they all laughed and teased each other near the dugout. Eijun stood here, white Jersey littered with dirt and face wet with a sheen of sweet.

His hand is holding the golden trophy of the National Junior High School Baseball Tournament.

The last pitch he throws roared back in his mind like an endless tsunami. He remembered the way the ball released from his grip. The way Nobu barely catch it in the strike zone. Remember the way the umpire called out "Batter out!" And the way the whole spectators roared in excitement as his teammates dog piled him in the middle of the field.

"We won!" He yelled out, under the limbs of all of his sweaty teammates. Grin matching the absolute joy in his golden eyes. "We won!" The pitcher repeated again just for a good measure. His teammates laughed at him, hugs and back slaps exchanged as they all walk to the dugout with happiness exuding all of their form.

Akagi Junior High, a school that will be closed the next year, a school with no notable achievements until recently, a school from a small town in the backwater of Nagano, managed to won the National Junior High School Baseball Tournament.

Now, Eijun watched the trophy in his hand, failing to hide the obvious awe on his face. It's gold. Shiny gold, not silver. He has this sudden urge to bite off the trophy in his hand just like those people he had seen on tv-

"Don't bite the trophy" said Sho-san as he snatched the trophy from his hand.

Eijun blinked. Mind processing what the older just said. "Hey!" Protested Eijun immediately, eyes looking upwards where Sho-san is examining the trophy close to his face. This is a bitter reminder that Sho-san is still taller than him even after his sudden growth spurt in the middle of Junior High School. The older still likes to tease him for being tiny though. Just you watch! This Sawamura Eijun will definitely grow taller than the man!

"Do you think this is a real gold?" Wondered the man, eyes still fixed on the trophy dangling in front of his face. "Should we sell this and eat expensive sushi tonight?"

Eijun looked at the man, horrified. "No!" Screeched the teen, jumping to snatch the trophy from the older man. It failed because Sho-San easily deflect his measly attempt. "What are you saying Sho-san!?"

The older raised an eyebrow as he looked down on him."What? You don't want to eat some expensive sushi?" Asked the man. "Man, Tokyo is so expensive these days" he continued, scratching the back of his neck.

"Of course I want to!" Yelled Eijun indignantly, finally able to snatch the trophy from Sho-San hand. He immediately cradled the trophy, keeping it close to his chest in case the older will steal it again. "In fact! I think you should treat the whole team to an expensive sushi Sho-san! Use that athlete money!"

"Brat" grumbled the older as he ruffled Eijun's hair violently. Eijun protested because his hair is messy enough from all the hours contained under his cap. "What if i want to save my money for my future kids huh? School is expensive these days" sighed Sho-san, eyes looking at the distant.

Eijun gave him a doubtful stare.

"With how many failed dates there are in your history Sho-san, I think you should let go of that kind of-" he got cut off when Sho-san hurled a baseball ball towards him. "- mercy! Mercy oh great lord Sho-san!"

"Why the hell did you become a menace huh!?" Growled the man as he lock Eijun in a headlock. His fisted hand immediately drilled through the younger messy hair which earned an amused yell from the said teen. "You were so cute as a kid, trailing behind me like a little duckling, but now you're just a little gremlin"

Eijun laughed, an uncontrollable one as he hit Sho-san's hand in mock surrender. "I learnt from the best!"

"What do you mean by that huh brat!?"

"I didn't even say your name!"

 


 

That month, he got more scouts knocking down on his door. Notably, two school that is known as a powerhouses on their respective district.

One from Ichidaisan, a school in Tokyo and one of them is from Hakuryuu, a school in Gunma.

Eijun knows that both, same as the three previous school that had scouted Eijun the year before, is a powerhouse school that made a regular entry to Koshien. Ichidaisan, along with Seido and Inashiro, is the three school that is known as the three powerhouse in Tokyo. Hakuryuu and Komadai Fujimaki too, is their district best and always managed to make an appearance in big tournaments like Koshien.

When he first realized the fact that many strong school wants him to be a part of their roster, not to mention the countless baseball magazine his face adorned in, he had been incredibly pleased and his ego has been boosted up to the max. Something that Sho-san immediately stomped down to the ground before burning it to ashes. Considering up until now Eijun still haven't able to land a good hit on Sho-san pitches, he will accept that wordlessly.

"Hm.. this will be a problem" muttered Sho-san as he, Eijun, both of Eijun's parents and Grandpa are sitting in circle on their living room table. "You have a lot of scouts" he continue as all of them stared at the stack of letters in front of them. Though that changed when Sho-san immediately shoved most of them to the ground, leaving five letters. "These five are the most notable one, powerhouses in their respective district, I think you should pick a few from those and maybe we can do a research on them?"

On the table, lay the letters from Seido, Inashiro, Hakuryuu, Ichidaisan, as well as Komadai Fujimaki that's offering him a baseball scholarship.

Mom called Sho-san earlier, citing that the man himself used to be in a baseball based high school too when he was younger so he knows more than dad and grandpa combined. Better be safe than sorry, said his mom.

Eijun huffed his chest. "Aren't you proud Sho-san?" Prodded the teen eagerly. "I got five scouts! Five! Now we don't have to do your backup plan of me studying to get into good baseball school!" Just to make sure, he held up his five fingers towards the older.

"Good, I was worried about the backup plan anyway" said the man as he flicked Eijun's forehead. The teen squawked, rubbing his reddened forehead.

"Eijun, don't start annoying Shouta" chided Dad as he grabbed the back of the teen shirt and dragged him to sit back. "The three school that come last year, you told us that they'll wait right?"

Just like Seido, both Inashiro and Komadai Fujimaki is willing to wait for his confirmation just before his high school submission. To not lose contact, he frequently chatted with all three scouts in messages. He would like to think that he and the Inashiro scout had bonded enough while talking about gardening and how to tend on Bonsai.

"Yep!" Confirmed the teen. "They said no rush as long as I told them before entrance exam!"

"Where do you want to go Eijun?" Asked Sho-san as he looked around the scholarship papers in front of him. "These all are good schools, some are even famous during my time"

Hearing the question, the teen tilted his head. The truth is, he doesn't really have preference amongst all the schools that scouted him. He knows that all of them are powerhouses, strong in both the sport scene as well as academics. "Uhh... I want to go to a school that can bring me to Koshien?" Answered Eijun unsurely.

"That's tough, all of these school has been to Koshien before" replied Sho-san before turning towards Eijun's family. "Well, Mrs. Sawamura, Mr. Sawamura, Eitoku-san, do you allow Eijun to go to a school in the other side of Japan?"

Mom blinked. "Not if we can help it" answered the woman.

"I don't think he can survive alone somewhere far away" agreed Grandpa with a solemn nod.

"I can't even imagine what sort of problems he will get caught in if we send him that far" said Dad with a solemn nod.

The betrayal!

By his own family no less!

"Hey!" Protested Eijun. "I can take care of myself thank you very much!"

He only received stared full of doubt and disbelief from the people around him.

Coughing on his hand, Sho-san turned his attention back on the scholarship papers in front of him. "Well..." Muttered the man as he took the Komadai Fujimaki letter. "This mean Komadai Fujimaki may not be the option for you"

With that, the letter with Komada Fujimaki emblem lay discarded on the foot of the table.

"They're in Hokkaido right?" Asked Grandpa, crossing his hand.

"Yeah,  some said they train even through winter" answered Sho-san.

"Huh, how can they train will all the snow?" Asked Eijun, head tilted.

"Must be why they're so strong" answered Sho-San wryly. "Between Tokyo, and Gunma, where do you think is the best choice?"

The teen blinked, thinking about the question deeply.

All Eijun wants is to get into a strong school and play baseball with strong opponents. He wants to stood in the Koshien stadium with the number 1 on his back. He wants to show Sho-san how much he improved, that he no longer the little boy that cried because he can't hit the older pitches.

He wants to be a student that Sho-san can be proud with. Someone that Sho-san can brag about when he met his old athlete friends.

Tokyo and Gunma, it's not as far as Hokkaido is. Either is fine then. "Which one has the strongest teams in their district?" He asked instead.

"Well" said Sho-San as he shoved the three Tokyo school letters towards him. "The competition in Tokyo is crazy, many school there if they were in a different part of the country, would qualify for Koshien"

"Tokyo then" answered Eijun with finality. "I want to play with and against the strongest"

Sho-san grins, wide and toothy.

Eijun matched his grin.

 


 

It was after the school selecting that Sho-san mention something, as if it's something that's an afterthought.

"By the way, Inashiro is my alma mater" said the older as he sipped the tea in front of him.

Eijun fumbled with his own cup. "Huh!?"

 


 

Eijun is in his last year of middle school and he's now in a train to Tokyo.

Just a few days after he had a talk with Sho-san and his family, (as well as the shocking revelation of Sho-san old high school) both Inashiro and Seido contacted him. They had offered him to visit their school grounds and take a look around their facility. It did't took him another second to answer.

He agreed in a heartbeat.

Of course he agreed. What kind of baseball fanatic he is (Wakana's word, not him) to passed up the chance to see not only one but two (two!!) powerhouses school baseball team. It will also help him to chose which school he should attend for high school.

Inside the train, he can't even contain his excitement. Baseball team! Strong baseball team that managed to go to Koshien! His excitement is off the roof at this point. He swears that the old man that's sitting next to him has shot him a couple of weirded looks by how he practically bouncing on his seat, stars and wonder on his eyes.

In took more or less one and a half hour train ride from Nagano to Tokyo. When he exited the train, he found himself face to face with the familiar face of Hayashida-san amongst the throngs of crowd around him.

"Sawamura-kun" greeted the older as he walked towards him. "It's very nice to meet you again"

"Likewise Hayashida-san!" Answered Eijun with a grin. The man promptly ushered him to walk away from the train door. Both of them are now walking side to side in the train station. "How's your flower bed? I hope mom's advice help!" Asked the younger, remembering one of their chat about gardening.

The man let out a small laugh. "Great actually, the advice really help. My wife is really delighted at that, do give your mother my thanks"

"Or course!" Agreed Eijun enthusiastically.

They actually didn't need to take a car or any mode of transportation to Inashiro. Hayashida-san said that from here, Inashiro is in a walking distance, a plus point in Eijun dictionary. It didn't take long for them to arrive in front the gates of Inashiro Industrial.

Eijun gaped at the large school.

Akagi Junior High is nothing compared to the school. A Large building that is around two or three times bigger than Akagi, alongside it is smaller buildings meant for the clubs or other extracurricular activities the school provided. When they arrived to where the baseball club practiced, he gaped even more when the man show him their two (two!!) large baseball fields.

His junior high school doesn't have a baseball field. Well, they do have a field, the just don't have fields dedicated just for baseball like Inashiro is. Back in his second year, he actually visited a school in Tokyo for a practice match and the said school has a baseball field. He remembers how awed he was until Sho-San scolded him to focus on the game. So now here he is, standing inside Inashiro who apparently has two (two!!) baseball field.

Powerhouse team really is different, he thought as he let his eyes wander around the practice field.

As they toured, he can see many machines as well as large building surrounding the field. He knows one or two, like the pitching machine, but the rest is completely unfamiliar to him.

Hayashida-San seems to notice his fascination as he let out a heart chuckle. "That machine" he pointed towards a gadget that a player was holding . The player was talking with someone, a pitcher most likely, because the said pitcher immediately went into a windup before throwing the ball towards a catcher in front of him. "Allows you to measure your pitch speed"

"Woah..." muttered Eijun in awe. "That's really cool"

"That one help us during fielding practice"

"Woah..."

"The perks of being sponsored by the school" said Hayashida-San with a chuckle.

Eijun still has his attention glued on the team practice before something- no, someone familiar appeared in his vision. Blond hair, blue eyes, haughty aura. The familiar person could be seen complaining about something, one hand on his hips and one hand fiddling with a baseball ball. Immediately, a memory from one year ago resurfaced inside his head. Of him with silver trophy, of his crying teammates, of him being stopped by the same blond hair blue eyes person.

Narumiya Mei, his mind supplied.

The genius pitcher that completely awed him back then.

"That player..." started Eijun, eyes immediately latching towards where Narumiya stood.

The older turned his attention to where Eijun is staring. "Ah" echoed the man. "Narumiya Mei, our most promising recruit this year" explained the man. "He made his debut during the summer and helped Inashiro tremendously on getting to Koshien this year" he casted Eijun a glance. "A talented pitcher just like you Sawamura-kun"

"I know" replied Eijun, gaze fixed where Narumiya is. Or to be exact, the number behind Narumiya's back.

1

The ace number.

"He's the ace?" asked the younger.

Hayashida-san nodded his head in confirmation. "We've decided to give him the ace number during Koshien"

Narumiya Mei is still a first year and he managed to snatch the ace number. Narumiya Mei, still a first year and managed to lead his powerhouse baseball team to Koshien.

A grin appeared on his face.

Thrill of excitement rushed inside Eijun. He loves baseball, he loves to watch and play it, but there's nothing that excite him more than a thrilling game. A game where he doesn't know if he will win or not. A game with someone that match him, a worthy opponent. And at that moment, Eijun decided that stealing the ace number from Narumiya sounds so so fun.

What kind of face Narumiya will make when Eijun is the one wearing that number one?

Oh, he can't wait.

The older man seems to notice the sudden bout of interest from Eijun and let out a soft smile. "Well" started the man. "Let's get going shall we?"

Eijun nodded, craning his neck towards the baseball field as he walked away.

He doesn't realize a pair of blue eyes watching his retreating back.

"That is the player dorms" said Hayashida-san as he motioned at a building in one side of the team. "Most of our players stayed there and almost all of them stay the night there when they have a late night practice"

Both of them walked nearer towards the second field. From there, they can see players with white jerseys and red writing exercised. Some are running around the field, some are practicing their bat with pitching machines, some are practicing their pitch in a battery pair.

"We are now having their noon practice" explained the man. "Woke up in 7 in the morning, and nonstop practicing until late at night"

It sounds hardcore. Eijun loves it.

"In Tokyo, Inashiro is one of the school that produced a lot of professional players" said the man. "Our most famous alumni, is of course, Nakatani Shouta, the pitcher who played in MLB for years and has a long victorious career"

Eijun flinched.

After Sho-San told him that his alma mater is Inashiro, he has been leaning more and more towards Inashiro. After all, Sho-San is his idol. Someone that he looks up to since he was a kid and most likely stayed the same for the rest of his life. To know a school that Sho-san used to study in scouted him, it brought Eijun a great pride.

And now, knowing that Narumiya is also in Inashiro, it could be said that Eijun is pretty set on Inashiro.

Should he contacted Takashima-san and said that there's no need for him to visit Seido? Wait- that sounds rude. The last thing he wants is to be portrayed as someone rude.

The tour is over and when he exited the Inashiro gates, he saw the familiar figure of Takashima Rei standing nearby.

Noticing him, the woman gave him a smile before she motioned him to climbed up the car with her.

They make small chatters as they drive to Seido. He asked about Seido recent games, or what kind of players the team has. Takashima-san remains mostly tight lipped about it, saying that she wants Eijun to see Seido with his own eyes.

It was not long before they arrived in Seido.

"Welcome to Seido" said Takashima-san as she lead them towards where their baseball team are. Just like Inashiro, Seido is a large private school with tall buildings and facilities that Akagi can't even dream of.

The main building itself looks about two or three times the size of Akagi Junior high with fancy looking walls as well as pretty flower beds adorning the front of the school.

Takashima-san immediately brought him to where the baseball field is. Just like Inashiro, Seido too have two baseball fields. "This is our school pride and joy, the baseball field" the woman showed him the two baseball fields. All full with teens wearing white and blue jerseys, shouting encouragements or doing their routines.

The familiar sound of metal bat hitting the ball, the sound of energetic roars, the sound of the coach sharp and loud orders.

It's everything that Eijun dreamt of.

"Amazing..." muttered Eijun as he stared at it.

"The baseball club has around 100 members" started Takashima-san as they edged closer to where the field is. "We divide them into the third string, the second string, and our regulars, the first string" explained the woman.

"I see" muttered Eijun, golden eyes latched on all the teens scattered around the field.

"Over there is our player dorm, over there is the rain room...."

What Takashima-San said drowned inside his head because Eijun had turned all of his focus on the ongoing practice in front of him.

They all are playing baseball.

They all are playing baseball passionately. Like him.

Grinning, he let his eyes sparkled in delight. High school baseball really is something else! To think that not only Inashiro, even Seido too is this amazing!

"Sawamura-kun?" Called out Takashima-San.

Eijun blinked, realizing that he was being called. Turning his head towards the woman, he let out a sheepish smile. "Ah, what are you talking about Takashima-San? Sorry I got lost in thought"

The woman laughed a little. "Anyway, all these players are really good right?" Asked the woman. "Our team is really strong"

"I know that..." muttered Eijun.

"Just like you Sawamura-kun, all of them spent a lot of their time for the sport and highly passionate about it" continue the woman. "At only 15 years old, they leave their home to live here in the dorms and dedicate their time to practice" she trailed off, eyes looking at all the players in the field. "They who have that kind of determination and ambition, are the ones that I respect the most"

Eijun found himself agreeing.

"'I want to be the best baseball player in the world'" said Takashima san again. "That's what all of our players thinking of, to be the best player that is"

I want to be the best baseball player in the world too.

Baseball is fun. Baseball is worth all the effort you put into it.

He Had never met someone as passionate with Baseball as he is besides Sho-san. His friends usually would tuned him out, or be completely clueless when he started his baseball ramblings. His family too, while they are trying their best to know about baseball, or to learn more about the said sport, in the end they just don't have the same passionate love both Sho-san and Eijun held for the sport. That's why he's so excited to be scouted into this big baseball school. The prospect of playing baseball with people as passionate as he is...

Playing baseball with his friends are already fun, how fun can it be if he played with all of these people in Inashiro or Seido?

"So, Sawamura-kun?" Prompted Takashima-san. "What do you think?"

"It's amazing" answered Eijun. "Both Inashiro and Seido"

Both school are amazing and he doesn't mind where he ended up in between the two of them. Well though, currently he's leaning more towards Inashiro, considering both Seido and Inashiro more or less has the same facility, as well as promising team. As a plus point, there's Narumiya in the latter (How fun could It be to steal that ace number from that haughty pitcher back?) and it's Sho-san's alma mater.

"I came to pick you up in Inashiro earlier" started the female. "Were you scouted by them too?"

Eijun laughed sheepishly. "Yeah, coincidentally both Inashiro and Seido asked the same day to have the facility tour" he continued.

"Ah, I see" said Takashima-san. "So, between Inashiro and Seido, which one are you leaning more currently?"

He blinked. "Uh..." will it be awkward if he chose Inashiro?

"You can be honest with me Sawamura-kun" laughed the female. "It doesn't matter which one you said, I will make sure you come to Seido"

Eijun found himself grinning. What a confidence. "It's Inashiro actually" replied the teen. "I want to snatch that ace number from Narumiya so bad" he grinned. "Plus, it's Sho-san alma mater, I like to see it"

"Sho-san?" Prompted the older.

"My neighbor"

"Oh, I remember your family talking about him when I scouted you back then" realized the female. "The one that taught you baseball right?"

"Yep" grinned Eijun.

"Hmm..." hummed Takashima-san. "I can't do anything if you want to honor the man who taught you baseball" said the woman.

"Hahah! Are you giving up Takashima-san?" Laughed the teen, completely amused by the woman answer.

"No, no, of course not" deny the woman with a smile. "This year, the one that's going to Koshien is Inashiro" said the woman all of a sudden.

Eijun found himself blinking. "Yeah?"

He knows that. And if he's not wrong, the year before it's also not Seido who went to Koshien.

"Seido haven't go to Koshien for the last five years" said the woman again.

He's confused. Is this her own way to scout him? If so, she's doing a really bad job at it.

"You said snatching the ace number from Narumiya sounds fun, but Sawamura-kun, don't you think it's way more fun to beat Inashiro, with Narumiya still wearing the ace number, one step from Koshien?" Asked the woman. "I think you're aware how bitter the second place is"

Huh.

That's-

That sounds fun.

He had thought that beating Narumiya on having the ace number would be fun. But the image of seeing Narumiya holding a silver trophy while Eijun is holding a golden one is far far to tempting to resist.

What kind of face the haughty pitcher would make?

But Inashiro is Sho-san alma mater, whispered another voice at the back of his head. Don't you want to be just like him?

To be great.

To be someone he could be proud of.

"I-" what Eijun about to say got cut off by a loud booming voice that resonated all across the field.

"WHAT'S UP WITH THAT WIMPY BALL!?"

 


 

Chapter Text

 

Miyuki Kazuya is 15, still in his first year of high school, still high with pain from their recent loss during the summer, still drowning in this endless pool of revenge that he so badly want.

Miyuki Kazuya, 15, had experienced two defeat that impacted his life.

The first one is during his first year of middle school, still the smallest member of the team, still that budding genius catcher with a too big head and mouth full of blunt truth and cheek that just can't be shut. Maybe that's why he always got beaten up black and blue by his lame senpais back in middle school. Maybe that's why his coach back then turned a blind eye on the bruises that littered his skin every practice. Or maybe, it's just the fact he's better at baseball than all of them combined.

He's still in middle school and still high in this newfound love of baseball of his. Miyuki Kazuya had always been confident, more so on his baseball skills and his title of a budding prodigy.

He lost against Takigawa Chris Yuu, the number one catcher in the Kanto region. Someone that Kazuya wants to beat and prove his worth to. Kazuya remembers being played like a fiddle. Easily being read by the catcher as if he's nothing but an amateur baseball player that has no previous experience before.

It annoyed him.

It's fun.

He wants to beat him.

Baseball is so fucking fun.

For the first time in his life, he was being completely defeated by someone. He, who was called a budding prodigy. Someone that his coach always praised nonstop. Someone that beat all of his senpais with his own skill alone.

Kazuya had laughed that day, laughed so hard and so so amused with a twinge of manic as he stared at field where he just got his ass beat. That day he vowed to the gods above that he's going to get stronger and will beat Takigawa Chris Yuu like his life depends on it.

(And then a woman appeared and offered him a scholarship to Seido High School)

The next defeat, happened way more recently. Kazuya is in his last year of middle school, he's not the smallest player on his team anymore, already called this generation best catcher, already has high schools lining up to recruit him to their starting roster.

Maybe it's because he had grown a big head. Maybe its because his utter confidence for his skills or his trust to his teammates. Edogawa, after all, is one of the best junior high baseball team out there. Always getting the second or first place during a tournament, only ever been defeated by the baseball team that Narumiya Mei (Prodigious pitcher, Kazuya's rival) lead.

So he doesn't think much when he faced this unknown school. Thinking that this will be another easy win, another good track record for his baseball career before retiring from the junior high baseball scene and advancing to the high school one with glory following his steps.

He lost, to a no name school from the backwater.

What the hell is even an Akagi Middle School? No one had heard that unknown school from a small town in Nagano.

No one, had expected the unknown school to win fan favorite Edogawa junior high.

Miyuki Kazuya, hailed as his generation best catcher, already being scouted by schools all across the country, lost. Lost to a no name school, lost to a team that from the looks of it haven't played that long, lost to a loudmouthed pitcher with pitches that is every catcher's dream.

He can't even got a hit at his pitches. What kind of middle schooler is that? Wait, the better question is where had this guy come from? Why haven't he heard about this pitcher before? How the hell a middle schooler even know to throw a change up that nasty? Or why the hell is the guy is so flexible that his windup is so fucking weird. Hell, he can't even see the ball!

He has so many question about the pitcher.

It's every catcher's dream pitches.

Miyuki Kazuya, for the first time in his life, as he stood on the batter box, has another thought  running inside his head other than fully focused on hitting the ball.

He wants to catch it.

Of course he failed to hit it. As he stared at the loud exclamation erupting from the pitcher in front of him, wide grin and golden eyes glittered under the sun, the only thought that appeared in his head is where did this guy even come from and why did he only appeared now?

This guy can give even Narumiya Mei a run for his money, and there's nothing he loves more than egging Mei.

During the seventh inning, as he sat in the dugout, Kazuya realized something. Akagi junior high school catcher is not making sign, the guy just positioned his glove somewhere in the strike zone until the pitcher finally nodded his head and perfectly throw the ball there.

What a waste, he thought, examining the way the pitcher did his windup before throwing the ball into that nasty pitch that he failed to hit earlier. Kazuya started to imagine, imagine what kind of gameplays, what kind of tricks he could do with a pitcher like that.

He wants to catch it so bad.

Kazuya can't even tell himself to be surprised when the final score was announced. 2-0 to Akagi Middle, one of the points is by the pitcher who made a homerun back then.

As the team lined up after the game, shaking hand with each other, he found himself face to face with the pitcher.

"Good game" he said as he shook the pitcher hand.

The other teen let a huge smile. "Thank you! Today was so fun!"

Yeah, baseball is so fucking fun.

After that, the incident that he likes to call 'The Great Mei Incident' happened and he refused the blond offer to joined him in Inashiro. Preferring to join Seido in order to wipe that smug ass grin from the teen face.

When he got into Seido, he found himself a bit disappointed when he didn't see that pitcher amongst the new recruits. Well, there are a lot of strong schools out there, Seido is not the only one. Though, he would love for a chance to form a battery with the pitcher.

He forgot about the pitcher as he got into swept by Seido's grueling practice. After all, there is Chris-senpai here in Seido. The very person that made him experience his first monumental loss, the very person he wants to surpass. The thought of snatching the starting catcher position from the older is one of the main thing that gave him the energy to get through the harsh practice of high school baseball.

Then, it was revealed that Chris-senpai was injured, and the starting catcher position fall into Kazuya.

Kazuya never thought that he'll get this position this way. He had always thought that he will show the coach his skills, that he's better than Chris-senpai and deserve the position better than older. It felt almost bitter that there will be no chance for him to beat the older catcher.

It felt almost undeserving.

Because Kazuya knows, he knows with the skill he has now, there is no way he'll be starting catcher while Chris-senpai is around.

Another problem appeared in the form of Tanba-senpai, Seido's newly crowned ace who seems to loathe the fact that Kazuya is the starting catcher. There's not much he can do about that. He already tried to be civil, friendly, well friendly in his own way.

Nonetheless, if he wants Seido to make it to Koshien, both of them needs to form a good battery. A fact that Tanba-senpai finally realized after Kazuya cornered him one afternoon.

The thought of that pitcher only resurfaced when it's time for summer tournament and again, he didn't see him among the competitions school. Not in Tokyo then? He thought silently, scanning the crowd. I'll search for him in Koshien then.

Seido didn't go to Koshien that year.

Still, he met that pitcher again in the form of him shouting at Azuma-senpai and challenging him for a one on one.

Azuma-senpai yelling is, well not an unfamiliar occurrence that happened in the club. It's the older own way to encourage fellow members, he learnt about it. Though, to an outsider, certainly it looks kind of like a bullying.

"This ain't even practice!" Said the the third year, voice bellowing throughout the field. "This is a joke!"

Huh, that's a bit harsh senpai.

"Come back to the backwater town you belong if you continue to pitch like that!" Yelled Azuma-senpai, scoffing at the poor first year pitcher in front of him. "That kind of pitch fouled my mood! What kind of shitty pitches is that!?"

It's nothing new thought Kazuya as he once again set his gaze on the pitching machine in front of him. Azuma-senpai way of encouraging is kind of shitty but there's nothing he can do about it. More importantly, it works. Maybe it's what people likes to call tough love? Yelling at your kouhais while spouting insults after insults? Who knows. He's about to ignore them and continue doing his batting exercise when a new voice piped up.

"Oi!" Said someone, in a loud voice. Kazuya felt that he heard that voice somewhere before, though he can't pinpoint when or where exactly. "Why are you saying things like that!? Baseball is team sport! I can't believe someone like you could be one of the players drafted!"

Oh, poor move kiddo, sighed Kazuya before he let his eyes wander to where Azuma-senpai stood. Only to freeze when he saw a familiar figure of someone.

"Haa!?" Shouted Azuma-senpai. "And who the hell are ya'!?"

"Sawamura Eijun!" Declared the pitcher. "I'm here to look around Seido!"

Sawamura Eijun, he had actually heard the name before.

It's that pitcher.

Oh, at that time he's not a third year then. A second year pitcher who managed to beat him.

Excitement grow inside of him as he forgot his own batting practice and turned around towards where the commotion is. He almost got hit by a ball from the pitching machine momentarily forgotten in front of him before he decided to trudged closer.

"Are you gonna go pro with that kind of belly!?" Bellowed the now dubbed Sawamura Eijun - that pitcher, the one that beat Kazuya. "Do you even have the stamina?"

Amusement started to grow.

God, this kid is a riot.

"You're talking bad about my best feature!?" Growled Azuma senpai.

"Best feature? That's obvious your weak point!" Laughed Sawamura as he pointed his finger towards Azuma-senpai who's face darkened.

Oh god, this is so fun to watch.

"Move! I'll kill you, you middle schooler!" Yelled Azuma senpai as he marched towards where Sawamura is while shoving his teammates who was watching. Kazuya too almost got shoved, though he managed to evade it by taking a step back and started to lean on one of the metal railings on the field.

"Sawamura-kun!" Hissed Rei-Chan who has a panicked expression on her face. "Apologize-"

"Strong school?" Mumbled Sawamura, interrupting what Rei-chan about to say. "Just cause' this is a strong school doesn't mean he can do anything he wants" said the younger. "Treating your teammates like crap? That's the lowest of the low someone can be in a baseball field"

Sawamura looked positively angry. His face has darkened as he shot Azuma-senpai a seething glare.

"You can't play baseball by yourself, I don't care how famous Seido is, if all the players here act like him, I clearly see why Seido haven't able gone to Koshien for years!" Declared Sawamura with a loud voice, sentence clearly rang the through the field as well as the rest of Seido baseball team who's in the field.

Oh.

Oh.

Ouch.

That's a low blow.

"What?" Hissed one of the second years near him. Clearly, it's not only him who was offended by that remark, considering how many murderous looks appeared around him.

"What did you just say you brat?" Growled Azuma senpai, voice low and hand holding a bat so tight that Kazuya swears it almost cracked.

"I'm sorry Azuma-kun, he's from the countryside, he doesn't knows how to act!" Said Rei-Chan as she tried to lessen the tension in the field. Thank god this is the second field and coach is in the first alongside most of the first strings, less all of them will get a harsh scolding.

"How rude! I've been to Tokyo plenty of times!" Protested Sawamura at the remark. "I played in Tokyo before!"

"Oh?" Prodded Azuma-senpai, voice still dripping in venom. "What position are you?"

"Pitcher!"

"Heh" laughed Azuma senpai with a mocking tone on his voice. "I'm not letting this guy out of here without crying"

Oooh, Azuma senpai is mad mad.

"What did you say you pig!?" Yelled Sawamura back, looking completely offended.

"Sawamura-Kun!" Hissed Rei-Chan all of a sudden. "This is a baseball field after all, if you want to say something, how about you doing it with you pitch?"

"Oh!"

This is his chance.

"This looks interesting" said Kazuya brightly for the first times since this whole fiasco started, turning all of the attention towards him. "Rei-Chan, can I catch for this guy?"

 


 

Eijun stood on the field, his hoodie now replaced with Seido's practice jersey as he began stretching.

Sometimes, he cursed his inability to shut his big mouth. Why the hell did he insulted that batter!? While it's true that he hates someone who disrespect their teammates, he doesn't know the entirety of Seido's team dynamics! For all he know, such things are normal occurrence here, or maybe it's just that guy own way to encourage someone.

"Pitcher-kun~" called out a voice as Eijun felt an arm wrapping around his shoulder.

Ah yes. There's also this guy.

He knows who Miyuki Kazuya is. The famed catcher of Seido high who managed to snatch the position of starting catcher from Kanto's number one catcher, Takigawa Chris Yuu. There are a lot of articles printed about this guy.

Also one of the reason why he's curious about Seido in the first place.

"Miyuki Kazuya" he greeted the catcher with a small nod.

Miyuki Kazuya raised an eyebrow at that. "Oh?" Asked the older, head tilted in question. "You know me?"

"Well of course!" Huffed Eijun. "Seido is one of my picks for high school, I should know a couple of things about them"

"Ohhh~ what's this?" Said Miyuki Kazuya as a grin appeared on his face. "Does this little pitcher-kun thinks he has what it takes to be in Seido?"

"I was scouted you know!" Protested the younger immediately. "Ask that scout of yours then!"

"Heh, I'm not going to doubt Rei-Chan capabilities" snickered Miyuki Kazuya as he released the arm around him.

"Rei-Chan? You're calling her by her name? Miyuki Kazuya, you're such a rude person!" Exclaimed Eijun in indignation.

"It's enough to just call me by my last name you know..."

"Miyuki Kazuya!" He yelled again, just to tick the other off.

The catcher seems to ready to retort when another voice appeared.

"Oi Miyuki!" Said the batter - Azusa, if he remembers correctly - "Why are you being buddy buddy with him huh?" Demanded the older. He made a hulking figure as he stood in the batter box, fully geared and piercing eyes settled on Eijun.

Said guy merely laughed. "Ehh, I'll be his catcher senpai, of course I have to be friendly less we'll scare him off"

"Oi!" Protested the pitcher. He's not scared!

Azusa merely narrowed his eyes as he adjusted the dirt under him. "Hey punk, if you want to apologize now's the time" said the bigger, a mean grin on his face. "Cuz once you step on that mound, you got nowhere to run"

Oh

Oh

Oh he's annoying alright.

Eijun felt himself bristling at the obvious mockery on the batter voice. He's Sawamura Eijun, the one who managed to drag his team from nothing to a national winner. He's someone that's been trained under Nakatani Shouta, the most celebrated pitcher out there, since he was seven. He's not going to let this guy to mock his baseball skill.

He's going to beat this guy so bad, go to Inashiro, and beat Seido for Koshien. Yes, that sounds like a plan. A perfect one.

(It doesn't happen)

"Don't come crying if I managed to walk you out then!" Eijun yelled, with all the fury and annoyance he could muster.

From his spot, Miyuki Kazuya let out a loud laugh. "Pfft- HAHAH" laughed the catcher as he crouched down the field. "You're really are the best pitcher-kun!"

"You! Don't laugh!" Protested Eijun.

Miyuki Kazuya, who seems to finally regained his composure, though a chuckle still slipped here and there, stood finally. "So, Pitcher-kun who has the guts to challenge our cleanup" said the teen, a wide grin on his face and looking like this is the best day of his life. "Let's slay this monster together alright?"

Eijun narrowed his eyes. Miyuki Kazuya, after all, is a genius catcher. He should know what he's doing. "Okay, me and you are partner okay?" As he said that, he thrust his fist towards the catcher.

The grin Miyuki Kazuya wore is blinding. "Alright then partner" he said as he bump their first together. "What kind of pitches you could pitch?"

This time, it's time for Eijun to grin.

 


 

Kazuya thought that Sawamura needs to chill out a little because obviously the kid is facing some kind of pressure. Azuma-senpai always looked kind of scary while standing on the batter box, so he was trying to ease the tension a bit for Sawamura.

So he position his mitt just at the place where Azuma-senpai will surely hit.

Only for Sawamura to narrow his eyes and shook his head.

Oh?

He repositioned his mitt to another place. A place where Azuma senpai will hit too. Once again, Sawamura shook his head.

"Time out!" He called out. Does he even need to say that? Oh well. Kazuya immediately jogged to where Sawamura stood. "What's wrong?"

"Are you being serious right now?" Growled Sawamura, eyes blazing. "It's obvious that Azusa is going to hit it there"

Kazuya almost forgot that Sawamura used to do his own game calling. Anyway- "Azusa!?" He chocked out, trying to hold off that bubbling laughter to erupted.

Sawamura raised an eyebrow. "Yeah? That's his name right?"

"Yes, of course, Azusa" Kazuya said, laughter and amusement could be heard from
His tone. "That his name alright"

"Okay?"

"Ahh, Pitcher -kun you're so interesting"'grinned Kazuya. "And I thought you need to chill out a little, cause you seems tense, so I directed you to pitch that way, he would absolutely hit it into a homerun easily"

"What!?" Yelled Sawamura. "You- you- you're just his lackey aren't you!?"

"Hahah! My deepest apologies pft-" ah, what a good day to rile up someone. Especially to someone this easy to rule up. "It's a catcher job to relaxed their pitcher you know, think of it that way"

"Oh" said Sawamura, eyes wide. "Well, you don't need to do that!" He huffed. "We're here to slay that monster right!?" Just as he said that, he pointed toward Azuma-senpai.

"Who are you calling a monster huh!?" Protested senpai.

"I thought for a second that you were an incompetent catcher there!" Continue Sawamura as he crossed his arm together.

Thats so annoying.

No one can call him an incompetent catcher.

"Well, I can't allow you to keep thinking like that"

 


 

Sawamura Eijun is in his last year of middle school, and he experience what it means to be a battery, not the one he had before. A battery where both the catcher and pitcher plays together to make the best kind of pitches there is.

He feel so bad for Nobu but Miyuki Kazuya really live up to his title.

Genius catcher, Seido's starting and main catcher, best catcher of his generation. It's no wonder that that the guy face is plastered on a lot of baseball magazine. He- he's amazing.

"Strike!" Called out Miyuki Kazuya as he throw the ball towards Eijun who easily caught it.

It's fun.

It's so fun, exhilarating, exciting-

Baseball really is the best.

Sho-san had said years ago, when he was still in the youth baseball club. That as a pitcher, you won't experience the true joy and fun of baseball until you experience what it likes to be in a battery with a catcher that suits you.

Back then, he doesn't believe the older. Baseball is plenty of fun for Eijun already. It's already fun when he's the one that's making the call, when he's the one that hit the pitches, when he's the pitcher, or when he done all of the above by himself. Baseball is already fun so he doesn't really understand how can it be more fun that it already is.

He's wrong.

Miyuki Kazuya called out the most aggressive and daring pitches Eijun had ever seen. Hell, during games or practice Eijun won't even dare to make that kind of call. But Miyuki Kazuya went beyond his expectation and he keep making this kind of calls that keep his blood pumping and eyes glittering in excitement.

If the older teen is already like this during practice, what kind of pitches will he call during an actual game? What kind of exciting games that will await him in the future if he become a battery with this guy?

How fun. He can't wait to see this in games. To use this to tick off the opponents batter and to impress the opposing team.

Eijun did his windup, before throwing the ball in his hand.

Splitter.

He haven't perfected it yet, and Sho-san said to not used it before his high school debut. It's still highly unstable and during his usual practice session with Sho-san, the success rate is around 50/50. The older too had said that this could potentially be his winning pitch besides the change up.

Anyway it's an amazing pitch and he wants to try it to a catcher that is known to be a genius. Eijun didn't even told Miyuki Kazuya earlier about this pitch because at that time, just a couple of minutes earlier, he still wants to go to Inashiro and revealing all of his pitches to the opponent starting catcher is stupid.

But that was a couple of minutes ago.

Now, he wants to go to Seido.

Eijun saw Miyuki Kazuya eyes widened, before his hand shot out, barely catching the pitch in the strike zone.

Azusa-senpai too, apparently had swung his bat earlier and completely missed it. Bat meeting air as the older froze on the spot.

"Batter.. out" called out Miyuki Kazuya, his voice sound distant but there's this full blown amused grin on his face.

"What?" Asked Azusa-senpai, head whipping towards where Eijun stood.

"OSHI OSHI OSHI!" He called out, head whipped back and hand into the sky. High school baseball is really different! "That was a good game!"

"Brat!" Yelled Azusa-senpai as he marched towards where Eijun stood. The younger, completely forgotten his happiness just a moment before due to the hulking figure before him, warily took a step back.

"Azu-" Takashima-san was ready to interrupt whatever is going to happen but suddenly, Eijun felt a hand ruffling his hair.

"Huh?" Asked Eijun dumbly, wide eyes looked up towards where Azusa-senpai is.

"That was a good pitch" rumbled the older, hand still on his hair. "No, amazing even"

"Eh?" Echoed Eijun dumbly because he was sure that Azusa senpai was about to throttle him just moment before.

"You heard me, with you Seido may have a chance advancing to Koshien" said the older before his hand moved towards Eijun's shoulder. Gripping it tightly that Eijun's shuddered a bit. "So I better see you in Seido and not anywhere else next year or else..."

Scary!

"Y-yes!?"

"Good" huffed out Azusa-senpai before he walked away, marching away with his bat slung over his shoulder.

Eijun watch his retreating back somewhat in bewilderment. "He's nicer than I thought?"

"He sure is" said another familiar voice that belongs to Miyuki Kazuya. When did the other teen moved next to Eijun?

"Miyuki Kazuya!"

"That's my name" replied the other cheekily. "Anyway, what kind of pitch is that?" Asked the catcher. "It's almost like a fastball, because of the spin, You didn't told me that you have that kind of pitch earlier"

The younger blinked. "Ah" he said after a moment of realization. "Sorry about that, i called it a splitter"

"Splitter?"

"Yeah, it's a new pitch I'm trying out" he explained, hands fiddling with the baseball ball on his grip. "I want it to be my winning pitch besides the change up"

Miyuki Kazuya blinked. "You can throw the change up? Wait- I know that already"

Eijun blinked. He didn't told Miyuki Kazuya that he knows how to throw the change up. "You know?" He demanded. "How?"

"Not important" dismissed the other teen. "You have that kind of pitch as a middle schooler?"

"Yes?" Said Eijun, confused at the surprised tone. "It's cause Sho-san warned me to not throw a lot of curve ball because of my elbow or something" he doesn't really understand from Sho-san's long and winding explanation, all he get is it's better for his hand if he doesn't throw a lot of curve balls during high school.

"Wait- you can throw curve balls too?" Asked the catcher once again.

"Yes?" Asked Eijun again. "What's wrong with that?"

"What kind of middle schooler- no the more important thing is, why didn't you told me earlier?" Demanded Miyuki Kazuya, inching closer.

"Oh" answered Eijun. "Ohhh, it's cause I was not sure if I want to go to Seido, just in case you know" grinned the younger.

"So you want to go to Seido now?"

"Yea!" Said the teen enthusiastically. "I made up my mind now!"

"Pft-"

"Miyuki Kazuya, why are you laughing?!" Shrieked Eijun.

"You're really amusing pitcher-kun" answered Miyuki Kazuya instead, patting his back. "Ahh, surely my second year here will be more amusing"

"What does that supposed to mean!?" Yelled the younger. "And I have a name you know! Stop calling me pitcher-kun!"

"Sorry what's your name again?"

"You don't know!?"

(He knows)

 


 

"How's your trip?" Greeted Sho-san as he opened his door the next day after Eijun's visit to Tokyo.

"I'm going to Seido" he replied.

"Cool" answered the older as he casually walked towards the door towards his backyard. One hand absentmindedly fiddling with a baseball ball.

Eijun stopped. "Just 'Cool'?"

Sho-san looked back, eyebrow raised in question. "What? How do you want me to react? Protesting like those scorned wife from dramas?"

"It's just-" started the teen, staring at the older. "I thought you would want me to go to Inashiro more?"

The older snorted. "Why?"

"You went there!"

"Yes, I went there, not you, Eijun" replied the male, turning around and began walking again. "Don't tell me you want to go to Inashiro because I want there?"

"Not only that!" Protested Eijun before he stomped towards the older side. "It's like legacy you know! Legacy!"

"Legacy my ass" answered Sho-san as he opened the backyard door. "I want you to be a baseball player that is you Eijun. I may be the one who taught you and guide you, but in the end I want you to be a player that is uniquely you"

"Sho-san..."

"Enough of that, let's prepare you for high school baseball. If you don't go to Koshien after this, I will deem you hopeless"

"Aye aye cap!"

"Who are you calling cap!?"

 


 

The cherry blossoms are blooming the day Eijun departed to Tokyo.

Duffel bag slung over his shoulder, full of clothes, necessities as well as the basebal glove Sho-san gave him all those years ago.

Eijun gave his house one last grin before turning around, and head towards the station that's not far from his house with his parents and Sho-san accompanying him. His friends could be seen already waiting for him, standing around in front of the station gates. Hell, even the old baseball team advisor and his old teacher is there to accompany his departure.

"Guys!" He greeted, waving his arm. "And Sensei!"

"Eijun" greeted Nobu as he slung an arm around the other shoulder. "How do you feel? You'll become some bigshot baseball player now"

"Don't forget me when you're famous Ei-chan" teased Wakana as the rest of his friends let out a laugh at that.

"Of course not" agreed Eijun. "Watch me when I'm playing baseball on tv alright?"

"We'll be waiting for that" said one of his classmates. "Show them what Nagano could do!"

"Yeah!"

Just as they arrived at the entrance of the station, he could see Takashima-san standing right in front, waiting for him. "Takashima-san" Eijun greeted with a small bow.

"Sawamura-kun" Takashima-san greeted back with a smile, she gave his parents a polite bow before turning towards him again. "Are you ready?"

Eijun looked back, seeing the faces of Akagi Junior High School baseball team members with wide and encouraging smiles. He found himself grinning back. "Yes"

As they stood in front of the train, his grandpa grabbed him by the shoulder. "If you ever get scared, just call me and I'll give you my power alright?"

"I don't need it!"

"Brat!"

He had bid his family goodbye, mom was crying and dad was ruffling his hair, before trudging towards where Sho-san stood by the side and bid him goodbye too.

Sho-san had hugged him. "Do me proud, brat" he said, as he ruffled the top of Eijun's head, making the messy brown locks more messier.

He grinned up, wide eyes staring at Sho-san'a face. "Of course!" Said the teen. "Watch me in Koshien Sho-san!"

"Heh" snickered the older. "Win the whole thing alright?"

"Yeah" he agreed. "I'll be using the glove you gave me for my high school debut!"

The older grinned, flicking his forehead lightly. "Show those city kids what a small kid from Nagano could do"

"Sho-san you're from the city too!"

"Not the point brat, now go along or you'll make me cry"

"Don't cry!"

He step into the train, and from that day onwards, his life as part of Seido baseball team began.

 


 

Chapter Text

"Whoa" exclaimed Eijun as he evaded an underwear that's being hung to dry right in front of Seido's spirit dorm. "What's with this underwear?"

He could see rows of clothes being hung on the hallway. The hallway basically screams 'teenage boys!' What with the rows of dirt laundry as well socks lined up. "This looks like a normal apartment" he mumbled as he continue to trudged deeper, searching for his assigned room.

On the corner of his eyes, he could see some students being dropped off by their parents. Hugging as well as saying goodbyes before entering the dorm. Averting his gaze, Eijun continue to do his search for his assigned dorm number. Earlier, Takashima-san had told him that he's in dorm number 5.

Finally arriving at a blue door with the number 5 emblazoned on it, the pitcher could feel a rush of nervousness appeared inside him all of a sudden. Is it the new environment? Is it the unknown future that lay before him? He's not sure what exactly made him let out cold sweat. Slowly, Eijun nervously traced the names that's hung in front of it.

Sawamura Eijun. Kuramochi Youichi. Masuko Tooru.

He felt nervous.

So nervous.

The last time he was nervous was back during the National tournament back in his second year of middle school. It was his first National junior high tournament, Akagi still an unknown school somewhere in the backwater, facing a school that had been winning the tournament for years. Eijun, despite all the training he did with Sho-san, is still not sure how he measured up with the kids from strong teams. When he stood on the mound and his team fate are heavy on his shoulder, he felt the unbearable feeling of burden weighing him down.

Or maybe the last time he was nervous was when Sho-san was mad that one practice back when he was in his last year of middle school because Eijun over exhausted his arm. Nonetheless, one of the very first thing Sho-san taught him is to be fearless. So he steeled his nerves and opened the door.

This is it, he thought silently, the start of my high school baseball journey!

Only to found someone bloody staring back at him.

He blinked.

The person in front of him slowly turned his head.

Blood, his mind register, a little late.

"UWAAAAAA!" Yelled Eijun, falling to his back carelessly. Thankfully, his duffel bag blunted the impact a little.

"Kyahaha! That worked great!" Laughed the ghost - no, the person - as he wiped the blood off of his face with a towel. "Got you huh!? Last year I was so scared I couldn't get up!" He continue as if he didn't just frightened his roommate half to death.

Is- is this bullying!? Orientation!? Sho-san did say that back in the day the baseball team has a strict hierarchy, maybe this is one of them!?

Eijun, still in a state of fright and confusion, looked towards the teen with varying degrees of emotions. Mind still processing what actually happened less than a minute ago. "H-huh?" He said, confusion lacing on his tone.

"Welcome to Seido high baseball team!" Said the teen with a wide grin as he outstretched his hand to help Eijun stand. "Kuramochi Youichi, second year" now dubbed as Kuramochi Youichi, the previously bloodied teen has a dark green hair as well as a narrow eyes. He looked like the typical bad boy that his mom used to warned him to not get close to.

A second guy appeared. He has a big build as well as a large mouth. Eijun could see his hair had been cropped short, a stark contrast to Eijun's own who freely framed his face. The teen is holding  a piece of paper with 'Nice to meet you' written on it.

"Huh!?" Repeated Eijun again in confusion. Is he mute?

"Don't sweat it man, that's Masuko Tooru, a third year, he made an error yesterday so he's not letting himself talk" explained Kuramochi-senpai as he began rummaging one corner of the room. "Anyway to welcome you, let's have a game tournament!" He announced, showing a game console towards Him.

"Eh!?" Yelped Eijun.

Maybe Kuramochi-senpai didn't hear his confused tone, or he just choose to ignore it, because he continue to ramble about the game in front of him. "Have you played this before?" Asked the second year.

"Uh- yeah?" The game looked familiar, like the game he once played back in Nobu's house.

"Great! I'm getting serious then!" Cheered Kuramochi-senpai as both he and Masuko-senpai sat in front of the tv, game console ready.

"Uhh.. senpai?"

"What's the delay!? Hurry up and come in! We have early practice tomorrow!"

"Okay?"

"If you lose, you're going to be our slave for a year" said Kuramochi-senpai lowly, not intending for him to hear.

"I just heard something scary..."

 


 

Eijun wiped off the sweat from his forehead as he stood in front of dorm number 5 door.

Sho-san would kill him if he knows Eijun is skipping his morning run. So even after a late night gaming session with the senpais in his room, he still make sure to set his alarm and wake up to do his usual morning run. He used to sleep late anyway, due to his and Sho-san's insistence to watch MLB games.

It felt refreshing and right, making him wide awake. A good way to start his day in Seido.

Coming inside his dorm, Eijun tried to make less noise than usual, he could see both of his senpais are still asleep on their respective bed after all.

Last night, he learnt that Kuramochi-senpai is loud and cackle at everyone misery. He also learnt, unfortunately, that the second year has an unfortunate obsession with wrestling. A feat that he experienced thoroughly after beating the older on the game last night and becoming the poor subject of the said senpai wrestling move.

Masuko-senpai too, while he doesn't talk much, no wait, he doesn't talk at all, seems nice. He doesn't have a killer wrestling move like Kuramochi-senpai thankfully. Eijun also learnt that Kuramochi-senpai too is part of the starting roaster, holding the number six as well as the team shortstop. Masuko-senpai too used to be in the starting roster, unfortunately he made one error on the last match so he's being downgraded to the second string currently.

Nevertheless, it seems that his roommates all are an amazing people.

The shuffling noise he made as he changed his clothes woke Kuramochi-senpai up. "Huh?" He mumbled sleepily, eyes half open. Dark eyes trailed to where Eijun stood. "You woke up already?" Mumbled the older, half delirious.

"Yeah, I did my morning run" answered Eijun as he shrugged his hoodie off. "Ah, good morning senpai" he add that as if it's an after thought.

Kuramochi-senpai stared at him like he was half crazy. "You know the coach will still made us run later right?" Asked the older.

Eijun raised an eyebrow, head tilted a bit. "I expected so?"

Kuramochi-senpai stared at him with squinted eyes. "Whatever" mumbled the older before he sat up, stretching his bones before slapping himself awake. "Practice started soon anyway"

Glancing at the clock, Eijun found himself agreeing.

Masuko senpai woke up not long after. A loud alarm blaring through the room that startled Eijun. The second year informed him that this kind of alarm is the only way to woke Masuko-senpai up, less he will be late for all the morning training. All three immediately began preparing for morning practice.

The sun is not even fully out yet when he stepped outside of the dorm. He could see some was holding back a yawn, or just straight up yawning without a care (Kuramochi-senpai). It was after that, that Eijun found himself standing along with the rest of the first year on one of the field. The coaching staff stood right in front of them.

"Good morning!"

"Good morning sir!"

"Good morning!"

Greeted all of the members as the coach arrived. Eijun gulped when he saw the imposing figure of the coach. The said man has a hulking figure with dark tinted glasses over his eyes. Hair slicked back, as well as a wisp of mustache and beard could be seen on his face. All in all, instead of a baseball coach, he looked like a Yakuza or a gang member.

Eijun is used to having a coach that has a lax style. Sho-san, despite his harsh training and discipline, would always wear his old pajamas that Eijun already used seeing every time he visited the older house. While coaching for Akagi Junior too, the older usually only wear a simple shirt and track pants combo. Maybe it's because Sho-San face never screams 'I'm a gang member!' But a 'I'm a single dad completely tired raising my son'?

"Is this all that wants to join?" Asked the coach as he stopped right in front of the first years standing in two neat row. Dark eyes swept through them, and the nervousness that he had tried to bury ever since last night spiked up once again.

Yeah, alright, he looked way scarier than Sho-san is.

"Yes sir!" Answered all the first year, nervousness could be practically heard from their tone. None has the guts to looked straight towards the coach, deciding that the sky or the ground is the next most interesting thing.

"Good, I'm Kataoka Tesshin, the coach for Seido baseball team" introduced the coach - he looked like a mafia boss, boss? - "introduce yourself one by one" said the older.

"Yes sir! I'm Takemoto Atsushi from south junior!" Started a first year from one end of the row.

"Ooshima Hiroshi from Miyagawa Shinia, I hope to play shortstop!"

Eijun continue to listen each of the first year introduction. They all listed their name, their position or their desired future position in the team. Easy enough, he thought idly. He had set his goal before he decided to attend Seido anyway. It didn't took that long before it's finally his turn.

"Sawamura Eijun from Akagi Junior High! I will be Seido's Ace and bring this team to Koshien!" He introduced himself with a bright grin plastered across his face. Eijun felt a lot of eyes fell into him.

Immediately, after his introduction, murmurs could be heard, both from the first years around him and also from the older team members in front of him.

"Is that the Sawamura Eijun?"

"The one that win Nationals?"

"I didn't know he went to Seido"

"The ace and Koshien he said?"

Coach Kataoka - boss? Should he start calling him boss? he looked like one - regarded him with a small nod before motioning for the person next to him to continue introducing themselves.

As the first years continue to introduce themselves, Eijun let his mind wander as he listened half attentively towards the rest introduction. It was at that time, that he saw something- no someone familiar at the edge of the field.

Narrowing his eyes to take a better look, he finally identified who the hell has the guts to come to practice this late. Must be someone brave, or maybe just stupid.

Huh. Is that Miyuki Kazuya?

Is being late tolerable here in Seido? He remembers all the unspoken threat Sho-san implemented in his head about being late or undisciplined. Is high school baseball this lax?

Just as the last first year done introducing themselves, Eijun raised his hand.

"Sawamura" called out boss. "What do you need?"

Intimidating, he thought silently. "Coach, is it okay to be late for practice here?" He asked instead.

From the corner of his eyes, he could see Miyuki Kazuya flinched.

Boss raised his eyebrow. "Of course not, what are you talking about?" Answered the man.

"But-" as he trailed his sentence, he pointed towards the edge of the field. "Does he have special permission? Or is he's on an errand?"

Just as he said that, every pair of eyes turned towards where Miyuki Kazuya is standing, who certainly is looking like a deer in headlight.

Boss immediately looked scary.

"Miyuki" called out the man, voice dropping lower and full of unspoken threat. "Ran around the laps today"

"Yes!" Answered Miyuki Kazuya followed by rapid nods.

Eijun kinda feel bad.

 


 

Eijun doesn't feel bad anymore.

"Ah, pitcher-kun why would you tattle me like that?" Asked Miyuki Kazuya as he ran on Eijun's side. "How about playing catch with me as a compensation later?"

Earlier, the coach had instructed the first year to run around the laps as a warmup. Unfortunately, it also happened the same time as one Miyuki Kazuya punishment. The said teen is now dragging a tire behind him as he ran around the field easily as if he's not dragging a tire behind him.

"Shut up Miyuki Kazuya!" He yelled. "Don't disturb me while I'm running!" As he said that, he immediately increased his pace, getting more and more ahead from the rest of his first year teammates.

"Oi Sawamura! Stop increasing the pace!"

 


 

Three bowls per meal is a bit of an overkill.

He had thought that the writing 'Athlete has to eat three bowls of rice' on the wall is some kind of encouraging quotes from somewhere. Not a sentence that means literally. So here he is, siting surrounded by the rest of the first years as he tried to finish the meal before him.

Eijun forced the rice to go through his throat as he continue shoving another bite of it. There's a second year senpai walking around the dining hall, reprimanding the first year to finish the required three bowls of rice before continuing their practice. He had scolded Eijun earlier, and Eijun would love to not destroy his ear drums from the loud yell thank you very much.

"Dude..." called out another first year next to him. He looks half dead, glancing at the empty two bowls of rice on his tray, Eijun immediately knows the cause. "You look half dead" said the blond, flicking a gaze towards Eijun's two empty bowls too.

"Says you" muttered Eijun as he swallowed and immediately gulping another glass of water. He heard that if you ate your rice with water it will be easier to digest. It tasted gross though. Almost as gross as natto.

"Geh- three bowls is a bit of an overkill" muttered the teen again, looking green.

"Don't puke please" said the pitcher automatically.

Another first year with light brown hair and small pupil who was sitting in front of the teen who was talking to him nodded. "Yes" he agreed, shoving another mouthful of rice to his mouth. "I didn't know our intake is being watched too"

Eijun agree wholeheartedly at that. He thought he will beaten by the grueling practice of high school baseball, not by eating three bowls of rice.

"Kanemaru Shinji, third baseman" introduced the blond.

"Toujou Hideaki, pitcher" greeted the one with light brown hair.

"Sawamura Eijun, pitcher" said Eijun too, introducing himself.

Their talk faltered after that because a second year senpai appeared, scolding them to finish their rice soon. Immediately, the three of them forced themselves to eat the remaining food on their tray.

He could feel his stomach being a little weird as he stepped out in the field after breakfast. The rest of the first years seems to share his sentiment because almost most of them are groaning and holding their stomach. The senpais though, he noted, looked energetically as ever. They did the batting practice, fielding, and the practice drills, as if they didn't just consume an obscene amount of food.

Silently, he prayed that he'll get used to this much of food intake soon.

"First years group up!" Called out the coach, taking all the attention of the first years. Eijun immediately perked up. "Today you're going to be split up based on your preferred position, then we're going to do skill test, meet up at field B!"

"Yea sir!" Answered the first year before marching out of the field.

Eijun immediately shuffled with the rest of the first year, changing their clothes to a jersey before rounding up towards where field b is.

"Sawamura!" Called out a familiar voice.

He brightened, recognizing the voice. "Toujou!" Greeted the pitcher, immediately bounding towards where Toujo stood with some of the first years.

"This is where the pitchers would be tested" grinned the teen as he flicked his thumb towards the huddled teens. "Let's stick together yeah? I don't know anyone besides Shinji here"

"Of course! I don't know anyone else too!" Replied Eijun easily.

Both of them stood together at the front of the group. Watching a second year catcher appeared as well as boss who was wearing a baseball helmet over his head.

"We're going to test what kind of pitches you could throw" started the coach. "Come up here when I call your name and informed the manager what kind of pitches you would throw!" As he said that, the coach gestured to a girl with pig tails and hair clips who was standing nearby with a clip board.

He and Toujou made small talk as well as live commentary about all the pitches demonstrated in front of them. Eijun honestly thinks that some pitchers are impressive. Though he expect no less from a power house like Seido. People with baseball background would come to this school, so good players should be the norm here.

"You played as pitcher too during middle school, right Toujou?" Asked Eijun conversationally.

"Ah, yes" replied the teen. "You may not remember this Sawamura-kun, but last nationals we made it to the top four"

Eijun blinked. Last nationals?

Seeing the confusion on his face, Toujou offered a small smile. "Yes, the same nationals where your team won, Sawamura-kun" informed the brunet helpfully.

Oohhh.

"Ohhh" voiced Eijun. "That's amazing Toujou!"

"Heh, as if you didn't win the whole thing Sawamura-kun" grinned the other.

"It's still cool!" Protested Eijun.

"Alright alright" laughed Toujou. "Let's focus on the exercise okay?"

At that, they start to pay attention to the pitchers in front of them. Throwing pitch after pitch towards the stationed catcher.

"Furuya Satoru" called out coach, and a tall teen with dark hair and narrow eyes appeared.

Eijun watched the dark haired teen murmured something towards the manager who widened her eyes before nodding a bit. From what he can see, said teen seems to barely talked, only uttering a few words here and there before nodding to whatever the manager said. He immediately walked towards the mound, doing his windup before throwing the ball-

CLANG!

The whole first year, even those who's not in the pitcher group, gone silent as they all watch the ball hit off the fence behind the catcher.

Thought, that's not what most of the people took note of.

It's how powerful and fast that pitch is. The contact between the ball and the metal fence made such a loud noise that no one doubt how powerful the pitch is.

Almost as fast as Sho-san's, noted Eijun idly. Almost.

"What..." murmured Toujou besides him, eyes wide and zeroing on the dark haired pitcher who seems dazed. "That kind of power..."

"Amazing" marveled Eijun, watching the dark haired teen did another windup and throwing another pitch that contained so much power and speed. The pitch, once again, missed the strike zone and he could hear the second year catcher grunted a bit at the impact. It must be hard to catch. "It's a shame that his control is..."

"Bad?" Supplied Toujou helpfully.

"Yeah" agreed Eijun. "Though with that kind of power and speed, if he did more practice he will definitely become a monster alright" he continued.

The dark haired teen - Furuya Satoru - did throw couple more pitches. All of them, if it's in an actual match, would be a ball or a dead ball considering how wild his aim is, before coach nodded his head and called out the next name.

He let his eyes followed the dark haired teen as the said teen shuffled into the back of the group again.

Not long after that Toujou got called. Eijun noted that said teen has a pretty amazing control, but not that impressive power and speed. A stark contrast to what Furuya able to do.

Straight after that, he was called.

"Sawamura Eijun" called out coach, eyes settling to where Eijun stood.

"Yes!" He said, jogging lightly to where the mound is. His hand began fiddling with the ball on his hand. A habit that he picked up from Sho-san.

The manager who stood next to the mound offered him a smile. "Hello Sawamura-kun" greeted the older lightly.

He gave her a little bow. "Hello senpai" he greeted back.

"So, what kind of pitches could you do?" Ask the girl, hand tapping on the clipboard she's holding.

"Um" said Eijun, caught off guard by the question. "I can throw around 7 kind of pitches?" It's  11 actually but anything higher than number 7 is still a bit unstable. And there's still some of his curveballs that still hasn't been numbered yet. Sho-san taught him better than to show off unstable pitches.

The manager blinked, hand stilled on her clipboard. "... seven?" She repeated.

"Yeah, seven"

"Seven" said the manager again before she put her hands up, asking the coach to come.

Coach, realizing this, tapped the back of the catcher back lightly before he walked towards where the manager and Eijun is. "What's wrong?" Asked coach when he arrived, eyes looking straight to the manager. How is she not completely intimidated is a complete mystery to him.

"You said to give each of the pitcher 6 try to throw the ball but Sawamura-kun..." she trailed off as she flicked a gaze towards him. "He has 7 pitches sensei"

The older turned his head towards him.

"Seven, you said" said the coach, intense gaze directed into him that Eijun started to squirm.

"U-Uh yeah? I numbered my pitches? Kinda? Like the first one is the cutter, number two is two seam fastball-"

"Stop" commanded coach, Eijun immediately shit his mouth. "I'll give you opportunity to show all seven of them, two for each pitch, called out the name before you throw it" instructed the older.

"Yes sir!" Agreed Eijun immediately.

After that, coach walked towards where he previously stood near the catcher.

"Number one!" He yelled out and distantly, Eijun heard confused murmurs from his fellow first year. "Cutter!" As he said that, he did his usual windup. Eijun had heard before that his windup position is weird and the catcher can't see his hand. A testament proven true when the catcher widened his eyes.

He adjusted his grip to his usual grip when throwing cutter before whipping his hand back and-

BAM

"That would be a strike" murmured coach. "Another one!"

"Yes!" Without further ado, Eijun immediately throw a cutter towards the catcher.

The satisfying sound of ball meeting the catcher glove echoed through the ground.

"Next number two!" He yelled out again. "Two seam fastball!"

Adjusting his grip, he throw the two seam fastball. He did it again for another try before moving towards the next number.

Murmurs could be heard behind him, full of awe and confusion. The coach too, had his eyes narrowed and focused on each of his pitches.

"Five!" He called out again. "Circle change up!"

If he thought the previous murmurs was noisy now downright deafening.

"Changeup!?"

"He can throw one already!?"

After that, he breezed through his number. Same as number 5, number 6 and number 7 caused a lot of murmurs to break out around him. Coach still has his eyes narrowed, seems to think about something.

All of a sudden, coach turned around. Facing field A where currently, the regular members of the team is practicing in. "Yuuki!" Called out coach and a teen with short cropped hair and stern eyes appeared.

He's tall, and looks downright intimidating. Like he has the ability to gain all the attention inside of a room and make them respect him. "Yes coach" said the teen, on his hand is a bat, Obviously he's been training in the batter box. He's wearing Seido's practice jersey, littered with dirt and rubble.

"Stand on the batter box" commanded the coach, flicking his head towards the position right in front of the catcher.

Immediately all the attention, not only from the first years, even the other members craned their neck towards him, zeroed on both Eijun and the newcomer.

The newcomer too, looked confused, blinking rapidly as if he was processing what coach said. Though, he still nodded his head before immediately walking out of Field A, heading towards Field B.

"Tetsu-san?!" Said someone, obviously trying to whisper from his hushed tone but ended up way too loud. "Why would coach call Tetsu-san here!?"

"What kind pitcher..." joined another.

As if agreeing, neither voice piped up into the loud murmurs around him."Tetsu-san is our cleanup, why would coach..." Eijun, who was still confused why the newcomer arrival was such a big della immediately understood why it's such a big deal for the team.

Oh

Oh

He's facing the cleanup here!? Eijun thought, a bit panicked at the new information he received here.

Yuuki, or Tetsu-san-senpai?? He doesn't know how to address the teen in front of him, stood where the batter box should be, positioned already ready to bat. Eijun thinks there's something wrong with his eyesight because he swore he saw some kind of blue aura blaring around the cleanup.

"Sawamura! Pitch towards him, imagine this is an actual match!" Commanded the coach without any room for arguments.

"O-okay!" Yelped Eijun as he immediately did his usual windup.

He realized that this is one of the chance for him to show his skill towards the coach. Eijun needs to strike him out, wouldn't it be amazing if he strike out the team cleanup batter? He let his brain work. The other teen bat right, he thinks that the best way to strike him out is-

Fastball.

BAM

"Strike!" Called out the catcher, eyes wild between Eijun and the batter.

The other teen stared at Eijun, eyes narrowed before he let out a short huff of breath as he adjusted his position once again.

This time, he did his windup and-

CLANG

"Foul!"

"Good" muttered Eijun lowly, trying to ease his tension from his shoulder. He's not going to lie and say that he's not nervous. He's nervous as hell. After all, Eijun is facing the cleanup of a strong baseball team. The best batter in the team.

Slowly, he took a deep breath. Easing the erratic heart inside his rib.

He did his final windup and-

The other teen swung his bat-

BAM

-only to hit air.

Circle changeup, the perfect pitch for a right handed batter. Sho-san once remarked that his stance for both fastballs as well as changeup are the same. A fact that Eijun took delight in and try to use as effectively as possible.

Or a fact that he usually use to rile up his opponents.

The catcher looked surprised, even though the ball hit his glove perfectly. "... Batter... out" he said slowly.

Soon. loud roars could be heard all through the field.

"He struck out Tetsu-San!?" Yelled one, voice full of disbelief.

"Seriously?"

"Isn't he's a bit too amazing for a first year!?"

Ah, sweet sweet validation, Eijun wants to absorb all of it.

"Sawamura" called out coach after the roars subsided a bit. "First string, tomorrow"

He blinked. Brain processing what the coach just said.

"Y-yess!?" Yelled out Eijun in a mixture of surprise and confusion.

 


 

"I heard" said Kuramochi-senpai as he opened the door towards dorm number 5. "You become a first string already"

Looking up from his phone, Eijun blinked in confusion. "Yeah?"

"Huh" repeated Kuramochi, hand immediately zooming to land on top of Eijun's head. "You're more capable than I thought"

"What do you mean by that!?" Protested the pitcher immediately, trying to release the hand on top of his head.

The older merely snickered. "Nah, when I heard that you're the middle schooler who challenged Azuma-senpai I thought you'll be a completed dumbass" laughed the teen. "Turns out you're pretty capable"

"I struck him out you know!"

"Only cause' of Miyuki's game calling" answered Kuramochi-senpai easily.

"How rude, I don't need his game calling!"

"Ohh?" Teased the senpai as he maneuvered himself so now her lock Eijun's head in a headlock. "What's this? This first year pitcher has a too big head?"

"Senpai!" Shrieked Eijun. "Mercy!"

Just on time, Masuko senpai appeared on the doorway, holding a bat. He stared at both Kuramochi-senpai and Eijun's struggling form on the floor.

"Masuko-senpai!" Yelled Eijun as he outstretched his arm in search for help. "Help me!"

"Don't you dare!"

Masuko-senpai stared at them. Blinking, before turning around and walking out.

"Masuko-senpaiii!"

"No one to help you now punk!"

 


 

Chapter Text

Eijun eyelids felt so heavy.

Maybe it's because Kuramochi-senpai insistence on gaming tournament during the night. Maybe it's because his own insistence on doing batting exercise until late at night, or maybe it's also his own insistence on always doing his usual morning run as he well as his warmup during the morning when the sun isn't even out yet.

Anyway, all of that piled up into him and now, one Sawamura Eijun barely able to open his eyes during class. Head dozing off as well as mind wandering around all over the place as the teacher continue to drone and drone about the subject.

Eijun doesn't know what subject he's in currently, or what is the teacher talking about. All he knows is that he's so sleepy and sleep, seems so so sweet right now.

"Is my class really that boring for you Sawamura!?" Yelled out the teacher, towards Eijun who was already half way to dreamland after seeing how he barely opened his eyes.

"No!" Yelled Eijun immediately, snapping to reality. "I was not sleeping sir!"

"You clearly are!"

Just as the teacher said that, Eijun's head fall into the table in a loud thunk! Clearly asleep once again and lost in the dreamland.

The class broke out into loud snicker at that.

"Don't go back to sleep!" Yelled out the older, grabbing one of his notebook to smack the back of the younger head so he'll wake up. "Wake up!"

"There's nothing you can do teach" snickered one of the students. "He's fast asleep"

"I heard he's in the baseball club" piped another.

"Plus I heard he got into sport scholarship, not the academic one" said another one.

The teacher perked up at that. "What?"

"Cool!" Marveled another, voice dripping with awe. "Aren't our baseball team really famous?"

Most of their classmates nodded their head. Baseball is the number one sport in Japan, and Koshien, the very pinnacle of high school baseball, is watched by many. Seido is a known name through the baseball community, so it is obvious that the school baseball team is their pride and joy. If anyone ever doubt it, they could take a glimpse of the budget being given to the baseball team because the sheer number would surprised them.

"Their practice are super tough from what i see"

"I don't care if he's in the baseball club not!" Yelled out the teacher, it really is a wonder how Eijun didn't woke up from the loud yell. "I won't allow him to sleep during class!"

The class broke out into another round of snickers.

"Sawamura! Wake up!" Said the teacher, voice booming.

"Ugh.. five more minutes" mumbled Eijun as he looked up towards the teacher, eyes blearily and dazed.

"You think I'm your mom!?" Said the older indignantly, vein twitching on his forehead.

At the back of the class, two another two members of the said famous baseball club was seated. One of them is Kanemaru Shinji, a third baseman from a middle school that made it to the top four in nationals last year, and currently, a third string in Seido baseball club.

Kanemaru watched the dozing teen in something akin to pity. He had heard from the second year in his room that dorm number 5 senpais are a bit... extreme.

"Hey Kanemaru" called out one of their classmates. "You're in the baseball club too right? Is the practice really hard?"

Kanemaru craned his neck towards Eijun who has his eyes half open, obviously trying hard to not fall asleep. "Beats me" sighed the blond. "First years started from the third string, all we did is run around the field and adjusting to our position" he continue. "But that guy" at this, he jabbed his finger towards Eijun is. "Got promoted to the firsts string immediately, so practice obviously is harder for him than to me"

His classmate eyes widen. "W-whoa, does that mean he's like super good at baseball?"

"Not only good" nodded Kanemaru. "He's a monster"

 


 

Eijun arrival at the first string is followed with a lot of fanfare.

Today is the day of the spring tournament quarterfinals and Eijun will participate in the roster as a benchwarmer. It is also the first time he saw the entirety of the starting members since he become part of the baseball club. The day after coach announced his position in the first string, the older had instructed him to still do his round around the laps before having a pitching practice with Miyuki-senpai, not giving him a chance to get to know the rest of the first strings.

Well, he knows some like maybe Miyuki and Kuramochi-senpai. Oh, also the guy he struck out who's apparently the team's cleanup. The rest though, he knows nothing.

"Oh?" Said an older teen, with brown hair, a light wisp of beard as well as menacing eyes when Eijun arrived to where the first string members usually practice. "Is this the guy that Miyuki told us?"

The younger stopped. "Eh?" He asked, confused at the sudden confrontation.

"Ahh" called out another voice as another figure, smaller than the first teen with light pink hair and closed eyes, appeared. "The one that badmouthed us?"

Badmouthed? What is he talking about?

"Huh?" Echoed Eijun, still confused.

"You're in a big big trouble pitcher-kun" as a familiar voice appeared and an arm wrapped around his shoulder. "He's the one I'm talking about Jun-san, Ryo-san" informed Miyuki-senpai with a cheeky grin.

The first teen, Jun? Ryo? Looked downright murderous as he cracked his knuckle together. "Ohh" said the male, the aura surrounding him is a bit menancing, wait no, really menancing. "You really have the guts to appear here huh?" Questioned the male, eyes narrowed and mouth pulled into a mean smirk.

The pitcher started to grow confused. It's not even a month since he joined the team and he never met the first string members beforehand! When will he even has the chance to badmouthed them!?

"If I were you I would start running" informed the shorter, face darkened though there's still that creepy smile plastered on his face.

Eijun blinked, confused. "What are you talking about senpais?"

Miyuki Kazuya snickered. "Don't tell me you forgot?" Teased the catcher. "Let me refresh that memory of yours, quoting one Sawamura Eijun during his visit to Seido, 'If all the players are like him, I clearly see why Seido haven't able gone to Koshien for years' end quote"

Oh

Oh

The pitcher felt himself sweating at that. Curse him and his big mouth!

"So" said the shorter as he stepped closer. Eijun wants to take a step back warily, but Miyuki Kazuya stopped him from doing it by holding him by the shoulder. "What kind of person are you? Brave or just plain stupid? To come into a team you insulted with a loud voice?"

Scary!

The younger already have his mind half set on running away or just somehow shifted the blame to someone else when another person appeared.

"Stop bullying our new recruit" called out a new voice.

Eijun, heart still thumping in nervousness, whipped his head towards his savior. He found himself staring at the teen he struck out during the position testing. Seido's cleanup batter. Yuuki? If he's not wrong.

The senpai, took a step forwards before extending his hand in greeting towards him. "It's nice to meet you Sawamura, welcome to the first string" greeted the teen. "I'm Yuuki Tetsuya, third year as well as first baseman and captain of Seido baseball team"

His eyes widened. Captain!

A position certainly worthy of respect!

Shaking the older's hand, the pitcher's eyes are practically glittered in newfound respect and awe. "It's nice to meet you too cap!" Greeted Eijun, bowing and releasing Miyuki Kazuya's arm around him. "This one is called Sawamura Eijun, I will be the ace of Seido baseball team!"

"Heeeh" snickered the pink haired senpai. "We'll see about that, firstie" he continued. "Kominato Ryosuke, third year and second baseman" introduced scary senpai and now dubbed as Kominato-senpai.

Cap nudged the other teen side with his elbow as the said teen grunted in annoyance. "Isashiki Jun, third year, center fielder and vice captain"

All three senpai turned their head towards Miyuki Kazuya. The teen merely raised an eyebrow before offered him a grin and a wave. "You know me pitcher-kun" said the catcher.

"I wish I didn't" mumbled Eijun before turning towards both Isashiki-senpai as well as Kominato-senpai. "It's nice to meet you senpai!" He loudly declared. "This Sawamura Eijun would like to apologize to what he said before! I'm afraid at that time I was clouded by my emotion and didn't watch what I'm saying!"

At that loud declaration, Isashiki-senpai raised an eyebrow. "You're really blunt aren't you" he said.

Kominato-senpai also spoke up. "Or maybe just stupid"

"How mean!" Protested Eijun. "I'm apologizing sincerely here!"

Both Isashiki-senpai as well as Kominato-senpai exchanged glance. A few seconds passed before the brown haired senpai opened his mouth."Well" he spoke up. "I guess we're good now"

"Thank you very much!"

"Come on, the coach are calling for us now" announced cap. It's a clear sign that they need to stop this conversation and immediately went to where coach is waiting. The three older members immediately walked away and Eijun immediately followed the older members to where the rest of the first string gathers.

As he arrived, he could see fifteen or so players crouching by the ground with coach directly in front of them.

"Oh?" Said Kuramochi-senpai as a greeting when he spotted Eijun walking towards them. "Our new benchwarmer is here" he teased as he and the rest of the team are crouched down, waiting for the coach to start the briefing.

"I'm not going to be a benchwarmer for long!" Retorted Eijun before he crouched down too, on the second row and directly behind Kuramochi-senpai.

He immediately realized that besides him, the rest of the members already has their number plastered behind their jerseys. His own will be given by the coach after this briefing from what the managers told him.

Sneaking a glance at the right end of the first row, his eyes immediately caught something.

1

The jersey number he so desired.

Wearing the number, is a teen with big built as well as tough face. His hair are cropped short, alike to Masuko-senpai and his expression looked guarded and tense.

That must be Tanba-senpai, his mind supplied. The newly crowned ace of Seido.

The coach began the briefing as he dragged a tree branch on the ground.

"You get it righ?" Asked coach, boss? Eijun still unsure what he supposed to call him. "Compared to the fall or summer where it will be decided who go to Koshien, the spring tournament really doesn't measure up" continue coach. "But our opponent is Ichidaisan, the school that bested is in last fall tournament. We will repay that humiliation ten fold"

"Yes sir!"

When coach finished saying that, Eijun watch in confusion as the rest of the first string members stood up, before putting their hands on their knees. Huddling together and exchanging looks.

Captain nodded his head. Before a loud roar erupted from his mouth. "Who are we!?" Said the captain in a loud voice.

What?

"We are the kings, Seido!" Eijun almost flinched at the sudden loud roar, eyes wandering around the place.

"Who sweat harder than anyone else?!"

"Seido!"

"Who shed the most tears!?"

"Seido!"

"Are you ready to battle!?"

"Yeahhh!!" Yelled the first string, voice booming throughout the field.

"With our school pride in our heart, we have a single goal! The national championship, let's do this!"

"Yeahhh!!!!"

Eijun watched as the rest of the first string members held up their fingers towards the sky.

Whoa

So cool

"What was that?" He whispered out.

Kuramochi-senpai, noticing his confusion, grinned toward him before slinging an arm around him. "Seido battle cry" he answered. "Kinda a tradition at this point"

"Amazing" said Eijun, a tinge of awe on his voice.

"Don't you think so?" Snickered the older. "Miyuki thinks it's cringy though"

Eijun huffed. "Obviously it's because he has no backbone! The roar was awesome!"

It was not only him who think of that because similarly, the rest of the members from the third string as well as the second string also voiced their awe.

After that, Kuramochi-senpai immediately dragged him to where all of their bags are piled up. Taking his own, he could see standing by the pile of bags, is the coach.

"Sawamura" called out the coach? Boss? Is it respectful enough to call the older that? "Your number"

Eijun perked up at that, hurriedly slinging his back over his shoulder before jogging towards where the coach is and took the number from him. '18' could be seen, plastered across the cloth. He immediately looked up, a wide grin already blooming on his face. "Thank you coach!"

"Of course" said the older. "Don't disappoint me, Sawamura"

He immediately did a salute. "Yes!"

"Al right' we're leaving now!" Called out one of the coaching staff as Eijun immediately follows the rest of the first string towards the bus. "Anyone who wants to watch get on the bus too!"

"Yes sir!"

 


 

Tokyo Spring Tournament
Semifinals

 

Eijun watched Miyuki Kazuya easily hit a homerun out of the Ichidaisan pitcher.

"Amazing..." marveled Eijun as he too, watched the rest of the batting lineup of Seido high easily makes score and more to Ichidaisan.

As he knows the catcher better, Eijun learnt that the other teen has a really shitty personality. He likes to tease the first years, or just plainly mock them. He also laugh at others misery like the devil he is. Though, in the end of the day, he can't deny how talented Miyuki-senpai is in baseball and is worthy of respect.

He knows Ichidaisan is one the school that recruited him, and now, seeing this, he really feel that his decision on choosing Seido is right. Ichidaisan is strong of course, as the school alongside Seido and Inashiro is the top three powerhouse in Tokyo. But now, as he watched Seido annihilated their opponents, he really felt grateful at his choice.

He wants to play.

He can't wait to go out to the mound.

His internal longing was broken out when suddenly, he feel someone sat next to him on the bench.

Turning his head slightly, his eyes met with Tanba-senpai, the current ace of Seido.

"Tanba-senpai!" Greeted the first year excitedly. "Are you having a good rest!?"

Tanba-senpai, appeared a bit startled at his loud volume. "Sawamura" greeted the third year. "Yes, I'm ready for the next inning"

"Good!" Nodded Eijun. "Make sure you don't exhaust yourself senpai!"

The older nodded, a bit startled from the looks of it. "Yes" agreed the older after a few seconds passer. the conversation died off a bit after that before Tanba-senpai decided to open his mouth again. "How's it going for you?"

"Amazing!" Replied Eijun immediately. "I learnt so much from sitting here! I can't wait to go out there" his eyes practically glittered with amusement.

"Is that so?" Said the older. "I also would like to see you pitch Sawamura, I heard so much about you"

Eijun gasped. "You heard about me!?" He practically screeched. In the distance, someone hissed for him to shut up but he choose to ignore it. "Amazing! The ace of Seido knows me!"

Tanba-senpai smiled wryly at that. "Everyone knows you" he said instead. "Anyway, I really do want to see you pitch, maybe we could practice together?"

"Of course! It would be my honor! I'll also make sure to step into the mound soon Senpai!" Exclaimed the younger as he throw the older a salute.

"Knowing coach it won't be for anytime soon" said one of the senpai as he appeared, helmet thrown somewhere in the dugout before slumping down on the bench. "Tanba-san, you're up"

"Alright" said the ace, standing up. "It was nice meeting you Sawamura"

"Same to you Senpai!"

He watched the older jogged towards the field, meeting Miyuki Kazuya halfway and they began whispering with each other.

"You seems to be having the time of your life" said the senpai, chugging down his water bottle.

"Of course!" Agreed Eijun. "The next thing I love besides baseball is watching baseball!"

"You seems to love baseball a lot huh?"

"Who doesn't!?"

As the inning went on, Eijun watched Seido baseball team continue their game. Though, as he watched the way Tanba-senpai is playing, he felt a bit distressed.

It looks wrong.

No, he's certain that something is wrong.

Ever since he was eight, Sho-san without a fail always brought him to Koshien every year. Over the years, it kind of become their thing, almost like any other baseball related stuff like watching games and practicing. As the year pass, and Eijun gain more knowledge as well as skills about baseball, he always had a newfound respect for every aces that step into the mound in the tournament.

They shine. They shine so so bright as they stood right there on the mound. He could always see that their teammates always give their ace their full trust, believing that he will be a wall that held up their defense.

It was amazing to see an ace commanding every attention in the large stadium. Almost like his presence is too large to contain inside the field.

Tanba-senpai, is not like that.

That feeling are shared with the coach because when he saw the ace walked towards the dugout after the inning are finished, the coach immediately kicked the edge of the dugout, obviously in anger or disappointment.

"You're really asking for trouble" started the older, giving the ace a harsh glare. "Throwing four balls, giving him an easy one over and over, you're not going anywhere like that, aren't you Tanba?"

Tanba-senpai, still catching his breath and swiping the sweat from his forehead, barely nodded at the coach word.

"What are you doing for the last two years?" Demanded the coach. "Don't make me replace you with a first year pitcher who just made it to the first string"

Eijun immediately jolted at the indirect mention of him. He can felt the rest of the teammates gaze towards him, as well as Tanba-senpai's.

Don't bring him to this boss!

But isn't this his chance? His chance to finally get into the mound he dreamt of?

"Kawakami! Get out of there! If you performed poorly I'll switch you out with Sawamura!" Barked the coach, leaving no room to argue.

A second year, with droopy eyes and chubby cheek appeared. "Yes sir!"

The first year doubt that the coach would switch him in this early. Though, that doesn't stop the rush of excitement inside him.

In the end, Seido won.

 


 

"Did you hear? Tanba-san is not the ace anymore!"

"Seriously? Man, they're harsh!"

"The summer tournament is just three months away, what are we gonna do?"

"Hey, do you think there will be a fight for the ace position?"

"Who knows? Hey, maybe we had a chance?"

"No way! Don't you hear, Sawamura Eijun, that prodigy pitcher is in the first string now!"

"Seriously!?"

 


 

"A match against the second string?" Asked Eijun, munching on his rice.

When he entered the dining hall earlier, he could feel how tense the air are. He was confused because since he first come to the dorm, the dining hall had always been a boisterous place where all the members all are laughing and screaming at each other. Though, his question, was answered by both Kanemaru and Toujou.

Kanemaru nodded his head. "Yeah, the coach set it up to evaluate our skills" informed the blond as he too gulped down his own rice. After around a week doing this three bowl of rice demand, he started getting used to it slowly. He hopes when the months ends, his digestion is alright though.

Toujou too, from his position besides Kanemaru spoke up. "This may be the chance for us to show off to the coach" explained the brown haired pitcher. "He may move us up to the seconds string or maybe, even the first string"

"Nice!" Said Eijun, excitement dripping on his tone. "I can't wait!"

Both Kanemaru and Toujou exchanged a look.

"I don't think you get to play Sawamura-kun" informed Toujou, a hint of pity on his tone. "I mean, you're already on the first string"

Eijun blinked. "Eh!?" He loudly yelled. "I don't even get the chance to play in the spring tournament, you say I can't play here too!?"

"Well" started Kanemaru, eyes wandering around the room. "Unlike you Sawamura, most of us, even the senpais, doesn't have the chance to even sit on the bench"

"Shinji" hissed out Toujou.

"What?" Protested Kanemaru. "I'm just saying! All of our dream here is to land a spot in the main roster, Sawamura already did that so I don't think the coach would let him, it would really be unfair"

"No, no I get it" interrupted Eijun. "It's just that... I want to play baseball! I went here cause I want to play baseball!" Complained the pitcher.

Toujou gave him an reassuring smile. "It's only been one week since the entrance ceremony, you have plenty of time" he said.

"Ugh" grunted Eijun in dismay. "I really want to play" he moaned out.

"Even if you don't play, you can cheer for us Sawamura-kun" informed Toujou again with a smile. "It would keep our spirit if someone from the first string is rooting for us"

Said teen immediately perked up at this.

"Don't worry!" Declared Eijun. "This Sawamura Eijun will cheer for all the first year with all his might!"

"Ohh?" Called out the familiar voice of Miyuki Kazuya as the catcher appeared, taking the seat right next to Eijun. "Interesting" he said. "Not gonna cheer for your senpai eh Sawamura?"

"Guh- what's your problem Miyuki Kazuya!"

"I told you before calling me by my last name is enough" said the older, grabbing his own bowl of rice. "And your fellow first years are right, you're not playing tomorrow's game, the coach asked me to told you"

"Aah! I know, stop rubbing it on me!" Exclaimed Eijun as he ruffled his own hair in frustration. "I'll just do batting batting practice when the match is going on to take my mind off!"

"You said you're going to cheer for us" piped Kanemaru.

"Oh yeah! Aaaaghh this is confusing!"

"What? You're not gonna protest anymore? That you're not playing?" Teased Miyuki-senpai.

Eijun looked towards the catcher as if he was crazy. "And face boss wrath? Of course not!" He retorted.

"Boss?" Asked Miyuki-senpai.

"The coach of course!" Informed Eijun.

"Heh-" whatever Miyuki-senpai about to say, was cut off as, once again, as another voice appeared.

Huh. Is this table a hot spot to eat or something?

"... can I sit here?"

Eijun looked up, meeting the gaze of that dark haired pitcher he saw during the skill test. Furuya Satoru, if he remembers correctly, stood right by his table. Tray in hand, dark eyes gazing towards all four of them.

They didn't even tell their confirmation when the dark haired pitcher immediately sat down, right between Eijun and Miyuki-senpai.

"Oi!" Protested Eijun as he immediately gathered his tray. "Don't just barge in! What if I spilled my rice Huh!?"

Dark eyes swept into him. "Sorry" muttered Furuya quietly.

"Just be careful next time!"

Furuya nodded his head before he immediately turned towards Miyuki-senpai. "Miyuki-senpai" called out the dark haired pitcher. "About tomorrow game, I feel like nobody here will be able to hit my pitches..." started the teen and immediately, the temperature dropped inside the cafeteria. "So uh... can you catch for me?"

Both Toujou and Kanemaru chocked on their food. Eijun too, not far too behind. "Wha-"

The brown haired pitcher could feel the piercing gaze of all the older members directed into this table.

"I regret eating in this table" said Kanemaru quietly and Eijun can only nod his head in agreement.

"Hey rookie!" Said one of the senpai as he bounded towards where Furuya as well as Miyuki-senpai sat. Eijun already moved, deciding to take another table, right next to another first year with light pink hair. "What kind of place do you think this is?" Taunted the senpai.

Furuya doesn't look bothered even a bit.

"You got a big mouth for a kid who just graduated from middle school"

"You can ask Miyuki to catch for you when you show some result you brat"

Just as Eijun thought that the situation will get worse, a voice popped out.

"Don't be pathetic" said Tanba-senpai, eyes piercing as he looked around the room. "We're baseball players, If you want to show off, do it in the baseball field"

Though, after he said that, Tanba-senpai immediately throw a glare towards Eijun way. He didn't even say anything!

High school baseball really is different!

 


 

Eijun found himself frowning as he stared at the field during the inter squad game.

He was leaning forwards the metal railing, hands gripping the fence tightly as he stared at the game that will start soon. The first string members has a day off today, due to the entirety of the coaching staff focusing on the game before him.

At first, he was keen on doing batting practice, but after one look of the rest of the first year huddled up together on the dugout, Eijun can't find the will anymore and decided just to watch the game.

"Sa.Wa.Mu.Ra" greeted an increasing familiar voice of one Miyuki-senpai. Just usual, the catcher immediately slung one arm around his shoulder. An act that result in Eijun grumble.

"Shut up, I'm focusing here" grunted Eijun.

"Let's play catch" said Miyuki-senpai, wiggling his gloved hand towards Eijun's face.

"I want to watch the game! Stop bothering me!" Protested Eijun, shoving the hand from his face.

"Ehh you're boring Pitcher-kun" complained the catcher. "Pitch for me"

"No!"

"Miyuki stop bothering him" said Kuramochi-senpai who appeared. His bat are slung over his shoulder as he shot the snickering catcher a glare. "Sawamura, let's do batting practice"

"Not you too senpai! I want to watch this!" Complained Eijun.

"I haven't see you bat before, god knows maybe despite good pitching skill you're a horrible batter"

"How rude! I'm a good batter you know! besides that I'm also a master at bunting!" protested the pitcher. "And stop bothering me, I want to watch the inter squad game!"

"Yeah Kuramochi" teased Miyuki-senpai. "Stop bothering him"

"You too asshole!" Growled Kuramochi, pointing his bat towards the snickering catcher.

"My my, so violent"

When Miyuki-senpai and Kuramochi-senpai began bickering, Eijun could see the rest of the fist string members walked towards where the three of them stood.

"Oh, Miyuki, Kuramochi, Sawamura" greeted Cap as he stopped near the three of them. By his side, is Isashiki-senpai as well as Kominato-senpai. "You're watching the game too?"

"I'm trying to captain!" Grumbled Eijun, brows furrowed as he shot a look towards the two bickering second year near him. "But Miyuki-senpai and Kuramochi-senpai is bothering me"

"Already bullying the first year hm? Miyuki, Youichi" said Kominato-senpai with that creepy smile of his.

"Of course not Ryo-San" denied Kuramochi-senpai immediately.

"Sawamura here is just being dramatic" supplied Miyuki-senpai.

Eijun yelped in betrayal. "Traitor!"

Just at that, the field fall into a quiet hush when the coach could be seen walking towards where the first year dugout is. He seems to be saying something encouraging because right after that, the first year immediately nodded their head vigorously and reply the older in full spirit.

The game started, and Eijun began giving all of his attention towards it. Even Miyuki-senpai and Kuramochi-senpai who seems disinterested earlier also fell quiet and watch the game in a rapt attention.

Soon, it was obvious that the first years were losing.

Eijun really didn't expect anything less honestly. Even though it is just the second string, in the end, Seido is still a powerhouse baseball team. Their second string regularly played for practice match. It's obvious that they  all are a strong bunch.

Not to mention, Tanba-senpai who currently is being downgraded into the second string, used to be the team ace. He's strong, it's obvious that the pitcher has plenty of experience as well as strong pitches in his repertoire.

"Some are pretty good" commented Miyuki-senpai when some of the first years did a good job on the fielding.

"Of course! The first years are amazing!" Huffed out Eijun.

"Sure sure" agreed the catcher without any meaning behind it. "Don't you think this is kinda unfair?" Prodded the teen.

"Huh?" Questioned Eijun. "Of course not"

"Oh?" Asked Kuramochi-senpai. "You sure?"

"Well of course, we're a team but in the end it's a competition to be in the starting lineup right?" said the pitcher. "Even the third year here want to show the coach that they deserved a spot, So I don't think it's unfair with how ruthless they play against the first years"

Kuramochi-senpai shot him a grin. "Oh? What's this?" Said the shortstop. "You're more mature than you look"

"I am mature!" Huffed Eijun.

After all, in the end, everything is a competition.

 


 

Chapter Text

In just one inning, the first year gave up 12 runs.

It's kind of amazing. Really.

Though, Eijun doesn't really blame them. With how the second string play, how ruthless and how determined they are, it's no wonder that that the first year are losing this badly. Toujou, the designated pitcher who lost that 12 runs, could be seen slumped down on the dugout. Head covered by a towel in an attempt to cool off.

The rest too, looked as if they already gave up. Their gaze empty and resigned. No one try to play their best anymore, obvious from the slumped down shoulder or the shaking hands every time it's someone else turn to bat. The loud cheers as well as encouragement that at first decorated the fields are now nothing but sullen silence.

He felt bad for them.

Eijun doesn't really know the first years. Maybe Kanemaru and Toujou, or maybe that dark haired pitcher from that day. After all, his practice as a first string member is different from them. It doesn't really give him the chance to bond and explore more about his year mates.

Still, he felt their losses. Their desperation.

Maybe it's their bond as the new members of a high paced baseball club. Or maybe it's just because Eijun is someone that easily sympathize with others. So, looking at how bad the atmosphere in the first year dugout is, Eijun decided to change it.

No one supposed to look like that while playing baseball.

They should play with smile on their face as well as thumping heart. Not a resigned gaze and scared mind. Baseball is fun. It's a sport that you should play with joy.

"Guys!" He called out, loudly, catching the attention of everyone present on the field. "Don't look so grim! The game just started!" He said again, in an attempt to encourage them. "There are still 8 innings! Let's turn this game around!"

Kuramochi-senpai smacked the back of his head. "Too loud idiot" grumbled the older while Miyuki-senpai merely snickered.

"What are you talking about Sawamura!?" Protested the first years.

"Are you even watching the game!?"

"Says the first string!"

The pitcher merely huffed at the jeers, clearly unaffected by it. "Of course I am watching you guys and I'm putting all my faith in you guys!" Replied Eijun, loud voice echoing through the ground. "Go go first years! Beat those second string guys!" He said again, thrusting his hand upwards in a mock cheerleaders move.

This time, Kuramochi-senpai caught him in a headlock. "What are you saying!?" Hissed the older. "Badmouthing your senpai aren't you!?"

"Mercy!" Yelped Sawamura as he hit the arms wrapping around his head. "I'm just cheering my fellow first years!"

Miyuki-senpai laughed even louder. "Hahah! Pitcher-kun you're really interesting'!"

"Shut up!" He growled towards the catcher who seems to found this whole situation amusing.

The game continue without any chance of the first years to actually win the game. Though, now, the game is accompanied by Eijun's loud encouragement as well as praise. Every time someone did something, you can expect a loud praise from certain pitcher following it. Be it a successful hit or an out, you can always expect the heartfelt encouragement being yelled from the sideline.

When the current inning ended, the second string member managed to score 9 runs and once again, the first year is still in 0 runs.

It's only the second inning and they're already losing a whole 21 points. If it's not clear before, this time, it's painfully obvious that the winner of this match will be the second string members. A fact that the first years seems to realized too from how slumped down their shoulder is, or how the people in the dugout looked completely hopeless, despite the ongoing encouragement.

"Guys don't lose your spirit!"

"You can do it!"

"I believe in you!"

It's nice though. To have someone to believe in you even though it's obvious that there is no hope left.

Finally, the coach call for a change in pitcher.

"Furuya Satoru! Come out, you'll be the pitcher for this inning!" Yelled the coach, alerting the field of the change of the member. Furuya, who seems to be sleeping on the dugout all through the game, sat up immediately almost in a robotic manner.

Murmurs erupted because everyone saw how the teen blatantly napped under the shade of the dugout. Uncaring of the current game, and not paying any attention at all. Furuya immediately walked toward the mound.

"He didn't stretch his arms" observed Eijun. "Is it okay?"

Warmup is one of the things that he first learnt. Something that he meticulously followed and never missed a day. He still remembers all the videos Sho-san showed him back when he was younger. About athlete that has to retire early, or athletes that has to be taken out of the game because they didn't do their warmup properly.

Eijun, who like to have a long lived athlete career, of course will follow this instruction.

"Well, if he's hurt it's on him" said Miyuki-senpai, leaning down on his shoulder. "Not really our problem"

"Get off! You're heavy!" Complained Eijun. "And it will be our problem! We're a team!"

"Ah, the idealistic view of a first year, how nostalgic" mused the catcher, leaning more of his weight towards Eijun. "Lemme show you how high school baseball works, pitch for me tonight" asked the older with a grin.

The pitcher tried to shove the older off, to no avail. "Maybe I will if you stop leaning down on me!" He protested.

"I take that as a yes" sing songed Miyuki-senpai.

"Be still for your senpai Bakamura" said Kuramochi-senpai who also leaned down on his other shoulder at that moment.

Eijun made a loud offended noise at this. This is bullying! Abuse of authority! "Captain! They're bullying me!" He yelled, catching the attention of the third years near them.

Captain ignored him, much to both Miyuki and Kuramochi senpai delight.

Rude!

Huffing, Eijun decided to focus on the field once more despite the two heavy weight on each of his shoulder. He immediately set his gaze back on the dark haired first year pitcher. If he said he's not interested, that will be a lie. Eijun is very very interested after all. He still remembers the way the taller pitch during the skill test. While it has no control or whatsoever, the power and speed behind his pitches is pretty amazing.

There's Narumiya, and now there's this budding monster pitcher. The rush of excitement inside of him almost felt unreal. Ah, this is why he wants to go to a powerhouse school. To find these fun rivals as well as teammates.

Furuya stepped into the mound, immediately doing his windup. Eijun silently recalled how the dark haired teen pitch during that skill testing day. And just like the previous time, the darker haired teen whipped his hand back and he throw the ball-

Clang

- right into the coach helmet.

The field, as well as the area around it, immediately fell into a deafening silence.

"Oh my god" muttered Eijun, eyes wide.

"He's dead" said Kuramochi, watching the way coach head is tilted back from the impact.

"He's dead alright" echoed Miyuki-senpai, sounding more amused that he supposed to, as he also watched how coach didn't even twitch a bit. Head still tilted backwards a little.

Just like the previous time he saw the dark haired pitch, his pitches has a really amazing power as well as speed. Unfortunately, the teen barely has any control for any of his pitches. A testament that's proven true by how he just pitch earlier.

How the hell did he even miss that by a long shot? Wondered Eijun. Is his control is that bad? Is his eyesight need to be fixed? Thousands of questions appeared inside of his mind as he, as well as the baseball team members watched how the coach would murder this new recruit.

Though, the most absurd thing is, they can see a smile on coach face.

"The coach has gone crazy" muttered Kuramochi-senpai, which earned him a smack at the back of his head from captain and a snicker from Isashiki-senpai.

"You pass Furuya!" Boomed coach, turning his tilted back head towards the first year pitcher. "From the next on, you'll be practicing with the first strings!"

Eijun blinked, not processing the statement for awhile. "Huh?"

"The coach becomes crazy alright" snickered Miyuki-senpai from his side.

Furuya merely blinked slowly, before nodding his head. The field went into an uproar immediately. To think another first year actually become a first string member? It's almost unthinkable. Despite all the noise around him, Coach told him that that's enough pitching for him for the day and instructed him to go back to the dugout.

"Wait a sec coach!" Protested a second year, stepping closer towards where the man stood. "He only throw one pitch! If let you him pitches a couple more, we'll make sure to hit it!"

The coach merely fixed his hat over his head. "I would let him pitch more, but I'm not sure the first year catcher will be able to catch it"

("Go to the game Miyuki Kazuya! You'll certainly able to catch it!" Demands Eijun towards the second year catcher.

Said catcher merely raised an eyebrow. "I'm flattered by the compliment but I'm not a charity case you know"

"You catch for me when I struck out Azusa-senpai!"

"Azusa-senpai-" chocked out Kuramochi-senpai, looking completely amused for an unknown reason.

Miyuki-senpai merely snickered. "Eehh, that's different though)

During this time too, coach decided to switch out Tanba-senpai too. Saying that the ace is back in the first string much to almost everyone delight. Afterwards, the coach changed Furuya into another first year pitcher, continuing the game.

"That pitch was wild" muttered Isashiki-senpai, eyes following the dark haired pitcher who is now trudging towards where the dugout is. "If only he can control it..."

"We may have another amazing pitcher here in our team" said captain, flicking a gaze towards Eijun before zeroing back on the game before him.

The game continue before them, and again, the first year is losing once more. The performance that Furuya did seems to have fired up the second string more, fully intent on proving the coach their skill. A bad news for the first string. Though, this time, a certain pitcher commentary as well as encouragement was missing.

Kuramochi, noticing Eijun sudden silence raised an eyebrow. "Bakamura?"

"... amazing" murmured the pitcher to himself.

Immediately, the short stop blinked. "Huh?"

As if a switch was clicked, Eijun's head perked up, mouth stretched into a bright grin and golden eyes fully into view. He was vibrating, vibrating in excitement as his balled fist was moving by his side.

"Amazing!" Yell out Eijun brightly, a wide grin as well as glittering eyes, catching the full attention of all the people near him as well as the members on the field. "FURUYA YOU'RE AMAZING!" He declared, making the said pitcher turning his attention towards him.

All the first string members around him stared at him as if he's gone crazy.

Maybe he is.

At this point he's drowning on the excitement that coursing through his veins. The want that had been building up since the semifinal of spring tournament, the desire to play baseball after days of being deprived of it, and his fascination at this newfound interesting pitcher in front of him.

He doesn't care that he's attracting everyone attention, that everyone is looking at him like he's crazy, or the consequence that he will face from the coach later.

All he care about is that he needs to go to that field now.

"Oh no Bakamura gone crazy too" lamented Kuramochi-senpai.

"BOSS!" Eijun called out the coach, accidentally, the nickname that he's been calling the coach inwardly slipped. "PLEASE LET ME PLAY TOO!" He said, loudly to any one who's willing to listen.

Both the first year dugout as well as the second string burst into murmurs as well as loud chatters. The first string members around the pitcher too, had varying degree of confusion and shock plastered across their face.

"Is he crazy?" Asked Isashiki-senpai. "Is he seriously asking coach that?"

Kominato-senpai laughed at that. "Ah, the perk of being an idiot" mused the pink haired teen.

"I know this time will come soon, he's gone crazy" commented Kuramochi-senpai while Miyuki-senpai laughed so hard that he needs to crouch down by the gravel.

The coach merely looked towards him, eyes regarding him Cooly. He didn't say anything, deciding to remain tight lipped. Though, it seems that the older was certainly thinking about the teen declaration. Eijun certainly hoped so.

"Sawamura?" One first year asked. "Is he crazy?"

"What is he even doing!?" Hissed Kanemaru.

While on the opposite of the dugout, the second year also has their own varying degrees of opinion about the sudden declaration. Though, there's one that they all seems to agree.

"We don't mind coach!" Called out one of the second string members, walking towards where the coach stood.

All head turned toward that second string member. He stood right in front of the dugout, hand gripping tightly on the bat. "We also want to see the capabilities of a first year who managed to snatch the regular spot from us"

"He's right!" One piped up. "We didn't even see if he's capable enough to be in that spot!"

"Let us prove that we're better!" Shouted another.

Eijun let himself grin wider. Ah, his mouth ache now, from how wide his grin is. "Be careful there senpai!" Declared the teen, pointing his finger towards the second string dugout. He looked confident, as if he was sure that he's the key on winning this match. "I'll swipe you off the field!"

That declaration brought another bout of yelling as well as shouts.

"What did you say brat!?" Yelled the second string, riled up from the obvious taunt from the  pitcher.

"Bring it on!"

"I'll hit the ball towards that smug face of yours!"

Amidst the loud protests and yells from the second string as well as Eijun's loud laugh, the first year team, from their dugout, can only watch in open bewilderment as well as shock.

"Amazing..." muttered one of the first year.

"He downright underestimating a second string member..."

"That's Sawamura Eijun for you..."

Another second passed and coach finally gave Eijun a nod. "Wear your jersey and go into here!"

"Okay boss!" Answered the pitcher with a wide grin.

 


 

"Sawamura really is an idiot isn't he" said Kuramochi.

"An amusing idiot" snickered Miyuki. "Ah, my life in Seido will be really fun"

 


 

Eijun stood right on the batter box. A bright grin enveloping his face as he stared down the pitcher in front of him. The bat was held tightly on his hand, on the same position that Sho-san taught him all those years ago when he was still 7 and crying when he can't hit the older pitch.

He's 15 now, a first string member of Seido baseball club, and determined to beat his senpais.

"Nice to play with you!" Eijun greeted the catcher with a bow and a bright grin. "Call the hardest game senpai!"

The catcher looked confused at the sudden greeting as well as request. Eyes rapidly blinking before he stuttered. "H-huh!?"

Turning around, he looked towards the pitcher. "Please throw me you best shot senpai! I hate to play a boring game!" He declared, bat pointed towards the pitcher in front of him who has a vein twitching on his forehead.

The enraged yell as well as the loud cackling that is no doubt from Miyuki-senpai resounded across the field.

"What did he say!?"

"Strike him out!"

"You sure have guts kid!"

Eijun laughed, eyes crinkling with laughter. "Ah" he sighed, cradling his head dramatically. "What to do? Should I go for a homerun?" Said the pitcher, lamenting.

"Did you just said that!?" Yelled a second string member.

"Strike this arrogant kid out!"

"Kick his butt!"

While the members around him yelled all kind of things towards Eijun, the pitcher did his windup. Eijun immediately went into his batting stance, swinging his bat a few time just to make sure of it's reach, eyes zeroing on the ball.

Never leave your gaze from the ball, that's his first lesson on baseball. Keep your focus, focused all of your attention on it.

The pitcher whipped his hand back, throwing the bat towards Eijun's directions. Following the trajectory of the ball, Eijun swung his bat-

CLANG

-Easy homerun.

Sho-san would be proud, he thought as he watched the ball flew off to the distance.

Every pair of ace watched in awe as well as surprised at how easily the first year - someone who managed to get into the first string during the first day of practice - managed to score a homerun out of the second string pitcher.

"A homerun!"

"The kid did a homerun!?"

Eijun let out a loud laugh as he sprinted through the field, successfully giving the first year team their first score of the day. "Guys!" He yelled out, waving his hand towards the now silent first year dugout. "We still have chance to turn this around!"

As he arrived at the dugout, he immediately got a rain of back pats as well as hugs.

"Sawamura!"

"That was a beautiful homerun!"

"Sawamura you're amazing!

Accepting as well as laughing at the rain of praises upon him, Eijun turned around. Golden gaze zeroing on the opposite dugout, glittered with amusement as well as excitement. Throwing a v sign towards the second year dugout, Eijun let the game took it course, putting all his faith towards the rest of the first year.

As he tried to find a seat, cooling himself a bit from the heat, he saw a certain dark haired pitcher sitting all alone.

He immediately sat next to Furuya. "Hey, Furuya right?" Said Eijun, smiling brightly and catching the other attention. "I think we got started in a kinda on a wrong foot? Anyway let's start over right?"

The male blinked. "Huh?" He said, expression blank though from the tone of his voice it's obvious that he's confused. "Why?"

"It's cause there's no other first year in the starting line up!" Complained Eijun, dramatically sighing. "I got bullied a lot by Kuramochi-senpai and Miyuki-senpai, so let's be friends!"

"Friends?" Asked the other slowly.

"Yeah friends, first year in the starting lineup kind of thing you know?" Grinned the teen. "It will be nice if there's another first year besides me!" As he said that, he outstretched his hand towards the taller teen.

Furuya stared at his hand, blinking slowly before finally nodding his head slowly. "Okay" he agreed, grabbing his hand. "Friends"

"Nice!" Exclaimed Eijun. "Hey do you like watching baseball?"

It was the start of both friendship and rivalry.

 


 

The fighting spirit of the first years are on an all time high now. Looking completely determined as well as hard headed to score another run.

After Eijun's homerun, the first year is trying to make another score when a teen with pink haired hair that looks strangely familiar appeared.

"Wooden bat?" Asked Eijun, staring at the teen who just declared himself as a pinch hitter.

He looks familiar, as if he had seen him somewhere before. Maybe he's famous? Did someone do an article about him? Eijun can't really place his finger on it.

"What's wrong with wooden bat?" Asked Furuya from his side, eyes too zeroed on the pink haired teen.

"Usually players use the metal bat cause with the slightest contact, the ball will bounce off" explained Eijun, making a motion of batting with his hand. "Well, with a wooden bat it's considerably harder to do that"

"Ah" muttered the taller teen. "Must be really strong then?"

Eijun hummed. "He's either really skilled or just way too confident on his batting skill"

Turns out it's the latter.

It was during the pink haired teen turn to bat that the first year managed to score another run.

He watched the teen move, when a resounding clang, following closely. The teen managed to hit it and immediately running towards the base, and at the same time, the previous batter who was in the second base, dashed home, giving the first years another score to look forward too.

"Woahh!!" Cheered Eijun as he started clapping loudly. "Amazing! Bravo!"

Furuya from his spot started clapping too.

"Hey hey hey you're really amazing with that wooden bat!" Exclaimed Eijun as he walked towards where the pink haired teen is standing. "Aren't you supposed to be like crazy strong to use a wooden bat! Hey teach me, I want to be better at batting too!"

"A-ah" the pink haired teen began to grow red and fumbled with his words.

Oh, is he shy perhaps?

"Stupid" said Kanemaru, smacking the back of his head lightly. "You're scaring him"

"Did not!" Protested Eijun immediately.

"Did too" answered Furuya instead.

Eijun turned towards the other pitcher, face full of betrayal. "Furuya!?"

"Anyway the next inning is about to start" interrupted Kanemaru with a grumble. "Let's stop chatting"

"Aye aye!"

When the inning changed, coach turned towards where Eijun stood, surrounded by the rest of his year mates with a bright grin plastered across his face. The older's gaze settling on his form calculatingly. "Sawamura Eijun" he called out, attracting the attention of the said teen as well as the people around him. "you'll be pitching for the rest of the game"

Eijun brightened, as if it was possible. "Really!?" He demanded.

"Yes, now go to the mound" replied coach briskly, turning his attention back on the field before him.

The pitcher cheered, whooping loudly amidst the claps as well as congratulations from his year mates. "Boss! Thank you for the opportunity!"

"Who are you calling boss..."

As if that declaration from coach are magic words, from the sidelines, where the regulars as well as Eijun previously stood as he watched the game, began to be noisy.

"Hey! This is a game with first year why are you not at 200 points yet!" Yelled Isashiki-senpai, baiting the second string. "Pathetic!"

"Kyaha! You better hit all of Bakamura pitches!" Laughed Kuramochi-senpai as he too leaned forward to watch the game closely.

Kominato senpai too, still has that scary smile of his, decided to spoke up. "That game is just plain embarrassing" said the older. "How pathetic"

"Lemme play! I want to hit Sawamura out!" Yelled Isashiki-senpai as he began marching towards the field. The only one stopping his is a certain shortstop who was holding the older compression shirt tightly.

"Jun-san!" He exclaimed Kuramochi-senpai as he tried to hold off the older from storming to the field.

"HAHAHAH" laughed Eijun. "Senpai all of you are so annoying!" He said as he pointed towards the first string. "If you want to get strike out so badly by me I'll gladly pitch for you on our next practice!"

"What did you say Sawamura!?"

"This kid is really looking for a fight huh..."

His laugh continue as he jogged towards the mound. Turning towards the fielders, he let out a huge smile. "Ball will be flying like crazy so I'll be counting on you guys alright!? Thanks In advance!"

"..."

"What!?" Yelled one of the fielder.

"Sawamura be serious!" Protested Kanemaru.

He could see the pink haired teen chuckling from his position, making his own grin wider before turning back, facing the catcher in front of him.

Sho-san once told him, that a great pitcher is someone who could throw the best kind of pitches out there regardless the catcher. Eijun is used being a one man team, used to adjusting his pitches so whoever his catcher is, he could throw the best pitches out there. Hell, If he speak frankly, Nobu is not even that good of a catcher, and yet, Akagi still managed to have the title of national winner under their belt. Everyone who come to Seido has a good baseball background.

He can work with this.

Nodding his head towards the catcher, he did his windup.

Yeah, he can work with this.

Adjusting his grip on the ball, he let his brain works. Deciding that his usual fastball-changeup combo would be enough for this, he whipped his hand back, before throwing the ball-

"STRIKE!"

 


 

"148 km/hour" commented Takashima Rei from the side, eyes not moving from the pitcher form right on the mound. "Fast" she said. "Really fast"

Kazuyoshi Oota, one of the coaching staff of Seido high school baseball team nodded his head. "His pitches, are both well controlled and powerful" said the man. "A true prodigy"

A smile curled on the woman lips. "That he is"

 


 

Eijun let them scoreless.

 


 

"Seido lineup is amazing as expected!"

"Though the start of the game is just painful to watch"

"I know, that Furuya kid was amazing, but really, I was impressed with Sawamura"

"Can't believe he let the second string to be scoreless for the rest of the game"

"I think I saw him on the dugout during the spring tournament!"

 


 

That night, two person could be seen walking through the brightly lit Seido's spirit dorm hallway.

"You're back on the regular roster?" Asked Kuramochi as both he and Masuko walked through the dorm hallway after a late night batting practice.

The older huffed and nodded his head. "Yes, the coach informed me earlier"

"No surprise there" said the younger. "You're the only one there who managed to actually hit Sawamura pitch after all"

"Ah, Sawamura-Chan pitches is just plain scary" said Masuko, remembering when he face off the pitcher during the inter squad game. "His form is weird, I can't guess what kind of pitches he would throw" mused the older. "Well, it's not like I know all of his repertoire"

"Now that you said it" said Kuramochi, a thoughtful look on his face. "I don't think I know all of his pitches too"

Masuko-senpai huffed. "Guess, I'm
Not alone then. I would be completely scared if I was in the opposing team"

"And he's really good at batting too" said Kuramochi as he opened the door towards dorm number 5, remembering the homerun that the younger easily mafr. "Now that I think about it, everyone in this room is a regular. Is this room lucky or something?"

Opening the door, Sawamura greeted them. "Ah senpai?" He said, eyes turning back from the tv. Kuramochi register that it's an MLB game playing on it. "You're back"

"Oi oi Bakamura" grinned Kuramochi as he put the younger in a headlock. Sawamura immediately guffawed, hitting the older hand so he could release him. "You completely wiped your senpai asses huh?"

"Ehh?" Complained Sawamura. "Release me!"

"That was a good pitch Sawamura-chan" said Masuko senpai as he sat next to Sawamura, not helping him. "Maybe sometimes you could help me doing batting practice" added the older.

"Kyaha! Me too!"

"Okay! Okay! Just release me senpai!" Yelled Sawamura.

"No can do!"

Both Eijun and Kuramochi began wrestling with each other. Though, to be more precise it's  Kuramochi practicing his wrestling move on Sawamura while Masuko merely recorded the entire thing with face full of amusement. It was then, during this that Sawamura's phone gone off.

Sawamura eyes widened when a ringtone that he set specifically for Sho-san rang out.

"Senpai!" He yelled. "Release me! My phone is going off!"

Kuramochi raised an eyebrow. "Haa?" Demanded the shortstop. "Who would possibly calling you this late at night?" He said, releasing his grip.

The younger took this chance to crawl out of the older grip, immediately zooming towards his bed and opening his phone.

Both Kuramochi and Masuko watch at the happiness practically oozing out of the younger face. Mouth stretched into a large grin and golden eyes glittered. Huh, who the hell is this person that they can bring out such blatant happiness from the pitcher?

Don't tell them...

"Oi Sawamura it's not a girlfriend isn't it!?" Demanded Kuramochi as he marched towards where Sawamura is.

Sawamura yelped, "What!? No!"

"Are you lying!?"

"No!" Denied the younger as Kuramochi snatched the phone that is previously on the Sawamura's hand.

Dark eyes scanning on the message in front of him before his eyes narrowed. "Ha? What's this? Baseball?" He asked aloud.

The pitcher took that chance to snatch his phone back. "How rude senpai! And yes, this is a message from my coach back home!"

Masuko-senpai tilted his head. "Coach?" He prodded. "You have a personal coach?"

"You're a rich kid Bakamura?"

"It's not like that" huffed out Sawamura. "My coach, Sho-san, used to play baseball and is really knowledgeable about it! When he move to a house next to mine he began teaching me baseball"

"Ahhh" said Kuramochi, fully understanding. "You have to thank him for all your skills then"

"What's that supposed to mean!?" Complained Sawamura. "Anyway! Sho-san was just asking about how Seido is! I don't have girlfriend so please keep that thought out of your mind Senpai"

"Who's would even date you huh Bakamura?" Asked Kuramochi as he kicked the back of Sawamura's knee.

The younger merely huffed. "My mom said I'm a lovable child!"

"Sawamura-Chan you're really amazing, to say that without an ounce of shame..." commented Masuko-senpai.

"What's wrong with saying that!?"

 


 

Chapter Text

Only one person out of the entirety of the first year moved to the second string.

"Kominato... Haruichi?" Asked Eijun, eyes blinking towards the smaller pink haired teen. He had thought that the coloring is eerily similar to a certain senpai he knows but didn't really connected the dots that the two of them could possibly be brothers. "Kominato-senpai...?"

The image of the pink haired teen in front of him immediately overlapped with a certain senpai he knows. Someone who has a scary smile and said the harshest words while there's a huge smile plastered across his face.

"Ah... yeah" said Kominato - that's a bit confusing now there's two Kominato here - sheepishly as he scratched the back of his neck. "That's my older brother"

"Oh!" Brightened Eijun. "No wonder! Your hair!" As he said that, he pointed towards the bright locks on the teen head.

Kominato? Kominato-kun? Kominato jr? chuckled at that. "Yeah, it's a trait shared by my family" he explained, playing with a strand of hair on his bangs.

"Cool! This the first time I saw someone with pink hair!" Cheered the pitcher, silently nudging Furuya who was seated next to him to wake up.

The dining hall around them is bursting with chatters as well as loud voices. Mostly, from the older members because the first years still focusing all of their energy to digest all the rice given to them. Thankfully for Eijun, after a couple of weeks following this routine, he had grow accustomed to it.

Though, not everyone can say the same. For example, there's Furuya who's still has one and a half bowl of rice left and already passed out. Head bent downwards and eyes lifeless like a dead fish.

"I think this is the first time anyone here saw someone with pink hair" grumbled Kanemaru from his spot in front of both Eijun and Kominato. Turning his head towards Kominato, Kanemaru tilted his head a bit. "You must know a lot of Seido baseball team then, considering that your brother is a third year here"

Kominato merely offered him a small smile. "Not really?" He said, an unsure tilt on his tone. "Aniki doesn't really said much about his experience here"

"Bummer" grumbled Kanemaru. "I like to know more"

"Kominato-kun, you got moved up to the second string right?" Asked Toujou, changing the conversation. "When your were our pinch hitter earlier it was amazing" continued the teen.

But really! Talent does run in the Kominato family! He had seen how Kominato-senpai plays baseball and how skilled he is. It's no wonder that his younger brother would be skillful and as well as talented just like the older.

"I didn't really do much" deflected Kominato with a sheepish grin on his face. He can see his face reddened from the part that is not covered by his bangs. "Sawamura-kun did more than I am, completely defending our team and giving us points"

"Eehh don't be so humble Kominato!" Laughed Eijun as he pat the pink haired teen back loudly. "You were amazing earlier! How about we practice together hm? I want to be a better batter!"

"Ah, you're already a pretty excellent batter Sawamura-kun" piped up Toujou. "You did scored a homerun towards a second string member, really impressive"

Eijun laughed. "Ah, but it's not wrong on wanting to improve right?" Said the pitcher with a large smile, before turning his attention back towards Kominato junior. "By the way Kominato is a bit confusing, it's like I'm calling Kominato-senpai, can I just call you Haruichi? Wait not, let me give you a nickname, Haru? Haru haru? Harucchi?"

"Sawamura-kun..." mumbled the said teen, face growing scarlet and hot as he fumbled with his own chopstick.

Oh! He's shy!

"Harucchi it is!" Declared Eijun loudly.

Kanemaru clicked his tongue. "Oi don't pressure him Sawamura" said the male, pointing his chopstick towards the pitcher. "It's not like the both of you are close"

"But we will become close!" Retorted Eijun. "Right Harucchi?"

"Um.. maybe?" Offered the teen unsurely.

"Come on don't be shy!" Grinned Eijun as he wrapped an arm around the smaller shoulder. "Words are like a prayer you know! Now say it with me, 'We'll become close, we'll become best friends'"

"We-"

"Kominato stop following his whims" snapped Kanemaru. "And just told him if you're uncomfortable on using your given name, don't let him do whatever he wants"

Eijun gasped. "Kanemaru you're so mean! So strict!"

"Ugh, my head ache just listening to you" complained the third baseman as he cradled his forehead. Toujou, from his spot, merely laughed at Kanemaru's obvious ire.

"It's- it's a bit embarrassing, not gonna lie" said the newly dubbed Harucchi as he scratched his cheek awkwardly. "But I think it's okay?" He stopped unsurely. "It would be nice to make some new friends here, can I call you Eijun-kun then?"

"Sure!" Brightened Eijun. "No problem!" Just for an added measure, he gave the teen a thumbs up.

"Really" commented Kanemaru dryly.

It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

 


 

The next day, during practice, Eijun found himself staring at Takashima-San alongside Furuya by his side. Near the woman, stood Miyuki-senpai - who gave him a small wave - as well as someone with tall built, taller than Miyuki-senpai, with brown hair and dark eyes who is wearing a catcher gear.

There's only one explanation why they're here.

"From now on, the two of you will be on the pitcher training regimen" said the woman, producing couple sheets of paper on her hand. "you'll have to practice much more, but try hard and you may be our team next ace pitcher"

That promise of course, perked both Eijun and Furuya up.

"... ace..." mumbled the taller, eyes turned glassy as he stared at the two catcher in front of them.

Immediately, a rush of excitement flood into him. Nice, he thought. Finally practice that reminds him of what he and Sho-San used to do.

"Sawamura-kun" called out the woman, handing one of the paper to him in which he grabbed gratefully. Inside, there's
Some kind of schedule that will accompany him through his practice. "You may be called to pitch during the tournament, so I want you to come out with signs with Miyuki-kun-"

Said catcher looked incredibly pleased.

"- but I mainly want you to work with Chris here"

"Oh?" Asked Eijun, turning his head towards where the other catcher stood. The now dubbed as Chris-senpai offered him a short nod.

Miyuki-senpai too stopped looking so pleased of himself and rigidly turned his head towards Takashima-San. Brown eyes full of confusion and lips pulled in a strained grin.

"Rei-Chan?" Called out the second year. "I thought Sawamura would mainly be paired with me? Considering they he may play in the tournament?"

The woman adjusted his glasses as he nodded. "While it's true, that Sawamura-kun may play during the tournament, coach wants him to increase his stamina in case he needs to play full games, hence Chris will be his main catcher for some time" started the woman as she looked towards the other catcher - now dubbed as Chris - "Furuya-kun has potential but has absolute zero control, so the coach wants you to train him Miyuki"

Miyuki-senpai looked like that he wants to protest, but Eijun beats him. "Okay!" Agreed the pitcher. "Well, I'll see you later Furuya, have fun practicing with that guy!" He said, patting Furuya's back loudly.

"Oi..." protested Miyuki-senpai to dead ears.

"See you later..." muttered the other pitcher as Eijun immediately went to his new assigned catcher.

"Chris-senpai!" Greeted Eijun as he jogged towards the older cheerily. "I know you! Takigawa Chris Yuu right!? The number one catcher in the Kanto region!"

The older looked a bit surprised at that, eyes widening as his head perked up a little. "Ah, yes" he confirmed, nodding his head a bit.

"I knew it! You actually came to Seido!" Cheered Eijun, eyes sparkling. "You may not remember this Senpai but we actually once played against each other!" He said, grabbing the older arm.

"Huh" voiced the catcher, eyes blinking and distant. "When?"

"Back when I was in the youth club!" Answered Eijun. "I was like, 10 at that time, and my team lost against yours in the final" he laughed at this. "But I remember you cause that's the first time i saw a catcher doing signals to their pitcher, really opened up my perspective about catcher-pitcher pair"

Said catcher looked started at that, eyes widening and lips shut in a firm line. "I see" answered Chris-senpai after a couple seconds of silence. "I'm sorry, but I don't think I remember you"

"That's okay! It was a long time ago, I don't mind" said Eijun, waving his hand in dismissal. "So, senpai, I'm looking forward being partners with you!" As he said that, Eijun thrusted his hand towards the catcher.

Chris-senpai stared at his hand a bit, before nodding and shook it. "It's nice to meet you, Sawamura Eijun"

"Same here senpai!"

 


 

Eijun learnt that Chris-senpai is amazing.

Not only amazing. Chris-senpai is really really really amazing.

"Heee" said Sho-san at the other end of the call. "Your senpai really did that for you?"

"Yes!" Replied Eijun, nodding furiously as he stared at the scroll on his hand. He's now sitting on his bead, the practice menu Chris-senpai gave him stretched across his lap. "It's so detailed Sho-san! Almost like the training menus you gave me, he knows so much"

"What did you say his name was? Takigawa Chris Yuu?" Asked the older, a bit intrigued at this catcher that Eijun is in awe about. "Why's that name sounds familiar hmm..."

The younger brightened. "Oh! Is he famous!?" Because it made so much sense! Someone amazing like Chris-senpai must've made some kind of reputation out there right? He needs to be knows if not!

"Nah, maybe he's related to one of the pro player in Japan or maybe in MLB? That name sounds foreign. I'll tell you when I remember it" wondered Sho-san. He can hear a faint rustling after that, indicating that the older is searching for something as he did his call.

"Sure Sho-san!" Agreed Eijun. "It would be nice to grow closer to him, cause he's my first formal battery partner in high school you know?"

"Don't you have that other catcher? What's his name.. Miyuki? If I'm not wrong"

"Oh yeah but Miyuki-senpai is not mainly assigned to me so I think for practice I'll mostly stick to Chris-senpai?" His tone has a questioning tilt to him. Obviously he's still no sure about it. "But during matches I'm pretty sure I'll play with Miyuki-senpai though"

"My, how spoiled are you now Eijun, to have two good catcher around you all the time" sighed the older as his voice turned a bit reminiscent. "Ah, I miss playing baseball profesionally"

"You can always be a coach you know!" Huffed Eijun. "Since Akagi got closed down you're basically a deadbeat at this point!"

"I still got plenty of that athlete money" retorted the older.

"Not an excuse to laze around Sho-San!" Complained Eijun. "You know I wish you come to Seido and be our coach! Boss is really scary compared to you!"

The other snorted at that. "Thank god for that then" commented Sho-san dryly. "Don't want you to laze around"

"I should be the one saying that to you!"

"You're too young to say that kid"

"What does that have to do with anything!?" Protested the pitcher.

Sho-san laughed at that, resulting in a pout marring on Eijun's face. "Anyway, don't forget to send me that training manual your senpai gave you, I'll see what I can do and try to adjusted it with your existing manual" he instructed.

"Oh yeah, I'll send you after this, should I consulted this with Chris-senpai, like tell him I have a personal coach already or something?" Wondered Eijun.

"Do that brat, tell me if he has any input"

"Okay Sho-San!" He was about to ask Sho-san more questions when a familiar voice appeared, gaining his attention.

"Sawamura" called out Kuramochi-senpai as his head appeared from the doorway. "Do you still want to do batting practice? You better hurry up cause soon the lights will be turned off"

Batting practice! Remembered Eijun, eyes widening. He had promised Kuramochi-senpai to do batting practice with the older earlier. Thank god the second year reminded him less he'll forget about it altogether.

"Ah! Wait for me Kuramochi-senpai!" Answered Eijun. "Sho-san I need to go now'! I'll talk to you again soon"

"Alright brat, don't skip your training"

"Of course!" At that, he ended the call and immediately went to where Kuramochi-senpai is waiting for him.

"Who's that?" Asked the older as they made their way to the indoor training area.

"Sho-san!" Replied Eijun.

Kuramochi-senpai raised an eyebrow. "Ah, the one that taught you baseball?"

"Yes" said the younger. "He was helping me out with Chris senpai training manual"

"Oh? He's that knowledgeable about baseball Huh?" Kuramochi-senpai raised an eyebrow as he said that, turning his head towards Eijun with a questioning tilt on his tone.

Eijun nodded his head, excitement still brimming under his skin as he begun gushing about his personal coach. "Well of course! Sho-San is just that amazing!"

"Hmm" hummed the older as the both of them arrived at the indoor practice area.

Their conversation stopped at that. Eyes surveying around the place in search for a place to practice. Eijun could see some of the first string members swinging their bat, exercising their arm muscle. He and Kuramochi-senpai immediately went into one corner of the room.

"So Sawamura" started the shortstop with a mean grin on his face. "Let's start by doing 100 swing as a warmup hm?"

Oh no.

So hardcore.

Eijun loves it.

 


 

It was a few days after the pitcher catcher assignment that something peculiar happened.

"Uh.. Chris-senpai someone is calling for you"

Takigawa Chris Yuu looked up from his notebook, dark eyes sweeping across the room before stopping where his new first year roommate now stood. Kanemaru Shinji, third baseman, has great potential but needs more training.

"Who?" He asked instead.

"Chris-senpai!" Called out the now increasingly familiar voice of Sawamura Eijun as he appeared with his usual bright grin.

Truthfully, he doesn't really know what to make up Sawamura Eijun. A prodigious pitcher, like what the magazines and news stamped on him, a literal ball of sunshine, from the teen bright smiles and infectious laugh, and recently, a puppy, from how the teen seems to be following his instructions and always following him around outside of practice.

The teen is still in his training jersey, stained with dirt and rubbles. He could see sweat marring down his forehead, a clear sign that Sawamura just finished his training.

"Senpai!" Exclaimed Sawamura again as he bounced inside the room, completely ignoring Kanemaru's protest. "I want to talk about the training manuals you gave me"

Ah, realized Chris. He's here to complain then.

He has an ongoing bet with himself when Sawamura would turned up and start complaining about the manual he gave him. After all, because of his injury, he can't help Sawamura much. The kid is already good in baseball, a prodigy.

Sometimes he reminds him of Miyuki back in his first year. A prodigy that has too big mouth and way too blunt for his own good. Someone that Chris needs to guide.

"Did you follow it?" He asked instead and Sawamura nodded. "Good maybe if you-"

"Ah no, senpai, that's not what I want to talk about!" Denied Sawamura, much to Chris confusion. The kid began rummaging his pocket and on his hand, appeared a piece of paper. The pepper itself looked new, but from the fold marks and the frayed ends, it's certain that it has been used a lot.

"This is?"

"My usual training manual!" Declared Sawamura, making Chris head snapped towards him.

"Your usual training manual?" He asked. "Did you make it yourself?" Such a dangerous thing-

Sawamura huffed. "Of course not Senpai, I'm not stupid!" Said the younger as he thrusted the paper towards Chris. "Sho-san, my coach back at home made it for me!"

Chris blinked, taking the paper. "Your coach?"

"Yes, Sho-san is both my middle school coach as well as my personal coach" explained Sawamura. "He's been coaching me since I was like seven"

Seven, he thought I nearly and almost thought that he had misheard that.

That's a long time.

He let his eyes trailed through the writings on the paper silently. The manual looked like it was made by professional. While Chris knows that he has a vast baseball knowledge, he won't delude himself and said that he's on par with professionals. Most of his manuals are from what his father told him, his own experience, or the internet.

This manual though. It looked like it was completely altered to match Sawamura's style. Like a professional specifically made this so that Sawamura can grow into an amazing baseball player.

"This..." trailed off Chris.

"Well I want to talk about it" said Sawamura again. "I talked to my coach about it, that you gave me a new training manuals, so he said that he's going to try and combine both!" Explained the teen. "He said to tell you though, and maybe asked about some input"

"I see" trailed Chris. "This manual is amazing Sawamura, when did you start using it?"

The pitcher hummed. "When?" Asked Eijun, head tilted. "Hmm... This is the most recent one and Sho-san used this since I was like a second year middle school? There are previously used manuals that are discarded cause I keep growing and stuff you know" said the teen. "Why? Do you want that too?"

"If you can I would like to see" he answered.

"Sure! I'll ask Sho-san then" brightened the teen. "Senpai you can look at the manual and give me you input later okay! I need to got to Miyuki-senpai for pitching practice tonight!"

"Of course Sawamura" nodded the catcher. "I'll see you later"

"Bye senpai!"

Watching the retreating back of the teen, he let his eyes wonder to what happened a few days before. He knows that Takashima-san claimed that she managed to recruit a famous pitcher. Someone with brimming potential as well as prodigy on their own right. That claim was proven true when he struck out Tetsu and got moved to the first string.

It sting a little, he's not going to lie. For a first year to be moved to the first string immediately while he's stuck in the second string for the time being. Though, he understand completely why coach did it. Sawamura, after all, is strong. Someone that the team needs.

Him and Miyuki, would become a terrifying battery. No doubt will help Seido to go their dream stage of Koshien.

As he let his mind wander to past possibilities, he closed his eyes as he leaned back on his chair. Sometimes, he wonder, if he didn't get injured, will he be the one that catch Sawamura pitches?

 


 

"So Sawamura" greeted Miyuki-senpai when he met him that night in the bullpen. "Tell me about all of your pitches, don't hide anything anymore"

Eijun blinked. "Okay?"

"Good" said the older as he instructed the pitcher to crouched next to him. "I know some of your pitches like the fastballs, changeup, and that pitch you use to strike out Azuma-senpai" explained the catcher. "Though, I heard from the coach that you apparently had 7 pitches in your repertoire, tell me about them"

The pitcher bummed. "So I kinda lied during the skill test?" Started Eijun. "I said that I have 7 pitches but truthfully I have around 11?"

"Around 11?" Repeated Miyuki-senpai, dumbfounded. That's a big list of pitches someone could do, especially for a high schooler. Some player spend all their entire career honing just one specific pitch, building their own name around it. But if the younger can control and master all 11 pitches that he know...

What a terrifying thought.

"You're not sure?" Prodded Miyuki.

"Yeah, Back then I said 7 cause any numbers higher than 7 is still unstable, I need to practice more"

"Wait, numbers?"

Eijun stared at him. "Oh, right you're not there" he said in a moment of realization. "I numbered my pitches, so it will be easier to memorize and stuff"

"Ah I see" replied Miyuki-senpai. "It's easier for us to come up with signs then" said the catcher. "Tell me"

"So number one is the cutter" started Eijun. "Ah, wait let me tell you something" stopped the pitcher as he started a new explanation. "when I was younger me and my coach found out something"

"Oh? What is it?"

"Here lemme show you" Eijun took a step back away from Miyuki. "Basically if I changed the way I grip the ball, it will also change the way my ball break or something" at this, he did his usual windup. "Senpai, I'm going to throw a fastball so catch it okay?"

Miyuki-senpai raised his eyebrow but nodded his head. As expected, he caught Eijun's fastball easily.

"Okay you remember my windup and stuff right?" He asked in which Miyuki-senpai nodded. "But" started Eijun as he did the same windup. "The way I grip the ball is the deciding factor" at that, he whipped his hand back and-

The older caught his changeup, though there's surprised evident on his face.

"Oh?" Started Miyuki-senpai. "Ohhh!?"

"You get it right!?" Asked Eijun excitedly.

"Your windup is weird and unconventional, I was thinking why didn't your middle school coach fixed it" said the catcher, excitement dripping down his voice. "So that's the reason! The batter wouldn't able to guess what pitches you would throw because they can't even see it!"

"Finally someone who gets it!" Cheered Eijun. "Sho-San was the only one who understands you know!? None of my middle school teammates do?"

"Sho-San?" Asked the catcher, curious at the mention of someone unknown.

The younger immediately perked. He likes talking about Sho-san after all. About the man who first introduced him to baseball. "My coach!" Replied Eijun. "Also senpai, I don't know if you noticed it but the trajectory of my pitches is kinda weird too" he added, as an afterthought.

He had pitched towards the second year a few times now. Not many, certainly, but he's sure that Miyuki-senpai would've caught something like that.

"Oh? I thought you did it purposely?" Asked Miyuki-senpai as he raised an eyebrow. "When I watch the inter squad games it's kind of obvious that the catcher has a hard time catching it"

"I tried my best!" Huffed Eijun, defending himself. It was hard okay? Sho-San always said that his pitch is hard to catch. There's a reason why Nobu have to train for like a year to be able to become Eijun's catcher! "I tried to reduce the trajectory as little as possible so the catcher won't have problem on catching it" complained the pitcher, remembering the game earlier.

That is, until he realized something. "But wait" gasped Eijun, as if he had just realized something or just discovered an ancient treasure buried deep underground.

Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow at that. Confused. "What are you thinking about pitcher-kun? Don't hurt you head"

"You. Miyuki-senpai, you're a good catcher right?" Demanded Eijun immediately, eyes shining with something as he suddenly grabbed the older hand.

The other looked at him as if he's crazy, a bit startled at the sudden movement. "Do you really have to confirm it?"

"Ehh, I know you're a good catcher" dismissed Eijun. "okay so senpai I'm going to throw you a changeup okay?"

Miyuki-senpai nodded his head before he readied himself in his usual stance. Eijun throw the ball, landing it straight to the catcher hand.

"Okay, so let me do it again, this time also a changeup" said the pitcher as he once again did his windup and throwing the ball.

Barely, Miyuki-senpai eyes widened before his hand immediately moved to catch the pitch. He stared at the ball in hand, thoughtful look on his face. "Thats..."

"You get it right?" Prodded Eijun as he step closer. "Right? Right?"

"The trajectory... was different... really really different"

"I know! I tried to control it for other catcher but if I did that the batter would have an easier time to hit my pitches!" Explained the younger. "But Miyuki-senpai" at this he grinned. "You're a good catcher right? A really good one? Like crazy good? So you can catch the ball at any trajectory right?"

At this realization dawned on the catcher face. Immediately, a large grin appeared before he let a lid laugh that echoed through the bullpen. "Sawamura!" He said, eyes giddy with excitement. "Do you know what this means!?"

"Right!?" Yelled Eijun. "Imagine-"

"-what kind of things we could do during games" finished Miyuki-senpai.

Both of them shared a large grin tinge with a bit of manic that night.

It was the first time Eijun gain an understanding for the second year catcher.

"Pitcher-kun tell me all about your numbers!"

"Okay Senpai!"

 



Kanto Tournament
Yokohama Kouhoku Institute vs Seido High School

 

Tanba-senpai's performance is... faltering.

Eijun doesn't know what is holding the older back, he, after all, doesn't know much about the ace nor is he friends with the older, but from how he saw Tanba-senpai is now...

It's kind of sad, really.

Don't get him wrong. For the last six innings Tanba-senpai is great, amazing even. But for some reason, on the seventh, there seems to be something bugging inside the pitcher mind. Obvious from how the older let four runs in just a single inning.

Miyuki-senpai seems to realized that too, calling for a time out. He can't hear what kind of conversation they're having, or what words exchanged between the battery, but it seems that it doesn't resolve the problem inside Tanba-senpai's internal turmoil.

That's bad, he thought.

As the ace jogged into the dugout after the end of the seventh inning, it was obvious that he was going to be switched out.

"Sawamura" called out the coach, startling the first year southpaw. Furuya from the seat besides him, casted him a glance. "You're up next"

You're up next.

That words ringing on his head.

"Yessir!" He immediately replied, standing up robotically and giving the older a salute.

"Good" grunted the older. "Do me proud"

"Alright boss!"

"Again.. stop calling me that.."

The announcer voice rang out through the venue. Alerting all the people watching that Seido is changing one of their player. "First half of the eight inning, Seido Pitcher change" called out person from the loudspeaker.

It was obvious that the decision shocked many. Seido, is not knows as a school with strong pitchers. They are knows as a school with strong batter and a school that is in need of an ace. Tanba, is their best bet.

"Replacing Pitcher Tanba, Sawamura"

Stepping out of the dugout, Eijun grinned. Golden eyes looking around the field as he absorbed all the cheers around him.

"Sawamura Eijun? Is he a first year?"

"Is Seido losing their touch?"

"Wait- I think I've heard that name before..."

He ignored all the whispers and all the taunt around him. Miyuki-senpai already standing near the mound, offering him his own grin.

"Pitcher-kun" called out the older, wide grin and crinkled eyes. "Are you ready to show these guys what you're capable of?"

"You're such a bad person Miyuki-senpai" laughed Eijun. "3/10 for personality"

"Thank you!"

"That wasn't a compliment"

"I know" snickered the catcher,

"Ugh, worst personality" grumbled Eijun. "But yeah" agreed the pitcher easily. "Let's show them why Seido are the kings"

The grin Miyuki-senpai offer him are downright evil that Eijun can't help his own evil grin to stretched across his face.

"Great then" grinned the catcher as he balled his first towards the southpaw. "Guess we'll slay another monster huh, partner?"

Bumping his own fist towards the older, Eijun laughed. "Of course partner!"

After that, Miyuki-senpai jogged back to his position behind the batter. Position ready.

Eijun let out a long breath. "Okay!" He yelled out, catching all the attention around him. "Balls will go flying all over the place so senpais, I'll thank you in advance!"

"Oi Sawamura be serious!" Yelled out Isashiki-senpai.

"Kyaha! You really are an idiot aren't you Bakamura!?"

The grin never leave his face as he did his windup.

 


 

Juichiro Tohru has been a fan of Seido baseball club for years.

Well, not really a fan. It’s just that he has an emotional attachment for the said club considering he used to be a part of it years ago. Though, he never has any notable achievement. Stuck in the third string before retiring in his third year and focusing in university entrance exam, Juichiro Tohru had never been an active part of the club.

Just like any teens who was obsessed  in baseball, Juichiro Tohru has the grand dream of achieving Koshien. Back then, he doesn’t care if it’s not him who stood in the Koshien field. As long as Seido managed to achieved that dream stage, all the sweats he had poured for the club for years will be worth it.

Seido did managed to achieved Koshien. The first and last time Tohru step into the Koshien stadium, he was in his second years and cheering for his teammates on the stand. Cheers could be heard all around him as well as the loud sounds of the school cheerleader club. It’s a dream come true, to witness this historic moment.

During this tournament too, Seido managed to get into second place. The highest the school ever achieved since it’s first sebut in Koshien.

Now, years past and he no longer a student in Seido. He has his own job as well as family to take care off. Taxes to pay, boss to please, all in all, compared to high school his life has been way busier and he has no more time for baseball.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t cheer for his old school.

That’s why now, he sat in the stands. Watching the Kanto tournament happening, a match between Seido, his old alma mater, and Yokohama Kouhoku Intitute.

“Ah, Seido is losing” grumbled Tanaka Ryouta, also a Seido alumni who was in the baseball club alongside him all those years ago.

“Yeah” Agreed Tohru. “Tanba pitched well at first but now he’s a mess”

The man next to him let out a sigh. “What a shame” he grumbled. “Seido used to be stronger than this! What happened to the old Seido?”

“Maybe it’s the change of coach” he suggested. “It’s not coach Sakaki anymore remember? Its Kataoka now”

“Geh- Kataoka” grunted Ryouta. “The ace of our time, I used to think that he’ll go pro”

Tohru agreed. After all, Kataoka is a brilliant player. He’s not close with him back then, considering he’s the team ace and starting pitcher while Tohru is only a third string, but only a blind person would deny how amazing the other is.

The both of them was about to continue their complain about current Seido team when the announcer voice rang out.

"First half of the eight inning, Seido Pitcher change" said the smooth female voice that rang all across the venue. "Replacing Pitcher Tanba, Sawamura, Pitcher, Sawamura"

Both he and Ryouta blinked.

“Sawamura?” called out the other man. “Who is he? A first year?”

Just as he said that, a teen with brown hair that peaked under his baseball cap appeared. He has a huge grin on his face, completely unfazed and doesn’t look nervous at all.

The spectator around him also sounds confused. Questions could be heard ringing through the air as he watch the pitcher walked to the mound and where the starting catcher, Miyuki, already wait for him.

“Is Seido already giving up?” asked Tohru, still watching the spectacle around him.

“What is Kataoka thinking?” wondered Ryouta. “To let a first year debut here when they’re already losing…”

From the corner of his eyes, he could see the Seido players who watched the game through the stands – the place he spent most of his high school baseball career in - also looked surprised at the turn of events. Other school scouts too, could be seen mumbling as well as voicing their confusion.

“He looks skinny”

“Isn’t he basically a middle schooler?”

Tuning down the conversation around him, Tohru decided to turn his attention completely to the game in front of him. Sawamura is already standing on the mound now, he heaved a deep breath before- "Okay!" yelled out the teen, catching all the attention around him. "Balls will go flying all over the place so senpais, I'll thank you in advance!"

Instantly, Seido’s fielder yelled back at him. “Oi Sawamura be serious!” “Kyaha! You’re really an idiot aren’t you Bakamura!”

Sawamura grin grows bigger, a feat that he thought should be impossible because Tohru needs to squint at it. Fumblig with his phone, He watched as the teen did his windup-

BAM

And the ball arrived in the catcher’s mitt.

“STRIKE!” called out the umpire and immediately the stadium burst into roar.

“Tohru!” Called out Ryouta, shaking his shoulder. “That- that pitch!”

BAM

BAM

“STRIKE! BATTER OUT!”

Both Tohru and Ryouta almost can’t believe their face. “Oh my god” muttered Tohru. “That’s like 150 km/h isn’t it?” he asked.

Ryouta nodded his head too, eyes trained on the match before them. “Is he really a first year!?” Whisper shouted the other man. “He’s amazing!”

The stand that is full of Seido second as well as third string members are now bursting with cheers. The chants of ‘Sawamura! Sawamura! Sawamura!’ could be heard as the pitcher continue to do strike out after strike out. Hell, no one managed to get into the base.

He also could see other school scouts are now frantically writing something on their notepad and recording the game. All of them looked doubtful just moments ago but instantly got amazed by the sheer prowess of this Seido new pitcher.

“Amazing!”

“No one can even touch his pitches!”

“Where did he come from!?”

“Strike him out Sawamura!”

“Strike him out!”

Tohru still has his rapt attention toward the game in front of him when Ryouta practically shoved his phone towards him. “Tohru look!” Said the man, shoving a news article towards him. “Sawamura Eijun used to be the ace of the team who won the middle school national” informed the other. “Seido really managed to get an amazing pitcher this year!”

Amazing, he thought. 

The eight inning ended without any batter able to land a hit on Sawamura’s pitch.

He know that Seido is amazing. He knows that Seido baseball team is strong. Even without a solid ace figure for the last couple of years, Seido is one of the strongest team out there with their fearsome batting lineup as well as top fielding skill.

With those, Seido is already feared enough. But now, now they managed to get this an absolute monster of a pitcher-

Seido would be unstoppable.

“Ryouta” he called out, eyes trained towards the game before him. Its almost like a deja vu to him. The image of the younger pitcher in front of him is almost replaced by another figure of pitcher years ago. Back when he was in high school, sitting in the stands as we watched Seido completely defeated and fail to score a single run. The image, of a team winning Koshien all those years ago as he watched the match with the rest of Seido team members in the dining hall.

This pitcher, he thought. Reminded him so much of that Inashiro ace years ago. 

"Ryouta" Tohru called out again, breaking the man attention from the game.

“Hm?”

“I think they can do it now”

Ryouta raised an eyebrow. “Do what?”

“Winning Koshien”

 


 

"Strike!"

Ah, thought Miyuki Kazuya as he watch the batter in front of him failed to hit the ball once again with visible rage in his expression. How amusing, he snickered inwardly. Really, the only chance to hit Sawamura is if you have mother luck on your shoulder.

The ball is a comfortable weight on his hand. He had always like the satisfying sound of a ball meeting catcher glove and catching for Sawamura, it's almost a guarantee to hear that sweet sweet sound.

Currently in the last inning, Sawamura didn't let the opposing team to score any run ever since he stepped into the mound. Hell, none even get on the base. It was fun to see how the other team grow and grow more irritated by the seconds.

Should he show off a little? Show these people their new little pitcher?

What to choose really, thought Kazuya inwardly. Sawamura has such a wide varieties of pitches that Kazuya sometimes has a trouble on picking one.

He really wants to try the higher numbers, like maybe the splitter, the pitch that the younger used when they both struck out Azuma-senpai. It would be so fun to see the confused as well as mad face of the batter. It will be also a pitch that is fun to catch. Though, the coach had instructed him strictly to not got carried away and revealed too much about Sawamura's skills.

The coach wants to save most of Sawamura pitches for the summer. To be the trump card that Seido need to tackle all the strong schools out there for a ticket to Koshien.

Kazuya already can't wait for summer. For the time they can show off their new little pitcher to the world.

So, instead of pondering more about what kind of pitches that he should choose, Kazuya opened his arms wide. A sign of 'throw whatever you like'

Sawamura obviously understood that signal immediately because the large grin that erupted on his mouth is so bright that Kazuya needs to squint a little. And so, the teen did his usual windup. The windup that keeps confusing batters with how freakishly flexible the other teen is. As he positioned his glove, he watch as the pitcher whipped back his hand and-

"STRIKE! BATTER OUT!"

 


 

It was the high school debut of Seido's very own Sawamura Eijun.

A debut that surely will etched itself into many players mind.

 


 

Seido, still lost.

Even with Eijun coming in, not letting any of the opposing team to score, the batter fail to caught up to the points that Tanba-senpai lost previously.

Though, even though the lost went to Seido, people watching the game can't stop talking about Seido. Namely, the pitcher that went out at the last innings. A southpaw that pitch fastballs with speed as well as accuracy that's terrifying to many.

Schools who had sent their scout has an incoming sense of dread as they hear what their scouts said. Is Seido, a school that is known for their batting prowess finally managed to gain an amazing pitcher on their midst?

Back to Seido baseball team who has sullen faces as well as tense mood, all of them are packing their things. Preparing to leave the venue.

As Kazuya watch the team packed their bags, he wonder.

What's it like if Sawamura was their ace?

 


 

Chapter Text

"Chris-senpai catch for me!" Said Eijun as a greeting.

It was still morning, sun barely peeking out. No one actually out of their dorm room yet, still under the clutches of sleep and tiredness from yesterday practice still hanging tightly to their bones. That is, except for one Sawamura Eijun and the newly discovered morning person, Takigawa Chris Yuu. Practice is not for another good 40 minutes and Eijun had just finished his usual morning run when he ran into Chris-senpai in the bathroom.

The older stared at him, toothbrush still on his mouth. 

"Senpai?" Prodded Eijun as he walked closer towards the older, head tilted a bit. "Are you okay?" he asked when Chris-senpai merely stared at him. Not answering his enthusiastic request this early in the morning.

Said upperclassmen merely stared at him silently for a couple of seconds before he decided to answer. "I'm... okay" he replied after a pause, wiping down his mouth with the towel hanging from his neck. He sounds unsure, or uncomfortable, Eijun can’t decide.

Though, he is Sawamura Eijun and brightening up the mood is one of his many forte. "I see!" Cheered the pitcher. "So how about it Senpai, let's play catch before breakfast!"

The catcher didn't answer that, and continue brushing his teeth.

How rude, thought the pitcher a bit. It’s common courtesy to reply when someone is talking to you after all! Eijun is not deterred by it though. Is so, he becomes more enthusiastic. "Then how about after dinner Senpai!? Let's bond as a battery partner!"

"Sawamura" said the older finally, dark eyes finally landed on Eijun. There’s a frown settled on the other face. Eijun thought that a frown doesn’t suit Chris-senpai face, he needs to smile more. Should he try that? His train of thoughts were interrupted when Chris-senpai continue. "You have Miyuki who always wants to catch for you, why don't you ask him?"

Eijun blinked, as if what the older said was confusing and something out of this world.

"Huh?" Echoed the younger. "But I want to try a battery with you Senpai" he said a matter of factly. Why is he asking this? It’s not like Eijun is asking Miyuki-senpai to catch for him! Coach assigned Chris-senpai to him so it’s not weird for him to ask the older to practice together.

Now this time it's Chris's turn to stared at the younger. "What?"

"Yeah, I wanna make battery with you!" Grinned the younger as he nodded his head. "You have this whole title of Kanto greatest catcher back in the day!, I wanna know how is it to be caught by you!" as he said that, he opened his hands in a wide gesture.

Takigawa Chris Yuu, after all, used to be a known name back in the day. Eijun doesn’t really keep up to date about the latest news of the said catcher back in the day, but he was known as one of the best catcher out there. Though, the older seems to disappear completely from the baseball scene shortly after going to high school.

Imagine his delight when he saw Chris-senpai in Seido!

"Sawamura..." started the older, pinching the spot between his brows. "I... didn't think I would tell you this but you just seems so insistent… that title, don't keep your hopes up"

"Eh?" Asked the younger, looking at Chris-senpai with confusion painted on his face. "Why? You even beat Miyuki-senpai team don't you? You're great! Greater than him!"

He doesn’t mentioned that Miyuki-senpai eventually beat Chris-senpai position as starting catcher because, well, Chris-senpai is the greatest! There must be a reason why Miyuki-senpai managed that! And he doesn’t want to give the second year catcher something more to boast off.

"Sawamura just.." trailed the older eyes growing distant, "Just forget it okay?"

At that, the older leaves.

Watching the retreating back of the third year, he let his mind wander. That rejection doesn't deter Eijun. More or less, it made him more determined.

He’s going to make Chris-senpai to catch for him!

 


 

"Chris-senpai let's have lunch together!"

"Sawamura what are you doing in the third year class?"

 


 

"Chris-senpai do you want to watch the giants game with me?"

"I have homework Sawamura"

 


 

"Chris-senpai, let's do the warmup together!"

"I already did that Sawamura"

“Oi Bakamura! What are you doing in the second string practice!?”

“Sorry Kuramochi-senpai!”

 


 

"Chris-senpai!"

 


 

"Chris senpai!"

 


 

"Chris-se-"

Before he could finish his sentence, he found himself face to face with the older hand shoved right in front his face. Chris-senpai looks exhausted, rubbing the space between his eyebrows.

"Senpai?" Asked Eijun, head tilted a bit. "Are you okay? Are you sick?" he prodded, leaning closer towards the older.

Chris-senpai heaved out a heavy sigh. The older looks tired, and burdened. "Sawamura just-" he stopped, heaving a deep breath. "Just stop okay?"

Eijun blinked. "Huh?"

Stop what?

"Stop following me around" clarified the older as he casted him a look. Currently the both of them are standing in front of Chris-senpai’s class. Eijun was about to ask him to have lunch with him once again, to deepen their battery bond and stuff. Though, it seems that Chris-senpai is not really on board of the idea.

“Then catch for me senpai!” replied Eijun.

 "I'm not- I'm not going to catch for you" answered Chris-senpai immediately as If it’s something that he did automatically at this point.

A frown appeared on Eijun face. It just didn’t make sense to him why Chris-senpai is keep rejecting him. It’s not like he’s that bad of a pitcher! Or someone that is hard to work with! "But why?" Protested Eijun. "I never see you play baseball senpai! Which makes no sense because you love baseball!"

The older stiffened, eyes widening. "What?" He asked. "How do you come to that conclusion?"

What a stupid question, Eijun thought. Not thar Chris-senpai is stupid, mind you. But it’s just that it’s really obvious.

Eijun huffed. "It's obvious of course" he started. "The training manual you gave me is so incredibly detailed that you need to do a lot of research for them! Only someone who loves something has that kind of dedication!" 

"Just.. from that?" Asked Chris-senpai a bit warily.

"Of course not! The biggest indicator is your eyes senpai" at this, he pointed at his own eyes. "Every time you watch a baseball games, your eyes reminds me of mine" he grinned at that. "It shown how much you love baseball"

He remembers one time at practice when he accidentally saw Chris-senpai standing on the side. Eijun doesn’t even mean to do that, but the way the older watch the ongoing practice match in front of him is so full of longing and want that he felt his heart ached. It’s obvious that Chris-senpai wants to play baseball and loves the said sport.

Chris-senpai stared at him, dark brown eyes unblinking as Eijun too, hold off his stare. Persistent and unyielding. 

The silence between the two of them finally break when the older of the two decided to speak up. "Sawamura" he starts, closing his eyes as if its pained him to said it. "It’s- I'm sorry"

"Huh?"

Just like that, Chris-senpai left Eijun standing in the third year hallway.

 


 

"Hey Miyuki-senpai, do you think Chris-senpai hates me or something?" Asked Eijun as he did his usual shoulder warmup.

Miyuki-senpai, in the middle of wearing his baseball cap, turned his head towards him with a quirked eyebrow and an amused amile. "Hah? Why are you asking that?" he asked, a hint of teasing could be heard from his tone.

Eijun huffed. "Cause he's been avoiding me lately" grumbled the pitcher.

Miyuki-senpai snickered, eyes full of amusement. "With how much you follow him around like a stalker, if I were him I would avoid you too" answered the older easily.

"What did you say!?"

"Shut up Bakamura" complained Kuramochi-senpai as he ruffled the top of Eijun's head. His baseball bat is slinging over his shoulder. "Be like Furuya and stay still" At this, he pointed towards Furuya’s direction.

"He's not staying still he's literally sleeping!" Complained Eijun immediately.

The said teen, true to Eijun's words, are dozing off on the bench. He’s dead to the world, a testament that’s proven true when Masuko-senpai actually tried to wake the younger up earlier. An attempt that’s proven to be futile, but still, an attempt anyway.

Sometimes, he likes to think that Furuya ability to sleep whenever and wherever is pretty cool. Maybe it’s because he has a low stamina? He never able to play under the sun for long, maybe it relates to that?

Marching towards the sleeping teen, Eijun shook the taller one. "Furuya!" He exclaimed. "Wake up!"

Furuya is still sleeping. If this is a different circumstances, Eijun would marvel how deep Furuya’s sleep is considering he’s aware of how loud he is.

Both Miyuki-senpai and Kuramochi-senpai are snickering and giving him no help whatsoever. "Furuya!" He yelled again. "We're going to play baseball come on!"

As if it's some kind of magic spell, Furuya finally woke up. Dark eyes opened slowly as the team mumble something that sounds like, “Baseball?”

“Yes!” he replied, shaking the older shoulder. Really, the only way to wake Furuya out of his slumber is if he mentioned baseball. That’s one of the thing that he shares with Furuya. Their utter love of baseball and their large desire to stand and possessively guard the mound.

Eijun immediately dragged Furuya off the bench and ready to go to the field.

"Sawamura come here" called the coach when he arrived with his fellow first year.

Blinking, he pointed a finger towards himself. When he saw the coach nodded once again, he let a bright grin overtake his face and immediately walked towards where the older is. "Yessir!" He replied. It was then that Eijun found himself standing on the mound, and Kuramochi standing in front of him, bat in hand and large grin on his face. "Eh?"

The coach grunted. "Let's practice your batting skill" said the older, turning towards the rest of the first string. "Tanba and Furuya will be having a pitching exercise with Miyauchi, while Sawamura will pitch towards our batting lineup"

Wait.

"Ehh!?" Yelled Eijun.

Scary! How scary! He knows how famously strong Seido batting lineup is! While it’s true that he managed to strike out the cleanup back then during the first day of practice, he’s sure that it’s because captain is not used to his pitches back then!

At this, Isashiki-senpai had come towards him, slinging an arm around his shoulder. "Don't blame me if the ball is hurling towards you Sawamura" said the older, an evil smile appeared on his face.

"Senpai how mean!" Complained Eiju immediately after seeing the evil look plastered on the older face.

"Kyaha! Just hurry up Bakamura! I want to hit you off!" Laughed Kuramochi-senpai and for a good measure, start to swung his bat violently.

Miyuki-senpai also snickered. "This will be the first time I hit for you Pitcher-kun, how interesting"

"I was having the urge to shut him off" commented Kominato-senpai. "What a great opportunity"

"Come at me Sawamura-Chan!" Yelled Masuko-senpai.

"Why am I the villain!?" Yelped Eijun.

Tanba-senpai, Miyauchi-senpai as well as Furuya took off to the bullpen. Watching the three retreating figure, he made a desperate attempt to follow them. An attempt that was proven futile when Isashiki-senpai managed to hold him by his place, cackling wildly. At this, coach immediately barked his order for Eijun to hurry up.

Kuramochi-senpai is at the batter box, eyes zeroed on Eijun's form. A second string catcher has been called as today's practice catcher due to Miyauchi-senpai handling Tanba-senpai as well as Furuya and Miyuki-senpai being up to bat.

“Nice to work with you!” Called out Eijun to the second string catcher who gave him a thumbs up. If he’s not wrong his name is Ono.

Deciding to start with his fastball, Eijun did his windup before throwing it towards the second year. 

The shortstop swung his bat , though, a loud BAM could be heard after that. Signalling the ball that made contact with the catcher glove. Kuramochi-senpai turned his eyes towards the ball, a calculating look passed over his face.

"Strike" announced coach. "Another one Sawamura!"

Heaving out a breath, Eijun nodded. This time he did another fast ball but with a different trajectory. Putting in mind that it’s not Miyuki-senpai who is catching for him, he tried to control the ball more and doesn’t go absolutely wild on it. The ball hurled near where Kuramochi-senpai stood, though he still able to swung his bat.

Clang

"Foul" said the coach again. “One more Sawamura!”

Nodding his head, Eijun did his usual windup and once again, hurled another fastball towards the shortstop. Kuramochi-gritted his teeth before he swung his bat, hitting the ball that landed between the home base and the first base once again.

"Foul, again" announced Coach. "Kuramochi you're done, do your batting exercise more"

"Che" Kuramochi-senpai clicked his tongue. "Bakamura! Are you really only using fastballs on me!? Are you underestimating me!?" Yelled the older.

"Ehh senpai?" Asked Eijun. "What if I only know how to throw fastball!?"

"That's bullshit and you know it" deadpanned the older. "Ahh! This is so frustrating! I'm gonna hit a ball straight to you!" as he said that, he throw his helmet off his head to the ground, messing his hair up immediately.

"Cheetah-senpai how frightening!"

"Who are you calling cheetah!?"

Kuramochi-senpai yell was followed by Eijun's loud snicker. As the teen move out of the batter box, Kominato-senpai appeared.

He always found the older Kominato a bit intimidating. While Harucchi is an absolute sunshine and angel, Kominato-senpai reminds him too much of his mom when she got angry at him. Maybe it’s the scary smile? Or maybe it’s the older tendency to be absolutely blunt and merciless when critizing people?

"Sawamura" said the older, head turned towards him and that scary smile plastered across his face. "Don't you dare to throw me that half assed fastballs to me"

Scary!

Nodding his head warily he did his windup before throwing a changeup. Kominato-senpai seems to not be expecting it, as he missed the ball completely.

"Ah" said the older as he stared at the ball inside the catcher mitt. "I see"

Kominato-senpai actually managed to hit his fastball during his third pitch towards him. Though the older throw him a terrifying smile at that, demanding why he still throw him a fastball and asking is he's underestimating him. Isashiki-senpai too managed to hit his fastball but completely unable to make contact with his changeup, much to the older ire and loud frustration.

"Sawamura" called coach out. "You've been using variations of changeups and fastball through this" said the coach. "Show me your other pitches"

Nodding, he agreed. "Okay!"

As he said that, he felt a foreboding aura. In front of him, stood Captain with a terrifying aura surrounding the older. "Sawamura" greeted the captain, a determined expression on his face. "I've been waiting for this rematch"

"Make sure you actually hit me this time Senpai!" Goaded Eijun.

The aura around the captain seems to intensify before he nodded, voice hard and serious.

Doing his windup, he tried to let his brain work what pitch he should use. Out of 11, he's only confident in 7 or maybe 8. Fastballs and his usual circle changeup are out of question, so that leaves the breaking ball. Or maybe the palmball? He's only been using the circle changeup until now.

Adjusting his grip to his palmball grip, he whipped his hand back and let the ball go.

"Strike!" Yelled the coach. “Is that a different kind of changeup Sawamura?" asked the older as he eyed the ball on the catcher mitt.

Eijun nodded. “Yeah!” he confirmed. “It’s like a faster version of my usual circle changeup”

“And has a much sharper breaking motion” Piped up Miyuki-senpai from the sidelines.

Years ago, Sho-san had told him that his palmballl reminds the older of Eijun’s pitches when he first started learning baseball but with better control and power.

The coach the nodded. “Sawamura I want to try for you to throw your fastball again!"

"Okay coach!"

Throwing his fastball, he watched as captain make contact to the ball before it fly straight to center field easily.

"Ah senpai" said Eijun, watching the ball fly out. "You finally managed to get a decent hit"

"Sawamura" said captain curtly. "I will hit all of your pitches"

"Hahah! Nice resolution senpai!" 

Captain actually manage to make contact with his palmball. Certainly not his best hit, but it's not a foul, much to the rest of first string amazement. Nodding his head towards him, Captain retire from the batter box.

Masuko-senpai too managed to actually get a decent hit on his fastballs. Eijun thought it because the older has the experience on hitting one previously during the inter squad game. Though, the younger let a loud laugh when his changeup just narrowly missed the third year.

It was also at this practice that he discovered one fact about Miyuki-senpai.

"You're screwed" called out Kuramochi-senpai from the side, taking a break from his batting practice to watch the catcher who's standing on the batter box. "Miyuki you better not embarrass yourself"

"Miyuki I believe you can do it" said Captain with utter conviction.

"Don't hope on it" commented Kominato-senpai.

"Sawamura-Chan give mercy on him" called out Masuko-senpai too.

Miyuki-senpai merely grunted. "This is not a game! I can hit perfectly during practice!”

This, after all, confused Eijun. He knows that Miyuki-senpai is skilled in baseball. Knows that the guy could hit homerun during game. So why is the first string members calling him out? "What are you talking about?" Asked Eijun, a bit perplexed.

"Miyuki here" said the shortstop as he jabbed his thumb towards the catcher. "Can't land a hit of there's no one on the base"

Eijun blinked. Before he burst into laughter.

"That's lame!"

"I know right!?" Laughed both Isashiki-senpai and Kuramochi-senpai back. What kind of guy has that kind of bad luck!?

Miyuki-senpai looked mildly annoyed at that. "Pitcher-kun, remember that I actually know how you pitch" comments the catcher, taking his stance. "I'll shut your mouth when I hit you"

The pitcher grinned, eyes twinkling with amusement. "Eh, you sure senpai? Almost none of the senpais beforehand managed to get a decent hit"

"Hit it Miyuki!"

"Wipe that smug ass grin!"

Eijun laughed. "Senpai all of you are so vengeful!"

"Sawamura hurry up" instructed coach. 

"Aye aye!"

At that, he did his windup and throw his changeup only for a resounding clang to echoes through the field. Eijun watched as the ball fly off to somewhere on the left field.

"I am seeing things or did Miyuki just hit it" commented Kominato-senpai as he too followed the ball.

"The curse has been lifted!" Cheered Masuko-senpai.

Oh that's annoying.

"Senpai" called out Eijun. "I'm getting serious here!"

"Hahah! As expected of pitcher-kun then!"

Whipping his hand back, Eijun adjusted his hands to the grip he use for splitter. Throwing the ball with all his power-

Only for the catcher to fail to catch it.

"Eugh!" Grunted the catcher as the ball rolled down the field.

"Ah!" Yelled Eijun in dismay. "No!"

Miyuki Kazuya snickered. 

"Ball" said coach, watching the ball that now rolled helplessly on the ground.

Miyuki-senpai actually failed to hit his two other pitches.

 


 

Back in Nagano, one Nakatani Shouta just got off of a phone from someone.

'Animal' could be seen appearing on his phone screen as the man stared at it for a few minutes.

"Huh" he mumbled out, scratching the back of his head. "Eijun really did attract troublesome people around him"

 


 

Sho-san.

That senpai of yours, this is not my place to tell you, but I think he injured his shoulder.

Staring at the message in his phone, all the rejection he received this past few days finally make sense.

Oh.

 


 

The second string are having a practice match.

Harucchi had told him that the second string are having a series of practice matches lately. Saying that there's still spot left in the first string and Coach intended this match to see who has the ability to become part of the roster during the summer.

That's why the pink haired teen had practice more than usual. Usually, Eijun would be the last one to leave the indoor practice area, but lately, more and more second string members has come, late at night.

Today too, they are having practice match with another school. The first string member had been instructed to go practice in the weight room while coach supervised the second string practice game. They just had a practice match with Teito the day before, a game that Eijun didn’t pitch. Intead, both Furuya and Kawakami-senpai pitches throughout the game.

"Oi first year buy me a drink" grunted Kuramochi-senpai as he slumped near the weights. "You don't want your senpai to die of dehydration don't you?"

"Ehh?" Complained Eijun. "Abuse of power!"

"What did you say brat!?"

"Buy me drinks too first year" piped Isashiki-senpai.

As if that's a spell, the rest of the first string member began piping up saying that they want drinks too and reciting their orders.

Eijun head started to spin. "Wait wait wait Senpai!" He yelled out. "Which first year!?" He asked as he pointed towards Furuya who looked half dead at this point.

"Furuya's dead, you're our only hope Sawamura-chan" said Masuko-senpai.

"That's not fair!" yelled Eijun.

"Wake him up and do rock paper scissor or something" grunted Kuramochi-senpai, shooting a glare towards him. 

With that, he marched towards where the dark haired pitcher now lay helplessly. "Furuya!" He yelled, shaking the first year up. "Wake up!"

Furuya still lay there without moving.

"Furuya! Let's play baseball!" Yelled Eijun again. Finally, he received some kind of reaction, which is Furuya opening his eyes in an almost robotic manner.

"Baseball?" mumbled the teen, sleep and exhaustion still clinging on his tone. "Where?"

Eijun's hand immediately went to Furuya's cheek. Holding him. "Lets play rock paper scisors"

Said teen blinked. "Rock paper scissor?" he asked. “You said lets play baseball though?”

"I lied! Now lets play rock paper scissor! The one who lose have to go and buy the senpais drinks" as he said that, he pointed towards the horde of first string members who was snickering meanly behind him. The audacity!

Eijun expected to win. He expected to win because at this point Furuya is so tired that he could barely sat up. That half of his soul is experiencing an out of body experience.

He lost.

Staring at his scissor and Furuya's rock, he made his way outside accompanied by the loud laugh of the rest of the first string members.

Grumbling, he made his way to buy the older members drink.

"Ugh, abuse of power" he complained, trudging through the small road that will take him to the vending machine. Just at this, he spotted one of the field filled with people. "Huh" he echoed, staring at the field.

Just outside of the field, there's a female manager looking at the game. He recognized her as the manager who is in the same year as him and also in the same class in him. Though, they never interacted much so her name completely missed him. Eijun decided to ask anyway, "Excuse me?"

The female, whirled her head towards Eijun before yelping in surprise. "S- s- Sawamura kun!?" 

"Yeah that's me" he grinned, waving his hand a bit. "Is this the second string practice game?"

He received a nod from the manager before immediately walking closer towards the field.

"Ohh interesting" marveled Eijun, inching closer towards field B. "Who are they facing?"

"If- if I'm not wrong its Kokushikan" replied the girl.

Kokushikan, thought Eijun. They're not that strong and the possibility for them to rank high in the summer tournament is not that high. That's why the second string are the one who played against them while the first string are having an independent practice.

Turning towards the manager, he asked again. "Which inning are they in?"

The girl blinked. "I think they're still in the second inning"

Nodding, he turn his attention back to the game again. The catcher is not Chris-sepai, as expected. After learning about what happened to the older, Eijun felt bad about his insistence for the older to catch for him. He had been meaning to apologize today, but it seems Chris-senpai is avoiding him entirely.

Though, that kind of thought doesn't last long when he spot familiar pink hair.

"Haruchhi!" He yelled, waving his hand to catch the other attention. "Harucchi! Beat them!"

Said second baseman flushed red when almost all attention are shifted from Eijun's loud yell to where he stood. "Eijun-kun!" he whisper yelled, embarrassed.

Eijun was about to yell once again but a voice interrupted him. 

"Sawamura" called out coach from the dugout, voice dark and heavy. "Why are you not at practice?"

He flinched. "Boss!" Yelled the pitcher. "I was about to go buy drinks for the senpais! I will take my leave now!" He gave the older a salute at this.

Something appeared on coach eyes and as Eijun was about to leave he got called again. "No" said the older, dark gaze on him. "Come here"

Why!?

Stiffy, he made his way towards the dugout. Eijun could feel all eyes on the field are now pointed towards him.

"Go" said coach simply.

"Uh" said Eijun. "Where?" 

Wait- is he being kicked out!? For not practicing!?

"Our current pitcher accidentally hurt his hand Sawamura-kun" explained Takashima-san, adjusting her glasses from where she stood just behind coach. "We were talking about calling one of the first string pitcher or should we just ended the game early, you appeared just in time"

"Eh?" blinked Eijun. "Ehhhh!?"

"Hurry up sawamura" instructed coach. "We don't have all day"

"Um-" started the pitcher. "Okay then! Is there any glove that I can borrow!?"

 


 

Kokushikan coach stared at the newly arrived pitcher with a confused stare.

"Who's the kid?" he asked. When Seido's pitcher accidentally hurt his hand earlier, he had lamented about the missed chance. After all, it's not every day you could land a practice match with a strong school like Seido this close to summer. Even though it's only their second string, it will give his team a valuable lesson.

He was lamenting his bad luck when another pitcher arrived.

Brown hair and golden eyes, the kid has a huge grin on his face as he greeted the catcher with a loud voice and sunny disposition.

"I think it's one of their first string pitcher" explained Kokushikan assistant coach.

"First string?" repeated Kokushikan coach before a smirk enveloped his face. "Heh, they finally took us seriously"

The newly arrived pitcher finally seems to finished his discussion with the catcher. Nodding both of their head, the catcher immediately went back to his spot. The game continue shortly after that.

Both the coach and the assistant coach watched as the teen did his windup. The windup looks weird and began to doubt that this kid actually a first string. His golden eyes almost entirely shadowed by the brim of his cap. Whipping his hand back, Kokushikan coach found himself surprised when the next thing he know a resounding BAM! Already resounded across the field. Signalling that it's a strike.

As the umpire announced a strike, he found himself gaping.

"What?" he asked, eyes not faltering to where the pitcher already did his windup again amidst the roaring exclamation from Seido's dugout. "Who the hell is that!?"

Kokushikan assistant coach was sweating as he adjusted his glasses. "Coach" he called out. "I think this is their new first year pitcher"

The coach eyebrow shot up. "The one that pitch during the Kanto tournament?" demanded the man.

"Yes" nodded the assistant coach. "From our scout report their new first year pitcher is a southpaw" explained the man. “A southpaw that fastballs and changeup with power and speed behind them”

"Ah" said the coach. "I think this is our loss then"

 


 

Chris doesn't know what makes him to keep refusing on Sawamura's request to pitch for him. His shoulder is almost healed fully, he certainly can catch for a couple of innings by now. Not  a full game like Miyuki certainly, but pitching practice should be okay.

Maybe it's the inferiority complex that he kept buried deep down inside his heart. The fear that he felt back in his first year and realized that his shoulder is just not working properly, the fear that he felt when Miyuki got the starting catcher position back in his second year, the fear that he felt when he realized that his high school baseball career would end with him in the second string.

Sawamura is a genius. A prodigy on his own right and a monster in baseball. Someone like him, someone that shine so brightly as he stood on the mound and has charisma that could flood the entire venue should be a battery partner with someone better. Someone that doesn't have their shoulder weighting down on them like a constant invisible weights.

The first time he saw Sawamura in a game is during the Kanto tournament and the teen absolutely shines. With Miyuki as a catcher – talent and brain mushed up inside a teen with too much cheek – and Sawamura as a pitcher – talent and charisma mushed inside a teen with large blinding smile – Seido's Koshien dream may not be too far off.

Miyuki had said that Sawamura's pitches is every catcher dream pitches. Chris have to agree on that. He knows the look of joy behind Miyuki’s faceguard when he watch their game in Kanto tournament. The utter joy and feeling that he's enjoying the game.

Maybe he could afford to be selfish once. 

He wants to catch Sawamura's pitch.

He wants to be the one crouching in front of the teen as he did his windup.

He wants to be his battery partner.

(And then he remembered his aching shoulder and his Dad adamant refusal of him continuing baseball in Japan)

Watching Sawamura pitch is exhilarating. No one can took their eyes off him every time he stood on the mound. Golden eyes blazing, and pitches that no one can actually predict. Currently, they are in the fourth inning. Since Sawamura arrival, none of the batter able to touch his pitches.

How fun, he thought.

It's clear as a day how much Sawamura loves baseball. With his everlasting bright grin and excitement about the said sport. Maybe that’s why people got drawn into him. Why he got so many people around him at all times. Like moth drawn into flames.

"Chris" called out coach, breaking him out of his musing. "This is your last chance"

Chris blinked, swiftly turning his head towards the older. "Coach?" he asked.

"I know that face" said the older, eyes still trained on the game before him. "You want to go out there and play" as the older said that, it was announced that Sawamura walked another batter. Said pitcher let out a loud yell, brimming with happiness and excitement as if he just won Koshien and not merely walking out a batter during practice game.

“Why don’t you go out there and catch for him?” Piped Takashima-san.

He could feel his eyes widen. At first, he thought that he could his want behind a mask of apathy or mere disinterest, but clearly, that doesn't work. "No, I..." he began to form a retort on the top of his tongue when coach interrupted him.

"I may not always around after practice, but I know what's currently happening in the team" said the man, gaze sliding towards Chris. "One of the members told me about your adamant refusal to catch for Sawamura"

The third year stood there, not saying any word.

"Why did you do that?" asked the coach, or more like demand. "He's waiting for you in that mound, you better go there and catch for him"

Just as he said that, Ono caught one of Sawamura's pitches. Said teen after that immediately turn his head towards the dugout, bright grin and crinkled eyes.

'Catch for me Chris-senpai!'

He wants too.

He wants it so bad.

Seeing his hesitation, other members in the dugout spoke up. "Don't tell me you're worried about us who haven't played yet?" demanded one, frowning as he shoved a catcher glove towards him. "I'll punch you if that's true"

"No-"

"Sawamura has been yapping nonstop about you catching his pitches" grumbled one. "You should do something cause my ear started to hurt you know" added one.

Chris protested, "I can't just possibly-"

"I know how hard you work Chris" interjected another. "You're a proud member of Seido baseball club! So go out there wit held high and win this game for us!"

"Yeah! Show the how we play!"

"You can do it Chris!"

These guys...

Squeezing the catcher glove close to his heart, he nodded his head. "Thank you"

He decided to be selfish for once.

 


 

"We'll be changing players!"

Turning his head towards the dugout, Eijun almost can't believe what he's hearing.

Is he being switched out? He wonders. This early?

Though, what he saw is something that he hardly believe. Its Chris-senpai, standing just outside of the dugout with full catcher gear.

What?

"Catcher Ono is being changed for Takigawa!" announced coach as the third year catcher jogged into the field.

Chris-senpai!?

Confused murmur could be heard all around the field.

"Chris-senpai!?" screeched Eijun as the catcher appeared on the mound with him. "Why are you here!?"

"To catch for you of course" replied the older, a small smile could be seen on his face. "Just like what you've been asking me this past few days"

Eijun turns speechless. "But- but but!" he interjected.

The older raised an eyebrow. "What? You don't want to pitch to me anymore?"

"Of course I want to!" Yelled Eijun. "But your shoulde-" he clamped his mouth shut immediately.

Chris-senpai looked as if he just realized something. "Ah" he said. "You know about my shoulder" said the older.

 Eijun shook his head. Eyes frantic. "I didn't mean to!" he said. “I know it’s your privacy! But I didn’t mean to find that out! But-“

"Its okay Sawamura" said Chris-senpai, gentyly patting his shoulder. "I'm okay to catch now, we'll talk about this later after the game okay?"

The younger nodded.

"Now tell me the brief summary about your pitch"

 


 

As Chris crouched there, straight in front of Sawamura and watching the said teen did his windup and examined his pitch, he realized something.

Miyuki was right, Sawamura's pitches really is every catcher's dream.

 


 

"Where the hell is Sawamura?" wondered Kuramochi, sweat pouring down his face as the barble on his hand are slumped down to the ground. "I'm dying of dehydration at this point"

"Don't tell me he's slacking" grunted Jun-san. "See what I'll do to him when he got back"

Their chattering ceased when a member from the second string appeared. Breath ragged as he leaned down the indoor practice area door. "Hey!" Yelled the teen. "Chris is playing for the second string right now!"

"What!?" Yelled Tanba eyes wide.

"Are you serious!?" Asked Jun-san.

"Is his shoulder okay!?"

"Lets go see!"

Kuramochi turned around, was about to call Miyuki, knowing about the teen obvious admiration to Chris-senpai. Only to found Furuya staring back at him.

"Where's Miyuki?" he asked.

Furuya stared at the door. "Miyuki-senpai already left" uttered the first year. "Quicker than anyone else..."

 


 

"HAHAHAH" Laughed Miyuki as he leaned more and more towards the metal railing, watching the game before him as Chris-senpai crouched there behind the batter. Chris-senpai! The one that he admires and strive to pass is actually here and playing a game.

Maybe he should be a bit more mad. A bit more annoyed that the older actually stole his battery partner. But all that emotion got squashed sideways by the sheer joy and the sheer amusement that erupted when he learnt that Chris-senpai is actually there and playing again. The dull and lifeless eyes that he often associated with the older lately now is being replaced with something close to joy.

 "Chris-senpai is amazing as usual!"

 


 

Animal sat in the stands, watching the complete joy enveloping his son face as he played baseball for the first time since he first got injured.

When an unknown number contacted him, he almost got a heart attack. He had learnt enough story about scams that you could get with your phone. Though, it still surprised him when Nakatani Shouta – Japan’s most famous baseball player! MLB most decorated pitcher! A player who has a long and victorious career throughout his life! – actually is the one who’s calling him. He’s more confused when the other man asked him about his son.

He later discovered that the boy Nakatani-san has been training since little is in Seido and got partnered up with Chris of all people.

And so, energized by his own curiosity of the boy that Nakatani-san personal trains, and his worry for Chris, he stop by during Seido’s practice game. As he watched the game continue, he realized something.

Is this the thing that he tried to take away? He wondered. When he suggested for Chris to stop playing baseball in Japan and just continue back in the states, he thought that it was the best course of action for his son. But now, staring at the utter joy and glittering eyes of the younger, he began to doubt his decision.

Is this what he tried to take away?

His son happiness?

 


 

Chris-senpai is amazing, realized Eijun.

Not that he only realize that now. He knows that Chris-senpai is amazing, but he never really grasp how amazing the older is.

The game calling, the sharp eyes that spotted any steal, his precise throw, it's all amazing. Chris-senpai also seems to be enjoying the game, from the large smile and that loud declaration he did when he first started. 

Even though Eijun almost got a heart attack when Chris-senpai lunged for a ball and promptly crashed into a nearby fence - "Senpai!?" Yelled Eijun frantically, ready to rushed towards where the older is only to be stopped with a large smile as if the crash doesn't hurt him at all - and even though there's a player who's apparently Chris-senpai's old middle school rival who also got an injury - the drama - Eijun thought that Chris-senpai is amazing.

Really, Eijun really has a good judge of character.

 


 

During the sixth inning, Eijun got switched out and he promptly got dragged by Kuramochi-senpai from the dugout to where the rest of the first string are watching the game. He's still shirtless and in the middle of icing his arm but Kuramochi-senpai seems that he doesn't give a damn about that.

"Sawamura" growled the shortstop, slinging an arm around the younger. "Where the hell is my drink!?"

Eijun blinked. "Oh!" he said. No wonder he felt that something was missing throughout the game. He was supposed to buy drinks for the senpais. "I forget hahah" Laughed the pitcher, scratching the back of his neck sheepishly.

"You really have the nerve huh" said Isashiki-senpai, hand went to his hair and begun to ruffle it violently. "We asked you to go and fetch us some drinks! How the hell did you ended up playing with the second string!?"

"Mercy!" Yelped Eijun, trying to get away from the older hand to no avail. "Coach asked me to! It's not like I could refuse him!"

"I see" mumbled captain. "I thought you were just irresponsible Sawamura, sorry"

"Cap!?" Yelled Eijun, looking at the older with betrayal on his face.

"I want to pitch too..." mumbled Furuya.

Eijun was half expected to be scolded more, or teased more because that’s what his senpai likes to do, but a saviour in the form of Chris-senpai arrived.

"Guys" called out the older, arriving at the loose circle of the first string members that’s crowding Eijun. "It's not really Sawamura's fault"

"Chris-senpai!" Said Eijun, face brightening immediately. “You heard him!” The last one was directed to the rest of the first string members.

Tetsu-san turned his head towards the catcher, offering a nod. "Chris" greeted the captain. "Is your shoulder okay?"

Chris-senpai smiled before moving his shoulder a bit. "It should be okay soon" he replied. "Even though I may not able to play baseball during high school anymore, I'm aiming for the big league here"

A laugh rang out after that. Miyuki-senpai who was silent – how odd – finally let his presence known and let out a huge laugh. He immediately walked towards where Chris-senpai is, slinging an arm around the older shoulder. "As expected of Chris-senpai!" he said, eyes twinkling with something Eijun can't place. "You're amazing"

"Miyuki" greeted the older with a smile. 

"Ah, I should've been more upset at you stealing my battery partner senpai" snickered Miyuki-senpai. 

"I'm assigned to Chris senpai you know!" protested Eijun.

"Ehh? I can't hear you pitcher-kun~"

"Miyuki Kazuya!"

"Sawamura tone it down a bit" reminded Kominato-senpai, which effectively shut Eijun up. He, after all, value his life thank you very much. "It's nice to see you playing again Chris"

"It was great to finally play too, after a long time" answered the catcher at that, he turned towards Eijun and offer him a smile. "You're a great pitcher, Sawamura"

At that, Eijun world brightened a bit.

 


 

Chapter Text

Eijun learnt that there will be only one person moving up to the first string.

It was cruel, and harsh, but for the summer, with 19 spots filled already, there is only one spot left in the roster. One spot and almost all the members of the second string desired that one spot. The competition is harsh, that's why during the practice game all of them tried their hardest to appeal to the coach. To show the man that they deserved that last spot.

He knows that Harucchi too has been aiming for it. The pink haired teen had told him his desire to play alongside his older brother. Something that he had wished to achieve before the older have to retire after the summer.

Standing with the rest of the members, he stood next to Furuya alongside the rest of the first string members. The atmosphere was tense, even more so to the third years. After all, this summer is their last chance. Their last chance to experience what it's like to be in the pinnacle of high school baseball.

"Stop fidgeting" mumbled Kuramochi-senpai, nudging his side. Eijun retaliated by nudging the older back. Something that results in the both of them having a nudging competition before being silenced by captain’s harsh glare. Next to Eijun, Furuya stood silently. Dark eyes completely focused on the coaching staff before them.

“Eijun” called out Furuya lowly. “Stop moving, it’s distracting” remarked the dark haired pitcher.

"But!" Eijun protested, ready to yell before Kuramochi-senpai clamped his mouth shut with harsh glare and frantic eyes. From the corner of his eyes, he could see both of captain and Kominato-senpai is sending them a look that should’ve been way too scary to be in a human face. Not that like he would say that out loud.

The hand on his mouth clamped tighter. Effectively shutting him out. "Bakamura don't shout!?" Whisper shout the older.

Sullenly, he closed his mouth.

Trailing his gaze towards the rest of the members – the second and third string - he could see that everyone is hanging by boss's words. Heart thumping wildly as they waited for the announcement. Chris-senpai could be seen amongst them. His height made him stood out from the rest of the members. Harucchi too, could be seen fidgeting nervously in front of Kanemaru. His eyes are covered by his bangs, but there’s no doubt that his eyes are darting everywhere in worry.

"I'm going to name the two people that have made the first string" announced coach, after a beat of silence. The rest of the coaching staff and Takashima-san stood behind him. It doesn't make sense how nervous Eijun is. It's not even him who's fate is hanging by a thin lane. His position in the first string has been set.

So why is he so nervous right now?

Flickering his gaze, he could see that the second and third string started gulping down nervously. All of their attention are set on the man before him. Though, really, coach Kataoka is really good at bringing up the tension. He almost suspect that the all time tense atmosphere that’s surrounding the club is because coach Kataoka set it like that.

"The decision are based on the practice match so far" continued coach. "Those who made the first string please keep in mind that you're the representative of the entire school, and those who is not chosen, please continue to support us" said the older, nodding a bit at his own woeds.

"Eijun..." called out Furuya lowly. "Why are you the one who looked nervous?" he asked, tilting his head a bit in confusion.

Whipping his head towards the taller, Eijun whispered. "I don't know!?" His whisper seems to be louder than he expected because coach turned his eyes towards him briefly. "I'm nervous in behalf of the team!" at this, he turned his volume down, in fear of scolding.

Furuya stared at him. Dark eyes half lidded. "Huh" he said, voice a bit confused. "That doesn't make sense.."

No wonder Furuya is an emotionless ice block! Though, Eijun’s working on that!

"You're the one who doesn't make sense!" he said back, just to retort. Eijun doesn’t want the taller to thinks that he won this argument!

He nudged Furuya's side, something that the taller immediately retorted by nudging his side too. Eijun was about to nudge back again, but the dark glare from Kominato-senpai who suddenly turned towards the two of them stopped both pitcher.

Continuing to listen to the coach, he managed to catch the announcement.

"The member moving up to the first string are-"

Eijun held his breath.

"-Kominato Haruichi, first year"

 


 

What about Chris-senpai? He thought.

 


 

The coach asked them to leave the indoor practice area with the third year as an exception.

Dragging Harucchi out, of course after giving the teen a loud "Congratulations!" and a hug much to Harucchi chagrin as well as embarrassment, and Furuya's confused face, he and the rest of the team members trudged out of the indoor practice hall, leaving all the unchosen third year inside with the coaching staff.

"For the two years leading to now, all of you had played your heart out" said the coach towards the third years. It was obvious, that all of them is disappointed at themselves from their slumped down back and sullen eyes. "All of you probably felt crushed and frustrated, but even so, you never gave up" Continued the man. "You came along with me until the very end"

At this, coach Kataoka bowed in front of the third years.

"It has been and will be, my honour to have been your coach"

As if it was magic words, all the supressed tears as well as frustration that had been building up inside of the third years burst. Cries and tears came out of their shaking body as all of them realized that this is it. This is the end of their summer, the end of the summer that never started for them.

This is, the end of their high school baseball.

It was a bitter reminder that all their dream and hope that they brought to Seido had never been accomplished. All the talk about wanting to be the ace, to be the cleanup, to be in the starting lineup, had dwindled to talks about wanting to be in the bench. To be given a chance to watch the game through the dugout.

A talk, that will never be come true.

Here they are, standing in the familiar indoor practice area. A place where they had spent a lot of time in. A place, where they laughed or cried in frustration for the last two and a half year. A place, where they now stood with coach bowing in front of them with sorry just leaving the older mouth.

This is, the end of their dream.

Eijun leaned back towards the indoor practice area door. Listening quietly to boss's apology towards the third years and the frustrating sound of the third years heartbreak. Near him, the first string third years could also be seen. Standing idly near the door as they too, quietly listened to what happened inside.

Really, he thought idly, eyes looking upwards towards the night sky. High school baseball really is different.

The only thing he can do is to be stronger after all.

 


 

Stronger

He needs to be stronger.

He needs to be that tall wall that defended the team. To be the one that halt the opposing team offense. Him, right now, is not enough, decided Eijun. So what if he had been trained by Sho-san since he was little? So what if he had been trained by a professional baseball player?

In the end, it's not Sho-san who play for Seido. It's Eijun and he needs to be stronger.

To hell with that title of prodigy and genius! Eijun will get stronger with hard work and become the best pitcher out there! He will show the third years that they’re dream in not four naught, he will bring Seido into Koshien and show the baseball scene how formidable the team is. How Seido, after years of not making it into Koshien, still has that power that once was feared by teams all across Japan.

He will not waste all the upperclassmen blood, sweat, and tears.

"Furuya! Harucchi! Let's race who can complete the laps faster!" Yelled Eijun as he rushed past his fellow first years.

Both Furuya and Haruichi stared at the pitcher back.

"I thought Eijun-kun would become more sad" commented Haruichi, watching the teen who was yelling on top of his lungs as he ran with all his might, tire attached by a rope on his hips. "Considering that Chris-senpai is his idol and stuff"

Furuya was quiet for a bit, dark gaze staring at Eijun back. "No..." he finally spoke up. "I think that Eijun is the one who understands it more than anyone here..."

"Eh?"

“You’re also his friend” elaborated the picher. “He’s happy for you” At that, Furuya immediately increased his pace, fully intending to catch up to Eijun. 

Haruichi let out a small laugh. "Ah" he said, amused. "I can't let myself being left back"

“Sawamura! Furuya! Kominato! Don’t increase the pace!”

 


 

"Sawamura" greeted Miyuki-senpai when Eijun arrived back from his morning run. "Let's play catch"

Eijun stared at the older as if the world is ending. An expression that was responded by a quirked eyebrow and a silent demand of ‘What the hell?’

It was raining and Eijun is in the middle of pulling out his rain coat when he found the teen leaning back on a wall in front of his dorm room. The few weeks he had spent as a member of the club made Eijun realized couple of things. Like Maezono-senpai for example is actually soft inside and not as tough as he looks, or that Furuya actually resembled polar bear greatly.

And one of the things he realized too is, Miyuki Kazuya is not a morning person.

So why is he up this early in the morning!?

"Huh?" Eijun asked, a bit confused. "This early?"

"Says someone who actually did a morning run before the sun ever come out" retorted the older.

Eijun took a step back. “You never wake up this early!” Replied the pitcher.

The catcher heaved out a breath. "Come on, just follow me"

"Is this a trap Miyuki Kazuya!?" Yelled Eijun as he follow the catcher. "I know! You're going to murder me aren't you!? Too bad I've watched too many crime documentaries to caught you in the act!" at this, he pointed a finger towards the older, fully accusing.

Miyuki-senpai snickered. "Pitcher-kun, what am I going to do with you" his snicker could be heard as the both of them made their way towards the indoor practice area.

As they arrived, Eijun blinked. Almost can't believe himself.

Inside, is Chris-senpai, Harucchi, Furuya and also Maezono-senpai. All of them are talking with each other or fiddling with their own bat.

Usually, the one who comes to the indoor practice area this early is only Eijun. After he finished his usual morning run, and if he still has time before the morning practice, he would go here and do some exercises from Sho-san training manual or just do his batting exercise.

This, this was a surprise, not an unwelcome one for sure.

"Whats this!?" He yelled out, catching everyone surprise. "Everyone is here!"

"Sawamura" greeted Chris-senpai with a smile. "You're here"

"Are you guys having a secret morning practice or something!?" asked Eijun with a bright grin as he stepped inside the training area. Suddenly, he gasp, turning his head towards Chris-senpai. "Chris-senpai you usually host this morning practice without telling me!?"

"This is actually the first time Eijun-kun" replied Harucchi. "This is all both Chris-senpai and Miyuki-senpai idea"

Eijun whipped his head towards where Chris-senpai and Miyuki-senpai stood side by side.

The third year nodded his head. "I actually got the inspiration when I reviewed your training manual from your coach, Sawamura" he explained. "And Miyuki heard from Kuramochi that you usually practice alone before the morning practice started so I decided to make this little session"

"Basically it's cause the first string have three new firsties" grinned Miyuki-senpai with hand on his hips as he stood between Maezono-senpai and Chris-senpai. "We want to make sure that all of you are up to par for the summer"

Eijun immediately let out a loud protest. “Of course we’re up to par!”

“Eijun-kun…” muttered Harucchi in embarrassment.

“Ehh~ We’ll see about that pitcher-kun”

Chris-senpai nodded at this. "Zono offered to help, he's the strongest batter in the second string" he explained, motioning towards Maezono-senpai who let out a proud huff of breath. "I know this many people may not be enough but-"

What the third year about to say, when someone suddenly piped up. "Kyaha! What's this!? Secret morning training session!?" said a familiar voice.

Turning towards the door, both Kuramochi-senpai and Masuko-senpai stood there. Large grin on their face as they surveyed around the room.

"Kuramochi" greeted Chris-senpai. "We were about to start"

"This looks fun" replied the shortstop. "Should me join?" turning his head towards Masuko-senpai, Kuramochi-senpai nudged his head towards them.

"Should we?" asked the third year. "I was meaning to have extra practice anyway"

"We'll join you then" grinned Kuramochi-senpai.

"Masuko-senpai! Kuramochi-senpai!" Yelled Eijun, touched at their generous help.

Chris-senpai smiled. "I'll be relying on you two then"

Eijun grin. Wide and toothy before turning his head towards Furuya who stayed silent throughout the ordeal. He looked distant, and almost awkward at best. 

Huh.

Wrapping an arm around his shoulder, Eijun dragged the dark haired pitcher, much to the other teen surprise. Obvious from the widening of his eyes. "Come on Furuya! Chris-senpai told us he has a super secret ultra cool pitcher regiment for us!"

Furuya looked surprise, though that doesn't last long when a small smile appeared on his face.

"Okay..."

No one is getting left out on his watch.

 


 

Unbeknown to them, one Koichiro Tanba was leaning towards the entrance of the indoor practice area.

He silently eavesdrop the conversation that's happening inside, not making any move to join.

"My name is Koichiro Tanba, my position is pitcher and I want to be the ace someday!"

From what he can remember, he had always wanted to be the ace of Seido. Tanba came from a renowned middle school that is known for their baseball. He's their ace and after coming to Seido, he aspired to be one too.

Though, high school baseball is harder that middle school one and he learnt that the hard way.

It was hard to hear that his year is being called the 'Hopeless generation' back then. How can anyone said that? Didn't they see how hard they work? How Tetsu stayed late past midnight to better his batting skill? How Ryo never stopped training even after falling to the ground countless of time? How Jun, despite his gruff demeanor, are always there for the team with his own brand of encouragement?

It's hard, to be already branded before they have the chance to win their acknowledgement.

That's why he aspire to be the ace. To be someone that the team could depends on. To be that unbreachable wall for the team.

Tanba worked hard, work with blood, sweat, and tears to achieve his dream to be the best pitcher out there. The promise that he made years ago to his middle school friend, of them facong each other during high school, started to become closer and closer.

But then, as if he got an epiphany, Tanba realized.

Hard work, is not everything. Hard work, may able come toe to toe with a prodigy. But hrad work, can’t possibly come toe to tow with a prodigy who also works hard.

Narumiya Mei is someone like that. The pitcher that beat Seido to the ground who is equipped with prodigious talent and love for baseball that he’s willing to work hard despite his obvious advantage. He thought that Narumiya is already a prodigy. He thought, that Narumiya is already his peak rival that he needs to beat someday.

And then come Sawamura Eijun and Furuya Satoru.

One, is a talented pitcher specially scouted by Takashima-san and one, is a pitcher that showed his capabilities with a single pitch.

Furuya is an unknwon name who he thought won't be one of his rival. But then, he showed the coach how powerful and fast his pitch is, despite the lack of control, and managed to get moved up to the first string. He knows that if Furuya got trained and polished more, he would be an absolute monster in the mound. He also knows, that both Miyuki and Chris will make sure to have that happened.

Sawamura Eijun though, is already a known name. The one man team, said one article about him who highlited his win on the middle school nationals. Someone who has is a prodigious pitcher with charisma that could attracted everyone around him. Before he got into the school, he managed to struck out Azuma-senpai, their cleanup last year. On his iorst day too, he managed to struck out Tetsu, their current cleanup.

It's almost terrifying how talented the sunshine like teen is, and one of the most terrifying thing about him is, is that he just won't stop.

He never stop and try to improve himself. Masuko told him that he did a morning run before the sun appeared and always stays late at night to do batting practice. He seeks help to their team best batter on his batting as if the teen can't do homerun.

Sawamura, currently, is his biggest competitor for the ace position.

A position that he doesn't want to give in.

Huffing, he finally stood straighter, turning his head towards Miyauchi who was doing a push up besides him. "Miyauchi, do you want to go to the bullpen with me later?"

Looking up, the catcher raised an eyebrow. "You want to throw today?" he asked.

Tanba nodded. "Yeah" he confirmed. "There are some pitches I want to try"

 


 

Training camp for the summer tournament.

2nd Week of June

"Sawamura! Just cause you're a pitcher doesn't mean you can slack off during fielding practice!"

"Geh-! I'm not slacking senpai!" grunted Eijun as his hand immediately shot up to catch a ball that's heading his way. He barely catch it.

"Don't mind..." muttered Furuya as if he had just missed the ball.

"I should be the one saying that to you!" he yelled back. “You should catch one at this point!”

The sun is till high on the sky and he could feel his practice jersey completely soaking with sweat. His eyes sting from the sweat that's pouring down his forehead. Kuramochi-senpai had told him beforehand that Seido training camp is hellish but he doesn't know how hellish it is until now.

It's not like that he's not unfamiliar with hellish training when Sho-san is basically a devil incarnate when it's about training, but still, hellish training Is hellish training in the end!

"Sawamura after this go to the bullpen with Miyuki and practice on your numbers" instructed Chris-senpai. "And Furuya, you stay here, I'm going to teach you so you can actually pitch to the catcher mitt"

"Okay senpai!"

"Alright.."

This kind of harsh and packed practice continue for hours and before he know it, the sun already set and the coaching staff are already lighting up the light around the field.

Eijun thought he's going to die.

His breath are heavy, and his eyes sting from the sweat pouring down from his forehead. He could see both Furuya and Haruicchi too is in the same condition as him, Bunched forward with their hands on their knees as they desperately trying to caught their breath.

"Oi first years!" Barked one of the third years. "What are you doing!? Stop resting!"

Immediately, Eijun started running again to the other end of the field. He could feel that Furuya is running behind him, following closely. The last thing he's going to do is to let the guy surpass him.

"Run with all you can!"

"When you reach the next base it's over!"

"Or do you want to start over again!?"

"Geh-" grunted Eijun as he hunched down. Furuya is laying next to him, looking half dead whole Haruicchi seems to be in a similar condition to him. 

Coach appeared at that. "Last, you're going to do another run"

Eijun felt that he's going to die.

 


 

Eijun just finished his bath when he come face to face with Miyuki-senpai and Furuya who's traling behind him.

"Huh" asked Eijun, blinking towards the two teen. "What do you want?"

Miyuki-senpai eyes slid towards the baseball glove on his hand. "Oh? Are you going to have another personal practice?"

The pitcher huffed. "What about it!?" He yelled, cradling the glove closer towards his chest almost protectively.

"Nah, it's just perfect" snickered the catcher. "Me and Furuya was just searching for you cause we need to do something"

Eijun is confused. "Ha?" he asked. "What are we even gonna do with the three of us?"

Slinging an around Eijun and Furuya shoulder, Miyuki-senpai merely dragged him somewhere. "You'll understand when we arrive" said the catcher in a sing songed voice as they continue to trekked down the Seido Spirit Dorm hallways.

Only to arrive in front of Miyuki-senpai dorm room.

"Eh?"

Miyuki-senpai promptly opened the door, revealing the packed dorm rom that full of the first string members of the club.

"EHHH!?" Yelled Eijun.

"Oh they're here" replied Jun-san who looked up from the shogi game in front of him. "Both of you are late!"

"You guys had energy to spare right?" asked Miyuki-senpai as he practically shoved both Furuya and Eijun who stood there with confusion marring on their face. "You should hang out with these guys!"

"Wha- what-"

As if he did not saw their confusion, or just chose to ignore it, Miyuki-senpai continued. "They come to my room every night and it drives me crazy!"

"Massage my leg first year!"

"Sawamura get us drink!" called out Kuramochi-senpai who seems to be having a game showdown with another member of the club.

Tetsu-san looked up from the shogi book he seems to be so absorbed in. "Miyuki, lets play"

"You know what Tetsu-san!" Called out Miyuki-senpai as he shoved both Eijun and Furuya deeper into the room. "I heard that Sawamura is an amazing shogi player!"

"What!?" Yelped Eijun. "I only play a few times with grandpa!"

"Alright you can do it Sawamura!" Cheered Miyuki-senpai as he pushed Eijun towards the shogi board in front of Tetsu-san.

Tetsu-san bowed. "Lets have a good game"

"Y-Y- Yes!?"

 


 

"Sawamura" said Tetsu-san, staring at the shogi board. "You're amazing in this"

Eijun wants to say it's just because cap is just so bad at playing this!

Suddenly, a fearsome aura appeared behind the older. "Lets have a match every night from now on Sawamura"

"Huh!?"

 


 

One day, when both Eijun and Furuya who spent the day in the bullpen during practice came into an interesting sight.

The sun has already set, leaving the only source of light in the field is from the giant lights around it. What really is unusual from that scene is coach who was hitting the ball towards the fielding for them to catch it.

"What's wrong!?" Yelled the older making both Furuya and Eijun flinched a bit at the sudden demand. "All of you done already?!"

"No!" Yelled the fielders. "We can still do more!"

"Hit use with your best coach!"

Coach has his back turned from where both Furuya and Eijun stood, but he's sure that right now, coach is smiling. 

"Alright last one! Don't let yourself loose and focus!"

"Yes sir!"

High school baseball, is really cool after all.

 


 

"Here three bowls of rice" presented Kanemaru towards the trio first years in the first string. "If you don't eat it, I'll report to the coach" as he said that, an utterly evil smile crept up on the third baseman face.

Eijun stared at him as if the teen killed his mother.

"Kanemaru you traitor..." muttered Eijun, looking pained at the prospect of just eating the meal in front of him. His hand tremble as he picked up the rice before shoving it forcefully inside his mouth.

Furuya already look half dead at this point, Eijun swears he could see his soul leaving his body. His two bowl of rice still left untouched in front of him. Haruchhi too, already looked green as he shoved more and more food towards his mouth.

“Oi” mumbled Eijun, nudging Furuya. “Don’t die, we need to go throught his together!”

“… I can’t” mumbled the other pitcher with a small voice.

“Y- You can do it Furuya-kun!” Encouraged Harucchi as if he doesn’t look he’s going to vomit at any point of time.

“Ugh…”

“Furuya don’t vomit!”

The blond smirked. "Congratulations guys on making it to the first string" he said all of a sudden, shoving three new bowl of side dish towards the three of them. "In celebration I'll give you my side dish"

"Isn't this bullying!?" Yelped Eijun, staring at the side dish in horror.

"Sawamura" called out a voice behind him. Jun-san is staring at him. "You look plenty energized, should we gave you extra practice?"

"No! No! Of course not! I'll eat!"

"Good"

 


 

Eijun felt that his arm aches as he did his batting exercise inside the batting cages. A second year pitcher is in front of him, pitching towards him. 

"Augh!" Grunted Eijun as a loud clang resounded through, sending the ball flying right towards the center field.

"You're good at batting too Sawamura" inspected Chris-senpai from the side. 

"Of course!" Grunted Eijun as he send another ball flying. "I've been hitting a far harder pitches since I was seven!"

"Are you underestimating me Sawamura!?" Yelled the second year pitcher.

"Of course not Senpai!"

Chris-senpai watched as Eijun effortlessly hit the second year pitcher pitches. At that time, a thought trickled into Chris's mind. Just who is Sawamura's coach?

 


 

"Hey, Sawamura"

Sawamura immediately brightened when he heard his name was called. Like an overexcited puppy.

"Senpai!" Said the pitcher, promptly flinging the bat on his hand towards the ground before jogging towards where Chris stood just outside of Field B. "What can this Sawamura Eijun do for you!?"

Loud as usual, he thought. Though, the team won't be this bright and relaxed without Sawamura's intense charisma that seems to be following the boy around. Every time the younger let that loud laugh or that bright grin to appear, sometimes he felt that the sun had shone just a tad brighter then before.

"It's nothing serious" said Chris as he motioned for the younger to follow him. Sawamura doesn't even complain and immediately followed him. 

Both of the arrived just outside the vending machine. Clicking some buttons, he immediately thrusted a cold tea towards the pitcher hand.

"Thanks!" Chirped Sawamura as he received the tea happily. "So, what do you want to talk about senpai? Is it about the morning practice? Or is it about my pitches!? Did Miyuki Kazuya told you about the higher number already!?"

Miyuki, in fact, still haven’t told him about the higher number. Though, that could be a conversation for another time because he has something to talk about first. Before Sawamura could go further and further away from the topic, Chris interjected. "No, no it's not about that" he said. "I was meaning to talk to you about this for some time but because of the summer camp, it just slipped past my mind that's all"

Large golden eyes blinked at him. "Oh? Okay then" nodded the younger, opening the tea in his hand.

"It's about..." he hesitated a bit, eyes flickering sideways. "How do you know that I have a shoulder injury? I don't think anyone on the team told you about it..."

The people who knows about his shoulder injury are the first string players during summer last year. Considering back then, most of them already graduated at this point, it narrow down the list to current first string third years, Miyuki, and the coaching staff. Chris doesn't think any of the members would tattle on him and told Sawamura about his current condition, they all are far too loyal for that.

Maybe it’s the coaching staff? Did they finally decided to do something back them when they realized Chris keep avoiding Sawamura?

"-Ah" echoed Sawamura, eyes focused on something as an unknown emotion flickered inside it. "It's about that"

Chris nodded.

"Well, don't worry senpai, no one on the team actually told me!" Huffed Sawamura. "I find it on my own!" 

He blinked. That, actually sounds more suspicious. "By your own?" He started carefully. "With just seeing this?" At that, he motioned towards his shoulder.

There’s no visible injury on his shoulder. Especially when he covered it up with cloth. In one glance, it looked like a normal uninjured limb. The very reason why he managed to hide his injusry from the first string at first, and the rest of the members.

"No no no!" Denied the younger, waving his hand frantically. The tea in his hand actually splashed around, making Sawamura panic more. "It's that- uhhh... my coach told me?" the sentence sounds more like a question as he scrapped the tea lid shut.

The older stared. "Your coach?" Repeated Chris.

Sawamura nodded.

"Sho-san?" Asked Chris again. Sawamura loves to tell people about his coach back in Nagano. About the man who taught him baseball and guide him to be the person he is.

"Yeah, Sho-San" confirmeded Sawamura. "He texted me, if you don't believe me I can show you the message later"

"Ah, it's not that I don't believe you" said Chris, waving his hand in dismissal. "It's just that, how did your coach know about my injury? Is he present during the game when I got my shoulder hurt?" That could be a possibility.

The younger shook his head. "I'm pretty sure he asked your dad" he answered easily. 

Chris stood there, dumbfounded. That sounds more unbelievable than Sawamura actually finding out about his would by himself. "My- my dad?" He said, sounding particularly not believing that fact.

"Yeah your dad!" Answered the younger. "The pro baseball player, Animal!" he enthused. “By the way, do you think I could get an autograph? On a baseball ball? I promise I’ll take a good care of it!”

Now, everything didn't make sense. Did Eijun's coach know his dad or something? Are they friends? Do Chris actually know who Eijun's coach is?

"Your coach knows my dad?" cut in Chris, stopping the ongoing tirade that the pitcher is in the middle of.

"Ehh, I don't know? I think Sho-san just got your dad's number somewhere" replied Sawamura.

That didn't make the slightest sense.

"What's your coach name Eijun?" He finally asked. "Maybe I can ask my dad about him later"

"Sho-san!" Said Eijun, spouting that the now increasingly familiar nickname.

He shook his head. "No, I mean his full name"

"Oh, Nakatani Shouta"

Chris froze.

"What?" He asked again, half believing that he had gone crazy for a moment. "What did you say?"

"Nakatani Shouta" repeated Eijun again.

"Nakatani Shouta as in-" as in Japan's most famous baseball player that managed to get into the dream stage of MLB and has a long and victorious career in there? The most awarded and arguably the best pitcher of their generation? "- the baseball player?"

"Well yeah" agreed Sawamura.

"Sawamura please tell me you're lying"

Sawamura stared at him. "Huh? Why would I do that?"

Because how in the hell that Nakatani Shouta ended up as Eijun’s baseball coach? Sure, the older player retired years ago from baseball scene. Some article said that he retired to the countryside, or still in America. But this is Nakatani Shouta! He’s practically a legend in the baseball world! Every player wants to be like him. Every player dreams to be the next Nakatani Shouta.

And here, Eijun said that Nakatani Shouta is his apparent Sho-san. The Sho-san that’s been coaching him since he was seven.

“You-“ he needs to say something. Maybe comment that this sounds like a lie, that maybe ask him how did he even land Nakatani Shouta as his coach, or how did he even come across the older player.

But then he realized why all this time he thought that Sawamura looks familiar.

He terribly reminds him of Nakatani Shouta during high school days. The footage of the pitcher back in his high school days that he obsessively watch years ago keep appearing in his mind as he recalled the time when he catch for Sawamura.

Oh, he thought.

Sawamura is not lying.

“Sawamura” he finally settled in. “Can you get me his autograph?”

The grin that Sawamura sends him is blinding. “Sure!”

 


 

As he and the rest of first string stared at the field, Eijun and the rest bowed. "Thank you very much!" He yelled, voice hoarse alongside the rest of the first string. The coaching staff as well as some of the members clapped their hands at that.

The last thing waiting for them, is the string of practice matches.

Eijun can's wait already.

Chapter Text

Kawakami Norifumi suppressed the urge to be disappointed when coach announced that Sawamura will be the one pitching during their match against Osaka Kiryuu the next day.

It's not like he doesn't understand why coach did that, or why coach decided for Furuya to be the one to be ready in the bullpen. Summer is coming, and the coach wants the first years to get more field experience beforehand. Norifumi never really understood every time Miyuki said that pitchers are greedy, but now, maybe he can understand that a bit better.

A small part of himself tells him that he needs to be grateful. To be fortunate enough and held the position of one of the pitchers in the first string. Most of team members doesn't even have the luck to sat in the dugout, and some may only be stuck in the dugout for the rest of their careers, watching a game played by the more dependable and talented members.

He played in matches before. He has the chance to stood in that mound during official matches. Nori is aware that he's more lucky that most of his teammates.

But when the coach announced that the first years is going to be the one that pitch during the next practice game, a sense of dread crept into him. What if this is only the start? What if as the time pass, more and more games are going to be like this? A game where Nori sat in the dugout as he watched both the first year pitcher played a game he so dearly wished to play in.

"Pitchers sure is greedy, huh?" Said Miyuki once back when they're still in his first years and watched their upperclassman back them fight for the ace spot. "Well, there's only one mound for each game after all"

He understand that now.

Osaka Kiryuu is a powerhouse school that managed to be the runner up during the previous year Koshien. A school with strong batting lineup that will need a strong pitcher to break down the wall that the school has made.

Maybe that's why Nori is so disappointed. He knows that Osaka Kiryuu has a strong batting lineup and only the best pitcher on the team can Come head to head with them. Though, maybe that's why too, he realized that Sawamura is the best pick for tomorrow game.

At this point the team knows that coach is going to use both Sawamura and Furuya for the summer as a hidden ace card. Something that could put other teams off guard and wrangled their chance to Koshien. That's why, in order to give them more field experience, the coach wants a school that's not from their district and has no chance to play them before Koshien to go against Seido.

He knows that, yet, he's still bitter.

Nori is in his second year, he has spend one more year in the club than both Sawamura and Eijun. He has more field experience, he-

A memory, of Sawamura striking out Tetsu-san, of Furuya strong and fast pitches.

-he needs to be stronger.

Clenching his fist under the table, he continue to listen to the rest of the lineup tomorrow. He noticed a couple of second years throwing him a look, maybe pity or reassurance, he didn't really care. 

Sawamura looked completely delighted from where he sat just between Furuya and Kominato jr. Bright smile and glittering eyes as he looked up towards the coach. Nori infinitely felt bad at this bitterness that kept crawling up his throat like a poisonous vine.

He knows Sawamura works hard - he works hard too, whispered a voice at the back of his mind - he knows that Sawamura loves baseball - is your love for baseball is not enough? Whispered the same voice - he knows that Sawamura is talented - do you have that? Crooned that voice.

Shutting his eyes, he dispelled that voice to the back of his head.

It's not fair for him to compare himself with Sawamura. It's also not fair for him to resent the younger for taking a pitcher spot with his wide talent and loud laugh. This is high school baseball. Everyone here is competition. 

All is fair in this game.

And if Sawamura managed to raise his place as a pitcher above Nori, he can only blame himself. He's here longer, has practice longer with the team. If a first year could take up his spot, the only reason why is because Nori haven't practice enough.

As the coach left the dining hall after tonight briefing was done, a familiar voice called him out.

"Nori-senpai!" Yelled Sawamura, bright eyes and large grin as he walked towards him. Behind him, both Furuya and Kominato jr, who gave him a small life, stood. "Hey senpai!"

Nori actually forgot when did Sawamura started calling him that. One day it was Kawakami-senpai and suddenly, as if it was switched, Sawamura started calling him Nori-senpai. He doesn't actually mind though. It was nice to be called his given name in a place far away from home.

Turning his head towards the younger pitcher, he offered Sawamura a smile. "Sawamura" he greeted. "What's up?"

"Let's practice together!" Enthused the younger, stepping closer towards Nori that he has to take a step back. "I was about to do a batting practice with Harucchi and Furuya offered to pitch to us!" At this, he motioned towards the two first years behind him. "But there's only one Furuya and there's us two who's going to bat so I ask you!"

Nori blinked. "Oh, okay then" he agreed, after all it's not a bad offer. "Let's head out then?"

Sawamura grinned. "Senpai you're the best! I'll meet you there then!" After this, the younger pitcher immediately jogged to where both Furuya and Kominato jr stood. His loud laugh echoing through the dining hall, which promptly answered by Jun-san loud holler of "Sawamura Shut up!"

Though that doesn't deter Sawamura because as if  to challenge the center fielder, he let a  louder laugh before promptly being dragged away by a red faced Kominato jr.

Watching the scene in front of him, Nori allow a small smile broke out on his face.

Yeah, he needs to practice more, he thought as he exited the dining hall.

 


 

Osaka Kiryuu vs Seido High School

Seido Summer Training Camp

"STRIKE!"

Osaka Kiryu's coach, Takahiro Matsumoto, almost can't believe what he's seeing.

He knows that his team is strong. He knows, that Osaka Kiryuu is one of the top teams out there. They are the best of their district and just last year, they were so close on winning Koshien and only come short in the second place. All of his players are all skilled and has the determination to be the best baseball player they can achieve under his guidance.

But-

As the older man let his eyes wander towards the field, to be specific towards the pitcher who was standing on the mound, he felt as if he was a newbie coach who was coaching some unknown team.

It just didn’t make sense to him. It didn’t make sense because their batting lineup is one of the strongest in the country, renowned in the strength department as the best in the nation. They are, a team who plays in the national level and under the thousands of eyes during the Koshien.

Though, as he stared at the seventh strikeout and they’re still in the second inning, it almost felt like that his players are newbie in baseball and not a team who had played the best players out there.

When Seido offered a practice match with them, he didn't think much and immediately accepting it. After all, a practice with another national level school is hard to come by and he will be damned if he let this one go. Seido too, is not someone from their district. It will be nice to test out his players skill to a team that they won’t play until Koshien.

In terms of experience, Coach Kataoka could be said is a new coach compared to all the other coaches for a strong school. The man still haven’t reach the age of 40 yet, and his past high school baseball career is still not buried yet. Matsumoto really can’t relate to that, considering he’s only a reserve pitcher to a school that never able to go to Koshien.

Well, now he coached a powerhouse school that never failed to make it to the dream stage. Different from Coach Kataoka who has such a dazzling high school baseball career yet failed to bring his team to the nationals.

Arriving at Seido baseball field, he offered the younger a handshake and a smile.

“Thank you for coming all this way” said the younger a couple of moments ago. “Lets make this a good game considering how close the summer tournament is”

He smiled. “Of course, it’s a delight to play with Seido” at this he shook the other hand. Easy smile still plastered on his face.

Then coach Kataoka told him that he'll be having his first years to start the game.

That ticked him off.

Is Seido underestimating them? To try and bringing out their first years when they're facing each other? To not use their best player when they face a school like Osaka Kiryuu? If he thought that Coach Kataoka was merely green earlier, he thought that the man is stupid now.

Then, shortly before the game started, anger and annoyance still rising inside of him, he told his team something. It was a rash decision but he told his team that they will be crushing Seido to the ground today.

The roaring answer from his students brought out another smile.

Yes, he thought. I’ll show you why you shouldn’t underestimate us.

Not long after that, the game started and a first year pitcher appeared. Sawamura Eijun, he thought the name is oddly familiar, as if he had heard it before. Though, he doesn’t pay it that much mind and immediately turned his attention towards the field in front of him.

Sawamura Eijun is oozing confidence and did a loud exclamation before he pitch, a thank you for the fielders which was answered by shouts from the teen teammates. He have to give the kid a point for that. To look so relaxed and not feeling nervous even though he’s the starting pitcher and is facing a powerhouse school.

During the first inning, when his team managed to hit the first year pitcher first pitch cleanly to the right field, he had been smug. As he watch the ball fly, making the batter safely go to the first base, Matsumoto can’t stop his train of thoughts. Take that, he thought, feel the wrath of the Osaka tigers.

He had expected the first year to be shaken. To be completely nervous.

He had expected for the catcher to call for a timeout, or for the pitcher to turned towards the dugout who should started to yell all kind of encouragement towards Sawamura.

Instead he was met with the brightest grin he had even seen.

"HAHAHAH!" Laughed the pitcher freely, head tilted back. He looks completely happy, completely carefree. The delight that passed through his eyes would make people think that this kid actually won Koshien, not someone who just got his pitch hit. "This is it! This is the kind of games I want to play!" Yelled the first year, hand thrusted into the sky.

Distantly, at the opposing dugout, he could see Coach Kataoka sigh and the members of Seido baseball team inside the dugout let a completely amused laugh.

"Sawamura stop laughing!" Yelled the centerfielder, a teen with light brown hair and beard.

"Be serious you idiot!" Yelled another, one with dark green hair and sharp eyes.

Sawamura, much to his credit, laughed loudly. "Of course senpai!" Exclaimed the pitcher. He immediately turned his bright grin towards his battery partner, the catcher, and his eyes immediately turned more serious, more determined, more of everything. "I'll be serious! Right Miyuki-senpai!?"

Matsumoto can’t see the catcher expression by there’s no doubt the teen too, was grinning behind his face guard.

Monster, he thought.

And that lead us to here.

It's the fifth inning and Osaka Kiryuu failed to score even one run while Seido is leading by two points. Sawamura is a monster pitcher, and up until now, Matsumoto had seen five different kind of pitches from the teen. Each that is completely hard to hit.

"Who's that pitcher?" He asked towards his assistant coach, eyes glued towards the game in front of him and mind numb.. 

The young man, startled a bit before fumbling with his notebook. "S-Sawamura Eijun" informed the man. "From Akagi middle school, the winner of last year middle school nationals and the previous year runner-up"

“I know his name” he snapped. “And- wait did you say the winner of last year middle school nationals?”

His assistant coach nodded his head a bit frantically. “Yessir!”

He let that information sinks in. Winner of last year middle school nationals?

If he’s not wrong, they actually-

"We actually send a scout to recruit him but received no reply" continue his assistant manager, eyes flickering towards the game where Sawamura is making strikeouts after strikeouts easily as if it’s a routine. Maybe it it. "So he decided to come to Seido"

What a shame, he thought. What a fucking shame.

To be able to have a pitcher like that is every team dream. A pitcher who could lifts up the mood and gained everyone attention with his charm and still manage to do strikeouts as easy as a breathing.

"I see" sighed the coach, closing his eyes briefly in regret. "What a shame..."

 


 

Kominato Haruichi watch from the dugout. His hand gripping the bat on his hand tight as he set his eyes on the game in front of him.

He never really thought that his bangs is on the way, but right now he wants to sweep it aside to watch the game more clearly. To see, how Eijun-kun actually handled a national level team seamlessly and with no sign of nervousness on his self.

“STRIKE! BATTER OUT!”

The grip he has on his bat is bruising.

He’s not going to lose, he thought. He’ll stand in the dream stage of Koshien with Aniki this year without a fail.

 


 

In the end seventh inning, Furuya stepped into the mound replacing Eijun.

The southpaw successfully pitches 7 full innings without any run and only letting two person on the base. 

Seido won, 4-3

 


 

Inashiro Industrial vs Shuhoku vs Seido High School

The last day of Seido Summer Camp

Nori-senpai looks tired, thought Eijun. Sweats could be seen pouring down the older head and he was panting. Body bend forward a bit as he gripped his knee in an attempt to straighten himself.

Inashiro is good. No, they’re really good.

As expected to a school that is known as one of the powerhouses in Tokyo alongside of Seido and Ichidaisan. It’s clear that the current player is not their starting members and yet, all of them are really skilled. Their batting line up may not be as strong or fearsome as Osaka Kiryuu, but from what he observed throughout the game, overall, Inashiro is stronger.

Today, he’s not pitching. Due to him and Furuya pitching the previous game, Coach decided that he and Furuya will rest their hands and for Nori-senpai to be the one pitching for their game with Inashiro too. Tanba-senpai too, will be pitching during their game against Shuhoku later in the day.

"Inashiro huh" muttered Eijun as he and the rest of the first strings sat under the dugout shade. Golden eyes latching into what currently happening. Namely a batter successfully hitting Nori-senpai’s pitch, resulting on another score for Inashito. "Brings back memories" he finally said.

Masuko-senpai, who was sitting next to him turned his head towards him, brows quirked up a bit "Sawamura-chan?" He asked. "What are you talking about?"

Eijun shook his head. "Nah it's just I was thinking to go to Inashiro at the start" admitted the pitcher briefly.

Immediately, he felt that it was a wrong thing to say because immediately, all of the players in the dugout turned their eyes towards him. Even Takashima-san eyes glinted a bit at that, a small smirk appeared on the older face.

"Ohh" said Kuramochi-senpai as he appeared behind the pitcher. His tone sounds scary, thought Eijun nervously. "You're looking to betray us aren't you?"

"Senpai!" Yelped Eijun when he found his hair was ruffled by the shortstop. His hands immediately tried to release the hands around his hair immediately. "It was back then! In the end I choose Seido!" He yelled when Kuramochi-senpai is not stopping his assault.

As if that’s not enough, a new voice appeared. "Oh is that why you badmouthed us back then, Sawamura?" Asked Jun-san as he too appeared with his arm crossed. "Because you want to go to Inashiro"

"It was back then!" Protested Eijun vehemently. "Now I'm Seido through and through! I love Seido!" As if to prove that, Eijun made a large love symbol with his hands, something that the rest of the members seems to found funny because they laughed at him.

Finding amusement in his panicked state – the traitor! -, Masuko-senpai merely laughed at this mistreatment and didn't offer any help.

“Senpai help me!” Yelped Eijun when he now found that Kuramochi-senpai won’t just stop messing up his hair.

Their chattering was broken when in the field, Kawakami-senpai, who looked tired and nervous, got his crotch grabbed by Miyauchi-senpai.

Eijun blinked.

The first thing that appeared on his mind id High School baseball really is different! The next one is-

"Harassment!?" He yelled, eyes wide.

"That's one way to stop him from being nervous alright" snorted Kuramochi-senpai, crossing his hands and slumped down on the seat next to Eijun. "But really, Inashiro is frightening, to think that Kawakami is being pushed to the corner by not even their first string members"

"Yeah.." agreed Masuko-senpai. "They're skillful"

“Really skillfull!” Agreed Eijun.

Said first string members of Inashiro all sat under the shade of the dugout. Watching the game just like Seido's first string. Both of the team didn't even revealed their starters, in case both of them faced each other during the tournament.

Both of the team are in the same district after all, only one of them, Inashiro or Seido, that will go to Koshien. It’s been years since Seido High School managed to stepped into Koshien, and only once ever since coach started being the coach here. This year, he determined to achieve Seido’s baseball team dream.

As the game continue, the members did a good job on defending and attacking Inashiro. Though, in the end, Seido still lost by 4 points.

As the game ended, Eijun shuffled outside of the dugout a bit later from the rest of his teammates. Earlier, his cap was left behind and he needs to find it first. As he stepped out and walking outside of the field, a familiar voice called him out.

"Sawamura"

Eijun stiffened.

He knows this voice.

A memory appeared in his head, of him being a second place during the nationals on his second year of middle school. Of him, trudging out of the stadium only to be called out by the same voice that now, also calling him.

This feel oddly familiar, he thought, stopping on his track.

Turning, he met the blue eyes of Narumiya Mei who is fiddling with a baseball ball. He wore the white Inashiro jersey with the team name blazing in the middle of it with bold red letter. His hair is a bit shorter than he remembered, not that he’s paying attention to him! Next to him, is a hulking figure with think eyebrows that Eijun remembers is the starting catcher of Inashiro.

The teen wore a smirk on his face. A bit taunting and challenging.

Well, Eijun is not Eijun if he doesn’t take that as a clear challenge.

Narrowing his eyes, he settled his gaze on the two teen in front of him. "Narumiya" greeted Eijun stiffly, mouth set in a firm line.

"What's this?" Grinned the pitcher as he stepped forward, "You become so stiff, is Seido that bad?"

Eijun bristled like a wet cat.

"Huh!? What are you talking about!?" Protested the pitcher, eyes turning into a slit. "And don't come closer! We're enemies! Rival!" at this, he extended his hand as he took a step back.

The blond snickered and took a step closer as if to challenge him. "Who says you're worthy of my rival huh?" He taunted. "Why do I need a rival when I'm the best?"

Ugh! So annoying!

When Eijun was ready to retort, Inashiro catcher finally opened his mouth. "You watch his matches almost obsessively though" piped the catcher, who up until now stayed silent.

Narumiya immediately stiffened. "Shut up Masa-san!" Yelled the pitcher, turning his head towards the taller. A hint of red could be seen on his cheek. Noticing Eijun’s gaze, the blond cough to his hand, hiding his embarassment. "Anyway, when are you gonna pitch?" demanded the blond finally.

It feel so familiar, like Eijun is back in his second year of middle school and a smaller Narumiya Mei with a large blue eyes and head cocked high, demands to know what kind of pitches he could do.

Eijun blinked, brows furrowing. "I'm not gonna pitch today" he said, crossing his arms.

"What!?" Protested Narumiya who looked completely offended as is he just insulted his family. "Why!?" he asked, going closer towards Eijun.

He took a step back, seething like a cat. Eijun still clearly remembers how Narumiya made fun of him all those years ago. He’s not going to be fooled this time! "You think I'm stupid!? There's no way I'm going to reveal my pitching repertoire to you!" yelled the younger.

"You finally learned you lesson huh" mused Narumiya, a mocking tone on his voice. "Though, I already knows your repertoire anyways~"

"That was two years ago!" Yelled the first year. "I've improved greatly!"

"Oh? Like what?" prodded the blond.

"Like-" what he's about to say got muffled when a lot of hard hands clamped his mouth shut.

Turning around, he met the furious gaze of Kuramochi-senpai as well as Miyuki-senpai who merely snickered at the shortstop side. "Stop blabbing information about our team you moron!" Yelled the second year.

He struggled a bit with the hand on his mouth. Hand flailing around before he just decided to licked Kuramochi-senpai’s hand results on said teen yelling profanities at him. Finally releasing the hand in his mouth, Eijun yelled back. "I was not about to! I'm going to tell them fake data!"

"Geh- you're really mean aren't you Sawamura" said Narumiya. "So evil to your friend"

"Oh?" Asked Miyuki-senpai, stepping forward and circling his arm over Eijun's shoulder. "You two know each other?" he gestured his hand towards both Narumiya and Eijun.

"No!" Yelled Eijun.

"Yes" And replied Narumiya at the same time.

"What's this? Are you consorting with the enemy Sawamura?" Grunted Kuramochi-senpai, eyes narrowing.

"We only met once before! Once!" retorted Eijun and holding one of his finger up. “Years ago!”

Miyuki-senpai smirked, leaning his body forward a bit. "Hee, you're snooping on our pitcher aren't you Mei?" Taunted the second year catcher.

"Kazuya" sighed Mei, eyes settling on where said teen stood next to Eijun. "You speak so much bullshit my head ache"

"Hahah! Thank you" laughed Miyuki-senpai, eyes crinkled a bit. "So you’re gonna pitch today?"

Narumiya nodded. "Sure am"

"I'll make sure to gather data then" replied Miyuki-senpai immediately.

"You wish you can"

Eijun watched the conversation that flow between Narumiya and Miyuki-senpai. See! They were accusing him consorting with the enemy while they're actually the one who did so!

“Senpai stop consorting with the enemy!”

“What are you talking about, Sawamura” grunted Kuramochi-senpai as he settled his hand on Eijun’s head.

The conversation ended when Inashiro's catcher, spoke up. "Let's go Mei" he said. "I hate this guy" at this, he stared at Miyuki-senpai pointedly, making said teen grin wider and eyes full of mockery. Ugh, what a rotten personality.

Narumiya perked up at that. "Oh yeah, you got totally destroyed before under Kazuya's lead right-"

"Shut up let's go!" growled Inashiro catcher, dragging the blond who was laughing loudly with force.

As they watch the two Inashiro player retreated back, Eijun spoke up. "Miyuki-senpai, you're really hated huh"

"Thank you!"

"That's not an compliment bastard" snarled Kuramochi-senpai. "Anyway how did you know even Narumiya, Sawamura?"

"Huh?" Asked Eijun. "It's kinda weird, but my team got defeated by his when I was in my second year of middle school and afterwards he seek me out" explained the pitcher. "He spoke a lot of nonsense like my pitching repertoire or rival and stuff, I forgot"

"What?" Asked Miyuki-senpai. "Rival?"

"Well yeah, I don't really get it though"

Kuramochi-senpai sighed, ruffling his hair much to Eijun protest. "Only you Bakamura..."

"What's that supposed to mean!?"

 


 

Narumiya improved, that was obvious as he and the rest of Seido first string members watched the Inashiro vs Shuhoku match.

Eijun hates to admit this but the blond is a really amazing pitcher. Something that seems he agreed with the rest of the members.

“A vertical and horizontal curve” muttered Captain, eyes hard. “And a powerful fastball”

“He’s amazing” Agreed Eijun.

Chris-senpai turned towards him. “You agreed on that Sawamura?”

The pitcher huffed. “Well yeah, only someone blind would deny that” he said.

Miyuki-senpai grimaced. “Yeah, as his opponent, he’s the worst pitcher out there”

Narumiya looked infinitely smug on the mound. Eijun wants to wipe that smirk off the blond face. He narrowed his eyes and pouted, concentrating fully on the game in front of him.

It was then, that Narumiya looked giddy about something. As if there’s something that amuse him greatly. Eijun was wondering what he was thinking about, that question was answered when Narumiya did his windup and-

“STRIKE! BATTER OUT!”

-throws a changeup.

Eijun squinted. Last time he checked Narumiya can’t throw a changeup. What an annoying guy, ugh. Though, an immediate chill appeared on the atmosphere surrounding Seido batting lineup.

After that, Inashiro coach seems to be displeased about something and took Narumiya off the field. Eijun too, decided to leave. “I’m going to buy a drink, Furuya, Harucchi, do yoy want too?”

“Sure” Agreed Harucchi and Furuya merely silently nodded.

As the three of them walked away, they don’t notice buth Miyuki and Chris gaze on them.

“Well” started Miyuki. “If it’s like this I’m not going to worry about our pitching when we have Sawamura” he said lowly. “There’s also Tanba-san, even if it’s Inashiro we’ll be alright”

Chris nodded his head. “We just need to train our batting lineup more then”

Miyuki gulped a bit at that.

 


 

One thing, that Eijun hate the most about baseball is a dead ball.

Which is weird because Eijun loves everything about baseball! He loves every aspect of the sport as he grow and grow more immersed with it. Every hit, every foul, every ball, every strike, everything is fun. It’s fun to see the fielders try to catch a ball, its addicting to hear the umpire calling out a strike, hell, it’s fun to just watch it through the sidelines.

Dead ball, though, is different.

The first time he grow some kind of hatred to it is back when he was in elementary, barely able to wake up in the middle of the night to watch an MLB game. Barely undertand all the intricate plays that professional players did during the game. Still, the team that played that night is a team that he's rooting for and is a fan of. Even though tomorrow is school night, he'll make sure he watch it.

That night, he has a special permission to sleep over at Sho-san house. The man promising his parents that he'll make sure Eijun sleep during his bed time. What Eijun’s parents doesn't know is, Sho-san also wants to watch the MLB game so in the end, Eijun willed himself to watch the game late at night.

It was fun and exciting as expected. All of the players are amazing. So thoroughly mastered the game as if it's a music tune, fascinating to see and to learn.

He remembers watching his favourite pitcher stepping into the batter box. Bat in hand and ready to hit. At that time his excitement was above the roof. The game is already in the eighth inning and both team still haven’t managed to score a single run on each other. Eijun was practically at the edge of his seat as he watched Jeremy – his favourite player, the best in the team, the most amazing one! – already in his batting stance.

Only for the pitcher of the opposing team, misstep his control and send the ball hurling straight towards Jeremy’s shoulder.

"Fuck" muttered Sho-san back then, eyes wide and staring at the event that just transpired.

Back then Eijun realized that it’s a bad word. Sho-san never said a bad word around Eijun. The older always guard his mouth to not let anything not appropriate pass his lips.

"Sho-san" he said in a small voice, confusion lacing his mind. "What's happening?" Jeremy now is on the ground with the rest of his team surrounding him.

The older reached out to ruffle his hair, eyes still gazing on the screen in front of them. "That" he said, tone a bit frantic and full of worry. "Is what we call a dead ball, or a ball that is out of play that we can only continue the game when the umpire said so"

"Oh" he echoed, large eyes blinking. "Is Jeremy going to be okay? Is he going to pitch for the next season?"

Because Jeremy looked bad. His eyes are closed in pain and from this camera angle, Eijun could see he was grimacing painfully. The team coach seems to be barking about something and stretcher where they immediately hauled Jeremy into appeared.

Sho-san was silent for a bit at that, not replying to his question immediately. "That I don't know Eijun" replied the older. "Hopefully it doesn't gave him a lasting damage"

Jeremy, Eijun favorite MLB player, was declared to be retiring early after that. The incident gave him an injury that cost him his career.

Eijun doesn’t like it.

The second time happened at the end of his elementary days. Nearly graduating the youth club and now, is doing his final game:

Eijun was in the dugout when he saw the familiar motion of the ball, hurling towards the batter.

Immediately his mind brought him to that night when watching MLB game and Jeremy, gained an injury that cost him his career.

The batter, Takada Hiyoshi, is someone that’s been in the club longer than Eijun is. Once, the both of them had shared their dream together. To take over the baseball world and going to Koshien before finally going to the MLB stage.

Hiyoshi-kun loves baseball. He had always happiness oozing out of his eyes every time he up to bat, always had a high five ready every time they caught each other in the field. His room is full of baseball memorabilia just like Eijun’s. And once, they had matching baseball gear, the Patrick to Eijun’s spongebob gear.

He ran towards the the field when he saw Hiyoshi-kun writhed in the ground. Tears at the edge of his eyes as he clutched his shoulder tightly. The situation around them is frantic and tense. His youth coach yelling about medic and ambulance while his teammates are yelling in fear and was about to start a fight with the opposing team.

Eijun, Eijun crouched on the ground. Wide golden eyes stared at Hiyoshi-kun and as if he got an epiphany, he realized.

Hiyoshi-kun is not going to play baseball again.

Just like Jeremy, Hiyoshi-kun won’t step into the field again.

True to his word, Eijun's friend, stopped playing baseball after that. Eijun never saw Hiyoshi-kun again.

He hate it.

He hate that it can stop people from playing baseball. That it can end someone love for the sport. That it can cost someone their entire sport career just because of it.

That's why he trained hard. Telling Sho-san that he wants to be a pitcher with amazing control. Someone that can't possibly make a dead ball situation during the game. To be a pitcher, that will never stop someone love towards baseball be it intentional or not.

So, as he watched the ball hurling towards Tanba-senpai face during the Seido and Shuhoku game, nausea started to settle on his stomach. The familiar feeling of anger, hate as well as rage that simmer at the bottom of his stomach slowly but surely climbing up his lungs.

The coach move before any of them could.

"Tanba!" Yelled out Tetsu-san as he alongside the rest of the second years and third years ran towards the fallen pitcher is.

Eijun too, alongside Furuya and Harucchi immediately went towards the commotion too. The three of the stood at the back, letting the older members to stay in front. Worry seeping into their heart as they stared at the ace on the ground.

Just like the, the commotion started from the audience as a small ruckus erupted from them. Whispers, or just blatant yelling could be heard from them.

"Did that hit his face?" asked one.

"Looks like he was about to swing and direct hit..." piped another.

"He fell... that can't be good..."

Takashima-San who was crouching by Tanba-San side whipped her head. "Oota-sensei go get the car!" ordered the woman.

Said man nodded his head, hand already reaching for the car key on his pocker. "G-got it!"

From his spot on the ground, Tanba tried to move, something that doesn’t settle right with the rest of them. "Hey!" Yelled Jun-san. "Don't move Tanba!"

Tanba-San grunted. "I- I'm fine" he said. "I can stand, let’s continue the game"

"Don't move stay still!" Yelled coach, eyes stern as he held Tanba back in place. "Someone get a stretcher!"

"Tanba-san..." muttered Eijun in worry.

Both Furuya and Harucchi too stared with eyes full of worry from their spot besides Eijun.

"Last year Chris.. and now Tanba.. has Seido lost their luck?" Whoever said that got answered by two terrifying glares from both Furuya and Eijun.

The opposing team coach came, apologizing for their pitcher who at this point looked so spooked that he's going to cry.

Eijun doesn't feel bad for the opposing team pitcher.

Coach saying that it's okay and this is just something that could happen during games. Though, he did ask for this game to be ended early. A request that of course will be followed.

As all of them shuffled to go home, Eijun can almost feel the pitying gaze from Inashiro. Narumiya in particular, kept looking back. Something in his gaze that Eijun just can’t decipher.

He hates it.

 


 

Chapter Text

"You may have heard about it" started coach, voice grim and serious. "But Tanba’s jaw was cracked because of the dead ball yesterday"

The silence in the indoor practice area was deafening. It was tense, everyone was afraid to take a wrong breath in fear of irking the third years. The third years in particular, looked dark. Eyes shadowed by their hair as they kept their gaze latched on the ground. No one made a sound.

At this, Eijun throw a worried glance towards the sullen third years.

"Thankfully it's not a major break and he doesn't suffer any brain injury" at this, it seems the tension has considerably lessened from everyone shoulder. "However he may not recover when the summer tournament begins"

Ah, he thought.

That's bad.

With how tense the third years looked, they too, understand.

Eijun doesn't know Tanba-senpai well. He doesn't know the older like he know Kuramochi-senpai or Miyuki-senpai who regularly spent time with him. Tanba-senpai, is a figure that he would always greet with enthusiasm and exchange a couple of words with. He's not someone that Eijun eat with in the dining hall, nor he is someone that he usually have extra practice with.

But he can't help the sudden bout of regret and frustration that appeared inside of him.

This is Tanba-senpai's third year. This is, the older first and last summer as the ace. A position that he had yearned ever since he's a first year. To know, that he can't play now, must've killing the older inside. And to know, that the number 1 behind his back is not secure must’ve torture him to no end.

Eijun is not vain, but he knows he's practically a prodigy in baseball. Sho-san had said how freaky he is on learning so many pitches despite his young age.

He imagined he's in Tanba-senpai spot. To be a third year ace who had just gotten injured with two talented first year pitcher that just got promoted in the first string.

Hell, he would be nervous too.

"I can't imagine how Tanba feel, to have something like this happened to him" continued the coach. "The following is a decision that I made as the coach, not with a personal sentiment"

If possible, the tense atmosphere turns thicker.

"I will be giving the ace number to Tanba, until he returns, this team will fight to the better end"

Eijun gulped.

"During that time Kawakami, Sawamura and Furuya, will be pitching more often that planned. During this time I would like the third years to act and back up the two first years"

"Yessir!"

 


 

He feel oddly disappointed at the announcement.

As Eijun and the rest of the Seido members exited the indoor training hall, he let his mind wander to coach’s declaration. It was an obvious choice for coach to choose Tanba-senpai as the bearer of the ace number again. Even with a cracked jaw, the older is still someone who has more experience on pitching in tournaments. Even with cracked jaw, Tanba-senpai is still the ace that Seido choose.

Eijun had seen how relieved the third years are earlier when coach announced that he will be keeping Tanba-senpai ace number. How their face immediately brightened in relief and their shoulder slumped down, no longer tense and rigid.

The decision won’t lessen the team morale and the morale of the main batting line up. It’s clear why coach decided that.

But as he, once again, remember how Tanba-senpai kept faltering and dimming in the previous matches. How he didn’t get along with the team main catcher-

Stop, he whispered. He shouldn’t think like that.

You play baseball for the team. Don’t be selfish Eijun.

Tanba-senpai is the ace and he needs to believe the older has the capabilities for the team to trust him.

This train of thoughts continue until that night, when he and Miyuki-senpai both have extra practice about Eijun’s numbers.

“Hey Miyuki-senpai, why does Tanba-senpai hates you?”

The catcher, who was scribbling on a piece of paper – taking notes about Eijun’s numbers – stopped. “Ha?” asked the older, looking up from the paper in hand.

“Well, it’s not like you have a stellar personality to start with” continue Eijun, hands fiddling with a baseball ball almost absentmindedly. “Your personality sucks by the way”

“Wow Sawamura, I didn’t know you love me that much, I’m flattered” deadpanned Miyuki-senpai. “And what do you mean Tanba-senpai hates me? We got a long just fine”

“You really don’t understand social cues don’t you senpai?” replied Eijun. “That’s why you don’t have any friends”

At this, he easily dodged a baseball ball hurled towards him.

“How annoying” Said Miyuki-senpai. “Stand there Pitcher-kun, we’re going to start with number 8 and gradually goes up”

Eijun begrudgingly took a step back. “You still haven’t answered my question you know”

“What question?” asked the older with a raised eyebrow. “I already told you we got along just fine”

“Senpai I know you have a terrible personality, but I know you’re not that dense” called out Eijun, hands fiddling to fir the baseball glove on his hand. “It’s a bit obvious that Tanba-senpai doesn’t like you, which is weird cause you’re a good catcher”

Miyuki-senpai sighed. “Ah, I wish everyone in this team is a baseball idiot like you, Sawamura” he said.

That… sounds like an insult. “Did you just insulted me!?”

“Anyway” said the older, ignoring his ongoing tirade. “You’re number 7, the revised cutter-“

“Cutter Kai!” Interrupted Eijun.

“You’re revised cutter, is already good, the same could be said to your number 8, the Vulcan changeup” continued the catcher, stressing out the pitch name much to Eijun chagrin. “You’re revised splitter is already stable too, pretty sure we can use it for the summer immediately”

That’s 9 already, 9 kind of pitches that he could potentially use during the tournament, thought the younger, thinking about his list of numbers. “How fun” commented Eijun dryly. “It’s not like coach will let me use it in early games”

The second year snorted. “Well of course” he said. “Coach is going to ask you to just throw fastballs or your circle changeup maybe until like semi finals, which means, he’s making my job harder”

“Ooohh, you’re really confident that we’ll reach semi finals, Miyuki Kazuya?”

Letting the face guard covered his face, Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?” he asked. “There’s no way we’re going to lose until we go to Koshien”

Eijun could feel his grin widened at that. “I like your confidence, Senpai!”

“Yeah, sure, now let’s get started” Almost immediately, Miyuki-senpai made a gesture for number twelve.

The new number.

His grin widened almost impossibly so.

 


 

Tanba-senpai shaved his head.

All attention in the dining hall are now directed towards the freshly bald ace that's now eating his rice calmly. It’s not like the older has a long hair previously, but now, with how the light glinted on his head, the difference is almost jarring.

Eijun, alongside of the first years in his table can’t stop staring.

"Tanba?" Called out Jun-san before he make a vague gesture towards the now spotless head. "Your hair..."

The ace merely grunted, still shoving down the rice. "It's a promise after all" he answered, eyes unwavering and full of convinction. "I lost, I shave my head"

"I thought it becomes invalid" said Masuko-senpai from his spot next to the ace. “Considering…”

"No" replied Tanba-senpai almost immediately and Eijun can visibly the rest of the dining hall winced at the remainder. "A promise is a promise, this is like a newfound determination for me"

“Determination to?” prompted Kominato-senpai.

Tanba-senpai looked a bit unsure but he still answered the pink haired third year in the end. “I… from my injury I may not able to help the team much, but I will try to help what I can, for us to reach Koshien”

Captain, stood up from his seat and approached Tanba-senpai before settling his hand on the other shoulder. “Well said” muttered the captain, a determined gaze zeroed on the  pitcher. “We’ll make sure to stay in the competition long enough until you able to play again”

Eijun stared at the scene in front of him.

Baseball, is a team sport. No one can play baseball by themselves. For Eijun though, all his life the only person he knows that is as passionate as him about baseball is Sho-san. His title back in middle school, the one man team, spoke by itself the way he played the sport back then.

Defending and attacking, his team relied on him.

It’s not like that Eijun doesn’t want to do that. It’s the opposite, really. He loves to be someone his team can depend on. To be someone that his team looked up to and seek for help. All his life, his baseball is always like that. The team is only Eijun and friends. Eijun, and all the supporting role in this theatre act called baseball.

But here, in Seido, he met many people who loves baseball as much as he is. He’s not a one man team here. He’s not the one that’s doing both offense and defense in the team. He’s not the sole reliable pole that kept the team from falling apart.

Here, he’s part of the team. Eijun is part of an well oiled machine called Seido baseball team.

Somehow, he doesn’t mind that.

“Tanba-senpai is a bit amazing” Said Toujou, finally averting his gaze from the ace that is now surrounded by the third years. “If I were him I’ll break for sure”

Kanemaru nodded. “To be injured this close to summer is…” he trailed off, eye growing distant. “Practically an end to your high school baseball career”

“It was scary” admitted Harucchi finally, his chopstick stopped halfway towards his mouth. “When he was hit by the ball”

Furuya from his seat also nodded.

“The third years becomes kinda scary too” said Eijun. “I was going to the bathroom at like three in the morning and I saw Kominato-senpai and Jun-san still practicing”

Harucchi blinked. “Aniki did?”

Eijun nodded. “Yeah, they were having some sort of batting drills in the indoor practice area, I even saw Takashima-san threatening them to get some sleep”

Some sort of shudder past through the first year. An angry Takashima Rei is not something anyone in the club wants to get involved in.

 


 

After that, the third years seems to have found a new source of energy because immediately, they all began practicing like their life depends on it.

Tanba-senpai was told to take a break and rest much to the older protest. But a harsh glare form the coach and the first string reassurance that they won’t break from the ace disappearance is enough to convince said teen to stop sneaking an extra practice.

From dusk to dawn, you could see the third years almost inseparable from the field. Now, every time he did his usual morning practice in the indoor training area, a third year would end up tagging along. Today it was Kominato-senpai and yesterday, it was both the pink haired third year and Jun-san. If it's not for school, Eijun doubt that any of them would ever leave the field.

It was also during this, he got called out my coach.

"Sawamura" said Tetsu-san and he and Jun-san came over where he was doing a pitching exercise alongside Furuya. "The coach called for you"

He immediately looked up from how he’s currently adjusting his grips. Chris-senpai had asked him how his grips actually works and how much force he usually instill each pitch. Eijun was in the middle of explaining it towards the older while Furuya was doing shadow pitching when his name was called out.

“Coach?” asked Eijun. “Uhh… What did I do?”

Jun-san shrugged. “Don’t know, he only asked to bring you when he called us”

Sneaking a glance towards his current practice supervisor, Chris-senpai, the older gave him a small nod in permission. And so, after giving Furuya a light tap on the back, he jogged towards where the two third years are and began walking towards where the coach is.

The three of them found Coach crouching just outside the field. It brought Eijun memories when he just joined the first string, of how the Coach in the same crouching motion, briefed the team about their upcoming match to Ichidaisan.

"Both of you, Captain and the Vice Captain" said the coach, voice grave.

Tetsu-San and Jun-san flinched. Eijun casted them a glance a bit, both third years was standing stiffly and was looking everywhere but Coach’s eyes.

"Do the two of you know the state of the team right now?" Asked the older, tone still akin to someone who’s doing a harsh scolding. And well, maybe he is. Scolding them, harshly, that is.

The third years nodded their head stiffly. "Yes.."

"So why aren't you two taking initiative to boost the team morale?" Demanded coach. "Both of you are the heart of this team, I know what happened to Tanba brought down the morale of the team, this is exactly the situation where you third years should step up"

While it’s true that the team now practiced like their life depends on it, the atmosphere surrounding the team is… unpleasant… especially around the third years. Though, he really understand their perspective. Tanba-senpai injury is not something that they predicted, and it happened almost immediately after the team was so sure that they will go to Koshien this year.

“I’m sorry” said Captain, bowing, much to both Eijun and Jun-san shock. “I’ve been appointed as the captain because of the team faith in me… I’m ashamed to say that I failed to meet their expectation”

Jun-san immediately bowed too. “It’s my fault too” Said the brunet. “I let my emotion control my mind, it was irresponsible of me”

Eijun felt almost that he's in a wrong place.

If boss is going to scold Tetsu-san and Jun-san, why is he being called then!? S- Should he bow too!? He was about to follow bowing – just so he’s not standing awkwardly here you know – but Coach’s gaze stopped him.

Is he going to scold him too!?

His question was answered when coach called out his name. "Sawamura"

"Y-yes!"

"I want you to help the two of them to practice in the bullpen everyday after practice"

Both Jun-san and Tetsu-san turned their head towards him while Eijun just dumbly pointed towards himself. Eyes wide and disbelief obvious from his face. Coach now stood up, his superior height making the pitcher looked up to him, gulping.

“M-me?” he asked. “Helping both Tetsu-san anc cap practice pitching?”

Coach raised an eyebrow. “You don’t want to?” asked the older man.

“It’s not like that!” Denied Eijun almost immediately, eyes frantic between the crouching coach and the two third yeats besides him. “It’s just that- Coach do you really think they need to learn pitching? Both of them already have enough burden!”

A hand land on his head. “Sawamura” growled Jun-san, body bend forward as the taller adjusted his height towards Eijun’s own. “Are you underestimating me?” he asked.

Eijun waved his hands frantically. “No, of course not!” Said the pitcher.

“I know you’re an amazing pitcher Sawamura” interrupted coach, his dark glasses glinting under the sunlight. Eijun always thought that he older looked like some kind of member of Yakuza, but at this moment, with how low his voice are, he certainly looked like a shady person. “I’m not lessening your worth as a pitcher, I know you’re a talented one and certainly can help Seido, but I did this just for a precaution”

“Precaution?” echoed Eijun.

The older nodded. “No one can pitch for the whole Summer” started Coach. “No matter how amazing you are, in the end you’re human and not even the greatest pitcher out there like the likes of Nakatani Shouta can pitch for a whole Summer tournament”

It took him everything to not bite his tongue in surprise when coach mentioned Sho-San all of the sudden.

Sometimes, he forgot that Sho-san is famous. The city where he come from is a small one where everyone knows everyone. When he first learnt that Sho-san used to be a famous baseball player all those years ago, he never thought how famous the older is.

A thought that certainly disappears instantly the first time he and Sho-san went into Koshien when he was eight and the older was surrounded by fans insistent on taking pictures.

Now, with how intense high school baseball is, he too almost forgot that Sho-san is practically a legend in the baseball scene. That is until Chris-senpai asked him for Sho-san’s autograph. A request that of course Eijun immediately comply! The autographed baseball ball actually just arrived yesterday and he will never forgot how happy the third year catcher is when Eijun handed him the ball.

“While I know that you certainly will be able to defend us, unfortunately…” Trailed the coach, his gaze shifted towards the field in front of them. “Seido is a school that is not known for it’s pitcher”

The implication of that sentence hung heavy on the air.

Both Jun-san and Tetsu-san eyes widened and they stiffened. No pitcher can pitch for the whole summer. What coach implied is while he believes in Eijun’s capabilities, the rest of Seido’s pitching roster is not something that he depends on.

With how tense the air between the four of them, even some of the players on the field began casting a worried glances towards them. Eijun too, was almost too scared to breath with how intense the air between coach and the third years is. Well, it’s not good for him to ask more question.

“Okay then” Agreed Eijun before turning towards both the center fielder and the captain. “Don’t expect me to go easy on you Senpai! This Sawamura Eijun will show you a true spartan pitcher training!”

He was answered by a headlock from Jun-san.

 


 

And so, here they are, alongside Miyuki-senpai, Nori-senpai, as well as Furuya.

It’s not usual to see both third year in the bullpen. Usually, said place was crowded with pitchers and their battery partners. Or usually it’s only either Eijun, Chris-senpai, Furuya, or Miyuki-senpai who come to this place.

BAM

Eijun stared, a bit hopeless, as Miyuki-senpai hand shot up to catch the ball, so far that he needs to stretch it fully. Though, it was a bit amazing that the second year catcher able to catch a ball that wild. Well, considering Furuya is his usual partner, Eijun could understand it.

The member who throw that pitch, a certain center fielder with a wild grin, pointed hiw finger towards the crouching catcher. "How's that Miyuki!" Yelled Jun-san after he throw a ball so out of the strike zone. "That's my bazooka ball!"

"You'll hit the umpire with that" piped up Eijun from his spot just behind both Jun-san and Tetsu-san. The latter is currently having his grip adjusted by Eijun, lest he will actually injure himself if he throw it in a potentially dangerous way.

Jun-san whipped his head towards Eijun. I was not asking you Sawamura!"

"It didn't even touch the strike zone" informed the catcher, throwing the ball back towards Jun-san who easily catch it.

"What!?"

“You should already know that Jun-san” replied Nori-senpai, making a vague square gesture indicating where the strike zone is. “The strike zone are-“

“I know that!” Yelled the third year.

Really, what the coach is trying to do is great, but there's no way both Jun-san and Tetsu-san would be ready at this point for the summer tournament.

"Senpai here, lemme show you" said Eijun as he stepped up, ball on his hand. "You know the strike zone right? If you know that it should be easy enough"

At that, he did his usual windup before whipping his hand back and throwing the ball straight towards Miyuki-senpai glove. 

“Nice pitch” called out Miyuki-senpai.

“Nice pitch” followed Nori-senpai.

“Nice pitch” mumbled Furuya.

Turning his head towards the third year center fielder, Eijun let out a bright smile. "See!" He said, extending his hand. "Easy!"

Jun-san stared at him.

"Sawamura are you messing with me?" Growled Jun-san as he put Eijun's head in a headlock. 

“It’s not my fault you don’t have talent for pitching senpai!”

“What did you say you brat!?”

They’re tirade was stopped when a sharp clap echoed through the bullpen. The source of the clap, Miyuki-senpai, cleared his throar when all of them turned to stare at him. “Okay!” said the catcher. “Jun-san now is Tetsu-san turn, please step away”

Jun-san clicked his tongue but complied to the second year catcher request anyway, dragging Eijun with him.

Eijun, still in the same position as before, yelled. “Captain! Remember the grips I showed you!”

“You’re not showing him any of your weird grips aren’t you Sawamura?” asked Miyuki-senpai, flicking a gaze towards him. “Because I’m sure it will only works for you”

“How rude! I showed him the standard grip!”

Nori-senpai, who was in the middle of adjusting Tetsu-san elbow, chuckled. “Okay Tetsu-san” said the second year pitcher. “You can try it now”

“Mind your power” called out Furuya.

Tetsu-san nodded, determination on his eyes before he did a windup. Eijun noted that it’s a bit shaky and the older seems a bit unstable, but he thinks it’s good enough. Well, good enough compared to Jun-san’s. He watch as captain’s whipped his hand back and throw the ball towards where Miyuki-senpai glove is.

BAM

“Ball” called out Miyuki-senpai, hand still in the same position where he caught the ball out of the strike zone. “But it’s better than Jun-san’s so good job Tetsu-san!”

“Oi Miyuki, what did you say!?”

“Woah Miyuki-senpai, your personality is just horrible” called out Eijun.

 


 

Tying the headband on his forehead, Eijun stared determinedly towards the book in front of him.

Kuramochi-senpai, who just got back from batting practice stared at him. "What are you doing Bakamura?"

"Studying"

The older froze.

"What?" Repeated Kuramochi-senpai again.

"Studying"

"Did my hearing failing me or did Bakamura just said he's studying?"

"No, he's really studying" informed Masuko senpai, showing something on his phone screen towards the frozen shortstop. "I was shocked too, even took pictures as a proof"

"Geh- how is it surprising that I study!?" Complained Eijun, whipping his head towards both of his roommates. "Everyone study! We're students! That's practically what we do!"

The second year merely shrugged. "But well, you're Bakamura, I thought everything in your head revolves around baseball"

That’s kind of true. If this was Eijun from merely two years ago, he would agree to in in a heartbeat. If this, was Eijun from merely two hours ago, he would agree in a heartbeat too. But now, the one who is sitting in front of the table, the one who is reading the book like his depends on it, is not Eijun from two hours ago.

Namely, this is Sawamura Eijun who was informed by one Kanemaru Shinji that he needs to pass most of his tests so that he can play in the summer tournament.

Sawamura Eijun, is a changed man.

"How rude" pouted Eijun. "Anyway I need to study cause Kanemaru told me that coach is super strict about this stuff! I need to reach the minimum score!"

"The coach really is strict about this" nodded Masuko-senpai. "Understandable cause he’s a teacher too, I almost got off the roster last years cause I fail some of my class" At this, he adopted some sort of distant look on his face.

"I heard it's the same too for some other second year" continue Kuramochi-senpai before he striding towards where Eijun is. "So Bakamura" he started with an evil grin. "Make sure you pass all of it okay?"

"Of course!"

 


 

His score is barely passable but he pass all of them.

 


 

Standing on the field with all of the baseball team members, Eijun could feel his heart thump wildly.

It was obvious why all of them are being gathered here. Summer tournament is so close and the coach still haven’t give them their number. The only reason that all of them, even the second string and the third string, are gathered here at the end of today’s practice is obvious.

“Are you nervous?” asked Harucchi lowly from where he stands besides him.

Eijun nodded. “Kinda” he said. “It’s weird, I know I’ll get a number anyway but it’s still making me nervous”

The pink haired teen chuckled. “The anticipation is thrilling right?” he said. “We’ll probably get the lower numbers, considering we may not able to play much”

“I want the number 1” mumbled Furuya.

At this, Eijun slung an arm around the taller, eyes crinkled with laughter. “Fight me for that Furuya” teased Sawamura. “I want the number 1 too”

Harucchi chuckled. “How about both of you got the number 11? You guys can split it into two, then the both of you will have the number 1”

“Good idea Harucchi!” Laughed Sawamura. Their conversation was cut short when the coach appeared. A steely gaze settling on his face as the rest of the coaching staff follows him from behind.

His nervousness that was momentary forgotten due to his conversation with both Harucchi and Furuya now came back full force. Gulping down, Eijun put all of his attention towards the scene in front of him.

He could see Tanba-sepai and the rest of the third years drowning in a tense silence. Despite the coach initial declaration of still giving Tanba-senpai the ace number, most of the third years still have their nerve in an all time high. Said pitcher too, looked nervous. Settling his gaze on the ground determinately.

"We'll be handing out the numbers now" said coach as he and the rest of the coaching staff stood in front of the team. 

Next to coach, Takashima-san could be seen holding a bundle on her hands. The numbers, he thought, bright golden eyes stared silently;

The tense silence was so thick that it’s getting harder to breath. Finally, the coach opened his mouth, breaking the silence immediately.

"First, uniform number 1, Koichiro Tanba"

Tanba-senpai looks surprised by that. The older’s body stiffening and eyes widening as he still stood there, frozen in shock. His daze was broken off when Kominato-senpai nudged his back, silently telling him to go to coach now.

“What?” asked Tanba-senpai.

"What's wrong?" Asked coach, raising an eyebrow. "You don't want it?"

"I- I want it" stuttered Tanba-senpai as he step forward, receiving the number 1 from the older. He stared at the number in his hand, an explosion of emotion could be seen inside his eyes before he stiffly bowed towards the coach.

“Thank you!” Yelled the now crowned ace. “I will not disappoint your expectations on me!”

The coach nodded. “I’ll take your words then”

The rest of the team watch with smile on their face. Eijun even started clapping passionately, a cheer already on his tongue.

When Tanba-senpai went back to the line, he was immediately got caught in an onslaught of teasing. "Why did you still shave your head anyways?" asked Kominato-senpai, welcoming the ace.

Tanba-senpai looked a bit embarrassed. "I can't pitch until the end..." he mumbled, scratching the back of his head sheepishly.

"You took it way too seriously!" Said Jun-san as he slung an arm around the ace.

"Looking good Tanba-San! Why didn't you shave your eyebrows?" Laughed Kuramochi-senpai.

After that, the third years begin touching the top of Tanba-senpai head. Much to the ace embarrassment.

“Stop it!” Yelled the ace. “Lets just go back to the number announcement!”

With a loud teasing remark from the team, the rest of the numbers are distributed. 

Number 2 Miyuki Kazuya

Number 3 Yuuki Tetsuya

Number 4 Kominato Ryosuke

Number 5 Masuko Tooru

Number 6 Kuramochi Youichi

Number 7 Ichiro Sakai

Number 8 Isashiki Jin

Number 9 Shirasu Kenjiro

Number 10 Sawamura Eijun

"Sawamura Eijun!"

Eijun blinked. Golden eyes widened as he stared at the man in front of him who was staring at him pointedly. Thruthfully, he was not expecting to be called this early. He was expecting the number 11 if he’s being optimist and maybe 18, if he was realistic.

Now, his name was called out for the number 10. Higher than the rest of the pitching roster except Tanba-senpai. Eijun still stood there, on his spot, blankly staring at the coach, before he could feel two hands settling on the back of his shoulder and shoving him forward.

Stumbling, he shot a betrayed look towards the owner of those hands only to see both Harucchi – who was smiling broadly – and Furuya – who nodded his head – staring back at him. Harucchi even mouthed a ‘Good luck!’ to him.

Ugh, he’s not going to cry!

"Yes sir!" Eijun stiffly went forward, much to his teammates amusement from the loud snickering at the teasing remarks being hollered by Kuramochi-senpai. 

“Sawamura” greeted coach when Eijun arrived in front of him. “Don’t disappoint me”

Holding the number in one hand, the southpaw gave the older a mock salute with his other hand. “Yes Boss! This Sawamura Eijun won’t disspoint you!”

“Again, who are you calling boss…”

He went back to the line and immediately, Nori-senpai was called out for the number 11.

It was not long before the coach got into the rest of the numbers left. Furuya got the number 18, while Harucchi got the number 19. The three of them were grinning – or smiling softly – in Furuya’s case as they showed each other numbers.

"Every sweat and tears that you had shed, it was all leading up to this summer" said coach, stepping forward when all of the numbers were distributed. The atmosphere is lighter and more joyful than before. As if the low mood and low morale that has been happening since Tanba-senpai injury didn’t happen. "Alright, now it's time for the usual cheer!" command the older.

"Yessir!" Yelled the team.

Different from the previous time, Eijun knows what to expect now. The Seido roar, the cheer that Seido baseball team traditionally did before their matches. It had been an iconic gesture for the team, with countless of video spread online as well as fans chanting the roar during the team game.

Now, in a loose circle, all of them brace their hands on their knees. Eijun could see Furuya and Harucchi blinking a bit confused, head whipping around the place.

"Follow my lead" whispered Eijun, leaning a bit towards the dark haired pitcher and the pink haired teen.

Furuya gave him a small nod as Harucchi throws him a grateful look.

"Who are we?" Asked captain.

"WE ARE THE KINGS SEIDO!"

"WHO SHED THE MOST SWEAT!?"

"SEIDO!"

"WHO SHED THE MOST TEARS!?"

"SEIDO!"

"ARE YOU READY!?"

"YEAHH!"

"WITH OUR SCHOOL PRIDE, OUR ONLY GOAL IS TO GO TO NATIONALS, LETS GO!"

"YEAHHH!"

 


 

It's the start of Seido summer tournament.

Chapter Text

“We will now begin the 89th National High School Championship, The Tokyo Tournament of East and West”

 


 

Standing amidst hundreds of baseball players, Eijun looked up to the sky.

It was a clear day, a typical day during the summer. The sun was shining brightly. Oozing heat in this cramped space where he stood. He could feel the sweat dripping down his face, stinging his eyes a bit. For this, he should feel uncomfortable. For this, he should fidget in his place, not able to contain this heat of summer.

Furuya is a perfect representation of this. The taller teen is practically swinging by his feet. Face pale and eyes close. Harucchi practically has to held the teen back so he doesn’t topple over.

But now, all Eijun able to do is grin. Grin so wide that he could feel his cheek started to ache.

This is it! His first high school tournament!

 


 

There are 260 schools in the east and west Tokyo. And in just under three weeks, only two of them will be chosen as representative for summer Koshien.

With the reputation of their school on the line, the summer of Seido baseball club has begun.

 


 

Whispers could be heard from the baseball team around the venue. Most of them, has their attention set on one particular team. Eyes flicking and neck craned towards a certain team with white and blue jersey.

Seido baseball team was standing right in front of the stadium. The opening ceremony had just finished and now, all of them are just loitering around the venue aimlessly. Waiting for their bus to come, or just to mingle with other teams and friends from different school. It was during this time too, that they met a familiar face.

"Ah" said Eijun, blinking rapidly.

"Ah" said Narumiya, staring at Eijun too.

There’s some sort of silence that happened as the two pitcher stared at each other. Eyes wide and mouth agape. It was broken when the younger of the two decided to open his mouth.

"You!" Yelled Eijun as he pointed towards the blond. 

"Me!" Yelled Narumiya back as if he doesn't want to lose from this impromptu shouting match.

“What are you doing here!?”

“What do you mean by that!? Every school that join the tournament has to come!”

"Sawamura" said Tanba-senpai as he pat the top of Eijun's head, trying to keep the team mood maker from doing things that he could potentially regret in the future. "Calm yourself" he said, patting the younger hair a bit.

Eijun looked up. "Senpai-"

"AHHH!" Yelled Narumiya as he immediately went to hide behind the Inashiro main catcher. His expression contorted into a face that someone would have when they saw a stray spirit or evil ghost. Not someone who just saw his opponent’s team members. "Tanba-San become bald because of that dead ball!"

Can he not mention such sensitive topic!?

"Narumiya how rude!" Huffed Eijun, yelling back towards the Inashiro ace. “Tanba-senpai is manly you see” At this he motioned his hand towards the ace who seems that he wants to be anywhere else that this moment. “This! This is a product of his determination and resolve for the team!” As he said that, he pat the ace back loudly.

Tanba-senpai sighed. “Sawamura…”

As if to stop this ongoing ridiculous tirade between Eijun and Narumiya. Inashiro Main catcher, Harada, offered a smile towards the ace. "I hope it's not that serious, well, by the fact that you're here, I was worried over nothing then" He said, extending a hand.

Seido’s ace nodded his head, a serious expression plastered across his face, before he shook the hand offered to him back. “Thank you for worrying me” he said. “As you can see, I’m fit enough to play now”

Eijun stared at Tanba-senpai as he said that. No one besides the team knows the true extent of the older injury, and the fact that coach more or less forbid the older to play during the tournament. Though, he doesn’t let anything show on his face and still kept a wide grin stretching across his face.

"Of course!" Yelled Jun-san, flexing his arm as if to prove his point. "Tanba's face is harder than steel!"

"His face is like a rice cracker" said Tetsu-San with a proud smile. Eijun bit his tongue to contain back a laugh. Sometimes Tetsu-san said the weirdest thing.

"Nah, that'll break" added Kominato-senpai.

Eijun was about to add his own two cent before a familiar voice appeared near him.

"Eijun..." mumbled Furuya, swaying on his feet. His face is pale and he’s practically leaning towards one of the stadium pole. Near him, stood Harucchi who was trying to held the taller pitcher so he doesn’t fall.

Harucchi looked towards him, eyes pleading. “Eijun-kun…” said the teen. “A little help here?”

The southpaw gasped, marching towards where the rest of the first string first years are. "Furuya! Are you this weak!?" Yelled Eijun as both he and Harucchi fussed over the pale pitcher. "Don't die on me Furuyaaaa!"

“He’s not going to die… I think” said the pink haired first year in an attempt to be helpful.

Narumiya too, gaped at Furuya current condition from his spot. “Hey if we die here aren’t we going to be suspected for murder?” He asked, still staring at the trio first year who’s trying to help Furuya who at this point has half of his soul out of his body.

“Don’t worry, I know a way to dispose a body” said one of the Inashiro player, a teen with dark red hair half hidden with the white cap he wore.

“Furuya’s not going to die!” Yelled Eijun, swinging Furuya’s hand over his shoulder in an attempt to straighten him up. “He’s tougher than a cockroach!”

“I think that’s not a good comparison Eijun-kun…” muttered Harucchi, sweat dropping.

Miyuki-senpai too, laughed. “Hear that Furuya, Sawamura just compared you to a cockroach” said the second year catcher, a teasing glint on his tone.

Furuya, obviously still out of it, can only mumbled weakly. “Cockroach…”

“You’re not a cockroach Furuya!” Added Eijun helpfully.

"Sawamura you really are noisy" said Kuramochi-senpai as he appeared and smack the back of Eijun's head lightly.  From his side, Miyuki-senpai merely snickered, obviously finding this situation amusing and not helping his case at all.

Harada, from his spot at the very front of Inashiro High School team, stared at him. “You guys seems really carefree” he said, eyes wandering around the Seido baseball team. “Considering the summer tournament just begin”

Hearing that statement, Miyuki-senpai smirked, taking a step closer towards Inashiro team as if he was challenging them. Knowing his bad personality, maybe he really is challenging them head on. “Of course we are” said the second year catcher, confidence dripping down his tone as he tilted his head sideways. “We’re going to win this tournament and go to Koshien after all”

Narumiya finally step out of Harada’s back. Challenge also plastered across his face as he quirked an eyebrow. “Oh?” he said, tilting his head a bit. “There’s only one team that can advance to Koshien you know”

“And that’s Seido” Replied Tetsu-san, eyes steely. “We’re going to win Koshien this year”

It was a clear challenge for the Inashiro team. A declaration from Seido’s very own team captain that they’re going to defeat Inashiro boldly.

Eijun likes it.

"Try not to lose until you play us" said Harada, eyes boring to Seido's first string, gaze dark. “It will be a shame after the big talk you did”

"That's what we should say!" Yelled Jun-san, balling his fist.

"Then at the final-" Continued Inashiro main catcher.

"-We'll play against each other" finished Tetsu-San.

Some sort of momentum passed both team as they stood there, right in front of the tournament venue and boldly announcing that the one in the finals are them amidst other teams competing in the tournament.

It is a clear challenge towards all the participant.

“Sawamura” called out Narumiya, a smirk already on his face. “Lets see who is the better pitcher between you and I during the finals”

Yeah, at the finals.

Eijun let a smirk enveloped his face. Different from his usual sunny and bright grin, this smile is a bit feral and full of excitement from a newfound challenge that is now presented to him in a silver plater.

“Sure” he finally said, holding the blond gaze. “I’ll show you who is the better southpaw”

Narumiya looked so amused and a childish glee could be seen in his face. “Challenge accepted then”

Seido will win the summer tournament.

 


 

"Maimon West number 1's southpaw Kikunaga Masaaki" started Chris-senpai as the team watched a video of said high school match in the dining hall. The sun has set already and after a long day of practice, they’re doing a team briefing tonight before the match tomorrow. "His speed is around 120 km/h. For breaking ball he's got the curve and the slider"

Eijun bite back the instinctual commentary of 'slow'.

Well, he’s an anomaly here. That kind of pitch is normal for a high school pitcher. A normal high school pitcher. Not a high school that determined to win Koshien as their ultimate goal.

“You were about to say slow aren’t you pitcher-kun?” whispered Miyuki-senpai from his spot next to him, eyes flicking towards Eijun.

The southpaw bristled like an angry cat. “I was not!” he hissed back.

Miyuki-senpai merely snickered before the both of them turned their attention back to where Chris-senpai is giving out the data about Meimon west again. Said third year stood right on the front of the room. On his hand is a data book and he keep motioning towards the screen besides him that’s showing Maimon West game.

"Though, his control isn't that good" continue the older. "Their batting order use a lot of bunts and they barely make mistake in fielding, they give off the impression that they’re a defensive team that grabs chance firmly"

A defensive team? Eijun thought, thinking back to when Chris-senpai explained Maimon west pitcher.

The team continue to listened on Chris-senpai explanation of Maimon west in the dining hall. It was silent and the only sound that could be heard is Chris-senpai's. The older clearly did a very thorough research. He listed every batter preference and even their build. Chris-senpai also explained about Meimon west recent win and the momentum they had, still high on said win.

Finishing the explanation, the coach immediately took over. “Thank you” said the older towards the third year who offered a nod and a smile.

Turning back towards the rest of the team, he begin to speak.

"Whoever the opponent is, we'll go full power" said the older. "By doing that, Victory will come to us"

"Yes sir!"

“This is our first match, never underestimate you opponent” continue the older. “I know Maimon west is not a school in our radar, but play with full power during the game, as if you’re playing for the finals, is that understood?”

“Yessir!” said all of the loudly once again.

"Also" started the older again, gaze surveying around the room. "The starting pitcher will be Sawamura"

And much to the shock or maybe not? Of the rest of the team who immediately looked towards where Eijun is.

Yes!

Eijun immediately perked up, head shooting up as his eyes immediately glittered in excitement. “Me!?” He said, pointing towards himself. “Me!? The starting pitcher!?”

Coach nodded, keeping his gaze on him. “Yes, don’t betray my trust Sawamura” said the older.

“Of course sir!” Nodded Eijun. How exciting! This is his first game of summer tournament. While he already did his debut back in the Kanto tournament, this is the first game to a tournament that will lead them to Koshien.

The first game is important. It will give the team a continuous momentum for the rest of the summer. A spirit that should always be kept up in order for them to win. Balling his fist in excitement, Eijun try to contain his grin of happiness.

"We also need a backup pitcher, Furuya, be ready to pitch any time" said coach again, turning his head towards the taller pitcher who blinked at the sudden announcement. "But keep in mind if any one of you show me a disappointing performance I will not hesitate to switch you out with Kawakami"

"Yes!" Replied Eijun and Furuya at the same time.

They fist bumped under the table.

 


 

Seido baseball team members were filing out of the dining hall when one Kuramochi Youichi approached a certain second year pitcher.

“You’re not disappointed?” he asked, taking a seat right in front of Kawakami Norifumi, the holder of Seido number 11 and a second year pitcher. He had noticed, that the second year had gone quiet at coach announcement. Shrinking into himself as the coach announced that the two first years are going to be the pitchers expected to play during the first game.

Said teen looked up from the table, a startled look on his face. “What are you talking about?” he asked, voice a bit bitter. “Of course I am disappointed”

“Figures” mumbled the shortstop, resting his chin on his hand. “You look upset back then, during the announcement”

“I was only a bit bitter” said Kawakami as he shook his head. “Nothing serious, but you will be upset too if a first year got a better spot than you right?”

Kuramochi snorted. “I’ll be furious” he said. “I’ll be ranting nonstop, talking bad about the coach, annoy Miyuki from my complain, and possibly died of exhaustion from all the practice I’ll do after that”

Kawakami laughed softly at that. “Extreme” he commented.

The Shortstop raised an eyebrow. “Though in the end I think I’ll be mature about it” he said after a beat of silence past between the two of them. “It’s for the good of the team after all”

“Yeah…” muttered Kawakami. “It’s for the good of the team”

Standing up, Kuramochi made his way to stand besides Kawakami. “Cheer up” he said, looking straight towards the second year pitcher who pointedly avoid his gaze. “I got the answer for that history homework, I’ll share it with you”

“For real?”

“Yeah, paid Miyuki like 500 yen for it”

The second year pitcher raised an eyebrow. “You really trust Miyuki about something concerning academics?”

Kuramochi snorted. “He may be an idiot who only cares about baseball, but he’s a popular idiot, girls always gave him their answer”

“You sound bitter”

“Who’s bitter!?” retorted the shortstop. “Anyway I guarantee you the quality cause this is the third time I bought his answers and I always got perfect score”

“You’ll be broke soon”

“Fuck it, if it means I passed history with flying grades this year, I’ll do it”

Kawakami snorted, finally looking up. There’s a smile on his face as he nodded. “I’ll take up the offer then”

Both of them exited the dining hall.

 


 

Maimon west vs Seido High School

 

“We will now begin the second round of the Tokyo Tournament” said the female voice over the loud speaker, blaring through the venue. “With the match between Seido High School and Maimon West High School”

The team had huddled for a bit right in front of the dugout, exchanging encouraging look and backpats in order to boost each other confidence. Seido is doing offense first at the top of the first inning. With a short nod from the coach, the team broke off their huddle and went into their respective place.

Kuramochi was up to bat first. Dark eyes staring at their starting pitcher, a player with the number 10 instead of their southpaw ace. He raised an eyebrow. “Not their left handed ace?” he mumbled. Considering that they’re facing Seido, a known powerhouse, he had thought that they’re going to go all out from the start.

Or, he realized, calculating gaze fell into this unknown pitcher in front of him. Somehow, this pitcher is Maimon West secret ace. A trump card ready to be used. ‘Whatever’ he thought, dismissing the thought from his head. ‘Our number 10 is way scarier anyway”

Because Sawamura, with his golden eyes glow eerily by the shade of his cap, who always have a terrifying focus during pitching. Sawamura, who has a freakish amount of pitches in his repertoire, all with amazing control and power.

Yeah, he nods. Our number 10 is way scarier.

As he thought that, he positioned himself into his hitting stance. The shortstop watch the number 10 did his windup and-

Kuramochi watched, body not moving.

-throw an underthrow.

“Play Ball!” announced the umpire.

The cheers from the stand is loud and deafening as Kuramochi, once again put all of his focus on the pitcher in front of him once again. The number 10 did another windup and throw another ball.

Dark eyes watched the ball going to the catcher mitt.

“Strike!”

‘Slow’ he thought. It was so slow that he’s not even sure to hit that ball. ‘Geh- I’ve been exposed to too many of Sawamura and Furuya freakish pitches’

After that, the pitcher got another strike. Much to Kuramochi irk. Finally, on the fourth pitch, Kuramochi managed to get a hit. Though it’s not a good one considering he got an out before he managed to go to the first base despite his speed.

Kominato Ryousuke now stood in the batter box, replacing Kuramochi. Unfortunately, Seido second batter still failed to score or go to the base. The same could be said towards Isashiki Jun, Seido third batter.

The crowd begins to murmur.

“Will they be fine?”

“Are they nervous?”

Seido, after all, is a school that Is known for their batting line. It is one of the most fearsome in their district and an infamous one in the country. To a school like Maimon West who has no notable baseball achievement, it should be a walk in the park.

The first inning ended with the score 0 blaring with bright red besides Seido’s name.

 


 

Eijun was standing inside of the bullpen with Miyuki-senpai, watching the game before him as Kuramochi, Kominato-senpai as well as Jun-san failed to make a score, resulting in three out for Seido in just one inning.

At the bottom of the first inning, it is Seido turn to defend.

"It's our turn" muttered Miyuki-senpai, nudging his head towards the field.

Nodding his head, both of them immediately went into the field. As always, the cheers around them is defeaning, moreso from the dugout where his teammates are yelling with all their might.

"Sawamura strike them out!" Yelled Jun-san. "Avenge me!"

"Bakamura don't you dare to let them score!"

He relished on it. The loud cheers, the encouragements, and the mutterings around him. This is one of the reason why he’s so excited to go out into the field every time.

"So energetic" muttered the catcher as both of them stood on the mound. Miyuki-senpai glove covered his mouth, making the opposing team can’t see what he’s muttering. "What do you think pitcher-kun? Are you going to follow their orders?"

Eijun huffed, offended at the question. "Of course!" He said. "I'll get bullied if I don't"

"Heh" snickered the catcher. “I don’t have any intention to play full 9 innings, gotta save something for the next match” as he said this, a twisted smile appeared on his face.

At this, the southpaw has a moment of realization. ‘Ah’ he thought. ‘What a shitty personality’

Though, that doesn’t mean that he disagree on that statement. “Me too” said Eijun. “Make sure you don’t miss my pitches, senpai”

“Who do you think I am?” said Miyuki-senpai, huffing. “Lets save your higher numbers and settle with lower ones alright?”

A twinkle of mirth passed on Eijun’s eyes. “My, what a shitty personality”

“Says you” retorted Miyuki-senpai as he took a step back, lowering his gloved hands from his face. The amusement is still clear on his face. "Well then, we have another monster to slay here" as he said that, he thrust his fist towards Eijun. “Partner”

Bumping his own, he offer a bright grin towards the older. “Sure, partner” grinned the pitcher. Miyuki-senpai was about two or three steps away from him when once again, Eijun called out the second year pitcher. "Senpai" he said, an evil grin plastered on his face. "Do you think it will be fun if we strike them all out?"

Miyuki-senpai looked back, eyes crinkling with amusement as a large grin is also on the older face. "Ah Pitcher-kun, you really know how to have fun"

 


 

Eijun stood on the mound, large grin on his face.

“First year?” muttered someone from the crowd.

“He’s number 10, pretty high for a first year”

“Oh? Didn’t he play during the Kanto Tournament?”

Heaving a large breath, Eijun tilted his head towards the sky, arm held wide open before he bellowed in a loud voice. “Balls will be flying all around! To the fielders in the back, thank you in advance!”

Immediately, he was met with yells from his teammates.

“We know, Sawamura!”

“Just give us a job later!”

“Strike them out!”

Laughing, Eijun turned his eyes towards the batter in front of him again. Meimon West number 6, he thought. Bat right and favours outside pitches. He has no notable hit nor any notable achievement, though that doesn’t make him any less of an enemy.

Did Maimon West do a research about him beforehand? He thought as he did his windup. Grip hidden by his glove. Not that it matter, considering-

BAM

The ball, straight towards Miyuki-senpai glove, made a loud resounding sound. Gasps could be heard and Eijun could feel more and more gaze settled on his form, still in his pitching motion.

“STRIKE!”

-He made his mind to do an all out strike out anyway.

He relished on the roar that erupted afterwards. It was loud as gasps full of admiration as well as loud cheers appeared all around the venue. The other team dugout too, erupted into loud noise as their team coach began yelling towards his team members.

Eijun did his windup again and in a fast succeeding of motion, throw another fastball towards the batter. The batter, who looked a bit pale before, did swing but he didn’t even try to hit it. Instead, he instinctively cover his head, even though the ball is nowhere close to him.

“STRIKE!” yelled the umpire.

Doing the same set of windup and pitch, he let Miyuki-senpai guided his pitch towards a place that the catcher desire. The batter, once again, failed to even touch Eijun’s pitch.

“STRIKE, BATTER OUT!”

Sawamura Eijun ended the first inning with three full strikeouts.

Maimon High vs Seido High is now 0 vs 0.

 


 

Of course, Maimon west failed to score.

Seido gained three score at the next inning. A great thing considering in the second inning, Eijun once again successful on defending their score. Making it still at 3-0.

Eijun scored a homerun in the third inning, much to the crowd amazement and the encouraging yell from the stands.

During the fourth inning, when the southpaw was in the mound, Maimon dugout seems to have found a new energy as they began cheering for their batter. The batter in question looked a bit teary eyed at that, nodding resolutely towards the dugout before he turned his head towards Eijun. A newfound determination on his face.

If this is a shounen anime, Eijun thought as he did his windup. This will be the heroic scene where he’ll hit his pitch at the end of the episode with the anime theme song in the background. If this is a Shounen anime, he thought, adjusting his grip, Seido will lose and this is the start of the meteoric rise of an underdog high school.

Unfortunately, this is not a shounen anime.

Seido are the kings.

They’re not going to lose.

Whipping his hand back, he throw the ball towards Miyuki-senpai catcher glove as a resounding BAM echoed throughout the stadium. The cheers are deafening as Eijun stood there, grinning with all his might right on that mound.

They are the kings, Seido.

It is now the fourth inning and the score is 16-0 to Seido.

 


 

"Who's that pitcher?" Asked Maimon west coach, a vein protruding from his forehead as he stared at the scoreboard in front of him. Blazing red, the score of 16-0 could be seen from it. "I was underestimating him because he's a first year but..."

"Sawamura Eijun" informed the assistant coach. "We don't have much data on him, considering he just made his debut during the Kanto tournament where he too didn't allow any run" he said as he flicked the papers in hand.

The coach nodded. "I feel like I heard his name before..." muttered the other man.

"He was famous during his middle school days"  continue the assistant coach. "Being known as a one man team because he managed to drag his high school team from an unknown team to a national winner"

"National winner..." said the coach as he stared at the game currently ongoing in front of him. "He's... he's terrifying"

"I know"

His members doesn’t have a single flaw. All of the worked and train hard. Forgetting about joy and focusing on baseball instead. The team, all of them, all loved baseball to his heart and he wants nothing more but brought this team to victory.

Though, his overconfidence has brought his team to a ruin.

Seido is a powerhouse school. Their pitching lineup may not be that notable the previous years, but they still are a powerhouse school. They have the capabilities and the resource to bring in a strong pitcher every year. They, have the capabilities to keep improving and improving as the time pass.

It was a shame that he was so confident on beating Seido. So confident that the school first year pitcher would fumble and fail before them.

This pitcher who stood before him, with a grin as bright as the sun and golden eyes shaded by the brim of his cap, is more terrifying than any player that he had seen before.

“He completely obliterate our team offense with only fastballs…” muttered the coach, deathly pale and voice hollow.

Monster.

 


 

Top of the 5th inning, with 1 out, runners on the 2nd and the 3rd, Harucchi come out to bat.

As expected the pink haired male was amazing at the field, much to the delight of the team. Maimon west fielders failed to catch the ball, making Seido score another 2 runs easily. The coach as well as the coaching staff looked pleased at the current predicament. After all, the first years has been doing amazing during the game.

From Eijun who didn’t let a single run from the start, Furuya with his newfound potential as a fielder, and Harucchi’s batting prowess, it is easy to say that the first years are doing a great job so far in the game.

"Next is my turn!" Cheered Eijun as he stepped out, bat slung on his shoulder. "I'm going to go for a homerun!" he cackled.

"Don't be cocky Sawamura!" Yelled Jun-san.

"Just hit it Sawamura-chan!"

Eijun cackle could be heard echoing across the field as he positioned himself on the batting box. He immediately positioned himself in the batter box, batting left. Swinging the bat a bit to check the range, he focused his attention back on the pitcher right in front of him.

Maimon West pitcher huffed out a breath, hand adjusting the brim of his cap before he did his windup.

He let his eyes focused solely on the pitcher not leaving. When he saw the ball hurling towards him, Eijun immediately swung and-

Clang!

The southpaw pitcher immediately dashed, straight to the first base. He slid across, right just before the first baseman caught the ball on his glove.

"Safe!" 

“Good job Sawamura!”

“Give them a homerun next time brat!”

Standing up, he ignored his now stained Seido’s jersey. The bright grin that seems everlasting throughout the game now turned towards where Seido dugout is. Eijun throw them a peace, “Guys make sure to bring me home!”

The collective ‘Yes’ that answered his declaration only make the happiness inside his chest blooms more and more.

 


 

“Game set-!”

 


 

The game ended in the fifth inning.

Seido won with 19-0

Eijun pitched all five inning.

 


 

As the rest of the team walked out of the dugout, approaching the field, Eijun saw the Maimon team with their head bowed and eyes shaded with their cap. It’s easy to see that all of them are crying or trying to comfort each other.

 

His eyes caught Maimon West pitcher. Eijun merely offered a short nod towards the team, before he and the rest of the players line up.

 

“Line up properly” instructed the umpire towards the two team.

 

Now, facing each other, Eijun clearly see the anguish that colored Maimon West team. Wet cheeks and red nose.

 

“Bow!”

 

“Thank you very much!” Yelled both of the team, bowing at each other.

 

After that, all of them immediately exchanged handshake.

 

“Keep on fighting!”

 

“Make sure to go to Koshien”

 

“I have no regrets, I played my best”

 

Though the other team gave them smiles and encouraging nods as they said that, the anguish behind their eyes is obvious.

 

As he stared at Maimon West who is now huddling together and crying tears of sadness, Eijun decided.

 

He’s not going to let Seido be like that.

Chapter Text

"Sawamura-kun!"

Blinking, Eijun looked up from his phone. One ear was plugged with earphone and an MLB match was showing on the screen. It was one of Sho-san old game. This game in particular, was one of Eijun’s favourite. Considering this is the game where Sho-san scored his 100th homerun, it sure deserve a special place in his long list of things he should be amazed of out of his childhood coach.

Turning off his phone, he set his gaze towards the source of voice calling him. In front of him is three girls that he distantly registered at his classmates.

"Yeah?" He asked, staring at the three girls in front of him.

"W- we make this during home economics!" Said one, the one in the middle with long brown hair, as she thrust something wrapped into him. "It's brownies, do you like sweets Sawamura-kun?"

Immediately Eijun's eyes brightened. There’s nothing that he doesn’t like except natto after all. "Sweets!? "He gasped, eyes twinkling as he stared at the wrapped dessert in front of him. "I like it! My mom used to make the best kind of cakes, you should try it sometimes!"

"S-s Sawamura-kun!?" yelped one of them, cheek brightening.

"Thanks Hayami-san, Kaede-san, Takao-san!" Grinned Eijun as he took the brownies from the girl hand before whipping his head back. His gaze immediately zeroed to where the familiar form of Kanemaru sat. "Kanemaru! Do you want some brownies!?"

Kanemaru, who was in the middle of doing a late homework looked up. "Brownies?" He echoed, head perking up in interest. "Yeah, sure, why not?" At this, he stood up from his seat and trudged towards Eijun desk, dragging a chair behind before plopping down on it.

"Um- S-Sawamura-kun?" Said Takao-san. Her hair brushing past her shoulder as she tilted her head a bit. "We- Uh- we made it for you"

Eijun blinked. "Um yeah?" Asked the pitcher unsurely. "It would be awkward if it's not considering I already ate one"

“No- its”

“Do you want some?” asked Eijun as he tilted his head. “Wait that’s rude of me! You guys should eat it first considering you made it!” as he said this, he thrusted the brownies forward to where the three girls is.

"No, we don't mean it like that, it's just-" the girl stopped, eyes widening before sighing. "Ah, well okay then, we just want to give you the brownies"

"Yeah,good luck on your next match Sawamura-kun" said Hayami-san with a small encouraging smile. “We’ll be cheering on you”

Kaede-san also nodded her head. “Please know that us- I mean the class supports you”

The southpaw grinned, giving them a blinding smile as he nodded his head enthuastically. "Thanks! Thank you for the brownies too!" Just for some added measure, he gave them a thumbs up.

“Yeah, see you later Sawamura-kun”

“See you later! The brownies are absolutely delicious!”

The three girls turned around, leaving both Kanemaru and Eijun.

"You know" started the third baseman, picking a brownies up before eating the treat. "You're pretty incredible Sawamura"

Eijun blinked.

"Huh?

 


 

“Good, Sawamura” called out Miyuki-senpai as he throw the ball towards Eijun. “Do your shoulder warmup again and then we can do the lower numbers once more”

Nodding, Eijun promptly did his shoulder warmup again.

Both him and Miyuki-senpai is now on the bullpen. The rest of the team are in the field, doing their fielding practice. With his performance during their first match, the coach was completely satisfied and wants Eijun to rest up a bit. Miyuki-senpai had informed him that he won’t be playing the next game, considering that coach wants Eijun to play games during tougher opponents, it’s best for him to rest up now so he could be ready near the end of the tournament.

“Senpai” called out Eijun. “When do you think could we use number 12 and 13?”

The second year catcher raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?” he asked. “You barely able to control number 13 and just mastered number 12, it’s a bit freaky to be honest”

Eijun huffed. “You’re the one freaky”

“That doesn’t even make sense Pitcher-kun” answered Miyuki-senpai easily. “Lets be serious now, throw me your fastballs and change ups”

Nodding, Eijun immediately his windup before throwing a two seamer, followed immediately by a circle change up and a four seamer. At this point, throwing fastballs and change ups are as easy as breathing to him, with how often he did it.

Miyuki-senpai nodded his head when he caught Eijun’s four seamer, high outside. “Good” said the catcher as he throw the ball back towards Eijun who caught it easily. “You’re fast but lets try to improve the speed when you’re pitching” said the second year. “Doesn’t want someone to steal after all”

Nodding Eijun adjusted his glove. “Shoud we call Kuramochi-senpai next time?” he asked. “He has a really fast legs”

“He sure is” snorted Miyuki-senpai. “By the way we should test out your splitter and revised splitter” continue the catcher. “We want to confuse the batter with fastball-change up-splitter combo right?” At this, the older snickered before a really evil grin erupted on his face behind his mask.

Not that Eijun could commented on it considering he’s doing an almost identical evil grin too.

“You really like to mess up with people huh, Senpai?”

“Says you” snickered Miyuki-senpai. “Lets just show these people how good Seido is alright”

Eijun’s eyes crinkled in amusement. “Of course” he said.

They have another monster to slay.

 


 

20th of July

 

During the match between Murata East and Seido, Eijun didn't pitch.

The coach said to rest up his hand due to him pitching for 5 inning the other day, giving the chance for Furuya to start the game and Nori-senpai to back him up.

Furuya had pitched amazingly during the game, and in the top of the 5th inning, was switched with Nori-senpai. Same as Furuya, the older pitcher performed amazingly, not allowing any runs to be made against Seido.

Eijun watched all of this with amazement in his eyes as he watched from the bullpen. After all, he had grown restless watching the game from the dugout. Coach already gave him a strict order to not pitch in today’s game but that doesn’t mean he can’t warmup in the bullpen.

In front of him is Harucchi who was wearing a baseball glove and currently, his catching game partner. Both Miyuki-senpai and Furuya stood besides him, also in the middle of a warmup. Or, in Furuya case, an appeal so Coach will let him the game again.

“Nori-senpai is amazing!” Enthused Eijun with stars in his eyes as he watched the inning changed into the bottom of the 5th. Seido is on the offense now.

The taller pitcher nodded. “Amazing” he confirmed.

“We better stay vigilant Furuya!”

Miyuki-senpai snickered. “Sawamura stop distracting Furuya!”

Eijun swivled his head, face full of betrayal. “I was not you- you evil Tanuki!”

“Who the hell are you calling Tanuki?”

Harucchi let out a small laugh at that. “Eijun-kun” he called out. “Lets continue our game alright?”

The southpaw brightened at that. “Of course Harucchi!”

He was in the middle of doing his windup when a ruckus could be heard from the direction of the field. All four of them turned their head towards the source of the voice, curious, when they saw a ball being hurled towards the back screen. The venue was almost silent as almost all of them stared with slack jaw and bated breath.

During all of this, Captain, jogged leisurely towards the base. So casual as if he didn’t just gave Seido two runs in one go.

“It’s a direct hit towards the back screen!” announced the announcer. “With 10 point difference, it’s a called game in the 5th inning!”

The audience burst into a loud murmurs and awe filled praise. Eijun too, has a bright grin plastered across his face, eyes crinkled in barely concealed excitement.

"Captain!" Yelled Eijun, waving his hand excitedly trying to catcher the clean up attemtion when said teen jogged back after his amazing (really amazing!!) homerun. "Captain you're the best! The pride of Seido! Irreplaceable!"

Tetsu-san merely turned his head towards the bullpen, giving Eijun a short but firm nod.

“Captain teach me batting!”

"Eijun… congratulate him normally" said Harucchi with a sweat drop.

Seido win with 10-0.

 


 

Seated near the back, all of Seido are watching the match between Kamiyama high and Akikawa high.

After finishing their game, and changed their jerseys back to their school uniform, the coach commanded them to grab something to eat before going back to the stands. The winner of the next game will be their opponent and it would not hurt them to spy the offending team first.

Eijun sat between Miyuki-senpai and Furuya who's sweating bullet. He could hear said teen mumbled how hot the weather is, something that the other pitcher is sensitive about.

“You okay?” he asked as he put a cap over Furuya’s head.

Furuya nodded his head, adjusting the cap so if fit better on his head. “Yeah… maybe”

“Furuya-kun do you want some water?” piped Harucchi from his spot on the other side of Miyuki-senpai. On his hand is a bottled water.

“I’m… alright I think” answered Furuya weakly. Still, Eijun still grabbed the cooled water bottle and pressed it towards the other pitcher hand. Just in case.

The game started soon after that. Eijun watched intently as the announcer began announcing the players from both team. Players started to appear in the field, all wore their school jerseys.

"Keep a good eye on the Akikawa pitcher" said Miyuki-senpai when the announcer announced the pitcher from Akikawa.

"Ah" realized Eijun, a flash of recognition appeared on his eyes. "The player that's an exchange student from Taiwan?"

“Taiwan?” mumbled Furuya, gaze still fixed on the team before them.

"Yes" nodded the older. "You Shunshin"

A tall pitcher with dark eyes and glasses appeared. He was wearing a black and white baseball jersey with the Akikawa emblem emblazoned across it in a bold red lettering. With the way his cap shaded the top of his face, said pitcher looked downright intimidating.

Eijun, knows of You Shunshin.

Akikawa is not a really strong school. It’s true that they’re good, but they’re not the type of school that should be in Seido’s radar. Akikawa, after all, is a school that focuses more on college admission. Not a school that boasted their strong baseball club like Seido is.

Though, that changed when Akikawa has a new pitcher in their lineup.

You Shunshin reminds him so much of him and his team back in middle school. The One Man Team, the one who carry their team to victory. When he stumbled into a recording of Akikawa match recently when browsing through Seido extensive baseball DVD collection, he can’t help see the figure of You Shunshin as Sawamura Eijun back in middle school.

To be, the only one that your team can depends on. To be, the absolute pillar of your school team.

You Shunshin flipped the fate of Akikawa High Baseball team just like Sawamura Eijun flipped Akagi Middle baseball team fate.

How familiar, he thought, settling his gaze on You Shunshin who is now conversing with his catcher on the mound. Reminds him of Middle School Eijun.

"Apparently he went to Japan to study foreign language" piped up Chris-senpai, on his hand is his handy handbook where he stored all the information about players. "But he got addicted to Japanese baseball and decided to stay here and play the sport"

“Addicted to baseball?” murmured Furuya.

Chris-senpai nodded. “He decided to stick around here because he grow to love baseball so much” Just as the older finished saying that, You Shunshin did his windup, before his hand whipped back and he throw his ball-

Eijun eyes widened as he watched the teen hurled the ball towards his catcher. The batter, almost in instinct, covered his head almost immediately.

Only to end up way off the strike zone.

The ball had been hurled so close to the batter face that Eijun almost flinched. Half expecting a dead ball to happened.

“That was…”

"Ball" muttered Eijun. “It was so off the strike zone”

What kind of shitty control is that? He thought. From the recordings he know that You Shunshin is a capable pitcher. A pitcher with excellent control and a nightmare for their opponent batters.

Though, his question got answered as the game continue to progress.

Akigawa pitcher continue pitching. Different from his first pitch, all the pitch following all are strikes that arrived precisely at his catcher mitt. All, is perfectly on the outside course.

“STRIKE, BATTER OUT!”

Seido watch in silence at that. All of his three pitches are in the same spot – a crazy feat – and the batter still failed to hit it.

“He’s known for his precise pitching” muttered Miyuki-senpai. “You can see it clearly why now”

Both Eijun and Furuya nodded, eyes still zeroing on the game before them.

The game continue and You Shunshin continued his performance as an amazing pitcher. Though, it was clear from the game itself, that Eijun previous thought was proven correctly. You Shunshin carried Akikawa by himself.

Soon after that, the game wae called in the 9th inning. The final score is 3-0 to Akikawa.

“There were only 5 hits off him” said Tetsu-san. “What’s more, the moment they took the lead the atmosphere of the team considerably improved” continued the captain. “It’s clear that all of them trust him quiet a lot”

Trust, thought Eijun as he shot Tanba-senpai who sat with the rest of the third years a look.

When both team lined up at the end of the match, Seido too, stood up from the bench.

“Our next opponent, won’t be so easy it seems” said Tetsu-san, voice grave and eyes hardened.

As Seido made their way to leave, the southpaw can’t help but turned his head towards where the two teams are saying thanks with each other. Shooting Akikawa one last look, Eijun would like to disagree to what Tetsu-san said.

After all, a building that was built with one pillar will be ready to crumble anytime.

 


 

The night after the Murata East match, Seido first string members gathered for a strategy meeting.

All of them are sat inside the dining hall when once again, they’re reviewing their upcoming match. Chris-senpai stood in front with both Coach and Takashima san. Next to him, is a board with a drawn strike zone could be seen on it. On the corners are colorful pins, signing You Shunshin preferred spot to pitch.

“He doesn’t throw a breaking ball that often but he has a curve and forkball” said the third year. “His speed is around 130km/h, what we need to be wary about is his incredible control” as he said this, he make a motion towards the drawn strike zone. “From inside high to outside low, from outside high to inside low, all of them are zone that is hard to strike”

Eijun nodded silently.

“I’m afraid a weak pitch right in the middle will rarely to come” said Chris-senpai again.

“A half assed swing will only encourage the pitcher” said Coach. “No matter what pitch, swing with all your might” continue the older. “To shatter such clever pitcher, we need more mobility and bunts…” at this Coach trailed off his words, gaze turning towards Eijun.

Said pitcher, who was seating a bit at the back between Furuya and Harucchi blinked.

“If all of you want to practice with pitching with amazing control” started the coach again, eyes still zeroing towards where Eijun is. “We also have a pitcher with amazing control”

At this, all of the players eyes turned towards Where Eijun is.

An awkward smile broke on the southpaw face. “Eh?” he said, pointing towards himself.

 


 

That’s how Eijun found himself here. Standing right in front of the batting box with Seido main batting line up in front of him.

“It’s been awhile” said Jun-san, slinging his bat over his shoulder. The third year immediately turned his head towards where Eijun stood just outside the batter box and throw him a grin tinged with madness. “I will hit you off this time”

Scary!, gulped Eijun as he nodded his head. “You can try senpai!”

“Oh, I’ll sure try you brat” growled Jun-san.

Kominato-senpai too decided to piped up. “Its good that we have this exercise” said the pink haired teen from his spot right beside Harucchi. “I’ve got some pent up frustration lately after all” at this, he give Eijun his usual ever so present scary smile.

Scary! Scary!

Kuramochi-senpai too snickered, the bat on his hand is now pointed towards Eijun. “I’ve improved since that time Sawamura” grinned the shortstop. “I’ll hit you off this time”

“Jun-san, Ryo-san, Kuramochi, don’t be like that” said Miyuki-senpai when he arrived with the most shit eating grin on his face. For once, not in his catching gear. “You’ll scare him off”

Eijun bristled. “Who are you calling scared!?”

“You” answered the second year catcher bluntly without missing a beat.

“Miyuki Kazuya!”

The catcher merely laughed before he walked towards the back of the batting cage. Coach instructed the usual batting order to line up and face Eijun one by one. After that, the players that doesn’t usually bat stood behind them while the rest of the pitches already in the bullpen.

“Sawamura” called out coach. “I want you to pitch high inside, low outside, high outside, and low inside, rotate between the pitcher without any obvious order”

Nodding, Eijun stared at Kuramochi-senpai who is already in the batting stance. Number 5, he thought. High Inside

Kuramochi-senpai failed to hit it.

“Can you throw a curve ball Sawamura?” asked coach.

Miyuki-senpai piped up. “It’s not on his numbers, Coach”

Eijun too nodded. “I can, but it’s not on my numbers, me and Miyuki-senpai is working on it” He had been warned to not use too many curve ball, considering the potential injury he could sport if he throw it too many times.

“Good” answered coach with a nod. “Throw a curveball then”

He did his windup again. Curveball, thought Eijun. High Outside.

Kuramochi-senpai hit it but ends up in a foul. “That’s way faster that You Shunshin” said the shortstop as he immediately turned his gaze from the ball that now lay not far from him.

Eijun blinked. “Ah?” he said. “Should I slow it down a bit?”

The second year shook his head. “Nah” he said as he once again did his batting stance. “If I can hit your pitches at this speed, doesn’t it mean that I can hit You Shunshin pitch then?”

“Ohh?” said Eijun, amusement flickering on his eyes. “You’re really confident huh Mochi-senpai!?”

“Who are you calling Mochi!?”

 


 

“Uwah” said a woman around his twenties with a high ponytail. “Look at all these reporters” said Oowada Akiko, a reporter from “Monthly Baseball Kingdom”

A man, with bald hair and a dark cap appeared. He was scratching the top of his head with his pen. “Obviously” muttered Mine Fujio, another reporter from “Monthly Baseball Kingdom”. “There’s a lot of material in this team”

Oowada snickered. “Your article about Miyuki Kazuya last year was amazing” she said. “I became a fan!”

“Huh” snorted Mine. “Lets all just go to the batting cages, all the first strings are in there”

“Batting cages?” blinked Oowada. “All of them are doing batting exercise? Even the pitchers?”

“Who knows” shrugged Mine. “Lets just see”

The sight that greet him can be called surprising.

They arrived just right on time as Seido 6th batter and starting catcher swung towards a pitch hurling towards him, only to hit nothing.

“Batter out!” Announced the pitcher with wide smile and golden eyes. Oowada immediately recognized him as Sawamura Eijun, high school baseball rising star and Seido new and maybe future ace.

“Miyuki you pathetic!” called out one of Seido members, someone that she recognized as the shortstop. “This is the second rotation and you still failed to hit a dect pitch!”

“Oh, I like to hear that more from Mr. Strikeout” retorted Miyuki Kazuya as he moved away from the batting cages, immediately replace by another Seido batter.

Oowada blinked. “They’re… playing against each other?” she muttered, a hint of awe and confusion on her face.

“Not surprising” muttered Mine. “Considering they will be matched with someone with excellent control, they want to practice with someone who has amazing control too”

“And thankfully, Seido actually has that kind of player” Muttered the female. “Amazing…”

Mine nodded. “Seido will be interesting this year” said the man. “Come on, lets go closer”

 


 

Tokyo, Akikawa High School

 

“Uwah!” Yelped an Akikawa batter as he hastily avoided a ball being hurled towards him by a pitching machine. “That’ll kill me if it hits me!”

Another member snickered besides him. “Its kind of an overkill” he said. “Considering that Sawamura pitches is not that fast”

“You said as if the guy is pitching a 120km/h ball or something” muttered the batter. “148km/h! What kind of first year pitch like that”

“A monster I tell you” said another who just appeared. “Though, this machine can’t replicate his fastballs or changeups”

The batter nodded. “I’m not that worried” he said. “He can only pitch fastballs and the circle change up right?”

“Well” started the other teen. “That’s the kind of pitch he keep using in the tournament, it’s safe to assume that”

“Good then” he said, eyes narrowing as he took a batting stance once again. “I can hit him then”

On the other side of the training field, one You Shunshin is standing near the batting cage. In front of him is one of Akikawa starting batter who is already in a batting stance.

“Next!” called out the catcher. “Low Outside”

Nodding his head, You Shunshin did his windup before throwing his ball. The batter hit it but it was a foul. “Sorry” he muttered, already in the middle of his windup. “The next one will be on course” as he said this, he throw another ball right towards the catcher mitt.

“Guh!” grunted the batter. “I’m screwed!”

“Don’t worry” muttered the ace. “You’ll get the next one”

Both Oowada and Mine who was watching the practice at the side gaped. They had just visited Seido the other day and now visiting Akikawa to get a scoop about the powerhouse upcoming opponend. After all, the winner of this match will marched straight to best 8. A feat that a few could only achieved.

Though, This scene reminds greatly to what they just witness in Seido just one day before.

“The ace is the batting pitcher?” asked Oowada. “This happens every time?”

“Shushin wants to do this” said Akikawa coach, a proud smile on his face as he watched the ongoing practice in front of him. “He said he can only improve in a real match”

“I see..”

“Our school mainly focus on getting to college so we can’t afford a lot of training time like big baseball school” started Akikawa coach. “We were never confident in our baseball tea, and were sure that we’ll lose in the first round, or rather, that’s how we are before”

At this, Shushin throw the ball again towards the batter.

“Just because of one single pitcher, our weak team was reborn”

Akikawa, really did become a formidable opponent this time round.

 


 

Seido, Practice Field

 

Eijun was practicing late at night with Chris-senpai when something happened. The only source of lighting is the field light that had been turned on courtesy to their request. The southpaw was expecting a light pitching workout with Chris-senpai when a voice piped up from the entrance of the field.

"You're still practicing?" Asked coach who just appeared.

Head snapped towards the familiar voice, the southpaw immediately straighten his posture. A habit that he had taken since he become a part of Seido baseball team. "Boss!" Greeted Eijun with a loud voice.

"Honestly, who are you calling boss..." muttered the older as he gets into the field.

Chris-senpai too, stood up. "Coach" greeted the older with a respectful nod. "We're going have a little pitching practice, not too hard"

Coach nodded. “Good” grunted the man. “You will be our starting pitcher for the match with Akikawa after all, don’t overexert yourself, Sawamura”

“Of course!” said Eijun as he did a mock salute towards the man. “This Sawamura Eijun will follow your command!”

“Relax” chuckled Chris-senpai, watching how alert Eijun had become since the arrival of coach.

"Sawamura" said the coach, walking inside the field. He stop for a second, reaching out for something near the fence.

Eijun blinked. "Coach?"

It was now that he saw what the older man hold. A bat. A baseball bat. The first thing that crossed in Eijun mind is that coach going to beat them up for practicing so late at night before a sensible part of him realized what coach is going to do.

"Pitch to me" commanded Coach as he appeared, bat on his shoulder.

"H- huh!?" said the southpaw, a bit chocked from how surprised he is. He throw a look towards Chris-senpai who has his eyes widened too, clearly surprised. “Me!?”

Coach ignored his indignant yell and immediately stood in front of Chris-senpai who's immediately crouched down. "Do it" said the older.

“This is so sudden!” Yelped Eijun as he hastily do his windup. “Uh- do you have any specific pitch you want to see, boss?”

The older grow quiet at that, thinking about something. “The pitch that you did to strike out the third year back then” said coach finally, body already in the batting stance. “I believe you called it the Splitter, Miyuki informed me it’s your current number 11”

“Splitter?” said Eijun. “Uh- I haven’t actually do the splitter with Chris-senpai as of yet! I did most of my numbers with Miyuki-senpai”

“I see” said the man before he turned towards Chris-senpai who is still in his crouching position. “What do you think Chris?” he asked. “Do you think you can catch it if can’t hit it?”

Chris-senpai stared up, brown eyes staring at coach before a flash of determination appeared on the third year face. “I can” he finally said, a newfound resolution passed on his expression. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about your higher number anyways Sawamura, Miyuki can’t shut tup about it after all”

“Geh-!” grunted Eijun, a red tinge appeared on his face. “Okay then! One splitter served in a silver platter!” As he said that, he whipped his hand back, grip adjusting to his usual grip when throwing a splitter before he released the ball.

 


 

As He watch Sawamura pitch, Tesshin feel his eyes widen.

Sawamura reminded him of a rival long time ago.

 


 

Coach swung his bat, hitting the pitch towards a place between the home base and the first base.

“That would be a foul” said coach, still staring at the ball. “If I didn’t know you’ll throw a splitter I would’ve thought you’ll throw a fastball, considering the similar spin”

Eijun grinned. “That’s what Miyuki-senpai told me” he said. “He said maybe I could alternate between fastball, change ups, and splitter in future games when you’ll finally allow me to use higher numbers”

“Hm..” hummed the older, a contemplative look passed on his face. “That’s a good idea, the batter won’t be able to tell the difference”

“Right!?” Enthused the southpaw. “Adding my trajectory, it could be hard to hit!”

Chris-senpai chuckled, standing up from his position. “You’re already hard to hit with your usual fastballs and change ups combo” said the third year catcher. “We still haven’t and planned to reveal your other pitches until the higher round, but I believe, we may have the chance to go to Koshien this year”

The blinding smile that answer that statement made Chris-senpai squinted his eyes a bit.

Coach too, merely stared at the interaction between the battery.

Sawamura, really reminds him of someone.

 


 

Akikawa academy vs Seido high school

 

It was the match between Akikawa and Seido.

The sun was shining down the field in a harsh stroke of eat. No cloud could be seen on the sky, only the sin and the blue expanse of the sky stretched on top of everyone head. Complains could be heard from the audience about how hot the day is, how bright the sun had shone and how the heat is borderline unbearable.

Though, the two teams barely register it.

Akikawa baseball team watched the loud roar that appeared when Seido finally step into the field.

“They came out!”

“Seido!”

“Seido!”

All of them watched in a horrified trance. “What an applause” muttered Akikawa second baseman, Tsushima. “So different from when we came out”

Kunimi, Akikawa first baseman sighed. “That’s Seido for you” answered the teen, eyes gazing towards the packed banch to the loud spectator support around them. “No one cheered for us when we come out”

“Perks of a powerhouse I guess” muttered Hashimoto, the third baseman.

“Look, they’re stands are packed” said Tsushima as he pointed towards Seido High stands. “They even got brass band and cheerleaders” as if on cue, a loud trumpet sound could be heard from Seido brass band as well as cheers from Seido cheerleaders.

Hashimoto let out a defeated smile. “Meanwhile ours…” he muttered, sneaking a glance towards Akikawa almost empty stands. There are a couple of people there, though some actually wore Seido colors there. “Its obvious that they’re there because they doesn’t get a good seat in Seido’s”

“Even my parents didn’t come!” Yelled Shiratori, the captain. “They said I should quit baseball!”

Ninomiya, the center fielder laughed at that. “Well, no one expect us to go this far after all” he said.

“But we can’t quit now we’ve come this far”

Kunimi nodded. “After meeting Shun, we knows the joy of winning after a long time”

The rest of the team snickered. “Yeah, I come to enjoy baseball in the end”

You Shunshin, finally looked up. He unplugged his earphones before he stared at the rest of his teammates. “What?” he asked.

“Nothing” snickered Shiratori. “Anyways guys, lets enjoy this game to the fullest!”

“YES!”

 


 

“LINE UP!”

“LETS GOOO!”

Tokyo, 10 AM, the match between Seido vs Akikawa starts.


 

Chapter Text

Akikawa Academy vs Seido High School

 

"Top of the first inning" announced the crisp voice of the woman that rang through the venue. "Akikawa begins it's offense, batting first, center, Ninomiya-kun"

As Ninomiya stepped into the field, bat in hand and a hint of worry would be seen on his face. Eijun stood on the mound, eyes shining gold even when it was shaded by the brim of his hat and a big grin plastered across his face. Eijun is high on the exhilarating feeling of a baseball game. The loud cheers around him, accompanied by the brass band. The sun shining on top of him. The feeling of trust from his teammates all around him.

What a feeling!

"Everyone!" he yelled, throwing his arm to the sky. Head tilted back a bit. "Balls will be flying so I'm counting on you guys alright!?" Declared the southpaw in a loud voice, catching the attention of the audience as well as his teammates.

"Just go and pitch Bakamura!"

"Give us something to do!"

"Perfect strikeouts Sawamura!"

Grinning, Eijun turned his attention back towards the batter in front of him. Akikawa first batter, Ninomiya, from what he can remember from the recordings he had seen and from Chris-senpai briefing, has no notable achievements and feat. He bats right with no career record of homerun. Chris-senpai also noted that he's a pretty decent fielder. Though, thought Eijun, giving Miyuki-senpai a nod, best to not underestimate him.

Cradling the ball near his chest, he saw Miyuki-senpai directed his glove towards high inside. The southpaw didn't waste any more time and immediately did his windup. Grip already in the grip he usually did for a circle change up before he whipped his hand back and throw the first pitch of the game.

The batter flinched back, eyes widening from the high speed pitch as he didn't even try to hit the ball.

"Strike!" called out the umpire.

Miyuki-senpai immediately throw the ball to where Eijun easily caught it. The older raised his eyebrow that practically said, Pace yourself you brat.

Eijun snorted. Of course I know that!

He did his series of windup again, now grip in the grip of fastball before he once again whipped his hand back and throw the ball straight towards where Miyuki-senpai positioned his glove. This time, it's another high inside.

Four seamer, high inside.

Releasing the ball, he let the satisfying sound of BAM echoes through the venue amidst the loud cheers from his teammates behind him and from the dugout. The familiar sound of the brass band as well as the cheers from the stand is almost like the sweetest symphony to his ear.

Ninomiya, still doesn't swing even during his third pitch. Eyes wide and almost always flinching as he stared Eijun from the batter box.

"Strike! Batter out!" announced the umpire.

"Good job Sawamura!" Yelled Jun-san.

"Sawamura keep up!" Said another voice that recognized as Nori-senpai.

Just at that, the announcer announced Akikawa second batter. "Batting second, third base, Hashimoto-kun"

The same as Ninomoya, as Hashimoto walked into the field, he was accompanied by the loud cheers as well as encouraging words from his teammates.

"Hashimoto!"

"You can do it!"

Doing his windup, he immediately throw a four seamer towards the batter. Hashimoto didn't even move, said teen even flinching a bit from the high speed ball that hurled passed him. Miyuki senpai caught the ball easily before throwing the ball again towards Eijun.

The southpaw did another windup again, fingers shifting towards the circle change up grip before he whipped his hand back and release the ball, High Inside, Circle Change up.

Hashimoto didn't move.

Eijun let his gaze fall towards where Hashimoto stood in the batter box. His eyes fall towards where the teen gripped his bat. Long.

Ah, he thought. Is he not planning to hit this inning?

From the way Miyuki-senpai quirked his eyebrow and amusement could be seen on his eyes, it's clear that the older also realized that fact. Both Eijun and the second year catcher caught each other eyes when the catcher pointed towards Hashimoto, to Eijun and made a slashing motion on his neck.

Akikawa wants to see Eijun crumble, interpreted the pitcher, eyes narrowing in annoyance. They wants to see him play his best until he exhaust himself and watch him crumble.

Doing his windup, Eijun grip on the ball tightened. If Akikawa wants to see him play the best as he can, then that's what they will got. If they want to see Eijun pitch his best that's more than okay. He'll do this inning with the best pitches he can affors. Only-

BAM

"Strike! Batter out!"

-The last thing the will see is Eijun crumble.

With the ringing roars echoing all around him, Eijun strikes out the next batter, ending the first inning with no runs, no runners on base, and no ball. Perfect strikeout for each batter.

 


 

"You look agitated" greeted Harucchi when he arrived in the dugout.

Taking off his hat, Eijun ruffled his bangs that is now matted in sweat. "Nah" he denied. "Just realized something annoying about Akikawa that's all"

The pink haired teen hummed. "I see" he muttered. "You're okay now?" asked the teen again as he handed him a water bottle.

Nodding gratefully at Harucchi, Eijun gulped down the water before wiping his mouth with his sleeve and offered him a wide grin. "Yep" he said. "Striking them out perfectly is satisfying"

"Hee~ such a shitty personality you got there Pitcher-kun" piped up Miyuki-senpai who suddenly appeared and slumped down on a seat next to Eijun. An easy grin is on his face as he glanced towards the pitcher. "You won't have any friends if you do that"

"What are you talking about!?" Yelled Eijun in indignation, bristling like a wet cat. "I'm not like you!"

"I have friends though"

"Who!?"

Harucchi chuckled before he too, decided to settle on a bench next to Eijun.

The announcer voice rang out after that. "Bottom of the first, Seido High School turn to offense" said the announcer. The Seido members from the stand erupted in cheers. Eijun could see Kuramochi-senpai already on the field, a feral grin on his face. "Batting first, shortstop, Kuramochi-kun"

Loud encouragements could be heard from the stands as well as the dugout.

As the older walked into the batter box, the brass band played what Eijun recently recognized as the shortstop's walk up song. It was always brought out a newfound energy every time their batters walk out to the field. Filled with the intimidating cheers as well as distinct song that could be heard echoing across the venue.

Not wanting to lose in the one sided competition of encouragement, Eijun decided to holler too. "Mochi-senpai!" He yelled. "Give a point for Seido!"

"You're really noisy huh Sawamura-chan" said Masuko-senpai in which Eijun promptly ignored.

Kuramochi-senpai did his batting position, eyes locked towards the pitcher in front of him. You Shunshin is doing his windup when Eijun realized that Kuramochi-senpai is adjusting his position subtly. Unfortunately, it's not only Eijun that realized that fact.

"Third base! A safety!" Hollered Akikawa dugout much to the shortstop surprise.

Kuramochi-senpai was out when he failed to arrived at the base.

"What are you even doing senpai!?" yelled Eijun when the shortstop jogged back towards the dugout. "Its all about the hips! The hips!"

"Shut up!"

A hand landed on Eijun's head. "Pitcher-kun, you're really noisy aren't you?" drawled out Miyuki-senpai, tugging his hair lightly.

"I was not!" Yelled Eijun back, swatting the hand on his hair much to the second year catcher amusement. "I was encouraging Mochi-senpai!"

Their short banter was stoped when the announcer announced the next batter, which was Kominato-senpai. "Batting second, second base, Kominato-kun"

The same as Kuramochi-senpai, Kominato-senpai walked out into the field with his walk out song echoing through the air. A content smile is on the older face when he arrived at the batter box.

"Ryo-san!" yelled the players from the dugout. "Kill 'em!"

"Ryousuke!"

An evil smile is plastered across Kominato-senpai face as he adjusted his helmet before doing his batting position.

You Shunshin did his windup, throwing the ball towards where the batter and the catcher. Is.

Eijun watched the motion over and over again until the seventh pitch due to Kominato-senpai fouling many of the pitches. It was then, when the glasses wearing pitcher throw another ball.

Ball, though Eijun. A thought that was clearly shared by Kominato-senpai who doesn't make any attempt to hit the ball. Though, their thoughts was clearly mistaken.

"Strike!" announced the umpire, much to Kominato-senpai surprise.

"Brother let a pitch go by?" muttered Harucchi in disbelief.

Miyuki-senpai looked contemplative too from his seat. Eyes hardening as he stared at the game in front of him.

"That's... pretty cool" muttered Eijun. "Hey, Miyuki-senpai should we try something like that next time? Tricking the batter that I throw a ball"

Turning towards him, the second year catcher raised an eyebrow. "Heh" he snickered as a smile broke out on his face. "Should we?"

 


 

Eijun came face to face with You Shunshin at the top of the second inning.

"Batting fifth, pitcher, Shunshin-kun" announced the announcer as Akikawa ace pitcher walked towards the batter box. Determination shining on his eyes that practically screams of I'm going to hit.

Grinning, Eijun let his eyes crinkled in amusement. As if he's going to let him.

Miyuki-senpai signed for a two seamer, a request which Eijun comply immediately as he adjusted his grip during his windup. Whipping his hand back, he throw the ball straight towards the batter and the catcher.

You Shunshin swung his bat immediately, eyes intent and determined, though the satisfying BAM that echoes through the venue is a clear indicator that he failed.

"Strike!" called out the umpire as Miyuki-senpai throw the ball towards Eijun again.

Not wasting any time, Eijun nodded at the sign of four seamer that Miyuki-senpai did and immediately did his windup. This time, You Shunshin didn't even move as the ball hollered passed at him, straight towards Miyuki-senpai mitt. The Akikawa pitcher has his eyes wide though he narrowed it a bit and adjusted his batting stance.

"Strike!" Called out the umpire again and Eijun caught the ball being thrown into him.

One more strike and we're changing the batter, thought Eijun as he did his windup again. Gripping the ball in his usual two seamer grip, he whipped his hand back and throw the ball.

CLANG

With a loud clang, You Shunshin made contact with the ball, sending it towards a place between the first base and the home base.

"Foul!" called out the umpire.

You Sunshin actually managed to hit off another foul out of Eijun's pitch before the southpaw did another strike in his fifth pitch. Walking out You Shunshin as he did so. The next batter, Tshushima, also got a straight three strike out, ending Seido turn to defense.

Bottom of the second inning, Tetsu-san actually did a homerun out of You Shunshin. Bringing home Seido one run out of Akikawa. The current score is 1-0 with Seido leading.

The older actually patted Eijun's back when he arrived at the dugout. That he got enough practice to hit pitches on some hard place due to the practice they did together.

 


 

"What's Sawamura pitch count?" asked coach Kataoka.

Looking up from his book, Chris immediately answered. "20, and we're already entering the third inning"

"The speed of his pitches?"

"148km/h on average" replied Chris. "Some came closer on reaching 151km/h"

Nodding, coach turned his head towards where Eijun is now jogging towards the mound. His presence was followed by the loud cheers from the stands as well as teasing hollers from his teammates both from the field and from the dugout.

It really was amazing to see every time Sawamura step into the mound. The overall mood of the team immediately brightened every time the golden eyed teen is out in the field. With his never ending energy and the bright grin that seems to be always ready directed to everyone, it's hard to take your eyes off of Sawamura. Almost as if he belongs there.

Despite the number 10 plastered on his back, he clearly could see the zero disappearing, replacing the very number that every pitcher desires.

Number 1.

The ace number.

Top of the third inning ended with Sawamura striking out another three batter. He could see Akikawa coach gritting his teeth from his respective dugout. If coach Kataoka was in the same position as him, he sure would also grit his teeth in frustration too.

After all, the third turn for Akikawa to attack has ended and none of their players actually able to step into the base.

Sawamura chugged down a bottle of water handed to him from Furuya before he grabbed his helmet and bat before he go to the batter box.

"Batting ninth, pitcher, Sawamura-kun" called out the announcer as Sawamura arrived at the batter box.

Golden eyes gazed straight towards You Shunshin in an almost terrifying focus as Sawamura swing his bat a little. Coach Kataoka noticed that it seems a habit for the pitcher, to swing his bat a couple of time just to check the range before he go to his batting stance.

"Do you think he'll hit it?" asked the older man, hand crossed as he stood right in front of the dugout entrance.

Without any ounce of hesitation, Chris nodded his head. "Yes" he said, a small smile on his face. "If it's about pitching- well Sawamura is the most knowledgeable person I know"

Coach Kataoka hummed. "I'll take up your words then"

Just as he said that, Yu Shunshin did his windup and whipped his hand back-

CLANG

Sawamura hit the ball without any hesitation.

As the ball flew across the field, the southpaw immediately dashed towards the base, bat long forgotten. Arriving at the first base and the ball is still somewhere out there, Sawamura immediately dashed towards the second base. Sliding towards it right before the ball arrived at the second baseman glove.

"Safe!" Yelled the umpire and the audience as well as Seido baseball team member erupted in a loud cheer.

"Sawamura that's amazing!"

"Sawamura!"

Sawamura stood up from his sliding position before throwing a large grin as well as peace sign towards Seido's dugout and the members who was watching from the stands.

Kuramochi stepped up after that. A grin ready on his face as he has his bat sling over his shoulder when he stepped into the batter box.

"Senpai!" Yelled out Sawamura from the second base. "Bring me home senpai!"

"Kyaha!" Laughed Kuramochi, a feral grin ready on his face as he did his batting stance. "Just you wait Bakamura!"

Seido is high on the game and Coach Kataoka can't ask for anything better. They managed to snatch the momentum right from the first inning and will hopefully continue until the last.

CLANG

It was obvious that it was a sacrificial hit, a succesful one because Sawamura managed to get into the third base even though Kuramochi was out.

"Senpai don't mind!" Yelled Sawamura from the third base.

"Don't mind my ass! I did that for you!" Retorted Kuramochi back, walking towards the dugout with heavy breath.

Ryousuke stepped into the field, already doing his batting stance. The first pitch was declared a strike, even with the dubious placing of the pitch. The second pitch was thrown and Ryousuke immediately realized that it was a breaking ball.

The pink haired teen hit it, unfortunately it went straight towards You Shunshin glove, walking out Ryousuke out of the inning.

"It went straight towards Shun!" Yelled Akikawa members.

"Great!"

It was obvious that Ryousuke was agitated as he walked towards the dugout.

Isashiki stepped into the batter box. A ferocious scowl already on his face. His previous performance left a lot to be desired. Completely clear from how agitation seeped across his expression.

The third year immediately do his batting stance, eyes zeroing towards You Shunshin with a glare that could make most people to shudder. You Shunshin did his windup and the first pitch was declared as a strike when Isashiki didn't move.

Moving towards the second pitch, a ball was declared as the Akikawa catcher arm shot up sideways to catch the pitch. Heaving out a breath, Isashiki once again adjusted his batting stance as he watched You Shunshin did his windup again.

CLANG!

A resounding sound of ball meeting the bat in a hit could be heard as Isashiki immediately throw his bat and dashed towards the first base. At the same time, while Akikawa fielders was fumbling with the ball, Sawamura dashed passed home. Giving Seido another point.

"UWAHHH!!" Yelled Sawamura as he ran towards the dugout. "Jun-san that was an amazing hit!"

"I know!" Yelled Isashiki back.

In the dugout, Sawamura was met by back pats as well as hair ruffle from his teammates. Succesfully bringing another point for Seido.

It is now the end of third inning and the score is 2-0 to Seido.

 


 

The temperature is going up, thought Miyuki Kazuya as he jogged towards the field.

Furuya, who was practicing in the bullpen with Miyauchi-senpai already retreated back into the dugout. In fear that the Hokkaido born teen was not used with Tokyo summer heat anc could collapse anytime.

As he crouched down in front of the umpire, a loud voice distracts him. "Everyone!" Yelled Eijun. "It's really hot right!?"

"We know Sawamura!"

"I'm bathing in my sweat!"

Kazuya blinked. What the hell is this guy doing?

"So!" Yelled Sawamura again. "Lets end this quickly!"

Of course, that blatant challenge was met with outraged yells as well as whispers from the Akikawa dugout.

"Did I heard that right!?" Yelled one that Kazuya noticed as the captain of Akikawa. "He's underestimating us right!?"

"Is that a challenge!?"

Sawamura laughed freely at that. "Good then!" He said, sending them a million watt smiles. "Face me with all you got then!"

Ah, realized Kazuya as his eyes widened. Is Sawamura encouraging them?

How amusing.

It's a shitty way but the second year is not complaining. He's not blind after all. Kazuya had long realized that little by little, Akikawa is losing their spirit. It is the fourth inning and none of them managed to get any run out of Sawamura or even get into the base.

A really terrifying opponent, that what they saw Sawamura is.

And, he also knows that with how much Sawamua enjoy baseball games, he desire a game where both team did their best. An exhilarating game where both team kept their spirits and fought until the end. Unfortunately, that kind of game will only be harder and harder to find as you become more and more skillful.

With how Sawamura is basically a walking prodigy in both offense and defense in baseball, it's rare for him to stumble into a game like that.

His train of thoughts was broken when the umpire announced the start of the game. Signing a circle change up, he saw Sawamura nodding his head as he did the windup.

Akikawa first batter swung, different from his first performance where he didn't even try to, but just like the batters before, it failed to even hit the ball.

Sawamura pitched two more times, all a perfect strikeout and in a fast series of events, the batter already changed into the second batter.

The sun in shining brightly on top of them and Sawamura didn't even look exhausted, what a monster. He knows that the southpaw stamina is crazy and it got even more crazy after he got trained by Chris-senpai, but really, what a fucking monster.

Grin still in place, and golden eyes still shining in excitement. Sawamura is the picture perfect of someone who's enjoying a baseball game thoroughly. And with how excited the pitches is about the game, it's hard for Kazuya, as his catcher to not feel excited too.

Really, baseball is so much fun.

 


 

Top of the fourth inning, Akikawa still failed to get into the base.

Now their turn to do offense, Seido is practically blood thirsty for more runs. Sweat could be sun running down everyone shoulder as Seido batting lineup ready themselves to show their worth once more.

Their pitcher had done an admirable job on defending the team, but it's time to show them why Seido's batting line up is one of the most famous in the country.

It was then, when You Shunshin breathing started to go heavier and heavier.

With sweats matting his hair, the Akikawa Pitcher stared at Seido 6th batter as he ready his windup.

"Miyuki can't hit without any runner on base" drawled Kuramochi-senpai from the dugout. "Shirasu you should score for us"

Shirasu-senpai gave him a thumbs up. "Roger that"

"Uh... should me put more faith in Miyuki-senpai?" commented Harucchi, scratching his cheek unsurely.

"Hoping him hitting without runner on base is like hoping for pigs to fly" commented Kominato-senpai dryly.

Both Eijun and Furuya stared at each other. "Pigs can fly?" asked the southpaw. "I didn't know that"

Furuya nodded. "Me too"

Kuramochi-senpai smack the top of their head lightly. "Pigs can't fly you idiots" grumbled the shortstop. "That's why lets not hope anything for Miyuki to actually score"

Though, contrary to popular beliefs amongst the people on the dugout, Miyuki-senpai actually managed to hit off You Shunshin pitch. A really good hit straight towards the center of the field that made the second year catcher advance to the third base in one go.

Shirasu-senpai did a bunt after that, though it got warded off by Akikawa, making Seido fail to score another point when Miyuki-senpai didn't reach base on time. Sakai-senpai actually managed to get a pretty decent hit, advancing towards the first base.

Once again, it's time for Eijun to hit.

"Sawamura!"

"Hit him off Sawamura!"

Grinning, Eijun stepped into the batter box. He may not be as good as pitching regarding batting, but the southpaw had practiced his batting skill since he was seven. Of course he would be good at it!

Swinging his bat for a good measure, he took his batting stance and locked eyes with You Shunshin at the mound.

"Swing without any hesitation brat"

He swung hit bat at the first pitch just like before, hitting the pitch somewhere between the first base and the home plate.

"Foul!" Yelled the umpire and Eijun readied his stance again. His gaze latched onto the pitcher hand and his body move automatically when he saw the ball hurling towards him.

CLANG

"Straight into the right field!" said the announcer just in time for Eijun to run towards the first base and Sakai-senpai advance to the second.

Grinning up towards the umpire as if challenging the man to say something other than safe, the umpire finally declared "Safe!"

"Good job Sawamura!"

"Sawamura!"

"Sawamura!"

"Cheetah-senpai!" Yelled Eijun. "Land a good hit!"

Kuramochi-senpai swivled his head toward him. "Of course you brat!"

Vengeance, was the only thing in Kuramochi-senpai mind back in the dugout. He never able to land a good hit towards You Shunshin and he desperately craving for that satisfying Clang! To echo as he hit.

Dark eyes locked into Akikawa pitcher, and Kuramochi-senpai let out a feral grin overtake his face.

Scary, thought Eijun.

Just as that, You Shunshin throw another ball and Kuramochi-senpai swung his bat-

CLANG!

Eijun dashed off.

"Safe!"

Both he and Kuramochi-senpai is on the base now as Sakai-senpai scores another run to Seido.

 


 

Bottom of the fourth inning Seido scored another point when Kominato Ryousuke managed to hit off You Shunshin, bringing Eijun home and Kuramochi into the second base.

And well- Kuramochi-senpai is the worst player to have on base.

That was proven correctly when Kuramochi-senpai successfully steals a base, much to the cheers of Seido and the outraged yell of Akikawa, Jun-san who bat after Kominato-senpai too managed to hit the ball, bringing Kuramochi-senpai home and bringing another point to Seido.

Seido batting streak was broken when Masuko-senpai who was up to bat, with the bases fully loaded with Kominato-senpai, Jun-san, and Tetsu-san, got failed to land a hit.

The score now is 5-0, to Seido.

 


 

Top of the fifth inning, Eijun is pitching.

It was also in this inning that Akikawa finally land another hit to Eijun pitch.

You Shunshin, with sweat pouring down his face and glasses glinting under the sunlight, swung his bat during Eijun first pitch. The ball though, fortunately went flying straight to Kuramochi-senpai.

"Shortstop!" He yelled, looking back towards where the green haired teen stood and effortlessly caught the ball before throwing it towards Tetsu-san who caught it right before You Shunshin arrived in the first base.

"Out!" Yelled the umpire.

"Good job shortstop!"

"Kuramochi!"

Though it seems that Akikawa gained a momentum because this time they manages to hit Eijun's pitch again. The ball went straight towards Eijun who easily caught it, making an out towards the batter and the chance for Seido to do offense arrived.

 


 

"Furuya go to the bullpen" Said Coach. "I want to you to go play starting the 7th inning"

The dark haired pitcher widened his eyes. He stared at the older man before dumbly pointed a finger towards himself.

"That's good Furuya-kun!" enthused Harucchi, patting the back of the teen shoulder.

Miyauchi-senpai too huffed. "Lets go Furuya" said the third year catcher. "From how the game progress now, the inning change would happen soon"

What Miyauchi-senpai said was true. Because now, Sawamura Eijun who has been standing in the mound since the first inning, is already in his third batter after perfectly striking out two of Akikawa batter. His current batter, manages to hit his pitch but not able to go to the base due to Seido skilled fielders.

"Kominato you too" said coach after a moment, catching the attention of the pink haired first year. "Take some swings, be ready any time"

Harucchi blinked, mouth gaping as he stared at coach in surprise.

The older merely raised an eyebrow. "What?" he asked. "You don't want to?"

"No!" Yelled Harucchi. "No- I mean I want to!"

"Good" nodded the coach. "Now go"

"Y- Yes sir!"

 


 

"Subbing in for number 8, Sakai-kun" announced the announcer, "Is Kominato Haruichi-kun"

 


 

Haruichi let out a nervous breath as he bowed towards the umpire when he reached the batter box.

"Harucchi!" Yelled out Eijun-kun from the side. "You can do it!"

He let out a small smile as he took his batting stance. Just as brother said, he thought inwardly, leaning over. I got my turn.

I'm going to get into the base.

The wooden bat in his hand are held tightly as he keep his gaze locked towards Akikawa pitcher who stood before him. Many Seido batter find it hard to hit this particular pitcher but Haruichi is determined to give one more run towards Seido.

Eijun-kun had performed amazingly and it's time for another first year to shine.

You Shunshin did his windup and as he whipped his hand back, Haruichi spread his leg. Eyes locked towards the ball being hurled towards him the pink haired first year move his hand and swung his bat-

THUD

The ball fly straight towards the left field as he dashed towards the first base immediately.

"Nice going Haruichi!"

"Ohh! Kominato jr!"

For some reason, all these cheering made him grow embarrassed and as he stood there on the first base, he can't help the redness that threatened to overtake his face. So he stood there, still as a statue with one hand up and red face.

"Oh! He's doing an embarrassing striking pose!"

"He's shy!"

Slowly turning his head towards the dugout, Haruichi locked eyes with his older brother.

How's that Aniki?

 


 

With both team not backing off, the game advances into the 2nd half with 6-0 to Seido.

 


 

Akikawa failed to score with Eijun standing on the mound once again. Like a fortress, he defended Seido with the best of his abilities.

Bottom of the 6th, it's Seido turn to do offense.

Seido failed to score in this inning once again.

 


 

Top of the 7th inning, Seido announced a pitcher change.

"Seido announced a change of pitcher" announced the announcer. "Subbing for Pitcher, Sawamura-kun, pitcher, Furuya-kun"

 


 

"Uwah" marvelled Eijun from the dugout, a towel thrown over his head. "That's a lot of balls Furuya" he said as he watch Furuya throw another ball. A runner is already on the first base with one out.

He winced when the umpire announced another ball.

Miyauchi-senpai from his spot next to him huffed. "Furuya's good" he grunted. "But he needs more practice regarding his control"

"I agree" piped up Tanba-senpai. "We should do that after we're winning this match"

A grin overtake Eijun's face as he casted a sly glance towards the ace. "Ohh senpai" he said, leaning towards the third year pitcher. "You're confident we'll win?"

The ace snorted. "We're already in the 7th inning and leading by 5 points while Akikawa still at 0" he answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

What he said is true. It is already nearing the end of the game and Akikawa still fail to score despite Seido's pitcher change. While Eijun in the eyes of many are the pitcher that managed to defend Seido and lay Akikawa scoreless, Furuya is also a capable pitcher.

"What Tanba said is true" agreed Miyauchi-senpai as the game progressed before them.

Furuya managed to defend Seido despite the many balls and two runners on base. Bottom of the 7th inning, the batting line up returns to the top with Kuramochi-senpai up to bat.

Before the second year went out, coach actually called him out. Murmuring something as he pointed towards the field.

With a fierce scowl, Kuramochi-senpai nodded his head before he marched towards the batter box.

Eijun was wondering what coach said to the shortstop when You Shunshin did his windup and hurled a ball towards Kuramochi senpai who-

CLANG

-Smash a grounder towards the right side.

Obviously Akikawa was not expecting that and Kuramochi-senpai easily went to the first base with a large grin on his face.

Akikawa grow tense with Kuramochi-senpai lurking on the first base. Though, the shortstop still manages to steal another bas despite the growing attention on him.

"Amazing!" Yelled Eijun. "Like a cheetash chasing after his prey!"

"Or just desperate" piped Miyuki-senpai.

After that, Kominato-senpai did a squeeze play in an amazing play of bunting that left Eijun starry eyes. Kuramochi-senpai too, didn't stop in the third base. He ran straight towards the home plate giving one more score for Seido.

With Akikawa distracted by Kuramochi, no one notice Kominato-senpai got on base until it's too late.

"I'm itching to score!" Yelled Jun-san as he marched towards the batter box. "I won't let it end with just this!"

The cheers too, grow rowdier and rowdier.

"Seido!"

"Seido!"

"Seido!"

 


 

Nori-senpai took up the mound in the 9th inning, successfully defended Seido once again.

"Strike! Batter out!" Yelled the umpire. "Game set-!"

 


 

"9-0" muttered one of the reporters watching the game, Oowada, as she and the rest of the spectators stood up to clap. "In the end it's Seido's overwhelming victory"

 


 

"You Shunshin!" Called out Eijun after the two team lined up. "It was nice playing with you!" Said the southpaw, offering the glasses wearing pitcher a bright smile.

You Shunshin spare him a glance, mouth set into a frown before he nodded his head. "Sawamura Eijun" he said. "You played admirably"

The grin on Eijun face blossomed. "Thanks!" He replied, scratching the back of his head. "Your pitches are amazing!"

At that moment, both Furuya and Miyuki-senpai appeared. The latter slinging an arm around Eijun's shoulder. "Nice game" said the catcher with a smirk. "I look forward to play with you next year"

The Akikawa pitcher huffed before he turned around.

"Prepare yourself then" said You Shunshin as he walked off.

"Man, I want to play against him again" laughed Eijun.

"I don't" snorted Kuramochi-senpai. "Come on, lets got off the field Bakamura"

 


 

Bowing towards the audience, Seido baseball club yelled. "Thank you so much for the support!"

Seido vs Akikawa, 9-0. Seido High School advance to the top 8.

 


 

Chapter Text

With the match with Akikawa finished, Seido now are packing their things up. Hurrying as the next team to compete in the tournament will use the waiting room and the dugout immediately after them.

All of their spirits are in an all time high. Even though they found difficulty on facing Akikawa during the early innings, they turn the favour into them during the second part of the game. With their batting lineup managed to score more and more points against Akikawa, and their pitching lineup defending their score like a fortress, Seido emerged as the victory of the match.

With confidence and excitement still evident on their expression as they stepped outside of the dugout, Seido, advance to the next round.

 


 

“Harucchi!” called out Eijun, catching the attention of the pink haired teen who was talking with his older brother.

Both of them, Eijun and Furuya, bounded towards where said teen stood. “Kominato-senpai” called out Eijun with a large grin as he slung an arm around Harucchi. “Lemme borrow Harucchi for a sec”

Kominato-senpai raised an eyebrow at him. “Ho?” said the older, amusement could be heard from his tone as he tilted his head a little bit. “And what do you need him for”

“Food stalls” answered Furuya, voice low. The cap the teen was wearing was down so low on his face in an attempt to protect him from the glaring sun above them. “We want to buy food there”

Eijun nodded his head enthuastically. “Kuramochi-senpai was telling me about how good the takoyaki is last year!” enthused the southpaw, stars could be seen on his eyes. “And also-“ at this, he produced a few money bills out of his pocket. “I actually won a game tournament against Mochi-senpai so guess who’s rich now?”

While saying this, he flapped the money around, earning an appreciative clap from both Furuya and Harucchi which only boost Eijun’s ego further.

“Look at this small time athlete and his athlete money” commented Kominato-senpai with a smile that seems dangerous for some reason. “Buy me lunch for the next week, Rich-kun”

“I’m not that rich senpai!” yelped Eijun, cradling his money closer to his chest.

Harucchi let out a chuckle at that, with how his bangs covered his eyes, Eijun can’t see his eyes, but he’s sure that it’s crinkling with amusement now. “Sure Eijun-kun, lets go and see the food stalls” said the younger pink haired teen. At this, he turned his attention back towards Kominato-senpai. “I’ll talk to you later Aniki”

“Don’t follow weird men who’ll give you candy” warned Kominato-senpai with a wave of his hand.

“We’re not kids!?” protested Eijun before he was dragged by both Harucchi and Furuya by the hand.

Their walk towards the food stalls are full of excited chatter and discussion from their previous game. Eijun commented how cool Harucchi was earlier, giving the team an extra point. Harucchi also praised how amazing both Eijun and Furuya on pitching. It was not long before they arrived at the designated area for the stalls. A very packed area.

As expected, the food stalls just outside of the venue are packed with people. Throngs of people could be seen walking around the place. He could see the audiences as well as baseball players walking around, no doubt searching for something to eat. With the next match yet to start, he should’ve expected this really.

Alas, he didn’t expected this and in the end, while in search of the takoyaki stand that Kuramochi-senpai told him, the three of them got separated, much to Eijun ongoing panic. One of the base rule his parents set up for him during his stay in Tokyo, is to never go anywhere alone, considering how unfamiliar he is with the city.

But here he is, alone.

Here he is, walking aimlessly, and bumped into someone shoulder accidentally.

So here Eijun stood, an awkward smile on his face, just after he accidentally spilled a guy orange juice on his shirt.

The guy girlfriend, a pretty girl with long light brown hair, was fussing on the spilled orange juice while the guy, a teen with bleached blond hair, stared blankly at his now stained shirt. He’s still holding the now empty cup of orange juice on his hand, not parting with it for some reason.

He’s going to die, he thought. What if he’s a gangster!? A yakuza!? delinquent!? The guy certainly look the part! Wait- he’s pretty sure that Mochi-senpai used to be a delinquent so maybe-

“Oh my god isn’t this your new shirt!?” screeched the girl in front of him, hand fumbling on the tissue. “You just bought it like last week!”

Oh no, he felt bad bad now.

“Uh…” started Eijun, hand scratching the back of his head awkwardly. “Um”

“Aren’t you going to say sorry?” asked the guy pointedly, gaze finally travelled towards Eijun. The guy has a brown eyes that looks piercing and with the way he’s looking at Eijun – is he planning murder!? – it made his paranoia goes skyrocket.

So he did what he supposed to do. Apologize, that is.

Eijun immediately bowed. “THIS SAWAMURA EIJUN IS SORRY!” he said in a loud voice, attracting the attention from the people around him. “I DON’T THINK I CAN PAY YOUR SHIRT BACK BUT MAYBE I CAN BUY YOU ANOTHER ORANGE JUICE!?” After all, Kuramochi-senpai game tournament money is plenty but not plenty enough to buy a shirt.

Both the guy and his girlfriend seems flustered by the attention he’s garnering from Eijun’s loud volume and immediately try to straighten him up by pushing back his shoulder. “Shit- can you not be so loud, man!?” hissed the guy, eyes wandering everywhere. His face immediately reddened when he saw how many people are looking at them and whispering behind their hand.

“Oh!” realized the southpaw. “Sorry I can’t control my-“

“Dude” cut the guy off. “It’s- gah, it’s fine okay? Don’t bow and yell again please”

“I’m sorry!” Yelled Eijun again, a firm line drawn on his mouth. “I can pay you back if you like?”

“What did I say about yelling!?” screeched the guy in panic.

“Sorry!” he said again, whisper yelling and in a volume significantly lower than before. “Should I buy you a new orange juice?”

“It’s cool, the juice only cost like 100 yen” said the guy, sighing before shrugging it off as he took the tissue offered by his girlfriend to wipe the yellow stain on his shirt. “As long it’s an honest to god mistake”

“I should’ve seen you!” said Eijun again. “I got separated by my friends so I was a little flustered” continue the pitcher, scratching his cheek awkwardly as he flicked his eyes around him. Hoping to see the familiar figure of a pink haired teen or a tall dark haired pitcher.

At this, the guy stared at his jersey, quirking his eyebrow while at that. “Seido?” he asked, eyes gazing at his school name etched across his chest.

Nodding, Eijun let out a proud huff of breath. “Yep, Seido!” he said, grinning while stretching the school name on his chest so the guy could see it better.

“Didn’t your match ended already?” asked the guy, brows furrowing in confusion. “Why are you still here?”

Eijun blinked. Did this guy watch their match earlier? Must be a fan! Immediately, his mood improved and he almost forgot the fact that he just spilled a glass of orange juice on the other teen shirt.

“Oh, we want to watch the Ichidaisan match!” explained Eijun with a large grin and pointed towards the venue. “We’ll be facing Ichidaisan next round so we need to gather some data”

He was met with a raised eyebrow. “Next match huh?” he said, a tone of an almost melancholy could be heard from him. “You’re really sure that they’re going to advance?”

“You’re not from around here aren’t you?” asked Eijun, eyes narrowing as he crossed his hands together. He doesn’t say the fact that Eijun is not from Tokyo too, but details! “They’re one of the powerhouse here, of course they’ll go to the next round, well except if there’s some shounen anime plot twist that happened”

The guy whistled, amused. “Huh” he said, blinking a bit. “I see, so-“

“Kousei” said the guy girlfriend, leaning towards the guy – Kousei? – shoulder. Her mouth was set into a small pout as she blinked up towards him. “Can we go to the stands now? My feet hurt”

Now dubbed as Kousei blinked, before a charming smile appeared on his face before he turned his attention back towards the girl clinging to him. “Of course, sorry that I keep you waiting” he said. Then he turned back towards Eijun, “Well, nice to meet you I guess, Seido-kun”

“My name is not Seido!”

“Sure sure” waved the teen as he and his girlfriend walked away.

 


 

As Amahisa Kousei walked away from the Seido player, he wonder if it’s a mistake for him to come here.

When he arrived at the stands, and saw the familiar jersey of Ichidaisan, he made up his mind. Yeah, it’s a mistake to come here.

He wants to play.

 


 

He found both Harucchi and Furuya shortly after that. The two of them are standing near the entrance of where the food stands are clustered in. Furuya has a shaved ice on his hand while Harucchi was nibbling on some Taiyaki in one hand and the other was holding a plastic bag.

“Guys!” Yelled Eijun, relief evident on his face as he struggled to go past the throngs of people around him. “Hey- ugh- I’m here guys!” said Eijun as he finally pass the packed area safely. “I miss you guys!”

Harucchi turned towards him, a relieved smile on his face. “Eijun-kun!” greeted the teen as he and Furuya walked closer to where Eijun stood. “We were looking for you!”

“I got lost!” wailed Eijun as he immediately looped his hands around his fellow first years hand. “And I spilled someone drink on their shirt, 0/10, won’t do it again”

“You spilled someone drink?” asked Furuya, scooping a mouthful of shaved ice into his mouth. “How come?”

“I wasn’t looking when I bumped into him” admitted Eijun sheepishly, an embarrassed smile on his face. “Thankfully the guy was super chill, and he knows Seido! Must be a fan!”

“Doubt it” answered Furuya.

Before another bout of bickering could happen between Eijun and Furuya, Harucchi spoke up. “By the way, we’re supposed to meet the seniors 5 minutes ago” he said, looking at the time on his phone. “We better hurry up, or we’ll get scolded”

Eijun’s eyes immediately widened, remembering his main objective to go to the food stalls. “Noo!” he wailed. “I didn’t get the chance to but the takoyaki kuramochi-senpai was talking about!”

It was, after all, one of Eijun motivation to finish the game fast. Last night Kuramochi-senpai had raved about this absolutely delicious takoyaki that the older had during the Tokyo tournament last year. He had said about how it was a burst of flavour inside his mouth when he took the first bite and how the sauce was the perfect amount for the dish. Even Masuko-senpai said that it was delicious and that’s enough to make his mouth water.

To think that when he finally had the chance to taste it he will miss the opportunity completely!

His lament was stopped when a plastic bag was thrusted into his hands.

“Actually” said Harucchi with a little smile. “We bought it for you earlier, the takoyaki you mention”

“What!?” gasped Eijun.

Furuya hummed. “You said you want to try it” said the taller pitcher as if it was obvious. “So we bought it when we passed the stall”

Eijun looked at both teen with stars shining on his eyes. “Furuya! Harucchi! You guys are the best!”

 


 

“You want some takoyaki, senpai?”

Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow before flicking his eyes towards the both of Takoyaki on Eijun’s hand. “Isn’t that the famous takoyaki?” he asked. “The one Kuramochi raving so much about”

“Yep” grinned Eijun. “I was craving this throughout our match!” Miyuki-senpai didn’t say anything as an answer but he did steal one of the takoyaki.

The first string members of Seido baseball club ast on the back of the stands, watching the next match between Ichidaisan and a school called Yakushi. Eijun was sat at one end of the bench, still shirtless and in the middle of cooling his shoulder next to Harucchi while munching on the Takoyaki.

When he arrived at the stands, he was met with Miyuki-senpai scolding when the catcher realized that Eijun, in fact, forgot about cooling his shoulder and ran off for some food. Eijun too, felt embarrassed that he forgot to cool his shoulder. He wants to have a long athlete career after all! These kind of things should be the norm.

“Are they strong?” muttered Furuya, eyes zeroed on the match in front of him.

Both Eijun and Harucchi blinked towards the dark haired pitcher. “They’re strong” informed Harucchi. “Didn’t you watch the match between Seido and Ichidaisan back during the spring tournament?” asked the pink haired teen before he turned towards Eijun. “Eijun-kun, you’re in the dugout during that match right?”

Eijun nodded. “Yeah” he said. “Ichidaisan are really good”

“I stayed back, back then” informed Furuya. “I think I was the only one staying back”

Harucchi nodded. “Well, everyone was really excited about it, especially the first years” said the teen. “I think everyone except you actually came to the match, it was a good experience after all”

Furuya nodded his head. “Compared to our previous game” muttered the teen. “How about it?”

“Ichidai is really different from Akikawa” started Eijun after he let his mind wander to all the recordings of Ichidaisan and all the data Chris-senpai had told him about said school. “For starter, Ichidaisan doesn’t rely on one person like Akikawa”

Like him in middle school.

Harucchi nodded. “It was obvious that Akikawa rely on You Shunshin so much” he explained. “With Ichidaisan, they’re one of Tokyo powerhouses alongside our school and Inashiro”

“That’s right” agreed Eijun as he rummaged down towards his bag, searching his water bottle. “All of their players are good, much like Seido where they recruited strong players since middle school”

“How about Yakushi?” asked the taller pitcher again.

“Yakushi well…” started Harucchi as he scratcher his cheek awkwardly. “I never really heard that school before” he said, flicking his gaze towards Eijum as the southpaw gulping down water from his bottle.

Nodding, Eijun made a motion that he agreed to what Harucchi just said. "I haven't heard of a Yakushi before" he muttered, scrapping shut a bottle of water that he just drink moments before.

Miyuki-senpai who was sitting next to him and was leaning back on the bleacher, piped up. "Well, they are a public school" said the catcher, eyes boring towards Yakushi dugout. "They never advanced high on the tournament before"

Suddenly, a familiar voice appeared. “It’s a team focused on the offence but hasn’t bunted even once yet” explained Chris-senpai who appeared behind them.

“Chris-senpai!” greeted Eijun enthuastically. “Do you want some takoyaki?”

Chris-senpai shook his head with a smile. “I’m good, Sawamura” said the catcher before continuing what he said before about Yakushi data. “They actually won the first game as a called game”

Eijun blinked. “Called game?” he muttered. “10 points ahead?”

The third year catcher nodded. “They just changed their coach and the team built up their strength after that” muttered the third year as he closed his data book, setting his gaze towards both team who now stood in the field. “They’re scoring abilities aren’t to be looked down on, but in overall strength Ichidai is better”

“Hee” muttered Eijun, eyes shifting towards the batter list on the back wall. “As expected of Ichidaisan then” Though, immediately, the southpaw fell silent as he stared at the batter list.

“Eijun-kun?” asked Harucchi, tiling his head in confusion. “Is there something wrong?”

“Senpai, Furuya, Harucchi” called out Eijun, gaze still on the batter list. “How do you read the fourth batter name?”

All three turned their head towards what caught the southpaw attention.

“Uh…” muttered Harucchi, leaning forward to take a better look. “Isn’t it Todoroki?”

“Todoroki?” said Chris-senpai, a hint of shock on his tone before he opened his data book again. His eyes wander around before stopping, a look of shock clearly evident on the older face. “The clean up hitters have all been changed”

Miyuki-senpai who also was reading the information about Yakushi nodded his head. “The clean up is on the list here” muttered the catcher. “A first year”

“A first year cleanup?” asked Eijun, shocked. A first year? Taking the spot of cleanup? “The guy must be good, considering he got chosen as the cleanup against Ichidaisan”

“Must be terrifying” added Harucchi.

“I want to pitch against him” said Furuya.

“Me too-“

“Huh?” said Miyuki-senpai again, effectively cutting what Eijun about to say as his eyes squinted, roving over the list on his hand. “The coach name is Todoroki too”

Eijun blinked before he gasped dramatically. “Nepotism!?”

Chris-senpai hit the back of his head lightly. “Of course not, Sawamura” muttered the third year. “Lets just watch the game”

 


 

Todoroki Raichi is a teen shorter than Eijun with dark hair and a scar on his cheek.

He had a loud laugh that Miyuki-senpai said it reminds the older of Eijun’s own laugh, with how loud he is. Aside from the scar on his cheek, the teen looked like any normal high schooler. Not someone with bulging muscle and intense expression that he had imagined before. Honestly, during the first inning the teen stood out. In a bad way, considering he did a fielding error right off the bat.

With Ichidaisan getting six runs in the first inning only, most of Seido first string expected this to be an easy game with Ichidaisan winning on top. After all, Yakushi is merely a budding team in the making, a team with not much experience in the big league. Different from Ichidaisan who is one of the best 8 school in the spring Koshien.

With that, Eijun almost forgot one of the first rules he learnt about playing baseball.

Never underestimate your opponent.

In baseball anything could happen. A stroke of luck just at the right time, a moment of miracle, a sudden bout of energy, anything could happened that can change the course of the game. Everything could happen, a losing team could suddenly gather a lot of point in the last inning. A winning team could fell in the middle of the game. Eijun knows that. And he learns that intimately when he watched as Todoroki Raichi hit off a homerun on Ichidaisan.

CLANG!

With a loud noise, the ball hit Todoroki’s bat in an amazing show of power. It flew so far that Eijun needed to lean forward to see where the ball is going.

“W-WOAH!” Yelled Todoroki, eyes full of stars and set on the ball that is now hurling to a place that the fielder can’t reach. “BASEBALL IS AMAZING!” he yelled with amazement.

Ichidaisan dugout fell silent as Seido first string too, watched with wide eyes from the stands.

“W- what?” gaped Harucchi, shock and disbelied could be seen on his expression. “What is that hit?”

“A terrifying one” answered Chris-senpai, eyes calculating. “With a hit like that, and knowing Todoroki still in his first year, it could destroy a team momentum and break a pitcher concentration”

It is a terrifying hit. A hit that would shocked most pitcher, a hit that would make pitchers stop and think for a second about their next pitch. It is a hit, that is clearly, can only strong batter did.

A really fun one.

“What a hit” said Eijun, a hint of excitement could be seen on his face as he let his gaze followed Todoroki around the field. In his mind, the scene keeps replaying like a broken cassette. He keeps imagining it was him who was standing on the mound, it was him, who has the thumping heart and excitement on his vein as he stared at Todoroki face to face. As a pitcher, and a batter. “I-“

“Stop” said Kuramochi-senpai from his spot in front of Eijun, stopping whatever the southpaw going to say. Turning around, the shortstop narrowed his eyes towards the pitcher. “I know what you’re going to say”

Eijun blinked. “Huh?”

“Its exciting!” answered Kuramochi-senpai in a tone that Eijun hope is not the older mimicking him. “I want to play against them immediately!”

Both Harucchi and Miyuki-senpai snickered at that while Furuya nodded his head in agreement. Chris-senpai merely gave him an amused smile, not hiding it the slightest.

“What-!?” Yelped Eijun, growing flustered. “I was not-“

“Honestly” piped up Harucchi, a teasing grin on his face. “Earlier you did looked really excited there Eijun-kun”

Betrayal! Full betrayal! To think Harucchi would turned against him this easily. To think that the teen would forget all the memories that they spent together.

“Okay- fine!” Yelled Eijun, giving up. “I want to play against them okay! Just imagine pitching against Todoroki! It would be so fun” as he said this, everyone can see the sheer excitement that pass his eyes. The way those golden orbs sparkled with stars of excitement.

Kuramochi-senpai stared at him as if he’s crazy. “Only you would say that Bakamura” answered the older dryly.

“He got you on that, pitcher-kun” snickered Miyuki-senpai.

After Todoroki initial homerun, Yakushi batters follows his lead and managed to hit more pitches, giving Yakushi four runs. It was also clear, that Yakushi gained the momentum of the game.

By the bottom of the sixth inning, the score is 11-8 to Ichidaisan. A closer score than what they expected initially.

“11-8 in the 6th” muttered Miyuki-senpai, leaning forward. “Even if it’s Ichidaisan leading, to think it would be this close…”

Chris-senpai nodded. “I guess Todoroki homerun in the first inning totally smashed Manaka’s rhythm”

“He must’ve lost his composure” mumbled Eijun.

“Wait” muttered Kuramochi-senpai, staring at Yakushi dugout where yells could be heard. “A player actually fight with the coach in the bench”

True to his words, in Yakushi dugout, they could see Todoroki fighting with a man that can only be the coach. He could hear yelling before Todoroku latched and tackled the man, which results in more yelling.

“How nice…”

“I sometimes want to rebel like that too” commented Kominato-senpai.

“Imagine us fighting coach Kataoka!” said Eijun, imagining if he actually talked back to the coach and faced the older man head on.

He’ll die.

“We’ll just die” replied Miyuki-senpai bluntly.

Bottom of the 7th inning, Todoroki hit Manaka straight in the head with a ball that the cleanup hit.

Eijun stilled, golden eyes widened as he stared at Ichidaisan ace who fallen to the ground after the impact. Gasps could be heard all around them as most of the audience stood up in shock. Seido is no difference, as all of them had their eyes widened and absolute silence fell into the team.

Todoroki, who hesitated to run after that, missed the fact that Manaka still managed to throw the ball towards the first baseman. Walking out the first year slugger out of the inning.

 Manaka seems to be grunting in pain after that though, as his teammates immediately surrounded him. This scene brought out the memories when Tanba-senpai got a dead ball back then during the practice match. An unpleasant memory that Eijun would like to never visit again.

Medics immediately carried off Manaka to the infirmary.

“Will he… be okay?” muttered Eijun as he stared as they carted off Manaka out of the field.

“No, probably” answered Miyuki-senpai. “With Ichidaisan losing their ace, and Yakushi already having the momentum…”

Never underestimate your opponent.

One of the first thing that he was taught when he first played in tournaments back when he was 10.

That notion stays as he and the rest of the first string members as they watch Yakushi took their win against Ichidaisan in a spectacular feat of a homerun that close the game.

Ichidaisan, who is one of the powerhouse in Tokyo. Ichidaisan, who is the best eight of the spring tournament as well as the winner of the fall tournament. Ichidaisan, who is a favorite alongside Seido and Inashiro. Ichidaisan, who was defeated by a new known powerhouse that os Yakushi.

In this block where Ichidaisan and Seido were the favorites, an unbeliveable dark horse showed up.

 


 

Amahisa Kousei watched from the stands how Ichidaisan crumbles.

 


 

"That Todoroki was amazing" muttered Eijun, wide golden eyes stared at the cheering Yakushi team beneath them. "His batting is..." he trailed off.

"Unlike a first year" supplied Harucchi, covered eyes staring at the field too. Furuya stays still too, though there's a calculating look on his eyes as he too, silently stared at the field.

After the match, both Yakushi and Ichidaisan stood in front of each other and saying their thanks. Seido too made a move to leave. Eijun stole a glance towards Tanba-senpai who was trembling in something he can’t decipher.

Sadness? Fear? Excitement? Who knows. Almost immediately, the Seido members stood up and carried out their bags out of the venue. Scrambling up, the three first years also hastily made their way out. As the three first year stepped out of the venue, they realized something. They can't see their upperclassmen.

"Where's our bus?" asked Eijun, head moving around.

Furuya pointed towards his left. "This way"

"No, it's this way" pointed Harucchi at the other direction.

"Which way it is!?"

Because the venue is round anyway, they decided to just ran to whatever direction, searching their bus. 

“We’re going to be left behind!” Yelped Eijun as he ran side by side with Harucchi and Furuya. “We’re going to be beggars here in Tokyo before someone shady pick us up and asked us to be debt collector!”

“What kind of city do you think Tokyo is, Eijun-kun…” muttered Harucchi weakly.

“W-water…”

“Furuya don’t die on me!”

As they began wandering around in search of their bus, the three first year accidentally stumbled into something.

Standing at the back of the venue, was both Todoroki Raichi and Yakushi's coach, the younger practicing his batting while the older sat on the ground, dark eyes inspecting the teen in front of him. The three of them stopped, unconsciously decided to hide behind a wall as all three pair of eyes latched into the possible relatives combo.

The Yakushi match just ended a mere minutes ago and Todoroki is already doing his batting practice. Eijun doesn’t know should he applaud the other teen for his dedication or frown in the light of possible injury if he overexert himself.

“100 left~” muttered the Yakushi coach easily. “Imprint today’s batting in your body”

“Yeah!” agreed Todoroki with a loud voice.

“After that you’re running home” added Yakushi coach as he picked his ears.

“YEAH!!” Yelled Todoroki again with a stronger volume than before.

All three of Seido first string first years stood there. Half hidden from a wall as they stared at Yakushi clean up.

“His swing is really amazing” muttered Harucchi. “Even though he doesn’t have a big body”

Eijun turned his head towards Furuya. “See!” he whisper shout towards the taller male. “Being tall is not everything!”

“I’m still taller than you though…” muttered the other pitcher softly.

The three of them continue to watched Todoroki doing his batting practice. Who knows, maybe they could get some scoop against the batter for their upcoming match this way. Though, the scarred teen suddenly stopped.

“Today’s pitcher was really amazing” he mumbled. “I want to hit more and more…”

Eijun blinked. “Is he crazy?” he whisper yelled to his fellow first years who immediately shushed him up.

"I want to hit off every pitcher in the country!" Yelled Todoroki, making the three first year in hiding flinched because of the volume. "Blow them away!"

Yakushi coach sighed. "You want to go play in the big league right? Then you can play against strong pitcher like that" said the older man as he picked his finger before blowing it.

"HAHAHA" laughed Todoroki. “I’m so excited!”

Letting out a smirk, Yakushi coach leaned back on his hand. Head tilted back in challenge as he stared at Todoroki. "In this tournament, Inashiro Narumiya Mei, he's the only one you need to watch out for"

Wait.

Huh.

That’s weird-

Yakushi still have to face Seido you know?

Eijun let that reality sink in before a moment of realization dawned into him. Yakushi coach doesn’t even bother to mention Seido. They doesn’t consider them as a challenge. That Yakushi, think that they’ll beat Seido easily.

Oh, he really did go to that direction huh.

 


 

He’ll show them why Seido are the kings.

 


 

“TODOROKI RAICHII, I DEFINETELY WON’T LOSE TO HIM!”

Youichi blinked, staring at Seido's field where both Sawamura and Furuya ran around the place like it was their last time. "Why is Bakamura and Furuya so fired up against Yakushi?" he asked.

The rest of the first string too, stared at the first years pitcher who is roaring.

“It’s good that they’re so energized for the match” commented Tetsu-san, a proud smile on his face. “It makes me want to train harder”

“Tetsu-san how can you even train even harder…”

He could see Miyuki being appalled as the catcher stared at the two Seido pitcher being fired up. No- being way too fired up. Serves him right for being so much of a jerk in a daily basis. It’s good for him to be stressed out. Maybe he’ll develop some stress line soon because of their two first year pitcher. The girls won’t like him after that.

His musing was broken when someone spoke up. “Uh…” spoke a nervous voice.

Alongside the rest of the first string, Youichi turned his head towards where Kominato jr. stood and namely the source of the nervous voice. Said teen was scratching his cheek nervously and an awkward smile could be seen on his face.

“What is it Haruichi?” Prodded Ryo-san as he looked towards his little brother.

Kominato jr. gulped nervously. "Actually yesterday..."

The younger pink haired teen told them.

“DON’T SCREW WITH ME!” Yelled Jun-san in a voice full of rage and irritation.

Youichi would like to share that notion because he’s also irritated as fuck. Does Yakushi think they’re some bigshot powerhouse? That they’re the best in the nation? If so Youichi would love to give them a wake up call.

A violent one.

“I hope you hit them for that” said Ryo-san with a terrifying face.

“Aniki!?”

“Geh-“ Grunted Youichi as a he cracked his knuckle together while a terrifying smile plastered on his face. “Just bring it Yakushi, we’ll show them who’s the boss”

 


 

Yakushi Dorms

 

“They said he’s a first year like us” muttered Mishima as he, Todoroki, and Akiba stared at a Seido match played on the tv. “Debuted during the Kanto tournament and he has an impressive record of never putting a player on base”

In front of the three first year players, the match between Seido and Akikawa played on the screen. Sawamura could be seen ending an inning fast, a perfect strikeouts for the three Akikawa batters that faced him. Until the end of the game, the pitcher hold a minimal number of pitches, with only Akikawa ace able to hit his pitches.

Akiba nodded. “Either it’s because of his impressive pitching skill or Seido fielders are top notch” said the fifth batter. “Both are problems to us”

“Sawamura is clearly an amazing pitcher” answered Mishima dryly as the Sawamura on screen walked up to bat. “And an amazing batter too”

“Well I know he’s good” huffed Akiba. “I was just being hopeful you know”

Mishima snorted. “Stop being hopeful and be realistic”

“Jerk”

“Nerd”

“Guys don’t fight!” interrupted Todoroki in between his bites as he munched on the banana on hand.

Both Akiba and Mishima huffed before they began discussing about the match playing in front of them again.

“From what our members told us, during Akikawa, there’s only four of his hit made contact with the batter” continue the teen seriously. “And all of it ended in foul”

“Is the batter incompetent?”

“The one that actually able to hit off Sawamura is Akikawa ace and cleanup” informed Mishima, a tinge of worry on his tone. “Clearly he’s a good player”

“Sawamura huh” muttered Akiba. “So far in the tournament he’d only show a variation of fastballs and a circle change up, but I bet he still have something stored”

“That’s a terrifying thought” said Mishima with a shudder, imagining the already terrifying pitcher to have something more in store for them. “What do you think, Raichi?”

Todoroki Raichi who was munching on an onigiri now, stared intently at the match playing in the screen in front of him. Sharp eyes intent as he watched Seido’s Sawamura Eijun pitched during his match against Akikawa.

The monster slugger didn’t get a chance to answer when a familiar voice spoke up behind them.

“You guys are watching the video again” piped a new voice who just entered the room.

Turning his head, Mishima locked eyes with more or less Yakushi Ace, Sanada Shunpei.

“Sanada-senpai” he greeted with a nod of his head. “Coach told us to watch it closely…”

Sanada chuckled. “It’s not good to be so obsessive you know”

“But-“

“Seido match?” asked the second year as he bounded closer. Dark eyes gazed towards the pitcher on screen before a calculating glint appeared. “Sawamura huh…”

“He’s an incredible pitcher” said Akiba. “Better be safe than worry”

“Besides than Sawamura, they also have other pitchers like Furuya who’s pitch is really fast and powerful, there’s also their ace and their side-thrower pitcher” informed Mishima as he watched the Sawamura on screen striking out the batter. “They have 4 pitchers and all of them are so different”

Sanada scratched the back of his head. “Our next match would be challenging then” he said as he walked closer to Yakushi clean up. “Raichi? What do you think?”

“KAHAHA!” Laughed the scarred teen suddenly. Sharp eyes focused on the match in front of him. “I want to play them… he said. “Seido high school!”

 


 

July 26th

Day before Quarterfinals

 

The pitchers was told to gather inside the indoor training room. Eijun stood in between both Furuya and Nori-senpai. Coach Kataoka was crouched in front the three of them with the teem first string catchers standing around the older man.

It was clear, that he was about to announce the pitcher for tomorrow game. Something that made all the pitchers here nervous.

“Our starting pitcher” started coach and Eijun swears that he can hear a pin dropped here because of how quiet it is. “Will be Furuya”

All of the got caught of guard. “Huh?” mumbled the taller pitcher, eyes widening.

A feeling of disappointment rose up on his throat.

“You need more game experience” grunted coach before he flicked his gaze towards where Eijun stood. “Considering your stamina I will subbed in Sawamura around in the third”

Eijun eyes immediately brightened before he gave the older a mock salute. “Yessir!”

“Depends on the game, you might also get to close the game like the last game in the ninth inning Kawakami, be prepared”

Nori-senpai nodded his head immediately. “O-Okay!” said the third year.

“What about Tanba-senpai?” asked Miyuki-senpai, voicing his thought for the first time in this meeting. The second year catcher had kept quiet and merely stood in the back with his arms crossed. “He’s been aiming to play during the quarterfinals”

The coach stood up, not even glancing towards where Miyuki-senpai is. “With his condition, I’m not sure if I will let him on the mound”

“But-“

“I’ll let him play if he’s good enough”

At that the coach made a turn to leave.

 


 

Seido vs Yakushi

Quarterfinals

 

Inside Seido dugout, yells could be heard from the members.

"What's up with this order!?" Yelled Jun-san, reading Yakushi batting order.

The batting order was completely different from their previous match, or the previous one before that. It was different that no one actually is in the same order.

“Is this their strategy?” asked Tetsu-san eyes hard.

“We should’ve expected this” mumbled Chris-senpai as he also scanned the batting order given to them. “Considering they also changed their whole order when facing Ichidaisan”

Eijun too, furrowed his eyebrows. The order certainly is different from when they faced Ichidaisan. For starter, Todoroki is batting first, giving him more chance to bat.

"Don't get too worked up" Said coach, quelling everyone confusion and worry. "We've practiced hard, don't let this faze you our of this match"

Nodding, Eijun exchanged glances with the rest of the first string. Coach is right, they all have practiced for this moment. For this tournament that will take them to Koshien.

With a loud roar, they yelled out, "Yessir!".

Chapter Text

Yakushi High School vs Seido High School

 

Mishima stared from the sideline as Seido starting pitcher walked into the field.

Walking next to their starting catcher – Miyuki Kazuya, his brain supplied, a renown catcher said to be the best of his generation – Is a tall teen with dark hair and pale skin. Mishima absentmindedly noted that his name is Furuya. One of Seido first year pitcher, the one who played during Murata East match and the one who played near the end of Akikawa game.

It’s not Sawamura nor their ace and he could feel an annoyance started to pile up inside his chest.

What’s with them? He thought, eyes narrowing. Are they underestimating Yakushi?

He knows that at this point, Yakushi is merely an unexpected underdog. A public school without an extensive baseball reputation like Seido or Inashiro. Their win to Ichidaisan, was helped considerably by Ichidaisan’s ace exiting the game. He knows, that the improvement that their team experienced is more or less, because of coach fierce determination and Raichi insane love for baseball.

People are expecting them to ran out of that luck and to fall anytime now.

But that’s also why they’re here. Why they’re in the tournament amidst all these famous names. They will carve Yakushi name in the high school baseball scene forcibly. They will make Yakushi as a team that their opponent have to be cautious to, a team, that their opponent wary of.

A powerhouse team that will go to Koshien.

“What’s with you?” asked a teen with dark shaved hair who suddenly appeared and effectively break Mishima out of his musing.

Mishima looked up, facing his upperclassmen. “Ooda-senpai” he said, giving a nod towards the older teen. “Its…” he trailed off, gaze shifting towards the field. “It’s nothing”

The older snickered, slinging an arm around his shoulder. “I know what you’re thinking about” he said, a teasing grin on his face. “You must’ve thought that they’re underestimating us right? With them not sending their ace and not sending their golden first year”

“Well” started Mishima. “I’m right aren’t i? I think we already established the fact enough that we’re strong in offense and knowing that, they’re still sending another pitcher…”

“I thought that as well too” said Ooda-senpai, a grimace made its way on the older face. “With Sawamura still in the dugout alongside their ace, it irks me that they doesn’t use their best pitcher for our match”

The first year nodded his head, using more force than needed. “Right!?” he said, a bit loud and catching the attention of some of their members. “I-“

“But we’ll show them that we’re not to be underestimated” cut off Ooda-senpai, eyes hard. “We’ll show them that Yakushi, just like them, have what it takes to stand in Koshien field”

And well, Mishima can’t disagree on that.

They’ll show Seido how strong Yakushi is.

 


 

The air around Seido dugout was tense since the revelation of Yakushi’s changed batting lineup. Despite the coach encouraging words, and the thirst of winning from the members, it doesn’t change the fact that Seido came unprepared for this.

“Top of the first inning, Yakushi High School on the offensive” called out the announcer followed by the loud cheers from the audience. “Batting first, third base, Todoroki-kun”

From his spot in the bullpen, Eijun watched Todoroki marched towards the batter box with a laugh bubbling on his face. Furuya stood there, on the mound, face shaded with the brim of his cap as he readied his windup.

Yakushi, even with their relatively young baseball career in a tournament, managed to gain many following after their match with Ichidaisan. That fact was proven true with how loud the audience is when Todoroki stepped into the field. It was almost as if Yakushi is a powerhouse school with a large following, not a public school that had just entered the Tokyo tournament.

Todoroki looked startled at how loud the audience is, head whipping around left and right as a red tinge could be seen on his cheeks. Nevertheless, the first year now stood on his position, embarrassment now long forgotten as he did his batting stance. Dark eyes zeroed on Furuya’s equally dark eyes. The umpire’s gaze shifted between both Furuya and Todoroki before the man nodded and announced, “Play ball!”

It’s time to start the game.

Doing his windup, the pitcher whipped his hand back before he throw the ball straight towards Miyuki-senpai that arrived in a loud BAM echoing across the field. It was so Furuya, thought Eijun. A pitch with both power and speed that could frighten a normal batter. A pitch that had impressed coach enough during the intersquad game. Todoroki didn’t swung, though his eyes is full of excitement as well as amusement as he continue to stare down towards Furuya.

“Nice pitch Furuya!” called out Eijun. “Strike him out!”

“Keep it up!”

“Furuya that was amazing!”

Furuya nodded his head, determination on his eyes as he did another windup. His second pitch is a ball, something that went straight towards the metal railing behind Miyuki-senpai. Todoroki didn’t swung too this time and that manic grin still on his face.

The third pitch though-

CLANG  

-Eijun watched as the ball flew towards the fence between the right and center. Yells could be heard from both Seido and Yakushi dugout as well as the audience. The announcer too, narrated the sequence of event as Seido fielders immediately try to catch the ball. Alas, they were not fast enough and due to that, Todoroki managed to get into the second base with laughter bubbling on his throat.

“SECOND BASE!” Yelled the first year batter as he slid into the second base with Yakushi dugout yelling words of praise and encouragement. The audience practically exploded at that, yells of excitement could be heard as Todoroki stood up with a feral grin on his face.

Furrowing his brows, the southpaw made a makeshift megaphone with his hand as he began yelling towards the taller pitcher. “Furuya!” Yelled Eijun. “Stop with the sucky pitches or I have to go there myself!”

With him and Furuya always in a constant state of rivalry for the position of ace, it was easy to rile the other pitcher up with words alone.

The sudden aura that enveloped Furuya looks terrifying.

Yakushi second batter arrived at the batter box. Almost the same as Todoroki, he didn’t made any move to hit the first and second pitches. A correct decision considering it was ball. In the third pitch though, where Furuya pitched high, he swung his bat and made contact with the ball in a loud motion of CLANG!

“Nice batting Akki!” Laughed Todoroki as he dashed towards the home pitch.

Miyuki-senpai took off his face guard and yelled, “Back home!”

Though before Seido could defend, Todoroki safely slide into home in a loud laugh that reverberated through the venue.

“The runner from second base comes home!” Yelled the announcer. “Yakushi score the first score!”

Seido dugout fall into a tense silence as all of them stared at the glaringly red one next to Yakushi name. In baseball, the one who manages to gain the momentum has more chance to win the game. With Yakushi managing to gain one score from Seido in the first inning, their spirit would be in an all time high.

They’re not going to let them happen.

“Their batting lineup…” muttered Miyauchi-senpai who stood besides Eijun in the bullpen. “Its almost in the same level as Osaka Kiryuu…”

Eijun shook his head. “Nah” he denied, golden eyes staring at Yakushi who was celebrating their first score. “I think they’re in the same level” Or maybe a bit higher, he thought.

Yakushi, is strong.

Not that change anything.

 


 

Yakushi didn’t manage to score any more in the first inning due to the fielders amazing skill as well as Miyuki-senpai aggressive play.

Bottom of the first inning, Seido ties the score with an amazing show of skill from their batters. With the rise of Seido pitchers lately, almost everyone forget that Seido is a school with really strong batting lineup. One of the best in the country.

Their batting lineup is not going to lose against Yakushi.

 


 

With Furuya facing Yakushi’s eight as well as ninth batter, the batting line up has gone back to the top.

Top of the third inning, Seido made a change.

A teen with dark locks and sunny grin appeared. There’s an air of confidence and excitement around him. An air that reassure his teammates that it’s okay to trust him. That its okay, to depend on him.

It’s Seido’s Sawamura Eijun.

“Seido High School announced a change of player” said the booming and crisp voice of the announcer. The audience perked up at that, murmurs could be heard from the stands as well as Yakushi dugout that doesn’t expect a change this fast. Furuya had been doing well after all. Only letting one run to a school with a strong batting line up like Yakushi.

Many question the coach decision.

Inside the Yakushi dugout, one middle aged man grumbled as he crossed his arms together. “Troublesome” he spat out. “They doesn’t want us to grow used to their pitcher, huh?”

As the murmurs around the audience grow, the announcer voice once again rang out throughout the field. The unanswered question at the back of everyone’s mind was answered by the simple sentence uttered by the announcer. “Replacing pitcher Furuya-kun, pitcher, Sawamura-kun”

The roar that followed after is almost deafening.

“Sawamura!”

“It’s the southpaw right!?”

“The one that hold off Akikawa!”

Despite the excitement that rose throughout the stands as well as the audience, an almost chill like atmosphere fell inside the Yakushi dugout. Players all turned their attention towards the new pitcher. A calculating look as well as lips pressed in a thin line could be seen from them.

Sawamura Eijun, at last. They didn’t think that Seido would use the pitcher this fast, considering said teen played most of the innings in the previous game.

“Che” Yakushi’s coach tongue clicked as he narrowed his eyes. Dark eyes watching Sawamura Eijun step into the field with annoyance could be seen in it. “It’s Sawamura, be extra careful”

Sanada Shunpei who was sitting in a bench behind the coach let out a weak chuckle. “The opponent that our members paid extra mind to” said the second year, looking up from the towel that had been thrown on top of his head. “He’s here”

When their next opponent was announced, it was not long before the southpaw become the main topic of their team briefings. As a team that took pride in their batting line up, Yakushi paid extra attention in their opponent pitchers, to see what kind of obstacle that they may face in the next match. Sawamura Eijun is, currently, their biggest one as of yet.

He had played three match so far. Only three match yet his performance is nothing to scoff of. Once in the Kanto tournament and twice in the Tokyo tournament. Holding the impressive record of never allowing a runner on base, Sawamura Eijun is known to be the next big thing in the high school baseball scene. A prodigious pitcher with an impressive batting skill and charisma that attract everyone attention every time he’s in the field.

Sawamura, reminds them of Narumiya. Narumiya Mei who was hailed as Kanto number one pitcher. Sawamura, who is still in his first year.

A threat.

“Be wary” reprimanded Yakushi coach. “He’s in a whole other level than Furuya”

Said topic of the conversation, Sawamura, now stood on the mound. His usual bright grin could be seen as he prepared himself to let out his almost pre game practice at this point. “Everyone!” he yelled, much to the amusement of the audience as well as his teammates. “Balls will be flying so I thank you in advance!”

It was Seido’s center fielder that answered first. “You said that last time but doesn’t give us much job to do, idiot!”

“I hear ya Bakamura!”

“Perfect strikeouts Sawamura!”

Sawamura let out a carefree laugh at that. Head tilted back as amusement could be seen from his eyes. He looked like that he’s having the time of his life. Playing baseball with his teammates and facing opponents worthy of his full strength.

Such joyous scene doesn’t last long, because as if it was a switch, the amusement that was dripping down the teen face melted away when the umpire announced the start of the game. Instead, it was replaced with golden eyes that almost shone despite the shadow casted on top of it and a grin that now, seems a bit manic.

Todoroki Raichi stood in the batter box. A half mad smile that resemble Sawamura’s could be seen on the shorter face. Interesting, thought Todoroki as he did his batting stance. This team is interesting!

And just like that, a ball hurled passed him. A resounding BAM! Could be heard across the venue, signaling the arrival of the ball in Seido’s catcher mitt.

His grin froze on his face. Fast, he though, adjusting his stance one again, if possible his grin grow wider and wider. So fast and terrifying.

I want to hit a homerun out of him  

Heart thumping inside of his ribcage, Todoroki let out a loud bark of laugh. His grip on the bat he’s holding grow tighter and tighter.

Sawamura did his windup again and Todoroki once again focused his full attention on the teen in front of him. He knows that Sawamura is an incredible pitcher, that the teen is possibly the biggest competitor for Seido’s ace number. From the recordings that he had seen, the teen had three pitches. 2 seamer, 4 seamer, and a circle change up.

Is it only three pitches, or did he just unveil three pitches as of late?

Interesting! So so interesting, this Seido pitcher!

He watched as Sawamura whipped his hand back, hurling forward to throw the ball towards him. Todoroki moved, swinging his bat with all the power he can muster-

BAM

“Strike!”

A second strike.

It was during this, that he caught Sawamura’s eyes on the mound. Dark eyes met golden orbs and Todoroki needs to curb down the sheer excitement and fear that latched into his throat as he stared at those eyes. Unsettling, he thought. But this is the kind of pitcher that he wants to hit off.

The sheer challenge in Sawamura eyes made him shudder.

It was as if he was facing someone that is really confident with their power. Confident, that they will trample him and come out victorious. It was as if he was facing a king with power that others crave and desire to their very bones.

He could practically hear the pitcher saying, hit me if you can, from that expression of his.

So as he watch Seido’s pitcher did his windup, unknowingly an even larger grin envelope Todoroki’s face. He’s going to hit him, thought the batter. He’s going to send Sawamura’s pitch fly until they can’t see it anymore from the field.

Change up, he thought as he watch the ball hurling towards him. Eyes zeroing on the ball, he swung his bat-

BAM

“Strike! Batter out!”

-the change up is faster than his previous one.

Roars could be heard from Seido’s dugout as well as the school bench.

“Sawamura just struck out Torodoki!”

“Did you see that!? The changeup was pretty damn amazing!”

“That’s amazing Sawamura-!”

The showdown between Sawamura and Todoroki officially ends Seido turn to defend. Bottom of the third, it is time for Yakushi to defend their score.

“ORRAAAAHHH!”

Accompanied by Seido center fielder, Isashiki Jun, loud roar as he hit the ball hurling across the field, Kominato Ryosuke managed to slid into the next base.

As Seido captain stepped into the field accompanied by his walkup song, loud roars echoed from the dugout as well as the audience. A fitting act considering during this, said teen managed to give one more score to Seido and get into base himself.

It was also during this, that Yakushi made his move.

“Bottom of the third, Yakushi High School announces Player change” said the announcer. “Replacing Pitcher, Mino-kun, Pitcher, Sanada-kun”

 


 

From Seido dugout, Eijun watched as Sanada Shunpei stepped into the mound.

“He came out finally” murmured the pitcher. “Yakushi ace”

Despite the number 18 plastered on his back, lower than Eijun, lower than Nori-senpai, it was obvious that this Sanada Shunpei is the one that holding Yakushi defense together in a tight rope. Their previous pitcher, Mino, while an adequate pitcher, just seems off with how strong Yakushi is.

Sanada with his easy laughter and his amazing pitches from the recording he had watched days before, seems to be a more fitting choice. An ace, that is.

Harucchi nodded, mouth pressed in a teen line as he answered in a solemn tone. “I was wondering when will he come out” said the pink haired teen. “We better watch out”

With Sanada stepping into the field, the atmosphere on the dugout as well as on the fielders, changed. It got considerably bright, with yells of encouragement as well as hollers of teasing could be heard exchanged between the players.

If they have doubts before, it was clear now that Sanada really is, Yakushi’s ace.

“Captain is on the second base” said Eijun. “Do you think he can make it home?”

“Honestly” started Harucchi after a moment of pause. “I’m not sure”

Masuko-senpai looked a bit nervous from his position at the batter box. Hand gripping tightly on the bat as he set his gaze on the new pitcher. Heavy pressure could be felt as Sanada did his windup and-

“Dead ball!” Announced the umpire as the ball hit Masuko-senpai side.

Standing up, the only thing that was stopping Eijun from stomping right towards where Masuko-senpai is Harucchi’s hand on his wrist as well as the fact that Masuko-senpai stood back up again. As if nothing’s wrong.

“He’s okay” said the pink haired teen. “Now we got runners in the first and second”

Casting his eyes towards where Masuko-senpai now stood, Eijun nodded his head reluctantly before he sat back up.

Miyuki-senpai was up next, which was a good thing. From the 100 Seido high school baseball club myth – or what the senpais told him – Miyuki-senpai actually hit his best when the base is fully loaded. Kuramochi-senpai even said that a homerun would be a guarantee if that conditions are met that the second year catcher suddenly transform into a batter more skilled than Tetsu-san – Eijun didn’t believe that part.

Anyway, with how there is a runner on both the first and second now, the older should be alright.

The first pitch was hurled so close to Miyuki-senpai face that Eijun almost thought it was going to be another dead ball. Letting out a huff of breath, Eijun tried to relax his heart as he crouched on the sideline. Though, it peaked once again when he realized that the second one is a dead ball.

Said catcher looks okay though, thank god that Sanada Shunpei’s pitches doesn’t contain power as much as Eijun’s of Furuya’s. In fact, Miyuki-senpai has a really confident smirk on his face. He looks completely assured that the next pitch will be a hit for him.

Eijun eyes twitched with how confident Miyuki-senpai is on hitting the next pitch.

He could almost heard it. Easy trajectory, timing perfect-

Miyuki-senpai swung his bat-

Only for the ball to bounce on the ground twice as the second year catcher took off. Sanada caught it, throwing the ball towards the second baseman and then the first. Making the catcher as well as Masuko-senpai out before he can arrived at the base safely.

“Double play-!”

“Nice pitch!”

“Good job Sanada!”

Loud praises could be heard towards the Yakushi pitcher as Miyuki-senpai jogged back to the dugout, Eijun following closely behind him. With Miyuki-senpai out, they’re entering top of the 4th inning with Seido on the defense.

“Sorry” muttered the catcher as he took off his helmet. “I broke our momentum”

The coach merely gave the teen a sharp nod. “What kind of pitch is that?” asked the older.

At this, Eijun found Miyuki-senpai looking towards him. “A cutter, moving fastball” he said. “Just like Sawamura’s number 1”

Oh?

“Cutter?” he found himself saying.

“Geh” grunted Jun-san. “So that’s the reason why he’s so insistent on throwing inside to the very end”

“How interesting” said Kuramochi-senpai, casting an eye towards Yakushi dugout who’s still cheering for Sanada. “He kind of reminds me of you Sawamura, with all that moving fastball stuff”

Eijun nodded, eyes staring at Yakushi dugout where he could see Sanada Shunpei is laughing at something with his teammates. “Yeah, kinda” he said finally.

His team raised an eyebrow at that. “You agree on that?” asked Harucchi, tilting his head a bit..

The southpaw merely shrugged. “Yep, he kinda reminds me of my first year middle school self”

 


 

Top of the 4th with both Sawamura Eijun and Miyuki Kazuya leading the defense of Seido High School, Yakushi failed to score once again.

Clicking his tongue, Todoroki Raizo stared at once again for the nth time, Yakushi batters are being struck out by Sawamura pitches. It was infuriating, and down right annoying. With their previous performance, Yakushi is now known as the school with a strong batting line up. A school, with a monster slugger on their midst.

But with Sawamura standing on the mound like right now, it’s almost impossible for Yakushi to score another run.

The teen is a freak, decided the older Todoroki. A freak that has an obsession with baseball to no end. A prodigy amongst prodigy that is willing to work hard for it, the most terrifying type of prodigy. With pitches like that, he’s sure that the kid will instantly get drafted after he graduates. Or maybe straight to MLB.

BAM!  

What a monster, he thought as both Akiba and Mishima got struck out with only three pitches respectively. Both first years are by no means a weak batter. They all have what it takes to be cleanup if they go to any other school. But this is Yakushi. A school that strive to be the best in nation. A simple good, is not enough.

Though, it all seems to be a waste if they face Sawamura.

Yamauchi got struck out soon too, ending Seido turn to defend in an amazingly short time with all three Yakushi batter getting an out with only three pitches. Both Sawamura and his catcher fist bumped before the two of them jogged back towards the dugout amidst the loud cheers and awed exclamation from the audience.

Prodigy really is different.

 


 

Sawamura Eijun really exceed his reputation, thought Shunpei during the bottom of the fourth inning.

The southpaw stood in front of him in the batter box. Grin wide and eyes glittering with something he can’t decide. Amusement? Excitement? Who knows. Shunpei never claims that he can read someone easily, that he understands other people emotion.

But it’s clear as day that Sawamura is challenging him. That he’s practically saying give me your best pitch!

And Sanada plan to do so.

The southpaw doesn’t look exhausted even with the sweat dripping down his face. Considering he walk out batters with only three pitches, maybe Sawamura really isn’t that tired. The excitement that seems to exude the other pitcher form is tiring to look at if you’re his opponent but he supposes it is inspiring if you’re on the same side. Coach had told him to be wary of Sawamura Eijun. For the teen is not only excellent in pitching, he’s also great at batting.

Amazing even.

Seido rising star, the next big thing in the baseball scene, future Seido ace.

Heh, he let out a smirk at that. It was only a short time since he debuted and there’s already countless of articles of the younger pitcher. Sawamura Eijun made a big splash in the baseball scene ever since his middle school days. During middle school, Shunpei may not be as active as he is now regarding baseball, but he had known about the pitcher beforehand.

Prodigy and a rare talent who actually loves baseball and willing to work hard. High schools must’ve fought with each other to get him on their baseball team. Him, ending up in Seido really doesn’t surprise him that much. A prodigious player in a powerhouse school, it’s almost like an anime.

Shunpei remembers that the reporters who came to watch Yakushi practice from the other day told him that his pitch reminds them of Sawamura’s.

His pitch, reminds them of Sawamura’s.

His.

To hell with that.

Sawamura’s pitch should reminds them of Shunpei’s not the other way around. Or that Shunpei’s pitch, reminds them of Shunpei. Not Sawamura, not anybody in that matter. His pitch is his.

He’s not going to let a first year to beat him in this pitching match.

Doing his windup, Shunpei whipped his hand back, gripping the ball tightly before he hurled the ball towards Seido’s southpaw-

CLANG!  

The ball is gone

“A HOMERUN-!”

Sawamura’s grin is almost feral.

 


 

One day, after practice, Miyuki-senpai had asked him. It was only the two of them in the bullpen, with Furuya getting dragged by Chris-senpai for more pitcher training and both Tanba-senpai and Miyauchi-senpai in the weight room.

“Sawamura” called out the catcher, eyes focusing on the piece of paper where the catcher had wrote off the list of his numbers. Eijun had absentmindedly fiddled with the baseball ball on his hand as he waited for the second year catcher to list off his pitches. “Just wondering, which one of your pitches is your favorite?”

Eijun blinked. “My favorite?” he repeated, turning his head towards the catcher who is crouching near him.

The catcher hummed. “You have a lot of pitches” he said bluntly. “More than what a high school players have”

“Well yeah” agreed on the first year with a nod as he remembered the list of his pitches, be it already numbered or not. “There’s a phase of my life where I obsessively learn as many pitches as I can”

It was back in middle school and he just lost to Narumiya. He had bugged as well as beg Sho-san to teach him more pitches. To teach him more grips that will help him be absolutely invincible on the mound. After trying for one week straight, the older finally relented and decided to teach him more pitches.

And that’s how his numbered pitches are born.

“Oh, so while everyone is having their emo phase you’re having a baseball nerd phase?” said Miyuki-senpai with a quirk of his eyebrow. “Interesting”  

“It’s not a phase!” Yelled Eijun back.

“That’s what everyone says” Miyuki-senpai snickered at that, eyes finally looking up. “So pitcher-kun” he said, a teasing grin still on his face. “Which one of your pitches is your favorite”

“That’s like asking a parents which one is their favorite children!”

“Wow I don’t know a human can procreate with a baseball ball”

Eijun flushed at that. “You- ugh!” he yelled in frustration. “This conversation is going nowhere!”  

“Maybe if you actually answer my question it will” replied Miyuki-senpai dryly.  

The southpaw throw him a sullen look. “Okay! Ugh, if you ask what my favorite it’s gotta be..” At this, he fiddle with the baseball ball on his hand, adjusting his grip to the grip he favor every time he practice with Sho-san but doesn’t often used during match.

Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow. “Is?”

“My number one” answered Eijun. “Cutter”

 


 

“A HOMERUN-!”

“Sawamura!” Yelled Jun-san as he jogged towards the dugout with a large grin on his face. “Sawamura you bastard!” At that, he found himself being head locked by the center fielder amidst the laugh that the older let out. “That was amazing!”

Eijun laugh. “Of course!” he said, eyes crinkling in amusement. “It’s Sawamura Eijun you’re talking about after all!”

Harucchi chuckled at that. “Congratulations Eijun-kun” said the teen as Furuya who stood next to the pink haired teen also gave him a thumbs up.

“That was dirty, Sawamura” said Kominato-senpai when he appeared. “To think you got the first homerun of think you got the first homerun of the match” at this, he pat the top of Eijun’s head. “I should try harder”

“I know that you like the cutter but to think you’ll hit a homerun” mused Kuramochi-senpai as he too reached down to mussed the top of Eijun’s head more.

Eijun yelped. “Have more faith in me!”

“Let’s have a batting practice after this match Bakamura!”

“Congratulations are in order Sawamura” said captain with a nod of his head. “Though we should be wary more from now on because I think Yakushi ace just found a new motivation to defeat all of us”

True to his words, Sanada struck out Seido’s batter until the end of the inning.

 


 

Top of the fifth, Miyuki-senpai stood beside him on the mound, a glint of malice on his eyes.

“Say, pitcher-kun” said the catcher, mouth covered by his glove as he leaned towards Eijun’s side. “Do you want to aggravate them?”

This asshole, thought the southpaw almost instinctively.

“That’s so evil” complained Eijun, eyes flickering towards Yakushi dugout who was discussing something. No doubt about him. “I’m in”

Both of them knows that after this batter, it’s Sanda Shunpei’s turn to bat. Miyuki-senpai, with all those wicked and downright evil plan of his, has the same thought with Eijun regarding how to aggravate Yakushi.

The catcher throw his head back in a laugh. “You really know how to have fun” he said, grinning before he jogged back towards his position. Eijun doesn’t even needs to see the older sign to know what pitch he had asked. It was obvious, the sheer amusement on Miyuki-senpai face, the challenging grin too.

And so, with another challenging grin also ready on his mouth, Eijun did his windup. Hand gripping the ball in the grip that he preferred before he whipped his hand back and-

BAM!

-throw a cutter towards the stunned Yakushi batter.

“STRIKE!”

 


 

“Heh” Snickered Sanada Shunpei as he stood on the side of the field, ready to bat next. There’s a smirk on his face as his set his gaze on Sawamura. “So annoying”

Sawamura never showed a cutter during the tournament. Never show any sign, that he could throw one. To think, the pitch that is his winning pitch, could also be blatantly used by their opponent aggravated him to no end. Both Sawamura and his battery partner looked so amused and like the scum of the earth as they keep striking out Yakushi’s batter with a pitch that Sanada favor.

Almost like a cosmic joke, he thought as he narrowed his eyes and watch Sawamura throw another cutter, striking out their batter.

The desire to beat Sawamura grow inside his chest like an never ending inferno. He can’t curb it down, can’t dissipate it. Seeing the other pitcher blatantly challenging him like this only makes him more and more excited.

 


 

“Cutter” muttered Todoroki Raizo, eyes windened in surprise and at that moment, the older man looked more awake than he was the entire game. “The brat can throw a cutter too?”

Mishima nodded, mouth frowning. “Are they challenging us?”

It was a blatant show of challenge. To throw their ace trump card right back at him.

Raichi laughed from his spot behind him. “I WANT TO HIT IT!”

 


 

“I didn’t know Sawamura has such a terrible personality” muttered Kanemaru from the stands.

Toujou merely chuckled. “Miyuki-senpai really is a bad influence to him”

 


 

Top of the 6th inning, Yakushi high school is on the offense.

Eijun found joy in throwing cutter during this game. He never really got to use the pitch during middle school, considering Nobu capabilities as a catcher and Nagano’s baseball team that doesn’t really put a lot of fight, he seldom used it. Though, whilst training with Sho-san, it had always been his go to pitch.

In Seido too, usually he and Miyuki-senpai alternate between his fastballs and circle changeup. They do use the palmball changeup once and twice, but  really, during most of this tournament, he only use three of his pitches.

That changes when he saw Sanada Shunpei throw a cutter.

If Sanada can throw a cutter, why can’t he? He also wants to show off! He wants to show Yakushi that they doesn’t have the upper hand.

Miyuki-senpai too, a bit annoyed by getting an out because of that cutter, decided to show off to Yakushi thankfully. They want to gloat that hey, we can also throw a cutter. How do you feel getting an out from the pitch that you use to walk out our batters huh?

Childish, but he doesn’t care.

Its fun! Especially the face that Sanada Shunpei let out when he got an out by Eijun’s cutter.

  BAM!

“Nice ball Sawamura!” Yelled what he recognized as Kanemaru. Really, Kanemaru had always been loud and vocal in the stands. A great assurance for the player.

“Keep it up until the end Sawamura!”

Striking out Yakushi eighth and ninth batter, Eijun let the excitement inside of him grow at the sight of Yakushi first batter. Todoroki Raichi walked into the batter box with loud laugh and feral grin matching his scar on his face. The bat on his hand are gripped painfully tight as he made his way in front of Miyuki-senpai.

Todoroki is one of the most fun batter he had ever face.

While Tetsu-san is an exhilarating challenge, and while the rest of the Seido batting line up is a really fun opponent to face, there’s something about Todoroki that made Eijun heart thumped faster in excitement. Maybe it’s how the fellow first year looked completely fearless. Maybe it’s how he always swung his bat as if his life depends on it.

It’s so fun that the grin on his face grow wider and wider.

Miyuki-senpai quirked an eyebrow from his spot, signalling a calm yourself.

The appearance of Todoroki is also followed by the loud cheers from the audience. “There he is! The monster slugger!”

“Hit an awesome one!”

Said teen looked surprised at the resounding cheer of his name, head perking up and looking around.

Eijun wants to be cheered on too!

Miyuki-senpai throw him a look that basically said, control your emotion

Huffing, Eijun nodded his head as he watched Todoroki finally arrived at the batter box. Seido dugout exploded in a series of yells of encouragement at that.

“Kill him Sawamura!”

“Give us an out!”

Doing his windup, Eijun whipped his hand back before throwing a cutter, high inside.

Todoroki swung, wind whipping around him as he swung his bat but the resounding BAM! Is a clear indicator that the teen had failed that.

Did he grasp the way I pitch? Thought Eijun, golden eyes locking towards the form of Todoroki who’s still have that manic grin on his face. He seems excited to hit off Eijun pitches, not that he’s going to let him.

Throwing his second pitch, Todoroki swung his bat and in a moment, Eijun almost thought that he was going to hit it. But of course, the loud “Strike!” that the umpire yelled out prove that notion is wrong.

He exchanged a glance with Miyuki-senpai.

This can’t continue, thought the pitcher, eyes narrowing. Playing safe won’t help us.

As he watch Miyuki-senpai signed him and directed where to pitch, Eijun shook his head.

The catcher quirked an eyebrow before he repositioned his mitt and signed him another one. Once again, Eijun shook his head.

Eijun can see the catcher let out a resigned sigh before he outstretched his hands wide, a look of exasperation on his face.

Pitch whatever you like

That’s more like it as he immediately nodded. Grinning, Eijun did his windup.

Game calling may not be something he master like Miyuki-senpai and all of his intricate plays, but he had done this for years. Had directed his team to be a national winner. He knows more than enough.

All throughout his years of playing baseball, he had always know that his pitch trajectory is a wild one. Something that he learn to control due to his catchers inability to catch it. But, well, if it’s easy to catch, it’s easy to hit.

But Miyuki-senpai is a skilled catcher. The best of his generation that had been hailed as a prodigy from various source. Someone that Eijun had worked together for the last few months since his first arrival in Seido. Someone, who had said with confidence that he could catch all of his pitches.

So with a grin tinged with a little bit of manic, Eijun whipped his hand back and hurled the ball in towards Miyuki-senpai. Cutter, with a fucking wild trajectory that Eijun can’t even sure where it would end up.

He could see Miyuki-eyes widened as the ball hurled towards him, wind whipping around it. Todoroki too, had hid eyes widened before he regained his bearing and made his move to swung his bat-

BAM!

“Strike! Batter out!”

 


 

“148 km/h” muttered Chris from the dugout. “Cutter is mostly slower than a typical fastball, to think he could pitch it at this speed…”

Coach nodded his head. “Faster and more powerful than Sanada”

 


 

“That’s a wild trajectory, Pitcher-kun” commented Miyuki-senpai when the both of them arrived at the dugout. The older was fiddling with his catcher gear, trying to took it off for a moment until the next inning. “Hard to catch”

Eijun snorted, whipping his mouth with his sleeves as he finishing up the water bottle on his hand. The idea that Miyuki-senpai can’t catch the pitch thoroughly amused him. “Hard to catch, hard to hit” he replied. “Besides you’re like the best catcher out there, there’s no way you can’t catch that”

“Careful, I might think that’s a praise coming from you”

“It’s not a praise!”

“Good job Eijun-kun!” praised Harucchi as he appeared with a towel and a glass of water. “That last pitch was wild but I could see that it was intended like that”

Grinning, he gave the other teen a thumbs up. “Of course! Do you expect anything else from this Sawamura Eijun!” he said as he draped the offered towel over his head.

“That last pitch was amazing Sawamura” said Tanba-senpai too with a nod of his head. “It was a wild one, but yet I think you controlled it perfectly”

“Sure do!” Said Eijun with a grin.

“The next time you pitch” started the ace. “If it was a ball or got hit, just blame Miyuki calls”

Eijun brightened. “You just gave me a great idea senpai!”

“Oi oi…”

 


 

Tetsu-san score a homerun out of Sanada. But of course! He expect nothing less from the leader! He jogged towards the dugout so casually as if he didn’t just giving 2 point for Seido.

The current score is 8-1 to Seido

 


 

Top and bottom of the 7th, both team failed to score.

Sanada doesn’t look affected after Tetsu-san homerun and consecutive 2 points given to Seido. He’s still smiling and pitch calmly on top of the mound.

Eijun realized, that Sanada really is an amazing ace. Not losing his cool, not letting his emotion overtake his pitching, successfully defends Yakushi many times despite Seido hard hitters.

Though, he doesn’t want to lose too. He’s determined to keep the 7 point lead so that the pitcher after him can have an easier time pitching despite the strong line up of Yakushi.

 


 

He let the satisfaction that roll out of his stomach as he watched Sanada fail to hit his pitch.

The older looks agitated when the umpire announced that he was out. Considering that Miyuki-senpai sign for a cutter and a changeup, he would be pissed too if he was in the older position.

At this point, the game is nearing the final inning. Seido, still retain their lead.

Top of the 8th, Seido announced a player change.

“Seido High School announced a change of player” said the announcer. Murmurs rose around the audience almost immediately. “Replacing pitcher, Sawamura-kun, pitcher, Kawakami-kun”

 


 

Slumped inside of the dugout, Eijun let the towel draped over his head as he chugged down the water bottle on his hand. He had finished pitching 5 innings and managed to defend Seido’s score. The bright red 1 next to Yakushi name is a clear testament to that.

“If things go well” started Eijun, golden eyes zeroing on the match in front of him. “Nori-senpai will face Todoroki in the next inning”

“Or he will face it in this inning” replied Miyauchi-senpai dryly, staring at Nori-senpai who was preparing his windup. “We’ll be facing him regardless”

“Todoroki seems like a fun person!” said Eijun after a moment. “I want to be friends with him!”

Harucchi sweat dropped. “Eijun-kun…” said the pink haired teen.

Though, the worst kind of scenario arrived at their doorstep.

Watanabe, Yakushi 7th batter managed to advance to the first base. Following after that, is two sacrificial bunt that made the guy in the third base right now.

And the worst possible opponent.

Todoroki let out a loud laugh as he stood on the batter box. A runner on third and their monster batter up to bat. The second year pitcher looked nervous as he took a deep breath and kept adjusting his cap back and forth.

Miyuki-senpai called for a timeout, jogging towards where the pitcher is. The both of them exchanged some words before the catcher pat Nori-senpai back right at the number 11 and went back to his place again.

Calming himself, Eijun could see a new kind of determination set into the older eyes. Hand whipping back and-

CLANG!

Nori-senpai gave 1 run in the 8th inning.

 


 

Bottom of the 8th, in an attempt to reassure Nori-senpai and give him more room to breath, Seido batters are determined to widen the gap between Yakushi and Seido.

At this point, Sanada looked exhausted. He was drenched in sweat and his breathing was hard. It was obvious, that the older was not in an optimal shape as before. Eijun noticed that maybe this was the reason he was not used from the start. That Sanada has a low stamina, even with how his pitching is great.

In this inning, the sound of bat meeting balls keep resounding over and over.

In the 9th inning, Nori-senpai only gave up another 1 run.

It’s a win for Seido.

 


 

“GAME SET-!”

 


 

“Faced against the pitcher relay strategy with Sawamura Eijun leading the defense of Seido High School!” said the announcer in a loud booming voice. “Yakushi attempts to catch up fails! Dominating this game, is Seido High School with the final score of 11-3!”

 


 

Todoroki is crying, noticed Eijun from the dugout.

Fat tears could be seen escaping his eyes as he tried to hold it in – but failing. His hands are clenched on his side and he kept looking at the ground. Yakushi second batter immediately tugged him in an one arm hug, trying to comfort the first year cleanup.

One by one, Yakushi members began making a looser circle around Todoroki and it was when an uncontrollable sob escaped the teen.

As Eijun watch the teen got comforted by his teammates, he decided maybe there’s a better time to strike a friendship with the other teen.

“Eijun-kun?” asked Harucchi. “You’re not going to Todoroki?”

“Nah” said Eijun with a shake of his head as he approached where Seido members already lined up. “If I were in their position and the winner of the opposing team approached me, I’ll be pissed”

The pink haired teen let out a hum. “Well, there will always a better time to be friends”

 


 

The better time, it seems, is when both team exited the field.

Eijun didn’t really expect to meet both Sanada and Todoroki face to face. He was running to the toilet alone, hurrying his steps because he doesn’t want to miss the bus. Takashima-san had levelled him an unimpressed stare the last time he almost miss the buss and he frankly doesn’t want to repeat that.

So with a record speed, he marched towards the toilet and finished his business before he wiped his hands and went out. The southpaw was exiting the toilet when he stopped on his track, facing both Yakushi ace and first year cleanup who was about to enter the toilet.

The three of them stood there, awkwardly making an eye contact. Should- should he greet them? Will it be insensitive? But it will be more awkward if he leave without saying anything!

“Ah” said Eijun, staring at both of them, after a moment of silence.

Sanada quirked an eyebrow at that. “Ah” echoed Sanada back, while Todoroki whipped his head towards both Eijun and Sanada wildly. The first year’s eyes are still red, an evidence of his tears earlier.

“Sanda Shunpei and Todoroki Raichi!” Eijun finally let out before bowing. “Earlier was a great game!”

The older blinked. “Sawamura” he finally said, giving him a nod. “It was a great game too, to us”

“Thank you!” Said Eijun as he stood right back up. “Your cutter was amazing!”

“Thanks I guess?”

Eijun turned towards Todoroki and offered him a grin. “Your batting was awesome too!” he said. “You’re like the most fun batter I’ve ever faced!”

Todoroki grow red at the unexpected compliment before he nodded his head repeatedly. “T- T- Thank you!” said the teen after a few stumble of words that resulting in Sanada snicker.

“We should exchange tips!” said Eijun, stepping forward towards Todoroki that made the teen grow redder. “Maybe practice together!”

“U-Uh… i…”

“What’s your line id?” asked Eijun as he took out his phone from his pocket. “Lets chat!”

“L-L-Line id? I- um…”

“Raichi doesn’t have a phone actually” cut Sanada off with a grin as he slung an arm around Todoroki shoulder. Somehow Sanada reminds him of Miyuki-senpai. Does that mean he has a terrible personality too? He hopes not. “You can exchange with mine if you want to?”

Eijun stared at the second year.

“Sure!”

 


 

Seido High School, advance to the semifinals.

 


 

Chapter Text

Kazuya blinked.

“Huh?” he said, hand grabbing towards one particular thing stacked neatly on top of Chris-senpai drawers.

It was the night after the match with Yakushi. Frankly speaking, Kazuya body ache and he wants nothing but to lay down and finally catch up some sleep before facing another grueling practice tomorrow. But alas, he needs to review today’s match with Chris-senpai first before he can went into the dream land.

His room, as usual, is packed to the brim with the other members of the baseball team. Sawamura – who surprisingly good at shogi, who would’ve known – is in the middle of a shogi championship with Tetsu-san. Kominato jr, who surprisingly a talented gamer – proven by beating Kuramochi countless time before – is in the middle of a death match with several members of the team. Jun-san too, was in the middle of demanding his nightly massage to Furuya before he decided to scurried away and go to Chris-senpai room.

So here he is, standing in front of the third year drawer, staring blankly at the thing between his fingers.

The third year room was pristine as usual, as expected of Chris-senpai. A lot of books – school books, scorebooks – could be seen lined up neatly on the older drawer. Baseball memorabilia too, could be seen being presented neatly.

Back when he was a first year, he and Kuramochi had geeked out at the signed baseball balls lining up the catcher drawer. There’s a sighed ball from Yakult Swallows current captain, the Yankees third baseman, and many more. It was a baseball haven, if Kazuya has any say on it. A treasure trove for baseball nerds.

Though, tonight, one particular object caught his attention.

Chris-senpai, noticing his sudden silence, looked up from the scorebook on his hand. It was of Sensen latest match and they were about to review it together alongside today’s match. “Miyuki?” he asked, gaining the second year catcher attention immediately. Kazuya has his back facing the third year so the older can’t see what currently caught his interest. “What’s wrong?”

What’s wrong? He asked what’s wrong?

Really Chris-senpai?

“Senpai” said Kazuya, finally getting his words to string together inside his head, turned his head to look at the older. “Must be nice to have a pro father”

The third year stared blankly at him. “What are you even talking about?” said Chris-senpai. “Lets just get started-“ Thought what he was about to say was cut when Kazuya opened his mouth and shoved one particular object straight towards the older face.

“This!” yelled Kazuya, the excitement that’s been bubbling inside his chest since he first laid his eyes on this thing- no, treasure that is on top of Chris-senpai drawer. “Senpai I know you’re well off but how did you get this?”

On his hand, is a baseball ball. A baseball ball inside a box of glass with an autograph on it. It’s not a normal autograph though, it’s-

Nakatani Shouta

    - I’ll see you in MLB, Chris –

Kazuya is not a baseball nerd – “What the fuck that’s not true” said Kuramochi if he ever heard this “You’re the biggest baseball nerd out there” – but just like any teens growing up with baseball as their sport, prominent baseball players is practically akin to his idol. He has a lot players to admire, maybe the Giants catcher from last summer, or maybe the Yakult Swallows cleanup a few years back, but what Kazuya share with the rest of the high school baseball players out there in Japan, he admire Nakatani Shouta.

It was no secret that the former Inashiro player – yes he knows that, Mei and the rest of the Inashiro never stop bragging about that – was and still is, a legend amongst the baseball community. He remembers watching the man games when he was young, still in the early years of elementary, and shed tears alongside his dad when he watch his farewell game on the tv.

He grow up watching Nakatani Shouta play baseball and at first, he was one of the reason why he wants to play catcher. Don’t get him wrong, the first time he did put an interest in the position is because of how cool the glove look, but the other reason why he decided to keep the position is because how fun the legendary player pitches is. Kazuya can only imagine what it like to catch one, to catch the pitches that he wants to catch back when he was a child.

(He wonders if his dream do come true, he wonder silently. If he can’t catch Nakatani Shouta pitch, he thinks that catching Sawamura’s pitch is plenty fun already)

Nakatani Shouta never really give out his autograph. Despite the man fame and sheer fans in the baseball community. Baseball balls with the ex yet still legendary player is hard to come by. Kazuya had once seen an autographed baseball ball from the older 100th homerun sold with a price that he doesn’t even dare to think.

He knows that Chris-senpai’s dad used to be a pro in the Japanese league. That means connections, but how did he even got his hand on it!?

“Ah, you’ve seen it” answered the third year, staring at the baseball ball on Kazuya’s hand. “I got that recently”

“Recently?” asked Kazuya.

The other teen nodded. “Yeah, it’s my newest collection”

As the older said that, the second year catcher turned his attention back on the baseball ball on his hand. It was protected with a glass box, a testament of how Chris-senpai value the thing considering the rest of his autographed baseball ball is merely set on a wooden pedestal.

Ugh.

Kazuya doesn’t want to admit it but he wants one.

“By any chance” started Kazuya, still staring at the ball in hand. “Do you want to sell this to me?”

Chris-senpai raised an eyebrow, mouth quirked up in an amused manner. “What are you willing to trade?”

I’m willing to sell my soul, make contract with the devil. “I’ll cook for your for a week?” he offered instead.

“No” said Chris-senpai, still smiling. He probably found some sort of amusement out of this. It’s Kazuya job to found amusement in someone else suffering, not Chris-senpai.

“A month?” he offered again because he’s broke and can’t possibly buy the ball with it actual price even when he saved up his allowance for an entire year.

The third year cocked his head sideways, making a humming sound as if he was seriously contemplating about the decision. “A hard bargain but no” settled Chris-senpai with another smile of his.

“I... 500 yen?”

“Are you serious?”

Kazuya gave him a deadpan expression. “Senpai, I’m a broke student, please give me a reasonable price for this”

“No” said Chris-senpai as he took the ball from Kazuya hand. He almost reflexively wat to took it back. “You know how hard it is to get a genuine Nakatani Shouta autograph”

“So it’s really genuine?” asked the other teen. “Not some knockoff you found in the internet”

“Of course it’s genuine” replied Chris-senpai as he took his phone from his pocket. He pressed on the screen a couple of times before he showed it towards Kazuya.

If he has any doubt of the authenticity of the autograph beforehand, it flew out of the window now. Because on Chris-senpai screen is Nakatani Shouta, a bit older than his last media appearance a few years ago, wearing what looked like pajamas and on the older hand is the baseball ball. The baseball ball that Kazuya was holding a few moments ago.

Holy shit he was holding a baseball ball that Nakatani Shouta previously hold.

“Senpai” he said after a moment of pause, still staring at the screen in front of him. “My birthday is on November”

“I know Miyuki” answered the third year immediately before he turned off his phone. “And before you ask, I’m not going to give you a Nakatani Shouta autographed baseball ball”

The second year catcher groaned, finally slumping down in front of the third year. “So mean” he lamented out because what the fuck, as expected of Chris-senpai, to manage to get hold of Nakatani Shouta genuine autographed baseball ball. “How did you even managed to get that senpai?” asked Kazuya.

Chris-senpai stared at him a few moments before he gave him a mysterious smile. “I have my ways”

 


 

With Seido high school advancing to the semifinals from block A, Sensen academy from block B, Inashiro Industrial from block C, and Sakurazawa from block D, it is the time for the Tokyo Tournament final four to battle each other for a chance to Koshien.

 


 

The cafetaria was bustling with chatters from the first string as they reviewed their next match. Coach stood in front of them, alongside Takahsima-san as all of them watched the latest news about Tokyo Tournament.

Sensen had advanced to the semifinals from their block. Victory under their belt as the announcer announced the top 4 high school that will fight each other for a chance to feel the grass and the exhilarating feeling of summer Koshien.

Eijun sat between Harucchi and Furuya, talking with each other about the match when Seido third baseman voice rang out.

“Like I thought” started Jun-san, eyes still locked on to the latest news coverage about Tokyo tournament. “Our opponent will be Sensen”

“Sensen” mumbled Eijun, racking his head for the familiar name. A sight of Chris-senpai walking into the field, of Chris-senpai catching for him immediately appeared in his head. His eyes effectively widened before he turned towards Harucchi. “It’s that team right? The one we played for the practice match”

“Practice match?” mumbled Furuya.

“You know, the great drink incident!” said Eijun because he got chewed out by Kuramochi-senpai and Jun-san after ending up playing in a practice match when he was just going to buy the senpais some drink.

“Ah” said Furuya, realizing which match their talking about. “The great drink incident”

Harucchi chuckled at that before giving his confirmation to Eijun’s previous question. “Yeah” he said. “The one where you reconcile with Chris-senpai”

“We’re not fighting!” protested Eijun immediately because he and Chris-senpai never fought okay!?

“Chris-senpai avoided you though” added Furuya unhelpfully.

Eijun gasped dramatically, slumping down to the cafetaria table as if he was hit by something that pained him. “Is this” he gasped out. “What betrayal feels like!?”

“Sawamura stop being dramatic” commented Kuramochi-senpai from the table in front of them.

“Senpai you traitor!”

Kuramochi-senpai was about to retort when a voice piped up, gaining everyone attention. “They had a really huge pitcher you know” said Kadota-senpai, making a big motion with his hand. “Over 2m tall”

Eijun blinked. That- That’s giant.

How can someone be over 2m tall!?

The team gaped at that. Compared to other countries, many Japanese players have the unfortunate luck of not being blessed in the height category. With that height, Sensen giant ace, Maki Yousuke, would be something that is unprecedented in Japan.

“His specialty curve ball, will be something different compared to other high school player.” Commented Chris-senpai. “Because he throw it from a height that’s higher from any other high school player”

Almost immediately, the team turned their head towards Tanmba-senpai who has the height of 185cm and his specialty is curve ball.

“I should- I should drink more milk” mumbled Eijun, imagining Tanba-senpai and Sensen’s giant facing each other in field. He will look like an ant standing besides them!

“Me too” agreed on Harucchi immediately.

“Lets talk about the next lineup” said coach, catching everyone attention to him and making them momentarily forgot about Sensen giant. “Regarding the starting pitcher” started coach as he crossed his arm together. Both Eijun and Furuya perked up at that, leaning forward towards the table in excitement. “I’m thinking of going with Tanba”

Well…

It’s an expected decision to him but unfortunately, the small tingle of disappointment still appeared inside of him. He understand why coach did that, considering this is the semi finals already and Seido still didn’t use their ace and rely heavily on their first years pitcher instead. People began to talk, that maybe Seido is underestimating them or maybe their ace is heavily injured after that practice match.

Coach had promised Tanba-senpai that he will use him in their game against Yakushi but that didn’t happen with Eijun successfully defending their score in the majority of the inning and with Furuya and Kawakami-senpai only letting 1 and 3 runs respectively.

So he completely understand why coach decided to bring out Tanba-senpai right now.

“He’s back in his position” said Kominato-senpai as he gave the ace a genuine smile, a smile that was returned with an embarrassed nod from their ace.

Masuko-senpai and Kuramochi-senpai snickered. “A fight between curveballs”

That sounds kind of interesting to watch, tought Eijun in an attempt to lighten up his move. He wants to watch it.

“He’ll win with the shape of his head” added Tetsu-san confidently.

“How does that matter!?”

Their conversation was cut short when Coach opened his mouth again. “As usual, Kawakami prepare yourself” said the older as he casted a glance towards where Nori-senpai sat.

Nori-senpai flinched a bit before he hastily stood up. “Y-yessir!” yelled the second year pitcher with a jerky nod.

Coach seems to be satisfied by that answer because he gave the second year a brief nod of acknowledgement. “Also” said the older, turning his head towards Eijun’s table. “Furuya, you’ll get on the mound too if there’s a chance, so be prepared for that"

Furuya blinked before he slowly pointed a finger towards himself. The coach gave him a stiff nod at that.

“Yessir” answered Furuya immediately.

“Sawamura” addressed Coach after that, locking his eyes towards Eijun.

“Yes boss!” he answered immediately, saluting as he stood up.

“You’re not going to pitch for this match if I can help it” explained the older man. “Rest up, you’ve pitched the majority of our games so far”

Eijun blinked at that. Not playing? “Okay!” he answered, sitting back down in his seat.

Harucchi turned his head towards him as the team continue the briefing for their next match. “Are you okay?” whispered the pink haired first year.

It was disappointing, but Eijun nodded his head nonetheless. “Yeah, I’m okay”

 


 

Eijun stood inside the indoor practice area. One hand holding a bat while the other are wiping the sweat off of his forehead.

It was late, already passed midnight the last time he checked. He knows that he needs to get some sleep tomorrow considering he still have a morning practice and his usual run later in the morning. He also knows that he needs to catch up some sleep soon or he will get caught sleeping in class again.

Though, he can’t help the restless energy that had been gnawing inside of him lately.

The match against Sensen is approaching closer and closer. While the southpaw is aware that he won’t be playing for the next game, ever since the match against Yakushi, his desire to be on the field had grown larger. It was hard to contain it sometimes, to contain the disappointment that appeared every time coach told me that he won’t be playing or that he needs to rest.

Maybe it’s because the match with Yakushi was really exhilarating. That it was so fun that Eijun’s desire to play a match like that starts to grow more. His ongoing correspondence with Sanada-senpai and Raichi via the second year pitcher line also fueled his growing desire to play more and more.

He knows that it was for the best. To let his body rest and avoid potential injury. He knows that if Sho-san is here, the older would scolded him harshly and dragged him kicking and screaming to rest. Eijun knows that, yet his thirst to play more and more and more are getting harder to control.

How greedy, he thought as he narrowed his eyes.

Huffing out a breath, the southpaw shook his head before slapping his cheek with one hand. Forget about it, he thought, focusing his gaze once again, I’m still not the ace yet, there’s still many exciting match in the future! He’s only a first year!

So fucking greedy.  

“Knew it” said a familiar voice that appeared behind him suddenly. “You’ve been practicing late at night”

Eijun didn’t need to turned around to know who just appeared. “Miyuki-senpai” greeted the southpaw as the familiar form of Miyuki Kazuya appeared at his line of sight. The second year catcher was wearing what seems like the older’s sleep wear. “What are you doing here?”

Miyuki-senpai cocked an eyebrow at him. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” he said. “It’s almost 2 in the morning and you’re still here”

“I’m practicing in case you can’t see” huffed out Eijun with a pout as he slung his baseball bat over his shoulder. “You should be sleeping senpai”

“I could say the same to you” said the catcher as he crossed his arms together. “Are you even planning to get some sleep?”

“Of course I do! Sleep is important!”

“Says the guy who’s ditching sleep right now” commented Miyuki-senpai dryly. “Go get some sleep Sawamura, you still have your morning run and morning practice right?”

Eijun bristled like a wet cat. “I was about to!”

“That sounds like a lie”

“How rude Miyuki Kazuya! If this Sawamura Eijun wants to lie no one will know!” That’s a lie because Sho-san once remarked that Eijun can’t lie to save himself and always wear his heart on his sleeve.

The other teen looked like that he doesn’t believe him. “Really?” he asked dubiously. “Like when you lie you didn’t ate Masuko-senpai pudding last week and got caught immediately?”

“Geh-!” grunted Eijun, sweating bullets. “That’s a one time occurrence!”

“Whatever, if you said so” shrugged Miyuki-senpai as he slung an arm around Eijun shoulder. “Enough practice for today, go get some sleep now” said the catcher as he dragged the pitcher forcibly out of the indoor practice area.

“Hey!” Protested Eijun as he struggled to get out of the older hold. “I’m still practicing! Lemme go!”

Miyuki-senpai snorted. “I won’t be a really good catcher if I don’t take care of my pitcher” said the second year. “Why are you practicing anyway? Nightmares or something?”

“It’s not nightmare!” yelped the southpaw indignantly. “Its! Its just-!” he quiet down at that, glaring towards the ground.

At that, Miyuki-senpai turned quiet again, staring at Eijun with something that the first year can’t decipher. How embarrassing! To get caught by Miyuki Kazuya out of all people! Its-!

They stopped, right in front of the vending machine.

That effectively broke Eijun out of his internal screaming as he blinked as he watched Miyuki-senpai pressed some buttons on the machine. “Senpai?” he asked. “You’re thirsty or something?”

He was about to ask more question when he found a canned milk being shoved straight into his face.

Eijun blinked, staring at the canned milk in front of his face. “Huh?”

“For you” said Miyuki-senpai, tone a bit tense and huh, is that embarrassment? “I heard milk is good when you can’t sleep”

The southpaw stared at the second year catcher.

Is- Is Miyuki Kazuya trying to comfort him!?

Seido starting catcher, the smug second year with terrible personality that found joy and enjoyment in tormenting and annoying someone!? The guy who always bluntly criticize someone!? The guy who found that making Kuramochi-senpai annoyed to death is the peak of his day!?

The guy, who share the same passionate love for baseball just like Eijun. The guy who sounds so excited when they’re talking about baseball. The guy who poured a lot of his time  as well as effort to study as well as analyze their opponents for each game.

The guy who is also Eijun’s catcher.

“I- you-“ stuttered Eijun, still staring at the second year who now has a scowl on his face.

“Just take it” said Miyuki-senpai, no doubt embarrassed. “That milk is expensive, I expect you to play your best in the finals”

“Miyuki-senpai are you trying to comfort me!?” gasped Eijun, eyes widened. “I didn’t know you’re a softie at heart!”

“Who is trying to comfort you!” Yelled Miyuki-senpai back. “It’s my job as a catcher!”

“Whatver you said senpai”

“Ah, you have such a horrible personality now” said Miyuki-senpai as the both of them stepped into the dorm building.

“Who do you think I got that from!?”

“Not me for sure” replied the second year without a hint of hesitation.

“LIAR!?”

 


 

Eijun stepped into dorm number 5 quietly, milk half finished and he found himself inside a brightly lit room.

“Sawamura” said Kuramochi-senpai, turning around in his swivel chair as he stared at him with a terrifying aura. “You’re finally back”

“Kuramochi-senpai!?” Yelped Eijun. “Why are you still awake!?”

A hand touched his shoulder. “We should be the one asking you that, Sawamura-chan” said Masuko-senpai who appeared out of nowhere. “Why are you practicing until so late at night?”

“Masuko-senpai!?”

Kuramochi-senpai clicked his tongue. “Che” he grunted. “I bet if Miyuki didn’t caught you red handed you’ll still practicing”

“How did you know I got caught by Miyuki-senpai!?”

“The both of you bicker so loudly” answered Masuko-senpai helpfully. “I think you woke up several people with your bickering”

“Anyway” started Kuramochi-senpai, standing up and advanced towards where Eijun and Masuko-senpai stood. “What are you thinking huh Sawamura!?”

“S- sorry?” said Eijun hesitantly. “It’s just- uh- i-“

He can’t say that he was restless and disappointed by the coach decision. It will only make him looked greedy. Will make him look-

“Is it about the coach decision?” asked Kuramochi-senpai. “About the Sensen match?”

Eijun didn’t answer but he flinched. It seems that Kuramochi-senpai took that as a yes.

“Idiot” said the shortstop as he reached to ruffle Eijun’s hair. “Bakamura, are you considering yourself a part of the Seido team?”

The southpaw stared, confused by the question. “Of- of course?” he answered, a bit unsure.

“So” stressed out Kuramochi-senpai as he stared at Eijun. “If you have any worry, share it with us, share it with someone from the team” said the second year. “Don’t bottled it up inside yourself Bakamura, it won’t help” at this, he flicked Eijun’s forehead. “We stand together, we play baseball together because we’re a team, got it?”

Eijun stared.

Eijun, who was the one man team back in Akagi. Eijun, who always played game back in middle school as if he was the only one on the field. Eijun, who desperately craves to play in an actual team.

Eijun, who is part of Seido baseball team now.

“That’s right Sawamura-chan” said Masuko-senpai as he too, reached out to ruffled Eijun’s hair. “It’s humane to be disappointed after all, just share it with us and we’ll see what we can do to help you”

Eijun, who is part of Seido baseball team now.

He laughes.

“Seido really is the best!”

“Of course Seido is the best Bakamura!”

 


 

“Anyway what’s up with the milk?”

“Ah, Miyuki-senpai gave me this, helps if you can’t sleep according to him”

“That asshole actually tried to comfort you!?”

 


 

“Ah” said Eijun, eyes widened as if he just realized something. “Senpai, do you want a cake?”

Kuramochi-senpai and Jun-san both turned to look at him, brow quirked in confusion. “Haa?” said the latter. “The hell are you talking about Sawamura?”

Just like usual – almost every night after practice – the team are hanging out in Miyuki-senpai room. Said owner of the room, are currently preoccupied on reading a scorebook next to Eijun, something that he also did earlier before he remembered something crucial.

“Cake!” said the pitcher, grinning widely. “I just remembered that I have some and I can’t eat it all before it gone bad!”

“I want cake” mumbled Furuya from where he is massaging Jun-san.

“It would be great if you could bring it Eijun-kun” replied Harucchi too.

“Great then!” said Eijun before he walked out of the room and to his dorm room to take the cake that was given to him.

He was surprised when some girls from his class gave him a whole cake earlier. They said that at home economics, they were making tarts and they thought that Eijun would like some. Eijun had tried to rejected it, considering that he can’t eat it alone, but they were so adamant that he felt bad and accepting it in the end. Of course his teammates wants some! He should put that in mind before rejecting any food offered to him!

Arriving back at Miyuki-senpai room with a paper box in hand, he presented the cake to the occupants of the room.

“Ta-da!” he said, opening the box and showing the chocolate cake to all of them. “Cake!”

“We know it’s a cake” replied Kuramochi-senpai dryly before he took a plastic fork that was offered to him by Harucchi and grab a bite. “Thanks Sawamura”

“You’re welcome!”

“When did you even have the time to buy a cake, Sawamura-chan?” asked Masuko-senpai as he and some members decided to grab a bit.

Eijun shook his head. “Oh I didn’t buy it! I’m broke from buying a new bat!”

“You stole it?” asked Miyuki-senpai from where he still preoccupied with his scorebook.

“Of course not! Stop painting me in a bad light Miyuki-senpai!” huffed out Eijun. “Some girls in my class gave it to me!”

Silent descended across the room at that as most of the players present turned to stare at where Eijun sat. The only sound that could be heard is form both Kuramochi-senpai and Jun-san who chocked on their cake all of a sudden. The sound of their coughing alarmed Eijun at first but it stopped after they were offered drinks by both Tetsu-san and Furuya.

“I think I heard it wrong” said Kuramochi-senpai as he wiped his mouth with a tissue offered by Harucchi. “Where did you get the cake Sawamura?”

“My friends” answered Eijun, still staring at Kuramochi-senpai and Jun-san who is still recovering from the violent coughing fit.

“No, I mean, who?” stressed out Kuramochi-senpai.

“The girls in my class?” answered the pitcher again, unsure why the shortsop keep asking question and the glare that Jun-san gave him.

Only to be tackled by both Kuramochi-senpai and Jun-san.

“This bastard!” Yelled the third year, shaking Eijun by the collar.

“What are you talking about senpai!? My parents are married!”

“When did you have a girlfriend huh Sawamura!?” Yelled Kuramochi-senpai too. “HUHHH!?”

“What are you even talking about senpai!?”

“Uh… senpai please let Eijun-kun go…”

“Kominato jr don’t interfere!”

“JUN-SAN!? KURAMOCHI-SENPAI!?”

 


 

Eijun almost chocked out the water he’s drinking.

“Coach is pitching!?” he said, frantic eyes turning to where both Harucchi and Furuya stood. Both of them also have a surprised expression etched on their face as they watch the man stood on the mound.

All three of them are staring at where Coach Kataoka stood on top of the ground that has been elevated by sands. On his hand, is a baseball ball gripped tightly as he stared at the position where batters usually stood to bat.

“We’re practicing for angled pitches” announced Coach as he stood on top of the sand covered mound. The older was imitating Sensen’s Maki height by standing on top of it. “Who’s going first?” he asked, voice full of challenge.

The third years seems fired up for some reason. All of them fought with each other to see who will be the first one to bat against the coach. In the end, Tetsu-san came out victorious.

“I can seriously hit it right?” asked the third year as he adjusted his helmet. A determined glint could be seen on his face. If Eijun squint, he could see a faint aura enveloping Seido captain.

“If you can” anwered coach, tone a bit smug and challenging.

It seems that was the right call because almost immediately, the Seido baseball clum members yelled out encouragements for Tetsu-san to hit off Coach’s pitch.

“Tetsu hit it!”

“Tetsu-san!”

Not wanting to lose, Eijun also yelled. “The pitcher is scared! Hit him off Tetsu-san!”

“Eijun-kun!?” Yelped Harucchi as he turned his head towards the southpaw. “Please don’t egg on Coach!”

“The pitcher is scared” said Furuya in a slightly louder voicd than usual.

“Not you too Furuya-kun!?”

“Yeah! The pitcher is scared!” Yelled Eijun once again, mouth in a full blown grin.

Tetsu-san managed to hit it, much to all of their astonishment.

 


 

Furuya stared, toothbrush in his mouth as he stared at Masuko-senpai who is also staring back at him.

“Senpai” said the first year pitcher, eyes fixed on the weird pattern on top of the third year hair. “I didn’t know you’re the last airbender”

“Furuya!?”

 


 

'Two more until Koshien, hell yeah'

Eijun stared at the notice board in front of him. The announcement was put there the night before, when they just finished eating in the dining hall. It was written in a big bold red letter on top of a white paper. Blunt and confident.

His hand balled into a fist. 

'Two more' he thought, gaze hard. 'Two more until Koshien'

 


 

Masuko-senpai is bald.

Bald, like Tanba-senpai.

Eijun blinked.

"A-A- A monk!?" he yelled, pointing his hand towards the newly arrived third year, catching the attention of the first string. Haruchhi, as if on reflex at this point, slapped his hand over Eijun's mouth. Stopping him from saying anything else that could offend someone.

Before any of the members could react at Masuko senpai new look, the coach entered.

"We'll have a small meeting after eating" the older said, talking to Takashima-san who was standing behind him. "We'll leave at 7 so the bus-" only to stop when he saw Masuko-senpai bald head.

They stared at each other. The cafeteria was silent, staring at the two male who was staring at each other quietly.

"Masuko" said coach finally, as if he finally settled on the right words to say. "Who are you appealing to?"

Pft-

"HAHAHAHAH SO MEAN COACH!" Finally, the laugh that was threatening to burst out earlier came out.

"Actually what's up with your head Masuko!?"

"Tanba-senpai you have a friend!" Laughed Eijun as he point towards both the ace and Masuko-senpai.

"It's nice that you made a fellow comrade" commented Kominato-senpai.

Even both Coach and Takashima san is laughing at that point.

 


 

The day of Sensen vs Seido has arrived.

 


 

Chapter Text

“We’re playing Seido next”

If possible, the temperature around Sensen baseball team dropped. Glances could be seen exchanged around the players. Nervousness and something akin to fear started to bubble on everyone stomach as they process what their coach had said.

Sensen High School only become famous for their baseball team recently. Different from the three kings of Tokyo that had ruled Tokyo high school baseball scene for years, Sensen only recently show the high school baseball scene how good they are. That they are also competent enough to compete with schools that has been hailed as powerhouse for generations.

If Seido, Inashiro, and Ichidaisan is like a mountain that everyone wants to climb and conquer, Sensen is like a small hill that stood in front of the three mountain. Everyone wants to conquer it and is easy to do so, but beyond them, there are still mountains that stood above everyone.

After all, It was not news, that even though many thought Sensen is a powerhouse school, they’re the one school that always got the players that other powerhouse school doesn’t want. They’re the leftovers, the player who is way too good for a small team but not good enough to reach the stars.

They are not players that could rival Inashiro’s Narumiya or Seido’s Miyuki. They are not someone who could compete with players in the three powerhouse, less reach the starter position. But they’re also better than players from small time time. Better than an average student playing baseball.

Many Sensen players wants to go to Seido back then. Had hoped that they’re one of the lucky few who managed to catch Seido attention and got scouted. Had hoped, that they could pass Seido competitive entrance test for a chance to be in their baseball team.

Hoped.

In the end, they ended up in Sensen. In a school where leftovers gathered together.

“Seido” muttered Yagi Keiichi, face turned serious at the mention of the school. “Really, the semifinals are terrifying” he said, staring at the paper in front of him where the four remaining teams are listed.

“If we’re in the other block we’ll be playing Inashiro, both options are bad” said one of the players. “We should be thankful that Ichidaisan is in the same block with Seido and already got defeated by Yakushi”

“Yeah, we don’t stand a chance against them” laughed another player, sounding a bit restrained. “Usually we won’t even have the chance to enter semifinals but we’re really lucky this year…”

Another player voiced their agreement. “It’s because Seido’s block is really terrifying” he supplied. “Only the strongest will survive there”

“And it’s Seido”

Sensen’s third baseman nodded his head. His knuckled resten on his face as he leaned foreard, putting his body weight on the hand he’s leaning to. “Seido though… recently they’ve been…”

“Terrifying” supplied Keiichi. “Seido has become a monster recently”

“Not that they’re not monsters before but…” trailed off Sensen’s first baseman. “It’s like they found a newfound spirit to tackle Koshien this year”

The players around him nodded their head. “Yeah” agreed one. “This summer they look really determined to get that chance in Koshien” at this, he leaned back on his chair, head thrown back as he stared at the meeting room ceilings. “How nice”

“You got that right” piped another, a wistful smile on his face. “How nice, I want to go to Seido too!”

“Dude” laughs one. “It’s been one year, you’re still regretting that?” he said, as he slung the previous teen shoulder.

Another one piped up. “It’s been two year for me and I still want to go to Seido” mused one. “I’m not picky, if Inashiro or Ichidaisan scouted me I’ll take up that offer too”

“That’s picky!”

“Can’t help it” muttered the first teen after his laugh quiet down. He cocked his head towards the ceiling, staring at the lights on top of him. “Ah, if only I played harder back in middle school, maybe I’ll be in Seido now… how lucky, they who got scouted”

“There’s no way you got scouted” laughed another one, mouth forming a teasing grin. “Their latest scout is Sawamura you know, the pitcher that everyone is talking about recently”

Heads shot up at the mention of Sawamura. “For real?” asked Sensen third baseman.

An image of a teen with bright golden eyes appeared in everyone mind. Sawamura is the player that everyone has been talking about lately. Seido latest golden egg, a prodigious pitcher that could rival Inashiro’s Narumiya. With him in their roster, Seido chance to be in Koshien grows with every game they conquer.

“Yeah, the previous year was Miyuki, their starting catcher” he answered. “Man, Seido really picked the best of the best for their scout”

“Augh- there’s no way I got scouted then-!”

“Guys” cut off Yagi, eyes narrowing a bit. “Lets start talking about our plan for the next match alright? Stop wallowing in regret that you ended up here”

The members yelped. “You know we don’t mean it like that Yagi!” protested one, slinging an arm around the frowning catcher. “We love Sensen, right guys!?” he said loudly, rallying the members around him.

“Yeah! Yeah!”

“Sensen number 1!”

“Lets go Koshien!”

Though, those words of encouragement sounds empty. As if the players themselves doesn’t believe what they’re talking about. That it is only a mere empty promise to satisfy their starting catcher.

Said catcher also noticed that. Eyes narrowing at the loud empty encouragements around him. It has always been like this. Being named the school for leftovers is a huge blow for their pride. Yagi won’t lie and said that Sensen is his first choice. Back then, he was aiming for Inashiro. Though, it seems he was lacking in the term of skill and have to be satisfied in Sensen.

But that’s all in the past now. He’s in Sensen now and he will do his best to make this team to be the best out there. To be a team that is not named as the leftover school anymore. He wants to be a team who is everyone first choice, not the backup plan school.

Yagi sighed, recylicng back on his chair. It seems that his train of thoughts are not shared by the majority of the members. “Well, whatever you guys said” he muttered, pinching the space between his brows. It was also then he remember someone that has been quiet down for some time now.

The catcher peered towards said player, brows furrowing as he cocked his head sideways. “Maki?” he prodded.  “You’re really quiet, what’s wrong?”

All of their attention are now turned to one of the tables near them. There sat Sensen’s ace, Maki Yousuke, the famed 2m pitcher. Said pitcher is looking pointedly at the table, mouth setting into a tight line.

“Maki?” asked Yagi again as he leaned towards the pitcher. “You okay?”

“… Seido”

The catcher blinked. “Huh?”

“I also wanted to go to Seido” said Maki finally, looking up and meeting the eyes of the rest of his teammates.

Frowning, Yagi hit Maki’s back lightly. “Stop this nonsense” he scolded. “We all know you wanted to go to Seido at first, but you’re in Sensen now, so stop regretting that”

Maki shook his head. “No, you don’t understand, it’s not like that”

Yagi raised an eyebrow. “What I don’t understand?”

“I wanted to go to Seido, but they didn’t pick me, not even once” muttered the pitcher, hand balling into a fist.

It was a harsh reality for the pitcher. Throughout middle school, Seido had always been his dream school. He dreams his future where he will play in Seido, wearing the school white and blue jersey. He dreams yelling the famed Seido roar with his teammates as he plays a game of his dreams with his dream school.

Seido, had been his future. But that changes when no scout from Seido came to him. So invitation from his dream school even though he had played his best during his middle school years for a chance to be noticed. It was, a harsh truth. That Maki is not enough for Seido.

Now, he’s not wearing Seido blue and white jerseys. Instead, he’s wearing Sensen’s black and white jerseys. He’s not yelling the Seido roar from the top of his lunges, instead, he’s yelling words of encouragement towards his teammates.

“That’s why I don’t want to lose to them”

He’s Sensen’s Maki.

 


 

July 29th

The day of the Semifinals

 

“Shit-!” yelped one of the teen that is now frantically running outside of Meiji Jingu Stadium. Alongside him, is several other teens who is in a same state of distress as him. “The game already started!”

“It’s your fault! If it’s not for your shitty directional skill we would’ve arrived on time!”

“Don’t blame me that Tokyo is scarily big!”

“You country bumpkin!”

“We’re from the same town you idiot!”

One of them spoke up, trying to lighten up the mood. “Guys let’s not fight!” he said frantically. “If we don’t hurry up, we’ll muss Ei-chan turns!”

At the back of the gaggle of teens, a girl could be seen. Her head looking around the place as she walked behinf the rest of them.

Noticing the girl got left behind, Nobu turned his head around to the girl. “Wakana-chan hurry!”

 


 

Eijun sat in the dugout, cap low on his face as he watched the game in front of him. It’s the 3rd inning already and the first one who managed to score was Sensen back in the 2nd inning. Tanba-senpai looked nervous on the mound, breath a bit heavy as sweat pouring down the older face.

“Restless?” asked Harucchi who was seating next to him.

The southpaw hummed. “Kinda” he answered. “It’s weird”

Harucchi chuckled. “Ah, you’ve been playing nonstop since the first game haven’t you Eijun-kun?” asked the first year. “Even in the Murata east game you’re in the bullpen, under the coach instruction.

“Ughhh” groaned Eijun, leaning back on the dugout chair he’s been sitting on since the start of the game. His hands has been fiddling with a baseball ball since the first time Tanba-senpai stepped into the mound and Furuya walking towards the bullpen. It was clear that the first year is restless. “I wanna play! Harucchi when you play later score a run for me!”

Said teen sweatdropped at that. “I don’t even know that I’ll play Eijun-kun” ansered the Harucchi.

“You will! You’re way too good to not!” answered Eijun almost immediately. “You hit every ball pitched to you so far after all!”

“I don’t think I’m that good…”

“You are!”

A small resigned smile appeared on Harucchi’s face when he realized that he won’t win this argument with Eijun. After all, the pitcher knows that he could be a bit bullheaded at times. Harucchi, in turn, nodded his head a bit. “Well, I’ll take up your words then” he muttered. “I’ll score a run for you”

“Nice” grinned the southpaw.

They both turned their attention back on the ongoing game before them once again. Eyes settling right on the mound where Tanba-senpai is adjusting his cap.

“First game of the semi finals” announced the announcer that rang across the stadium. “The respective aces of both teams, Tanba and Maki are the starting pitchers” said the man, igniting loud yells from both team supporters in the stands. “The first one to score was Sensen academy”

“Two outs!”

“Seido, two outs!”

“There is now a runner on the first and second base” continue the announcer. “This is the ace Tanba’s first time pitching this summer and hopes to avoid giving up more points”

“Tanba-senpai!” Yelled Eijun from the top of his lungs. “Don’t make me replace you!”

Harucchi held him back. “You’re not even going to play Eijun-kun…”

“Details!”

Back in the mound, Tanba-senpai did his windup. In front of him is Sensen number two and staring catcher who was watching the ace intently. Immediately, the third year hand whipped back  and he throw the ball straight towards Miyuki-senpai glove.

Sensen didn’t even swung, making it a strike.

“Nice pitch!” yelled Miyuki-senpai as he throw the ball towards Tanba-senpai who caught it easily.

At the next pitch, Tanba-senpai caught Sensen by surprise with another breaking ball, effectively striking out Sensen and ending Seido turn to defend in this inning.

As the players walked into the dugout, Eijun immediately shot up. “Tanba-senpai!” he said. “Good work today!” At this, he gave the third year a bottle of water as well as a towel. “It was a marvelous play senpai!”

Tanba-senpai blinked. “A-ah Sawamura” said the third year as he reached out towards the offered towel and glass of water. “Thank you I guess?”

“Of course senpai!” exclaimed Eijun. “This Sawamura Eijun is happy to help!”

“Hey what’s up with the different treatment?” asked Miyuki-senpai as he appeared, still on his catcher gear, slinging an arm over the southpaw shoulder. “Favoritism? How mean pitcher-kun”

“Geh-! Miyuki Kazuya let go!”

“How nice” muttered Ryo-san as he too, appeared. “Give me water too Sawamura”

“Me too” piped up Jun-san.

“A water would be nice” said captain.

“I’m counting on you, Sawamura-chan”

Eijun balked up. “W-W- What’s this!? Bullying!?”

“Stop goofing around” said coach all of a sudden, breaking their loose huddle, eyes trained towards the group. “The second part of the inning is about to start”

Gulping, all of them nodded their heads. “Yessir!”

Almost immediately, all of Seido baseball club first string gathered in front of coach Kataoka. All of them are making a loose circle centered around the older man. The batters made up the space closer to coach, discussing about Sensen’s Maki pitching.

“How’s their pitching?” asked coach, glasses glinting under the sun. “Think you can hit it?”

All of their batters nodded their head. “Thanks to yesterday training, I can imagine it clearly” muttered Masuko-senpai.

Jun-san too, nodded in agreement. “The curve’s trajectory is a bit different, but it is within what we expected” informed center fielder.

Captain too nodded, signing his agreement. “Should we target his curves?” he asked.

Coah smiled, nodding his head as a proud glint could be seen on his eyes. “Hit it low and strong!” exclaimed coach towards the team. “Those who get on base aggressively aim for the next one!”

“Yessir!”

At the end of his speech, coach smirked. “Any giant will fall when you break his legs”

“YESSIR!”

 


 

“Beard senpai you suck!”

“Shut up!”

Harucchi laughed nervously from his side. “You’re getting really creative on the nicknames Eijun-kun…”

Top of the 4th inning, Seido batters has trouble facing Sensen’s Maki. Third batter Isashiki Jun failed to hit the pitcher so far, aggravating the batter to no end. The last pitch too, even though he manages to hit it, it was caught immediately by Sensen’s fielders, striking out the batter.

“So close!”

“Jun-san!”

Though, in Sensen side, the players began to grow nervous. After all, Jun-san managed to hit off Maki’s curve. A pitch that has been Sensen’s trump card all summer.

Advancing next, is captain. His bat already held tightly on his hand as he stepped into the batter box. Throwing another curve, Eijun realized that Maki aimed low and-

CLANG!

-Captain hit off the ball along the third base line, successfully stepping into the base.

“Captain good work!” Yelled Eijun. “The pride and joy of Seido! Our invincible Captain!”

Harucchi seems to have given up on commenting Eijun’s creative praises and words of encouragement because now the first year settled on clapping along as well as yelling praises for the team on field.

Masuko-senpai opted a safety bunt, catching Sensen off guard as the third baseman successfully stepping into a base. Now Seido has runners on both the second and third base, loading up the base.

And considering who the next batter is, fate is on Seido side.

Miyuki-senpai stepped into the field with a confident smile already on his face. The bat on his hand held tightly as he settled himself on the batter box. Face smug and self assured of his future success.

“Kyaha” laughed Kuramochi-senpai as he leaned towards the metal railing. “So lucky” grinned the shortstop.

“Oi Miyuki Kazuya!” Yelled out Eijun. “Hit him!”

“Go Miyuki!”

“Hit it to a nice spot!”

Though, it seems Sensen picked the other option and decided to walk Miyuki-senpai instead.

Narrowing his eyes, Eijun huffed as he crossed his arms together. “What are they doing?” complained the southpaw. “Are they scared of Miyuki-senpai!?”

“Miyuki-senpai is a good batter after all” offered Harucchi. “I guess they don’t want to face him head on”

Eijun pouted. “Dissapointing”

Though, the smug smirk is still etched across Miyuki-senpai face. The smug asshole.

Maki looked disappointed on the mound. It was obvious that the pitcher was looking forward to a showdown with Miyuki-senpai.

“Good walk Miyuki-senpai!” Yelled Eijun instead.

“I’m not happy!” Yelled back the catcher.

Though, even though Seido’s next batter, Sakai-senpai, failed to score any run.

 


 

Top of the 5th inning, with Seido on the offense, the batter lineup has come back to the top.

“What…” muttered Eijun, eyes wide as he stared at Maki’s hand who keeps reaching and reaching up to caught the ball that Kuramochi-senpai hit. If it was any other player, there is no doubt that hit will come flying the top of their height, way top high for normal player.

“Three straight outs-!” said the announcer, making the Seido players look more and more grim. “Once again, Seido High fails to score!”

Maki looks mug when he caught the ball earlier. No doubt looking down on them with that- that absurd height of his.

Eijun wished he’s taller.

“That- that’s cheating!?” yelped Eijun, watching Kuramochi-senpai got an out after failing to get into the base. “Kuramochi-senpai, lets drink milk together after this match!”

“Sawamura you talk too much!” Yelled Kuramochi-senpai back as he jogged towards the dugout. The older is wearing a frustrated expression as he took off his helmet. It was clear, that he was not satisfied by his previous performance.

It was now the bottom of the 5th inning as Seido prepare to defend. Eijun saw Kuramochi-senpai being hit violently at the back from Ryo-san, breaking that frustrated expression from the shortstop.

“Be patient guys!”

“A chance will definetly come!”

A chanche will come, thought Eijun too. Wide golden eyes stared at the players that is now pouring into the field. Tanba-senpai was sweating like crazy, adjusting his hat couple of times as if that thing bothers him to no end.

With no runs in the 5th inning, the audience too, has grown more and more restless, especially those who is supporting Seido. Seido who is known with their powerful batting lineup, a school that keep scoring runs over runs throughout this tournament has been halted just one step away from finals.

A hand hit the back of his neck lightly.

“Don’t worry” muttered Harucchi with a small smile on his face. One of his eyes actually could be seen from how he swept his bangs earlier. “We should believe on the senpais”

Believe.

Yeah, Seido is strong. He needs to believe it.

“Yeah”

 


 

“Why’s Tanba playing?” muttered Narumiya Mei from the stands. The pitcher has his eyes narrowed as he slumped back on the chair he’s sitting on. “We’re here to spy on Sawamura! Lets just go back if he’s not playing!”

A hand hit the back of his head lightly. “Not everyone is obsessed with Sawamura” muttered Inashiro captain and cleanup, Harada. “We’re here to spy Seido as a whole”

“Well they sucks!”

The Inashiro players that come with the pitcher decided to ignore him.

“A one point difference… it’s a close game” said Harada, setting his gaze on the field. It’s the 5th inning and Seido’s ace, Tanba, could be seen pitching on the mound. “Tanba must be really pressured”

“Sensen is playing a really simple but reliable gameplay” said Yoshizawa.

“Not to mention, their pitcher, Maki”

“It must be hard to hit a pitch in that kind of angle”

Narumiya frowned. “He’s only tall” complained the ace, head cocked upwards. “Nothing special about that, I could be taller than him”

“I think you already stop growing Mei” commented Inashiro second baseman, Hirai.

That got the pitcher bristling. “What did you say senpai!?”

“Nothing”

They fell into another bout of silence as they continue to watch the game before them. The glaring crimson 1 besides Sensen name is still on the screen. Alongside the bright red 0 next to Seido.

With Seido already having a hard time scoring, there’s no doubt that Tanba too is feeling an intense pressure on the mound. The teen in question looks exhausted, with harsh breath and sweat pouring down his shoulder. So far, Seido managed to get by with Tanba’s breaking balls, but the straights kept getting hit.

“They would fare better if they switch out Tanba” commented Narumiya, head still cocked upwards as if he was looking down the game before him. As he said that, Tanba pitched a ball that narrowly got an out. “See that was close! Just bring out Sawamura then Kazuya didn’t have to work that hard”

“Careful Mei, your Sawamura obsession is showing” commented Yoshizawa offhandedly.

“Who is obsessed with him!?”

“Well” spoked up Harada, not bothering to turn around towards where the pitcher is. “While Sawamura is a great asset to Seido, and will no doubt defend his team greatly…” he trailed off, eyes growing a bit distant. “I think you’re underestimating Tanba too much”

Narumiya clicked his tongue as Seido stands burst out into a roar when Tanba managed to strike out the batter in front of him.

It was clear that Tanba is passionate and hard working enough to managed to get the ace position in a team full of talented players like Seido. It was also clear, that the teen enjoys baseball as much as Mei do.

But to Mei who had saw a lot of players fall from their glory, who had saw players keep getting changed one by one with a better one, he can only clicked his tongue.

“There’s a limit to just using passion” he muttered.

A talented person could be beaten by a hard working person. But a hard working person could be beaten by a hard working talented person.

That’s just how the world works. Unfair.

Whatever, he thought, standing up from his seat. “Imma buy juice” he said, walking out of the stands.

“Mei wait!”

 


 

With a loud CLANG! Ryo-san hit Maki’s pitch easily.

It was clear that Seido’s batters are getting used to Sensen’s Maki pitches. With how the frequency of the ball getting hit increased in each innings.

“Hell yeah Ryo-san!”

“Don’t underestimate us!”

The dugout bursts out into a loud cheers and yells as Ryo-san managed to get into the base. Jun-san too, looks determined as he marched towards the batter box. Said teen seems to have gotten the timing of Maki’s pitches this time.

“Kominato! Be ready, there’s a chance that I will put you in the game this inning!”

Harucchi, who was in the middle of saying something to Eijun, flinched. “Ah- Eh- Y-YES!” He said, nodding his head.

Eijun gave him a thumbs up, showing his support towards the first year who smiled sheepishly towards him.

“Also” said the coach again, head craning towards where the bullpen is. “Tell Furuya to be ready”

 


 

Eijun eyes widened when he saw Ryo-san crashed into Sensen’s catcher.

It was as if the entire stadium was frozen in shock, yells and cheers stopped as all attention are now in the two players that is now on the ground.

“SAFE-!” Yelled the umpire.

“SEIDO HIGH TIES THE SCORE!” said the announcer as the dugout and stands burst into a loud exclamations. Eijun too, can’t hide his admiration for the third year player who now was wearing a smile full of pride as he walked towards the dugout after exchanging a high five with Miyuki-senpai who is now walking towards the batter box.

“Big brother!” Yelled the southpaw. “That was admirable! Amazing! Top of this world!”

“Heh” laughed Ryo-san when he arrived towards where the players is. “What an ego boost, Sawamura”

“Of course! You deserve it!” yelled Eijun as he shoved a glass of water towards the third year. “Here, have some water senpai!”

The game continues and just like the previous time, Sensen decided to avoid Miyuki-senpai altogether, giving him a walk. Seido next batter, Sakai-senpai, once again fail to hit Maki’s onslaught of pitches.

As Tanba-senpai – who looks really exhausted at this point – walked into the field, he was getting called by coach.

That’s when Harucchi stepped out.

“Substituting Number 8, Tanba-kun” said the announcer. “Pinch-hitter, Kominato Haruichi-kun”

“Harruichi!” Yelled Eijun from the dugout. “Blast those balls to outer space Harucchi!”

“I don’t think that will be counted” commented Kuramochi-senpai.

“Yeah it’s gonna be an out, Sawamura-chan” added Masuko-senpai.

“I don’t mean it literally!?”

Harucchi set his gaze to Maki from his position on the batter box. One of his eyes are showing between his bangs, glowing eerily from the shade his helmet provided. Ot was not only Harucchi who seems determined. Maki too, seems to got a new fighting spirit as he stared down at the first year from his height.

Doing his windup, he whipped his hand back before throwing the ball-

“Ball!” announced the umpire as the ball went past the strike zone.

The pinch hitter seems to have seen this beforehand because he didn’t swing his bat. Eyes trailing slowly towards the ball that is now in the catcher’s glove.

“He saw through it!” Yelled Eijun. “He saw it!”

“Stop egging them on” complained Kuramochi-senpai as he messed up the top of Eijun’s hair.

Heaving out a breath, Maki immediately did another wind up as he hurled the ball towards the batter once again-

“Foul!” Yelled the umpire.

From where he stood, he could see Harucchi gritting his teeth, frustrated from the fastball that he failed to give a clean hit.

“You got the timing right!” Yelled Miyuki-senpai from where he stood on the first base.

“Hit it will all your might!” Yelled Tetsu-san too, from where he stood on base.

Harucchi stood on the batter box, setting his gaze once again on Maki as if he’s saying I’m going to hit it.

 


 

This damned first year, thought Maki, heaving out another breath.

I also, he thought as he did another windup, want to wear that uniform-!

 


 

CLANG!

The ball soar through the field.

Sensen’s left fielder barely missed it.

 


 

“All runners are heading for a home base!” yelled the announcer, followed by, “1st base runner has reached home base!” excitement could be heard from the man tone. “What a terrifying 1st year player! Pinch hitter Kominato Haruichi, what a valuable overturning clutch hitting by widening the difference in points to 3 in one shot!”

“Harucchi!”

“Nice Kominato jr!”

“Amazing hit!”

Harucchi who is now standing on the base too, strike out an awkward pose where he stood stiffly with one hand up on the air.

“Change that pose Kominato jr!”

“Nice pose Harucchi!”

4-1 with Seido high School on the lead.

 


 

Furuya wast sent to the mound in the bottom half of the 6th inning.

“Replacing pinch hitter Kominato-kun, on the mound id 1st year pitcher, Furuya-kun” announced the voice that rang out across the stadium as now the tall dark haired teen stood on the mound.

Hald of his face is shaded by the brim of his cap, but the cold look the pitcher seems to always have was clear to everyone on the field.

Eijun sat on the dugout, pouting sulkily.

“Do you think Furuya will play well?” asked Harucchi, a towel slung over his shoulder. “It’s pretty hot here”

“It’s Furuya” replied Eijun, setting his gaze on the other pitcher as he score a strike with his usual terrifying combination of power and speed. “He’ll be plenty fine”

Harucchi chuckled. “Sometimes I don’t understand the relationship between the two of you” said the teen as the both of them stared at Furuya who scored another ball. “The both of you are rivals but at the same time always support each other”

“We’re friends!” huffed out the southpaw. “We’re rivals and best friends!”

“At the end of the day” said Harucchi. “There will only be one pitcher on the mound though?”

Eijun leaned back on the chair. “The one who stand on the mound are the best” he said. “If Furuya is the one standing on the mound, that means I could be better and needs to work harder” he continue before grinning. “Isn’t that the whole point of rivalry? To have someone motivate you to work harder”

At his words, Harucchi smiled. “That’s true”

“STRIKE-!”

 


 

Even with numerous balls, Furuya only let one run to be taken by the end of the 6th inning. Entering the 7th inning, Seido managed to get 3 runs and losing 1 towards Sensen.

 


 

Bottom of the 9th inning, with the score of 8-3, Sensen only chance to score has arrived.

 


 

They fail.


 

“GAME SET-!”

Sensen players stared at the ground as their breath escaped harshly from their mouth.

Loud cheers exploded throughout the stadium as Furuya heaved out a large breath from the mound. Sweat could be seen pouring down his face as the team rushed into the field.

“For the first time in three years, Seido High made it to the finals-!”

“Furuya!” yelled Eijun as he tackled the taller pitcher. “Furuya! Nice pitching!”

The teen blinked, face wet from sweat. “I still gave up runs” he mumbled.

“No worries!” grinned the southpaw. “You did amazing back then! Hey we should have another late night practice-“

“Late night practice” interrupted Miyuki-senpai as he slung an arm around Eijun’s shoulder. “What’t this? Is this unsupervised practice I’m hearing?”

“What- no!”

“How many times do I have to tell you to sleep Sawamura?”

“Ugh- Furuya- help me out here!”

“I don’t know any late night practice”

“Furuya!?”

 


 

Seido vs Sensen, 8-3.

Seido needs one more win to get to Koshien.

 


 

Chapter Text

In the small town where Eijun grows up, there’s only one school. It’s not that the town itself is in a rural place, or in a place hard to reach. It’s just that the town where he grows up in is a small farming town where mostly old people and people who is in search for a peaceful place to retire lives. Everyone knows everyone there, and the friends Eijun made in middle school, are basically the kids he played with when he was five.

Even when his father began taking him in an hour long drive to his youth baseball club after school, Eijun and his childhood friends remains best friends. His childhood friends too, are the majority people who used to be part of Akagi Junior High baseball team.

So it was exciting to see them, waving towards him as he and the rest of Seido exited the stadium.

"Guys! Hi!" Yelled Eijun as he made his way through the crowd. “I thought I saw you guys in the stands but I was not sure!” he said, separating himself from his teammates.

"Ei-chan!" Greeted his childhood friends, waving their hand towards him. All of them wore a large grin on his face, no doubt excited the pitcher after months of his departure to Tokyo.

Arriving at the loose circle that his friends had made, Eijun can't help the bright grin that overtake his smile. "It's been so long! I miss you guys!" he exclaimed, eyes crinkling in excitement before he whipped his head around his friends. “Man, you guys didn’t change at all! So nostalgic!”

“What’s this?” laughed Wakana. “You’re only gone for a few months, not years, of course we didn’t have a drastic change” at this, the female nudged the pitcher side. “Don’t tell me you will forget us now that you’re some bigshot here in Tokyo?” she teased.

Eijun gasped, face looking scandalous at the accusation. “Never” he said, shaking his head. “Hey, I should be the one saying that to you guys! Did you all forget your beloved captain now that you’re not playing baseball again, huh?”

“Beloved my ass” snorted one of his friends good-naturedly . “If it’s possible I don’t want to deal with your or Nakatani-sensei baseball maniac self”

“How rude!” protested the pitcher, bristling like a wet cat.

His friends laughed at that. It was almost like a daily routine back then, to tease his and Sho-san’s love for baseball. To say, that all the practice they did back in middle school are something out of shounen manga and should not be practiced in real life. Eijun always took that with ease, after all, it was because of that practice and love for baseball that the previously unknown baseball team like Akagi managed to place itself in the national rankings.

It was also because of that gruelling practice that he did since childhood that now he could stood proudly in a team like Seido.

Nobu slung one arm over his shoulder. "I can’t believe this!” said the male, one hand ruffling the top of the southpaw hair. “We came here all the way from Nagano to see you but you’re not even playing!?"

"You should’ve come during the finals” answered Eijun with a grin, slinging one hand on Nobu’s shoulder too. “I’ll definitely play there and took Seido to Koshien”

“Confident, aren’t you?” laughed his middle school catcher, releasing the grip he has on him. “Well, that’s Ei-chan for you, unreasonably confident”

Eijun blinked. “What?” he said. “I can back up my confidence you know”

“Whatever you said”

"Still boastful as ever heh, Ei-chan" teased Wakana from his side, smiling. "But really, it really is a shame, I saw the recording of your match in the quarterfinals in the internet it was amazing"

Another chimed up. “Yeah! So many people praised you in the comments! I even saw so many articles about you”

“Aw, you’re making me blush guys!” laughed Eijun, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. “Just wait for Koshien! I’ll show you guys my true skill there!”

“For sure” laughed Nobu. “One of your video in youtube got like thousands of few you know, I was tempted to announce that we used to be in the same team just to get clout”

Wakana grinned at that. “Aren’t you doing it already?” laughed the female before turning her head towards Eijun. “He actually got to be in his team reserve catcher because he used to catch for the Sawamura Eijun”

The southpaw gaped. “For real!?”

Nobu merely shrugged. “It’s a leverage that I’m not afraid to use” explained the catcher. “You’re an amazing player after all, everyone who plays high school baseball practically knows your name by now”

"You're a monster now! I know that you will show your true strength in a strong team!" chirped another, throwing a thumbs up towards Eijun.

Not wanting to lose, another spoke up too. "I always belive that you can do it Ei-chan!"

Ah, what a great validation. Eijun absorbed all the compliments being thrown at him as he laughed along. "Thank you! Thank you!" he said, making a small bow for a show.

Nobu leaned a bit. "Just one more Ei-chan" he grinned. "And you can go to Koshien"

Koshien.

The dream stage. The stage where thousands of players fought for. For a chance to touch Koshien grass and for a chance to play in the tournaments that every high school baseball player yearned for.

It’s the stage that Eijun watched every year without fail ever since he turned eight. A place he had always dreamed of. A place, where he will show the world that Sawamura Eijun is here and ready to cement his place in the baseball scene.

"Speaking of it..." said Eijun, eyes trailing around the place near him. "Did you guys go here with anyone else?"

His childhood friends seems to realize something. Realized, what is the true question the southpaw is asking them. "Ah" Echoed one, eyes shifting nervously to one side.

Wakana tilted her head a bit, apologetically. "I'm sorry” said the girl, patting his back gently. “I asked coach Nakatani to come with us but he refused"

A twinge of hurt appeared on his heart as Eijun processed that information.

Sho-san... refused?

"Well, he refused and said something else" added Wakana immediately when she saw how sad Eijun is. "He said that he'll see you when you made your way to Koshien"

Eijun eyes widened at that. "Wait... does that mean..."

Wakana smiled. "He'll come soon, Ei-chan, don't worry"

 


 

Back then, when Eijun was still in his second year of middle school, his match against Narumiya was something that affect him greatly.

It was the first time that he had faced a pitcher that is beyond good. Even back then, Narumiya was a player that was whispered amongst the players. An ace of a renowned middle school famous for their baseball, a pitcher that showed a great potential for the future. Someone, who surely would dominate the baseball scene years to come.

To Eijun who was still experiencing his first time in a national tournament, Narumiya was something like a legend. Someone he had heard plenty but never had the pleasure to play against. Eijun, with his rag tag band of members, unknown even in the baseball scene of Nagano one year before, managed to reach the finals of the Middle School National Championship.

He still rememembered what the announcer said when both team arrived at the field. The dark horse vs the reigning champion.

That was the first time he met Narumiya.

If he thought playing against Edogawa junior high school was fun, playing against Narumiya was beyond exciting. It was the first in his life that he had encountered a pitcher that has the same capabilities as him. A player, who dominated his team despites it strong players, and draw everyone attention to him.

Heart thumping fast, and the grin that so wide it ache a little was something that he wore throughout the game. Every time he failed to hit Narumiya pitches, every time Narumiya shot him a glare when he strike him out, it was exciting and so so fun that he doesn’t want it to end.

Even when the umpire yelled out “Game set-!” Eijun doesn’t want to stop because Narumiya is an opponent that he had craved. To play the sport that he loves with an opponent similar to Narumiya is a dream that he’ll make come true by climbing to the top of the baseball scene. One step at a time.

If middle school Narumiya is terrifying, what would high school Narumiya be?

That question was answered as Seido baseball team watched Inashiro match against Sakurazawa. Just like their game, the stands are packed with supporters from both team. Near them, Inashiro second and third strings could be seen cheering for their starters playing on the field.

“STRIKE!” Yelled out the umpire as Inashiro ace strike out the nth batter from Sakurazawa.

Murmurs of astonishment could be heard from the people watching the game. The teen in question was wearing a smug look – Eijun wonders if he can wipe that annoying expression off that Narumiya face – as he jogged back towards the dugout, ending Inashiro turns to defend.

Narumiya, is a monster. That’s what Eijun guess is in everyone’s mind as they watch the game between Inashiro and Sakurazawa.

Just like Eijun, Narumiya hold the record of no runs allowed throughout the tournament. He also perfectly strike out batters in three pitches, like Eijun.

The southpaw narrowed his eyes at that.

On the field, Narumiya with his usual confident expression appeared holding a bat in one hand. He then loudly declared that he’s going to avenge ‘Masa-san’ or Inashiro captain. Though, that confident remark fell short when the ace soon got struck out.

“Narumiya batting…” murmured Eijun.

Miyuki-senpai who stood besides him raised an eyebrow. “He’s good” informed the catcher. “Though compared to his pitching, yeah his batting is a bit lackluster”

“It’s because he’s a complete monster when he’s pitching” snorted Kuramochi-senpai as he leaned forward on the railing in front of him. “Kinda unfair to compare the two”

While Inashiro batter was struggling with Sakurazawa ace, Narumiya completely dominated Sakurazawa batter. The pitcher doesn’t even look like that he’s using his all as he pitch. And that’s the completely terrifying part. That Narumiya still have many untapped potential inside of him just waiting to be released.

By the looks of it, there is no way that Sakurazawa could score a point against Narumiya.

Slowly, as the innings progressed, Inashiro batter started to caught Sakurazawa’s ace timing. They started to make contact and eventually, hit all the balls hurled towards them. Runs are scored, roars of happiness are being yelled by Inashiro’s supporters.

Though, the same can’t be said to Sakurazawa.

“STRIKE!”

“STRIKE-!”

“STRIKE, BATTER OUT!”

Sakurazawa’s ace looks exhausted. His eyes are dark and Eijun could see how heavy is breath is. The fact that his pitches are being hit left and right also didn’t help that fact. That he, the team ace, fail to defend their score.

Not to mention, the pressure coming from Inashiro dugout is intense.

Narumiya who is on the field is a terrifying opponent. Narumiya, who is on the dugout, is also an intense pressure to every players.

Terrifying, thought Eijun almost offhandedly.

By the 4th inning, the score was 8-0 to Inashiro.

The game was called in the 5th inning. Despite the Sakurazawa ace relentless effort in defending his team, Inashiro batters are just way too strong for him. Narumiya too, is in his top shape. In the five inning played, never allowing any runs passed him.

As if he’s an unbending pillar, supporting his team. An unbreachable fort, that defended his team.

That’s Narumiya Mei.

Eijun huffed, eyes narrowing as he stared at Narumiya’s back. At that moment, the blond pitcher turned around, meeting Eijun’s eyes from the stand. Almost immediately, he cocked his head upwards as a confident smile appeared on the Inashiro’s ace face.

Score against me if you can

A sudden urge to yell overwhelm him but Eijun decided to show a large smile on his face instead. Eyes looking down on Narumiya who’s still on the field. As if you can win against us.

Narumiya is so confident in himself that Eijun really wants to see what will happened if Seido really defeat him in their match. To see, him holding a silver trophy like Eijun did all those years ago.

“We’ll win” said Eijun, eyes determined and catching everyone attention. “They got such a big head now but we’ll win no doubt”

Miyuki-senpai previously tense expression broke into a snicker. “So confident aren’t you pitcher-kun?”

The southpaw huffed, fisting his hand in a fist bump. “I can back up my confidence thank you very much”

Still snickering, Miyuki-senpai bumped his fist back. “That you do”

 


 

The champion, Inashiro Industrial aiming to retain their title, or Seido High who was seeking revenge for last year defeat and reaching Koshien for the first time in six years. The curtains to the final battle for the Tokyo representative finally opened.

The day after tomorrow, on the 31st of July, is the fateful match between Inashiro and Seido.

 


 

“Miyuki-senpai, do you have-“

Stepping outside of the bathroom, Eijun immediately searched for the familiar face of Seido starting catcher who had been tasked to accompany the trio first years to the bathroom. What Eijun was going to say stopped as he stared at the crowd of Inashiro players surrounding Miyuki-senpai. All of a sudden, all the warning his parents told him about how dangerous things he could encounter in Tokyo replayed inside his head.

The first thing that appeared on his head is mobbing.

“Are- are you guys group bullying-“

“No they’re not” cut Miyuki-senpai as he hit the back of Eijun’s head lightly. “Whatever you’re thinking of it’s wrong”

“But-!”

“Oh it’s Sawamura” said Narumiya, appearing behind from who Eijun recognized as Inashiro reserved player. “You washed you hand yet?”

“Narumiya!” yelled Eijun in surprised before catching what the other pitcher said. “And of course I washed my hand! I’m not disgusting!”

“So” interrupted a red headed player. He has one of his eyes covered with his bangs as he stared at Miyuki-senpai pointedly. “Did you got a good data?”

“I should be the one asking you that” answered Miyuki-senpai with a challenging grin, hand on his hips. “Did you guys got a good data from watching us?”

The Inashiro player scoffed. “Terrible personality as usual, huh” he drawled out.

“Did you regret it?” taunted Inashiro’s reserve player as he leaned forward towards where Miyuki-senpai stood. “To reject Inashiro invitation and going to Seido, you traitor”

Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow at that. “Who are you again? Did you play in a game?”

“Sorry that I’m not a starter!”

Said catcher merely snickered at that.

“Ah” voiced out Eijun, eyes wide as if he just realized something. “Are you guys fighting cause Miyuki-senpai rejected the invitation to go to Inashiro?” he questioned, head cocked sideways to show his confusion. “That’s so childish! To think all of you are older than me!”

“Can’t believe Sawamura just called out someone for being childish” laughed Miyuki-senpai, hand slung over Eijun’s shoulder. “Yeah, be more mature guys, can’t help it if I’m such a good player after all”

“Terrible personality as usual senpai” complained Eijun.

“I’m backing you up here, pitcher-kun”

“Anyway” cut off Narumiya, eyes narrowing as he took a step closer towards Eijun. Blue met gold as Narumiya narrowed his eyes pointedly. “Why are you not playing today?”

Eijun blinked. “Coach told me to?” he answered, confusion could be heard lacing on his tone.

“That means you’re playing during our match?” pressed Narumiya more, inching closer towards where Eijun stood, making the first year took a step back just to be cautions and dragging Miyuki-senpai with him in process..

“Dunno?” said the first year. “I mean I’m not the one who’s arranging who will be playing, ask coach”

Narumiya clicked his tongue. “Play! During our match!” yelled the pitcher as he pointed a finger towards Eijun as the said teen stared at it confusedly. “It will be our showdown as a rival! To see who’s the best southpaw!”

The best southpaw?

“It’s me obviously” answered Eijun in reflex.

“It’s me!” retorted Narumiya.

“Me!”

“Me-“

“Just shut up” chided the red haired Inashiro player as he hit the back of Narumiya’s head.

“Shirakawa!” complained Narumiya as he shot the said player a glare. The glare from Shirakawa look terrifying that the pitcher decided to turn his attention back to both where Eijun and Miyuki stood. “Anyway, our team is the strongest this year” said the teen with a confident smile. “A chance for Koshien, is something that we won’t passed on”

Eijun huffed, folding his arms together. “The same could be said to us!” he declared.

“We’ll see then” replied Narumiya, eyes narrowing and full of challenge. “In the 31st of July”

“Who’s the best team in Tokyo” said Eijun.

Shirakawa took a step closer towards Miyuki-senpai. “You’ll regret not joining Inashiro”

At that, the Inashiro player took their leave.

Watching their retreating back, Eijun turn to stared ta Miyuki-senpai. “Senpai, despite your terrible personality a lot of team really wants you huh…”

“Oi oi”

 


 

Just like every match they did before, the whole team are now reviewing their opponent match. Currently, playing in front of them, is Inashiro and Sakurazawa match from earlier. The managers had recorded it beforehand, giving Seido an opportunity to take a closer look towards their upcoming opponent.

The cafetaria fell into silence as they all watched the recording with an intense concentration. Ever since their defeat last summer in the hand of the then reserve pitcher, Narumiya, Seido had been preparing for this moment. For a chance to seek revenge for the loss they had suffered last summer.

“Now that I think about it” voiced out Jun-san as he stared at Narumiya in the screen in front of him. “Can you do crossfire Sawamura?”

Eijun blinked. “I can” he replied.

“Huh” replied the third year, catching the attention of the rest of the team that is now being directed to Eijun. “You’re not using it?”

“Well the coach and Miyuki-senpai kinda banned me on using it” replied the first year, turning his head towards where the second year stood in the cafetaria. “Senpai said something”

Said catcher raised an eyebrow. “I was thinking to make it as a surprise attack you know” drawled out Miyuki-senpai. “And it’s not fun if Sawamura shows everything he can do right of the bat”

“Now that I know Sawamura can do crossfire” said Jun-san as he stood from his seat, eyes turning towards where Eijun sat with both Furuya and Harucchi. “Oi, pitch to me you brat”

“EEHH!?” yelped Eijun. “That’s kinda rude senpai!”

“Come on no complaining” said the third year as he grabbed the back of Eijun’s shirt, dragging him out of his seat. “I want to get the feel of it”

“I mean I have no problem doing it but asked me in a nicer way senpai!” complained the southpaw.

“Please” added Jun-san as if it was a mere afterthought.

Eijun was about to complain that merely adding please is not enough, but another voice cut him off.

“If you’re doing it count me in too Jun-san” said Kuramochi-senpai as he stood up from his seat. “A southpaw that could do crossfire? You’re the perfect Narumiya pitching machine”

“What!?”

As if he doesn’t want to be left out, captain stood up too. “Me too, Sawamura”

“Same here”

“Lets go to the indoor practice area”

“I’m not a Narumiya pitching machine!” yelled Eijun as he got dragged by Seido batting lineup to the indoor practice area.

 


 

The projector lit up, showing a baseball match.

“Sawamura huh” said Harada as him and the rest of the Inashiro first string watched the Seido and Yakushi match. In the screen, both Sawamura and Seido starting catcher, Miyuki, could be seen talking about something before starting the inning. “There’s no doubt he’ll be used in our match”

Hirai, Inashiro second baseman nodded his head. “He didn’t pitch in today’s game so Seido coach must’ve told him to rest up in preparation to face us”

“A trump card just for us” drawled out Shirakawa, eyes staring at the screen in front of him.

“I’m flattered” snickered Carlos, crossing his hands together as he leaned back on the chair he’s been sitting in. “A first year southpaw, sounds familiar” said the center fielder as he casted a glance towards a certain pitcher who stayed silent since the briefing began.

“So far in the game, he didn’t let any players on base” explained Harada again. “His pitch count is low too considering he did many perfect three strikeouts throughout his game”

“Despite Seido tendency to rotate their pitchers, he also played in most of the innings” said Shirakawa, voice low. “I guess we can see who’s Seido’s next ace is”

After all, the current ace, Tanba, had only played In one game with a lackluster performance. For a school like Seido, Sensen should’ve been an easy opponent. But Tanba let a run being stolen from under their nose, making the team struggled in the earlier inning.

With Sawamura though, even when he faced a school with strong batting lineup with Yakushi, he successfully defended Seido and made their opponent scoreless.

The Inashiro players won’t even be surprised if in the fall, Seido ace number would be in the hand of a first year.

Nodding his head, Harada opened his mouth. “He usually follow Miyuki’s direction while pitching, and we know how annoying his gameplay is”

Shirakawa clicked his tongue. “I hate him”

“Who doesn’t?” muttered Yabe, remembering a certain catcher with terrible personality. “The guy is a dick”

“His pitching repertoire is consisted on variations of fastballs, a circle changeup and a cutter” continue Harada as he replayed the clip where Sawamura struck out Todoroki. “He didn’t use any other pitches throughout the tournament so-“

“There is no way” interrupted a familiar voice. “That his pitching repertoire is only that”

All of their attention is now turned towards the source of the voice. Narumiya Mei sat back on his chair, chin propped high with his arm crossed as he stared intently at the clip in front of him.

It was weird to see their ace wide awake and doesn’t look bored for the team briefing. Usually the blond would start complaining about being sleepy before bailing out of the room. This time though, he could see how serious he is in today’s briefing.

Considering his obsession towards Seido’s number 10, they should’ve expected it.

“Mei” said Yoshizawa, Inashiro third baseman, sharply. “What do you mean by that?”

Narumiya clicked his tongue. “He knows how to throw a changeup since he’s in the second year of middle school” said the pitcher, a hint of annoyance could be heard from his tone. “There’s no way a pitcher like him didn’t learn more or broaden his repertoire”

A deafening silence fell into the room.

“You’re telling me” started Carlos. “He have a wider range than those four pitches?”

The blond nodded. “Troublesome” he muttered. “But there’s no way he only has four pitches, he was learning about breaking ball back in middle school”

“I see” said Harada after a moment of silence. “This four pitches is a already a problem considering he could reach 150km/h while still have a perfect control over it” said the catcher, eyes full of contemplation. “It’s different from Seido other first year pitcher”

“The guy’s control is a mess” said Carlos with a smirk. “We should be more wary for Sawamura though, I can already imagine the headache facing him and his unknown number of pitches”

“Added by Miyuki’s game calling, we really need to be wary of him…” added Harada as a clip where Sawamura struck out Yakushi’s ace with a cutter played in front of doubt. No doubt it was all Miyuki, what with him and his nasty personality.

“Sawamura also used to do his game calling” said Mei as in after thought. “So don’t just expect Kazuya’s kind of game”

“You seems to know him” said Shirakawa, casting a glance towards the pitcher who is leaning back on his chair. “Being buddy with the enemies huh”

“Played against him in middle school” snorted Narumiya, eyes narrowing. “A troublesome opponent”

A memory of him, standing on the dugout with wide eyes and mouth hanging open. Of him, being fascinated with this pitcher that came out of nowhere and take the world of baseball by storm. Of his blue eyes staring at burning golden eyes as he stood on the mound in front of him.

He doesn’t want to admit it, but he knows back then, if Sawamura’s team doesn’t suck as bad as it is, the chance of his middle school team to win the finals was low. Since then, the name Sawamura has been whispered by everyone. His face plastered on the magazine, speculations about his future high school, about his future is all everyone talked about.

This match between Seido and Inshiro was arranged by fate, he was sure of it. To give him a chance to properly face Sawamura at his strongest.

“Okay so based on Mei’s information we should except maybe one or two more pitches from Sawamura” started Harada, scribbling something in his paper. “It’s no use if Mei lay Seido scoreless but we didn’t manage to score” he said.

“That’s true, we’ll tell coach this tomorrow morning”

A chance for him to finally settle the annoyance and rivalry that he had decided back then all those years ago.

 


 

CLANG!

“Foul, Sawamura” deadpanned Chris-senpai.

“Again!?”

“How can you be bad at hitting from pitching machine but actually good at hitting actual pitchers?” asked the third years, watching from the batting cage next to him.

At the same time, Miyuki-senpai who was also standing near him said, “Sawamura, bunt”

Eijun proceed to do a perfect bunt.

“What!?” Yelled Zono-senpai who was standing by the pitching machine. “That- that was a perfect bunt!”

“HAHAHAH who do you think I am!?” boasted Eijun before he yelped and narrowly missed a ball being launched by the pitching machine in front of him. He almost forgot, that he’s in the middle of a batting practice with a machine.

“You’re good at bunting just cause you’re not afraid of balls” called out Kuramochi-senpai with a narrowed eyes.

“Of course I don’t! baseball balls are friends!”

“See, baseball fanatic” deadpanned the shortstop which was answered by Miyuki-senpai loud snicker.

Chris-senpai approached him, his face thoughtful. “You’re really good at batting though, Sawamura” said the third year. “You didn’t practice with pitching machine previously?”

Eijun blinked. “Well, my middle school can’t afford fancy baseball equipment” he explained, scratching his cheek. “I still haven’t gotten used to pitching machines”

The third year raised an eyebrow at that. “They can’t?” echoed the older. “So back then you’ve been practicing with….”

“Well- I used to do my batting exercise while imagining I’m the one who pitch you know, to familiarize it and stuff” said the pitcher, a remembering back all the practice he did before. Sure, Sho-san actually bought a pitching machine after he became Eijun’s personal coach – he took the job seriously, despite what he said – but they rarely used it in the end. “Oh, also with Sho-san of course!” grinned Eijun. “I did batting practice while he pitch!”

After years of batting practice with Sho-san, ex pro baseball player, his own generation prodigy, winner of Koshien throughout all his years of high school, MLB MVP player, Eijun bound to be good at batting of course.

That explanation seems to satisfy Chris-senpai too, because the older merely had his eyes widened a bit before he nodded. “Make sense” he said. “Okay, I think that’s enough of batting practice for today”

“Huh?” voiced out Eijun, wide eyes blinking. “I just got started!”

“Lets have you pitch” said the older as he guided Eijun to stood in front of the batter cage.

“To who?” asked the pitcher.

“Them” answered Chris-senpai, pointing his thumb towards Seido batting lineup who was staring at him like hungery wolves.

He grinned. How exciting!

 


 

“Sawamura, Furuya” turning around to the familiar voice, both Eijun and Furuya stared at Tanba-senpai who was standing behind them. Near him is both Miyauchi-senpai. Miyuki-senpai, and Kawakami-senpai. “Lets learn Inashiro data while having lunch”

Exchanging glance with Furuya, Eijun immediately nodded his head. “Of course senpai!” he replied, standing up before following the older members with Furuya walking besides him.

Arriving at the cafetaria, Chris-senpai is already there. His familiar notebook are opened in front of him.

“As expected” said the third year catcher when all of them are seated around him. “We have to look out for Inashiro 1stand 2nd batters”

Miyauchi-senpai nodded. “Yeah, the might try to pull something to unsettle us” said the catcher, reading the notes written in Chris-senpai’s notebook.

“Of course we have to watch out for the cleanup, but the most terrifying thing about Inashiro is… their obsession for victory”

Obsession for victory, Eijun can almost relate to that. After all, victors are the one that got remembered. Even if you bawled your eyes out in the field, or made a mess out of yourseld, by the end of the day, victors are the one who got remembered.

Victory is a familiar concept to Eijun. After he first discovered baseball, it was almost victory after victory for him. Never the third, never below. First and second seems always be the norm for him. But he doesn’t want to be the second place. He doesn’t want to be the second best person. Hates the fact of being the first loser.

To Eijun, victory is 1st place or nothing.

“During our game against Inashiro last year” started Chris-senpai once again. “The deciding factor was a squeeze play made by their cleanup”

“In other words” spoke Miyuki-senpai. “This is a team that knows best how to play a game they can’t afford to lose”

Eijun nodded, followed by both Furuya and Nori-senpai.

“Senpai” said the southpaw, catching the attention of the three catcher.

Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow. “What is it Sawamura?”

“The only I need to do is to not let them get to base right?” he said, confidence could be heard from his tone.

The grin on the second year catcher is wide. “Confident aren’t you”

“Course I am” grinned the southpaw. “I’ve been waiting for the chance to beat Narumiya since middle school”

“Heh” snickered the catcher before he slung an arm around the southpaw shoulder. “The game tomorrow, lets go all out with your numbers”

If possible, the grin on Eijun’s face grow wider.

 


 

After lunch, the pitchers and catchers move to bullpen for a pitching practice. Eijun was hurling a ball towards where Miyuki-senpai crouched in front of him when a weirdly familiar voice appeared.

“Sawamura and Miyuki” said a new voice, yet it sounds pretty familiar to Eijun. “At last, I saw this battery once again”

Miyuki-senpai has his eyes widened as he stared at the person who just said that behind Eijun. “Ah” echoed the catcher. Eijun, in turn, blinked dumbly as he stared at the change on the older expression.

“Oi Oi” drawled the person, voice low. “It’s been a while brat.

Blinking again, Eijun slowly turned his head only to meet a familiar face. Someone with a huge body and large grin stood before him. He looks familiar, was the first thing that appeared on the southpaw mind. As if he had played with him before. A sudden rush of memories appeared on his head. Of him partnering with Miyuki-senpai for the first time, of him trying out the splitter for the first time with the said catcher.

Of him, finally feeling the joy of a battery partner.

And as he remembered the instance why he choose Seido in the first place, the very person that made him partnered up with Miyuki-senpai appeared. Azusa-senpai, Seido’s last year cleanup and now playing for the pros.

“Y-YOU!?” Yelled Eijun, pointing his finger towards the older.

The older, puffed his chest. “Yeah, me” he said, and oddly proud tinge on his tone.

“AZUSA-SENPAI!?”

Silence, descended between them.

“WHO ARE YOU CALLING AZUSA YOU DAMN BRAT!?” Azusa – who apparently is not Azusa? – yelling was accompanied by Miyuki-senpai loud laugh.

 


 

Apparently his name is Azuma-senpai and Miyuki-senpai has the nerve to never corrected him for it.

Said catcher merely laughed when he was asked about it. The situation seems to be so funny for the second year that he actually need to crouched down just so he didn’t fall down from the laughing fit he’s having. “It’s just way too funny” he said after a long session of laughing.

“It’s almost a year since them Miyuki Kazuya!” yelled Eijun, bristling as if the other had committed a grave sin against him. Maybe he did. “And- Metabolic-senpai did you always been this large?”

“Meta-“ chocked out Azuma-senpai. “Brat now you finally know my name use it!” he yelled out as he but his head towards Eijun’s own.

“Senpai you’re so violent! Now I know why you’re still in the 2nd string!”

“You still haven’t got your mouth checked huh!?”

Eijun poke out his tongue.

“A- amazing…” muttered Kawakami-senpai. “I know the story where he insulted Azuma-senpai and Seido when he came to try out but to witness it first hand is…”

“Sawamura really has no fear” said Tanba-senpai, watching the bickering duo in front of him.

Both of their bickering was stopped when Miyuki-senpai finally had enough laugh and decided that it’s finally time for practice. “Okay okay that’s enough” said the catcher between laugh. “We need to practice more for the match tomorrow”

“You stop laughing first senpai!” protested Eijun, turning his head towards the snickering second year.

“Alright, Azuma-senpai, let’s stop” said the catcher finally, though there’s still an amused smile on his face, landing a hand on the taller shoulder. “It’s time for practice”

Azuma-senpai clicked his tongue. “Che” he said, narrowing his eyes. “You’re still insolent I see, Miyuki”

“And you need to lose weight to play in games senpai” replied the catcher immediately.

“Ugh, I almost forgot how terrible your personality is” grunted out the alumni, throwing a glare towards the catcher.

“Right!?” agreed on Eijun.

Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow. “Oh, so now the both of you are in agreement to bully me? I see how it is now”

“Still good at talking” grumbled the older. “Anyway, I came here for a reason”

Both Eijun and Miyuki-senpai blinked. “To give us sports drink?”

“No, I’m here to face you Sawamura” said Azuma-senpai with a challenging smirk on his face. “I saw the video of your matches but I want to see how much you’ve improved ever since the last time we faced each other”

“Ohhh?” said Eijun, excitement bubbling down his stomach. “Are you challenging me, senpai!?”

“’course” answered the older with a large grin. “Lets see how good you are”

Both Miyuki-senpai and him exchanged a grin before nodding his head. “Sure” replied the pitcher. “I hope you improved senpai cause I’ve improved by leaps and bound!”

“I’ll be the judge for that” grinned Azuma-senpai as he pointed the both of them using a bat that was just given to him. “Come with me all you’ve got”

 


 

If Azuma can’t hit a pitch thrown by Sawamura when he and Miyuki just become a battery, what made him he can hit a pitch thrown by Sawamura when he had been battery with the catcher for the whole summer?

Of course, once again, Azuma was beaten by Sawamura and Miyuki.

 


 

Summer, for a losing team, ends early.

And Eijun is determined to prolonged this summer as long as possible.

 


 

As the final practice before the finals of Summer Tournament, the Seido first string members lined up.

What can be done, has been done.

Bowing their heads, all of them yelled, “We will be back!”

Because, this will not be their final time on practicing on this field.

To this field on which we have spent three years together-

They will be back for Koshien.

 


 

“The starting pitcher for tomorrow will be Sawamura” said coach. “The relief will be Tanba”

Eijun let out an excited grin on his face as he nodded at coach’s words. This will be their finaly debried for tomorrow’s match and at the same time, the coach will decide who is the starters for tomorrow’s game.

When he heard his name being called for the starting pitcher tomorrow, his heart soared up. He had been growing restless after all, after the Sensen match where he didn’t play at all. So now, to hear that he will be playing a game tomorrow, and to Inashiro no less, made all the piling frustration inside of him paid off.

Continuing his words, the coach once again opened his mouth. “Depends on the game, I will put out Kawakami and Furuya depending on the situation”

Both pitchers nodded their head, resolution could be seen on their expression.

“I expect all of you to play the best game tomorrow!”

“Yessir!”

 


 

It was night, and both Eijun and Furuya stood in front of the vending machines.

Ever since the daily meeting in Miyuki-senpai room happen, it seems that Eijun and Furuya has become the older members unofficial errand boys for drinks. Oddly, the taller pitcher seems to be enjoying the tasks that have been giving to them, diligently taking notes and listen attentively to every senpais orders.

The fluorescent light shone on their face as the both of them stared at the drink option in front of them. Hand hovering just above the buttons, ready to decide which drink they should get.

“What do you think is better? Orange or Grape?” asked Eijun, staring at the new kind of drink that just got added in the vending machine. It was pretty popular and Eijun remembered Sho-san actually advertised it for a short moment of time to gain a quick money.

Furuya blinked, staring at the vending machine too. “I like the lemon flavor” he replied, his own bottle of lemon flavoured drink already on his hand.

“Should I pick orange then? Orange and lemon is like cousins right?” said the southpaw, eyes squinting at the options in front of him. “Both of them are kind of sour”

“I thought tangerine are the cousins of orange” replied Furuya. “They look the same”

“I’ll get apple then!” declared Eijun as he boldly pressed the button for the apple flavoured drink.

“Can I get a taste?”

Their conversation continue as they made their way towards Miyuki-senpai dorm with drinks in hand. The track from the vending machine towards the dorms are actually short, but the older members are just lazy to buy their own drinks so they resort on ordering the younger members for it.

Arriving in front of the familiar blue door, Eijun opened it without knocking. “We’re back with the drinks-“

“Ah” said Miyuki-senpai as if he was startled with something, head looking up from whatever he was looking.

In front of him, is the Seido team who was holding his phone and looking at it intently.

“That’s my phone!?” yelled Eijun, releasing the stack of drinks from his hand to the ground in a loud clang! “What are you guys doing!?” he screeched, ambling towards where the team are huddled up.

“Sawamura the drink!” yelled Kuramochi-senpai, catching one of the bottles that is now tumbling down the floor.

Eijun ignore it and tried to get the phone from where Jun-san is holding it. “Senpai my phone!”

“What’s wrong in checking juniors behaviour!?” Yelled Jun-san back, holding it higher than where the pitcher could reach.

“Why are you mad!?” yelped Eijun back, jumping on his place to grab it.

Tetsu-san spoke up. “It’s Kuramochi, he was curious about the person that you keep texting with” said the captain, giving Kuramochi-senpai a proud look as he pat his back. “He was wondering if you got yourself a girlfriend”

“I keep telling him it’s not my girlfriend! It’s my coach from back home!” complained Eijun, casting a look towards Kuramochi-senpai.

“Your ‘Sho-san?’” asked Miyuki-senpai, raising a doubtful eyebrow. “You talked so much about him that I feel that I know the guy already even though I never met him before” commented the older with a snicker.

Eijun huffed. “Of course I talked so much about him! Sho-san is the best!”

“Is that so? We should confirm it by email then~” said Jun-san as he angled his phone.

“What!?”

“Lets send your text buddy a picture of your senpais” informed the older as the rest of the members began huddling around him, talking a selfie together.

“Furuya why are you joining them!?”

 


 

July 31st

 

In a train station deep inside Nagano, a man stood silently. Dark sunglasses and face mask could be seen adorning his face, making some suspicious looks casted on him. The man in question seems to not notice or he just doesn’t care. All of his attention was casted on the device on his hand.

"Ah" said the man, watching his phone screen. "What time is the finals?" 

 


 

Chapter Text

July 31st

Meiji Jingu Stadium

The Finals of Tokyo Tournament

 

 

“Grandpa, that’s the Inashiro seat…”

An elderly looking man wearing a hawaiian shirt laughed loudly, completely uncaring of the loud volume and the weird looks being thrown to him. “Its fine its fine! I can see Seido better from here!” he said.

“We’re surrounded by the enemy!” exclaimed another man, younger than the previous one but still old enough to be someone parents.

The elder laughed at that, hands on his hips as his head craned back. “GAHAHAH Its alright!” he yelled out. “We’ll show you the might of Seido!”

“That’s right!” agreed the other man in a voice equally loud.

Eijun’s mother merely sighed, completely resigned by the antics of the two males. Instead, she let her eyes flickered around, as if she was searching for something. “By the way” she said, catching the attention of the two laughing males. “Where is he? I didn’t see him anywhere”

“Heh” snickered Eijun’s father. “He’s way too excited that he got here earlier than us”

“To think that he rejected Wakana-chan invitation saying he’s not interested” laughed the female, amusement clear on her eyes. “Now he’s like a child going to his first baseball game”

Eitoku snorted. “You know how he is with baseball games” said the elderly. “Moreover this is Ei’s baseball game, the guy should be here somewhere”

“I won’t be surprised if he somehow managed to get the best seat in the stadium”

“HAHAH You got that right!”

 


 

The Meiji Jingu stadium was packed with spectators from both Inashiro and Seido. Students, wearing Seido’s blue and white could be seen alongside students with Inashiro’s red and white.

Up in the stands, brass bands could be seen tuning their instrument. Their conductor looking at the music sheet on their hands as they discussed about the songs that will be played during the game. Cheerleaders also could be seen standing by the stairs, conversing amongst themselves or pointing towards the next interesting thing in the field.

It is the finals of the Tokyo Tournament. The match that will determined who will be the West Tokyo representative for this year upcoming summer Koshien.

Both school competing today, Seido and Inashiro, are schools known for their baseball team. Seido, the winner for the spring tournament, and Inashiro, the winner for last year summer tournament and top 16 in summer Koshien. To say the least, today’s match managed to gain the attention of many notable individuals in the high school baseball scene, especially in Tokyo.

Baseball teams from various school could be seen loitering around the stadium or the stands. No doubt wanting to scout or just watch today’s match. Players wearing Ichidaisan, Yakushi, and other schools uniforms can be seen conversing between themselves, eyes flickering towards the field.

“The finals for West Tokyo Championship” started the announcer as his voice rang out across the stadium, catching the attention of the spectators inside. “Will commence at 1pm”

The cheers started getting louder at the announcement.

“The temperature today is very high” said the announcer again. “Please ensure there is enough water intake on your side. I repeat, today’s temperature was…”

What the announcer said was drowned when the spectators went wild when familiar players wearing blue and white jerseys stepped into the field. Seido came into the field alongside loud cheers from their side of the stands.

“They’re here, they’re here!”

“It’s Seido!”

The name of the players are being called with a hint of excitement dripping from the spectators voice. On the other side of the field, Inashiro players with their signature white jerseys and red accent could be seen already standing in front of their dugout.

Same as Seido, their name was also being called out and cheered on by their side of the stands.

It was different. During the previous matches, both Inashiro and Seido spectators always seem to dominate their opponent. Even in the semifinals, it was clear that the two school has a considerably bigger following than their opponent.

Now that they both faced each other, it was clear that both side of the stands are almost equal.

“We’re counting on you Coach Kunimoto!” yelled one of the Inashiro spectators as both coach from the respective team bowed with each other.

As if they don’t want to lose, someone from Seido’s side also yelled out. “Coach Kataoka! We believe in you!”

“Seido!”

“Inashiro!”

Eijun stood on the field, wide golden eyes gazing at the spectators around them. “Woah” he breathed out, voice full of disbelief. “There’s so many people”

Furuya nodded. “I don’t like people…”

“It’s the finals after all” said Harucchi with a small laugh as he too, marveled at the crowd size around them. Their previous matches were never this full. Never this loud.

“Heh” laughed Eijun, eyes full excitement. “Just imagine how’s the crowd will be in Koshien” he said, gazing at the stands. “We’ll win this match and see it ourself”

“Confident as usual aren’t you, Bakamura” said Kuramochi-senpai when he appeared behind the southpaw before dragging him and the two first year towards the dugout. “Dunno if I should be worried”

The southpaw laughed. “Worry not senpai!” said the pitcher, grinning. “Believe in our team because I’m sure that we’ll defeat Inashiro this year!”

“A good mindset Sawamura” said captain, giving him a thumbs up before turning his head towards the rest of the team. “Everyone” he called out, catching the attention of every players in their dugout. “Play as if it your last”

Ryo-san snickered. “It will be our last if we lose” said the pink haired teen. “So play well or you’ll see what will happen, okay?”

All of them gulped at that.

 


 

Inashiro Industrial vs Seido High School

 

“So Sawamura will be starting it seems” said Yoshizawa, staring at Seido dugout where said teen already standing in front of their dugout, conversing something with Seido’s starting catcher. “The relief is Tanba and possibly the rest of their pitcher lineup”

“As expected” said Harada, nodding his head. “The most possible outcome and the worst one”

All eyes in Inashiro dugout turned towards Seido’s.

Inashiro knows best about prodigy pitchers, considering they have their very own. Both Narumiya and Sawamura is eerily similar. Prodigious southpaws with intense love for baseball. Players, who is obsessed for the number one and winning.

Because of that, they also know best how threatening Sawamura is currently.

“Variations of fastballs, circle changeup, and cutter” mumbled out Shirakawa. “How annoying, we don’t know how many pitches he could do…”

Carlos let out a small laugh. “You got that right” he said, eyes narrowing whilst still staring at Sawamura’s form. “We need to be wary, after all Mei will defend us anyway”

“Yeah” said Narumiya, head tilted back as he yawned. The pitcher didn’t had a good night sleep last night. After the briefing, he had spent the night obsessively watching Seido’s matches. Especially the match from this year summer tournament.

“You didn’t get much sleep?” asked Harada with a raised eyebrow.

“Slept like a baby” muttered Narumiya. That was a lie, not that the other will notice anyway. “I’m just excited thinking the ways we could do to crush them”

 


 

“National High School Baseball Championship finals” said the announcer, his voice ringing through the stadium amidst the loud roar as well as cheers from the audience all around him. “Under the blue sky of midsummer, the players have come forth from their benches”

Both coach from the respective teams, Seido and Inashiro, could be seen stepping out of the dugout

“Last year champion, Inashiro Industrials aiming for a 2 year championship reign and Seido high seeking revenge for last year and aiming for Koshien after 6 years” as the announcer said this, if possible, the cheers all around the stadium had grown more and more loud. Members from both teams that sat in the stands had yells their own encouragements. Brass band with respective school anthem could be heard.

Eijun let the excitement that had grown slowly by slowly inside of him since the first announcement that they’re going up with Inashiro soar.

“Both are prestigious nationally known school” breathed out the announcer as he rallied out the information about both powerhouses school. “Which team will gain control of this game-!”

The audience cheers exploded at that.

“Please give a round of applause for the players from both teams who is running full of spirit” continued the announcer. “How will this game turns out-“

Letting out a million watt grin, Eijun looked up to the sky.

Lets show them why Seido are the kings.

 


 

“Top of the 1st inning, the players are gathering at the mound and yelling words of encouragement” as the announcer said this, the players of Inashiro indutrials with their white jerseys could be seen huddling together by the mound.

All of them are yelling words of encouragement with each other before dispersing, leaving Narumiya, the school ace, standing there with a small smile on his face.

“And of course on the mound is, yet to give up even a single run in the championship, 2nd year ace, Narumiya Mei”

Sitting inside the dugout, Eijun let his eyes wander to the field before him. Next to him is Harucchi who is also watching the game with an intense concentration. Just one more step, he thought, gripping his hand tightly. One more step to that childhood dream of Koshien.

“Top of the 1st inning, Seido batting” announced the voice as Kuramochi-senpai stepped into the batter box, a smirk on his face. “Batting first, shortstop, Kuramochi-kun”

“Kuramochi give all you got!”

“I’ll eat your pudding if you fail to hit, Senpai!”

Kuramochi-senpai stood on the left batter box, gripping the bat on his hand as he stared at Narumiya, eyes challenging and full of nonchalant. As if he was not facing Kanto’s best high school pitcher.

As Narumiya did his windup, Eijun watched the series of move carefully. The blond posture is perfect, an ideal posture for a pitcher. Whipping his hand back, he could see Kuramochi-senpai putting all of his attention on the hurling ball towards him-

“Ball!”

“Yuck” blanched Eijun, scrunching his nose a bit at the ball that went out of the strike zone.

Harucchi, from his spot besides him, throw him a questioning face.

Kuramochi-senpai once again prepared his batting stance, ready to hit Narumiya who’s already in the middle of a windup only to-

“Ball!”

“Ball!”

“Ball, four!”

-giving the shortstop a free walk just like that.

“What’s up with him?” questioned Eijun, furrowing his brows. “He suddenly sucks at pitching”

“Today Mei is kind of slow to warm up it seems” mused out Miyuki-senpai from his spot just behind Eijun. “Thank god for that then”

The Inashiro dugout can only stare helplessly as Kuramochi-senpai let out a roar of happiness before he jogged towards the first base. Inashiro fielders immediately shifted their attention towards where the shortstop stood, wary of him.

“Batting second, second baseman, Kominato-kun” as the announcer said that, Kominato-senpai walked into the field holding his bat whilst accompanied by his walkup song. There’s a confident smile on the older pink haired teen face.

Narumiya can’t help but steal glances towards where Kuramochi-senpai stood. After all, the green haired teen is the worst possible player to be on base. A monster in stealing bases with quick feet to match.

That notion was proven true when the shortstop decided to steal a base despite the loud exclamation of the so called ‘suicidal’ move from the audience. Even with Inashiro’s battery quick move and thinking, Kuramochi-senpai arrived at the next base just before the ball arrived.

“SA-FE!” announced the umpire.

“Kuramochi!”

“Kuramochi-senpai amazing!”

“Succesfully stolen base-!! What an incredible speed, he decided to steal base despite the battery being wary of him!” said the announcer as thunderous roar echoed throughout the stadium.

Seido dugout is in an all time high at that move. Loud whoops and cheers could be heard as all of them celebrated the second year incredible steal.

It was followed by Kominato-senpai successful safety bunt. Even with Inashiro fielders and bettery quick move, Kuramochi-senpai managed to get into the third base safely.

“Runner on 3rd!”

“Ryo-san nice bunt!”

They have a runner on 3rd with no outs and the next batters are Seido’s strong hitting lineup. This was a good start for them, considering all of this happened in the 1st inning.Soon, Jun-san walked into the batter box with determination on his face amidst the loud cheers around him.

Positioning himself on the batter box, he immediately did his batting stance, eyes zeroing towards where Narumiya is.

“They know that Jun-san like outside corner” muttered Miyuki-senpai as he adjusted his gloves.

Eijun nodded. “But Jun-san practiced the inside corner like crazy” answered the pitcher, putting his complete faith to the third year. “I have no doubt that he will send it fly away”

Just like Eijun predicted, with a loud CLANG! Jun-san send Narumiya’s pitch across the field.

“2nd! Back!” Yelled out Harada, opening his faceguard to call out Inashiro batters.

“Drop!” Yelled Seido dugout as they all watched the ball flew. “Drop!”

Just at that, the ball dropped right in between of the 2nd baseman and center fielder. With that performance, Kuramochi-senpai managed to return home, giving Seido high the first score in this intense battle between the two national powerhouses.

 


 

Throughout the heaven and earth, I alone am the honored one.

 

It was loud, the cheers around the stadium that is.

He could hear the loud reverberating sound of the brass band from the stands. Both Inashiro and Seido have their own. Continuously playing songs that has been choosen by each respective players amidst the loud yells and praises from the spectators.

Standing here, on top of the mound and under the spotlight of every pair of eyes in the vicinity, he should relish it. This feeling of being the best, this feeling of every attention on him like he deserved.

“And the first score went to Seido high-!” announced the commentator with a voice that rang across the stadium. He could hear what he identified as Seido brass band playing the now familiar tune of their school sound, loud.

So annoying, thought Mei as the cheers from Seido stand erupted after that first score. It was frankly humiliating, as, the self proclaimed and widely acknowledged, best pitcher in the Kanto region. I broke my record.

No run and no player on the base, the record that he tried to preserve through the summer tournament is now broken by Seido shortstop who is now cackling like a mad man. Kuramochi Youichi, while he know the other teen was talented – fast, his mind supplied, and a pretty amazing hitter – has never come across as a threat before.

Annoying.

Mei was 14 when for the first time since he started baseball, he felt threatened.

It was a weird experience, to his 14 year old self. Ever since he first took up the mound back in his youth league days, back when he was nothing but a small elementary school kid with hat too big and a crooked grin full of challenge and confidence, he was always the best.

The best at pitching, the best player on mound, the best player on team. He was always at the top, always the player that received snide eyes from those older than him yet so lacking compared to his skill. It was always him who received the coach praise. It was always him who received the little star stickers that his youth league gave out for their MVP for every match. It was always him, that stood ahead of others.

He was always the best.

The first time he met someone as talented as him was nearing the end of his elementary school when he met Miyuki Kazuya. A talented catcher with a too big love for baseball that seems can’t adjust with his peers

What a familiar situation, he thought back then as he stared at the kid who was walking alone without his teammates amidst the bustling atmosphere in the stadium. Lonely was the next thing that he thought. The feeling of being alone despite being surrounded by people around them.

 Ah, he thought after a moment of realization. He and Kazuya is in the same predicament. Stuck in a too small team with talents too big.

“Hey!” he yelled back then, staring at the kid who is shorter than him with glasses too big for his face and striped jersey. “My first pitch, during my third at bat” he let out. “Do you specifically target it!?”

Glass rimmed eyes stared at him. Mei stared back, unwilling to lose in this game of who will blink first. “Like I tell you” said the kid finally, furrowing his eyebrow as if Mei had just said something ridiculous. “I’m not dumb, no one generous enough to tell their opponent weakness that they discovered when they’ll play each other in the future~”

“Weakness!?” yelled Mei in shock. No one ever called him weak before. It’s always, oh you’re so good Narumiya! You’re so talented! I want to be like you!

No one called him weak.

No one dared too, at the glaringly obvious sheer talent he has for baseball.

And this kid- this kid actually dare to call him that!? When his team actually lose to Mei’s!?

At that, with the childishness of an elementary schooler, he tackled the kid to the ground.

That was how he met Kazuya.

“OI YOU-!?”

“BRAT!”

When he went into a powerhouse middle school, he still stood out amongst his peers. A prodigy some whispered, a baseball maniac, whispered another. An asshole, thought most of his teammates.

Not that he cares. All he wants is to play baseball and if there’s some unfavorable whispers about him here and there, he doesn’t care as long as he can play baseball.

He won. He won and keep winning.

Matches after matches played, and the list of people who lose to him gradually grows. As he continue to climb further and further up, Mei doesn’t know when did the ground disappear. Since when can’t he saw the ground anymore.

Scary, he thought. To look down. That’s why he kept going. He kept going to reach a higher height. A height where no one can reach him. It was not long before he was hailed as a prodigious pitcher, as someone who was meant to play baseball. The rows of golden trophies and medals lined up inside a glass tray back home is the blatant evidence of that.

The prodigy, Narumiya Mei.

The thing is, that’s what people know about him. They don’t know about the callouses in his hand. They don’t know the stack of notes on his desk. They don’t know all the sweat and sleep lost to him just to practice almost obsessively. After all, there is nothing more scary than being toppled down when they’re on top.

To freefall into the ground that he previously can’t see anymore.

And then he met a pitcher with too wide smile and golden eyes.

Sawamura Eijun, a pitcher from some backwater middle school that is in their first national match.

He remembered when he peered out of the dugout and instead of meeting Kazuya’s team, he met an unknown team with a too loud pitcher wearing a large grin as he stood on the mound. The team doesn’t have a reserve player, considering their dugout is actually empty and only their coach, a man with large sunglasses and surgical mask – weird – stood there.

It should be an easy match. An easy match that they doesn’t even need to use Mei in. But in reality, they only won because Akagi middle school did a fielding error and their batter sucks, so so much. It’s almost a miracle that they managed to score- oh wait, the one score that Akagi managed to get is from Sawamura too actually.

A bitter feeling rose up inside him when he realized that he won not because he beat Sawamura Eijun. That he won not because that he is more skillful or talented than Sawamura Eijun.

A too wide talent in a too small team, just like Mei back in elementary school.

Going into high school, he decided to gather the best players out there and made the high school baseball team version of Avenger. A team that stood on top of everyone, a team, that will make Mei think that maybe the peak is not such a scary place anymore. A team, that could beat players like Sawamura Eijun.

And so, here he is. On top of the mound that he coveted for so long and just letting the first run to be stolen under his nose.

How annoying, he thought, fiddling with the rosin bag in hand. One run. One run too many, he decided, dropping the bad and turned his attention towards the next batter to face him.

He could see coach looking at him from the dugout, head tilted upward a bit. A silent Be serious could practically be heard from the older man. It was a silent demand that Mei intended to follow.

Seido captain stood before him, a determined glint on his face. Yuuki Tetsuya, seido captain, cleanup, and first baseman. He’s one of the players that Inashiro was wary of. The teen that managed to hit him off last summer and it annoyed Mei greatly.

As if he’s going to let that happen again.

Eyes narrowing, he did his windup, hurling his ball towards Masa-san mitt-

“STRIKE-!”

 


 

Eijun stared at Narumiya who has his head held high and a mocking smile on his face. It was a direct challenge to Seido, after that change up that took Tetsu-san as a surprise and in turn, striking him out.

It aggravate him for some reason. That Narumiya is showing that expression.

Narumiya Mei is looking down on us. On Seido.

How dare he?

The look in Narumiya face as he struck out both Tetsu-san and Masuko-senpai annoyed him greatly.

“Strike out! Change!” announced the voice that rang throughout the stadium. “Despite losing a run for the first time in today’s game, Narumiya perfect pitching consecutively struck out the 4tha and 6th batters!”

Despite the slow strike, it was true that Narumiya performed greatly afterwards. His pitches took Seido’s batting lineup offguard. Surprising even the players in the dugout.

“What’s this?” said a familiar voice. “You look annoyed”

Eijun looked towards where Miyuki-senpai stood on the mound with him. A snicker already on the catcher face. “I’m not annoyed” muttered Eijun, not concealing his frown even the slightest bit.

“Liar” said the catcher, grinning. “Let out that anger and let’s slay this final boss together alright?”

Nodding, Eijun did a fist bumb with the catcher before Miyuki-senpai walked towards his position. Heaving a deep breath, he tilted his head upwards, hand already stretched upwards as he bellowed in a loud voice. “Everyone!” he said. “Balls will be flying so thank you in advance!”

“There it is! Sawamura signature howl!”

“Sawamura we’re counting on you!”

“Perfect strikeouts Sawamura!”

After that announcement, the announcer continue his tirade. “Bottom of the 1st inning, Seido is on the defense” said the man. “On the mound is jersey number 10, 1st year pitcher, Sawamura-kun”

At this, the stands erupted in another loud cheer.

“He’s here! The amazing 1st year pitcher!”

“Sawamura!”

“Strike him out Sawamura!”

“Although he did not play during the semifinals” continue the announcer despite the loud cheers from the stands, “He is entrusted with the mound for this final stage-!”

It was a huge ego boost, what the announcer said as the teen practically vibrating in his place. He let his eyes wander around the stadium, looking around at the stands who was cheering for his name in a loud voice.

“Calm down” muttered Ryo-san, hitting his back lightly. “Don’t be too excited, hm?”

“Of course!” He said, still excited and definitely not calming down.

Grinning, Eijun finally turned his attention towards Inashiro first batter, Kamiya Carlos. He’s a fast runner, much like Kuramochi-senpai so even though he hit a grounder, he still managed to get on base. Watch out for bunts, he reminds himself. Inashiro is not afraid to use it.

The umpire called out the start of the game, making the pitcher immediately focusing on the catcher in front of him. He watched the sign that Miyuki-senpai gave him and he felt his eyes widened.

Changeup, no. 6, fast.

Palmball, he thought. He never used this in the tournament before. Then again, this is the finals. The coach and Miyuki-senpai finally let him use his higher numbers.

Nodding, he did his windup. Adjusting the grip he’s using, tightening he has around the ball as he focused his attention towards where Miyuki-senpai is. He could see Carlos growing wary as he shifted his batting stance and the grip the other teen had on the bat had grown tighter.

Whipping his hand back, he hurled the ball towards his partner in a way of fastball-

Carlos swung, maneuvering his body with his full strength.

BAM!

“STRIKE!” yelled out the umpire.

-a music to his ear.

 


 

“152 km/h” said Chris-senpai from the dugout. “For a changeup that’s…”

“Terrifying” finished the coach.

 


 

Yoshizawa Hideaki blinked. “I thought that was a fastball” he said, leaning further towards the metal railing to see what’s happening better. “That was a changeup right?”

“That’s not the circle changeup” said Narumiya Mei, eyes narrowing from the dugout. He had changed it his position from sitting at the back of the dugout to standing in front, near the metal railings and right next to Yoshikawa. “I knew it, he has more pitches hidden”

“That was the palmball” said Harada. “Sawamura’s windup itself is unique, and the way he throws his pitches… it’s impossible to see what he’s going to pitch next”

Hirai nodded his head. “Adding we still didn’t know what kind of pitches he could throw…”

“Luck” said Narumiya, frowning. “A whole damn lot of luck or wait until Sawamura exhaust himself, that may be the only reason we will able to able to hit him off” he muttered, disliking that the only way they could steal a run out of the 1st year is by depending on a luck and something like stamina.

The atmosphere inside Inashiro dugout had gone chilly.

“What a monster” said Yoshikawa. “He never play a full game before in this tournament right? We can wait until he exhaust himself”

“Or wait until the burden is far too heavy for him to carry” answered Harada, crossing his arm. “After all, he’s only a first year”

 


 

“STRIKE BATTER OUT!”

Eijun watched as Carlos made his way out of the batter box, sweat matted his face before he trade a couple of mumbled words with second batter, Shirakawa. The red haired teen seems to have mumbled something back before he advance towards the batter box.

“Batting second, shortstop, Shirakawa” said the announcer as the teen arrived at the batter box while adjusting his helmet.

Nodding towards Miyuki-senpai, Eijun did his windup once again. Whipping his hand back, he throw the ball towards where the batter and catcher is.

The resounding BAM! That arrive a mere second latter is more satisfying than he would admit. He could Shirakawa eyes widened as he gave the ball a glance before his eyes hardened. Gaze zeroing towards where Eijun is.

He did his windup again, adjusting his grip into a circle changeup before throwing it towards the batter box. Shirakawa swung this time, missing the ball completely as the ball arrived at Miyuki-senpai glove.

“Strike!” said the umpire.

The next pitch was the same. Eijun throwing a cutter this time, and the batter in front of him missed the timing completely as the ball hurled straight towards his catcher glove.

“Strike, batter out!”

Immediately, the stands and the dugout bursts into a loud cheer. “Two consecutive outs Sawamura!” Yelled Seido members.

“Keep it up!”

“Good job Sawamura!”

Huffing out a breath, Eijun prepared himself for the next batter. It didn’t took him too long to strike out Inashiro third batter in. All in a perfect three strikeout.

“Three consecutive strikeouts!”

“That’s amazing Sawamura!”

“Sawamura!”

With that performance, the 1st inning of the Tokyo Tournament finals ended with 1-0 to Seido High School.

 


 

“Ah, Seido fail to hit again” muttered Akito Hiyashi, one of the spectator from the match.

His words was almost drowned by how loud the cheering around him. The Tokyo Tournament was in full swing, especially today where the finals are being held. Akito himself, was a big fan of baseball and always watch Koshien without a fail every year. Though this year, because of some rotten luck, he failed to acquire a ticket to the famed tournament.

As a mean to console himself of his failure, he decided to watch the finals of Tokyo Tournament. But really, Akito didn’t expected it to be this intense.

He knows that both Seido and Inashiro are powerhouses in West Tokyo. That both school, alongside Ichidaisan, always competed between each other for a chance of Koshien. Still, that doesn’t prepared for how competitive both school are.

Brass bands could be heard playing their respective school songs as if it was competing with each other. Cheerleaders could be seen cheering from the stairs, loud cheers and yells coulc be heard from them. The players themselves too, looked determined as if this was the finals of Koshien itself. As if they were competing for a national title.

West Tokyo block is really competitive and Akito finally has the pleasure to finally saw it.

The man besides him, Hotaru Akiba, his co-worker who also a fan of baseball like him, laughed, “It’s still the 2nd inning” said the man. “They have plenty chance later, considering they’re already ahead of 1 run now”

Just as he said that, the announcer announced the next batter. Immediately, the excitement rose around them.

“Batting 7th” said the announcer, as a teen with golden eyes appeared. “Pitcher, Sawamura-kun’

Sawamura Eijun, Seido star pitcher, is now up to bat. Seido’s dugout immediately burst into loud yells as encouragements and teasing remarks could be heard being thrown into said pitcher.

“It’s Sawamura” breathed Akito, eyes focusing on the teen who’s walking towards the batter box. “Damn, the kid is a talented one”

“I know right” agreed on Hotaru, grinning wildly. “It was also always interesting to see him play, he’s kind of funny”

Akito laughed. “You’re talking about that roar he did at the bottom of the 1st? the one where he apologized to the fielder in advance?” he asked, remembering the loud yell that the pitcher did at the bottom of the 1st. It was a shock to him, but considering how the crowd laughed and how his teammates responded, he thought that it’s something that already happen oftentimes.

“Hell yeah” replied the other man. “The kid always did that before he pitches, it’s really funny considering most of the time, the fielders doesn’t have anything to do when Sawamura is pitching”

Akito laugh becomes louder at that. “Interesting” he said, eyes glimmering. “Seido really have many awesome players, it will be really interesting if they manage to go to Koshien this year”

“It’s been years since the last time they went to Koshien” mused out Hotaru. “5? 6? I’m not sure, since they changed their coach Seido never went to Koshien”

“Hooo” said Akito raising an eyebrow. “You know, is Sawamura a great batter?”

“If he’s in any other school, I think he could be the cleanup” answered Harada, grinning wildly. “You should see their match with Yakushi, it was really fun”

Said topic of the conversation now stood on the batter box. They could see the teen swinging his bat a couple of times, as if he was measuring the range of his bat before he went into his batting position.

Narumiya, Inashiro pitcher, could be seen narrowing his eyes.

“Isnlt this like the battle of the southpaw?” joked Akito. “With him and Narumiya are lefties”

“Now that you mention it…” muttered Hotaru. “This is really exciting right?”

The cheers all around them grow louder and louder. They had choosen a spot just near where Seido 2nd and 3rd string members sat. Their cheers are loud and intimidating. Added by the brass band as well as the cheers from cheerleaders, Seido appearance never failed to intimidate their opponent.

Same could be said to Inashiro though.

“Hit a homerun Sawamura!”

“Avenge Tetsu-san!”

“Mei, struck him out!”

“Narumiya!”

“Hit him off!”

Sawamura eyes immediately focused on Narumiya.

In a split second, Narumiya did his windup before he hurled the ball towards the batter box. Sawamura didn’t even hesitate to swing his bat, and with a loud CLANG! The ball shot off across the field. Loud cheers could be heard all around them as the announcer narrated the event with clear excitement in his voice.

Seido dugout broke out into loud yells of encouragement and praises could be heard directed towards the Southpaw. Narumiya, from his spot on the mound, looked sullenly at Sawamura. Eyes narrowing and mouth pressed in a firm line.

Though, Inashiro fielders managed to safe the ball, throwing the ball immediately towards the first baseman and catching it before Sawamura could arrived safely.

With that, Seido gaining one out in the top of the 2nd inning. Two outs were added immediately after that when both Seido 8th and 9th batter failed to hit off Narumiya’s pitches.

 


 

Bottom of the 2nd inning, Eijun took a deep breath as he stared at Harada who stood in front of him.

With the score 1-0, Eijun is determined to keep that one run lead.

The Inashiro catcher is already in his battings stance, eyes zeroing to where he stood. Harada, Inashiro main catcher as well as their cleanup and captain. What a burden to bear, Eijun almost pities the teen. Especially in a team with someone like Narumiya with ego as big as the whole planet.

From what he could see in Inshiro recordings, Harada has the skill to produce wide angle hits to any direction. A talented batter, as well as catcher.

Careful, signed Miyuki-senpai with a nod of his head from his spot. He may not be the best slugger there is like Todoroki, but he’s dangerous all the same.

Eijun nodded at that, tightening his hold over the ball on his hand. Doing his windup, he adjusted his grip into the grip of his 2-seamer, hurling the ball towards where Miyuki-senpai directed him.

With a loud CLANG! Harada hit off the ball, landing the ball in a place between the home base and the first base, making it a foul.

“Foul!” said the umpire.

Close, thought Eijun, letting out a breath. He’ll hit it off the next time

Heaving a deep breath, Eijun started his windup again. Miyuki-senpai seems to have shared his thought because he signed for his number 6 this time, the palmball changeup that struck out both Carlos and Shirakawa earlier.

He hurled the ball and at the same time, Harada didn’t miss a second to swing his bat. Unfortunately, the older missed the timing, making a loud resounding BAM! Echoed through the field.

The ball arrived in Miyuki-senpai mitt in a resounding noise amidst the roar all around him. Said catcher immediately throw the ball back to him and Eijun caught it easily before wiping the sweat off his face.

“Sawamura! Keep it up!”

“One more Sawamura! One more!”

Nodding his head towards Miyuki-senpai who’s already signing for the next pitch, Eijun did his windup, grip adjusting to the next pitch. Whipping his hand back, he hurled the ball towards the batter box-

BAM!

“Strike! Batter out!”

Loud roars from the audience could be heard at that as Miyuki-senpai too seems to be sighing in relief.

“Isn’t this the four consecutive strikeouts!? The pitcher is crazy!”

“Sawamura you’re doing great!”

“Bakamura strike him out!”

It was during this too, that he locked eyes with familiar blue eyes.

Inashiro fifth batter, Narumiya Mei. The teen was stomping towards the batter box, a scowl already on his face as he complained about Harada, in which Harada angrily yelled out a sorry to.  He must feel a bit vengeful to Eijun, considering that he did hit him off earlier.

From the way he looked, it was clear that the teen was determined to hit him off, to avenge himself. Or Harada, Eijun is not really sure when it comes to Narumiya.

Not that he’s going to let him.

“Sawamura!” yelled out Jun-san from the dugout. “Strike him out! Avenge Tetsu, Masuko, and Miyuki!”

Yeah, he thought, lets start the monster slaying.

He did his windup, grip adjusting to a cutter before hurling the ball towards Narumiya. Said teen didn’t hesitate to swing his bat, hitting the ball and making a foul.

“Foul!” announced the umpire.

Narumiya seems frustrated from his spot as Eijun immediately did his windup. This time too, the other pitcher didn’t hesitate to swing his bat and once again hitting the ball though it was a foul.

“Foul!”

He keeps hitting it, thought Eijun, a bit frustrated as he did another windup, putting more force than usual behind his pitch. It hurled pass Narumiya and the teen didn’t even have the chance to swing his bat.

BAM!

“Strike! Batter out!”

The face on Narumiya face as he walked out of the batter box is infinitely satisfying.

 


 

“If I’m not wrong, we scouted Sawamura” said Kunitomo Hiroshige, Inashiro coach as he, and the rest of the team stood under the shade of the dugout.

Inashiro club president, Hayashida Masayoshi, nodded his head. “Yes” he confirmed. “I was the one who scouted him, and gave him a tour of our facilities personally” explained the man. “In the end, he chose Seido over us”

Coach Kunitomo hummed at that. “He’s an exceptional player” he said. “Definitely playing pro in the future”

Hayashida laughed at that. “You think so too, huh?” he said. “I was impressed when I saw him playing in the junior high nationals” continue the man. “In fact, it was his match between our Mei that cemented my thought to scout him”

“If we have him and Mei in the same team, it would be incredible” muttered the coach. “The rivalry between the two of them would push both pitchers to an incredible height”

“I know” said Hayashida with a small wistful smile. “A shame that he chose Seido in the end”

“A shame, indeed” replied Coach Kunitomo. “He reminds me of someone”

“Oh?” said Hayashida, interested. “Who?”

“Nakatani Shouta” said the man. “Sawamura reminds me of the man back in high school”

The club president perked up at that. “Ah I almost forget about that fact” he said. “You used to coach Nakatani Shouta when he was a student in Inashiro right? That's how you got your initial fame as a coach, I remember with him in the team Inashiro managed to win Koshien three years straight”

“It was the peak of our baseball club” said Coach, nodding his head and a distant look on his eyes. “Something that I wish to bring back”

Hayashida chuckled. “Inashiro baseball club peak time huh” he mused out. “I would love to see that”

 


 

In the stands, players from Ichidaisan could be seen watching the finals between Inashiro and Seido.

“That run in the first inning is crucial” muttered Hirakawa Takahiro. “It could be the only run scored in this game, considering who is the pitchers in both schools are”

“Narumiya is completely serious now” said Manaka, Ichidaisan former pitcher. “And Sawamura too, is a pitcher the same caliber as Narumiya”

Takahiro, Ichidaisan previous captain and third baseman, nodded his head. “Only some of miracle happened” said the teen. “I can’t see how both school will score runs in the next innings”

“How scary” muttered Hirakawa dryly. “Ah, if only our underclassmen are this fired up”

“Don’t worry” said Manaka with a small smile. “Kousei finally got his mind together and started attending practice now”

“That little shit finally got his bearing together huh?” said Hirakawa, narrowing his eyes as he leaned further back on the chair he’s sitting in. “About time”

Takahiro chuckled at that. “I just hope it was not too late” he said, watching the match before them.

He really hopes that it was not too late, considering the monsters they may face in the future.

 


 

Top of the 4th inning, Inashiro is on their second rotation of their batting lineup.

“What’s Sawamura pitch count?” asked Coach Kataoka, watching the game unfold before him.

“27” answered Chris, looking up from his note. “He keep striking out Inashiro batters in three pitches”

Nodding his head, the coach turned his attention towards the field again. Seido, needs to defend that one run lead from Inashiro. It was a stroke of luck that Narumiya haven’t warmed up to the game yet during the first inning, giving Seido an easy one run.

That one run could also possibly the last score that Seido will make during this game. With how strong Narumiya is, striking out batter after batter, they need to defend it with all they have.

Sawamura, had been doing an incredible job on doing it.

He know that Sawamura is an amazing pitcher. Someone with great versatility and incredible control. The Yakushi match proves that as well as how he almost routinely struck out Seido own batting lineup during training. Today’s match also a sheer testament of the first year skill.

Inashiro batters are strong, there’s no doubt about it. Even though Inashiro was known as the school with Narumiya Mei, the pitching genius, their batting lineup is nothing to scoff at. Many famous names during middle school had gone to Inashiro after all, a testament of their prowess.

Coach Kunitomo too, is not a slack either. From the recordings of their previous matches, it was clear that Inashiro is a school strong in both defense and offense.

With Seido still trying to reach Koshien for the last 6 years, Inashiro had gone there countless of times, representing West Tokyo.

This year, is chance of revenge.

And they may have the chance on doing so with Sawamura in the team.

“Batting fourth” said the announcer. “1st baseman, Yuuki-kun”

Yuuki walked up song played as the third year marched towards where the mound is. Seido captain always cut for an imposing figure. Mouth pressed in a serious line and a determined glint on his face.

Knowing his batting prowess, Yuuki, had always been an opponent that pitchers grow wary off.

Though, all seems like nothing when you’re facing Narumiya Mei.

The blond effectively stroke out Yuuki as well a Masuko, ending seido turn to do offense.

“We’re on the defense now” said coach Kataoka, shifting his gaze towards his players who was preparing themselves for their turn to defend. Amongst them, are Sawamura, who is already standing in front of the dugout with Kuramochi and Miyuki saying something to him.

He doesn’t look nervous, or tired. A good thing.

“Sawamura” he called out, gaining the attention of the teen, as well as the rest of the team.

Wide golden eyes turned towards him, a bit of confusion clear on it. “Yes?”

“This match” said the older, turning his full attention on the teen. “I’m counting on you”

Silence descended the dugout as Sawamura stared at him with wide eyes. It was an understandable expression, considering how in the previous game, no matter how well Sawamura pitched, he will be replaced by another pitcher in the next few innings.

Right now, though, Coach Kataoka are trusting this whole game to Sawamura.

“YES!” Yelled out Sawamura finally, eyes wide and he straightened his posture. “YESSIR! I’M NOT GOING TO DISSAPOINT YOU!”

With that, Sawamura advanced to the mound.

 


 

“Sawamura-!”

“Don’t let them score Sawamura!”

Really, thought Eijun. Finals really are different.

As he stood on the mound, the southpaw realized one thing. With how Narumiya plays currently, their best bet is to defend their current score.

The aura the other pitcher gave off is oppressing, no doubt making Seido’s batting lineup worry and – dare he say? – intimidated. After that one run scored against him, Narumiya’s eyes had turned cold and the way he play has changed.

There’s a reason why he was called as the best pitcher in the Kanto region. Why, so many people whispered his name in fear.

Narumiya Mei, is indeed terrifying.

 


 

“This match” said  coach, turning his full attention on the teen. “I’m counting on you”

 


 

But Eijun too, knows how to be a terrifying opponent.

So he stood there, right on the mound. Eyes shaded by the brim of his cup as he stared down Inashiro first batter, Carlos. He played with the rosin bag before dropping it to the ground, zeroing his focus towards Miyuki-senpai who is already crouched on his place before him.

He knows what he needs to do. What his job is in this match.

To defend this one run lead that they managed to snatch in the 1st inning. To defend his team like a fortress. Unbreachable and undefeatable, someone that will never be trespassed by others.

One run, is one run too many.

Eijun will never let that happen.

His eyes caught Miyuki-senpai before he nodded. In front of him, Carlos, is already doing his batting stance, eyes zeroing towards Eijun. Considering the last time they faced each other, how he can’t even land a hit on his pitches, his reaction was understandable.

Lets be wary, signed Miyuki-senpai, eyes flickering towards where Carlos stood. Cutter

Adjusting his grip on the ball, Eijun did his windup before whipping his hand back and hurling his ball towards Carlos. The teen swung but completely missed the timing of the ball, making it arrived safely in Miyuki-senpai glove.

“Strike!” yelled the umpire.

Palmball Changeup, no.6, fast, signed Miyuki-senpai immediately and Eijun complied easily. Compared to the first time, Carlos manages to grasp the timing a bit better, though Eijun had expected that so he adjusted the speed and trajectory of his ball completely different from before.

BAM!

“Strike!”

“Great Sawamura!”

“One more! One more!”

Miyuki-senpai throw the ball immediately straight towards Eijun who caught it easily.

Vulcan changeup, no.8, signed the older.

Nodding, Eijun adjusted his grip once again, before hurling the ball towards the catcher’s glove. For a split second, he could see Carlos eyes widened as the ball hurled passed him, making a satisfying sound as it arrived at its designated destination.

“STRIKE! BATTER OUT!” announced the umpire finally.

 


 

“Was that a forkball? No, its different” muttered Tadano, a reserve catcher for Inashiro.

“Another variation of change up” muttered Narumiya with a click of his tongue. It was kind of weird to see the pitcher standing in front of the dugout, practically leaning towards the metal railing. Usually, the blond opted on sitting at the back, lounging under the shade of the dugout.

Well, considering who their opponent is today, they could understand why Narumiya is being like this.

The Inashiro dugout had been watching the ongoing match in front of him. Yamaoka let out a nervous breath. “He already show us 2 new pitches in this game alone” muttered the teen. “He really been hiding his repertoire”

“3 changeups” said Hirai. “The best kind of scenario is that that all there is to his repertoire” continue the third year as he stared at Sawamura who is now pitching against Shirakawa. “The worst case is that… he still have more”

Carlos, who already went back to the dugout grunted. “I don’t think need to worry only on his repertoire” said the male. “His changeup earlier, the palmball, was completely different from the first one” he continue. “He can adjust his trajectory and speed perfectly”

“I told you” said Narumiya finally, eyes still glued on the match before him. “A whole damn luck is needed to hit off Sawamura”

How terrifying.

 


 

Chapter Text

July 31st 

Inashiro Industrial vs Seido High School

 

Victory, is something that Eijun desire since the first time he understood the concept of baseball tournament.

After all, what’s so bad about victory? If you win, you can feel the euphoric feeling of winning, you get the validation that everyone throws at you, you can play more baseball because with victory there will always more. More matches, more opponents seeking to topple you down, more and more.

Summer for a team who lost, ends fast and abruptly. All the training you did for the past year will looked like as if it was useless when you suffer your first loss. That all the sweat you pour in order to achieve your dream seems meaningless when you realized that summer has ended for the both of you, and your team.

Eijun wants to win.

He wants to play more games. He wants to face with stronger and stronger batter. He wants to yell and imprint his name to the rest of the baseball scene.

And in order to do so, victory is the only way to do it.

The southpaw is adjusting his helmet as he prepared himself to walk into the field. One hand gripping his bat tightly as he stared at Narumiya who is already standing on the mound. On the other side, is Miyuki-senpai, also staring at the blond pitcher with a glint of something on his eyes.

“Senpai-!” Yelled Eijun. “Break that curse!”

“Miyuki hit him or you’ll be doing my massage for the next two weeks!”

“Homerun Miyuki, Homerun you hear me!”

Yells from the dugout behind the southpaw is loud, though at the same time if he were the batter, reassuring. It’s nice to know that there’s someone, or a group of people, who fully supported and believe in you.

Miyuki-senpai could be seen smiling wryly, before heaving out a deep breath and focusing back on where Narumiya stood in front of him. Narumiya too, not wanting to back down, stared at Miyuki-senpai back. Gazes full of challenge are exchanged before the pitcher promptly did his windup.

Changeup, thought Eijun, wide golden eyes staring at the ball that is now hurling towards Seido’s starting catcher. Narumiya’s winning pitch.

The ball arrived safely on Inashiro’s catcher glove, as Miyuki-senpai didn’t made a move to swing his bat.

Loud cheers from the Inashiro side of the stands are deafening at that. Narumiya immediately did another windup, eyes opened wide as he whipped his hand back and hurled the ball-

CLANG!

“Foul!” announced the umpire.

Miyuki-senpai sighed, eyes narrowing at the ball that had fallen in between the first base and the home base. Tension could be seen in the second year face because if he once again fail to hit the next pitch, it would be an out for Seido.

Narumiya nodded a bit at something that Inashiro catcher signed to him. The other southpaw immediately did his windup, eyes wide, before hurling the ball-

BAM!

“Strike! Batter out!” Yelled the umpire.

Miyuki-senpai is still in his last position where he swung his bat, frozen a bit before he realized it and walked towards the dugout, face grim.

Just as he was about to arrived, he stopped where Eijun is standing. “Careful” muttered the second year, eyes flicking to where Narumiya stood. “Mei is… really serious, so is Harada”

Nodding, Eijun let out a loud huff before slapping his own cheeks lightly. “Of course!” he said, voice loud. “Just leave it to me senpai!”

“Sure sure” muttered Miyuki-senpai, bumping his own fist with Eijun’s own before he walked pass him into the dugout.

At that, Sawamura Eijun went into the batter box.

 


 

Mei is different every time Sawamura is up to bat, thought Masatoshi.

Said teen are standing in front of him, right on the mound and his mouth are set into a thin frown. His eyes are shaded by the brim of his cap, but that doesn’t dulled the bright blue of his eyes. Mei was staring at Sawamura who is walking into the batter box, face unnaturally grim and serious.

Masatoshi could feel the air around Mei shifted at that. There’s something more foreboding, more dark to what the southpaw usually carry. Sawamura could bring out another side of Mei, a side that the pitcher rarely show pass his easy smile and prideful eyes.

It was as if the blond felt threatened. As if he was wary of Sawamura’s presence and his ability to take on him. That as if Mei thought that the first year is terrifying.

He had been Mei’s catcher close to two years now, and he never saw him like this. Mei had always been prideful and arrogant. Had always underestimated their opponent as if they don’t deserve to lick the bottom of his shoes. At the same time, Masatoshi could acknowledge that Mei deserves to be like that.

Mei deserves to be prideful and arrogant of his abilities. He deserved to underestimated their opponent because none of them actually able to threatened Narumiya Mei, the best pitcher in the Kanto region.

And now, in front of this first year pitcher, Mei changed as if they had just lost during last year summer Koshien. Even Miyuki, the one person that Mei seems to have the pleasure to egg and annoy on, doesn’t get the same reaction.

Sawamura stopped in front of him, hand swinging the bat he’s carrying a couple of times as if he was measuring the range.

The cheers are loud around them. Chants of Sawamura’s name could be heard from the stands as well as yells of encouragement from Seido’s dugout. This reminds Masatoshi of what happened a few innings back, when the first year able to hit Mei’s pitch. If it was not for their swift fielders, he was sure that said teen would able to go on base.

Flicking his eyes to the scoreboard, he stared at the bright red 0 next to Inashiro’s name and the bright red 1 next to Seido’s name.

It is the 5th Inning and Seido is ahead of one run.

It is the 5th inning, and every time Sawamura is standing in the batter box, he never fail to hit Mei’s pitches.

He’s not sure why that possibly happen. Mei is a talented pitcher where many skilled batter has a hard time to hit. Mei, is a pitcher that is known to be a genius in the world of high school baseball.

Maybe it’s because Sawamura is similar to Mei. A southpaw with talent too big to contain and undoubtedly confidence on their power. A prodigy player who hold an immense love fore baseball and is not afraid to work hard to further their skill, the most scary type of a prodigy. Someone, that somehow could be a terrifying player both offense and defense. That fact, made the first year a noteworthy opponent itself.

So that’s the reason why Seido didn’t let Sawamura play during the practice match back then, he thought almost idly. A trump card for the summer, an amazing one.

With how Sawamura stood in front of him now, hand holding the bat tightly, he could see why Mei is wary of the pitcher. The focus that the southpaw had shown is no doubt terrifying. As if he could see what kind of pitches Mei would throw next.

Maybe he actually do, thought Masatoshi as he entertained that very possibility. Maybe Sawamura has an obsession over Mei just like Mei’s obsession over him. Maybe he had examined every pitches Mei has and made countermeasures for it.

Nonetheless, he thought, shifting his mitt to the desired position. In front of him is Narumiya Mei. Narumiya Mei who is called a once in a generation prodigy, Narumiya Mei who put their opponents scared witless, Narumiya Mei who is the best pitcher in the Kanto region. They’ll strike out Sawamura here.

Show them what you got, Mei, he thought as he shifted his mitt into the desired position, signing that he’s ready and Mei could pitch towards him anytime now.

From the mound, Mei nodded his head before did his windup. Form perfect as usual, with determination shining on his eyes, as he whipped his hand back-

CLANG!

-Sawamura without any hesitation, hit the ball with a loud clang! That reverberated through the air. It flew pass the field as Inashiro’s fielders ran and tried to catch it.

At the same time, Sawamura ran ahead, abandoning his bat as he throws it to the ground and dashed towards the base. He ran, and keep running and running because-

“A HOMERUN!” Announced the announcer with a loud voice, followed by the loud roars from the audience and Seido’s side of stand. The other school school’s song could be heard being immediately played as Sawamura dashed pass the home base, fist in the air as he focused his attention solely on Seido’s dugout.

Seido let out a roar of happiness at that, as the teen arrived in the dugout. Masatoshi could saw them hugging or patting the teen. Yells of praise and encouragement could be heard from his position.

Though, that doesn’t really matters to him as he immediately turn his attention towards the pitcher in front of him. “Mei!” he yelled out, catching the attention of the blond immediately. “My bad! That was my bad call!”

“Y-“ someone from the fielders yelled out too. “Yeah Mei! Our bad too!”

“We’ll catch it later!”

“You’re doing great!”

Mei’s eyes widened at that, almost in disbelief.

The team ace, their core, their first and last defense. Narumiya Mei is an integral part of the team. Someone irreplaceable.

In their current situation, they can’t let their ace being distracted.

“Masa-san you suck!” Yelled the blond back, the expression full of disbelief disappeared from his face as he snuck a tongue out at him. “You guys too!” he yelled again, pointing a finger towards the fielders behind him.

Thankfully, Mei doesn’t got shaken at that homerun. Yes, it was surprising, yes it shook a lot of them mentally.

But that one homerun doesn’t mean a win. That one homerun doesn’t mean that Seido will win this game. Baseball game is unexpected, the tide of the match could be turned around any moment and Masatoshi will believed that to the end.

Though, he thought, almost as an after thought as he casted a gaze towards Seido’s dugout. After the homerun, why didn’t Sawamura smile?

 


 

It’s kinda hot, thought Eijun, adjusting his cap a bit. Summer in Tokyo had always been one of the things his parents warned him about. That Tokyo’s summer heat is merciless and grueling to stand underneath it.

Though, right now, Eijun decided that to ignore most of it. Even when he could feel his face damp from sweat, there are other more important things he should focus on. Namely the match he’s currently playing in. The finals of Tokyo Tournament to see who will represent West Tokyo for Summer Koshien.

One more. One more step for Koshien.

Huffing, he set his gaze on the batter in front of him.

Bottom of the 5th, it’s time for Seido to took up the mound once again. Eijun had gone up, taking his place on the mound as he turn his focus solely on both the batter and the catcher in front of him. The crowd loud cheers has muted considerably as he let the sight in front of him took up all of his attention.

Miyuki-senpai quirked an eyebrow, obviously taking a notice of Eijun’s sweat damp face. It’s nothing really worrying, something that the catcher seems to realize as he nodded his head and proceed to signed for his next pitch.

Number 7, revised cutter, or what he fondly called, Cutter Kai.

Another of his numbers that hasn’t been showed during the tournament. When Miyuki-senpai told him to not hide his other pitches anymore, he should’ve expect for the catcher to asked for most of his numbers. After all, there is no use on hiding his numbers or saving it for Koshien if they don’t win the Tokyo Tournament.

Nodding, he immediately did his windup, he adjusted his grip before hurling the ball towards Harada-

 


 

Masatoshi stood on the batter box, eyes focusing on the ball being thrown at him-

He could feel his eyes widened.

It vanishes?

 


 

BAM!

“Strike!” yelled the umpire, signaling the arrival of his pitch on Miyuki-senpai’s glove.

Harada didn’t swung and his eyes are still wide, frozen in shock. It was satisfying, thought Eijun. To see someone being so shocked of his repertoire that they seems to be in disbelief. Miyuki-senpai seems to think so too considering there is an amused smirk behind his faceguard as he throw the ball back towards Eijun.

Catching it easily, he did another windup. Grip already on his previous grip as he whipped his hand back-

BAM!

-Harada swung his bat, not grasping the timing of Eijun’s Cutter Kai yet and completely missing it.

In his third pitch, Eijun had expected for Miyuki-senpai to signed for another of his revised cutter. Obviously gloating towards Harada and directly challenging him. Just like what he did for Carlos before, the southpaw took some precautions and started to adjusted his grip to change the trajectory completely and slowing it down a bit.

It worked, as Harada who had swung his bat in the same timing as his previous Cutter Kai missed the ball completely.

“Sawamura that’s good! Keep it up!”

“Do you know how many consecutive strikeouts this is Sawamura!? A lot!”

“Eijun-kun you’re doing amazing!”

He huffed out a breath that he didn’t even realize he was holding, trying to release the tension that started to build up slowly. Turning his eyes back on the batter box, he immediately met with sky blue and narrowed his eyes.

There, stood Narumiya Mei, holding his bat as he stared back at Eijun.

Miyuki-senpai flicked a gaze towards where the blond stood, eyes assessing something in the teen before he turned it towards Eijun’s way again. Hand immediately formed into the now familiar sign that the catcher always use to told him what kind of pitch he wants.

The catcher reminds him of a king, a king with a bad personality.

Turning off his train of thoughts, he looked back to where Narumiya stood in front of him, a grin ready on his face. A grin that doesn’t last long when an agitated Eijun stroke out the pitcher in a perfect three strike outs.

Eijun did the same thing to the next Inashiro batter. Striking the teen out easily, as if he’s not starting players of a powerhouse school, effectively ending Inashiro’s turn to attack.

 


 

“What kind of daring play are they playing that they decided to use the same kind of pitch for the cleanup?” muttered Yoshizawa as he stared at Yamaoka who is struggling with Sawamura on the mound.

Shirakawa snorted. “Smells like Miyuki” muttered the red head, also staring at the game before him. “Bastard”

Harada nodded his head, rubbing his jaw thoughtfully. “Even if he’s using the same pitch three times” started, eyes heavy and contemplating, “I can’t hit it”

“I told you he could control his trajectory and speed perfectly” piped up Carlos from where he sit behind Harada. “Nasty”

“He didn’t even use that new pitch on me!” complained Narumiya loudly, leaning back on the chair he’s been sitting on. “I’m gonna hit a homerun out of him next!”

“Sure sure Mei-san” answered Tadano helpfully, offering a bottle of water towards the pitcher. “Though, that’s already 3 new pitch in this game alone, senpai”

“I know” answered Harada, at the same time as the umpire announcing the end of Inashiro turn to attack. “Big repertoire of pitch and perfect control of the trajectory and speed…”

Narumiya sprang up at that, adjusting his cap as he walked towards the front of the dugout. “Masa-san lets go!” yelled the blond, turning his head towards where the catcher is now putting his catching grip with the help of the players in the dugout. “We should show the world that Seido’s battery is nothing special” said the blond, putting his hand on his hip. “Show them why we’re the one who went to Koshien last year, that we’re going to bring back Inashiro peak times”

At that declaration, Harada can’t hold back the small smile that’s threatening to erupt in his face.

“Of course”

 


 

“As scary as ever huh” muttered Sanada Shunpei from the stands. “That Sawamura”

“Nada-senpai!” Yelled out Todoroki Raichi, munching on the onigiri he has on one of his hands. “Do you think there will be a lot of pitchers like Sawamura in Koshien!?”

“Oi Raichi” muttered Mishima, snatching the empty onigiri packet from the other teen. “Throw the plastic if you finish eating”

“Sorry!”

Sanada sighed, though there’s a small smile on his face as he leaned back on the stands. “But really, Inashiro and Seido are really intense” he said, eyes trained on the match in front of him. “To think I almost declined it when Sawamura asked me to watch”

It was true, that just after the semifinals, Sawamura had texted him asking for him and Todoroki and come to watch the finals. Initially, the second year had thought that it was just a way for the southpaw to gloat him about their win and pettily declined the offer. Turns out, Sawamura is just genuinely asking him, to establish their friendship or something.

Thinking it over, he decides that this is a good way to scout their future opponents. This year their summer may ended early, but next year, Sanada vowed to reach the Koshien stage with his teammates.

“That’s just because you’re bitter on losing to Seido” answered Hirahita, Yakushi right fielder, flicking his eyes towards the ace. “Petty”

“Can’t blame me, you were complaining too on the way here” snickered Sanada. “Man, I also want to play in Koshien”

“Then lets practice after this Nada-senpai!” yelled out the monster slugger, beaming as he turn to face him with a large grin on his face. “We’ll beat them in the future and go to Koshien!”

Ah, classic Todoroki optimism. Though, that made a smile appeared on the second year pitcher face. “’course” he agreed, ruffling the top of Todoroki’s hair. “We’ll win next summer”

Akiba laughed at that. “Our batting lineup needs to practice like crazy then” said the first year, wide grin already forming on his mouth. “Because we have a lot of scary opponents to face”

Yakushi will come to take vengeance.

 


 

Entering the 2nd part of the game, both teams are unwilling to back down. With Seido already ahead of two run from Inashiro, who will come out as the victor from this intense showdown between the two national powerhouses?

 


 

Kuramochi-senpai walkup song could be heard booming through the stadium at the top of the 6th inning. Said batter, has a determined frown setting on his face as he walked towards the batter box, hand gripping the bat tightly.

Narumiya is already waiting for him on the dugout, eyes steely and pointedly staring at the second year. He seems wary, especially considering the shortstop was the first one who managed to gain a run from the blond.

Though, Kuramochi-senpai was caught of guard by the changeup that Narumiya throw, making a foul despite of managing to hit the ball. The same thing could be seen happening and it was not long before the umpire announced a change of batter.

“Senpai-!” yelled Eijun from the dugout. “I’ll really eat your pudding at this rate!”

“Shut up Sawamura!”

Replacing Kuramochi-senpai is Ryo-san who is walking towards the batter box after exchanging a few low murmur with the shortstop. Though, there’s something that Eijun noticed about the older pink haired teen. For starter, he was seating more than usual. The second one, is how the third year walked a bit slower than usual.

“Hey Harucchi” he called out the teen. Harucchi, who was murmuring something with Furuya, turned his attention towards him.

“Yeah?” asked the teen, making Furuya also looking towards Eijun.

“It’s just… did Ryo-san injure himself or something?” said the southpaw, still staring at Ryo-san form who is now already standing on the batter box.

Harucchi blinked at that. “I… he made no mention of it” answered the teen.

Furuya tilted his head a bit at that. “Kominato-senpai is injured?” he asked slowly.

“I’m not really sure though…” muttered Eijun.

Just like Kuramochi-earlier, Ryo-san failed to hit Narumiya’s changeup. The blond has been throwing the pitch more and more in this inning alone, obviously determined to not let another score being stolen under his nose. Harada has been mixing the type of Narumiya’s pitch more too.

Narumiya throw another pitch and with a loud clang! Ryo-san managed to hit it. The hit was nothing impressive, but Ryo-san did that with gritted teeth as he immediately abandoned his bat and dashed tpwards the first base.

Inashiro’s fielder immediately ran to catch it, followed by a loud roar from the audience. As Ryo-san ran, his feet seems to buckled up when he was nearing the first base. The third year lunged towards the base, hand reaching-

“Out!” Yelled the umpire.

“Inashiro!”

“Inashiro!”

“As expected of Narumiya!”

“Nice pitch-!”

The southpaw nudged Harucchi’s a bit. “Harucchi” he murmured. “Did you see that?”

Harucchi nodded. “Yeah” eyes flicking towards where Ryo-san is slumped in the seat behind them, head covered in a cold towel. “Aniki’s feet…”

At that moment, Eijun’s caught Kuramochi-senpai’s eyes. The shortstop was also staring at Ryo-san. Raising an eyebrow, Eijun tilted his head a bit to Ryo-san’s direction, silently asking the second year if he’s seeing what he’s seeing.

Kuramochi-senpai nodded his head, face growing serious and narrowing his eyes before he stared back at Eijun, immediately shaking his head.

Don’t tell coach.

The southpaw blinked. Noticing his confusion, Kuramochi-senpai shook his head again while glaring at him, a clear order for him to shut his mouth about the third year apparent injury. Both Kuramochi-senpai and Ryo-san had been partners ever since the second year gained his position as the shortstop after all. Between Eijun and Kuramochi-senpai, he knows Ryo-san best.

“Senpai said to not tell coach” he whispered back to Harucchi.

The other teen merely nodded his head, still staring at his older brother silently.

Eijun stood up when Jun-san made his way to the field. Hovering near the metal railing of the dugout, he leaned forward to see the game better. If Jun-san failed to hit, it will end Seido’s turn to attack after all.

“Jun-san!”

“We’re counting on you-!”

Jun-san could be seen gritting his teeth as he glared at Narumiya in front of him. Said teen merely letting out a smirk as he did his windup.

The ball went straight to Inashiro’s catcher, making it a strike.

The second pitch was thrown a bit too high, making Jun-san hitting it with a loud clang! Seido dugout and stands burst into loud cheers as the ball flew across the field-

Only to be caught by the outfielder in his set position.

Eijun huffed at that, glaring daggers at Narumiya. Bottom of the 6th, it is now Seido’s turn to defend spearheaded by Eijun. Jogging into the field, Miyuki-senpai throw him a grin before the catcher resumed into his position.

It didn’t take long before the first year striking out both Hirai and Sayogi out, making two outs already when the inning had just started. It was a bit impressive, especially to the audience. After all, this is already the 6th inning. It is already the 6th inning and Inashiro still failed to score from Seido.

Absentmindedly, Eijun thought that his palm is a bit wet from sweat as he let out a breath. Wide golden eyes stared at the batter in front of him. Inashiro’s Fujikawa stood in front of him, the 9th batter of Inashiro industrials.

Whipping his hand back, he hurled the ball towards Miyuki-senpai’s glove-

Ah, thought Eijun as his eyes widened a bit. My finger is slippery

-CLANG!

“Shortstop!” yelled Miyuki-senpai the same time  as a “Kuramochi-senpai!” Yelled by the southpaw immediately as the both of them saw the ball being hit  by Fujikawa.

The difference was less than a second as Fujikawa managed to slid into the first base and the ball being caught by captain.

“Safe!” yelled the umpire.

Almost immediately, the stands erupted into loud roar. “Amazing!” yelled the announcer. “Due to some unfortunate incident in his pitch, that was the first time Sawamura’s being hit in this tournament!” said the male voice that rang out across the stadium. “This may finally be Inashiro’s chance to score off out of Seido’s Sawamura!”

Miyuki-senpai, from his spot, shook his head. Eyes narrowing a bit. It’s not your fault.

It is, Eijun wants to say, but he held that back.

The southpaw clicked his tongue, eyes narrowing a bit as he glared at the next batter in front of him.

Carlos, he thought again, trying to calm his reeling mind from the hit earlier. Fast, like Kuramochi-senpai.

Doing his windup, Eijun whipped his hand back and hurled the ball-

CLANG!

-Carlos hit a grounder.

“Ryo-san!” Yelled Miyuki-senpai as Eijun turned his head to where the ball had flew across the field. Ryo-san already ran, breath looked a bit heavy as his eyes followed the ball. He lunged-

The ball missed the third year glove.

-Only for Kuramochi-senpai to lunged at it and catching the ball less than a second before the runner hit the base.

“Out!” Yelled the announcer as Seido stands yelled in happiness. “3 outs! Change!”

 


 

“Are you okay?”

Turning his head towards the source of the voice, Eijun’s met Furuya’s eyes.

“Yeah” he replied, wiping his mouth from the glass of water he just drank. “Yeah I’m okay”

The other pitcher tilted his head a bit at that. “Are you sure?”

“100%”

Furuya doesn’t look as if he believes that.

 


 

Top of the 7th, Seido turn to go offense.

Tetsu-san walk up song echoes through the stadium as the third year stood on the mound. Hard eyes and stern determination on his gaze as he watched Narumiya prepare himself on the mound.

“Captain!” yelled Eijun alongside the rest of his teammates. “Leader you can do it!”

“Tetsu-san hit it!”

“A homerun Tetsu-san!”

Said teen stood unmoving on the batter box. So far in the game, he had failed to hit Narumiya’s pitch over and over again. He’s sure that captain wants to change that soon. Last year, he had been the only one who managed to hit off Narumiya, something that seems to resulted in the blond being particulaty determined to struck out the third year.

Narumiya throw a slider and Captain hit it, thought it results in a foul.

The next pitch was a fastball and with a loud clang! Captain hit it. Narumiya seems to be surprised at that, eyes wide and face full in disbelief as the ball flew across the field-

“It got caught!” yelled the announcer as Carlos stepped into a wall as he lunged upwards to catch the ball. “He caught it! A fine play from center fielder Carlos-kun!”

Both Masuko-senpai and Miyuki-senpai faced the same fate as Captain, being struck out by Narumiya.

It’s finally time for Seido to defend.

 


 

Inashiro is desperate, Eijun knows that as he stood on the mound. Golden eyes stared at the batter and the opposing team dugout which all had a serious expression.

2 more innings and Seido still have a two more run against Inashiro.

Harada, is amazing. He may not be as dynamic or not as explosive like Raichi whose batting practically demand the attention of everybody with the sheer prowess. He may not be like the Osaka Kiryuus batter who all have perfect batting stance and skill to match up.

But Harada is a terrifying opponent to face, especially for a pitcher.

For the first time since he played baseball, since Sho-san first showed him his first batting stance, since he first fall in love with baseball, Eijun felt dread. Dread on standing on top of this mound that he loves. Dread of all this pressure that had been mounted on his shoulder.

Dread, of playing baseball.

Eijun brain can’t process that. For all his memories of baseball has been nothing but happy. Nothing but full of hear thumping experience and a state of mind full of joy and giddiness. It was always colorful, painted with the brightest color he could find and always tucked inside the fondest part of his heart.

Baseball, is his first love.

The first hobby that he had ever stick with. The first sport that he had fell in love with. The first time he had felt a sheer excitement when doing something.

His mom used to say to him to find something that he loves doing. To find, something that he doesn’t mind – or maybe love – to do for the rest of his life. That’s baseball. His course of life had always been dictated around baseball and all the things surrounding the said sport.

So why, he thought as he gathered his thoughts and stared at the batter in front of him. Why is he so afraid? Why is he feeling uncomfortable standing on the mound? The very place that he had so coveted all his life.

Sweat could be seen pouring down his face as he took a deep breath. Miyuki-senpai stared at him, eyes narrowing a bit as if the older had noticed something was wrong with him. Maybe something is wrong. Maybe, there is something missing of him today. After all, the joy and giddiness that he usually felt crumbled when he saw Harada in front of him.

It's okay, he tried to reassure himself. He struck out Harada twice before. He had faced the cleanup before. He had-

What if he got hit?

Coach already put his trust in him, what if his pitch got hit?

Miyuki-senpai raised an eyebrow before he tilted his head a bit. Eijun could hear the silent Are you okay? From the catcher and he nodded his head. He closed his eyes to clear his murky mind, trying to find some semblance of color that usually painted his view every time he plays baseball, before he once again, turn his eyes towards Harada and did his windup.

Cutter, fast, low inside

He whipped his hand back-

CLANG!

“JUN-SAN!” Yelled Eijun immediately, turning his body as the ball soared passed the field.

At the same time, Harada throw his bat before he ran towards the base. The center fielder gritted his teeth as he caught the ball before he hurled it towards Seido’s fielder. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t reach Tetsu-san at the right time and Harada is already running towards where Ryo-san is.

The ball flew straight towards Ryo-san glove at the same time as Harada slid towards the second base.

“Safe-!” announced the umpire and at the same time, loud roars from the Inashiro side echoed throughout the stadium. Brass band playing Inashiro’s school song could be heard, dwarfing Seido’s.

It was loud and deafening. It was loud, and Eijun wants it to stop.

“It’s only the second base Sawamura!” Yelled Jun-san, voice loud and in an instant, all Eijun could hear is his teammates voice.

“You got this!”

“Do your revenge Sawamura!”

“Strike’em out!”

Nodding his head, Eijun took a deep breath, eyes settling on the batter in front of him. Narumiya stood there, blue and gold met each other and the pitcher could feel the other challenge almost immediately.

“I’ll bring you home Masa-san!” yelled Narumiya, settling on his batting stance as his eyes focused solely on Eijun.

As if, thought Eijun, narrowing his eyes. He needs to focus. He needs to forget this mounting pressure on his shoulder, he needs to forget this uncomfortable feeling that is settling inside him. He needs to forget all of the things that could distract him and focused slowly on his pitching.

His grip tightened. Yes, he thought, doing his windup, I need to focus to win. He whipped his hand back, grip adjusting to the pitch he desire-

BAM!

Revised Cutter, or Cutter Kai.

“Strike!” Yelled the umpire.

Focus, that’s all he needs to do.

Narumiya fail to hit the rest of his pitches, not even hitting the ball close to the timing that Eijun had set. With gritted teeth, the blond huffed and walked out of the field, replaced soon by the next batter.

Yamaoka and Hirai, the next batters from Inashiro Industrials, got struck out in three pitches, ending the bottom of the 7thinning with Inashiro still failed to score once again.

 


 

Entering the eight inning, the already high tension rises again and again.

Narumiya stood on the mound, blue eyes wide and already staring at where Eijun stood on the batter box.

If, thought Eijun as he swung his bat a couple of times, I’m in their position what kind of pitch I would call?

Harada kind of game is different from Miyuki-senpai. Where Miyuki-senpai – attributed to his cruel and bad personality – loves to gloat to his opponents and made them grit their teeth in frustration, Harada seems to opted more into a safe gameplay. A game where their win would be a guarantee.

That settles it then, he thought, doing his batting stance as Narumiya did his windup and-

CLANG!

Eijun hits Narumiya changeup and he immediately abandoned the bat in his hand as he dashed straight to the first base. He may not be the fastest runner on team, but that hit is good enough for him to reach the first base less than a second before the first baseman caught the ball.

“Safe-!” yelled the umpire as Eijun stood back up from his sliding motion on the ground.

Cheers erupted from Seido’s side of the stand immediately, as Kadota-senpai approached the batter box. He did a sacrificial bunt, outing himself while Eijun descend to the second base.

He still stayed in the second base when Shirasu-senpai failed to hit Narumiya’s pitch, striking out Seido’s ninth batter.

Though, Eijun is not really worried about that. After all, Seido’s batting lineup has gone back up, where the team strongest batters are.

Just as he thought that, Kuramochi-senpai walkup song began playing as the shortstop walked into the field. His eyes hard as he immediately turned all of his attention to where Narumiya stood on the mound.

“Senpai!” Yelled Eijun. “Bring me home!”

“Kuramochi you can do it!”

“Kuramochi-!”

Accompanied by the loud cheers from both side of the stands, Narumiya did his windup, eyes zeroing on the second year. The same could be said for Kuramochi-senpai as his attention didn’t even flicker from Narumiya to elsewhere.

“Strike!” Yelled the umpire when the ball landed on Harada’s glove in a loud bam!

Kuramochi-senpai didn’t swung, letting out a breath as he did his batting stance once again.

At the next pitch, the shortstop swung his bat but completely missed the ball being hurled into him, making another strike for Narumiya.

Two strike, one more and he’s out, ending Seido’s chance to attack.

Not that he’s going to let that.

Narumiya did his windup, readying himself to throw the third pitch. Whipping his hand back, he hurled the ball-

CLANG!

-With a loud cackle, Kuramochi-senpai dashed into the first base the same time Eijun dashed into the third base.

“ITS SAFEE-!” Yelled the announcer. “Seido now has two runners both in the third base and the first base!”

 


 

“Kominato” called out coach. “You’re going in next”

“Yessir!”

 


 

“Player change for Seido” announced the man voice that rang out across the stadium. “Replacing the 2nd batter Kominato Ryousuke-kun” he said. “Pinch hitter, Kominato Haruichi-kun”

Eijun could feel his eyes widened as Harucchi walked into the field, replacing his older brother who was looking at the younger with a small smile on his face.

“Top of the 8th, Seido is leading the game with two runs, can they defend their score up until the end?” said the announcer. “Although he’s a first year, Kominato pinch hitting result are 3 hits for his 3 at bats, 1.000 batting average” the voice seems excited. “The lucky boy of his team”

“Harucchi!” Yelled Eijun. “Bring me home-!”

“Kominato jr you can do it!”

“Show them Kominato jr!”

On the other hand, Narumiya looks absolutely angry.

His face are twitching as he glared straight into where Harucchi stood. It was clear, that the blond is at the end of his wits. Not able to calm himself despite the encouraging yells from his own dugout and spectators.

Harucchi seems to realized that because the grip he has on his bat tightened, a bit of his nervousness showing on his face.

As Narumiya hurled his first pitch, Harucchi didn’t hesitate and swung his bat-

Crack

-his wooden bat split into two as the ball flew across the field.

Eijun dashed into the home plate successfully as Kuramochi-senpai too, dashed into the second base amidst the loud cheers from the spectators. Narumiya looked aghast from the mound, shocked from both the bat that is now broken and his pitch being hit by the first year pinch hitter.

“One more run for Seido High School!” announced the announcer as Eijun ran back to the dugout and immediately being met by head pats and head locks. “With runners on the second and first, this is a best situation for the cleanups that’s up next!”

Jun-san let out a load roar at that, eyes fiery as he walked into the batter box.

Narumiya seems to have focused all of his attention in Jun-san that he almost forgot that Kuramochi-senpai is the kind of player that is the worst kind to be in base. A testament that was proven true because while Narumiya was having his guard down. The shortstop steal a base right under the blond nose. Making him now in the third base.

Though, that seems to agitate Narumiya more and more because he managed to struck out Jun-san in three pitches after that.

Bottom of the eight, with Seido once again defending, Inashiro desperation to score is clear in their eyes.

Eijun understand their desperation, considering they’re nearing the last inning and Seido is still ahead of 3 runs.

Though, he doesn’t plan to let them win anyway. The one who’s going to Koshien is Seido. The one, that will make their summer as long as possible is Seido.

They are the kings, and kings bow to no one.

In the eight inning, Inashiro failed to score once again.

 


 

Entering the 9th inning, tension started to rise to an all time peak. In Inashiro dugout, he could see the coach discussing something with the players, making a small huddle right in front of the dugout.

In Seido’s too, Eijun was called out by his catcher just before the inning started.

“Sawamura” said Miyuki-senpai, eyes serious. “I don’t think I need to tell you anymore how important this inning is”

Nodding, Eijun let his eyes wander towards Inashiro dugout. They’re having a briefing with their coach, no doubt discussing the best way to score during this inning and avoid their loss. “I know” he said. “Defend our third run gap”

Miyuki-senpai answered that with a small nod. “Defend us just like usual” said the catcher again, a small grin on his face as he give his fisted fist towards Eijun’s direction. “This is the final boss after all”

Final boss before Koshien.

One more, one more and they will go to Koshien.

Bumping his fist back, Eijun turned his attention back on the field and went in.

 


 

In the 9th inning Seido failed to score another run from Mei. The blond pitcher looked like as if he was ready to murder, striking out some of their strongest batters, Tetsu-san, him, and Sawamura, easily.

It is the 9th inning, and the victory of their team depends on how well Seido’s starting battery performed .

But, thought the second year catcher, eyes staring at something in front of him. Something is wrong, thought Kazuya, crouched on his position silently.

No, scratch that, something is very very wrong, he decided as his eyes settled on the cause of unease.

Because there, on the mound, Sawamura is not smiling. Sawamura, who always wore bright smile and excitement radiating on his eyes, is not smiling and looked thoroughly exhausted. Sweats could be seen pouring down his face as the teen could be seen taking a heaving breath couple of times.

Sawamura, who lives for baseball. Sawamura, who is practically at the happiest every time he’s on the mound. Sawamura who craved for strong opponent and exciting matches, doesn’t look like that he’s enjoying this match.

The lack of smile on the other teen face bothered Kazuya so much that he’s tempted to go and call a timeout now. Though, before he could do it, Sawamura already did his windup, catching the catcher off guard because he didn’t signed anything yet.

BAM!

“Strike!” Yelled the umpire.

Shirakawa the current batter, didn’t swing, eyes focused on Sawamura.

What the hell are you doing!?, he thought, shooting a glare towards the pitcher whose eyes widened. Sawamura flinched a bit, before nodding a bit in what he would assume as a silent apology.

Don’t tell me, thought Kazuya. Don’t tell me Sawamura is nervous?

Is the pressure starting to become too much to handle?

Sawamura being nervous was not something that Kazuya, or maybe even the coaching staff, thought possible.

After all, even though they’re in a tough situations before, the first year pitcher seems to always have a grin ready and loud voice to fill up the room. The first year, seems to be the type that doesn’t care about anything besides how fun the game is.

It seems that Sawamura do care.

Kazuya quirked an eyebrow, Timeout?

No, Sawamura answered with a shake of his head.

Pitchers and their stubborn ass self, thought Kazuya, finger already signing to what Sawamura should pitch next. It was a strike, as if there’s nothing wrong with the pitcher.

But there is, said the nagging part of his brain. There’s something wrong with Sawamura and he needs to do at least something.

Though, Kazuya is bad at emotions and opted on just doing what he did best, baseball. His finger immediately signing what kind of pitch he wants next.

CLANG!

 


 

Shirakawa is on the first base, thought Eijun, eyes narrowing a bit at that information.

The player is on the first base and Eijun can’t let that happen anymore. He needs to stop them, to defend, to-

“Bunt!” Yelled Seido dugout as Inashiro’s Yoshizawa did a sacrificial bunt, and fortunately, both Eijun and Miyuki-senpai had expected that kind of move. Making the bunt useless and outing him out of the game. Shirakawa is still in the first base, eyes darting across the field.

Harada advanced to the batter box. Inashiro cleanup has a face full of determination as he stopped, focusing his eyes on Eijun.

One more, one more.

One more to Koshien.

Don’t let their summer end here-

CLANG!

“Senpai!” Yelled out Eijun as Seido batters immediately ran to catch the ball being hurled across the field. At the same time, Harada dashed straight towards the first base, as well as Shirakawa who is also going towards the second base.

“Safe-!” Yelled the umpire as the crowd from Inashiro side yells in happiness. Their dugout too, absolutely exploded in loud cheers.

Heaving out a deep breath, Eijun tried to calm his mind.

One more, one more.

One more to Koshien.

Narumiya appeared, mouth formed into a determined set of frown as he stood on the batter box. It didn’t take him long before striking Narumiya out, much to the other pitcher annoyance as he stomped into the dugout. No doubt wanting to vent his anger.

He needs to calm down. Two outs, three runs ahead. They’re in a safe place now. Eijun needs to set his mind straight. There’s no need to be pressured, there’s no need to be panicked. Seido is safe, they’re going to win this and go to Koshien.

The batter in front of him is not a strong one. Not like Harada or Todoroki. Not like Osaka Kiryuu. Not like any other prominent batter he had faced up until now. There’s no need to be pressured, Eijun.

His mind are full as he did his windup, not entirely focused and-

CLANG!

“Jun-san!” Yelled Miyuki-senpai as he opened his faceguard, calling out the third year who was reaching for the ball. With that performance, the bases are loaded. Runners on first, second, and third.

What the fuck is he doing? Yelled Eijun internally, as he caught the sight of Coach from the dugout. The older was staring at him with something on his eyes and Eijun decided that he needs to get his act together fast.

As Inashiro’s next batter appeared, the southpaw wasted no time before he did his windup-

“Strike!” Yelled the umpire as the ball hurled pass Hirai who also swung his bat.

Miyuki-senpai gave him a reassuring nod as he throws the ball towards Eijun again.

Squeeze play, signed Miyuki-senpai, warning him of that. The southpaw nodded, doing his windup and hurling the ball pass Hirai once again who was preparing to do a sacrificial bunt. It failed, as the ball didn’t even touched the bat.

Heaving out a breath, Eijun stared at Hirai. The base are loaded, he thought, face wet with sweat as he stared at the ground.

It's the ninth inning and Eijun could feel his eyes sting from the sweat that's pouring down his face.

This is it, he thought, heaving another deep breath.

The last inning. The last batter. The last pitch. The time where his future will be set. Now, it's all up to him if Seido will go to Koshien or not. Will the third year senpais experience the grass of Koshien, playing under the scorching sun as thousands of eyes and cheers surrounding them.

Ever since he was eight, all those years ago when Sho-san gave him tickets to Koshien for his birthday, he had been a loyal spectator of the tournament. It had been their thing, Sho-san and Eijun, to travel all the way to Hyogo and watched the best high school players play against each other under the scorching heat of summer. To see, the stage of dreams that Eijun had set as his goal for high school.

When he was a child, his mother had reprimanded him for being greedy. Back then, he likes to take 5 candies from the bowl in his kindergarten instead of the advised 1. Eijun can’t even eat them all in one day, so his mom had said to him to not be greedy and just take the one that he’ll surely eat.

He guess, that greed still didn’t diminish despite the years that had gone by. Eijun doesn’t want to just go to Koshien. He wants to win it. Wants to be the one who help the trophy of Koshien proudly with his teammates.

Pitchers are a greedy players. Wanting to hog the mound by themselves. Wanting to win the game with their help.

It's heavy. This burden on his shoulder.

So heavy that Eijun felt that he tremble at the prospect of letting down the team. That he will disappoint them and cut the third years summer short.

From the other end, he could see Miyuki-senpai piercing eyes staring at him under the catcher helmet. He too understand how vital this pitch is. Just one more strikeout and Seido will be going to Koshien for the first time in six years.

The score is 3-0 and they’re already in their ninth inning. Bottom of the ninth, with Inashiro already having two outs, with the base all loaded, and this is the third pitch that he will throw towards the batter in front of him. The final pitch, the pitch that will determined will they advance to Koshien or not.

Can he do it?

Will he dissapoint them?

Is this the end of their Koshien journey?

This internal doubt began erupting inside of him. The cheers that he loved so much begin pounding inside his eardrums, so so noisy that it hurt him. His teammates cheer, the resounding encouragement as well as jokes that echoed from the dugout only added the burden over his shoulder too.

He imagined if the batter in front of him managed to hit his pitch. There's a runner on the third, second, and first. He can't risk that. Eijun needs to watch out for bunts or a squeeze play. He needs to-

There’s a lot of thing that he needs to pay attention to. A lot of things that could go wrong with just one small error from their end. One small error that could cost Seido their Koshien dream.

The cheer would stop, the jokes would stop, all it will left him is pounding heart and shattering heart as he watch the opposing team took a run from under their nose. God, why does he feel like this during this vital moment? He needs to forget all of this, giving his head a peace of mind.

Miyuki-senpai seems to realize that he's having some internal doubt. His stare is piercing and Eijun shook his head. A silent sign that he’s okay – is he? - and that he can do this – does he? It seems like the older didn’t believe him, hell, Eijun doesn’t even believe in himself.

The catcher was about to call for timeout when Eijun sees it.

There, behind Miyuki-senpai and directly behind the metal railing that separated the stands and the field, are a man. He was standing so close that he was practically holding and pressing his face to the metal railing. On his head is a red faded baseball cap, something that Eijun immediately recognized because he had nagged the man countless of times before to changed it. Perched on top of his nose is also a familiar sunglasses, something that he had broken the handle of all those years ago, eyes wet from tears as he guiltily admit his mistake.

There’s a face mask covering the man’s face but even with those, there’s no way that Eijunn won’t recognize it. It’s from a brand that was only sold in his small town, a brand that supports the local farmer and can only be found in a small convenience store just a few roads down his house in Nagano.

Eijun knows who the man is.

He knows, who is the one standing directly behind the metal railings right in front of him. The man that he idolized for the longest time. Someone that he wants to make proud of.

Sho-san.

"Eijun!" Yelled the man, voice so so familiar that he almost tear up. It's the voice that the older used to call him when he got lost once upon a time after a morning run, the voice that the older used when he scolded him for being reckless, the voice, that the older used when his pitch once broke the man windows. 

The voice that he had grown familiar with over the years and now, the voice that he had desperately missed.

He almost can't believe his eyes.

Sho-san is standing there with an old battered hat on his face. Sho-san, with his familiar voice and familiar demeanour. The man that had taught him how to play baseball and had thought him how to love the sport. The man, that had guided Eijun from when he’s a crybaby only wanting to pitch to become a teen that is known as the next big thing in the baseball world.

"Eijun stay calm!" Yelled the man. A yell that should've been drowned amidst the cheering around him but to Eijun, it's the clearest voice in the field right now, as if it was the only voice that rang throughout the venue. Maybe it is for Eijun. In his head, the loud cheers from the audience had considerable dulled down. The loud yells as well as the encouraging words from his teammates now fall into deaf ear as the only thing he could hear is Sho-san holler from his place.

"I know you can do it! Make me proud brat!"

Make him proud.

The very things he desperately wants to do.

("Tiny tiny little ace" said Sho-san years ago, eyes fond as Eijun proudly showed the man the little number one on his back. "What are you gonna do now that you're the ace? Conquer the world?"

"Go to Koshien!" Yelled Eijun, still in elementary and some missing teeth could be seen inside his mouth. "Go to Koshien and I'll show you how amazing I am Sho-san! You'll be proud of me!"

"Ah" said the man, ruffling the top of Eijun's head. "You already made me proud")

"I'll see you at Koshien!" Yelled Sho-san, eyes focusing on where Eijun stood. “And I’ll see you again when you play in the big leagues!”

Ah.

God fucking damnit he's not going to cry right now.

“I’ll see you in every game there is the future so don’t dare to lose right now Eijun!”

He's back in Nagano all over again. He's once again seven, crying in an empty field in Nagano because he failed to hit Sho-san’s pitch. He’s eight all over again and saw the first Koshien match in his life. He's ten all over again, going for his first baseball tournament and losing on the finals. He's a middle schooler all over again, winning the middle school nationals with a grinning Sho-san besides him in all of those moments.

Eijun is fifteen all over again, standing in the middle of summer heat, one step away from Koshien with Sho-san standing right in front of him.

Why is he so nervous? He wants this. This kind of match, a match where the teams are equal in power and able to make his heart pounding nonstop is something he craves. This kind of match, is the reason why he wants to go to a powerhouse school and challenged every strong teams out there.

(“So, between Inashiro, Seido, Ichidaisan and Hakuryuu, which one do you think you’ll like more?”

Eijun looked up, wide golden eyes staring at Sho-san dark ones.

“Which one is in a strong district?”

Sho-san let out a huff of laugh. “You’ll be suited in Tokyo then” said the older, handing all Seido, Ichidaisan and Inashiro flyer. “The top schools in this place could be the Koshien representative if they were in any other city”)

This is his dream, he needs to savour it.

Immediately, he shook his head, signalling to Miyuki-senpai that he doesn't need a timeout. The catcher raised an eyebrow, eyes calculating and was about to call for a timeout anyway but Eijun shook his head once again.

I'm fine, he's trying to say.

The look the catcher shot him a look like that he doesn't believe him, but Eijun did his windup anyway.

He knows he can do this. He’ll bring Seido to Koshien. He’ll be the undefeatable fortress that no one can breach. Seido first, and last, defense.

Adjusting his grip, he whipped his hand back and he throw the ball-

Splitter, he thought.

He haven't done this pitch in the tournament before.

He haven’t done this pitch since that fateful day where he first met Miyuki-senpai and cemented his thought on attending Seido.

Speed, precision, power. All the things that Sho-san had taught him. All the things that his younger self had copied from Sho-san, star in his eyes and endless respect for the man who introduced him to baseball.

Inashiro batter swung his bat.

BAM

-straight into Miyuki-senpai glove.

"STRIKE, BATTER OUT! GAME SET!"

The roar is deafening.

 


 

Seido, advance to Summer Koshien.

 


 

“FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 6 YEARS, SEIDO HIGH SCHOOL ADVANCED TO KOSHIEN WITH THE FINAL SCORE OF 3-0”

 


 

He registered that Miyuki-senpai was the first one that reach to him. The older has his eyes widened, an expression of a disbelief stretched across his face. It was almost weird to see the expression in the catcher face that he forgot for a moment, what actually transpired a mere seconds ago.

“Sawamura!” Yelled Miyuki-senpai, already throwing his face guard to who knows where. “Sawamura you-!”

Someone tugged his shoulder and he can feel another tug on his arms. Someone is ruffling his hair and Eijun just stood there, sweat matting his face that his eyes sting a bit. His cap got thrown out of somewhere as someone yanked him back, pulling him into a one armed hug.

It was then he realized that the team has dogpiled him. There are screams around him, not from the spectators but from his teammates. It’s a scream full of happiness, exclamations of excitement that is dripping with so much joy that Eijun needs to processed it a bit in his head. Kuramochi-senpai has an arm around his neck as he is the one who pulled the southpaw in a one armed hug. Jun-san has his hand on his hair, patting him as the rest of the members surrounded him in a loose circle full of excitement and tears.

All of a sudden Eijun is fourteen again and he was watching his teammates crying in happiness.

(Eijun was fourteen and just won the Junior High National Championship. His teammates are crying around him and Eijun, Eijun just stand there. Wide golden eyes stared at the trophy almost in the same colour as his eyes.

He’s not crying. It doesn’t make sense. Why didn’t he felt the same joy as his teammates?

The team win is practically all on him after all. The one man team, the one who carry his team from a countryside team to a national winner.

So, why didn’t he felt the euphoric sensation like his teammates?)

Joy soared inside of him.

It’s all too much and he doesn’t know how to describe it. He’s happy, so so happy that he felt like he was a kid with sugar rush all over again. He wants to cry, he wants to wept and screams, to let the world knows about the win he and his teammates managed to carve out. He’s tired, he wants nothing but sagged into the ground and let his body rest for just a bit.

The roar was deafening, both from the audience and from his teammates. Eijun found himself standing there, wide golden eyes staring at something that he’s not even sure of himself.

"Sawamura!" Yelled Jun-San, close to his ear. “Tetsu! Ryo! Masuko!” yelled the third year again, now the hand on his hair is gone and the voice had gone a bit further. Still close, but not as close as before.

It was replaced by another familiar loud yell. "Sawamura that was a beautiful pitch you bastard!" This is Kuramochi-senpai, hand ruffling down his hair in a familiar manner. “What the fuck!?”

"Eijun-kun!" Yelled Harucchi, his hand is around his shoulder. “Eijun-kun can you believe this!?”

He could see Furuya besides the pink haired teen, both of his shoulders are engulfed with the first string players arms as all of them are hugging each other in the middle of the field. There’s a smile on the other pitcher face, something that’s almost never happened.

It was too much. There’s so many things happening around him.

Why are they hugging each other? Why-

"We're going to Koshien!"

Ah.

We're going to Koshien.

Seido won the summer tournament.

They will go to-

"We're going to Koshien" he found himself repeating that sentence, eyes wide as he stared at the circle his teammates made around him. A tone of disbelief carried over his words as wide golden eyes looks unblinkingly at the people around him. "Koshien" Eijun said again. “The Koshien”

Miyuki-senpai, who has an arm around his shoulder and is that tears on his eyes!? Laughed. It was weird to hear the catcher laugh that was not intended to mock someone. It was as if the laugh itself was full of happiness, that he was presented the best gift that had been given to him. "We're going to Koshien pitcher-kun” said the catcher, large grin on his face.

"We're going to Koshien" Eijun repeated again.

"Yes"

"We're going to Koshien!" Yelled Eijun, eyes wide and bright grin appeared on his face.

"Finally you realized!" Yelled Jun-san as he ruffled the top of Eijun's head. Flanking by his side is both captain and Ryo-san. He could see Masuko-senpai too, with red eyes and what suspiciously looked like a tear track. "We're going to Koshien everyone!" he said finally, yelling louder than before.

"Yeah!" Roared the team back.

“We’re going to Koshien!”

“YEAHH!”

It's almost like a deja vu to Eijun. All of his teammates has wide grin as well as tears on their face, just like back when his team won nationals. All of them are laughing, talking with each other and there's disbelief on their tone.

"That was an amazing pitch, Sawamura" said Captain, smile on his face. 

"Thank you cap!"

Their dog pile was broken when the umpire told them to line up in front of each other. 

The Seido line and The inashiro line is a contrast with each other. Seido, with huge smiles and hands linking in each other shoulder, and Inashiro, who had most of their head down or covered by their baseball cap.

Back in Akikawa match, Eijun had vowed himself that he won’t let Seido felt the feeling of lose. And, as he can’t contained the tears that spilled from his eyes and the large grin – even larger than usual – that etched across his face, he said in a loud voice.

“Thank you for the game!”

 


 

“Hey you!”

Eijun stopped walking, all of them are still in the field and all the players from both respective teams were saying goodbye with each other. This though, sounds a bit familiar, as if he had experienced this before.

Turning around, wide golden eyes met sky blue.

("Hey you!"

Eijun stopped, hand full of his baseball bag because he accidentally broke the strap shortly after arriving in Tokyo. Sho-san said that it was his karma for being too excited.

Blinking, he made sure that he doesn't misheard that. He doesn't know anyone in Tokyo, so who is calling him?

Maybe he should get his hearing checked?

"You, the pitcher from that backwater middle school!")

Narumiya Mei stood before him with his hand on his hips. He realized that the blond’s eyes are red, and there’s something wet on his cheeks. Eijun didn’t even realize that the other teen was crying, with his face being covered by his hat when both teams were lining up earlier.

“Narumiya” he said.

“Yeah, me” grumbled out the pitcher. “You better win Koshien you hear me!?”

The first year blinked, a bit confused at that declaration.

“Wait no- don’t win for all I care!” Yelled the blond. “But you just defeated us, me, the number one pitcher in Japan, Inashiro, the number one school-“

“I don’t think Inashiro is number one-!”

“We’re number one!” huffed out Narumiya. “You just beat us and you guys better don’t embarrass West Tokyo and us for losing to you, and got eliminated on the first round!”

Eijun bristled like a wet cat at that. “We’re not going to lose in the first round!”

“I don’t care!”

Both of their tirade stopped when the respective catchers from both Seido and Inashiro put a stop to their screaming match.

“Mei” said Harada, arriving behind the blond. “Stop picking fights”

“You too Sawamura” drawled out Miyuki-senpai as he slung an arm around Eijun. “The match just finished and you already fighting? How childish”

“He started it!” Yelled both pitchers, before being dragged out by their catchers out of the field.

 


 

With Seido securing their win for Summer tournament, a spot in the 89th Summer Koshien is not a dream anymore.

Koshien, here we come!

 


 

Chapter Text

July 31st

Seido High School vs Inashiro Industrial

3-0

 

 

Just outside of Seido’s changing room, the atmosphere was bustling with activity. A mob of people could be seen surrounding the door of the room where two people wearing Seido’s blue and white jersey are talking with the people that is now identified as reporters that had been watching the game.

Sawamura Eijun, the hottest topic from the match, could be seen standing there with Seido’s head coach, Kataoka Tesshin. His compression shirt now gone, replaced by a hint of blue under his jersey, a clear indication that he’s in the middle of cooling his shoulder.

“I have no intention on replacing Sawamura” said coach Kataoka in front of the reporters. Eyes serious as he set one of his palms on the first year pitcher shoulder. “From the 1st, up until the 9th inning, I was fully intending to believe in Sawamura’s skill and hard work he had endured to reach this point”

Sawamura, who stood next to coach Kataoka as the reporters interviewed the older man flushed in embarrassment. “Coach!” yelled the southpaw, bowing all of a sudden. “I thank you for your faith in me-!”

“Sawamura stop bowing…”

Oowada, as well as the other reporters that had made their way to interview the newly winning team, chuckled at the antics displayed in front of him. Sawamura is really cheerful on the field, always with large grin and crinkled eyes full of happiness. It didn’t surprise her that off field too, the teen behaved the exact same way.

Endearing and charismatic, that’s what Sawamura Eijun is. She’s sure that the rest of the reporters has the same thought.

Truthfully, she was a bit worried for the pitcher during the match earlier. As a baseball reporter who had followed every match in this year Tokyo Tournament, she had grown familiar with the sight of Sawamura Eijun. Sawamura Eijun who always have a large smile and boundless energy that without a fail always trapped someone into a sense of happiness.

Though, especially at the innings towards the end, the first year southpaw had looked tremendously exhausted. Maybe it was the pressure finally gnawing him, maybe it’s the sense of dread that finally reached him, nevertheless, Sawamura had looked pale earlier.

In the end, the teen managed to bounce back and still hold his ‘no-run against him’ record.

Inashiro and Seido match had been a legendary one, a match that surely will gain a wide variety of attention through the baseball community. Especially the two southpaw showdown between Narumiya and Sawamura.

The schools in West Tokyo had been infamous for having some of the best players in the country. Competitive and skillful, the very combination that could brought all of them to Koshien if they’re in a different district. Thanks to that, many reporters usually come to watch the finals of the Tokyo Tournament. Both to see who will take part in Koshien, and who will be the next famous name in the high school baseball scene.

Last year it was Akashi Seiya, the super first year. This year it’s Sawamura.

“How do you feel on participating Koshien for the first time in 6 years, Coach Kataoka? Also, how do you feel on participating Koshien for the first time Sawamura?” asked Oowada, smiling towards the two Seido members. The teen could be seen perking up at the question, wide eyes sparkling with joy.

“It is an honor” said the older of the two, voice serious. “Koshien is a field of dreams to many players, it is such a great honor that I have the opportunity to guide the kids in that historical field”

Oowada immediately wrote that down, before turning her attention towards the younger of the two who also seems to be ready to answer the question.

“Excited!” Answered Sawamura with a large smile. His previous nervousness or dread during the game long gone, replaced by the sunny disposition that she had grown associated with the first year, “I went to watch Koshien every year since I was 8 so I’m really excited to finally participate as a player!”

Another reporter, a tall man with light scruff on his jaw, spoke up too. “What do you think of today’s match with Inashiro, Coach Kataoka?”

“Inashiro is a strong opponent” continue coach Kataoka, giving them a curt nod. “The players have fought well and I applaud them of their never ending spirit until the end”

The younger of the two nodded enthustically. Despite the never ending grin, his eyes are rimmed with red, considering that he and the rest of the team had cried their eyes out back then. Completely understandable, she thought.

“And what about you Sawamura?” asked Oowada with a smile. The teen blinked up at her and she can’t suppress the voice in the back of her mind that said cute. “What do you think of today’s match?”

Sawamura looked blankly at her, before a large grin split on his face.

“Playing baseball is really fun!”

 


 

It took awhile before the Seido members could gather themselves and stop crying or grinning blankly at the air, but in the end, they managed to get a grip of themselves and made their way out to see their supporters.

“Koshien!” Yelled Eijun as he and the rest of the first string members made their way inside the long tunnel towards the exit of the stadium. “Harucchi, Furuya, can you believe that!? Koshien!”

Harucchi chuckled, though there’s a trace of trance in his tone. “I could hardly believe it too” said the shorter. “Koshien always felt so far away and now we’re…”

“Koshien…” mumbled Furuya too, eyes a bit dazed but there’s a spark of excitement in that dark orbs. “I wonder how it feel to stand in a mound there”

Eijun grinned, giving his fellow pitcher a thumbs up. “Great of course!”

Kuramochi-senpai, from his spot right in front of him, chuckled. “Koshien huh” he said. “We’re really going there”

“I can graduate happily now!” yelled Jun-san from the front of the line. “My dream has come true!”

“Jun-san please don’t talk about graduation yet!”

The tension is still high with happiness as they exited the stadium. All of them chattering with each other, or on their phone, no doubt telling family members. Cheers and congratulations could be heard as they finally walked passed the exit. Seido long time supporters, family members, friends, could be seen standing right in front of the exit door while clapping their hearts out.

“Seido!”

“Congratulations!”

“Finally, Koshien!”

“You did great!”

All of the exchanged glances as well as grins before all of them bowed almost at the same time. “THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE SUPPORT!”

Eijun can feel the grin on his face was so wide that he thinks his face ache a bit. Not that he cares, considering how happy he felt at this moment.

“Guys!” called out a familiar voice. Turning his head to the side, the southpaw saw Takako-senpai – a third year manager from Seido – appeared. Behind her is the rest of the managers who are smiling and waving their hands towards them. Yoshikawa gave him a thumbs up when their eyes caught each other, which he replied in another thumbs up.

Out of all the managers, the one that Eijun knows best are Yoshikawa, considering they’re in the same class and in the same group alongside Kanemaru for a science project. It was easy to befriend someone when they have something in common and talking about baseball had always been one of his favorite things to pass time. Sometimes he would see the female during practice too – Yoshikawa is not in charge of the first string so not too much. Though, sometimes Kanemaru would tell him about how the female is really clumsy but at the same time, a hard worker.

The older managers though, he could recall the senpais talking to them, but Eijun never really become familiar with them.

Takako-senpai is really nice though! When she realized that Eijun can’t handle natto at all, she made a request to the cooking staff to minimize the use of natto and not give him some if they needs to use it. She’s also the one who always stays late during practice whenever the first string members has extra practice to do. Jun-san too once told him that she opens a tutoring session to the third years player whenever they feel the need to catch up with their study.

“Takako-senpai!” he yelled out, catching the attention of the rest of the team too.

“Good job on today’s game” she said, grinning. Her eyes are tinted red as she showed them something on her hand. “The managers made this, for good luck during Koshien”

It was a thousand crane.

“I know that usually this is for the sick” started the third year. “But some said if you fold a thousand crane, your wish will be granted” at this, she shoved the origamis towards Captain. “We made this hoping that all of you win today’s game” continued Takako-senpai. “It was nice to see that our hard work is not a waste after all”

Captain received the origami from the manager’s hand, staring at the string of folded crane. It must have been hard, to made it. Considering since the start of the tournament they have extra practice, the managers also stayed late to make rice balls and help on cleaning the practice field, making one thousand origami must’ve took up a lot of time.

“Thank you” said Captain, bowing and cradled the origami close to his chest. Eijun may have seen things but he swore at that time, Captain’s eyes turned glassy for a bit. “We’ll win Koshien too”

The managers let out a wide smile at that. “We’re counting on all of you then”

“Count on us” grinned Jun-san as he appeared, slinging an arm around Captain’s shoulder. “We’ll win Koshien and make you guys the best managers in the whole Japan”

A second year manager, Umemoto-senpai, laughed at that. “Is that even a thing?”

“Of course it is!”

Takako-senpai let out a loud laugh at that. “Well” she said, eyes crinkling in amusement. “You guys will surely win then”

The grins that the first string players let out are blinding.

 


 

Parents who come to support their kids went to their respective child and Eijun found himself being almost chocked to death with his grandpa’s hold on him. “Eijun!” Yelled the older man. “My blessed grandchild!”

“Ack- Grandpa-!” yelped Eijun while his grandfather laughs like a maniac. Both of his parents chuckled too, exchanging glance with each other.

His mom hugged him, with tears on her eyes and Eijun can’t help but hug back. “Congratulations” muttered the woman. “All of your hardwork over the years finally got paid. Koshien is your dream, right?”

“Yes!” said Eijun as he nodded his head eagerly on the crook of the woman neck. He had been loudly saying that he’s going to play in Koshien ever since he understand what Koshien is after all. “You should see me when I play there mom!”

Releasing the hug, his mother offered him a small smile. “Of course I’ll see you” muttered the woman, eyes fond. “It’s not going to be a you and Shouta thing now, it’s going to be our entire family thing considering you’re playing in it”

Eijun can’t help the surge of happiness at that.

Grandpa laughed loudly at that. “I’m going to boast to the whole extended family!” he said. “That damn younger brother of mine always boasted that his grandchild went into a good high school, I’m gonna boast that you’re playing in Koshien the next time we met!”

“Father don’t get too excited, please remember your age…”

“Eijun now you’re some bigshot player don’t forget to come home!” Said his dad, slinging an arm around his shoulder. “Don’t enjoy your high school baseball life too much that you forget Nagano you hear me!?”

“Of course!” Yelled Eijun back. “This Sawamura Eijun will not forget his roots!”

“That’s my child! I failed to become a famous Rockstar but my child will be a famous baseball player!”

“OOHH!!”

 


 

Near the family of four, Miyuki Kazuya and Kuramochi Youichi was staring at the loud huddle.

“That Sawamura…” started Kuramochi. “He takes after his family huh”

Miyuki snickered, “The loud part?”

 


 

“Anyway!” announced Eijun, clinging to his mom. “Mom! Treat me to dinner tonight! Coach said that we can hangout with our parents up until dinner!” he said, grinning widely as he looked up at his mom face. “Your son just win the tournament so treat him to yakiniku!”

Blinking at his request, his parents and grandfather immediately exchanged an awkward look. The first year stared, wide golden eyes unblinking, watching at their expression.

Miyuki-senpai once said that he wear his emotion without any hint of concealment. That it’s easy to see what his feeling is. Something that could be said too for his family. Growing up, Eijun always had an easy time guessing his parents and grandfather emotion. Maybe it’s just a Sawamuras thing, they laugh when they happy, they cry when they sad.

Ah, thought the first year immediately. No yakiniku for tonight then.

“Eijun…” started the woman, cupping his cheeks. “I’m sorry but your grandfather, me and your father can’t stay long” at this, she looked towards the time on her watch. “You know that the train to our town stop early…” at this, she looks really regretful that it instantly made Eijun felt bad.

The train to their small town do stop early. A consequence living in a town full of elderly where most of the inhabitants sleep early and rise early.

“I mean” started dad. “We could rent a-“

“Its okay!” Said Eijun hastily, locking his gaze on his mom’s as if to convince the older that it’s okay. “I’m okay here! Don’t miss your train!” he continue. “You don’t want to be abandoned in Tokyo! And- and I don’t think you can sleep in my dorm if that actually happened!”

His family let out a small smile at that.

“Brat” said grandpa, ruffling his hair fondly. “Don’t fret, we’re not going to miss our train”

“We’re really sorry” said his mom, hugging him tightly. “The next time we visit Tokyo, we’ll promise to stay longer okay?”

Eijun laughed. “Sure! Lets go to Tokyo tower together next time!”

“And visit Shibuya” added Dad. “Man, now that I think about it, it’s been a long time since I visited Tokyo”

“Anyway I’ll be fine mom, dad, grandpa! You don’t need to worry!”

Mom stared at him for a couple of seconds before she enveloped him in another hug. “When did my baby become this big?”

“I’ve always been a big baby!”

“That’s true” chimed in Dad, grinning widely.

“Don’t forget to eat!” scolded the older woman, pinching Eijun’s cheek. “Gosh, you look so skinny here, what have they been feeding you in Seido? Is it not your taste? I can send you some food if it’s the problem” at this the woman cradled his cheeks. “Don’t forget to take rest to Eijun… Back home there’s always Shouta who will reprimand you but here in Tokyo…”

“Don’t worry!” said Eijun. “The senpais and all my teammates are super nice, they’ve been taking care of me”

His father raised an eyebrow at that. “Really? You never made any trouble for them right?”

“Of course not!” huffed out Eijun, a bit sulky. “So don’t worry about me Mom! I’m doing great here!”

His mother smiled at that. “Ah but Ei, you will always be my baby” she muttered out, a small smile on her face. “Don’t forget to call okay? And do you need some new equipments? I saw your bat starting to look old, should I ask Shouta what brand I should get you? Also-“

“I’m okay mom!” said Eijun with a wide grin. “I’ll contact you if I need new equipment, and I promise to not be picky to my food and always call you guys every night”

“You better” muttered grandpa, patting his back. “Its already time for us to go, but make sure to keep your promise brat”

“Aye aye!” exclaimed Eijun, giving the adults around him a salute as he did so.

His parents gave him one last hug before they greeted the coaching staff with thank yous as well as bows, and left the stadium. It was nice, he thought. To see his family again for so long. Usually, the only time he would be separated from his family is during his annual Koshien trip with Sho-san or when his parents has a rare business plan outside of Nagano.

With him attending a school in Tokyo now, sometimes he missed his family. Miss the warm homecooked meal his mom would always make. Miss the way his dad would shows him old rock bands from his youth. Miss the way his grandfather would play fight with him. Miss the afternoons spent in Sho-san’s backyard, playing baseball with the older man.

Eijun miss Nagano, though slowly – but surely – he could feel that Seido would become his second home soon. Watching their retreating back, the southpaw sauntered towards his fellow first year who was standing near him. Apparently, both Harucchi and Furuya are already alone too.

“Furuyaa, Harucchi” he greeted them with a grin, gaining their attention, as he slung an arm around both players.

“Eijun-kun” greeted Harucchi back with a smile while the other pitcher nodded at him as a greeting.

“Did your parents come?” he asked, turning his head left and right to see the two first year around him.

Furuya shook his head, answering his question. “My grandpa came” informed the pitcher. “Mom and dad has work in Hokkaido, they can’t come”

“Hokkaido is really far away!” said the southpaw, remembering one of the school that offered him for a scholarship all the way in Hokkaido.

“My parents came, they just left after greeting me and Aniki” said the pink haired teen with a smile.

“Same!” replied Eijun. “Though they need to leave early or they’ll miss their train!” at this, the three of them are making their way towards where the rest of the teams are. Most of them are conversing amongst themselves, or saying goodbye to their parents.

He can’t see the team president anywhere, no doubt calling for their bus. Coach could be seen talking about something to Takashima-san in a low murmur.

When the three of them joined the crowd of Seido players, all of them fell into excited conversations with the older members. Jun-san especially looked really excited about the prospect of going to Koshien. He’s practically bouncing on his feet.

The spectators that were congratulating them began to disperse and it was not long before there’s only Seido first string members and a handful of people around them. It was also during this, that Eijun had slowly gone frantic.

After all, he had not seen Sho-san yet.

There’s no way that the Sho-san who was yelling encouragement at him back then were merely a fragment of imagination. Eijun had never been someone that’s imaginative to start with, and the Sho-san back then was too realistic for him to not be there. To not stand on the stands right behind Miyuki-senpai wearing the familiar hat and the familiar sunglasses.

Back then, the presence of Sho-san in the stands had been the saving grace that picked Eijun up from that pit of fear and dread. It was the man presence that woke him up from the black tinted glass that had shadowed his gaze from the sport that he adores so much.

( "I'll see you at Koshien!" Yelled Sho-san, eyes focusing on where Eijun stood. “And I’ll see you again when you play in the big leagues!”

Ah.

God fucking damnit he's not going to cry right now.

“I’ll see you in every game there is the future so don’t dare to lose right now Eijun!”)

Where is he? he thought, wide golden eyes looking around. Don’t tell him he left before saying goodbye!?

He let himself peered around the place. It was the afternoon and the Seido spectators that had been congratulating them had mostly gone home. There are a few parents or family of the players, but all of them seems to be in the middle of thanking coach Kataoka or already walking towards the entrance gate.

It’s just the Seido players here now nd he still can’t find Sho-san anywhere.

Eijun let the hope in his heard diminish a bit. Sho-san had always been a shy one after all, especially about expressing his affection. One of the reason of the strings of failed dates that is following the man trail. He always complained about how hard it is to be Eijun’s coach, but in the end, he had always gone beyond any means to make him happy and provide the best baseball experience for him.

Sho-san is someone awkward and a bit out of touch from the social scene. Is that why he left already? Thought the first year as he stared at the ground, frown tugging the corner of his mouth.

To think he had been so excited to meet the older man. The neighbour that has become a family at this point and was the first one who introduced baseball to him.

The area around them is not that packed anymore and-

“-Stalker?”

“What are you even talking about dude?” grumbled a voice that Eijun recognized as Shirasu-senpai.

Lifting his head, he could see both Kuramochi-senpai and Shirasu-senpai conversing something in a low voice. Not low enough considering that Eijun still could hear them clearly. The same could be said to Harucchi and Furuya as the first years are not even hiding the fact that they are eavesdropping on the second year conversation.

With the way the rest of the team quirked their eyebrows, it seems all of them are eavesdropping.

“Just hear me out!” hissed out the shortstop, eyes narrowing a bit. “He looks suspicious as hell!”

“You’re wary to everyone though” answered Shirasu-senpai, folding his arms together, a judgemental stare on his eyes.

“What’s this?” asked Ryo-san who appeared besides Kuramochi-senpai. “What are you guys talking about?”

Shirasu-senpai greeted the third year with a nod. “Ryo-san” said the teen. “It’s nothing, Kuramochi-senpai was just telling me about a stalker that he thought he saw”

“I’m telling you he’s really here!” insisted the second year. He looks really determined to convince the members around him that the stalker is here, which was a bit farfetched in Eijun’s opinion.

“A stalker?” interrupted Miyuki-senpai as he too, appeared with a raised eyebrow. “Mochi what are you talking about? It’s not like we’re some idol group or something”

“Yeah don’t be rude Kuramochi-senpai!” piped up Eijun. “He could be a Seido supporters that poured his encouragements to us during the match today!” It was fun to tease Kuramochi-senpai after all.

Said teen let out a frustrated yell. “Why didn’t you guys believe me!?” he let out, frustration dripping out from his tone. “He’s literally there!’ At this, Kuramochi-senpai pointed towards a pillar near them where someone could be seen hiding behind it.

Said someone was shuffling a bit, hiding behind a pillar. It seems he was debating if he should come out and greet them or just continue hiding and ran away.

Eijun’s eyes widened at that, a bit surprised that Kuramochi-senpai so called stalker is actually true. He doesn’t know if he should be terrified or overjoyed. After all if they got stalker doesn’t mean that Seido has become famous? But stalker is really creepy-

Wait.

His heart thumped.

He knows that jacket. The stalker has his back turned to them but Eijun will know that jacket everywhere. He had seen it countless of time in his childhood. Had tried to wore it – way too big at that time but it made him so happy. The owner of the jacket had laughed back then, saying that he’s just a baby and can’t possibly wear that. Seven year old Eijun had thrown a huge fit at that.

So of course, he would recognize the jacket anywhere.

It’s Sho-san’s old team jacket.

“Wait Kuramochi may be saying something here because the guy looked suspicious as hell” That was Jun-san but Eijun couldn’t care less because-

The man turned around, face hidden by a faded red cap, sunglasses and face mask. A familiar getup that he had seen hundreds of times. Something that he missed so much this past few months.

"Eijun" called out familiar voice and Eijun can only stare at the man who finally was not hiding behind the pillar.

There, stood, a man with red hat, sunglasses perched on top of his nose, and face mask. No one can see his face, but to Eijun, the man is more recognizable that anyone.

“Huh, you know the stalker Sawamura-“

"SHO-SAN!" He yelled, breaking out from the loose group that Seido baseball club has made around him.

The pitcher ignore the surprised "Sho-san?" From Kuramochi-senpai mouth or practically every eyes around that is set on him and immediately went towards where the man is.

“Sawamura’s Sho-san?”

“Wait Sawamura’s coach is the stalker?”

“His coach is a stalker?’

“Guys, I don’t think that’s the problem anymore…”

He immediately ran towards where the man stood, a sore thumb amongst the crowd to Eijun – and well maybe to the rest of the team too considering his current getup. Wrapping his arm around the man is almost like home. Almost like he's back in Nagano, playing baseball on the elder backyard once again. 

Sho-San hand immediately went to Eijun's hair, ruffling the brown lock like what he did almost thousands of times before since he was a child. 

It was nostalgic. Something that he missed.

An onslaught of memory came to him. Of him playing baseball in an empty field near their house. Of him learning the first few grips that later developed as his numbers. Of him saying goodbye to Sho-san in the train station before he leave for Seido.

It was corny, it was cheezy, but Eijun can’t help the sentimental feeling that’s threatening to envelop him. Maybe it’s because he first learn to love baseball from Sho-san, maybe it’s because the euphoria of going to Koshien is still high on his veins. But now, the feeling of happiness and joy just surged inside of him as he laid his gaze on the man standing before him.

"You came!" Yelled Eijun, breaking the hug and looking up towards the man. "Sho-San! Sho-San! Sho-San! You actually came!" he said again, grin so wide and so sunny.

The man in question also has a smile from the way his mask seems to crease. "Of course I came you brat" chuckled the man, behind the sunglasses he’s wearing Eijun could see a faint trace of fondness. "There's no way I miss the time when my disciple going to Koshien"

"Did you see the pitch that I did!? The splitter that you taught me Sho-San! I can control it right now!" he enthused out. Eijun tried to perfected the splitter after that match with Azuma-senpai. But as expected, without any outside feedback and help, he was a bit struggling doing it.

In Seido though, there’s Miyuki-senpai who seems to always ready to catch for him. A catcher with brilliant mind that could give him advices and input for the various kind of pitches he has. There’s Chris-senpai too, a catcher that has a vast knowledge of baseball and watched a professional play since he was a little.

"Ah" echoed the man. "You finally did it, that pitch certainly had been a handful one, yet you did it without my guidance" he said. “I feel old now”

“You’re always old Sho-san!”

“Oi, careful of your mouth brat” warned the man jokingly. “Don’t get a big head just cause you have a no run record in this tournament”

"This Sawamura Eijun is amazing after all!" Huffed out Eijun. "Do you-"

“Sawamura”

Eijun immediately stopped what he was going to say when a familiar voice called out to him. Looking back, he found coach Kataoka already standing behind him, alongside the rest of the team who is staring at him as if he had grown a second head.

“The bus is here” said the older, gaze locked towards Sho-san’s.

“Ah!” Yelled in Eijun is realization. He just remembered that the team were waiting for their bus to come. The southpaw had gotten distracted from Sho-san’s presence. “Sorry boss! I was greeting my-“

Whatever he was about to say was cut short when Sho-san spoke up.

“Tesshin” called out Sho-san dryly. There’s a hint of familiarity on the older tone as he greets Coach with his first name. Which made no sense, no one called Coach with his first name, no one dared to. “It’s been awhile”

Eijun gaped.

The rest of the team gaped.

Because what?

Oddly, Coach doesn’t even look mad. Or murderous, which was the two possible outcome that Eijun had conjured in his head too. In fact, Coach Kataoka merely looked serious? Solemn? As he nodded his head too. “Shouta” replied the man with the same tone Sho-san using earlier. “Why are you here?”

He continue to gape. Because since when did Sho-san knows boss!? Wait- how old is boss anyway!? Did they play baseball back then!? Maybe boss is a Seido alumni and with his personal coach used to play for Inashiro-

The battle between coaches!?

An internal turmoil invaded his head and he could feel the impending headache that surely would come if he continue thinking about the matter. While doing so, both coach Kataoka and Sho-san continue to converse.

“Huh, still so prissy” answered the Inashiro alumni, head tilted a bit. His face may be covered by the face mask, but Eijun knows there’s a smirk on the man face. “Are you married yet? If so, your poor wife”

“I haven’t saw the news that you got married too” grunted out Coach Kataoka too, eyes staring straight towards Sho-san.

“That’s true!” Piped Eijun immediately, remembering the string of failed dates under the man’s name over the years. “Sho-san always fail at his dates-“

“Eijun shut up”

Coach had the decency to not comment on that and merely raised an eyebrow. “So” start the man again. “Why are you here?”

Sho-san chuckled at that. “To see my favorite student of course” he said, ruffling the top of Eijun’s head. “I got worried that he’ll forget his old coach back home now that he meet these cool Tokyo kids”

Said student protested immediately. “You were born and raised in Tokyo! Also i’m your only student-!”

“Details brat”

Coach regarded Eijun a glance before realization flicker into his eyes in a form of a slight flicker of his widened eyes. “So that’s why Sawamura looks familiar” said the man, nodding a bit before turning his attention back to Sho-san. “Sometimes he reminds me of you, apparently you’ve been teaching him it seems”

“Since the brat was 7” replied the other man.

“I see”

Sho-san snickered, hand flew towards Eijun’s hair. “So you’re my cute student current coach huh?” said the man. “When did you even replace the old Seido coach?”

“A few years back” replied coach.

“Hee, I always wondered why didn’t you become a pro, so you’ve been teaching kids” at this, he turned to stare at Seido players who all have a surprised expression of their face. “This world is so small”

“Certainly” agreed coach. “I would’ve never thought that I’ll met you again”

“Ah, you went to Koshien right after i graduate right?” asked Sho-san. “Man-“ Sho-san was cut off when a sharp voice appeared, interrupting the conversation between the two man.

“Coach Kataoka?” called out Takashima-san, appearing besides the coach. There’s a questioning glint on her eyes as she laid her eyes on where Sho-san stood. “This is…” she trailed off.

“Sho-san!” Replied Eijun immediately, motioning towards the ex athlete. “My neighbour who taught me baseball!”

“Ah” said Takashima-san, realization dawning on her. “I’ve heard so much about you from Eijun and his parents when I scouted him, it was very nice to finally meet you” she said as he gave the man a small bow.

The ex athlete nodded his head. “I should thank you for scouting the brat” said the man. “Our backup plan if he was not scouted is to enter the school using his test score and I don’t really believe that he will be successful in that endeavour”

Eijun in retaliation, hit Sho-san’s arm lightly. Though, at the distance, he could hear an amused snort and sure is, both Miyuki-senpai and Kuramochi-senpai could be seen holding back their laugh just behind coach.

“Anyway Sawamura” said Takashima-san. “The bus is here, it’s time for us to go back”

Eijun blinked. “Coach you said we can hang out with family until dinner time right!? I’m going to hang out with Sho-san now and I’ll meet you back in Seido!”

“When did I say I’ll hang out with you brat…”

Coach Kataoka raised an eyebrow at that, ignoring the other man complain. “I did say that”

At this Eijun, turned his head towards Sho-san. “Sho-san treat me some yakiniku! I need good food after today’s match!”

After all, Sho-san is rich. All that athlete money and he won’t even his dearest student for a Yakiniku!? Unthinkable!

Sho-san looks like as if he was pondering about that before turning his head towards Coach. “Do you have practice after this?” he asked.

“No” answered coach. “I was about to give them a one day off before Koshien” The players actually doesn’t know about that yet, resulting a big whoop being cheered by the members behind coach.

“How about this? I’ll treat all of you yakiniku for dinner?”

 


 

“Your coach is really loaded Sawamura” whispered Kuramochi-senpai from his seat just behind Eijun.

Eijun merely shrugged.

Coach Kataoka had said yes at Sho-san offer to treat all of them for dinner earlier. The first year was suspicious the reason why he said yes was because the heavy pressure the players emitted behind him for him to say yes. After all, they just finished a match and all of them are hungry.

Someone offering them to pay for a yakiniku instead of cafetaria dinner? Of course they would say yes in a heartbeat.

“Sometimes he’s stingy though” complained Eijun, as he stared at Sho-san who was sitting at the front of the bus with Coach and Takashima-san. “Maybe he’s feeling generous today”

“We just won” snorted out Miyuki-senpai from where he sit next to Kuramochi-senpai. “Of course he’s feeling generous”

“He’s didn’t even treat me sushi after I won middle schools nationals!”

All of them are heading for a yakiniku place just near the Jingu stadium. All the players are still buzzing in excitement and high from their victory earlier. The third years especially, had been really excited. He had never saw the older players being this happy before. Granted, they were facing intense pressure during the tournament.

But now, Jun-san looked like a kid that’s in the middle of a sugar rush. The center fielder would put anyone in his vicinity in a headlock before ruffling their hair and loudly yelling that they’re going to Koshien. Captain too, after a long call with someone – Masuko-senpai said it was captain’s younger brother – had looked a bit dazed. As if the fact that they’re going to Koshien is something unreal.

With how hyped they are, Takashima-san had give them a strict talk about behaving themselves, especially to the man who was offering to pay for their dinner.

“Whatever the reason it we’re thankful” said Harucchi with a smile, looking back from his seat in front of Eijun. Next to Harucchi, is Ryo-san who merely gave him his kinda terrifying kinda not closed eye smile of his.

Furuya who was sitting next to Eijun also nodded. “It was physically and mentally exhausting…”

“Damn right” answered Kuramochi-senpai. “I think I could eat a whole cow right now”

“How greedy, Mochi” said Miyuki-senpai immediately which earned him a middle finger from the shortstop.

“By the way Eijun-kun” said Harucchi. “How did your Sho-san knows coach?”

“Ehhhh” traiked off Eijun, racking his brain. “I’m not sure actually, is coach a Seido alumni?”

It was then that Ryo-san joined the conversation. “Yes he is” replied the pink haired third year. “When I was a first year the upperclassmen used to talk about it a lot”

Oh, Eijun doesn’t know that. “Well Sho-san used to go to Inashiro so they may play against each other back in the day?” he wondered out.

“He’s an Inashiro alumni?” asked Masuko-senpai from his seat near them. “That’s why you want to go to Inashiro at first?”

“The great betrayal of Sawamura Eijun” snickered Ryo-san.

Eijun was about to say something when he realized his phone was going off. Turning his attention to the device, he saw there’s a lot of line notifications waiting for him to open. Wakana-chan and his friends back from Nagano had sent a couple of message, so is Kanemaru and Toujou. He even saw something from Zono-senpai and people from his class. Though what caught his attention first is the message on top.

On top, it was a chat from Yakushi’s Sanada.

When he asked the player for his line id, he had made it his personal mission to befriend the older ace. Sanada had been prickly at first, understandable considering they just lost to Seido. In the end, their conversation turns a lot smoother after their shared interest (Baseball, pitchers, and… baseball).

The second year ace from Yakushi kind of remind the first year of Miyuki-senpai, only less asshole but more petty. Though, it’s still fun chatting with him, especially when Todoroki sometimes make an appearance with his unique way of chatting which was full of capslocks and loud voice message.

And now, staring right in front of him, is an unopened voice message. Without thinking much, Eijun pressed the message and-

“SAWAMURA CONGRATULATIONS!”

-promptly dropping his phone.

“What?” asked Jun-san whose attention turns into him when the loud message from Todoroki blared through his phone speaker. “Isn’t that Yakushi first year cleanup?”

“How can someone be so loud through phone speaker?” asked Miyuki-senpai, wincing a bit. Eijun would like to agree because woah, that was so loud.

“More importantly” interrupted Kuramochi-senpai, head appearing on top of the first year seat. “Sawamura! Are you chatting with the enemies!?”

“Huh!?” Yelled Eijun back, wide golden eyes blinking. Towards the second year “Yesterday’s enemy is today’s friend!”

“Friend my ass! Enemy is still enemy!” Said Kuramochi-senpai as he lunged towards Eijun’s seat. “Let me see what kind of secrets you’ve been spilling to Yakushi huh!?”

Eijun yelped. “Nothing senpai!” He said, putting his phone out of reach instinctively. “I swear I said nothing!” at this he fall into where Furuya was half asleep besides him, waking the fellow pitcher from his sleep.

Unbothered by the commotion they just made, Kuramochi-senpai continue to lunge at him. “Let me take a look then!”

A bus, is not an ideal place to wrestle around. There’s a lot of yelps and yells from the players and before they know it, the wrestling that at start only involves both Kuramochi-senpai and him, dragged everyone in. Jun-san was yelling loudly, accompanied by Ryo-san threats and captain weirdly encouraging words. Shirasu-senpai too, even though he’s silent most of the time, moves fast, almost like an assassin.

Furuya sat in the middle of the chaos, face a bit blank and clearly still sleepy while Harucchi tried to placate his brother from actually murdering someone in the bus. Eijun is still in the middle of trying to release himself from Kuramochi-senpai grip and loud cackle where Masuko-senpai in turn, has said second year head in a headlock. Tanba-senpai looked a bit helpless at the current situation.

They almost forgot what made them like this in the first place, until Miyuki-senpai spoke up.

“Woah Pitcher-kun, you were chatting a lot with Sanada” said the second year catcher, scrolling through Eijun’s phone leisurely. “You’re trying to replace your senpais?”

Heads snapped towards where the catcher still sitting in his previous seat, a wicked grin on his face.

“Damn you Miyuki when did you get that-!?”

“Hahaha! your face looks funny Jun-san!”

 


 

Nakatani Shouta stared at the commotion behind him with interest.

“They seems to get along well” he said, still staring at the players who has face full of smile and laughter that echoed through the room.

Tesshin, nodded a bit at that. “It’s good that they got along” said the Seido’s coach. “Each of them are good morale support for each other on and off field”

The older of the two let a hum at that. “I can see that” he said, finally diverting his gaze from the chaos behind him. “I was worried for Eijun at first you know, when he first moved to Tokyo”

“Sawamura?” asked Tesshin, tone a bit confused.

“Yeah” said Shouta, shrugging his shoulder a bit. “He was always alone, well not alone, he has friends” continue the man. “But no one really understand his love for baseball except for me you know, and I’m kind of too old to relate with kids these days”

“I see” said Tesshin, nodding a bit. “I heard some news about him back in middle school, the one man team, yes?”

Shouta nodded. “All of them are good kids, really friendly and have no bad intention” he said, recalling the old Akagi baseball team. “But no one really loves baseball, most of them just joined because their Eijun’s childhood friend or wants a good record for their high school admission” at this a small frown tug the corner of his mouth “He never said anything, but I know that Eijun was really lonely back then”

He still remembers the sight of Eijun just practicing alone in the empty field near their house. Still remembers, the blank look he has as he stared at the bat on his hand. Remembers how Eijun shine alone during matches back then.

It worries him greatly back then, how lonely his student look.

Takashima-san chimed in. “Sawamura-kun back in middle school was amazing” said the woman, a smile on her painted lips. “I scouted him after the finals back when he was a second year and the way he plays absolutely captivates me”

“Kid’s talented and loves baseball so he’s willing to work hard in it” snorted the ex athlete. “I wish he has the same attitude with his studies” he lamented out.

“I’ll make sure to put extra attention on that next time then” said Tesshin.

“Yeah yeah” dismissed Shouta. “Anyway, this dinner was kind of a thank you for Seido”

“To Seido?” asked Takashima-san.

“For taking care of Eijun” elaborated Shouta. “He has been dreaming to get into a powerhouse school for high school, a place where he can meet someone similar to him, someone who’s passionate about baseball just like him” at this, he sneak a glance behind him.

Eijun was laughing about something with his teammates surrounding him. The one with glasses – the starting catcher is he’s not wrong – has an arm slung around the first year shoulder. A pair of teens that’s maybe brothers could be seen saying something that made the players around him laughed harder.

It was a picture that reminds Shouta of his high school days. Where days were spent playing baseball and strengthening friendship. Where every time he was reminded of it, bright colors would appear in his head. Where the pressure of the world and adulthood not yet repressed the wild and imaginative side of you.

Back when he was in high school, the adults would always says to cherish your high school days. He had scoffed at it back then, because all he did is practice, practice, and practice. But now, looking back, his high school memories would be some that he cherished the most. One of the happier days in his long life.

Shouta had wanted Eijun to experience the same thing. To know the happiness and friendship the sport they both loves so much could bring. Inashiro may be the right place for Shouta, but it may not be the right place for Eijun.

Now, in Seido, his student, looks absolutely happy.

No more loneliness inside his eyes, no more empty smile that could be seen on his face. Eijun truly looks happy here. Surrounded by many that share the same passion as him, by people who understand his love for the sport.

Really, thought the man. Seido really is a good choice for his student.

“It seems Seido is everything he had dreamt of, I thank you for that”

 


 

It was Kazuya who realized it first.

The first warning bell should’ve come when they had arrived at the bougee looking yakiniku place, something you would see in commercials or tv dramas. The second one should be when they immediately got ushered into a private room despite how packed the place is. But they just finished a long match and the first string players are ravenous. None of them cares about the details how they get their food. When the meat had been served in front of them, all they pay attention to was only food and getting their stomach full.

Of course they pay no mind to the coaching staff as well as Eijun’s coach.

Truthfully, the only reason Kazuya even bothered to looked up from the meat on his plate is because of Rei-chan soft gasp and the sound of chopsticks falling to the floor. Because, okay that’s weird. Rei-chan always look put together and stuff after all.

He thinks the rest of the players haven’t realized it yet. Raising an eyebrow, he stared at the woman who hastily taking the chopsticks from the floor, looking flustered, before he too, turned his head towards where the adults are and-

His mind stopped.

Huh

Huh

Because there- there in the place where Sawamura’s coach was sitting on – still sitting on – is Nakatani Shouta.

The first thing that came into his mind is how the fuck Nakatani Shouta entered the room and he didn’t notice and the second thing is what the fuck, Nakatani Shouta and Sawamura coach is wearing the same clothes and hat and the last thing is what the fuck, Nakatani Shouta is Sawamura’ coach!?

(Kazuya.exe has stop working)

“Huh” he said, eyes wide and staring at the man who now seems to realize someone is staring at him. “Huh” said Kazuya again a bit louder this time with more disbelief lacing his tone, because huh, did he made eye contact with Nakatani Shouta?

Nakatani Shouta raised an eyebrow at him, head tilted a bit and Kazuya still can’t process it because what the fuck, Nakatani Shouta is eating at the same table as him.

Huh

He continue to stare at the man – his idol, his inspiration, the man he and dad cried for in front of tv – to make sure that the mushroom he just ate is not poisonous and he’s not actually hallucinating here. Or maybe it really is hallucinating because what the fuck is Nakatani Shouta doing here?

“Mochi” he said, calling the shortstop who was busy eating meat next to him. Said teen looked up from the meat he’s devouring and raised an eyebrow at Kazuya.  “Punch me”

Kuramochi punched him.

“Miyuki!?” yelled Tetsu-san.

“Senpai!?” Ah, that’s Kominato jr.

“Kuramochi why did you-“

“Huh” said Kazuya again, eyes staring at the man that now has his eyes widened and seems ready to offer a handkerchief to him. Oh, is Nakatani Shouta – his idol, his inspiration, the man he and dad cried for in front of tv – going to offer him a handkerchief? He shouldn’t have to-

“Kuramochi-senpai look what you did! You made Miyuki-senpai stupid-“

“Sawamura be quiet!”

“Guys” called out Kazuya finally. The pain on his face from where Mochi punched him is still very much real but Nakatani Shouta – his idol, his inspiration, the man he and dad cried for in front of tv – is still in the same table as him so what’s real anymore? He doesn’t even know. “Am I hallucinating or is Nakatani Shouta is really eating at the same table as us?”

All of them stared at him as if he had gone crazy.

It was Jun-san who spoke up first. “Kuramochi you really did make the bastard seeing things” said the third year, voice a bit horrified. “Our starting catcher just got stupid”

“It’s not my fault if he’s stupid in the first place!” retorted Kuramochi hotly.

“But why is he seeing Nakatani Shouta out of all people if he-“

“No” called out captain, interrupting Jun-san loud exclamation. There’s something on his tone, awe maybe. Or disbelief because Kazuya is in a state of disbelief too. “No, I think Miyuki is not hallucinating”

“Tetsu-san what are you-“

Seido’s captain merely pointed towards the other end of the table, where the adults are eating and where kinda hallucination kinda real – Miyuki is not even sure anymore – Nakatani Shouta is sitting.

If it’s hallucination this looks so fucking real then because the kinda hallucination kinda real Nakatani Shouta looks exactly like his face that is plastered on various baseball equipments across the country.

Kinda real kinda hallucination Nakatani Shouta opened his mouth. “Can you all don’t punch each other anymore?” and holy shit, that sounds like Nakatani Shouta voice. Just like the baseball encouragement message he shot last year for MEXT that was played at the start of Summer and Spring Koshien.

The table fell into silence.

“Huh” said Jun-san. “Ryo, punch me”

“Gladly-“

“Okay no punching anyone anymore everyone!” called out Takashima-san as she stood up, stopping whatever violence that was about to happen in the table. “We do not condone violence in the team okay!?”

“Rei-chan I don’t think it matters anymore because I think we’re having a group hallucination here-“

Coach spoke up at that, coughing awkwardly first. “I forgot to tell you guys” said the older man, motioning towards the man besides him. “This is Nakatani Shouta, the ex MLB player”

The way coach said it was so casual as if the man sitting next to him is not the legend of Japanese baseball world. Not the one who lead Inashiro to win Summer Koshien 3 years straight, not the one who is the recipient of the golden glove award, not the one who won MLB’s MVP players for how many years. Not the most famous athlete in the whole fucking country.

Not the man that Kazuya idolized.

Hell, what even is his life? To eat at the same table of Nakatani Shouta – his idol, his inspiration, the man he and dad cried for in front of tv – is certainly not what he expect his night to go.

It was also then that Eijun spoke up. “What you guys didn’t realize that?” asked the southpaw, eyes wide in confusion. “I can’t believe it! Did you all didn’t pay any attention whenever I was talking about Sho-san? I thought you guys knew it months ago-!”

The little shit, thought Kazuya immediately, staring at Sawamura with wide eyes. He knows that Nakatani Shouta is his coach!?

“What” gritted out Kuramochi, eyes wide, eyes flickering around Nakatani Shouta and Sawamura. “Your Sho-san is Nakatani Shouta!?” he exclaimed, voicing the very question that appeared on everyone’s mind.

“Who else!?” exclaimed Eijun back as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“I don’t know Sawamura” started Ryo-san. “Maybe your Sho-san could be Takane Shohei, Arima Shouta, Akiba Shoei, or just any Japanese name with a name starting from the word Sho”

Eijun looks a bit dumbfounded at that. “I mean it was obvious!? Right!?” at this he turned towards Furuya who was already looking at Nakatani Shouta with wide eyes. “Right!?”

It was, in fact, not. Who the hell would think a pitcher from a small town in Nagano would stumble into a famous baseball athlete anyway, no one!

Haruichi was even swiping his bangs out of his face just to make sure that he was not seeing things and the man who was wearing an awkward expression in front of him is in fact Nakatani Shouta.

“Eijun” called out not anymore hallucination but 100% real Nakatani Shouta – holy shit that doesn’t seems real – “Are you keeping me a secret from your teammates like some mistress?”

“I was not!” protested the southpaw, turning his face towards the man. “I always talked about you! Everyday in fact!”

“Sawamura” called out Ryo-san again. “You always talked about your coach Sho-san, not the Nakatani Shouta”

Sawamura blinked. “Nakatani Shouta is Sho-san” he said. “I thought you guys know a long time ago!”

The little shit.

“Who would connect the dots!?” Exclaimed Jun-san, eyes wide as he looked between Nakatani Shouta and Eijun repeatedly.

“Chris-senpai knows!”

All head turned towards Chris who was eating quietly next to Sawamura. “Ah” said the third year catcher a bit guiltily after realizing the many betrayed stare directed on his way. “I forgot?”

“Chris-senpai you traitor!”

“Chris why didn’t you told us!?”

“So the ball in your room-“ said Kazuya, remembering the signed ball that he was willing to sell his soul to.

“Yeah, I asked it when I figured it out”

“Holy shit” breathed out Kuramochi. “I’m being treated Yakiniku by Nakatani Shouta, oi, asshole, punch me”

Miyuki punched him.

“Everyone stop!”

 


 

Everyone didn’t got over their amazement of Nakatani Shouta is actually sitting right in front of them. Even though they’re eating, glances would always sneak towards the man who increasingly becomes more awkward as time pass by.

Not that the players notice because the situation itself is unbelievable.

It was Takashima-san who broke out the silence.

“How did you know Nakatani-san, Coach Kataoka?” asked the woman and immediately, everyone on the table perked at the question.

“Ah” said coach. “We’ve played baseball before”

“Played is a weak term” snorted Nakatani-san. “I’m two years older than him you see, and in summer of my third year this guys yelled loudly that he’ll beat me” he said. “In the middle of the field, during the match when I’m the ace and he’s a reserve pitcher”

The players stared at coach who avoided their gaze.

“Of course we won in the end” snickered Nakatani-san. “He kept following me during the tournament that I thought he’s some kind of stalker”

“How rude Sho-san! Coach merely held a great respect for you!”

“Wow Eijun, being coached by him for couple of months really made you forget the 8 years I dedicated to teach you?”

Harucchi spoke up at that, “Um, if you don’t mind me asking” said the teen, face flushing. “How did you become Eijun-kun coach, Nakatani-san?”

“Sho-san is my neighbour!” exclaimed Eijun, giving the teen a thumbs up.

Nakatani-san sighed, “Unfortunately” he said. “I moved to the countryside when I retire because I want a change of pace from baseball you know” at this, he leaned his face on his hand. “Who would’ve known that the little gremlin next door would pestered me to play baseball every day for eight straight years and immediately forgot all the things you’ve done for him the second he move to Tokyo”

“I’m not a gremlin Sho-san! I was a really cute kid”

“If you think so brat”

Seeing them like this, the legend of the baseball world, Nakatani Shouta, and their first year pitcher bantering with each other was almost surreal. They still can’t wrap their head around the fact that Sawamura’s Sho-san is in fact Nakatani Shouta.

“So you really-“ at this, Jun-san made a vague motion as he pointed towards Nakatani-san and Sawamura back and forth.

“Trained by Sho-san? Yeah?”

“That’s why you’re so-“

“Good? Of course! And Hard work!” at this Eijun puffed out his chest proudly. “Sho-san is a really harsh coach you know! I thought I’m gonna die every die back then!”

“Ah” said Chris. “That’s why you didn’t even complain about my training menu”

“No offense senpai, you still have my greatest respect, but compared to Sho-san’s it is as easy as breathing! I cried once when Sho-san is teaching me! It was that harsh!”

Sawamura? Crying?

Nakatani-san merely snorted at that. “That’s just because you were such a crybaby back then”

“Agh! Enough about me!” Yelled Sawamura. “Lets change the topic! How do you think about the match today Sho-san!”

At this, all the players inched a bit, wanting to hear what the man about to say. Nakatani-san raised an eyebrow at the sudden focus everyone give him but he continue anyway.

“It was fun” answered the man, nodding his head which was really reassuring. “Really fun and thrilling, making me miss my high school baseball days”

“You sounds like an old man”

“And you sounds like a brat” said Nakatani-san. “Seriously, The match today was really amazing, both team won’t back down from each other, I applaud your performance for today”

All the players exchanged grins at that praise. After all, it’s not everyday a legendary player would praise them.

Kazuya looked back the years he had spent idolizing the man before him. Of Nakatani Shouta and his successful career in Japan and in the States. He had been young when the man farewell game was broadcasted across the country, yet it still instilled as one of the most unforgettable moment in his life. Something that reminded him why he played baseball at the first place, why, he wants to be a catcher – to find pitchers as interesting as Nakatani Shouta to play together with.

(He’s going to make Sawamura pitch for him one week straight because how the hell did the teen thought they knew that his Sho-san is Nakatani Shouta anyway!?)

The dinner soon concluded after that. Nakatani-san paid their dinner, an amount that made the players eyes bulged open.

As they stood at the parking lot, Nakatani-san found himself being surrounded by starry eyed baseball players who keep asking his opinions and his thoughts about the game today. Kazuya is one of them too, after all there’s no point in hiding his idolization of the man anymore.

“Nakatani-san do you have advice for our batting position?”

“How about strategies Nakatani-san? What do you think is the most effective when-“

“Nakatani-san what kind of game-“

“Everyone” cut off Coach, stopping the tirade of questions that’s been rained upon the older. “It’s already late, we need to go back soon and I’m sure Nakatani-san needs to go back to his hotel too”

The players groaned in disappointment at that, stepping out of Nakatani-san way.

“Do you need a ride Nakatani-san?” offered Rei-chan. “We can make a stop at your hotel if you do”