When high school pitcher Taigo Matsui threw out the first pitch of the game on Thursday evening, I’m sure he never expected to be there Sunday, four days later, on his 709th pitch in the bottom of the 50th inning to close out the semi-final matchup.
Chukyo High School battled Sotoku High School in a scoreless game during Japan’s National High School Rubber Ball Tournament in Hyogo Prefecture, until the top of the 50th inning when Chukyo scored three runs to put away the game.
Both Matsui and Sotoku’s pitcher, Jukiya Ishioka, played the entire 50 innings and collectively pitched nearly 1,400 balls, a feat that would most likely be controversial in the states. Each state in the US has rules limiting the pitchers to no more than 100 pitches or 10 to 12 innings over a calendar week.
No such rules exist in Japan; however, over the course of the 50-inning game, play was stopped at 15 innings each day, coming to four total days. The official rules also state that after 54 innings, the game would be stopped and decided by lottery—a rule the rule makers most likely never thought would be needed, as the previous record for high school baseball was 25 innings.
Chuyko High School went on to win the championship a few hours later, and Matsui even came in as a relief pitcher, throwing 77 pitches.
Check out the final inning in this video. And for those under a tighter time constraint, two runs are scored at 5:30, and the last at 6:50: