Toshiya Sugiuchi - Early Life and High School Career

Early Life and High School Career

Suiguchi was born in Kasuga, a member of the so-called Matsuzaka Generation, and raised in Ōnojō, Fukuoka. He began playing baseball in the fourth grade for the Onojo Little League baseball club while attending Onojo Municipal Elementary School as an outfielder, being converted to first base the following year. He became a pitcher in the sixth grade, leading his team to the Round of 16 in the national tournament as their ace. He led the city's Onojo Guts to the finals of the national junior tournament while at Ōno Municipal Junior High School.

Sugiuchi went on to enroll at Kagoshima Jitsugyo High School, playing in the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament and National High School Baseball Championship (the two most prominent national tournaments in Japan, both held at Koshien Stadium) a total of three times. In the summer of 1998, then-senior Sugiuchi matched up with Sendai Senior High School ace Hiroshi Kisanuki (currently with the Yomiuri Giants), a highly touted draft prospect, in the finals of the Kagoshima Tournament, defeating the school 3–1 and earning a berth in the national championship.

Sugiuchi attracted national attention when he threw a 16-strikeout no-hitter in Kagoshima Jitsugyo's first game of the 80th National High School Baseball Championship against Hachinohe Institute of Technology First High School. His success was short-lived, however, as Kagoshima Jitsugyo matched up with powerhouse Yokohama Senior High School (the East Kanagawa champions) in the second round. Yokohama Senior High's lineup, stocked with star players—the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Taketoshi Gotoh, Masaaki Koike and Yoshio Koyama—teed off on Sugiuchi's curveball, touching him up for six runs in eight innings (Matsuzaka hit a home run).

While it was rumored that several NPB teams were considering picking him in the 1998 NPB amateur draft, Sugiuchi decided against declaring for the draft when his high school coach advised him that he would likely go no higher than the fourth round, instead opting to join an industrial league (a collection of amateur teams, each consisting wholly of employees of the owner corporation) team. He initially received an offer from JR Kyushu (Kyushu Railway Company) but eventually went on to join Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-Nagasaki.

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