Chapter 27:

A Thrilling Baseball Showdown

The Day I Forgot About You

The sun cast its golden rays over the baseball field, creating a perfect setting for the thrilling duel that was about to unfold. Neo looked towards the bleachers and could spot Saya watching. He felt both embarrassed and pressured, needing to play well and not let her down.

The Hoshi field gleamed in vibrant green, its white lines delineating the battlefield. The protagonists of this contest were the "Brave Falcons" and the "Lightning Vortex," two determined teams vying for a spot in the prestigious Diamond Clash championship.

"So, Neo actually showed up in the end. What happened to change his mind?" Pietro asked curiously.

"Can't tell you," Neo replied as he glanced at Shike, who seemed quite nervous while warming up.

"Is everything alright?" Neo inquired, concerned for Shike.

Shike then pointed to a player from the opposing team who stood among them. That guy seemed charismatic, as everyone on his team looked up to him with admiration.

"Their leader and pitcher. Jake, the Iron Arm. He's really good," Shike explained.

"Iron Arm?" Maeda asked, intrigued.

"Yeah, he's got that reputation for throwing powerful pitches," Shike clarified.

As Neo and Shike conversed, their gazes shifted to a player from the rival team who stood in the midst of the group.

Neo frowned, curious. "And who's that over there?" he asked, catching Shike's attention.

"I don't know him," Shike replied, watching the brown-haired player with a tuft of hair stare at Neo.

"Never heard of him either," Pietro added.

"Seems his name is Kensuke Miyamoto. Probably called up to round out the team," Takeshi explained after checking the player roster.

"Miyamoto... that name sounds familiar," Neo commented, intrigued.

The games began. The early innings were dominated by the pitchers. Two batters stood out—Kensuke and Neo were the only ones who managed to hit and advance to a base. However, advancing to just one base wasn't enough to score points as you need two more.

Meanwhile, the other players struggled to make contact with the ball. Apolo had a really hard time connecting, eventually striking out on three pitches and being eliminated. The game remained deadlocked, with a score of 0-0.

It wasn't until the top of the fourth inning that things got really interesting. The batters began hitting successfully.

Next up to bat was Neo; his heart raced. He looked at Saya, who watched with excitement. He needed to give her a gift. And it had to happen now.

As Jake pitched his best ball, Neo managed to connect with a fastball. The sound of the bat hitting the ball was like thunder as it sailed over the fence, marking a solo home run. The crowd erupted in celebration, and the scoreboard now read 1-0.

The Lightning Vortex Team had finally broken the tie.

However, the Brave Falcons' response was swift. In the bottom of the fourth inning, they strung together a series of hits.

Kensuke managed to hit the ball deep into the field, driving in a run and tying the game at 1-1.

The game dragged on into the sixth inning. The Lightning Vortex once again saw an opportunity with two runners, Takeshi and Pietro, on base due to the Brave Falcons' defensive errors.

Both runners were speedy, so all that was needed was a well-placed hit. Tadashi delivered a line drive to the outfield, allowing Takeshi and Maeda to score two runs.

The score now favored the Lightning Vortex, 3-1. However, the Brave Falcons weren't ready to give up.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, after a sequence of hits and walks, they loaded the bases. Kensuke stepped up to bat, visibly angry. The closer he got to losing, the more miraculous plays he seemed to make.

Kensuke followed with a timely hit that brought two runners home. The game was tied once again, now at 3-3.

Time was running out, and both teams were determined to break the tie. In the top of the ninth inning, Lightning Vortex relied on Lenner. 

Maeda was on third base and Neo on second. Lenner just needed to hit a ball that would give enough time for Maeda to run and score a point, and since Maeda was the best runner they had, he had to make it happen. 

When Jake pitched, his mind raced, and that's when he knew what to do. He executed a deep sacrifice fly, allowing Maeda to cross the plate. 

Lightning Vortex was back in the lead, now with a score of 4 to 3.

The Brave Falcons entered the bottom of the ninth inning with one last chance to tie or win the game. 

After a few hits, they had a runner on third and another on second. Kensuke could use the same strategy as Lenner.

Shike made the pitch, the runners advanced, and Pietro shouted to warn them. Kensuke ended up making a mistake, and the ball fell into the hands of Nagoya, who eliminated one of the runners before they could score a point.

With one out and a runner on third base, Shike was under pressure. The opposing team had two outs, and Kensuke had one strike. If Shike could deliver another strike, they would win the game.

Kensuke had a determined look. Nagoya signaled to throw an outside ball to test if he'd fall for the bluff. 

Shike prepared and threw the ball as requested. Kensuke was too focused and didn't even flinch, he hadn't even blinked. 

Suddenly, doubt crept into Shike's mind. That kid had shown that the closer he was to losing, the more he pulled off miracles. And in that situation, he was dangerously close to losing; one mistake and it would be over. 

An unbeatable rival. A truly amazing person. 

Shike was giving up when Neo's words echoed in his mind. 

"It'll be okay, you guys are incredible. There's no way you can lose."
"Without you, I don't think we're capable," Shike responded.
"You're wrong. The whole team is incredible – Takeshi, Tadashi, Nagoya, Pietro, Maeda. I've never seen Lenner play, but I believe he's good, and you're the best pitcher I've ever seen. Don't ever say you're not capable." 

Shike looked back, searching for Neo, who responded by tightly clenching his fist – a clear sign to fight with determination.

The boy then locked eyes with Kensuke once again; this time was different. This time he was going to defeat him. He threw a curveball, with both speed and movement. Kensuke swung – did he connect? 

No! He missed, by a hair's breadth. The ball landed in Nagoya's hands. 


Shike had secured the victory, 4 to 3, for Lightning Vortex!!

Maeda was the first to dash towards him, and the others followed suit. The once-small boy was buried beneath the whole team in celebration. 

All the players lined up and exchanged greetings, thanking each other for the match. It was an exhilarating game, filled with turnarounds and crucial moments. Both teams gave their all, but Lightning Vortex managed to prevail in the end.

Neo rushed over to Saya after that. 



She impulsively embraced him, and he held her, twirling her in his arms, joyful. Their faces were so close to each other.

Neo set her down, and they both moved away, feeling embarrassed.

The rest of the baseball team appeared, along with a boy who wasn't part of the team.

"Saya?" he asked, curious.

It took her a moment to recognize him. But up close, it was obvious who he was. "Kensuke?"

"Yes." She waved from a distance. 

"I looked for you everywhere, it's been so long!" he exclaimed as he tried to hug the girl. She pulled away, leaving him hanging. 

"You two know each other?" Maeda asked, curious. 

"Yes, for a long time. We're childhood friends," Saya explained, looking to the side, appearing somewhat uneasy. 

"I have so much to talk about, but I'm busy now. I came to talk to you all from the team." 

The baseball team looked at Kensuke with curiosity, listening to what he had to say. 

"You're formidable opponents. I feel sorry that baseball isn't my main sport, but I invite you to face me in a kendo match someday. Especially the shorty and that one," he said, pointing to Shike and Neo. 

He turned his back and left. 

Takeshi and Tadashi were holding back, but as soon as he was at a safe distance, they burst into laughter. 

"Kendo match? We play baseball. Can't he accept defeat? What a joke," Tadashi said. 

Saya was slightly concerned, and Neo didn't care, but perhaps he should have, as he had no idea what that encounter would bring in the coming weeks.

Later on, the entire baseball team celebrated by eating ramen at Uncle's restaurant. Both Uncle and Ryu were incredibly excited. Even Lenner was there, which was quite unusual. 

Apolo told everyone that he enjoyed playing, despite his lack of experience. It had been a lot of fun, and he would participate in training from now on to correct his mistakes from the game.

Everyone was happy, especially Shike, as Neo's involvement had helped them win. Without his words, Shike might have given up and lost the match.

Monday. Neo was still recovering from the exhaustion of the game. He dragged himself to school as slowly as possible. To worsen matters, the first class was English. It couldn't have been any more boring.

Neo considered resting his head on the desk and taking a short nap.

The class was interrupted by Karine, who came to announce that a student was being transferred.

The entire class was curious about this development, and conversations and questions filled the air.

"Midway through the year?"

"Who could it be?"

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