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Web exclusive: The Keller/Cloney Japan Diaries, Part 9

Posted: June 23, 2011 2:54 p.m.
Updated: June 23, 2011 2:54 p.m.

West Ranch High pitcher J.C. Cloney shakes hands with a Japanese pitcher who throws 94 MPH, the hardest thrower in Osaka, Japan.

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Newly graduated West Ranch High pitcher Ryan Keller and West Ranch pitcher and senior-to-be J.C. Cloney are embarking on quite an adventure.

The teenagers are pitching in Japan as part of the 2011 USA-Japan Friendship Series from Sunday until Wednesday, in Tokyo and Osaka.

Only 18 players were chosen for the series.

Keller and Cloney are sending us a diary that will run exclusively on They will touch on various topics from both on and off the field.

Some of the players representing the U.S. were selected based off of playing at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

All are considered some of the best players in the country.

The following is Keller’s sixth diary entry.

June 23
Today, we had some free time before leaving for our last game of the Friendship Series. In the morning, J.C. and I walked the street around the hotel to see what we could find. It is amazing how many people ride their bicycles or scooters. You don’t see many large vehicles at all.

After walking around, we left for a luncheon with the team we were playing today, the Osaka Tion high school team. They are the No. 1 team in Osaka. We had a nice lunch with them, and just like the other times we were with the Japanese players, we laughed and joked. We also met with a Japanese pitcher who throws 94 MPH and is the hardest-throwing pitcher in the Osaka area. J.C. took his picture with him.

When we arrived at the game, we had the opening ceremony and exchanged gifts before the game. Once the game began, we got off to a bad start and gave up four runs before getting the first out. J.C. got to come on in relief in the first inning, and with the bases loaded and no outs, he was able to get out of the inning without giving up any more runs. He then pitched a scoreless second and 2/3 of the third inning before being taken out.

Again, we found this team to be very well-prepared and did not make any mistakes. Unfortunately, we lost our last game with the final out coming as I was standing in the on-deck circle preparing to hit. But I think we all learned a lot about needing to always work on getting better.

After the game, even though we lost, as we left the stadium people were lined up clapping for us as though we were a professional team. It was something I had not experienced before. Hopefully, when the Japanese teams come to visit us in December, we will be able to show them the same type of hospitality.

Tomorrow, we have a sightseeing tour in the morning and then are attending a Japanese professional baseball game Friday night between the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants.


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