Synchronized cheers reverberated through the bowels of the stadium, the sounds of a tournament in progress. The noise reached all the way to an indoor batting cage down the left-field line, where the hero of an earlier ballgame was dutifully ushered to a makeshift news conference. Though at 6-feet-2 he was an entire head taller than anyone else in the room, Rouki Sasaki was nonetheless asked by a tournament official to stand on a wooden box that was placed on the dirt floor. He obliged, removed his cap and bowed. The elevated platform was necessary to make the lanky right-hander visible to reporters on the outer rings of the semicircle that formed for his post-game address. More than 100 journalists had been dispatched to the backwoods of northern Japan’s mainland to chronicle the first summer start of a 17-year-old high school senior who overcame a family tragedy to become the next Shohei Ohtani. Japan has an obsession with high school baseball, particularly the prefecture and national tournaments in the summer, but the scene still qualified as extraordinary. It was only the first round of the Iwate prefecture tournament. Sasaki wasn’t even expected to pitch as his Ofunato High...