Hard-throwing high school pitcher Roki Sasaki, who is being heavily scouted by major league clubs, stayed on the bench to avoid injury as his team was eliminated from contention for a prestigious national title on Thursday.

Sasaki, who threw a pitch at 160 kph on Sunday in the fourth round of Iwate Prefecture's summer tournament and was clocked at 163 kph in April, did not pitch in the prefectural final, Ofunato High School's 12-2 loss to Hanamaki Higashi High School.

"It was the manager's decision, so I don't think it can be helped," Sasaki said. "It's only natural for those involved in high school ball to want to play. I wanted to pitch."