Considering the way that this series opened, with Wakaba getting killed,
having bad things happen shouldn't be a surprise with Cross Game.
There've been a number of ups and downs over the course of the show, but
it's largely been a quiet but hopeful series that has been building
events in a natural and realistic manner. So with this episode, having
Aoba being taken down hard by practice with Azuma, enough so that she
has to go to the hospital, it's not a surprise but it's one that really
makes you feel it even though you're not actually involved. With her
dreams having edged closer with the women's team, having this happen is
just crushing, even as she puts on a very brave face.
It's also not surprising that Azuma is pretty much guilting himself into submission. He's definitely had feelings for her on some level and having this happen as she's starting to realize her dream, only to have it knocked out from under her, is crushing. And in that male way, he takes it all upon himself and beats himself up pretty hard, though only a little of it shows through to others. Aoba's positive outlook doesn't help him at all either since she's not going to be angry with him in a way that will let him try to work through it. It's not good for Aoba either since even if she's not truly feeling angry, she's not letting the sadness out either since she just says that the women's team simply wasn't meant to be.