Thursday, June 25, 2009

...and we're off!

So, I'm furiously trying to get the prefectural brackets into spreadsheet format before tournaments begin across the country.

But for some the trek to Koshien has already begun... and for some has ended.

So we begin with Minami Hokkaido. Because Hokkaido is a large prefecture as it is, it gets two representatives. Furthermore since the 2 divisions are still fairly big, they have regional qualifiers that make up the final field of 16. This year the breakdown is as follows:
  • Sapporo - 7 teams
  • Muroran - 4 teams
  • Hakodate - 3 teams
  • Otaru - 2 teams
Notable events so far:

In Block E of Sapporo, Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo - a runner up in the fall tournament starts its run defeating Sapporo Ootani 4-0. Another participant, Tokaidai Dai-yon also advanced to the next round out of Block D, defeating Sapporo Minami 4-2 after surviving a late charge in the 9th. In the same block, Sapporo Nishi was off to a 3-0 lead when Sapporo Kiyota scored 3 to tie in the 6th. They traded runs in the 8th as they went into extras. Sapporo Nishi would not be denied saying sayonara to Kiyota in the bottom of the 12th.

Meanwhile, back in Block E you have to feel bad for Sapporo Hakuryou. In their game against Sapporo Hokuryou, they gave up runs every inning capped off with a 20-run 3rd en route to a 37-0 loss. The game just isn't any fun that way. But at least you have to figure that Hakuryou's team played hard, regardless of the score.

In Block F, the opening match between Hokuseidai Fuzoku and Sapporo Okadama looked to be a blowout after Hokuseidai jumping out to a 5-0 lead after 2 innings. However the pitching couldn't hold out as Okadama got one back in the 6th and 7th before exploding for 5 runs in the 8th.

Heading over to Muroran, their qualifiers have just gotten underway. But it'll be a while before we see 2 favored teams begin their run - Mukawa out of B Block and Komadai Tomakomai out of C Block. They don't play their first game until July 1st. And their road only includes 2 games to the prefectual sweet 16.

Next is Hakodate. From the schools involved it seems like a team from this region is a relative longshot to make it. About the only thing I really could notice was that there was a Hakodate LaSalle school. I always find schools that use either hirigana or katakana to be interesting just because it's different.

Here too, there was a casualty of the large defeat. Setana Shougyou in the first game of opening day gave up 11 runs in the first before eventually falling 34-0. That's not to say there weren't good matches early though. Hakodate Suisan, who had to play an opening round match, turned around 2 days later to face Hakodate Kougyou. Tied 2-2 going into the 9th, Suisan's ace Takahashi gives up the game-winning run to Hakodate Kougyou.

In Block B, Shiriuchi scrapped together a few runs in the middle innings for a 3-0 lead on Matsumae. But they wouldn't back down, tying the game in the 9th with 2 runs. But like all good rallies, there's always the chance of a letdown. Shiriuchi made sure of that with a sayonara run in the bottom half of the 9th.

Block C must have had one heck of a game as Hakodate Shougyou faced off against Hakodate Tousen. A 2-1 game in favor of Tousen after 7, all hell broke loose. They score 2 in the top of the 8th only to see Shougyou score 4 in the bottom half. Suddenly down one with 3 outs to go they manage to get the tying run in to send it into extras. But from there the teams couldn't put anything together as they inched closer and closer to a draw and an eventual replay. Hakodate Shougyou figured they couldn't afford to do that and plated the sayonara run in the 14th.

Otaru's region is the same way. Otaru in of itself is an hour west of Sapporo if memory serves me correctly, and it's the biggest city in a very rural region. Only because I visited there will I be cheering for their representatives to the sweet 16.

And just for a friend of HS baseball, I'll be working on getting Okinawa's brackets up next.

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