Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chuugoku Super-Regional Recap

Chuugoku is in their Best 4 going into the weekend, and what a field it is with Shimane's Iwamichisuikan facing Okayama's Kanzei while another team from Shimane in Kaisei faces Kouryou from Hiroshima. But we'll go back to see how we got here.

Yazu certainly gave Kurayoshi Kita a good game, but a 3-run 5th for the team from North Kurayoshi was too much for them as they lost 5-2.

Their brethren to the east were having as just a hard time. Tottori Ikuei had jumped out early to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st, but Higashi rallied to tie right thereafter. It wouldn't be until the 7th where Higashi broke the tie with a run, then broke it open with 3 in the 8th to advance to the finals.

And in that all Kurayoshi final Higashi would open the scoring in the 3rd with a run, but Kita would level it in the 5th. The score would stay at 1-1 into extras, but Higashi would take it all quickly with a sayonara run in the 10th.

Because Tottori is hosting the super-regionals, they receive the extra bid, so both Yazu and Tottori Ikuei would advance. Yazu would win the consolation game 6-1.

When the main draw was completed, Kanzei and Okayama Rikadai Fuzoku found themselves on the same bracket while Kurashiki Kougyou had the other side all to itself.

Of course, Okayama Gakukeikan would oust Kurashiki Kougyou from the list of contenders with a 5-4 win in the opening round.

Kanzei and Okayama Rikadai managed to advance, but only just so with 1-run victories. After that scare, both fared better in the quarterfinals advancing with relative ease meaning they would indeed clash in the semifinals. But what about the other side? Who was going to emerge as the front-runner?

Tamano Kounan appeared to be that candidate, advancing with large margin victories over Okayama Shoudai Fuzoku and Okayama Minami. Okayama Gakukeikan who had defeated Kurashiki Kougyou, couldn't maintain the momentum losing to Okayama Higashi Shougyou 1-0 setting up the other semifinal.

Oddly enough, it was the 2nd semifinal that made for compelling drama. Kanzei put up crooked numbers each inning routing Okayama Rikadai 11-0 in 5 innings. Tamano Kounan jumped on Okayama Higashi Shougyou leading 5-0 after 3 innings and looked in control.

That was until the 5th inning where Higashisho scored 3 to make the game more interesting. One inning later, they would pull even with 2 more runs! Certainly momentum was with them and they indeed completed the comeback scoring 3 more runs in the 7th inning to lead 8-5. Tamano, reeling from the rally couldn't come back and lost 8-6.

If nothing else, it guaranteed that Higashisho would have a place in the super-regionals as Kanzei would not let them win the prefecture. Higashisho would find themselves down 5-0 again but this time couldn't find the rally losing 5-1.

As for Tamano Kounan, the loss certainly deflated them, but they fought hard against Okayama Rikadai. It would fall just short as they would not advance to the super-regionals suffering a 4-3 loss.

We were already in the semifinals with some familiar faces.

Iwamichisuikan (fka Gonokawa) facing Izumo Shougyou jumped in front with 2 runs in the top of the 1st. Izumo would take one of those back in the 2nd, but that's as close as they'd get. Meanwhile Hamada just had no shot against Kaisei losing 11-2 setting up a great final.

Or so I thought. Kaisei seemed determined to get back to Koshien and it showed beating Iwamichisuikan 7-1. And poor Hamada was shutout in the consolation game falling to Izumo Shougyou 2-0.

I mentioned that Kouryou was really the only notable team left in the Best 8. Regardless, you'd think that the games at this point would still be competitive. But they weren't. Outside of Gion Kita edging Hiroshima Kougyou 8-6 in the quarterfinals, the lowest margin of victory was 7 runs:

  • Kouryou def. Kure 8-1
  • Hiroshima Shinjyou def. Kouyou Higashi 7-0
  • Soutoku def. Onomichi (darn) 10-0
  • Kouryou def. Gion Kita 9-1
  • Hiroshima Shinjyou def. Soutoku 11-3 (although Soutoku did have a 3-2 lead after 4 beore Shinjyou scored 8 unanswered in the next 2 innings)
Finals - Kouryou def. Hiroshima Shinjyou 12-2
3rd Place - Soutoku def. Gion Kita 9-0

I don't think I've ever seen so many lopsided games that late in a bracket.

Oh yeah, Kouryou did indeed rout the field to take the top seed.

With all the major players eliminated, Yamaguchi's 3 bids were for the taking.

With no real front-runner, it was more of a wait and see to see who emerges. In the quarterfinals, one side of the brackets had blowout games. Houfu dispatched Shimonoseki Chuo Kougyou 10-2 while Yanai Gakuen sent Ube Koujyou packing 11-4. Kumage Minami and Tokuyama advanced on the other side.

Kumage Minami had little trouble with Tokuyama 4-1, and after the blowouts Houfu and Yanai Gakuen found themselves in a low-scoring affair, going into extras still at 0's. It would only go 1 inning though as Houfu scores the sayonara run.

In the final, Houfu would score early on Kumage Minami and while runs would be traded later, Houfu would emerge unscathed with the 8-5 win.

The final bid would go to Yanai Gakuen as they defeated Tokuyama 4-3.

When the draws came out for the super-regionals, it was interesting that 2 of Okayama and Yamaguchi's teams were in one quadrant while Hiroshima and Tottori's teams were likewise in another quadrant.

As the 1st round of games began, it was apparent that Yamaguchi's representatives were not up to the task with all 3 teams losing. Only the #1 seed Houfu had a close game, but were still shutout by Okayama's #3 Okayama Rikadai Fuzoku 2-0.

Shockingly, the home field advantage didn't help Tottori at all as all 4 representatives also lost in the first round. #1 Kurayoshi Higashi kept Iwamichisuikan scoreless for 7 innings, but a run in the 8th was all they needed. Hiroshima Shinjyou scored a run in the 1st and 3rd innings to defeat #4 Tottori Ikuei.

The only other team to lose was Shimane's Izumo Shougyou who lost 6-2 to Okayama Higashi Shougyou. So after 1 round, 2 prefectures were already eliminated!

In the quarterfinals, the perennial teams started to hit their stride. Kaisei and Kouryou mercy-ruled their opponents to set up one semifinal while Iwamichisuikan and Kanzei kept their opponent's offenses at bay to advance for the other semi.

Should make for a good weekend of finals to determine the 2 guaranteed bids.

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