Okay, we start the wheels again and hit the remaining super-regionals.
The final day of 1st round games featured a big upset. Shinkou Gakuen, Hyogo's #3 seed jumped on Shiga's champion Oumi 3-0 before Oumi got on the board with a run in the 5th and went on to win 4-1! Meanwhile there was a titanic matchup between Fukuchiyama Seibi and PL Gakuen to conclude 1st round play. Seibi jumped on PL with 2 runs in the first and played hang-on the rest of the way. PL managed to pull within 1 in the 8th, but couldn't push the douten run across.
Sunday would have possibly 2 possible blowouts. First off was Chiben Wakayama against Ritsumeikan Uji. But after taking the lead 1-0 in the 1st, a run in the 2nd and 3rd for Uji meant that Ritsumeikan had the lead! Chiben fires right back with runs in the 4th and 5th and they pulled back in front!
And then it all went wrong. 2 innings later, Uji explodes for 5 runs and takes a commanding 7-3 lead.
That seemed to wake up the Chiben squad though. But there wouldn't be much time left. A run in the 8th would cut the deficit to 3. Then in the 9th, they score 1 run... then 2! Chiben was within 1! But ace Kawabe would be able to record the final out eliminating the formidable powerhouse from the tournament and a place at senbatsu.
The 2nd game was also much closer than expected as well. Osaka Touin faced off against Ikuei (Hyogo 3) and ace Fukumoto shutout the Ikuei squad. However, Ikuei's ace Horita(?) only allowed 2 runs to the powerhouse in the loss. While they won't get an automatic bid, he sure looked good.
(Here's a video of Horita. 3/4 delivery it seems, a bit of control issues in the video)
Now the other quarterfinal games wouldn't be played until the following weekend, and that meant for those teams they would have to play 3 games in 5 days to win the super-regional. They'd get a day off in between each game, but still.
First off was one of my favorite teams Tenri against Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku.
While Kobe Kokusaidai had taken the 1-0 lead in the 5th, Tenri asserted itself with 3 in the 6th. But then in the bottom of the 7th Kobe Kokusaidai takes out ace Nishiguchi with 4 runs of their own. Down 5-3 doesn't seem like a lot for Tenri, but they were unable to recover and fall to Okamoto and Kobe Kokusaidai.
Then there was Shinkou Gakuen versus Fukuchiyama Seibi. Shinkou gets the jump again, taking a 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning! But in the 4th, Seibi manages to equalize. And then nothing happens. We head into extras and still nothing from either team. The 13th inning comes and goes and now there's a real possibility that we could have a tie game. But in the end, Shinkou would break through with the sayonara run in the 14th inning to send Fukuchiyama Seibi home and secure a spot at senbatsu!!
Now while the semifinalists are almost assuredly guaranteed a spot in senbatsu, it wouldn't hurt to have a good showing. Unfortunately for Ritsumeikan Uji, ace Kawabe just wasn't on his game, giving up 2 runs in the 1st and 2nd and another 5 in the 5th en route to a 9-1 7-inning loss to Osaka Touin.
And as for Shinkou Gakuen, Kobe Kokusaidai's Okamoto completely shut down their offense. Add sloppy conditions late and an 8-run 8th (and still going) gives the umpires a reason to shut down the game mercifully for Shinkou.
That meant it was down to Osaka Touin and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku. And in a reversal, it was Osaka Touin that was blanked. Okamoto finishes out the run by his team with a 3-0 shutout. In the fall, Okamoto pitched 78.1 innings with an ERA of 1.15 and we'll see a lot more of him come the spring.
We had a high quality Best 4 field, but things certainly didn't turn out as exciting as perhaps people though. In the first semi, Kanzei wound up having no trouble with Iwamichisuikan shutting them out 5-0. Meanwhile a 5-spot in the 3rd inning helped Kaisei beat Kouryou 5-3.
So it will be Kanzei and Kaisei who will probably get the bids. But there was the final and a spot in the Meiji Jingu tournament to be had.
Itohara for Kaisei opened the scoring in the top of the 1st with a solo homerun. Kanzei would quickly tie it back up in the bottom half of the frame. Then in the 3rd, Itohara gets another timely hit to put them ahead 2-1. And if that wasn't enough, he induces an error while stealing 2nd scoring 2 runs and extending the lead to 4-1.
But Kanzei would take one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. And in the 5th Yamaguchi gets an inside-the-park homerun for Kanzei pulling within 1. But ace Shirane would not let Kanzei equalize and Kaisei would take the Chuugoku super-regionals with a 4-3 win!
So we hit the semifinals with bids at senbatsu at stake.
Okou certainly was an underdog against Kochi. But they were the ones to open the scoring with a run in the 2nd. However, 6 unanswered runs in the next 3 innings by Kochi pretty much ended the game right then and there.
In the matchup between Ehime teams Saibi also got the jump on the top seeded team Imabari Nishi with a run in the 3rd. Imabari though would tie it up in the 5th and 2 more in the 6th and that would be the end of that.
Kochi and Imabari Nishi will be familiar faces at Koshien, but which one will advance to the national tournament?
Early on, it looked like Kochi would run away with it, building a 3-run lead. However, Imabari Nishi would turn the tables in the 4th, scoring 4 runs. Kochi would equalize in the 5th and it would stay that way, meaning extra innings in the championship game. In the 11th, ace Tsutsui would try to end it right there as his 2-out double put Kochi ahead 5-4.
Imabari Nishi though had other plans. With no out, Tsutsui would hit Nagai. A sac bunt would move him to 2nd, and in a bold move, he steals 3rd! With the tying run only 90 feet away, Sasaki singles to left tying the game! After another sac bunt to put the winning run in scoring position, Aida delivers the sayonara hit to right as Sasaki scores sending the Ehime team to the nationals!
Whoops. I never got around in the other update to cover what had happened to get to the Best 4. Well, now you'll get a recap of everything!
First up are the 3 1st round games that the #3 and #4 seeded teams from Fukuoka and Miyazaki were awarded. And perhaps surprisingly, they held up pretty well. Miyazaki Nichidai (Miyazaki 4) got the lead against Kagoshima Jyousei (Kagoshima 2). But after equalizing in the 6th, Jyousei would put 2 together in the 8th for a late-inning win. The new Imari representative, Imari Shougyou (Saga 2), couldn't keep up with Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou falling 7-0 in 8 innings. The same went for Oita (Oita 2), who gave up 10 runs in the 4th to Miyazaki Shougyou (Miyzaki 3), and were eliminated one inning later.
With those game completed, it was time for the top seeds to take the field. But instead of showing their dominance they instead muddied up the waters even more.
Jiyuugaoka (Fukuoka 1) had no trouble with Kagoshima Jyousei, shutting them out 4-0. Jyouhoku's (Kumamoto 2) ace Nogata gave up a first inning run to Meihou (Oita 1) and new ace Yamano (who struggled against Hanamaki Higashi) made it stick.
But in the bottom half of this side, things were different. Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki 1) had a 1-0 lead on Kadena (Okinawa 2), but Nakazaki would not be able to hold it. He would relinquish the lead in the 6th giving up 2 runs, and his team would never recover. And Sasebo Jitsugyou (Nagasaki 2) would get a jump on Saga Shouygou (Saga 1) scoring 2 in the 3rd and another 2 in the 7th while ace Hirakura would yield only 1 run in a complete game effort.
In the other side of the super-regionals, more 1 seeds would fall. Kyushu Gakuin (Kumamoto 1) would trail from wire-to-wire against Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou losing 6-2. Kagoshima Jitsugyou (Kagoshima 1) would suffer the same fate against Miyazaki Kougyou (Miyazaki 2) as Hamada would yield 1 run.
As for the last 2 games, Kounan's (Okinawa 1) Shimabukuro would continue to lead his team to Koshien yet again with a 3-1 win over Toukai Dai-go, while in the battle of commericial schools Nagasaki (Nagasaki 1) would slip through with a 1-0 win over Miyazaki.
So heading to the crucial quarterfinals, Saga and Kumamoto were already eliminated.
And the first probable bid would go to Jiyuugaoka as they were able to score 2 runs off of Yamano while their ace Ono made it interesting yielding a run in the 9th, but nothing more. Their opponent in the semis would be Kadena, who held a 5-0 lead against Sasebo Jitsugyou but allowed them to make it close with 4 in the bottom of the 9th.
Things were just as close on the other side as well. Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou and Miyazaki Kougyou were tied at 2 for most of the game until Miyazaki put up 3 in the 7th to take the lead for good. And Shimabukuro would continue to dominate in a 2-0 win over Nagashou.
This means that we'll see 2 Okinawa teams at Koshien! I know someone who'll like that!
But back to the super-regionals. Kadena continued to impress, this time against Jiyuugaoka. They shut out the Fukuoka squad 4-0 and secure a spot in the finals! Could it be an all-Okinawa final?
Sure looked like it early! Kounan would score 2 quick runs in the top of the 1st, but Miyazaki would come back with a run of their own against not Shimabukuro, but Sunagawa.
The decision to hold back Shimabukuro would prove costly though as Miyazaki would score 2 runs in the 3rd. Shimabukuro would enter the game, but the damage had been done. Miyazaki's ace Hamada would shut down the Kounan offense and advance to the finals with a 3-2 win.
So it would be a (relieved) Kadena facing not Kounan, but Miyazaki Kougyou. But the home field advantage would not be enough for them. Kadena would get 2 runs in the 3rd against Hamada and then extend that lead to 4. And while Ikehara for Kadena would give up 2 runs in the 7th, he cruised to victory giving his team its first ever Kyushu super-regional win!
Well, the majority of our field for the Spring Koshien is set, as well as our participants for the Meiji Jingu tournament. I'll recap that later today.