Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kyushu Super-Regional Recap

Kyushu was one of the last areas to begin their prefectural qualifying. In fact some prefectures hadn't even started their tournaments when I recapped the country a month ago. It probably helps that the weather is better there than in other areas of the country.

So, this will be a full recap. But for those just wanting to see who's left, the Best 4 is rather interesting.

BTW, the format for the super-regionals appears to be that Fukuoka gets 3 teams, all other prefectures get 2 except for the host prefecture (this year it's Miyazaki) who gets 4.

I mentioned this before, but Fukuoka is an interesting case. One of the more populous prefectures in the country, Fukuoka doesn't really have a set of dominating teams within the prefecture. This makes looking for favorites very difficult.

In the northern qualifiers for instance, out of the 4 seeded teams, 2 lost in the 1st round and another lost in the 2nd round. The only seeded team to make a deep run was Jiyuugaoka and even then they almost were slipped up by Tobata in the round of 16 winning by a score of 2-0.

Recent Koshien participant Iidzuka was making a good run in the qualifiers as well, giving up a grand total of 2 runs before reaching the Best 4. They were on a collision course with Orio who after soundly defeating seeded Kurate Yuutoku won by a collective margin of 28-9 in their next 3 games.

Orio's offensive output was stifled by Iidzuka, but not enough as they advanced to the regional final 2-0. Jiyuugaoka continued to play the role of big dog eliminating Kurate 5-0 to face Orio. The tougher competition would be too much for the upstarts as Jiyuugaoka would secure one of the 2 guaranteed bids 5-1.

To the southern regionals, and the seeded teams fared a little better. Oomuta and Yuusei both were eliminated after winning their first game leaving Higashi Fukuoka and 2006 Natsu Koshien participant Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou. Higashi Fukuoka, like Jiyuugaoka, had little trouble but had to edge out Fukuoka Dai-ichi 4-3 in the round of 16. Fukuoka Kodai Jyoutou on the other side of the bracket was leaving their opponents by the wayside left and right, reaching the semifinals with a combined score of 38-1:
  • def. Chikushi Chuo 7-0 (8 inn)
  • def. Hakata 16-1 (5 inn)
  • def. Chikushi 8-0 (7 inn)
  • def. Fukuoka Nougyou 7-0 (7 inn)
Elsewhere, a non-seeded team in Toukai Dai-go was making its way through the brackets. They faced an early challenge in Kyushu Sangyoudai Fuzoku Kyushu, and escaped with a 4-3 win. Then in the quarterfinals against Nishi Nippon Tankidai Fuzoku they managed to outscore them 7-5 to create a meetup with Higashi Fukuoka.

Kodai Jyoutou's opponent in the semis would be Kasuga, who squeaked through many of their games, and possibly had some help when one part of their bracket suffered a double-forfeit shooting a team (Fukuoka) directly into their path. Nevertheless, they survived that game along with the quarterfinal against Yame Kougyou to become Kodai Jyoutou's opponent.

In those semi's Toukai Dai-go shocked Higashi Fukuoka shutting them out 5-0. Kasuga's run was finally put to an end when Jyoutou mercy ruled them in 5. Jyoutou seemed to have the 2nd bid in hand, but Toukai Dai-go finally gave the university school a run for it's money. For whatever the reason Jyoutou was not able to rise up to the challenge and gave up the automatic bid losing 4-2.

So the championship game (for seeding purposes only) was between Jiyuugaoka and Toukai Dai-go. The teams traded a pair of runs in the 6th and it would stay that way to the 13th inning. That was where Jiyuugaoka broke the deadlock with a sayonara run to claim the top seed.

In the more important consolation game, Orio led out against Fukuoka Kodai Jyoutou with 2 runs in the 2nd. Jyoutou would be relentless though against their ace Kawakami putting runners on early and often. They would potshot the Orio squad for 5 runs and take the final bid with a 5-3 win.

So not only did Saga Kita lose in their first game, the cinderella team of Imari Nourin also fell in their first game to Ryuukoku Gakuen.

Speaking of Ryuukoku Gakuen, they seemed to go on a tear through the bracket after that win. Kanzaki would fall 6-3 and then Saga Higashi was obliterated 17-3 giving them a spot in the semis. Their opponent would be none other than perennial Saga Shougyou who outside of a slight stumble against Keitoku in the 3rd round pretty much walked into the semifinals. Ryuukoku stayed in the game against Sasho until the 6th where they scored 4 to distance themselves for a 6-3 win.

So who would be Sasho's opponent? Well, Tosu Kougyou was making a good run from the furthest depths of the brackets but were involved in low-scoring affairs. Imari Shougyou had defeated the Taku squad who had earlier defeated Saga Kita. On the bottom half Tosu, like their industrial counterpart was involved in close low-scoring games, but found ways to advance. Meanwhile, Karatsu Minami appeared to be gaining steam as the games progressed.

The trend would continue for Karatsu Minami who blew out Tosu 10-3. It would be a sweep for the Tosu school (and not in a good way) when Imari Shougyou kicked them from the field with a 4-2 win. They then put an abrupt halt to the Karatsu steamroller unceremoniously booting them with a 9-2 win in 7 innings.

That meant that Imari Shougyou would earn the other bid, and it would be the 2nd bid as Sasho scored 3 in the 1st and never looked back in the finals.

Things in Nagasaki pretty much went about as chalk as expected. Outside of the Seihou loss to Sasebo Tousen, Chinzei Gakuin was mercied by Obama 10-2. In addition, those teams pretty much took the place of the seeded teams reaching the semis where all the other seeded teams were. And with 4 teams from each region advancing, all of them would make the prefectural bracket. The only important thing was which teams would win the region and earn a bye. Those would go to Kaisei (Nagasaki regional), Souseikan (Naka regional) and Shikamachi Kougyou (Sasebo regional). Iki Shougyou, Sasebo's #2 seed would draw the final bye.

Oddly enough, none of the top seeds would take advantage of the bye as they all would fall in their first game! Only Iki Shougyou was able to advance. This left 2 semifinals between the 2nd and 3rd place teams from the Nagasaki and Sasebo regions.

Now, Nagasaki Shougyou and Keihou was actually a rematch of their regional semifinal. There Nagasho prevailed 4-2. In the rematch it was surprisingly a blowout as Keihou lost 11-0. As for Sasebo Jitsugyou and Iki Shougyou, Sasebo Jitsugyou fell behind 2-1 early but scored 6 unanswered en route to a 9-3 win.

Bragging rights to the prefecture would go to Nagasho as they won 5-3 against Sasebo Jitsugyou.

The one thing about having draws to determine the field, the one thing that can invariably happen is that the strong teams can sometimes get put in the same area causing "quadrants of death". While not an extreme example, Kumamoto Kougyou and Jyouhoku would meet in the 3rd round if they continued winning. This meant that 3 others would make the semis and give the other schools a chance.

2 possible opponents to the front-runners in the semis were Luther Gakuin and Hitsuyuukan. After winning their first 2 games by a combined 25-5, they would fall to Senshuudai Tamana 3-2. Luther Gakuin would make it to the Best 8, but they too would lose to Senshuudai Tamana 4-3. As for which favorite would advance to meet them, Kumamoto Kougyou and Jyouhoku would indeed breeze through to meet, and in that game Jyouhoku would come out victorious 5-1 and continue cruising to the semis.

On the other side resided Kyushu Gakuin. After a warmup 5-1 win over Kumamoto Nougyou, the offensive spigots were turned on full leaving teams such as Yatsushiro Higashi and Touryou in its wake. Their opponent in the semis would be Buntoku as they defeated a Kumamoto Kokufu squad whose offense was going in the opposite direction.

In the semis, Buntoku held its ground against Kyushu Gakuin until the 8th inning where Kyushu Gakuin scored 2 runs to pull away 4-2. As for Senshuudai Tamana, they gave up runs each inning to Jyouhoku as they were mercied 10-1 in 7 innings.

So Jyouhoku and Kyushu Gakuin had the guaranteed spots, but the top seed would surprisingly go to Kyushu Gakuin as they scored 4 runs in the 3rd and won 7-0!

In Oita, the more recent participants were located on one side of the bracket. Meihou, even without star Imamiya was given one of the seeded positions. Along with them, but in the opposite quadrant sat Hita Rinkou and 21st century team Oita Uenogaoka although neither of them had the other seed in that half (that went to Beppu Aoyama).

On the other half, Oita and Oita Kougyou took the other seeded positions.

New ace Yamano helped Meihou sail through their quadrant, racking up 3 shutouts. Oita Uenogaoka won their first game and faced seeded Beppu Aoyama. And perhaps Oita Uenogaoka's senbatsu appearance has aided them a bit as they upset Beppu Aoyama creating a quarterfinal matchup with Hita Rinkou. In that matchup though, Hita Rinkou dominated the game and sent Uenogaoka home 11-1.

Meanwhile, Oita and Oita Kougyou both were proving their seeds by having little trouble through the field. And then whoops... Oita Kougyou ran into Oita Nishi. Oita Nishi had to come from the furthest part of the bracket. And then in its 2nd game against Taketa they played to a 3-3 draw, came back the next day and barely won 5-4. So by the time they ran into Oita Kougyou, they had played 4 games. And it didn't bother them as they oust Oita Kougyou from the ranks with a 5-3 win.

That setup a semifinal between Oita and Oita Nishi. And Oita Nishi looked to continue to play the role of spoiler. They opened the scoring with a run in the top of the 5th, but Oita tied it right back up. That would be the only scoring in regulation though, and Oita Nishi was looking at yet another long game. But they would break through in the 11th plating a run. 3 outs away from advancing to the finals, Oita Nishi couldn't hold the lead once again and Oita ties it up to keep the game alive. And perhaps the games got to the Nishi players as Oita takes the first and final lead in the game, scoring the sayonara run in the 13th.

And what about Meihou-Hita Rinkou? Well, Hita Rinkou couldn't hold up to Meihou and fell by a score of 6-0.

So Meihou and Oita would get the bids. But getting the #1 seed perhaps was more important. Oita would actually get the jump on Meihou in the top of the 1st, scoring 2. Meihou would fire right back with 3 to take the lead. Undaunted, Oita ties it in the 3rd then scores 4 in the 4th to take what seemed like a commanding 7-3 lead. Then in the 6th, Meihou roars right back with 4 runs to tie the game! And 1 inning later, they retake the lead with another run! Oita would have little time to rally, and indeed they couldn't as Meihou takes the title with an 8-7 come-from-behind win.

Miyazaki is in a nice position this year. Hosting the tournament, they're awarded 4 bids for the super-regional.

For the draw, 4 schools were awarded seeds. Top seed was Hyuuga Gakuin, then Nobeoka Gakuen, Miyazaki Nichidai and Nichinan Gakuen.

But the top seed for Hyuuga Gakuin was a double edged sword as their opponent was none other than Miyzaki Shougyou. Not exactly the cake walk one would have hoped for. And indeed, it would trip them up as they were upset 2-1 in their opening game. And apparently, 2nd seed Nobeoka Gakuen fared little better. After an unimpressive 7-5 win over Takaharu, they fell to Miyazaki Kougyou 4-3.

In fact, the teams that defeated the top 2 seeds played like they were awarded the seeds. Miyazaki Shougyou would go on to win their next 2 games by a margin of 26-1 to advance to the Best 4. Meanwhile Miyazaki Kougyou soundly defeated 2005 Natsu Koshien participant St. Ursula 5-0 to advance to the Best 4.

#3 seed Miyazaki Nichidai was faring much better. After a 13-0 trouncing of Iino, they handled Nobeoka 5-2. Standing in their way to the Best 4 though was Miyazaki Oomiya. They had just come off a 12-0 victory over Takajyou and were looking to spoil the party. But that victory appeared to be a mirage as Nichidai had no trouble winning 10-0.

And finally #4 Nichinan Gakuen didn't have it easy either. First on their docket was Miyakonojyou Shougyou who got all the way to the quarterfinals earlier in the year at senbatsu. But they got the better of them, squeaking by 6-5. Again they had a tough game against Nisshou Gakuen, but pulled that one out 2-1. That brought them out against Hyuuga Kougyou for a spot in the semifinals. Nichinan was up to the task though clearing with a 6-0 win.

So Nichinan Gakuen and Miyzaki Shougyou would face off in one semi. It could easily be a finals matchup. The teams traded a run in the 3rd, then in the 5th Miyashou scored 2 runs in the 5th to take a 2 run lead. 3 outs from advancing to the finals, Miyashou still led by 2. Somehow, Nichinan would mount a last desperate rally and tie the game up in the bottom of the 9th! While it did not break Miyashou back, it severely crippled them and Nichinan dealt the final blow in the 10th. In the other semifinal, Miayzaki Kougyou overwhelmed Miyazaki Nichidai early and often, building a 6-1 lead after 4 innings and dominating 9-4.

In the finals, Nichinan Gakuen would get up 3-1 after 2 innings, and both teams would be unable to score the rest of the way. As for the 3rd place game, Miyashou handled Miyazaki Nichidai 9-2.

Kagoshima's 3 main teams, Kagoshima Jitsugyou, Kamimura Gakuen and Shounan all drew on the same side of the brackets with only Kamimura Gakuen earning a seeded spot. Shounan would have a little bit of trouble against Kagoshima Kougyou in their first game winning 3-2, and Kagoshima Jitsugyou had issues against Kanoya and Ijyuuin, but all advanced through the brackets. Of course this meant that there would be one pairing before the semis, and that would be between Shounan and Kamimura Gakuen. And in that quarterfinal, Shounan would deny Kamimura Gakuen a return appearance to senbatsu with a 7-1 win. Then in the semifinals, runs were scored early and often. After Kagoshima Jitsugyou took a 3-1 lead, Shounan would score 3 in the 4th only to see Jitsugyou fire right back with 4 runs. Shounan would pull within one in the 5th, but that's as close as they'd get as Kagoshima Jitsugyou would secure one of the 2 bids.

On the other side, teams were scrambling for that other bid. 4 teams, Kagoshima Shougyou, Kawabe, Satsuma Chuo and Kagoshima Jyousei all were annihilating the field eventually setting up quarterfinal matchups against each other. When all was said and done, it would be Kagoshima Jyousei versus Satsuma Chuo for a spot in the super-regionals. Satsuma would open the scoring in the top of the 1st with a run, but Jyousei would quickly equalize and take the lead with 2 in the bottom half of the frame. After that, the teams would remain scoreless until the top of the 9th where Satsuma would tie the game. However, their hearts would be broken when Jyousei would come back and score the sayonara run.

Kagoshima Jyousei while they would like to have taken the #1 seed, was probably happy to get a spot in the super-regionals and while they fought hard, they would lose in the finals 3-0.

And finally in Okinawa the top seeds continued to advance through the brackets and into the Best 4. Okinawa Suisan was no match for Shimabukuro and fell to Kounan 7-0. And Kadena shocked Itoman with a 3-2 victory giving them a spot in the super-regionals! They continued to fight hard against Kounan in the finals, but Kounan would pull away in the 8th with 4 runs for a 6-0 win.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shikoku Super-Regional Recap

You know when I mentioned that 2 prefectures were eliminated in the first round over in the Chuugoku super-regionals?

Well, over in Shikoku not only are 2 prefectures remaining in the Best 4, but they are also rematches of the semifinals in the respective prefectures!!

So Jinsei Gakuin and Takamatsu Shougyou had their quarterfinal match-up, but Jinsei dominated the game winning 5-1. Indeed, they would meet Sangawa in the semifinals who blanked Tonoshou 8-0.

Certainly these 2 would probably get the 1st and 3rd seeds, so it would be a matter of who would be runner-up. Takamatsu and Takamatsu Kougei slid by their quarterfinals matchups 4-3 and would meet for the right to probably finish 2nd.

Sangawa asserted itself in the 3rd inning plating 4. The teams traded a run 1 inning later, and it seemed like they would cruise. But then Jinsei scored 2 runs in back-to-back innings tying it up and sending it into extras. Eventually though Sangawa would be victorious, scoring the sayonara run in the 12th. In the other semi, Takamatsu scored 2 runs in the top of the 1st to take the early lead. While Kougei would pull within 1 in the 3rd, Takamatsu would pull away late to win 6-3.

And sure enough, Sangawa and Jinsei Gakuin would win their respective games by a combined 11-1 to secure the 1st and 3rd seeds respectively with Takamatsu taking the 2nd.

Well, Tokushima Kita's plans blew up in smoke after I posted the recap earlier. Anan Tousen avenged Anan Kougyou's loss, defeating them 4-2. That opened the door for Naruto Kougyou... except they lost to Naruto in a barnburner 9-8.

At least one team though delivered, and that was Komatsushima. They just flew through the brackets, scoring double digits in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

So yeah... they won the prefecture and earned the #1 seed. Naruto earned the #2 seed after defeating Anan Tousen in 8 innings and Kawashima, after giving up 9 runs in the 1st to Komatsushima en route to a 11-1 loss in 5 innings, edged Anan Tousen 3-2 for the last bid.

Well, there were a lot of good teams in the prefectural bracket, but when the draw came out, it was going to be a bloodbath. Imabari Nishi and Teikyou Dai-go were to meet in the first round. The winner of that game could face Saijyou, and then after that Saibi.

So what happened in the bracket of death?

Teikyou Dai-go couldn't keep up with Imabari Nishi, falling 10-3. Saijyou couldn't get out of the first round to face Imabari Nishi losing to Matsuyama Kougyou 8-1. But Matsuyama was no match and was mercied 11-1. Saibi fulfilled it's part by defeating Niita 7-0 and Tanbara 14-4 to make the anticipated semifinal matchup. In that game, Imabari Nishi's 3 runs in the 5th inning was sufficient enough to hold off Saibi 3-2 and advance to the finals.

Of course with the bracket of death that meant that for any team on the other side, a guaranteed bid was to be had. Matsuyama Seiryou, Nomura and Kawanoe all advanced easily while Uwajima Higashi needed all 7 runs to beat Matsuyama Shougyou. Eventually, Nomura and Uwajima Higashi would meet in the semifinals, and it was anything but a pitcher's duel. After Nomura fell behind 7-2, they rallied back to tie the game in the 6th. But Uwajima Higashi would go on a 6-0 run in the next 3 innings to win 13-7.

Imabari Nishi was expected to run away with it, but Uwajima more than held it's own and in fact scored 2 runs in the 6th to take a 3-2 lead! But ace Akamatsu couldn't hold the lead and Imabari equalized in the 8th and it went into extras. And the experience of Imabari Nishi seemed to make the difference as they scored the winning run in the 11th.

Saibi also had its hands full against Nomura as well, but they too won their game by a score of 3-2.

Well, the triumvirate of Kochi, Kochi Shougyou and Meitoku Gijuku was broken up in the Best 8 when Kochi Shougyou lost to Tosa 6-2. And with that, it meant Tosa and Okou's probable consolation game would be of great importance.

Okou didn't seem to get that memo (or do the TPS reports either), as behind ace Tanouchi(?) they held Kochi scoreless in their semifinal. But they couldn't push a run in either and it went into extras scoreless. While it was certainly to Okou's advantage that they were still in the game, Kochi might regain it the longer the game went into extras. Sure enough in the 13th, Kochi would breakthrough with the sayonara run.

Kochi would win the top seed pulling ahead in the late innings against Meitoku Gijuku for an 8-4 win.

As for Okou, they didn't let the 13 inning affair get to them as they handled Tosa easily 8-1 to take that final spot.

The brackets for the super-regionals are pretty neat and clean as all the top seeds get a first-round bye.

For the aforementioned Okou they were in yet another battle, this time with Uwajima Higashi (Ehime #2), but they pulled ahead in the 8th inning for a 2-1 win. Then against Komatsushima (Tokushima #1), they were even more impressive winning 7-0 in 8 innings!

And their opponent in the semifinals? It's none other than their semifinal opponent in the prefecturals Kochi. They had to rally after falling behind 2-0 to Kawashima (Tokushima #3)! They tied it up in the 6th, then broke Kawashima's heart by scoring the sayonara run in the 9th.

On the other side, Saibi (Ehime #3) dealt with Naruto (Tokushima #2) 4-1, then slaughtered Kagawa's #1 seed Sangawa 12-2.

Their opponent? None other than their prefectural semifinal opponent Imabari Nishi!!

First Meitoku Gijuku (Kochi #2) and Jinsei Gakuin (Kagawa #3) had to play their game, and it was interesting for sure! After trading a run in the 1st, Meitoku would score 4 in the 3rd. But that lead didn't last as Jinsei would score 4 in the 5th! Meitoku would retake the lead in the 6th, but Jinsei would once again tie it up in the 7th! It wouldn't be until the top of the 9th where Meitoku would put it away with 2 runs to win 8-6.

Then came Meitoku's game against Imabari Nishi. This time it was Meitoku who would be rallying from behind. Imabari pinged Meitoku for a run in the 2nd and the 3rd for a 2-0 lead. Meitoku fired right back with runs in the 4th and 6th, but with an Imabari run sandwiched in the middle, they still led 3-2.

That was until the 9th where Meitoku would equalize. Trying to hold on for extras, ace Yamaguchi couldn't do it as Imabari Nishi would win it with a sayonara run.

So we have 2 prefectural semifinal rematches in the super-regionals. I wonder if those teams that lost earlier will have revenge on their minds here.

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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kinki Super-Regional Recap

By the time I had done the nationwide recap, the prefectural qualifiers for in the Kinki region were about to conclude.

Hikone Higashi, the frontrunner on once side of the bracket was tripped up by Kousen 8-6, opening up a bid to whomever wanted it.

Meanwhile, Oumi and Kita Ootsu charged forward on the other side fulfilling their blockbuster semifinal matchup. And in that semifinal, Kita Ootsu dashed out of the blocks building a 3-0 lead after 2 innings. While the offense stalled after that, they also had kept Oumi scoreless. That is, until the 5th inning where Oumi pulled within 1. Now Kita Ootsu was nursing a 1-run lead. But that too wouldn't last. In the bottom of the 8th Oumi would come up with 2 runs to take the lead late giving Kita Ootsu little time to rally. Indeed they would hold on for the comeback win.

Their opponent would be Yasu out of the lower Lake Biwa area as they beat Kousen 7-4. And then they had an interesting game against Minakuchi Higashi. Scoreless for 5 innings, Yasu tallies 5 in the 6th. Minakuchi comes back in the 8th and scores 5 of their own to tie the game! The game would go into extras where Yasu would score the sayonara run in the 11th.

Unfortunately, the final was not as exciting as Oumi blew out Yasu 9-1. Kita Ootsu had a bit of a harder time than expected against Minakuchi Higashi, getting by with a 4-2 win.

Fukuchiyama Seibi did indeed avenge their loss to Ryuukokudai Heian, winning 5-3. That seemed to give them a direct shot at a bid in the super-regionals, but they ran into trouble against Tounan.

Up 2-0, Tounan tied the game in the 4th. Seibi reclaimed their 2 run lead in the 5th, only to see that disappear as Tounan scored a run in the bottom of the 5th and 2 more in the 6th to take the lead! They couldn't close the deal though as Seibi scored 3 in the 8th to pull ahead for good.

Higashiyama wasn't able to reach the finals on the other side of the bracket as Ritsumeikan Uji scored early and staved off multiple rallies by Higashiyama to win 4-3.

In the finals, Fukuchiyama Seibi was shocked by Ritsumeikan Uji early falling behind 3-1 after the first inning. While Seibi managed to pull within one by the 3rd, Uji pulled away with 2 in the 4th, and added 2 more insurance runs in the 8th for an 8-3 win!

And in the consolation game, Higashiyama pulled one out in a barnburner against Tounan 10-9.

Tenri continued to blow through the bracket, scoring double digits in each game. On the other side, Chiben Gakuen and Kooriyama faced off in the quarterfinals with Kooriyama squeaking one out 3-2.

In the semis, Tenri met up with Naradai Fuzoku, who managed to keep Tenri's offense relatively at bay. Still, they found themselves down 5-0 going into the late innings. But then something happened in the bottom of the 9th as Naradai Fuzoku started a rally. Run after run was being scored, until suddenly it was 5-4! That would be as far as they would go though as Tenri would advance to the finals, albeit with a great scare.

Kooriyama faced Kansai Chuo in the other semi. And while Kansai Chuo would open the scoring in the 3rd with a run, Kooriyama tied it up in the 4th and scored the go-ahead run in the 7th to set up a rematch of the summer final!

Sadly for Kooriyama, the result was the same as Tenri would rout them 15-4 to take the #1 seed. In the consolation game, Kansai Chuo got by Naradai Fuzoku 9-7.

So, Chiben Wakayama played 3 games, won by a combined 31-1 and took the #1 seed. No surprises there.

Their final opponent, who at least earned an automatic bid in the super-regionals was Kouyou.

As for the 3rd spot, Kashima was routed by Shiritsu Wakayama 13-4.

It's hard to put something together for this region as the games once we reached the Best 8 were mostly one-sided.

There was pretty much no surprises in block play as to who advanced.

Osaka Touin cruised through Block A with their closest game a 8-1 victory over Kinkidai Fuzoku in the quarterfinals. In Block B, there was no clear favorite, but Toukaidai Gyousei edged out Minoo Higashi 1-0 to advance. PL Gakuen and Riseisha did indeed meet in the Block C finals, and PL kept its run to return to Koshien alive with a 5-3 win. And in Block D, Konkou Osaka survived against Katano 1-0 to complete the Best 4 field.

With Toukaidai Gyousei being the odd team out, it followed that whomever faced them would have a good shot to reach the finals and an automatic bid. Osaka Touin was the benefactor, but found themselves down in the early going. It wasn't until the 5th where Osaka Touin would pull away for an 8-3 win. PL Gakuen and Konkou Osaka had a hard fought semifinal. PL took the 1-0 lead early, and then from the 4th through 6th innings the teams traded runs. When the dust settled though, it was PL who emerged with a 4-3 lead and would go on to win by that margin.

In the finals, Osaka Touin jumped on PL Gakuen early with 2 in the 1st and 3 in the 4th en route to an 8-5 win and a #1 seed. And in the consolation game, it was Toukaidai Gyousei who shocked Konkou Osaka 7-1 to earn the 3rd spot.

Kakogawa Kita couldn't get past the 2nd round losing to Akashi Shougyou 7-6. That left Toyoudai Himeji as the front-runner to take the #1 seed.

Then they faced Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku in the semifinals...

It was Hara for Toyoudai Himeji and Okamoto for Kobe Kokusaidai, and both were throwing donuts on the scoreboard. It continued for 9 innings... then 10, and then 11! As the game progresses, teams look for any way to end it quickly, and preferably not in a tie. But we approached the 15th inning and it was still scoreless.

Touyoudai couldn't score in the top of the 15th meaning that the best they could hope for is a tie. But Kobe Kokusaidai wouldn't stand for a tie, and came through with the sayonara run in the bottom of the 15th for the win!

On the other side of the bracket sat Ikuei and Shinkou Gakuen, and while certainly not as exciting Ikuei advanced with a 6-2 win setting up a matchup with Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku. The game would be scoreless until the bottom of the 6th when Kobe Kokusaidai would score a run. And while Ikuei would tie it up in the 7th, Kobe would grab it right back in the same inning. That would be all the scoring in the game as Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku would take the #1 seed 2-1.

And the 15 inning matchup seemed to take all the energy out of Toyoudai Himeji as Shinkou Gakuen would blank them 8-0 to deny the favorites a spot in the super-regionals.

As for those super-regionals, we're still in the 1st round, but all the top seeds advanced convincingly in the first day of competition (Chiben Wakayama, Ritsumeikan Uji and Osaka Touin). Kouyou hung in tough against Tenri on Day 2, erasing a 3 run deficit early, but a run by Tenri in the 7th would be enough to advance. Kita Ootsu, the #3 team from Shiga had Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku on the ropes early with a 3-0 lead. While Kobe scored a run in the 7th, Kita Ootsu still held the advantage. But in the bottom of the 9th, Kobe would mount yet another rally - tying and eventually scoring the sayonara run to advance! Of course they will have to face vaunted Tenri, but they've shown no give up late in games.

The remainder of the 1st round games will conclude this weekend, as well as the quarterfinal games between Chiben Wakayama and Ritsumeikan Uji, and Osaka Touin and Ikuei.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tokai Super-Regional Recap

So now we're going to the small Tokai region consisting of Gifu, Aichi, Shizuoka and Mie.

Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou couldn't get past Gifu Sougou in the quarterfinals, losing 2-0. That opened the door for Oogaki Nichidai to reach the finals routing the aforementioned Gifu Sougou 7-1.

Meanwhile Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou was ready to cruise into the finals, but Chuukyou had other plans. The teams traded a 3-spot in the first inning, then couldn't score again in regulation. And then they couldn't score in extras! Approaching the 15 inning limit, the teams were certainly desperate to end it before it reached a tie.

Kenritsu Gifusho managed to end it by plating a run in the top of the 14th inning and holding off Chuukyou to advance to the championship. Of course, that left them pretty tired for the finals the next day, and they were shellacked 13-3 by Oogaki Nichidai.

And for the last bid, Chuukyou stood up to the challenge and routed Gifu Sougou 11-1.

Chuukyoudai Chuukyou pretty much marched to the finals, although Toyogawa (not Oobu) did give them a good game in the semifinals. And sure enough, Touhou would be their opponent. But in their semifinal game, Nagoya Kokusai tied the game at 2 with 2 runs in the 8th and it was only when they scored 3 in the bottom of the 8th where they put the game away.

Interestingly enough, neither team started their ace pitcher in the finals. Even more interesting is that it was a low scoring affair. Chuukyoudai Chuukyou pushed in the only run in the 6th for the 1-0 win!

In the consolation game, Toyogawa earned the last bid with a 5-3 win over Nagoya Kokusai.

Tokoha Tachibana's bid to be the dominant team in the prefecture is still in progress as they couldn't get past Shizuoka Shougyou, falling behind 3-0 in the 3rd and was never able to recover. They had to play Seisei Kougyou, who was upset by Toukaidai Shouyou 2-1 in 10 innings, in the consolation game! And they survived a high-scoring affair 8-6.

With Seisei Kougyou out of the way, Shizuoka Shougyou could cruise to the top seed defeating Shouyou 6-1.

Admittedly, I'm not familar with any other strong teams out of Mie other than Mie and Ujiyamada Shougyou (who was upset in the first round by Matsusaka).

And that said, it wasn't surprising that Mie made it to the finals without much trouble. The question was who their opponent would be. Matsusaka was defeated by Inabe Sougou 6-1 and Inabe Sougou then used a 4-run 6th inning to hold on against Shiroko 4-3 to set up the finals.

Mie started out with 3 runs in the 2nd, but by the 5th Inabe managed to tie the game. Mie once again re-took the lead with 2 in the bottom of the 5th, but Inabe made a late rally with a run in the 8th and 9th innings to tie it once more. However Inabe Sougou could never take the lead outright in the game and in the 10th Mie scored the sayonara run to take the #1 seed and a first round bye.

The team that would be joining them in the super-regionals would be Tsuda Gakuen, who denied Shiroko the bid with a 6-3 win in the 3rd place game.

So looking to the super-regionals, all the prefectural winners get a first round bye. But that doesn't mean they have an easy road. Oogaki Nichidai gets either Touhou or Tokoha Tachibana. Mie will probably see Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou.

Meanwhile, Shizuoka Shougyou and Chuukyoudai Chuukyou look to be able to win their game into the Best 4 with little trouble.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hokushinetsu Super-Regional Recap

Over to the Hokushinetsu Region, and things didn't quite turn out the way people expected...

But first the recap of the remainder of the prefectural qualifiers from the last update.

Sadly, the draw was not favorable to the well-known teams. Matsushou Gakuen and Nagano Nichidai faced off right off the bat. So did Matsushiro and Maruko Shuugakukan.

Nagano Nichidai won it's battle, but then fell to Saku Chousei 8-1. Matsushiro won a barnburner 9-7, but then lost to Iida Fuuetsu 2-1.

That blew the field wide open.

Saku Chousei faced off against Ueda Nishi in one semi, with Saku Chousei winning 7-0 in 7 innings. Nagano met Iida Fuuetsu and also won convincingly 7-1 setting up a final of relative unknowns.

In the final, Nagano jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Saku Chousei tied it in the 5th, but Nagano scored 7 in the 7th and 3 more in the 9th to win 12-2. In the consolation game, Ueda Nishi advanced over Iida Fuuetsu 7-2 to the Super-Regionals.

Nanto Sougou Fukuno couldn't make it out of the 2nd round, losing to Takaoka 8-4.

Interestingly enough, the brackets were pretty much chalk. By the time we reached the semifinals, we had Sakurai and Tonami Kougyou in one, and Fujikoshi Kougyou and Takaoka Shougyou in another. Tonami jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 2 en route to a 8-4 win while Takaoka Shougyou dispatched Fujikoshi 13-4 in 7 innings.

In the finals, Takaoka Shougyou scored 3 in the 1st and didn't look back winning 4-2. And in the more important 3rd place game, Fujikoshi Kougyou had no trouble with Sakurai 9-1.

Tsuruga Kehi and Fukui Shougyou had an early clash in the 2nd round. While Fukusho was the seeded team, it was Tsuruga Kehi that prevailed 6-0! And with that momentum they marched to the finals.

Fukui Kodai Fukui had no trouble through its side of the bracket making the finals without yielding a single run!

That changed in the finals when Tsuruga Kehi scored 4 in the 5th inning against ace Teraoka and held on for a 4-2 win.

Kagaku Gijyutsu edged by Asuwa 5-4 to take Fukui's final bid for the super-regionals.

Out of the 4 teams I had mentioned in my last comprehensive review - Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa, Kanazawa, Nanao and Seiryou - only 1 didn't make the Best 4. Nanao fell to Yuugakukan 7-6 in the quarterfinals.

And with 4 teams qualifying out of Ishikawa, all that was to be determined was the seeding. I kind of discount the seeding as while a #1 seed doesn't play a #1 seed in the first round, it doesn't mean you're playing a weaker team.

Apparently though, the 4 teams were equally matched.

Yuugakukan and Seiryou would go into extras as Yuugakukan scored a run in the bottom of the 9th to tie it up at 2. It wouldn't be until the 12th when the tie would be broken by Yuugakukan.

Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa was 6 outs away from defeating Kanazawa, but lost the lead forcing extra innings. It didn't last long as Nihon Koukuu scored the sayonara run in the 10th.

With the teams surely suffering from some fatigue, it was another low scoring affair between Yuugakukan and Nihon Koukuu. Once again, Nihon Koukuu couldn't hold a slim lead late as Yuugakukan scores a run in the 8th to tie it at 1, then took the lead in the 9th with 2 runs to win 3-1.

As for the 3rd place match, Kanazawa was just out of gas and was blanked 11-0.

So we hit the super-regionals...

And so much for the home field advantage... All of the Ishikawa schools lost in the first round.
  • Yuugakukan managed to tie the game 3-3 against Bunsui only to see them score 2 in the top of the 9th.
  • Seiryou was routed by Tsuruga Kehi 8-0 in 7 innings.
  • Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa was blanked by Fukui Kodai Fukui 3-0
  • And 4th seed Kanazawa fared the best, although they blew a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 9th, they lasted until the 13th where Takaoka Shougyou scored the sayonara run.
In the quarterfinals, Saku Chousei and Tsuruga Kehi advanced with little trouble while Fukui Kodai Fukui and Takaoka Shougyou needed an 8th inning run to pull ahead just in time. This meant a semifinal with powerhouses Takaoka Shougyou and Fukui Kodai Fukui, and Tsuruga Kehi perhaps with an easy matchagainst Saku Chousei.

Takasho scored 2 runs in the 2nd inning, and it managed to hold up winning 2-1. Meanwhile, Tsuruga Kehi took the 3-0 lead after 2, only to see Saku Chousei tie it in the top of the 3rd. When Tsuruga scored a run in the 5th, Saku once again tied the game in the 6th! Their persistance seemed to pay off as Saku took the lead in the top of the 9th 5-4! Only needing 3 outs, ace Kouno couldn't hold the lead as Tsuruga Kehi scored 2 runs to win 6-5!

This pretty much guarantees that Takaoka Shougyou and Tsuruga Kehi will get a spot in the finals. But bragging rights would eventually go to Takaoka Shougyou as they shutout Tsuruga Kehi 5-0.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tokyo Super-Regional Recap

So onto Tokyo which gets its own region.

Many of the strong teams advanced out of block play and into the prefectural tournament, including Nichidai-ni, Nichidai-san, Waseda Jitsugyou, Toritsu Yukigaya, Teikyou, Toritsu Hino, and Nihon Tsurugaoka.

And as the tournament progressed, those teams started to rise above the rest.

Waseda Jitsugyou was flying through the field, but then got steamrolled by Nichidai-san in the quarterfinals 14-5.

Itou Takuro has become Teikyou's ace and his squad has only given up 5 runs in 4 games easily advancing to a semifinal matchup to Nichidai-san.

Toritsu Hino trailed Meijidai Nakano Hachiouji in the quarterfinals 6-2 going into the bottom of the 9th where Hino rallied with 5 runs to win 7-6. Their opponent will be Toukaidai Sugao, who had to defeat Toritsu Yukigaya 4-2, then edged Nichidai-ni 3-1.

It's probably not hard to see that the probable invitee will be the winner of the Teikyou - Nichidai-san game. Toritsu Hino and Toukaidai Sugao will probably have to hope for one of the at-large bids.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kanto Super-Regional Recap

The Kanto Super-Regionals won't start until October 31, so there's a bit of time for these teams to rest. The brackets are up here.

So, what happened?

In Gunma, I mentioned the brackets were wide open. I mentioned that the Maebashi Shougyou, Maebashi Kougyou (I listed Shougyou twice, but meant Kougyou) and Kiryuu Shiritsu Shougyou. And it turns out I was right. Maebashi Shougyou flew through the remainder of the bracket and won convincingly over Maebashi Kougyou. So these teams will represent Gunma.

In Tochigi, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku managed to beat Utsunomiya Minami in that round of 16 game and true to what I said earlier, they would go on to defeat Yaita Chuo in the finals to take the top seed. It wasn't without some work though as they had a 3-run rally in the top of the 9th to defeat Ashikaga Kodai Fuzoku 7-6. Yaita made it to the finals by edging out Sakushin Gakuin 1-0 in the semifinals, so they too will play in the super-regionals.

Ibaraki didn't quite play out the way I had thought. Jyousou Gakuin and Shimotsuma Dai-ni both didn't make it out of the 2nd round. Jyousou actually was a victim of the influenza virus as they lost too many players and had to forfeit. That opened the door for Mito Sakuranomaki, and they made it's way to the finals, although they just edged Suijyou 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

The team that beat Shimotsuma Dai-ni, Hasaki Yanagawa, continued to make it's run. It's surprising since in the summer tournament, they lost their first game to Hitachi Dai-ichi 5-3. And yet they defeated Mito Shougyou 3-2, and then Koga Dai-ichi 4-2 to get to the finals! There was a flurry of scoring in the middle of the game with at least one team scoring from the 2nd to 7th inning. In the end, Mito Sakuranomaki earned the top spot. And while Hasaki Yanagawa probably has little chance against Urawa Gakuin in the super-regionals, perhaps there's still some story left to be written.

Seibou Gakuen did advance to the Saitama prefectural tournament. 2 other summer Best 4 teams made it to the prefectural tournament - Urawa Gakuin and Kasukabe Higashi, but the bracket draw would create an early collision course. And sure enough, they did after they won their first game. Kasukabe was no match, losing 7-0. Seibou Gakuin was cruising through it's part of the bracket, but then against Sakado Nishi hit a wall, losing 2-1.

Hanasaki Tokuharu, who showed well in the summer, was making it's own run on the other side of the bracket. Interestingly enough, they had a semifinal rematch against Kawagoe Higashi. Unlike the summer, they had an easier time winning 8-1. Urawa Gakuin would have to face Sakado Nishi in the semifinals, and with some late scoring, won 3-1 guaranteeing a spot in the Super-Regionals. But for good measure, they defeated Hanasaki Tokuharu 7-3.

Onto Chiba, I lamented Narashino's loss to Toukaidai Bouyou 5-1, while Kisaradzu Sougyou defeated Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku 9-8 setting up another blockbuster matchup in the Best 8. Bouyou would prevail winning 4-3 sending his team to the Best 4. Meanwhile on the opposite side, Chiba Shoudai Fuzoku was making it's way through, defeating Shounan 3-2 to reach the Best 4.

Now losing in the semifinals didn't mean elimination. Chiba was awarded 3 bids, so there would still be a chance. Shiritsu Funabashi would fall to Bouyou 4-1, and Chiba Meitoku would lose to Shoudai 2-0 to set up the key 3rd place game. And in that game, Shiritsu Funabashi would prevail over Meitoku 7-4 to advance, while Chiba Shoudai would earn the top spot holding off a 9th inning surge by Bouyou.

And finally we have Kanagawa, which was already in its semifinals. Koujyou couldn't keep up with Toukaidai Sagami falling 5-1, while Touin Gakuen would once again make the finals, defating Kamakura Gakuen 2-0. Once again, Touin Gakuen would play 2nd fiddle, losing 5-3 to ace Hifumi.

(Added 10-22)
I almost forgot about Yamanashi! There's no Chuubu regional, and Yamanashi gets thrown into the tough Kanto super-regionals. And that's not a good thing.

But, they'll send 3 representatives to the super-regionals just the same. So who went?

As I had mentioned before, Nihon Koukuu lost in the first round while all the other top seeds advanced. Their ouster, Koufu Kougyou, was unceremoniously ousted 9-2 by Koufu Shougyou.

Outside of that one part, it was just about chalk. The only other seeded team to lose before the Best 8 was Nihon Meisei who lost to Ichikawa.

After the quarterfinals, we had seeded Enzan versus Koufu Shougyou in one side, while Tokaidai Koufu and Fuji Gakuen faced off on the other. When the smoke cleared, Koufu Shougyou continued its amazing run winning 5-3 but would have to face Fuji Gakuen who edged by Tokaidai 4-3.

When all was said and done though, Koufu Shougyou couldn't seal the deal, falling 6-1 to Fuji Gakuen. And in the 3rd place game, Enzan had no answers for Tokaidai Koufu as they were blanked 9-0.


So we have the participants, what about the Super-Regional draw? In one quadrant, Touin Gakuen gets no breaks, drawing Ibaraki's Mito Sakuranomaki. Should they win that game, a date with Hifumi and Tokaidai Bouyou could await. Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku has a bit of an easier draw in their quadrant with perhaps Maebashi Shougyou giving them trouble. Urawa Gakuin and Tokaidai Sagami area on a collision course while Chiba Shoudai Fuzoku earns a 1st round bye, and will have a relatively ease quarterfinal matchup against either Yaita Chuo or Maebashi Kougyou.

In the end it seems pretty wide open, but since 4 teams qualify, it's really a race to the Best 4. Win your quadrant, and you're almost guaranteed a spot in the spring Koshien.

On a slightly lighter note...

In rooting around for videos on YouTube, I managed to find this one titled:

一二三慎太(東海大相模) 2年夏

My first thought was 一二三? What name goes with that?

So, translating it (and hearing the announcers) and a search turns up that the person is Hifumi Shintarou pitching for Tokaidai Sagami (Kanagawa).

And interestingly enough, they're in the Kanto Super-Regionals! (They're facing Koufu Shougyou)

And one more thing? He seems to be one of the pitchers to watch in the region!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tohoku Super-Regional Recap

The Tohoku Super-regionals are completed, and we do have our 2 probable bids determined. But before we head there, let's see how we got to this point.

Prefectural Qualifiers
Aomori - Aomori Yamada looked to advance to the super-regionals as the favorite, but was shot down by Kousei Gakuin 5-3 in the semifinals. But in a rematch of the summer quarterfinals against Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi, they took the final spot winning 5-3. Seiai and Kousei Gakuin secured the first two bids with Kousei Gakuin pinging Seiai in just about every inning in an 8-1 win.

Akita - Certainly Meiou wanted to return to Koshien to get the bad taste of that wild throw out of their mouths, but while they advanced to the prefectural tournament, they would fall in the quarterfinals to Oga Kaiyou.

Summer runner-up and perennial tough-luck team Honjyou looked to be the favorite, but struggled as the tournament progressed. In the semifinals against Akita Shougyou, they led 6-1 going into the bottom of the 9th, only to see Akisho score 4 to pull within 1 before they were able to end the game. And in the finals against Kanaashi Nougyou, they trailed 6-1 early before scoring 8 in the 5th to pull off the victory.

Iwate - Certainly Hanamaki Higashi was not a great team without their ace Kikuchi, and while they advanced out of the local regionals and won their first 2 games in the prefecturals, they eventually fell to Senshuudai Kitami 4-2.

As a result, the old guard of Iwate showed up again. Moriokadai Fuzoku and Ichinoseki Gakuin both made it to the finals, and while Moriokadai fought hard, their 15 inning affair against the aforementioned Senshuudai Kitami certainly had a toll on the pitching staff as they fell 7-5.

Yamagata - While there were many notable teams in the prefectural field including Haguro, and summer participant Sakata Minami, it was Nihon Yamagata who swept through the field to earn the #1 bid. Yamagata Chuo made a great run, even defeating Sakata Minami to earn the #2 spot. The summer participant still had a shot to make it to the super-regionals in the 3rd place match, but they lost the game to Yamagata Jyouhoku 8-1.

Miyagi - It was all about the new squads as the established teams fell by the wayside. Summer representative Tohoku fell to Izumi Shouryou. Sendai Ikuei was smashed by Furukawa Gakuen 10-3. And in the end it was that same Furukawa Gakuen that earned the top spot for the prefecture defeating Ishimaki Shougyou 6-1. As for Izumi Shouryou, they lost to Ishimaki Shougyou in the semifinals, and then was edged by Touryou 4-3 in the 3rd place game.

Fukushima - Fukushima unfortunately is not a strong prefecture. However, it is generally dominated by one team, Seikou Gakuin. And this fall is no different. It wasn't easy near the end, but they take the #1 spot. Nihon Tohoku, one of the only other teams to make it to the summer Koshien, wound up as the runner-up. And joining them is Higashi Nippon Kokusaidai Shouhei.

So now that the prefectural participants are determined, the super-regionals begin.

And sadly for the Fukushima teams, they all fall in the first round. Seikou couldn't hold a large lead against Senshuudai Kitami, Nihon Tohoku was blanked by Kousei Gakuin and it was 3rd place Higashi Nippon Kokusaidai Shouhei with the best showing, going 11 innings before falling 4-3 to Furukawa Gakuen.

And as if to extend the misery further, all those teams that eliminated Fukushima from the super-regionals all lost in the next round.

As with the case, generally the better teams rise to the top, and the Best 4 was no different. One semifinal was actually a rematch of Akita's prefectural semifinal, pitting Honjyou once again against Akita Shougyou. Unlike the scoring in the first meetup, only one run was scored - and that was by Akita Shougyou in the bottom of the first.

The other semifinal was between Aomori's 2nd seed Seiai and Iwate's 2nd seed Moriokadai Fuzoku. Responding to Morioka's run the top of the 1st, Seiai doubled that in the bottom half of the frame and then added two more in the 4th for a 4-1 lead. But Morioka would charge right back in the 5th, capped with a 2-run hit by Sakai to tie the game. It would remain tied until the 8th where Morioka would plate what would end up being the winning run on a two-out base hit with runners at the corners.

So Honjyou and Seiai will have to wait to see if they are called to participate. Akita Shougyou and Moriokadai Fuzoku more than likely have locked up spots, but a victory in the championship would guarantee them a bid.

And boy did they ever play like it. Neither side budged right from the get go, with the offenses not able to do anything against the other's starters. It wouldn't be until the 11th inning that someone would finally break through, and that team was Akita Shougyou scoring the sayonara run to win 1-0.

What makes this even more amazing for Akita Shougyou was that 8 of their 20 players (teams are allowed to have 20 on their roster for qualifiers) were diagnosed with the influenza back on the 11th, meaning that they would have to play with 12 in the semifinals and finals! Kinda reminds you of Risshoudai Shounan's run in the summer Koshien.

But here, with only 3 bench players, Akita Shougyou punches it's ticket to the fall nationwide tournament and the spring Koshien! おめでとう!

Hokkaido Super-Regional Recap

Okay, now that I've finished up with all the regions, it's time to go back north and see what's happened.

And it's quite a lot.

As we know Hokkaido is it's own "Super-Region" and gets one automatic bid.

Just like the summer, they have their local regional qualifying for the super-regionals.

Summer participant Sapporo Dai-ichi managed to get out of the locals while Asahigawadai did not. The Komadai schools also made it out as well. Hokushou came out of Otaru once again, Hokkai looked to make another run to avenge their poor performance before, and Shirakaba Gakuen looked for another taste of Koshien.

Not surprisingly enough, quite a few of the better pitchers out of Hokkaido made it to the super-regionals:

Asahigawa Jitsugyou - Naruse Kousuke
Bushuukan - Ueda Masato
Komadai Tomakomai - Imazaki Jyunjirou

As the Super-Regionals started, Sapporo Dai-ichi fell to Asahigawa Kougyou. Sapporo Minami made a strong run towards the Best 4. Shirakaba Gakuen couldn't stop the Komadai Tomakomai steamroller while their brothers from Iwamizawa were doing the same on the other side of the bracket. And Hokushou wasn't one to be ignored.

It certainly seemed like we were headed for an all Komadai final, but interestingly enough neither were able to advance. Sapporo Minami scored 3 in the first inning against Tomakomai, and then another run in the 2nd en route to a 6-3 win. Hokushou grabbed a run against Iwamizawa, and tried to extend it twice with a run in the 5th and 8th, but Iwamizawa scrapped that run back. However, they were never able to plate the equalizing run and we suddenly found ourselves with a Sapporo Minami-Hokushou final.

The scoring began early and often in the final with Minami scoring 2 in the first only to have Hokushou double that in the bottom of the frame. After trading a run in the 2nd and 4th, Hokushou blew it open in the 6th with 5 runs to advance to secure a bid to the Spring Koshien with an 11-5 win.

Hokushou is led by ace Matano Tomoya, who can hit 137 kph (~85 mph) but probably should expect to see low 80's - and sports a curve, slider and forkball. He's also one of the team's better hitters, generally occupying the cleanup spot. Another person to look out for is 1st year Oono Masaya, a converted shortstop after manning the catcher position.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kyushu region up

And finally, I get all the brackets done with Kyushu's region. Each prefecture gets only 2 bids with the exception of Fukuoka (3) and Miyazaki (4). I understand why Fukuoka would get 3, but I wonder why Miyazaki gets 4.

As for the participants in the super-regionals, we have some familiar faces in Fukuoka Kodai Jyoutou (Fukuoka - 3rd), Saga Shougyou (Saga - 1), Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki - 1), Miyzaki Shougyou/Miyazaki Nichidai (Miyazaki - 3/4), Kagoshima Jitsugyou (Kagoshima - 1), and Kounan (Okinawa - 1).

It's not to say that there are teams looking to upset. Jiyuugaoka (Fukuoka - 1), Imari Shougyou (Saga - 2), Kyushu Gakuin (Kumamoto - 1), Kagoshima Jyousei (Kagoshima - 2) and Kadena (Okinawa - 2)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shikoku region up

The Shikoku region is now up too. This was a bit easier to do since they were mostly simple brackets as opposed to round-robin games in Okayama and Hiroshima. And being more on the rural side, there are the usual suspects.
  • In Kagawa, Sangawa earned the #1 spot with Jinsei Gakuen got the last bid.
  • Komatsushima earned the top bid from Tokushima.
  • Ehime is down to the best 4, but even with Imabari Nishi and Saibi facing each other in the semifinals, you have to assume that the loser will win the consolation game - so the Nomura-Uwajima Higashi game becomes crucial.
  • Kochi and Meitoku Gijuku took the top two bids from Kochi, with Okou filling out the entrants.

Chuugoku Region up

The Chuugoku region is up and prefectural tournaments are complete.

There are several familiar teams in the super-regionals including Kanzei from Okayama, Kaisei and Iwamachisuikan (fka Gonokawa) out of Shimane, and Kouryou from Hiroshima.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kinki Region up

The Kinki region is just about done with their prefectural tournaments. Brackets can be found here.

I'll get around to doing a review of the prefectures. A lot have finished, and there are some new names and some familiar ones returning.

Remember though, they'll be playing in super-regionals to determine the candidates for invitation.