Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Tournament Update #2

New trip through the prefectures!

Hokkaido Super-Regional (1 automatic bid)
Asahikawa Jitsugyou drew Mukawa for their 1st game (2nd round). Ow. That is a tough start. Then they could face Hakodatedai Yuuto or Hokushou.

Komadai Iwamizawa is also on the same side of the bracket, and could face Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo before possibly facing Asahikawa Jitsugyou in the semifinals.

On the other side Hokkai may only have Hokkaido Sakae as a threat before the semifinals. Sapporo Dai-ichi's only probable opposition lies in Obihiro Ootani. This side of the bracket is by far the easiest.

I cannot really handicap the brackets as there are many good teams and many good matchups. We'll just have to let this play out as far as I'm concerned.

Tohoku Super-Regional
Before we hit the super-regional bracket, let's finish up prefectural play.

The Miyagi final wound up being a pretty good game. After a run in the 2nd and 3rd innings, Tohoku would cough up the lead giving up 3 runs in the 3rd. They bounced right back to take the lead with 2 in the 4th. Sendai Ikuei would hang in there, and in fact tied the game in the 6th. Tohoku would finally shut the door with a run in the 8th and 2 in the 9th, winning the title 7-4.

In Fukushima, the final was dominated by Seikou Gakuin, leading wire-to-wire 10-0.

So with the prefecturals out of the way, how did the draw for the Tohoku Super-Regionals go?

Let's recap the qualifiers:

Aomori - Kousei Gakuin, Aomori Yamada, Hirosaki Kougyou
Iwate - Morioka Chuo, Ichinoseki Gakuin, Hanamaki Higashi
Akita - Oodate Houmei, Yokote Jyounan, Oomagari Kougyou
Miyagi - Tohoku, Sendai Ikuei, Touryou
Yamagata - Sakata Minami, Tsuruoka Higashi, Yamagata Chuo
Fukushima - Seikou Gakuin, Nichidai Tohoku, Shouin Gakuin Fukushima

With 18 teams, four #3 seeds get the short end of the stick having to play an extra game. Those unlucky souls are Oomagari Kougyou vs. Yamagata Chuo , and Hanamaki Higashi vs. Shouin Gakuin Fukushima. The winner of the 1st match get Tohoku, and the winner of the 2nd gets Kousei Gakuin. Have a good time!

Going counter-clockwise from the upper left quadrant, Tohoku looks to be the favorite to reach the semis with no real notable competition except for perhaps Nichidai Tohoku although as noted summer participant Yamagata Chuo is also in their bracket.

In the next quadrant, one would think that Aomori Yamada would be the choice, but Sakata Minami and Ichinoseki Gakuin are in the same bracket. The problem is that both teams are for the most part paper tigers on the big stage, so it's hard to gauge how well they'll do here.

Moving on to the other half of the bracket, Kousei Gakuin is the odds on favorite in the next quadrant. Hanamaki Higashi might have had a boost because of Kikuchi Yuusei, but how long and how effective that bump is seems to be insufficient. Morioka Chuo may pose a threat, but Iwate has not generally produced strong teams.

And in the final quadrant lies Seikou Gakuin. They could easily clash with Sendai Ikuei in the quarterfinals, and all bets are off.

But if I were to pick the semifinals, it would probably be Tohoku vs. Sakata Minami on one side as I'm just not convinced that Aomori Yamada is the real deal anymore and I don't trust Ichinoseki Gakuin as far as I can throw them (Yes I know that makes no sense, but bear with me). The other would probably be Kousei Gakuin versus... versus.... Sendai Ikuei? It's hard to say really, Sendai Ikuei did reach natsu Koushien, and their bench was full of underclassmen. But Seikou Gakuin isn't a bad team, although they haven't really been tested.

Kanto Super-Regional
Ibaraki (Suijyou, Kasumigaura)
Ibaraki had completed prefectural play, but let's see what happened.

Shimotsuma Dai-ni seems to be back, as they handled the first couple of rounds defating Jyousou Gakuin along the way. I kinda liked Kasumigaura and when Tsukuba Shuuei lost to Kashima Gakuen, it opened the door for them to reach the semifinals where they faced Shimotsuma Dai-ni. Kasumigaura scored right off the bat with 2 in the top of the first, and while they yielded a run in the bottom of the 9th, Kasumigaura advanced to the finals.

Suijyou though, has proven to be more than just a one-hit wonder as they flew through the brackets. Sadly for my friend Ken, Mito Sakuranomaki couldn't get out of the 2nd round, losing to Fujishiro 7-2. The two teams would meet up in the semifinals, and Suijyou shutout Fujishiro 5-0 to secure an automatic bid.

In the finals, Kasumigaura took an early 1-0 lead on Suijyou, but late in the game Suijyou would tie and take the lead, winning 3-1 and taking their first ever fall title. They impressed at Koushien, and continue to do so here in the fall.

Quarterfinal games have been played and no surprise who advanced. Sakushin Gakuin and Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku will meet up in one semi, while Sano Nichidai (who just edged Kokugakuin Tochigi 6-5) will meet Hakuoudai Ashikaga.

Gunma (Maebashi Ikuei, Takasaki Shougyou)
In what may be an upset, Maebashi Ikuei defeated Kiryuu Dai-ichi 6-4 to secure a bid. They would face Takasaki Shougyou who scored 4 in the 5th to rally against Takasaki Kenkou Fukushidai Takasaki also by the score of 6-4.

In the final, Takisaki Shougyou kept pace with Maebashi Ikuei, tying the game twice after Maebashi Ikuei tried to pull away. But Maebashi would pull away for good with a run in the bottom of the 6th to win only their 2nd title (their first was 42 years ago).

Saitama (Urawa Gakuin, Kasukabe Kyouei, Washinomiya)
The Saitama tournament became rather two-sided, in other words 2 teams dominated each side of the bracket. Kasukabe Kyouei and Urawa Gakuin could not be stopped. Kasukabe Kyouei's run was even that more impressive in that their ace pitcher is a 1st year. Takezaki Yuuma (竹崎) was named the ace number on the 2008 National K-Ball Chuugakkou (Middle School) team. From what I understand, a K-ball is a rubber ball with dimensions equal to that of a baseball. He sent his team to the finals with a 1-run 8-hit effort against Urawa Jitsugyou. Urawa Gakuin just gained momentum, scoring more runs with each progressive game - 7-0, 8-1, 10-0 and a 12-2 win over Washinomiya in the semifinal game.

Takezaki game Urawa Gakuin a good challenge, giving up just 3 runs in a complete game effort. However, the offense couldn't score for him and they lost 3-0.

No change here. They're still in the Best 8.

Kanagawa (Yokohama, Toukaidai Sagami)
The semifinals held true in that the favorites advanced to the finals. Toukaidai Sagami had no trouble with Tourei Fujisawa 8-2. But Yokohama had to nurse a 2-1 lead over Yokohama Shoudai for 7 innings to advance to the final.

In that final, Yokohama would go out to a 2-0 lead, only to see Sagami eventually tie it in the 7th. But Sagami ace Kondou couldn't keep Yokohama off the board again, and 3 runs in the 9th would be the difference.

Yamanashi (Koufu Kougyou, Nihon Koukuu)

Nihon Koukuu, led by ace Fujimoto throws a 5-hit shutout against Toukaidai Koufu for a 3-0 win an a spot in the super-regionals. Joining them would be Koufu Kougyou, who after tying the game in the bottom of the 8th, gave it up, then rallied with 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th for a 7-6 sayonara win.

In the final, Nihon Koukuu couldn't handle Koufu Kougyou, getting shutout 5-0 and giving them the 17th fall title.

Tokyo Super-Regionals
The Tokyo Super-Regionals are underway with 1st round games completed.

Perhaps the most unfortunate (or fortunate if you were a non-major school) draw of the entire bracket was a first-round match between Teikyou and Kokushikan! Such is the life of random draw brackets.

In the game ace Itou Takurou would actually be pulled, after it appears Kokushikan scored 5 runs off of him. Teikyou's offense would never recover and perhaps shockingly, their chance at a senbatsu appearance goes up in smoke.

In other games, Kanto Dai-ichi shutout Toritsu Dai-yon Shougyou 3-0, Shuutoku handled Toritsu Fujinomori 6-3, Toua Gakuen defeated Toritsu Sakuramachi 9-1, and Meijidai Meiji, Meijidai Nakano and Meijidai Nakano-Hachiouji both advanced as well. Meanwhile Seiritsu Gakuen lost to Toritsu Shouwa 6-3.

Teams that will open prefectural play include Nichidai-ni, Nichidai-san, Waseda Gakuin and Obirin.

Tokai Super-Regionals
Shizuoka (Seisei, Iwata Higashi, Shizuoka)
The final games were played and Seisei would come from behind with 3 in the 6th inning to defeate Iwata Higashi 4-3 for their 3rd title. Meanwhile, Nirayama would be denied a bid losing in the 3rd place game to Shizuoka 3-1.

Aichi (Aikoudai Meiden, Kyouei, Toyota Nishi)
Aikoudai Meiden would fall behind to Kyouei 3-1 in the bottom of the 5th, but answered tying the game in the next half-inning. It wouldn't be until the 9th when Ichiro's alma mater would score 2 to take the title 5-3. It is just Meiden's 4th ever title, and 1st in 20 years.

Toyota Nishi would secure the last bid with a convincing 7-0 win over Aichi.

Well, one side was expected. Mie and Komono reached the semifinals with 3-2 wins. And when they clashed, Mie opened a can of whoop-ass on Komono, winning 10-1 in 7 innings.

On the other side, Shiroko exacted some sort of revenge on Inabe Sougou Gakuen eliminating them 2-1 after they were eliminated 6-3 in the summer final.

Matsusaka liked that theme, and when they squared off against Shiroko, they maybe had that 3-0 loss in the 2nd round of the summer tournament in the back of their minds.

Things didnt't go initially as planned though as they fell behind 3-1. But a run in the 6th, followed by a run in the top of the 9th would tie the game and send it into extras. 2 innings later, Matsusaka would push through the go-ahead, and eventual winning run, giving them an automatic bid.

So Matsusaka and Mie will play for the top seed, while Shiroko and Komono will fight for the 3rd bid.

Hokushinesu Super-Regionals
Well, the draws came out and the main players, Saku Chousei and Matsushou Gakuen were placed on opposite sides of the bracket.

Other teams I follow included:

- Ueda Nishi, who lost to Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri 7-1 in the quarterfinals.
- Oomachi, who lost to Chikyuu Kankyou 2-1 in the first round.

Back to the tournament, Saku Chousei advanced to the Best 4 with back-to-back 4-1 victories, and will face Iiyama Kita for an automatic bid. Matsushou Gakuen with 7-4 and 4-2 wins, will face the aforementioned Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri in the semifinals.

Nihon Bunri, with a 4-1 win over Niitsu Minami is the front-runner to win the Niigata prefecturals. Hokuetsu stands between them and an automatic bid. Meanwhile, Tookamachi, who didn't have a team in the summer prefectural qualifying (and I don't see any punishments handed down on them) is now in the Best 4 with an 8-0 win over Shibata Nougyou. A win over Sado in the semifinals will give them an automatic bid!

Oddly enough the semi-final between Toyama Dai-ichi and Sakurai was a rematch of the semi-final in the summer. In the summer, Toyama Dai-ichi defeated Sakurai 6-1. This time around though, they would rally after giving up 3 runs in the 1st two innings, with 2 in the 2nd, 5th and 7th innings to advance to the finals with a 6-3 win.

In the other semi, Shin-Minato was relentless on the Fukuoka pitching staff, scoring runs in all but one inning and winning 15-8.

With all 4 teams advancing, there was no 3rd place game, so the last game would be the final where Sakurai outlasted Shin-Minato 4-3 for their 2nd title.

Ishikawa is in the Best 4, and as expected Kanazawa and Yuugakukan will face off in one semifinal. In the other side, Komatsu couldn't last, losing to Kanazawa Sakuragaoka 6-1. They will meet Hakui Kougyou, who defeated both seeded teams in its quadrant.

Wow, what a semifinal for Fukui. On one side, Fukui Shougyu took a 4-0 1st inning lead over Tsuruga Kehi into the late innings... and then the bottom fell out suddenly. 3 runs in the 8th and 7(!) in the 9th for a 10-4 lead! Even better, Fukushou mounted a rally! They only scored 3 to fall 10-7, but that was a packed final 2 innings!

Not to be outdone, Nyuu certainly was the underdog against Fukui Koudai Fukui. And they were down 3-0 after 3 innings. They pulled within 1 in the 4th, only to see Fukui score 2 in the bottom of the 6th.

But nobody told Nyuu that they had no shot. In the 7th, they score 3 tying the game!!!

And the game would go into extras....

...and continue into extras....

...and end in a 5-5 draw!

So Nyuu certainly showed its tenacity in achieving a draw against a team such as Fukui Koudai Fukui.

...but they would have to come back and play again. It's one thing to win a game against a favorite, it's another thing to try and put back-to-back games.

Nyuu actaully jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st, and it held for a couple of innings. Fukui would score 2 in the 4th and not look back. While Nyuu would finally respond with 3 in the 7th, by that time those runs merely made it 8-4 with 2 innings left to play. A run on each side finished the scoring and Nyuu would fall 9-5.

So it'll be Tsuruga Kehi and Fukui Koudai Fukui in the final, while hopeful Nyuu will play Fukui Shougyou for the 3rd bid. (Personally, I'm rooting for Nyuu. I'd like to see them advance at least to the super-regional.

Kinki Super-Regional
Shiga (Hachiman Shougyou, Murayama)
In the Shiga semifinals, Hachiman Shougyou outlasted Minakuchi, scoring the sayonara run in the 10th to win 2-1. Joining them into the super-regionals would be Murayama as ace Iwanaga strikes out 10 in a 1-0 win over Kousen.

It was all gravy for Murayama, who qualified for their first ever super-regional appearance. So losing 3-1 to Hachiman Shougyou wasn't all bad. For Hachiman, this is their 13th title and 1st in 6 years.

Quarterfinal games have been completed, and as expected Fukuchiyama Seibi advanced, but only by a 2-1 margin over Hokuryou. Next up in the semifinals is Tounan, who dispatched Momoyama 6-0.

Kyoto Gaidai Nishi handled Kita-Saga 12-5, and will now face Kyoto Seishou for a spot in the finals.

Osaka will be one of the last prefectures to finish, being only in the Round of 8 now. Well, it's really the 4 block finals, but anywho....

- Block A final will be summer participant Riseisha facing Taisha Gakuindai.
- Block B has unknowns Kansai Souka meeting Uenomiya Taishi.
- Block C has Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan clashing with Osaka Touin (who defeated Konkou Osaka soundly 8-1)
- Block D has half of the final set. Osaka Shoudai will square off against the winner of the PL Gakuen - Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara.

So, in the one real quarterfinal matchup, Shinkou Gakuen shutout Touyoudai Himeji 3-0 to advance. They'll face Kobe Kokusaidai Fukzoku, while Kakogawa Kita meets summer representative Houtoku Gakuen.

Tenri and Chiben Gakuen continue to advance on each side of the bracket. Kooriyama is also alive. That's all you need to know until someone gets eliminated. Seriously.

As expected. Chiben Wakayama routed Kaseda 11-0. Wakayama Shougyou is next, follow by probably a match with Shiritsu Wakayama (who will face Naga).

Chuugoku Super-Regionals
Okayama (Kanzei, Soushi Gakuen, Okayama Gakugeikan)

Kanzei defeated Okayama Kyousei 3-1 to advance to the finals where they met Soushi Gakuen who defeated Okayama Gakugeikan. And 10 runs in the first 2 innings was more than enough for Kanzei in a 17-1 rout in the finals, giving them the title! Okayama Gakugeikan took care of business with a 10-1 win over Okayama Kyousei for the 3rd place bid.

Yamaguchi (Iwakuni, Tokuyama Skoukou, Ube Koujyou)
Well, I was wrong. Almost all the teams I mentioned lost in the first round.

Ube Koujyou and Iwakuni advanced with 11-0 victories, while the Ube specialty schools lost - Tokuyama Shoukou defeated Ube Shougyou 5-3, while Ube Kougyou lost to Yanai 7-6.

The semifinal games were really close as Tokuyama Shoukou eliminated the last Ube team 2-1 while Iwakuni rallied from down 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th for a sayonara 3-2 win.

The final wound up being anti-climatic as Iwakuni scored 6 in the first on their way to a 12-0 win and their 11th title. Ube Koujyou defeated Yanai 2-1 for the 3rd bid.

Shikoku Super-Regional
Only one Best 8 game has been played so far, and unfortunately for Eimei, Sangawa outscored them 10-6 to eliminate them from fall play.

Kyushu Super-Regional
Fukuoka (Kurume Shougyou/Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku, Chikuyou Gakuen/Touchiku)
Well, those regional finals turned out to be interesting.

In the Hokubu Regionals, Kyushu Kokusadai Fuzoku held a 5-1 lead going into the late innings, when suddenly Touchiku made a comeback. A run in the 8th wasn't too bad, but when they scored 2 in the 9th to pull within 1, it certainly gave them a scare. That's as close as they would get though as Kyushu Kokusai advances to the finals.

Over in the Nanbu Regionals, Kurume Shougyou and Chikuyou Gakuen would exchange leads each inning, with Chikuyou getting a 4-3 lead after the 6th inning. But in the top of the 9th, Kurume would tie the game at 4. The game would head into extras where Kurume would shock Chikuyou with a run in the 12th.

So the matchups you see above will determine the bids from Fukuoka.

The opening round of the prefectural tournament has started, and of note is Seihou advancing over Shimabara 11-1, and Nagasaki Nichidai defeating Nagasaki Shougyou 5-4. Seihou will face Kaisei (No, not that Kaisei), while Nagasaki Nichidai will play Hasami.

Kumamoto (Kyushu Gakuin/Kumamoto Kokufu, Senshuudai Tamana/Shuugakukan)
The other 2 qualifiers were determined as Senshuudai Tamana shuts out Kumamoto Nishi 2-0, while Shuugakukan edges Hitsuyuukan 2-1.

Oita (Touin, Oita)
In the final, Touin and Oita traded runs back and forth, but Touin looked to have the game in hand after scoring 4 in the 5th. But Oita would make a 2nd half rally, pulling within a run in the 9th inning. They would get no closer though as Touin wins only their 3rd title.

Miyazaki (Saito Shougyou/Nobeoka Gakuen)
The other quarterfinal matches were played, and Miyazaki Kita shocks Miyazaki Nichidai 6-4 to reach the semifinals. Nobeoka Gakuen blew away Miyakonojyou 10-1, and seeded Houshou was shutout by Miyakonojyou Izumigaoka 4-0.

Unknown Saito Shougyou secures a spot in the super-regionals, having an answer for every score by Miyazaki Kita, winning 5-2. Nobeoka Gakuen surprisingly handles Miyakonojyou Izumigaoka 11-4 in 7 innings for their spot. All that's left is the title.

Kagoshima Jitsugyou has yet to give up a run in the fall tournament, and will play unknown Kagoshima Jyouhou for a spot in the semis. Shounan could be their next opponent should they get past Kagoshima Jyousai.

On the other half of the bracket, well-known Kamimura Gakuen and Kagoshima Shougyou meet up in one quarterfinal, while Kagoshima Kougyou and Shibushi meet in the last quarterfinal.

Okinawa (Kounan, Okinawa Shogaku)
My God, can anyone stop Kounan? In the final against a hardy Okinawa Shogaku squad, Kawamitsu Takaya throws a 4-hitter in a 6-0 win! A 4-hitter!!

Kounan in its 6 games outscores their competition 34-2, with those 2 runs given up against Koza. The real test will be the super-regional, but man, they STILL look impressive.

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