Well, I return back to Hokkaido, and we've just crowned the champion.
Looking back at the games, and it ended up being fairly straight-forward.
Otaru's representative, Hokushou, blew through their opponents (including Hakodatedai Yuuto and Mukawa) to face Komadai Iwamizawa who themselves had no issue with Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo and Shirakaba Gakuen. In the semi, the teams would trade 2 runs in the 1st, but 5 in the second from Hokushou would separate them. Not to say that there would still be scoring, as the teams combined for 6 home runs in a 13-6 win by Hokushou.
On the other side, Hokkai would surprisingly have a hard time against Hokkaido Sakae, but made a 2 run 1st stick in a 2-1 win. They faced Sapporo Dai-ichi who breezed through their first 2 games. Hokkai would take a 4-0 1st inning lead, but after trading a pair of runs in the 5th, they saw Sapporo Dai-ichi score 6 runs to take the lead!
Hokkai would not give, scoring 2 in the 7th to tie the game. The teams would trade a run in the 8th, and in the bottom of the 9th, Hokkai would score the sayonara run against Nishijima to advance to the final.
So we have a Hokushou-Hokkai final. That feels like deja vu.
Hokkai took control of the final with 4 runs in the 3rd inning. And 1st year ace Tamakuma Shouichi leads Hokkai to their 11th fall title, but 1st in 16 years!
Tohoku Super-Regionals (2 automatic bids)
We have our automatic bids, but before I reveal them, let's see how my predictions did.
In the upper left bracket, Tohoku did not have the easy road I thought they might have. They did defeat Oomagari Kougyou 8-2, but then Touryou gave them a fight. While they gave up a run in the 1st, they leveled the score in the 5th. But in the 9th inning, Tohoku would push in the go-ahead run and a spot in the semifinals.
Tohoku's opponent in the semis would indeed be Aomori Yamada, but they almost stumbled against Oodate Houmei. After the teams traded runs, Oodate Houmei scores 2 in the top of the 5th to take a 3-2 lead. Aomori would score 2 in the bottom of the 6th for the final 4-3 margin.
They wouldn't know their opponent immediately though as Ichinoseki Gakuin and Sakata Minami proved to be equal matches for each other, playing out a 0-0, 15 inning draw!
Aces Aida for Sakata Minami and Numata for Ichinoseki Gakuin, who played for all 15 innings, would take the hill once again. But the pitching would obviously not be as sharp as the first game. Sakata Minami would score a pair of runs in the 5th and 6th innings for a 5-1 lead as Ichinoseki Gakuin went to the bullpen to try and nurse the team on.
There would be no such backup for Aida, as he was asked to finish the game. Problem was, he wasn't able to. 4 runs in the top of the 8th would tie the game, and 3 more in the 9th against the tired ace would be the difference.
The quarterfinal would be an interesting one, in that all the scoring was done in the lucky 7 innings. Ichinoseki Gakuin would score 2, but Aomori Yamada would score 7 in the 7th. And so Aomori Yamada would meet Tohoku.
Tohoku and Aomori Yamada would spend the first 4 innings scoreless, then the teams would trade the lead 3 times. Tohoku would finally level the score 4-4 in the 7th and pull away with 3 in the 8th for a 7-4 win, and in all likelihood a senbatsu bid.
On the other side, Sendai Ikuei and Seikou Gakuin did indeed meet up in the quarterfinals after winning their games by a 11-3 margin. Seikou Gakuin slowly pulled out to a 4-1 lead, but Sendai's never-say-die attitude from Koushien must have stuck as they score 6 unanswered runs, including a sayonara 3-run homerun to win 7-4.
Their opponent would be Kousei Gakuin, who didn't have to face either Iwate team (Morioka Chuo or Hanamaki Higashi), and thus blew through their 1st 2 games 30-0.
In the semifinal though, Sendai Ikuei would have to answer for Kousei's 3B Tamura Tatsuhiro. He would hit 3 (3!!) homeruns to lead Kousei Gakuin to a 8-3 win and a probable bid to senbatsu. Tamura Tatsuhiro will be a player to watch should they indeed receive the bid.
In the finals, Tohoku would score 3 in the first inning and never really look back. Kousei Gakuin would keep the game close, but would fall 5-3, giving Tohoku their 17th super-regional title.
Kanto Super-Regionals (4 automatic bids + 1 at-large?)
Tochigi (Sano Nichidai, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku)
In the semifinals, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku stayed with Sakushin Gakuin keeping the score at 3-3, then pulled away late with 3 in the 6th and another one in the 7th for a 7-3 win. The other semi had Hakuoudai Ashikaga unable to keep up with Sano Nichidai, losing 10-5.
The final was actually a tale of two games. The first half saw Bunsei Geidai take a 3-1 lead through 5. Then in the 6th Sanichi would explode for 4 runs to take a 5-3 lead, only to see Bunsei score 5 in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead! Sanichi would put the deficit back at 2 with a run in the 7th. All seemed lost for Sanichi though as Bunsei added an insurance run to make it 9-6.
Except inexplicably, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku could not close the deal. 6 runs later, and they were as good as dead now down 12-9. And that would be the final margin.
Chiba (Kisaradzu Sougou, Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku)
The quarterfinals were all blowouts as Toukaidai Urayasu and Senshuudai Matsudo win 8-0. Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku blew out Chiba Meitoku 21-2.
But perhaps the most bizarre game was between Kisaradzu Sougou and Chiba Eiwa. The best way I can explain it is to go through the game by each half inning.
Kisaradzu Sougou - Chiba Eiwa
Top 1 - 0-0
Bottom 1 - 0-8
Top 2 - 5-8
Bottom 2 - 5-8
Top 3 - 7-8
Bottom 3 - 7-9
Top 4 - 13-9
Bottom 4 - 13-11
Top 5 - 16-11
Bottom 5 - 16-14
Top 6 - 18-14
Bottom 6 - 18-15
Top 7 - 21-15
Bottom 7 - 21-15
Top 8 - 21-15
Bottom 8 - 21-16
Top 9 - 21-16
Bottom 9 - 21-16
21-16??! That seems like a football score more than a baseball score, but yep, Kisaradzu Sougou won by 5.
The semifinals were much more tamer, but still one-sided. Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku wins 8-2 over Toukaidai Urayasu while Kisaradzu Sougou thought that they still haven't scored enough runs this tournament, defeating Senshuudai Matsudo 7-2.
The final was much more like a baseball game. After trading a run in the 6th, Kisaradzu Sougou scores 2 in the 7th for a 3-1 win for only their 2nd fall title - their 1st being 40 years ago!
So your participants are:
- Ibaraki - Suijyou, Kasumigaura
- Tochigi - Sano Nichidai, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku
- Gunma - Maebashi Ikuei, Takasaki Shougyou
- Saitama - Urawa Gakuin, Kasukabe Kyouei, Washinomiya
- Chiba - Kisaradzu Sougou, Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku
- Kanagawa - Yokohama, Toukaidai Sagami
- Yamanashi - Koufu Kougyou, Nihon Koukuu
Tokyo Super-Regionals (1 automatic bid + 1 at-large?)
2nd round has been completed, and perhaps the biggest surprise is Obirin. They squared off against Kokugakuin Kugayama. Obirin led 2-1, but in the 8th Kugayama scores 4 and then blows it open with 8 in the 9th. Kokugakuin Kugayama would win 13-4.
Next up for Kokugakuin Kugayama will be Shuutoku. Shuutoku needed an extra game though against Toukaidai Sugao. Actually, Shuutoku was down 2-0 going into the top of the 9th and somehow found a way to tie the game! But after the game was tied at the end of regulation, rain forced the game into a tie. The replay saw both aces take the hill again, but this time Shuutoku scores 3 in the first inning and that's the only runs scored in the game.
In other games:
- Nichidai-ni ralled against Souka late, scoring the sayonara run in the 9th to cap off a 3-2 win,
- Waseda Gakuin is carrying the flag for Waseda and will face Meijidai Meiji.
- Nichidai-san with a 6-3 win over Meijidai Nakano, combined with Toua Gakuin suffering a sayonara 5-4 loss to Kousei Gakuen in the 3rd round has a clear road to the quarterfinals where they could face Kokushikan.
Nagano (Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri, Saku Chousei, Matsushou Gakuen)
Saku Chousei had no trouble with Iiyama Kita, winning 11-4, but the surprise was Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri shutting out and mercy-ruling Matsushou Gakuen 7-0 in 7 innings!
In the final, Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri and Saku Chousei would be scoreless for 7 innings until Shiojiri would break it with a run in the 8th and another in the 9th for a 2-0 win! This is their 9th title.
Matsushou Gakuen sneaked into the super-regionals with a 2-1 win over Iiyama Kita.
Niigata (Nihon Bunri, Sado, Hokuetsu)
Tookamachi would not be able to secure that automatic bid as Sado would shut them out 4-0. Meanwhile, Nihon Bunri had no trouble with Hokuetsu winning 9-3.
Sado would be no match for Nihon Bunri in the final, giving them their 14th Niigata title. Hokuetsu would edge out Tookamachi 6-5 for the last bid.
Ishikawa (Kanazawa, Kanazawa Sakuragaoka, Yuugakukan)
Ishikawa's semifinals were as expected. Hakui Kougyou was no match for Kanazawa Sakuragaoka being shutout 6-0. Yuugakukan and Kanazawa was a good match, but Yuugakukan couldn't overcome the 2 early runs they gave up, and lost 2-1.
The final was a fairly pedestrian game, although Kanazawa Sakuragaoka held the 3-2 lead. Then Kanazawa would score 7 in the 6th, 5 in the 7th and 3 in the 8th! Sakuragaoka did rally for some runs, but lost 17-8 giving Kanazawa their first fall title in 13 years! That seems surprising for a team such as them.
Yuugakukan kept their hopes of returning to Koushien alive with a 10-3 win over Hakui Kougyou.
Fukui (Tsuruga Kehi, Fukui Koudai Fukui, Fukui Shougyou)
The Fukui final would be decided in the last 3 innings. The teams would trade runs in the 7th, but Fukui Koudai would not have an answer to Tsuruga Kehi's run in the bottom of the 8th. This is Tsuruga Kehi's 3rd title.
As for Nyuu, their hopes for reaching the super-regional were rudely ended by Fukui Shougyou, who had no trouble with a 7-1 win.
This means our participating teams are:
Nagano - Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri, Saku Chousei, Matsushou Gakuen
Niigata - Nihon Bunri, Sado, Hokuetsu
Toyama - Sakurai, Shin-Minato, Toyama Dai-ichi, Fukuoka
Ishikawa - Kanazawa, Kanazawa Sakuragaoka, Yuugakukan
Fukui - Tsuruga Kehi, Fukui Koudai Fukui, Fukui Shougyou
There are a lot of historically good teams in this field. Saku Chousei, Matsushou Gakuen, Nihon Bunri, Kanzawa, Yuugakukan, and all 3 Fukui teams. I'll wait for the draw to happen before I handicap the field.
Tokai Super-Regionals (2 automatic bids)
Mie (Mie, Matsusaka, Komono)
Mie was the last prefecture to finish in the Tokai region. Matsusaka kept up with Mie for a while, but as the game progressed Mie found cracks in their opponents. A 4-1 win would give Mie their 3rd straight fall title. Matsusaka, while the 2nd place finishers, will advance to the super-regionals for only their 2nd time - their last appearance in 1979!
In the consolation game, Shiroko was no match for Komono, falling 5-0.
With Mie done, the small 4-prefecture Tokai Super-regionals had the following teams:
- Shizuoka - Seisei, Iwata Higashi, Shizuoka
- Aichi - Aikoudai Meiden, Kyouei, Toyota Nishi
- Gifu - Oogaki Nichidai, Gifu Dai-ichi, Chuukyou
- Mie - Mie, Matsusaka, Komono
- Kyouei vs. Shizuoka. Winner faces Mie.
- Gifu Dai-ichi vs. Komono. Winner faces Seisei.
- Iwata Higashi vs. Chuukyou. Winner faces Aikoudai Meiden.
- Matsusaka vs. Toyota Nishi. Winner faces Oogaki Nichidai.
On the other side, it's either Oogaki Nichidai or Aikoudai Meiden. Again, none of the lower seeds seem to pose a threat to the top teams. Now as for the winner of that expected matchup, as much as I'd like to go to Ichiro's alma mater, they have not shown themselves to be a strong program as of late, while Oogaki has established themselves as a strong stable program. I think Mie and Oogaki Nichidai will reach the finals, and subsequently be rewarded with bids to senbatsu.
Kinki Super-Regionals (6 automatic bids)
Kyoto (Tounan, Kyoto Gaidai Nishi, Kyoto Seishou)
I'm shocked. In the semifinal between Tounan and Fukuchiyama Seibi, Tounan ace Awazu Tetsuya (粟津 達也), who recently took the #1 jersey shuts out Fukuchiyama Seibi 2-0 to claim an automatic bid to the super-regionals! By the way, it first looks like he's throwing warm-up pitches due to his tempo, but no, he's a quick pitcher it appears.
They would have to face Kyoto Gaidai Nishi again as they had no trouble with Kyoto Seishou 4-1.
In the final, Kyoto Gaidai Nishi would have multiple chances against Tounan and ace Awazu. But each time they threatened, Awazu would get out of the jam. On the other side, Matsuoka for KGN couldn't find his control, which led to 2 runs in the 4th. He would be relieved by Satou, but would fare no better, with 2 walks leading to a bases-clearing double in the 5th by cleanup batter Komatsuki. That deficit would be too much for KGN, as Tounan would win their first ever fall title!!
And to finish the surprise in Kyoto, Kyoto Seishou throws a combined 3-hitter against Fukuchiyama Seibi to win 2-1 and take the 3rd spot!!!!!
We have our 4 block winners, and the subsequent Best 4 matchups.
- In Block A, Riseisha shutout Taisha Gakuindai 4-0.
- Block B had Uenomiya Taisha just getting by Kansai Souka 3-2 to advance.
- Osaka Touin had no trouble with Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan in the Block C final 8-2.
- Osaka Shoudai Sakai would face PL Gakuen after Perfect Liberty defeated Higashi Osakadai Kashiwara 6-2. PL would crush Shoudai 10-3 for a spot in the Best 4.
Why? Because they'll face Uenomiya Taisha while the powerhouses Osaka Touin and PL Gakuen will beat each other up in the other semifinal.
Hyogo (Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku, Kakogawa Kita, Houtoku Gakuen)
Summer representative Houtoku Gakuen, who make a deep run this past summer, was shocked by Kakogawa Kita 5-1 and was regulated to the consolation game. Meanwhile, Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku ran circles around Shinkou Gakuen, mercy-ruling them 10-1 in 7 innings.
The final was close as Kakogawa Kita did take the initial lead with a run in the 3rd. Kobe Kokusai scores 2 in the 4th to take the lead, and the score would remain at 2-1. But Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku would blow it open with 5 runs in the 8th to win their 2nd consecutive title.
And Houtoku Gakuen would not be denied a super-regional appearance, who defeated Shinkou Gakuen 9-1 in the consolation game.
Nara is in the Best 4. The lucky team to join Tenri, Kooriyama and Chiben Gakuen is Nara Suzaku. Tenri and Kooriyama will meet in one semi, while Nara Suzaku will have to face Chiben Gakuen.
Wakayama (Chiben Wakayama, Wakayama Kougyou, Wakayama Shougyou)
In the semifinals, Naga actually held a lead against Wakayama Kougyou 2-1 late into the game, but ace Aketo could not close the deal, as Wakayama Kougyou scores 2 in the bottom of the 8th to win 3-2.
And Wakayama Shougyou actually gave Chiben Wakayama a fight! They intially took a 1-0 lead, then saw Chiben come back to take a 2-1 advantage. They tied the game in the 7th, but like the Naga game, Chiben would score 2 in the bottom of the 8th for the final margin at 4-2.
After that scare, I bet Takashima-kantoku got the kids ready for the final as they shutout Wakayama Kougyou 6-0 for their 4th consecutive fall title and 10th consecutive super-regional appearance.
Wakayama Shogyou would deny Naga a super-regional bid, defeating them in the 3rd place game 8-6.
Chuugoku Super-Regionals (2 automatic bids + 1 at-large bid?)
Chuugoku has all the representatives determined, but the draw has not been held yet:
- Okayama - Kanzei, Soushi Gakuen, Okayama Gakugeikan
- Hiroshima - Onomichi (Yatta!), Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin, Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu
- Tottori - Tottori Ikuei, Yazu, Tottori Shougyou
- Shimane - Matsue Kougyou, Taisha, Izumo, Yasugi
- Yamaguchi - Iwakuni Tokuyama Shoukou, Ube Koujyou
In the remaining quarterfinal games, the Takamatsu schools did not fare very well as Takamatsu Kita lost to Marugame Jyousei 8-3 while Takamatsu Shougyou lost to Kagawa Nishi 6-4. The last semifinal saw Kanonji Chuo defeating the only unseeded team to make it this far (although they aren't just any team), Jinsei Gakuen.
Sangawa held on against Marugame Jyousei 6-4 to get an automatic bid. Kanonji Chuo couldn't keep up with Kagawa Nishi, losing 8-1.
So that leaves Sangawa and Kagawa Nishi to fight for the title, while Marugame Jyousei and Kanonji Chuo fight for the last bid.
Once decided, they will join the current qualifiers:
- Tokushima - Jyounan, Tokushima Shougyou, Komatsushima
- Ehime - Niita, Imabari Nishi, Matsuyama Shougyou
- Kochi - Kochi, Meitoku Gijyuku, Tosa
Kyushu Super-Regionals (4 automatic bids)
The final games have been played. In the championship, all the scoring was done in the 5th inning. Kurume Shougyou scored 1 run in the top of the inning, but Kyushu Kousaidai Fuzoku scored 2, giving them their 16th title.
In the 3rd place game, Chikuyou Gakuen never trailed against Touchiku winning 4-2 and more importantly a bid in the super-regional.
Nagasaki (Hasami, Souseikan)
In the quarterfinals, seeded Souseikan had trouble with Keihou, but managed to win 3-2. Meanwhile, fellow teams Nagasaki Nanzan and Hasami had an easier time.
Seihou advanced as well with 7-0 shutout against Kaisei, and was one step away from an automatic bid. But they trailed Souseikan 3-0 as they ran out of time. But Seihou came back to score 4 runs in the top of the 8th and seemed to have it wrapped up.
Souseikan would ruin the party though, as they would mount one final rally, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th for the sayonara win.
Hasami would not have as much trouble, as they routed Nagasaki Nanzan 10-0 in just 6 innings.
The final would be just as dominating as Hasami would win 12-0 to given them their 7th fall title.
Kagoshima (Kagoshima Jitsugyou, Kagoshima Shougyou)
In the semifinal matches, Kagoshima Jitsugyou continued to shutout their opposition, this time defeating Kagoshima Jyouhou 6-0. Shounan indeed would be their semifinal opponent as they eliminated Kagoshima Jyousai. On the other side, Kamimura Gakuen and Kagoshima Shougyou were in a tight, high-scoring battle with Kagoshima Shougyou prevailing 8-7. It would be an all-Kagoshima affair as they would face Kagoshima Kougyou, who defeated Shibushi 9-2.
Seriously, all of the Best 4 teams are in Kagoshima City!
Kagoshima Jitsugyou would finally yield their first run of the fall tournament, but it was when the game was well in hand - up 4-0 in the bottom of the 8th against Shounan. They would win 5-1 and guarantee a spot in the super-regional.
As for the other semi, Kagoshima Kougyou just couldn't comeback from an early 2-0 deficit, only mananging to keep the deficit at 2 as Kagoshima Shougyou tried to pull away. They traded a pair of runs in the 2nd, and a run in the 5th. Kougyou would pull within 1 with a run in the 7th, but once again they traded 2 runs in the 8th. There would be no douten run for Kougyou though, as they lost 7-6.
Kagoshima Jitsugyou completed the rout taking an 8-0 lead. They must have let up on the gas as they yielded 4 runs in the final. It didn't matter in the end though as Kagoshima Jitsugyou wins their 29th title with an 18-4 win over their commercial compatriots.
Our qualifiers for the super-regional are as follows:
- Fukuoka - Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku, Kurume Shougyou, Chikuyou Gakuen
- Saga - Karatsu Shougyou, Ryuukoku
- Nagasaki - Hasami, Soushikan
- Oita - Touin, Oita
- Miyazaki - Nobeoka Gakuen, Saito Shougyou
- Kumamoto - Shuugakukan, Kyushu Gakuin, Kumamoto Kokufu, Senshuudai Tamana
- Kagoshima - Kagoshima Jitsugyou, Kagoshima Shougyou
- Okinawa - Kounan, Okinawa Shougaku
This may be the toughest super-regional out of the entire bunch.