After taking a break, and being inundated by work, I'm back to review the Fall Tournament which in many cases, are in the final stages in prefectural play.
I didn't have the time this time around to do brackets for the fall tournament, my apologies for that.
Before I start though, a quick note on Hifumi Shinta. At the matsuri Uwajimaya was holding, I talked to a food representative who was up from California. We got to talking and I mentioned Hifumi Shinta. Turns out his switch to a sidearm delivery was as a result of a deadball he delivered that hit a player on the head. Apparently shaken by that, he switched to a sidearm delivery. Better to hit someone on the thigh or leg than the head.
But if the summer was any indication, his control is nothing to be desired.
Hokkaido (1 automatic bid)
Regional play has concluded with the following teams qualifying for the prefectural tournament:
Sapporo - Sapporo Dai-ichi, Hokkai, Sapporo Kousei and Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo
Muroran - Mukawa, Hokkaido Sakae
Hakodate - Hakodate Shougyou, Hakodatedai Yuuto
Otaru - Hokushou
Sorachi - Takigawa Nishi, Komadai Iwamizawa
Asahikawa - Asahikawa Jitsugyou, Asahikawa Kougyou
Nayoro - Wakkanai Ootani
Kitami - Engaru, Memanbetsu
Tokachi - Shirakaba Gakuen, Obihiro Ootani
Kushine - Kushiro Hokuyou, Kushiro Kougyou
All of these teams are for the most part regulars, with the exception of Memanbetsu who is making their 1st ever appearance. Go Memanbetsu!
Komadai Tomakomai just cannot get their team back in gear, losing in the block semifinals to Muroran Ootani 7-2.
Aomori (3 bids to the Tohoku Super-Regionals - Kousei Gakuin, Aomori Yamada, Hirosaki Kougyou)
I was happy to see Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi make it to Koushien, although they didn't really last very long. They automatically got a pass to the prefectural tournament and defeated Noheji 6-1 to advance to the best 8. But they couldn't get past Aomori Higashi, losing 4-1.
Aomori Higashi then faced Kousei Gakuin who had pretty much rolled through the field. They were then rolled 8-1.
On the other side, Aomori Yamada had done the same and continued the trend against Hirosaki Kougyou shutting them out 3-1.
That gave both Kousei Gakuin and Aomori Yamada automatic bids to the super-regional. But the team who would take top spot and earn a game against a (supposed) easier opponent would be Kousei Gakuin in an impressive 6-0 shutout over Aomori Yamada.
And the final spot would go to Hirosaki Kougyou, who had no mercy on the newcomer Aomori Higashi 8-1.
Akita (3 bids to the Tohoku Super-Regionals - Oodate Houmei, Yokote Jyounan, Oomagari Kougyou)
Summer participant Noshiro Shougyou managed to advance out of the regionals, but lost in the 1st round of the prefectural to Nishime 4-0.
The Best 4 featured some new faces as Yokote and Yokote Jyounan met in one semi while Oomagari Kougyou and Oodate Houmei face off in the other. Yokote Jyounan scored in the late innings to defeat Yokote 4-3 and Oodate Houmei gave Oomagari Kougyou a 2 run head start before immediately scoring 3 to take the lead and didn't look back, winning 5-2.
In the championship Oodate Houmei would win only it's 2nd fall prefectural title shutting out Yokote Jyounan 4-0 while Oomagari Kougyou would secure the final spot, defeating Yokote 7-3.
Yamagata (3 bids to the Tohoku Super-Regionals - Sakata Minami, Tsuruoka Higashi, Yamagata Chuo)
Yamagata's final 4 should be of no surprise as Sakata Minami, Nichidai Yamagata, Tsuruoka Higashi, and summer representative Yamagata Chuo.
In perhaps in a bit of an oddity, Sakata Minami and Nichidai Yamagata were involved in a slugfest game, yet while Sakata Minami never trailed, Nichidai Yamagata always had some response to Sakata's offense. It wasn't enough though as Sakata would win 10-8. Mean while, Tsuruoka Higashi had scored 4 in the 7th to take a 3 run lead late, but Yamagata Chuo wasn't going to go down without a fight, and in fact tied the game in the bottom of the 9th. It would stay tied until the 14th inning where Tsuruoka would break the deadlock for good.
So while Tsuruoka Higashi had earned an automatic bid, the 14-inning affair would theoretically give the advantage to Sakata Minami for the top seed. Yet the game was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the 8th. Suddenly, the offense on both sides switched on. Sakata would score in the 8th taking the 2-1 lead with just 3 outs to go. In those 3 outs, Tsuruoka Higashi scored 2 to take the lead themselves! The final act though saw Sakata Minami score 2 of their own, earning the sayonara victory 4-3!
The 3rd place game was just as close as Yamagata Chuo denied Nichidai Yamagata a spot in the super-regionals, winning 6-5.
Iwate (3 bids to the Tohoku Super-Regionals - Morioka Chuo, Ichinoseki Gakuin, Hanamaki Higashi)
Iwate's final 4 should be of no surprise to kokoyakyu followers - Morioka Chuo, Moriokadai Fuzoku, Ichinoseki Gakuin and Hanamaki Higashi.
Each team though (with the exception of Hanamaki Higashi) had a scare in the prefecturals. Morioka Chuo edged Kuji Higashi 2-1, Moriokadai Fuzoku beat Mizusawa Kougyou 4-3, and Ichinoseki Gakuin had trouble in the first round but managed to beat Morioka Dai-san also by a score of 4-3.
In the battle of the Moriokas, Moriokadai Fuzoku achieved a 2-1 lead late against Morioka Chuo, but Morioka Chuo's Ookou(?) Ryousuke would hit a sayonara homerun off off Moriokadai ace Tateshita for an automatic bid. Ichinoseki Gakuin had a lead against Hanamaki Higashi, but let them get back into the game with runs in the 6th and 7th innings. However, Ichinoseki Gakuin would prevail in the 10th with a sayonara run.
But Ichinoseki Gakuin still cannot shake the just not good enough tag as they are shutout 7-0 to Morioka Chuo in the final. And to add insult to injury, Moriokadai Fuzoku is edged out by Hanamaki Higashi 5-4 for the final bid.
Miyagi (3 bids to the Tohoku Super-Regionals - Sendai Ikuei/Tohoku, Touryou)
While the order of the 3 bids have not been determined yet, (they're playing the final as I write this), we do know who has qualified.
Summer representative Sendai Ikuei secured their bid with a 5-inning rout of Furukawa Kougyou 16-4. Furukawa Kougyou by the way, defeated Rifu 9-7 in the quarterfinals.
In the other semi, Yu Darvish's Tohoku had a 3-0 lead on Touryou - only to see it evaporate in the last 2 innings. The momentum for Touryou couldn't push them over the top as Tohoku regained control, scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th.
The final spot would go to Touryou as they defeated the Furukawa squad 5-3.
Fukushima (3 bids to the Tohoku Super-Regionals - Seikou Gakuin/Nichidai Tohoku, Shouin Gakuin Fukushima)
The semifinals in Fukushima appeared to be blowout possibilities as Seikou Gakuin looked to roll into the Tohoku Super-regionals with a win against Shouin Gakuen Fukushima while Haramachi would certainly have a heck of a time against Nichidai Tohoku.
Indeed both were blowouts as the favorites won 12-3 and 8-2 respectively securing their spots in the super-regional. And the 3rd place game has already been played, with Shoiun Gakuen edging Haramachi 3-2.
Ibaraki (2 bids to the Kanto Super-Regionals)
Ibaraki has their draw for the prefecturals. Suijyou looks to show their efforts last summer weren't just a fluke. Standing in the way are teams such as Tsukuba Shuuei, Kasumigaura, Shimotsuma Dai-ni, Mito Sakuranomaki (which Ken likes because of their old style M's hat and Mets-style jerseys) and Jyousou Gakuin.
Tochigi (2 bids to the Kanto Super-Regionals)
Tochigi is into the Best 8. And of the 8 seeded teams, only Tochigi Kougyou did not make it losing to Hakuoudai Ashikaga, certainly not a weak team. Those seeded teams that remain include teams such as Sakushin Gakuin, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku and summer representative Sano Nichidai.
Gunma (2 bids to the Kanto Super-Regionals)
Gunma is in the semifinal stages and summer representative Maebashi Shougyou lost in the round of 16 to Nishi-Oura 10-6, who in turn got shutout against Kiryuu Dai-ichi 7-0. They'll face Maebashi Ikuei in one semi.
The other semifinal has Takasaki Kenkou Fukushidai Takasaki versus Takasaki Shougyou.
Saitama (2 bids to the Kanto Super-Regionals)
Saitama has finished the 2nd round of their prefectural tournament reaching the round of 16. Summer participant Honjyou Dai-ichi had drawn a seeded spot opposite Kasukabe Kyouei, yet fell to Oomiya Higashi 1-0 in their first game!
Ageo and Urawa Gakuin were the seeded teams on the other side of the bracket. And Ageo would also fall in the first round, losing to Keiou Shiki 7-6.
Other notable teams who had made it to prefecturals were Honjyou (who will face Kasukabe Kyouei in the next round), Hanasaki Tokuharu (who lost to Shiritsu Kawagoe 8-2), and Seibou Gakuin (who will face the aforementioned Shiritsu Kawagoe).
Chiba (2 bids to the Kanto Super-Regionals)
Well, if we're talking about Chiba, the first team I always talk about is Narashino.
Sadly, they lost to Senshuudai Matsudo 1-0 in the round of 16... Bah.
Narita, without ace Nakagawa, lost in the 2nd round to Seibudai Chiba 4-3. They'll face Toukaidai Urayasu. On the same side sits Chiba Meitoku and Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku.
On the other side we have Kisaradzu Sougou vs. Chiba Eiwa (who had a 4-4 tie against then defeated Shiritsu Kashiwa 6-5) and the aforementioned Senshuudai Matsudo vs. Chiba Kokusai.
Tokyo (1 automatic bid)
All 24 blocks have their bids in for the Tokyo Super-Regional. Teams that have qualified are (Notable in bold):
Block 1 - Waseda Gakuin, Toritsu Katakura
Block 2 - Eimeikan, Toritsu Chitosegaoka
Block 3 - Meijidai Nakano, Toua Gakuen
Block 4 - Ikubunkan, Meijidai Nakano-Hachiouji
Block 5 - Nichidai-san, Toritsu Fujimori
Block 6 - Nissho Gakushadai Fuzoku, Toritsu Shouwa
Block 7 - Toritsu Houya, Hachiouji Jissen
Block 8 - Souka, Kokugakuin Kugayama
Block 9 - Nichidai-ni, Adachi Gakuen
Block 10 - Setagaya Gakuen, Nichidai Buzan
Block 11 - Kousei Gakuen, Toritsu Dai-yon Shougyou
Block 12 - Shuutoku, Seiritsu Gakuen
Block 13 - Jissen Gakuen, Tokyo Shidai Fuzoku
Block 14 - Meijidai Meiji, St. Paul Gakuen
Block 15 - Houseidai, Komaba Gakuen
Block 16 - Obirin (Oberlin), Toritsu Akagawa Shougyou
Block 17 - Teikyou, Toritsu Sakuramachi
Block 18 - Kanto Dai-ichi, Chuodai Suginami
Block 19 - Toritsu Fussa, Seikei
Block 20 - Toukaidai Sugao, Toritsu Choufu Kita
Block 21 - Toukaidai Takanawadai, Toritsu Ooizumi
Block 22 - Tortitsu Edogawa, Toritsu Katsushikano
Block 23 - Hachiouji, Yasuda Gakuen
Block 24 - Toritsu Kunitachi, Kokushikan
But wait, what about Waseda Jitsugyou? Well, they lost in the first round in block 3B to Toua Gakuen 8-7.
Kanagawa (2 bids to the Kanto Super-Regionals)
Kanagawa is in the best 4, and with 2 bids, they could go to the favorites. Toukaidai Sagami has not lost a step without ace Hifumi, reaching the semifinals with ease. Tourei Fujisawa is the only thing standing in their way of a spot in the super-regionals. Meanwhile, Yokohama looks to breakthrough finally with a win over Yokohama Shoudai. Games will be played next weekend.
Yamanashi (2 bids to the Kanto Super-Regionals)
Yamanashi is in the Best 4, and my favorite team from here, Nihon Koukuu, is still in it (Hooray!). They meet Toukaidai Koufu in the semifinal who is no pushover. They defeated seeded Hikawa and Nichidai Meisei.
In the other semifinal Teikyou Dai-san looks to reach the super-regional with a win over Koufu Kougyou (who upset seeded Minobu and Yamanashi Gakuindai Fuzoku).
Shizuoka (3 bids to the Tokai Super-Regionals - Seisei/Iwata Higashi)
Shizuoka is in the Best 4. Sadly, the prefectural draw prevented an all-Tokoha final as they were on the same side. And then summer representative Tachibana fell to Nirayama 6-4 in the 2nd round, and Kikugawa was not that far behind, losing to Seisei 4-2 in the quarterfinals.
Seisei would edge out Nirayama 1-0 in the semifinals, clinching a super-regional bid. On the other side, relative unknown Iwata Higashi defeated Shizuoka 3-1 to give them an bid.
That leaves Shizuoka and Nirayama to battle it out for the last bid.
Nagano (3 bids to the Hokushinetsu Super-Regionals)
Nagano's field of 16 is set although the draw hasn't been done yet. Teams that have qualified are (in order of finish, important teams in bold):
Hokushinchihou - Nagano, Shinonoi, Nagano Shougyou, Iiyama Kita
Toushinchihou - Saku Chousei, Ueda Nishi, Chikyuu Kankyou, Ueda Someyaoka
Chuushinshihou - Toukai Dai-san, Ina Yayoigaoka, Okaya Minami, Matsukawa
Nanshinchihou - Matsushou Gakuen, Oomachi (Yay!), Matsumoto Dai-ichi, Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri
As for Matsumoto Kougyou, they lost in their second game to Oomachi 7-5.
Niigata (3 bids to the Hokushinetsu Super-Regionals)
Niigata is in the quarterfinal stages. Summer representative Niigata Meikun made it to the round of 16, but lost to Nagaoka Oote 3-2.
Facing Nagaoka Oote will be Hokuetsu. Other matchups include Nihon Bunri against Niitsu Minami, Shibata Nougyou versus Tookamachi, and Teikyou Nagaoka squaring off against Sado.
Aichi (3 bids to the Toukai Super-Regionals - Aikoudai Meiden/Kyouei)
Chuukyoudai Chuukyou after their manager announced his retirement loses in the 3rd round to finalist Kyouei 8-7. That actually would the be only speed bump for Kyouei as they breezed through the rest of their games, culminating in a 13-1 win over Toyota Nishi for an automatic bid. Battling for bragging rights will be Ichiro's Aikoudai Meiden, who had a close call with Obu in the 2nd round winning 7-6, but cruising otherwise. Aichi will square off with Toyota Nishi for the final bid.
Gifu (3 bids to the Toukai Super-Regionals - Oogaki Nichidai, Gifu Dai-ichi, Chuukyou)
In an interesting turn of events, both Kenritsu and Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou lost in the first round of the prefectural tournament (Gifu is different in that their regionals are round-robin which couldn't be done in most prefectures due to the sheer numbers of teams).
That left the brackets open and Oogaki Nichidai walked right in, yielding only one run up until the final. Gifu Dai-ichi was the other beneficiary, not having to deal with any major competition. Oogaki Nichidai would win it's 2nd fall title defeating Gifu Dai-ichi 4-2. The final team to benefit would be Chuukyou, who lost to Oogaki Nichidai (ace Kassai not yielding a walk), but defeated Gifu Kougyou 2-0 for the last spot.
Toki Shougyou by the way, was one of Oogaki Nichidai's victims, although they only lost 2-0.
Mie (3 bids to the Toukai Super-Regionals)
As documented last year, Mie is also a different case where teams have multiple elimination stages. This allows for a lot of the regulars a good opportunity to advance, as evidenced by teams such as Mie, summer representative Inabe Sougou Gakuen, Uji-Yamada Shougyou, and Komono. As expected, all of these teams advanced to the quarterfinals. Joining them is Yokkaichi, Yokkaichi Minami, Matsuzaka, and Shiroko.
Toyama (4 bids to the Hokushinetsu Super-Regionals - Shin-Minato/Sakurai, Fukuoka/Toyama Dai-ichi)
Since Toyama is hosting the Hokushinetsu Super-Regionals, they get an extra bid. And while they haven't finished the prefecturals we have our 4 participants.
Summer representative Tonami Kougyou couldn't get out of the 3rd round, losing to Kureha 8-3 who in turn lost in a barnburner to seeded Fukuoka 11-10 which game them an automatic bid.
Takaoka Shougyou was probably a favorite to advance, but they were shutdown by Shin-Minato 4-1 to give them an automatic bid. A 15-8 win over Fukuoka gives them the opportunity for an easy 1st round.
On the other side, unseeded Sakurai had the benefit of a weak bracket and advanced to the semifinals (and an automatic bid) with an 11-3 win over Takaoka Dai-ichi. But then they shocked Takaoka Dai-ichi 6-3 for a chance at the prefecture title.
Ishikawa (4 bids to the Hokushinetsu Super-Regional)
Ishikawa is only in the round of 16, but of those 16 summer participant Yuugakukan is still alive. Of course, with only 49 teams, they've only played one game against Kanazawa Hokuryou, winning 15-1.
Other notable teams include Komatsu and Kanazawa.
Fukui (3 bids to the Hokushinetsu Super-Regional)
Fukui is already in the Best 4 having only 29 teams and all. Man, really?? I'm amazed at how population movements have severely affected rural prefectures...
Anyway... 3 of the 4 teams are household names - Tsuruga Kehi, Fukui Shougyou, and Fukui Koudai Fukui. The 4th? Nyuu. No, this isn't like nya~~~n like Azu-nyan, it really is a school name.
Shiga (2 bids to the Kinki Super-Regional)
It's tough being in the Kinki region. While most are allowed 3 teams, you generally want the top spot, because heaven forbid you face a team like Fukuchiyama Seibi.
We're in the best 4 now, and none of them is summer participant Kita-Ootsu. In fact, they lost in the first round to Hieizan 3-2! Hikone Higashi made it to the quarterfinals, but lost to Minakuchi 4-3. They'll face surprise team Hachiman Shougyou who defeated Hieizan on the way to the semifinals.
On the other side sits Murayama, who made a deep run in the summer but lost to eventual representative Kita-Ootsu, and relative unknown Kousen. They too lost to Kita-Ootsu in the summer 14-4. But they can't be just lucky though, as they defeated Oumi 13-0. 13-0!
Kyoto (3 bids to the Kinki Super-Regional)
Kyoto gets back Fukuchiyama Seibi, who self-imposed sanctions prevented them from participating in the summer. You know they're motivated to kick some tail.
Sure enough, they are in the Best 8 with little trouble.
One of my irrationally favorite teams, Kyoto Subaru, made it to the "A" zone final only to lose to Hokuryou and then lose to Kyoto Ryouyou in the repechage (Kyoto uses zones and a double-elimination format to determine who advances).
Going back to the Best 8, the other teams joining Fukuchiyama Seibi are the aforementioned Hokuryou, Tounan, Momoyama, Kyoto Seishou, Kyoto Shouei, Kita-Saga and the summer representative Kyoto Gaidai Nishi.
Osaka (3 bids to the Kinki Super-Regional)
Osaka also divvies up the brackets to 4 regions, with the winners of each region advancing. Riseisha is still in it and is in a relatively easy bracket. Only possible challenger is Toukaidai Gyousei.
Other teams looking for a spot on include Haruhigaoka, Tennoji, Konkou Osaka and Osaka Touin.
Hyogo (3 bids to the Kinki Super-Regional)
OMG! My Nishinomiya Kita made it to the prefectural tournament! Sure they lost to Tatsuno 6-4 in the 1st round, but perhaps there's a Haruhi effect... eh? Eh?....
Houtoku Gakuen gets a free pass to the prefecturals and have not had much trouble advancing through the bracket and are a part of the Best 8. They will face Ikawadani next.
Joining them is Kakogawa Kita (who will face Akashi), Shinkou Gakuen and Touyoudai Himeji (who will face each other), and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (who will face Sumoto).
Nara (2 teams to the Kinki Super-Regional)
Nara gets part of the short end, receiving only 2 bids.
Hopefully Tenri is one of them, having outscored their opponents 57-0 in their 3 games. Tomigaoka will look to avoid the same fate...
The other 2 contenders are Chiben Gakuen (who won their first game and will face Takatori Kokusai), and Kooriyama (who also won their first game and will meet Houryuuji Kokusai next).
It's almost not worth mentioning other teams because those three have dominated the scene in Nara.
Wakayama (2 teams to the Kinki Super-Regional)
Wakayama's format allows the top 4 teams as determined by the federation to advance to the Best 8. So Chiben Wakayama, Shiritsu Wakayama, Ito, and Kinkidai Shinguu get a free pass.
Minoshima only got through one game in A Block before losing to Keifu. Wakayama Kougyou would advance out of the block. Kouyou was in a barnburned in B Block against Taikyuu winning 16-10, but lost to Kiokan 4-2. Naga would advance out of B Block. Wakayama Shougyou and Kasada advanced out of C & D Blocks.
Chiben Wakayama is almost always a shoe-in to make it, but they will have to face either Kinkidai Shinguu or Wakayama Shougyou in the semis. Probably the winner of the Shiritsu Wakayama and Wakayama Kougyou game will earn the other bid from the other half of the bracket.
Tottori (3 teams to the Chuugoku Super-Regionals - Tottori Ikuei, Yazu, Tottori Shougyou)
As I was looking through the field, I thought, "Wonder how Kurayoshi Kita is doing..." But they weren't anywhere to be seen. Truth be told, they weren't in the summer tournament either. Turns out that they were suspended for the entire year as punishment for violence within the team. There had to be serious things going on for them to receive a full-year ban.
Summer participant Yazu had only one hiccup on their way to the finals, and that was a game against Kurayoshi Higashi whom they tied 2-2 before finally winning 3-2 the next day.
Tottori Ikuei had the benefit of Tottori Jyouhoku being upset by Tottori Shougyou and was able to run the table to the finals. Tottori Ikuei used a 3-run 7th inning to defeat Yazu and take the top spot. Tottori Shougyou earns the last spot with a 5-4 win over Yonago Higashi.
Shimane (4 teams to the Chuugoku Super-Regionals - Matsue Shougyou, Taisha, Izumo, Yasugi)
Kaisei, who is now in their first full year without Nonomura-kantoku, does not get off to a good start, losing to Yagami 1-0 in their first game. Iwamichisuikan suffers the same fate in a 5-4 loss to Taisha.
With those two teams gone, the field opens up. The final 2 teams in the Best 4 in the summer, Ooda and Hamada lost in the 2nd flight of games, Ooda to Izumo 13-0, and Hamada to Matsue Shougyou 4-3.
Taisha and Yasugi advance out of the 2nd flight as well, guaranteeing all 4 teams a spot in the Super-Regionals.
The only question that remained was order. Taisha rallied from down 2-0 to tie it in the bottom of the 9th, and won in the 10th inning. Matsue Shougyou had no trouble with Izumo, scoring 4 in the 1st and never looking back, winning 10-3.
And in the final, Taisha gave Matsue Shougyou a run for its money, but Matsue Shougyou pulled away late to win 7-5 and take their 1st title in 16 years. In fact all the teams who qualified have not been in more than 15 years, with the exception of Izumo who last went 6 years ago. For Yasugi, it's only their 2nd trip, their 1st being 55 years ago! Even more impressive is that they only have 20 members!
Okayama (3 teams to the Chuugoku Super-Regionals)
Okayama is almost done with their prefectural tournament. Summer participant Kurashiki Kougyou easily made it out of round-robin play, but lost in the first round to Soushi Gakuen 5-3. They will face Okayama Gakugeikan who had a Best 4 run in the summer.
Kurashiki Kougyou also made it to prefecturals, but lost in the quarterfinals to Okayama Kyousei 7-5. Okayama Kyousei will face hard-luck Kanzei in their semifinal.
Hiroshima (3 teams to the Chuugoku Super-Regionals - Onomichi, Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin, Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu)
By reading who qualified, you can tell that neither of the major teams, Kouryou or Jyousuikan, made it to the Super-Regionals. That's a bit surprising.
Now, it's not that they were utter failures. Jyousuikan advanced into the Best 8, but was stonewalled by Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin 7-4. Kouryou took it one step further, reaching the Best 4, but too lost to Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin by a score of 5-4! This run comes after losing to Jyousuikan in the 3rd round of the summer tournament 5-0.
With both of the powerhouses on the same side of the bracket, that meant that a lucky team would get an automatic bid.
It would be the perfect situation for Onomichi, who has been a solid team in the last couple of years, but never able to break through. After a shaky 6-5 win over Kinkidai Fukuyama in the 2nd round, Onomichi rolled through the field reaching the finals with a 16-6 win over Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu.
And in the finals, Onomichi used a 3-run 2nd inning to win 4-2 and take their first ever fall title, and will go to the Chuugoku super-regional for only the 2nd time. Their last appearance was in 1973.
But perhaps the biggest surprise was the 3rd place game where Hiroshima Sougou Gijyutsu upset Kouryou 4-3 to take the 3rd bid!
Yamaguchi (3 teams to the Chuugoku Super-Regionals)
Nanyou Kougyou was ousted in the 2nd round of the regionals to Iwakuni, getting shutout 7-0. Iwakuni and Ube Shougyou are probably the two notable names to advance out of the regionals. Most of the teams that had advanced did not fare well in the summer save for perhaps Ube Koujyou who was a seeded team in the summer and reach the Best 8.
Teams looking for a chance are Tokuyama Shoukou, Iwakuni Shougyou, Yamaguchi Koujyou, Yanai and Ube Kougyou.
Kagawa (3 teams to the Shikoku Super-Regionals)
Well, in Shikoku, things are pretty much straightforward. 4 prefectures, 3 teams each, top seeds get a bye.
Eimei is out to make a return appearance to Koushien, and has done well so far reaching the Best 8, but the road will get tougher as they face Sangawa in the quarterfinals. Sangawa has steamrolled their opponents by a score of 38-5.
Truth be told, I find it surprising that the Best 4 in the summer is still alive in the tournament. In addition to Eimei, Marugame Jyousai will meet Takamatsu Kita, Takamatsu Shougyou will face Kagawa Nishi, and Kanonji Chuo will play Mitoyo Kougyou for a spot in the semis. Should they win, they'll play either Jinsei Gakuen or Takamatsu Dai-ichi.
Ehime (3 teams to the Shikoku Super-Regionals - Nitta, Imabari Nishi, Matsuyama Shougyou)
Uwajima Higashi had made their 1st ever trip to Koushien this summer. And they were out to make their 2nd appearance.
Things looked good. They got out of regional play, and then defeated Saibi 6-5 - not a small feat. And after a 7-0 win over Kawanoishi in the quarterfinals, they were one win away from reaching the super-regionals. Imabari Nishi stood in their way. Yet after 6 innings they led 2-0. But Imabari would rally, tying the game in the 8th and sending it into extras. And in general, when you're the underdog, the later you go, the lesser your chances. And in the 13th, Imabari Nishi would score the sayonara run.
Still, they had a chance to take the 3rd spot by defeating Matsuyama Shougyou. A quick search on them shows an amazing throw home to complete a double play back in the 1996 final to keep the game going.
Anyways, I don't have the box score, but Uwajima Higashi would fall short, losing 7-6 and ending their run at making their 2nd consecutive appearance.
Perhaps the surprise team was a surprise in the summer. Niita who reached the Best 4, continued the run in the fall. Advancing out of their small pool play with a 10-0 win, they won their next games 10-7 and 10-5. Against Matsuyama Shougyou, they finally faced resistance. Taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 5th, Matsuyama tied the game. Niita though scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 8th to advance to the final.
And just like the semi-final, Imabari Nishi would respond every time Niita tried to pull away. Up 1-0, they would trade a run in the 4th and 2 in the 6th. Still up by one late, Imabari Nishi would tie it up in the bottom of the 8th. For Imabari Nishi, this would be their 2nd enchousen game in 2 days. Even for the best teams, that is still a tough task to ask a team to do. And in the 11th, the pitching would collapse, giving up 6 runs and losing 10-4.
Tokushima (3 teams to the Shikoku Super-Regionals - Jyounan/Tokushima Shougyou)
Interestingly, even with their Natsu Koshien appearance, Naruto did not earn a seed in the fall tournament. But perhaps it was justified as they lost in the 2nd round to Anan Tousen 1-0.
3 of the 4 seeded teams - Jyounan, Komatsushima and Tokushima Shougyou all advanced to the Best 4. Only Jyounan though had little trouble. Komatsushima barely handled Anabuki 6-5 in the 2nd round. Tokushima Shougyou defeated Naruto Kougyou 8-6 in the 1st round, and 2-1 over Tokushima Kagaku Gijyutsu.
In the semifinals, Jyounan down 3-0 scores 5 runs in the 4th and 5th innings against Komatsushima. But Komatsushima would come back to level the game at 5 in the top of the 8th. And in what seems like a continuing trend in Shikoku, Jyounan scores a run in the bottom of the 8th to win 6-5. The other semifinal was dominated by Tokushima Shougyou who mercy ruled Tokushima Kita 10-3 in 7 innings.
And so Jyounan and Tokushima Shougyou will battle for placement, while Tokushima Kita and Komatsushima will battle for the final spot.
Kochi (3 teams to the Shikoku Super-Regionals)
Meitoku Gijyuku earned a 2nd seed in the fall tournament, and hasn't disappointed so far yielding only 1 run in their 1st 2 games. They have yet to play their quarterfinal game. The same goes for Kochi Shougyou, who also has had little trouble in their first 2 games.
On the other side, Kochi has reached the semifinals dominating the 3 matches by a total score of 30-1. The final seeded team, Okou, couldn't get past Tosa in the quarterfinals, losing 7-4.
Fukuoka (3 teams to the Kyushu Super-Regionals)
Fukuoka's tournament is another deviation from the norm. They split the field into north and south. The winners face off for the 1st and 2nd seeds, while the 2nd place teams meet for the last spot. I suppose you could think of it as one bracket with each region on each side, but this is how they show it.
Summer representative Nishi Nippon Tankidai Fuzoku couldn't repeat their success, losing in the 3rd round of the Minami Regionals to Fukushima 2-1.
There has be some level of parity in Fukuoka because the finalists in each prefecture are relative unknown save for one. The other Best 4 from the summer, Higashi-Fukuoka, Iidzuka and Teikyou Dai-go, have all been eliminated. Higashi-Fukuoka lost 2-1 to Itoshima in the 2nd round and Teikyou Dai-go lost in the 4th round 4-2 to Ukiha Kyuushinkan.
Each region has had a dominant performance by a team, and while they haven't secured a bid, they appear to be the favorites to claim an automatic bid.
In the Kita Regionals, that team should be a familiar one. It's Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku - the same team managed by former Tohoku manager Wakou-kantoku. They have scored 10 or more runs in all but the semifinal game. Their regional final will not be against Iidzuka though as perhaps most people have thought. Iidzuka lost to Touchiku 3-2 after going up 2-0 after their first 2 innings.
In the Minami Regionals, the team that is poised to make the super-regionals is Chikuyou Gakuen. They had lost to Iidzuka in the summer, but had quality wins against Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou, the aforementioned Fukushima, then shutting out Fukuoka Sangkyoudai Fukuoka 6-0 in the semifinal.
With the aforementioned Higashi-Fukuoka out of the bracket on the other side, it allowed the other seeded team in that half, Kurume Shougyou after a slow start against Yanagigawa in their first game, reached the regional final with a 2-1 win over Fukuokadai Oohori.
Saga (2 bids to the Kyushu Super-Regionals - Karatsu Shougyou, Ryuukoku)
Saga tends to have it's teams in the air, and this year is no different.
Saga Gakuen though tried to bring some stability by qualifying to the super-regionals. They made it to the quarterfinals, but were foiled by Ryuukoku 4-3. Saga Kita lost in the first round to Saga Higashi 5-3. Saga Shougyou was another candidiate, but they were surprised by Karatsu Shougyou 6-2. Karatsu then defeated Saga Kougyou 6-4 after being down 4-1 after 7.
So it was Karatsu Shougyou versus Ryuukoku for the top seed. And Karatsu would win their 8th final and 1st in 46 years with a 4-0 shutout. For Ryuukoku, I'm sure they'd like the title, but making the super-regional for the first time in school history.
Nagasaki (2 bids to the Kyushu Super-Regionals)
Summer participant Nagasaki Nichidai is looking for another bid but they have slowed down. But while they did qualify for the prefectural tournament, they barely edged Shimabara before losing to Souseikan 4-3 in the central regional final.
Seihou also had a similar road in the Sasebo regionals, edging Kyushu Bunka Gakuen 6-5 before losing to Hasami 4-3. And in the Nagasaki regionals, unseeded Nagasaki Nanzan surprises the field by winning the region, defeating Kaisei 4-3.
Kumamoto (4 bids to the Kyushu Super-Regionals)
Kumamoto is hosting the super-regionals, which means that they will have the benefit of 4 bids. And that means merely making the semifinals will guarantee an automatic bid.
Two of those 4 have already been determined. Summer participant (and seeded) Kyushu Gakuin breezed through their 3 games and have earned a spot. Oddly enough, they'll face Kumomoto Kokufu in the semifinals, it's interesting because they played in the quarterfinals and Kyushu prevailed 4-1. This game may not matter except for seeding (which in and of itself may be important), but I'm sure Kokufu would like to give it back to Kyushu Gakuin.
On the other side, Senshuudai Tamana looks to make another run but to claim an automatic bid, they'll have to get through Kumamoto Nishi first. The last spot will go to either Hitsuyuukan and Shuugakukan.
Oita (2 teams to the Kyushu Super-Regionals)
Oita Kougyou joins the list of teams unable to make another run losing to Oita in the 3rd round. For other notable teams, Hita Rinkou lost to recent senbatsu participant Oita Uenogaoka 11-7. Meihou scrapped through the first couple of games, and reached the Best 4.
After taking a 3-0 lead in the 1st Touin scored 4 in the bottom of the 2nd. But runs in the 3rd through 5th innings gave Meihou the lead once again. Touin would score 2 in the bottom of the 6th to tie the game and in the bottom of the 9th to send Meihou home packing.
And as for Oita, they were in a pitcher's duel for 11 innings against Nihon Bunridai Fuzoku winning 1-0. So Touin and Oita will qualify for the super-regionals.
Miyazaki (2 teams to the Kyushu Super-Regionals)
Miyazaki looks to return to some sort of normalcy after their summer qualifying was delayed due to the foot-and-mouth disease that was going around in the prefecture.
Summer participant Nobeoka Gakuen is still alive after an 8-7 win over St. Ursula and will face Miyakonojyou for a spot in the semifinals.
One team has reached the semifinals, and that team is Saito Shougyou. They defeated Nichinan Gakuen 7-3 to reach the semis.
The other quarterfinal matches to be determined are between Miyazaki Nichidai and Miyazaki Kita, and Miyakonojyou Izumigaoka and Houshou. It's interesting because you've certainly heard of Miyazaki Nichidai and Miyakonojyou Izumigaoka, but as for the other two schools, they were eliminated in the 1st round during the summer.
Kagoshima (2 teams to the Kyushu Super-Regionals)
Kagoshima oddly has not yet reached the round of 16. Kagoshima Jitsugyou has survived the first couple of rounds, and will face Kanoya Chuo next. It's still too early to tell anything, but notable teams Shounan and Kagoshima Shougyou are still in it.
Okinawa (2 teams to the Kyushu Super-Regionals)
So perhaps the final (and fitting) question is, "What about Kounan?"
It appears that while Shimabukuro is gone, there seems to be a lot of depth at the school. Kounan was actually full of 3rd years, and not as young as they were a while ago. Nonetheless, they have blown through the prefecture. They have reached the finals defeating Shuri Higashi 7-0 behind former #18 Takara Kazuki. They will face a well-known foe in Okinawa Shogaku, who was involved in multiple low scoring affairs before defeating Miyako 7-3 to reach the final.
Although I have finished the recap on Oct 3, I will have to go back tomorrow and recap again as multiple teams have finished up prefectural play.