So finally we head to Hokkaido. The largest prefecture by land area, the area with the mildest summers and the longest winters. Baseball here is played year round, but not necessarily in the best of conditions. Their win % rankings place them near the bottom of both the senbatsu and Natsu Koushiens despite having the 5th most Best 8 appearances (12). There are teams here that certainly have shown themselves to be above and beyond the field in Hokkaido. Yet when they head over the Tsugaru Strait, it changes.
Hokkai, with their fall win, gets a free pass to the prefecturals though they still had to play in the regionals.
Perennial team Sapporo Dai-ichi ran into Ritsumeikan Keishou who has been a good team as of late, and fell 4-3. With that out of the way, Ritsumeikan Keishou advanced out of block play.
Elsewhere in the Sapporo regionals, Hokkai's sister school Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo bested Sapporo Nichidai to advance. Sapporo Minami barely gets in with a win over Sapporo Ootani. And while Toukai Dai-yon lost to Hokkai in their regional final, because of the free pass, they advanced as well.
Komadai Tomakomai continues to struggle getting back to prominence, though they did give Hokkaido Sakae a good run in their part of the Sorachi regionals. Hokkaido Sakae advanced.
My underdog team, Hakodatedai Yuuto, advanced out of Hakodate, while Hokushou naturally advanced out of Otaru, and the same went for Komadai Iwamizawa in Sorachi and Asahikawa Minami out of Asahikawa (though they had a close game against Asahikawa Tousen).
Rounding out the field was Wakkanai Ootani (Nayoro) , Memanbetsu (Kitami), Shirakaba Gakuen (Tokachi) and Bushuukan (Kushine).
Then the draw came out and went as follows (winners of the first round are in red):
Bushuukan (Kushine) vs. Hakodatedai Yuuto (Hakodate)-Hokushou (Otaru) winner
Wakkanai Ootani (Nayoro) vs. Hokkaido Sakae (Muroran)
Sapporo Minami (Sapporo) vs. Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo (Sapporo) - how did this draw happen?
and on the other side...
Memanbetsu (Kitami) vs. Asahikawa Minami (Asahikawa)
Toukai Dai-yon (Sapporo) vs. Ritsumeikan Keishou (Sapporo) - again, how did this draw happen?
Mukawa (Muroran) vs. Shirakaba Gakuen (Tokachi)
Komadai Iwamizawa (Sorachi) vs. Hokkai (Fall Champion, Sapporo)
Only 3 of those first round games were close. Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo was shutout 3-0, Asahikawa Minami had to rally from down 4-2 to send it into extras winning it finally in the 13th (ace Saitou pitched the entire game), and Toukai Dai-yon survived a 5-run from Ritsumeikan Keishou 8th to win 8-7.
The quarterfinals had some great games. All the scoring for the Hokkaido Sakae and Sapporo Minami game happened in the 4th inning. The edge? It went to Hokkaido Sakae 2-1. Asahikawa Minami held a 4-0 lead against Toukai Dai-yon only to see it completely evaporate in the top of the 5th. Asahikawa Minami then went on to score 5 unanswered runs to win 9-5. And finally Shirakaba Gakuen held Hokkai to just 2 runs to win 4-2.
The only non-competitive game was Hakodatedai Yuuto's as they mercy ruled Bushuukan 8-1.
The semis saw Hakodatedai Yuuto continue their run as ace Tsutsumiguchi shutout Hokkaido Sakae 3-0. And in a bit of a shocker, Asahikawa Minami couldn't put up any resistance to Shirakaba Gakuen as they were mercy-ruled 10-1 in 8 innings.
So the final was Hakodatedai Yuuto and Shirakaba Gakuen. It was all Yuuto early as they scored 2 in the 1st and 3 in the 5th to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Shirakaba's offense would finally come around in the latter third of the game, but by then it was too late. Tsutsumiguchi would re-take the hill to shut the rally down as his team wins 6-3 to take their first title in 23 years! Perhaps we'll see my team in the summer?