Sunday, June 12, 2011

2011 Haru Taikai - Hokushinetsu Taikai Final

And finally, before we head up north to Hokkaido, let's wrap things up on the mainland with the Hokushinetsu region.

Home cooking is always good. And for Niigata it was no different. 2 of the 3 lower seeds from Niigata advanced to the quarterfinals as Nagaoka Oote shocked Kanazawa and Nagano's champion Saku Chousei couldn't find an answer against Chuuetsu.

Only #2 seed Hokuetsu was unable to advance, but you could easily forgive them as they faced Tsuruga Kehi and lost 1-0.

These teams would now have to face the remaining prefecutral champions. And for the most part, none of them were able to stay with them. Yuugakukan, Nihon Bunri and Fukui Koudai Fukui all advanced via the mercy rule. Again there was one exception and that was Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku. Tsuruga Kehi got yet another team shutting them out 4-0.

Now it's off to the semifinals where Nihon Bunri and Fukui Koudai Fukui squared off. After trading a pair of runs in the 1st, Koudai Fukui dug a 6-2 hole that they could never quite recover from. They would get within 2, but Nihon Bunri prevailed 7-5.

In the other semifinal, it was Yuugakukan and Tsuruga Kehi. Yuugakugan had the better of the scoring early going up 2-1, but in the last third, Tsuruga Kehi flipped it right around and the teams found themselves tied at 3 heading into extras. And yet again, the teams found themselves in a deadlock as each inning passed. Finally Yuugakukan broke though the impasse with a run in the 14th inning. Tsuruga Kehi couldn't reply and Yuugakukan advances to the finals!

Two familiar faces in the final, and it didn't disappoint. Nihon Bunri seemed to hold all the cards, taking the lead 1-0 in the 4th and adding an insurance run in the 8th. Up 2 with just 3 outs to go, and the now famous team seemed to be on their way.

Yuugakukan thought otherwise. They mounted a rally with 2 down in the 9th inning capped off with a bases loaded triple by Taniguchi which made the score 4-2 and completely turned the tables! Now it was Nihon Bunri who was down 2 with just 3 outs to go!

Nihon Bunri could only get back one of those runs, giving Yuugakukan their 3rd ever title and first in 6 years!

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