So since prefectures have wrapped up play, I can go over full coverage... except for Osaka and Hyogo. Their formats are weird.
So the battle of the older brother versus younger brother went... well... as expected.
Kousei Gakuin defeated (Kousei Gakuin) Noheji Nishi 9-1 for their 4th title, and first since 2003.
So Yamagata's semifinals had Tsuruoka Higashi surprisingly end Nichidai Yamagata's run scoring 6 in the first 3 innings and using that to win 6-5.
Meanwhile, my irrational pick Haguro was down 5-1 to Yamagata Chuo, then rallied to get up 6-5, blew that lead in the top of the 9th then lost it in the 10th. Nuts.
So it would be either Tsuruoka Higashi, who hadn't been in 30 years or Yamagata Chuo, who hadn't been at all.
It was Tsuruoka Higashi who scores 1st with 2 in the 3rd. Ace Furuichi had been holding Yamagata Chuo at bay until Takahashi hits a 2-run HR in the 6th to reset the game! Sugai with new life tried to keep things level until his team could score, but it wasn't to be. Tsuruoka Higashi would score in the next inning, giving them a 3-2 victory and their 3rd summer title!
In the Miyagi final, Rifu was certainly in the drivers seat against B seed Furukawa Kougyou. Yet Rifu couldn't get to Furukou's ace Yamada. In fact, it was Furukou that got the first lead, scoring on Katou. Rifu responded by firing right back to tie the game.
But when Furukou was threatening once again, Katou would be relieved by Mizuochi, but he was unable to clamp it down. Furukou takes the lead.
Furukawa Kougyou would add one more run in the 8th, and earn their first ever Koushien appearance, defeating both Tohoku and Rifu in the process!!
So, in the semifinals, it really was Seikou Gakuin and everyone else it seemed. They easily handled Iwaki Kouyou 5-0. Their opponent would be Sukagawa who scored the gyakuten 4-3 win over Odaka Kougyou with 2 runs in the 9th.
In the end, it'd be ace Saiuchi for Seikou Gakuin who would 3-hit Sukagawa and earn their 5th consecutive appearance!
So Tochigi was finally able to have their final, but it was rather lopsided. Utsunomiya Shougyou gave it their best, but lost 17-5 to Sakushin Gakuin. It's their 7th title and first in 2 years.
The semis for the Nishi Tokyo region almost went as expected. Waseda Jitsugyou (aka Soujitsu) defeated Kousei Gakuen 11-5, while Nichidai-san (aka Sanko) had early offensive struggles against Nichidai Tsurugaoka but pulled away in the 2nd half of the game, winning 9-3.
So, what's new? It's a finals matchup between two Tokyo powerhouses - Soujitsu and Sanko.
And this is one final that you know won't disappoint. And it didn't.
Aces Uchida (Soujitsu) and Yoshinaga (Sanko) were going to start and finish the game come hell or high water.
So it began, and the aces dominated the opening innings as neither team could score. Then in the 5th, after Taniguchi for Sanko gets hit in the head (ouch), he steals second and scores on a double to center, making it 1-0 Sanko.
Then in the very next inning, Uchida leaves one up for Suganuma and he bombs one to make it 2-0!
And in a game like this, a 2-0 deficit is rather huge. Soujitsu uses their lucky 7 to get a run back. Though it was via a double, bunt and wild pitch.
Yoshinaga though would not let another run cross the plate. He shuts down the Soujitsu offense and sends Nichidai-san to their 14th appearance and first in 2 years.
In the Kanagawa final, Yokohama looked to be more than beatable and Toukou showed a lot of fight. And it continued here.
Matsui opened for Toukou Gakuen and held Yokohama scoreless for 4+ innings. In the 5th though, after a couple of hits, he would be relieved by Kashiwara. Yokohama though would push home a run in the 5th.
Yet, the deficit would remain at 1, and in the 7th Toukou would find an equalizer! And it would be a new game once again.
Top 9, Toukou Gakuen gets a hit and after a walk with 2 down, Yokohama sends in #11 Souma. He strikes out the next batter to end the threat.
Yokohama looked to end things right in the 9th as Kashiwara hits the first batter, who was leaning waaaaaaaaaayyyy in. The dead ball stands, and the next batter takes advantage of a defense expecting bunt, and bounces one over the infield for a base hit! Now Toukou was in real trouble!
But when they tried to execute a bunt, Kashiwara charges in and makes a great throw to 3rd to get the lead runner! One down, but Toukou isn't out of it yet.
And a base hit to right is quickly fielded by RF Fujishima holding the lead runner at 3rd. Manrui with 1 down, normal baseball strategy would call for a bunt.
But there was none from Nakase and he goes down swinging! I wonder why they didn't try it.
2 down, and Aoki is up, but he pops it up! 2B Suzuki secures it and they go into extras!
However, given Yokohama's threats in the last couple of innings and the momentum they seemed to have, I thought Toukou would have to win this now, or they might lose immediately in extras.
Sure enough, Toukou goes down in order, and Otosaka starts things off in the 10th with a double. Another quick single to right puts the sayonara run 90 feet away...
...and C Kondou doesn't miss. He chops one up the middle for the win! Yokohama wins 2-1 in 10 for their 14th title and 1st in 3 years.
So in Niigata, it's 2 strong teams in the final. Nihon Bunri, the almost cardiac kids in 2009, versus Niigata Meikun.
And as expected it would be a low scoring affair at Hard-Off Eco Stadium.
In fact, it'd be another enchousen game. Niigata Meikun would have first crack, getting a runner on 3rd with 2 outs. But a flyout to left ends that.
#20 Tamura for Nihon Bunri (teams are allowed 20 on their roster during prefecturals). hits a double to left-center! But when he's bunted over, P Machinaga fields it and throws to 3rd getting Tamura out by a mile! What the heck happened there??
A base hit to left by Noguchi put runners at the corners.
Yumoto finishes the deal with a drive to right center giving Nihon Bunri their 6th title and 1st appearance since their final game in 2009.
In the Toyama finals, Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku down 1-0 quickly scored 4 to take a 4-1 lead over Shin-Minato. Kokusaidai ace Gotou continues to shut down the Shin-Minato offense, but in the 8th Shin-Minato breaks out with 3 runs to take a 5-4 lead! With just 3 outs left, Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku couldn't get to ace Hakamatani who denies them their first ever Koushien appearance! Instead it will be Shin-Minato who earns their 5th summer title and first since 1999!
As the tournament progressed, it seemed like some of the pre-tournament favorites didn't look to be actual favorites. Mie in the round of 16, struggled against Matsusaka Kougyou needed to score 2 in the 9th for the 4-3 gyakuten win.
Inabe Sougou was not as fortunate losing 3-2 to Kuwana Kougyou.
But Mie wouldn't be too far behind. Ise Kougyou, despite giving up the tying run in the 9th, defated Mie 2-1 in 11! Tsu Nishi bid sayonara to Tsu 5-4 in 9.
So Inabe Sougou was gone... now so was Mie. That left Komono as the only major team left.
Except they lost too in the quarterfinals to Kinkidai Tousen 6-3.
So that meant the entire field is wide open. And the semifinals really showed that.
Kinkidai Tousen vs. Tsu Nishi went something like this...
Tsu Nishi down 0-4, 1-4, 1-6, 1-7, 4-7, 4-8, then up 9-8, down 9-11, 10-11, 10-13...
And 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th gave them a 15-13 lead. With 28 runs already, 2 more seemed like a possibility.
But Tsu Nishi's 4th and 5th pitchers, Morimasa and Itou would put the games 4th zero (on either side), as they win 15-13.
The other semifinals was much more tame. Yokkaichi gets a 3-0 lead in the 3rd, Kurokawa can't hold it, gives up 4 in the 6th to Ise Kougyou en route to a 5-3 loss.
The final would be unpredictable given these teams, but Ise Kougyou took control early, jumping to a 6-1 lead. Tsu Nishi though would chip away, closing to within 2 in the 6th. But 3 in the 8th meant that Ise Kougyou wins just their 2nd title (their first was in 1988).
So, in Kyoto we had 3 well-known (and fairly long-named) schools in Ryuukokudai Heian, Fukuchiyama Seibi, and Ritsumeikan Uji, and a not-so much imposter in Kyoto Ryouyou (they did after all beat what could have been the 4th long-named team in Kyoto Gaidai Nishi).
Kyoto Ryouyou did show they belonged though, as they held with Ritsumeikan Uji, taking a 2-0 lead and a 3-2 lead. However, Ritsumeikan Uji took control in the 5th, scoring 5 runs and a 7-3 lead. Ryouyou scored 2 to cut the deficit in half, but Ritsumeikan put it away with a pair in the 7th to win 9-5.
Fukuchiyama Seibi is working to rebuild after their withdrawal following some rather offensive actions last year. They're back to the Best 4, but could not keep up with Ryuukokudai Heian. There were pinged in the middle innings to death and a 6-3 loss.
In the finals it was all Heian as they win their 31st title and a trip to Koushien after a year off.
Chiben Gakuen wins.
(What? What else do you want me to say? That they won their 5 games by a combined 45-6???)
Chiben Wakayama wins.
Ok, so in this case there's a little more to this. First Chiben Wakayama actually got a scare. Block semifinals against Hidaka, Hidaka actually took the lead 2-1 in the 3rd, then extended it by a run in the 5th! But it's a 9-inning game, and in the 8th Kadoguchi couldn't hold Chiben off. 3 in the 8th meant they were behind, and they never caught up.
But after Kouyou fell to Ito in the Block D final, that left only Minabe to challenge Chiben Wakayama. And suffice it to say, Minabe is no Kouyou, nor Minoshima (who lost earlier).
So Chiben Wakayama wins their 7th consecutive title. Chiben Wakayama winning Wakayama is like Tenri/Chiben Gakuen winning Nara. Just check the box and move on.
Championship game in Okayama, and Kanzei was poised to win another title. But Konkou Gakuen had other ideas. After falling behind 2-0, Konkou Gakuen scored 5 unanswered to take a 5-2 lead late.
Kanzei though showed fight by coming all the way back in the bottom of the 9th! 2 innings later, they secure their 8th appearance and first since 2006.
Perhaps as expected, it was Iwamichisuikan and Kaisei in the finals, though it almost wasn't. Iwamichisuikan needed to score 5 runs in the last 2 innings to pull out a 6-5 sayonara win.
And in that sense, it wasn't surprising then that Kaisei routed Iwamichisuikan 12-2 for the title.
Jyosuikan would be in the finals, that seemed assured (and it was with a 3-1 win). The question would be who would they face.
Soutoku was the seeded team, but Hiroshima Shinjyou was the one taking the initiative. After falling behind 3-1 they rallied for 3 to re-take a one run lead, eventually winning 5-4 in 10.
In the final, Jyosuikan did take the 1-0 lead, but then Shinjyou pinged one run, then another and perhaps we'd see an upset. But when Jyosuikan scored a pair in the 7th and 8th, it was all but over as they won their 7th title.
In the final, Yanai Gakuen would manage just 5 hits and 1 run. But their ace Yazawa held Sakuragaoka to just 2 hits and 0 runs meaning that they would earn their 1st ever appearance!