I'm working backwards here now because Kyushu is entering final stages. In Okinawa's case, they've actually crowned a champion - which for those who follow kokoyakyu obsessively, already know.
The semifinals were as billed. Okinawa Shougaku, who had been looking to return to Koushien again facing Itoman who is looking for their first.
Itoman, sensing that this may be finally their time get out early, scoring in each of their first 3 innings, building a 4-2 lead. Okishou scores 1 in the 4th to keep themselves in the game. 2 in the 6th gave Itoman some breathing room, and ace Yamashiro (Tsubasa?) brought it home. Okinawa Shougaku would score 1 in the top of the 9th, but still falls 6-4.
So next up it was Kounan's turn. They're just 2 steps away from returning to Koushien - even after losing the face of their team, Shimabukuro Yousuke.
Standing in their way was Chuubu Shougyou who earlier had upset seeded Urasoe Shougyou.
Yet from the opening salvo it seemed like Kounan was in control. 4 in the first inning boded well. Chuubu did score 1 in the 3rd, which wasn't totally scary, but then in the 4th they came out for 5 runs suddenly taking a 6-4 lead. Kounan looked to be in bad shape, but was able to respond with 2 in the 6th to tie the game! The game stayed that way until the 8th inning when Chuubu would once again take the lead at 7-6! Kounan was now tasked with trying to find one more run in 2 innings.
And yet, they weren't able to deliver that tying run home. Chuubu Shougyou denies Kounan a chance at back-to-back titles and now was on the precipice of their own title!
The stage was set then for Itoman and Chuubu Shougyou. Could Itoman finally make good? Could Chuubu get their 3 appearance in the last 10 years?
Chuubu would open the game early notching a run in the top of the 1st. Indeed, they had opportunities to score, but Itoman denied them the ability to expand the lead. That meant that Itoman was still in the game. Indeed, in the 4th they found an equalizer. And then in the very next inning they score the go-ahead run! Now Yamashiro had to bring the game home.
And he did! Itoman holds on for the 2-1 win and earns their first trip to Koushien!
The round of 16 wound up being filled with upsets. Over at Kamoike Municipal, Reimei was the first seeded team to fall, falling behind Kagoshima Jyouhou 3-0 before trying a comeback in the 9th. That fell short by 1 and Reimei bows out.
Right behind them was Kanoya. Taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the 3rd, they had to scramble after Ijyuuin scored 4 in their next 2 turns. They successfully tied the game in the 5th but could never find the go-ahead run. That would be unfortunate as Ijyuiin scores the sayonara run in the 9th to send the 2nd seeded team home.
Over at Kamoike Prefectural, the favorites held court. Kagoshima Jitsugyou wins in 7 over Kanoya Chuo, while Satsuma Chuo who earlier upset Kagoshima Jyousei defeated Kajiki 5-4, having to scramble when Kajiki scored 4 in the 5th to take a 1-run advantage.
On the 2nd day of the round of 16 games, Shounan methodically build a 9-0 lead over the first 6 innings only to see it mostly evaporate as Yakushima scored 7 over the next 2. That would be the closest they get as Shounan scores 4 to put the nail in the coffin.
Kagoshima Kougyou meanwhile advances with ease as ace Tomishige throws a complete game 4-hitter over Kagoshima Gyoukuryuu.
Things were much harder for the seeded teams at Kamoike Prefectural. Kamimura Gakuen was first up against Sendai. Kamimura Gakuen was in control and looked to have the game in hand, holding a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th. But a lapse was all Sendai needed as they tied the game! The game stayed in a tenuous draw until the 12th where Kamimura scored 3. Yet again Sendai looked to mount a rally. Sendai was able to score 1, but that would be it.
Kanoya Chuo was in even worse shape against Kagoshima Minami. They were down for most of the game and as the late innings approached were down 3-1. However Minami may have been caught up in the moment. Kanoya Chuo scores 3 in the 8th to take the 4-3 lead. Kagoshima Minami couldn't recover in time and as a result their summer came to an end.
Quarterfinal games have been completed as Typhoon Ma-on cancelled games across the country for a day or two (depending on where you are). Kagoshima Jitsugyou ended Kagoshima Jyouhou's run with a convincing 13-3 win. Satsuma Chuo continues to look impressive mercy ruling Ijyuuin 13-3 in 5. But they will be tested against the formidable Kajitsu squad.
Those delayed quarterfinal games had Shounan sticking tough against Kamimura Gakuen... until Kamimura scored 7 in the bottom of the 7th to invoke the mercy rule. Tough loss for them. The other quarterfinal was Kanoya Chuo shutting out Kagoshima Kougyou 7-0 in 7.
So it's Kajitsu v. Satsuma Chuo in one semi and Kamimura Gakuen v. Kanoya Chuo.
Odds are, we're seeing a Kajitsu v. Kamimura Gakuen final. But anything can happen, it's the reason why we love this game, right?
- Seeded teams had mixed results, though all advanced. Miyazaki Kita wound up going 14 innings with Kobayashi Nishi, but won 5-4. Houshou 3-hits Tsuno, winning 3-0. Nichinan Gakuen defeats Miyakonojyou Nishi 7-2.
- Nobeoka Gakuen advanced via the mercy rule so no trouble there, but Miyazaki Nichidai wins by just 2-0 over Hyuuga Gakuin though they did 3-hit them. Miyakonojyou Higashi, who had just upset Miyakonojyou Izumigaoka, advanced with a 9-3 win over Nichinan.
- After a day off because of rain, the the 3 seeded teams who played yesterday all advanced - Miyakonojyou Shougyou, Miyazaki Kita and Nichinan Gakuen.
- 5-6 seed Oita separates themselves from Yanagigaura with 3 in the 8th for a 6-3 win.
- Kunisaki blows an early 5-0 lead but eventually defeats Oita Tsurusaki 7-6 in 11.
- Nihon Bunridai Fuzoku needed the bottom of the 9th to score their only 2 runs beating Tsukumi 2-1.
- Mori's run ended when they lost 10-2 to 7-8 seed Tsurusaki Kougyou.
- 3-4 seed Touin used a 6-run 8th to beat Beppu Aoyama 7-4.
- 5-6 Hita Rinkou had a 5-run 5th en route to a 6-2 win over Usuki.
Finishing up Round 2, Aso Chuo outlasted Touryou 5-4, while Jyouhoku and Kumamoto combined for just 7 hits with Jyouhoku getting the 1-0 win.
- Seeded Chiharadai after a shaky start mercy ruled Kumamoto Denpa Tousen 14-4 in 6. Next up for them will be Kumamoto Kougyou.
- Yatsushiro Higashi also moves on to the next round after recording their 2nd 8-1 win in as many games. Kumamoto Gakuendai Fuzoku will be their opponent in the round of 16.
- Kyushu Gakuin advanced easily and will play Amakusa Kougyou next.
- Luther Gakuin, who is seeded only wins 1-0 over Tamana Kougyou.
- Shuugakukan is also cruising through the brackets and is on a collision course with Toukaidai Fuzoku Dai-ni though they only won 3-2 over Yatsushiro.
- Senshuudai Tamana is trying once again to make their first Koushien appearance, and advances 9-4 over Minamata.
- Kumamoto Kokufu draws Jyouhoku after both face little opposition.
- We get our first seeded casualty as Kumamoto Kougyou mercy rules Chiharadai 9-2 in 8.
- Yatsushiro Higashi would fall next as Kumamoto Gakuendai Fuzoku scores 5 in the 1st en route to a 7-6 win.
- Kyushu Gakuin early on in their match against Amakusa Kougyou looked to be the 3rd straight team to fall, but a 9-2 run in the 5th-8th innings save their season as they move on 11-8.
- Kyushu Gakuin's win though did not stop the bleeding. Luther Gakuin watched as Buntoku scored 2 in the 7th to pull ahead for good at 4-2.
- Shuugakukan becomes just the 2nd seeded team to advance to the Best 8 with a 3-0, 4-hit shutout over Uto.
- Chinzei continues the upset trend scoring the go-ahead run in the 8th to defeat Toukaidai Fuzoku Dai-ni 3-2.
- Senshuudai Tamana would be the 3rd and final seeded team to advance with a 4-1 win over Ariake. This is because Kumamoto Kokufu would give up 4 in the 8th to Jyouhoku and fall 6-3.
Round 2 play continued on the 15th...
- Shimabara and Gotou were in a low-scoring affair, but Shimabara got the better of it with a sayonara run to win 4-3.
- Keihou pulled off the upset against Nagasaki Nanzen winning 2-1 in 12!
- And to make it 3 straight close games at Sasebo, Nagasaki Kougyou scored their only run in the 9th, but fell 2-1 to Kyushu Bunka.
- Nagasaki Nichidai cruised over Iki and will face seeded Seihou. How this is only a round of 16 matchup I have no idea.
- Kaisei (no, not that Kaisei) defeated Sasebo Nishi 11-0 in 6.
- Souseikan became another seeded casualty as they lost to Sasebo Jitsugyou 5-3.
- Obama invoked the presidential rallies of the man with the same name, tying the game at 1 versus Shimabara Nougyou in the bottom of the 9th and winning the game just 1 inning later.
- Well, that powerhouse matchup between Seihou and Nagasaki Nichidai wound up being a bit one sided. Seihou scores 6 after falling behind 2-0 and won 8-5.
- Isehaya separates themselves from Sasebo Tousen with 4 in the 9th to win 10-6.
- Seiryou continues its run after upsetting Hasami by beating Shimabara 8-1.
- Kaisei with their 2nd mercy-rule win moves on to play Isahaya.
- Sasebo Jitsugyou up 2 watches Sasebo Minami score 5 in the 6th to find themselves down 3. But they come back to score a pair of runs in the 7th and 8th to come back and win 8-7!
- Keihou after their upset also won their game against Kawatana 9-6.
- Finally Obama made their lives a bit easier after a stressful game, winning 7-3 over Kyushu Bunka.
- Seiryou seems to be showing themselves to be a contender. Obama is no match for them as they get mercy ruled 9-2 in 8. They will play Kaisei who also invoked the mercy rule, defeating Isahaya also by the score of 9-2 (in 7 innings).
- Seihou advances to the Best 4 with an 8-4 win over Sasebo Jitsugyou. Their opponent will be Keihou who pulls off their 2nd upset against Sasebo Kougyou 8-1 in 7 innings!
- Seeded Karatsu Shougyou with a 5-2 win over Hokuryou moves on to face Saga Nishi who faced no opposition from Tosu Shougyou.
- Same with Saga Gakuen as they defeat Shiroishi. They'll play Kashima Jitsugyou who will get rest after winning 2-1 in 11 against Tosu Kougyou.
- Deanna's pet team, Saga Kita looks to be a team of destiny again. They bookend the game with runs, defeating seeded Ryuukoku 5-4 in 10! They get Miyaki next.
- And in what will be the final quarterfinal matchup, Waseda Saga is blanked by Kyuuragi 10-0 while Saga Kougyou mercy rules Saga Nougyou.
- Quarterfinal 1 had Karatsu Shougyou and Saga Nishi. The game was tied at 1 at the end of regulatio. Saga Nishi tried to put the game away with a run in the top of the 10th. But when Karatsu Shougyou tied the game in the bottom half, the game bogged down. Neither team was able to score after that and the game ended in a 2-2 draw! That means they'll have to replay the game and make it that much more difficult to advance.
- In the 2nd quarterfinal on the 20th, Saga Kita gives up a late pair of runs to Miyaki but it's in consequential as they win 4-2.
Fukuoka by the 20th had finished regional play and had their redraw for the prefectural bracket.
- Kurume had the Minami Block B, C & D finals. In the Block B final, Itoshima defeated Mizuma 4-2 to advance. Nishi Nippon Tankidai Fuzoku secured the Block C bid after a 3-run 7th gave them a 4 run lead. They would win 5-2 over Shuuyuukan. Finally, Kurume Shougyou scores 4 runs on just 7 hits and advances 4-0 over Kurume.
- Kasuga had the Minami A, E, F finals. Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou wins Block A as expected 7-1 over Chikushi. Higashi-Fukuoka's Mori 4-hits Chikushidai in a 4-0 shutout in Block E, Musashidai's 3-run 1st is the final margin as they win 7-4 over Hakata in Block F.
- Ootani had Kita Block A and E finals. Touchiku slips by Ikutokukan 2-1 in the A final. Inatsuki Shikoukan can only muster a run in the 9th against Jiyuugaoka as they fall 6-1.
- Chikuhou Ryokuchi was host to the Kita Block C & F finals. Touyou defeated Noogata 12-0 in 5 to move out of Block C. Kokura, who mercy ruled seeded Orio, advances out of Block F with a 10-2 win in 8 over Kurate.
- Kita-Kyushu Municipal has the B & D finals. Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku easily goes to prefectural play from Block B with a 10-1 win over Kokura Nishi. Moji Gakuen scores 3 in the 8th to shock Houkoku Gakuen 3-2 in Block F.
- Kurume again had 3 games - Blocks I, J and K finals. Chikuyou easily handles Nanchiku 11-2 in 7. Fukuoka Kougyou mercy rules Fukushou 9-0 in 7, and in a shocker, Asakura rallies with 3 runs in the last 2 innings to defeat Yanagigawa 6-5!
- Kasuga with Block G & H finals. Oomuta shocks Kyushu Sangyoudai Kyushu leading wire to wire to advance 4-2! Fukuoka Kaisei does the same thing to Block H seed Toukaidai Dai-go winning 5-1!
- Finally in Kita Block G & H over in Kita-Kyushu, Hokuchiku shuts out seeded Kita-Kyushu Shiritsu as ace Imanaga throws a 6-hitter! Iidzuka rounds out the field defeating Yahata Minami 6-2.
For others, their path is a bit easier. Kyukoku does face competition that has Koushien experience, but not recently. Same with Nishi Nippon Tankidai Fuzoku and Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou.
Day 1 for Kochi went by with little fanfare or excitement. All games were called and the minimum losing margin was 7.
The 17th was better in terms of closer games. 4 of the 7 were decided by 1:
- Kochi Chuo's Ishigaki throws a 3-hit shutout as they win 1-0 over Sukumo Kougyou.
- Kochi Minami's 4 runs early are enough to beat Kochi Higashi Kougyou 4-3.
- Kochi Nishi down 7-0 to Odzu scores 1 in the 7th then 5 more in the 8th. But the tying run was left begging.
- Susaki and Kochi Tousen each scored a run in the 7th, but it would be Kochi Tousen who would score the sayonara run to win 2-1.
The first game of the 3rd round had Meitoku Gijyuku continued on with their 2nd mercy game while Tosa pulled away after Kochi Kougyou scored 5 in the 6th to make it a 6-5 ballgame.
1st round play at the start about as exciting as watching paint dry. Games for the most part were not totally competitive. Imabari Nishi this year was not a seeded team and thus had to play the first round where they dispatched Komatsu 13-0. Saibi too had to play and they beat Matsuyama Chuo 7-0.
The only exception it seemed was a game between Oozu Nougyou and Imabari Kita Oomishima. Tied at 2 going into extras, Oozu scores 3 to seemingly put the game away. Except that Oomishima decided that they weren't ready to go home yet and scored 3 of their own. This after being 2-2 through 9??! Anyways, Oomishima didn't seem to have any choice about going home as Oozu scores 3 more in the 11th, and that was game.
But turn the calendar to the 17th and we started having drama.
- Yawatehama held off a charge by Houjyou that saw their lead shrink to 1 at 3-2 before recording the final out.
- Niihama Tousen, down 7-3 to Matsuyama Minami finds a way to score 4 in the 9th to tie the game. 2 innings later, they score 4 more to win 11-7.
- Niihama Kougyou, much like their bretheren team, scores a run in the 9th to send it into enchousen against Ehimedai Fuzoku where also 2 innings later they score the go-ahead run to win 6-5.
- Finally Matsuyama Kita gets out to an early lead, but watches as Nomura slowly whittles away at it. They pull within 1 twice, but can never find the equalizer, falling 5-4.
Not much to report here out of Tokushima. Most games are going by uneventful, and the 2nd round was started just before the typhoon hit.
Jyounan was able to get their game in, though there were trailing for the first part of it against Awa before scoring 7 in the 7th to call the mercy rule.
Much was the same in Kagawa. Though unseeded Eimei advanced with a 7-3 win over Ishida. And 4 seed Sakaide was shutout by Sakaide Shougyou 2-0! Sangawa did indeed advance with a 13-0 win in 5 over Takamatsu Chuo.