With games spaced out, Niigata wasn't affected as much by the rain. Round of 16 action at Sanjyou Kikai wound up being a surprise as both seeded teams, #3 Nagaoka Oote and 5-8 Sado both lost! Nagaoka Oote gave up 4 in the 1st and never recovered against Niigata Kenou Kougyou while Niigata Meikun scored all 3 of their runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Sado 3-2!
Nihon Bunri led 4-0 over Teikyou Nagaoka before Teikyou scored 6 to take the lead! But Nihon Bunri had time to recover, tied the game in the 6th and won 10-6.
#2 Hokuetsu too would fall at Shibata Ijimino as Shirone scores 3 in the bottom of the 8th for the gyakuten 6-5 win.
Onto the quarterfinals and Nihon Bunri got involved in one heck of a battle with Murakami Sakuragaoka! After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the 1st, they score 5, then give 4 right back! Things got worse in the 6th after Murakami scored 2 more. That meant they were trailing 9-5! But Nihon Bunri would finally respond. 3 in the 6th and one more in the 7th finally brought them level. And in the bottom of the 9th, they score the winning run, but a rather unusual game from them here in the quarterfinals.
Shirone on the other side surprised yet another team as Katou shut out Gosen 2-0!
To the semis, and Nihon Bunri struggled again, this time against Chuuetsu. Managing just 1 run early, Chuuetsu took the 2-1 lead in the 6th. It would be 1 inning later where they'd take a 3-2 lead, but even though they reach the finals, I don't know if they can get away with it against Niigata Meikun. They mercilessly end Shirone's run with a 9-1 mercy game.
In what could be considered a big upset, unknown Komoro Shougyou and ace Niimi(?) shutout Saku Chousei 3-0! That still leaves some big name teams, but it sure opens the door!
Joining Komoro Shougyou would be Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri, who scored 4 in the 4th but that was all they needed to beat Toukai Dai-san 4-3.
Meanwhile, emerging power Nagano Nichidai goes down in a shocker to to Matsumoto Dai-ichi 6-4!
Matsushou Gakuen does advance to the semis, but with a less than convincing 4-2 win over Iiyama.
In the semis, Matsushou Gakuen advanced to the finals with little resistance from Komoro Shougyou. It would seem like no matter the opponent, they should have no problem. After all, neither of them had been to Koushien before.
Their opponent would be Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri who won 2-0...
In the beginning though, it was Shidai who took the lead first. 3 runs in the 2nd and Matsushou was on their heels. It wouldn't be until the 6th inning when Matsushou would finally get on the board against ace Aibara. And the very next inning they knocked him out and scored 3 runs to boot to take the lead.
Things looked well for Matsuhou after that. All Kumatani had to do was close it out. But in the 9th he faltered. Shidai would score 3 runs in the 9th to take a 1 run lead. Matsushou once again was on the verge of being knocked out. Once again, they manufactured a run against reliever Kaneko to send it into extras.
That would be it for starter Kumatani as Miwa would relieve him, but 2 hits and only 1 out later, he would be relieved by their 3rd pitcher Hara. He gets them out of the mess, but he may be the end of the line for Matsushou.
As the game progressed, neither team was able to manufacture a run.
That was until the 13th when Shidai was able to push in a run, once again putting Matsushou on their heels.
This time though, there would be no comeback. The middle of the lineup couldn't deliver for Matsushou and Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri earns their 1st ever Koushien appearance!
Toyama had the benefit of going slowly given the number of teams. They've actually been able to go through just 2 games a day each at 2 sites.
One of those games was in the 2nd round when Sakurai and Shin-Minato go extras, with Sakurai taking a 2-1 lead in the 12th only to have Fukushima falter in the end giving up 2 for the loss.
Shin-Minato's next game against Fushiki was even crazier. Down 4-0 before getting their first AB, they quickly got 3 back. After trading some runs in the next couple of innings, Shin-Minato scores 6 in the 6th to take a 11-6 lead! That lasted all of... almost nothing. Fushiki scores 5 in the lucky 7 and we were tied! Shin-Minato finally puts it away with 3 in the 8th for a 14-11 win!
Even by the Best 8, things had going pretty much as normal. The top 2 seeds advanced, but certainly not convincing. Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku managed just 6 hits against Namerikawa but scored the only run. Takaoka Shougyou limited Fujikoshi Kougyou to just 2 hits, but won 4-1.
Shin-Minato's quarterfinal game had to be pushed back due to rain, but when it finally got underway, it was another nail-biter. Takaoka Nishi kept the game close until the 8th when Shin-Minato scored 3 for the eventual 5-3 win.
In the semifinals, Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku uses a 4-run 5th to distance themselves from Tonami Kougyou for a 6-3 win. Shin-Minato will be their opponent as they win 15-6 over Takaoka Shougyou. Interestingly, it's Shin-Minato who's been to Koushien before, and seeded Takaoka Kokusaidai Fuzoku who hasn't!
Not surprisingly, 3 of the 4 semifinalists were Fukui Koudai Fukui, Fukui Shougyou and Tsuruga Kehi. The 4th seeded team, Nyuu, who seems to at least be above average, lost to Takefu Shougyou in the round prior.
So in the semis, Koudai Fukui had no trouble with the outlier of the bunch as they won 6-0. The Fukushou-Tsuruga Kehi game on the other hand was close as expected. Neither team was able to scratch out a lead bigger than 2 until the bottom of the 8th as Fukushou got to Tsuruga Kehi's ace Yamamoto for 2 to get a 3-run lead. It was left to Fukushou's Yamamoto to shut things down. Except he wasn't able to cleanly. 1 run was in for Kehi, then 2... But Yamamoto managed to record the 3rd out and it setup a familiar final between two powerhouse schools.
Sadly though the finals were all Fukui Shougyou. Despite keeping the deficit at 1 early, they couldn't stop Fukushou from scoring in the middle innings. When all was said and done, Fukushou had earned their 2nd consecutive appearance and 21st overall.
As the tournament moved into the round of 16 we could start noting some of the favored teams such as Kanazawa and Yuugakukan though you could be assured they'd advance far.
Looking at the other teams, there were some interesting battles. Komatsu defeats Hakui 3-2 in 12, Kanazawa Sakuragaoka rallies from down 6-0 to defeat Kanazawa Izumigaoka 9-6.
But in the end it would be Kanazawa and Yuugakukan who would meet in the final. Kanazawa would build a 4-0 lead early and not relinquish it, winning 8-5 for their 13th appearance and first since 2008.
Much like other rural prefectures, certain teams dominate the area. Here in Shiga, it's primarily Kita-Ootsu and Oumi.
Yet this year they didn't seem as dominating. While Oumi won their first games 4-1 and 5-0, Kita-Ootsu won 3-1, then won 1-0 in 12 over Hikone Higashi (who really isn't that bad of a team).
That meant the door was possibly opened for other teams. Takashima, down 5-1 to Youkaichi in the bottom of the 9th score 5 to win the game and earn a crack at Kita-Ootsu.
Surpringly, it was not Kita-Ootsu, but Oumi who would fall first. Seta Kougyou scores 4 in the 8th and 9th innings to win 9-6! Kita-Ootsu survived yet again with a 3-1 win over Takashima.
Perhaps the only team that showed some domination was a different seeded team - Hachiman Shougyou who had won their first games combined 15-2 before defeating Kawase 4-1.
In the semis, Hachiman Shougyou flexed its muscle again, mercy-ruling Seta Kougyou 7-0 in 7. Kita-Ootsu makes it to the final with another close game against Oumi Kyoudaisha 4-2.
To the finals, and Kita-Ootsu seemed to be destined to be one of those teams who liked playing low scoring affairs. They build a 3-0 lead early, and looked to be in control. But in the 5th, Hachiman Shougyou out of nowhere goes on a run and scores 6 runs! Kita-Ootsu, who has played a low scoring strategy suddenly needs to keep up. But trying for runs at this point is difficult and as a result they lose 6-4 and Hachiman wins their 7th title and heads to Koshien for the first time in 5 years!
So in the semifinals, Yamanashi Gakuindai Fuzoku had no trouble with Koufu Shougyou after pulling off the upset on A seed Toukaidai Koufu. Meanwhile Nihon Koukuu had their own upset to pull off against Koufu Kougyou and succeeded 6-4. Interestingly, all 4 semifinals were a Natsu Koushien representative in each of the last 5 years except last year (Hikawa).
In the finals, Gakuindai opened the scoring in the 4th with a run but JAA responded with 3 in their half. But Gakuindai started chipping away in the 6th, tying it in the 7th then blowing it open with 7 runs in the last 2 innings for the 10-3 win. This is their 5th title, and 1st in 2 years.
Well, for almost all seeded teams remaining in the block semifinals, they all advanced. Though for teams like Seki Shoukou, they went from tied at 1-1 into the 9th, to down 4-1, to a sayonara 5-4 win!
The only seeded team remaining not to advance was Tounou Jitsugyou. They fell 9-5 to Gujyou.
To the block finals, and the shocker of them all came in the first game. Block A saw Seki Shoukou take a 4-1 lead over Oogaki Nichidai with 4 in the 5th! After extending it to 4 with a run in the 7th, ace Naijyou(?) gave it all right back, and was knocked out. And so, Oogaki Nichidai with new life, seemed to be back in control of the game. But Oogaki's 3rd pitcher of the game, Ueki, couldn't record an out. 2 hits later, and Kassai was tasked to save the inning.
Yet, he would be unable to do so. Seki Shoukou plates a run and takes the lead once again. Reliever Yasue shuts the Nichidai offense down, and they pull off the 6-5 upset!
Joiing Seki Shoukou would be Oogaki Shougyou, Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou, and Gujyou.
In the redraw for the semis, the expected blockbuster matchup game not in the finals, but the semis. Yes, Oogaki Shougyou and Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou drew each other. The game started off competitive as Oogaki Shougyou nudged out to a 2-1 lead. But in the 7th, Oogaki Shougyou scored 6 runs putting Kengishou on mercy watch. And sure enough, they were unable to score and Oogaki Shougyou advanced to the finals.
And though Seki Shoukou advanced to meet them, it was all but a certainty that Oogaki Shougyou would go to Koushien.
No one told Seki Shoukou that...
In the 2nd and 3rd innings, Seki Shoukou scores 2 runs apiece to take a shocking 4-0 lead on the favorites! Meanwhile, Naijyou scatters 7 hits across the board as he gives his team their 1st ever Koushien appearance!
Almost 2 full weeks after the first games started in Aichi, the seeded teams finally start their games in their blocks. This is because the format chosen means these teams get not 1, but 2 bye rounds before they even play a game.
All the seeded teams did advance, though some not without some difficulty. Block A, Shigakukan scored 4 in the 9th to beat Douhou 10-7. In Block D, Kikuka needed all 15 innings before scoring the sayonara run to beat Niwa 3-2. And in Block F, Oobu gave up a 1-run lead to Bihoku before winning in 10.
In other block games, Kira scored in each of the last 3 innings to defeat Kariya Kita 3-2. Meijyoudai Fuzoku and Shouwa played to a 2-2 draw. The following day, it would be Meijyoudai who jumped out to an early lead and win 8-5.
There'd be more trouble for the seeded teams in the block semis. Shigakukan got into trouble yet again, but not in the way you'd think. Down 3-0 To Aichi Sangyoudai Kougyou they score 7 in the 7th and the game seems to be under control. Yet the very next half-inning Sangyoukou scores 6 to retake a 2-run lead! Well, with just 2 innings to go, and getting punched in the mouth like that it seemed like this time it would be the end. Yet they score 3 in the bottom of the 9th and advance 10-9!
Oobu too was in trouble. Down 3 to Tojyaku in the bottom of the 9th, they find a way to tie the game up and win 5-4 in 10.
Aichi was not so lucky in Block B. They fall 3-2 to Toyokawa and become the first casualty. Next, and perhaps most surprising of all was 2009 Natsu Koushien winner Chuukyoudai Chuukyou who lost to Jishuukan 3-2!
We also had our 2nd draw as Chiryuu and Aichi Shougyou played to a 5-5 draw. Chiryuu would win the replay 6-2.
Of the 8 seeded teams, the 6 remaining after the upsets did advance.
Perhaps the weakest of the bunch may have be Oobu who though seeded played 3 consecutive enchousen games, including their block final against Chiryuu. That went the full 15 before they scored 2, and yet almost blew it again (Chiryuu scored 1).
The Final 8 was redrawn, and it was very lopsided. The 2 favorites, Aikoudai Meiden and Touhou were on one side of the draw, along with Aichi Keisei who while never has to Koushien, has fared really well in the prefecture. On the other side the only team to have advanced to Koushien was Oobu.
Aikoudai Meiden and Touhou did win their games, though by margins of 5-2 and 3-1. Oobu's run did indeed run out against Toyokawa 6-3, and Shigakukan went 14 innings against Kikuka before winning 2-1.
In the semis, Aikoudai Meiden was able to edge out Touhou 6-5 through a 5-run 5th. Shigakukan would be their opponent as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 1 and used the cushion to win 10-7.
The finals were held the very next day amidst not to friendly clouds. The conditions seemed to favor Shigakukan as they overcame a 2-0 deficit in the first to lead 4-2 when the game went into rain delay at the end of 5. When the game resumed, Aikoudai Meiden would immediately pull within 1 against 3rd pitcher Iwata.
But Iwata would be able to shut down Ichiro's alma mater and Shigakukan earns their 1st ever Koushien appearance with a 4-3 win!
As Shizuoka moved on in their tournament, the teams to watch out for would be Tokoha Kikugawa, Shizuoka and Seisei.
In the meantime, the other teams needed to keep advancing to even have a shot, no matter how small. Iwata Kita almost blew that chance twice. First, they lose a 2-run lead to Seikei in the top of the 9th, then Seikei scored a run in the 11th. Iwata Kita was able to score 2 to advance 6-5. Fuji Shiritsu had to go 15 innings against Hamakita Nishi to win 3-1.
Seeded Hamamatsu Nishi was not so fortunate, having to rally against Touyou from down 3-0 early, but lost 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th. Shizuoka Shougyou was next in the round of 16, falling 9-1 in 7 innings to Iwata Higashi!
So on one side of the best 8, all 4 seeded teams advanced. On the other side, only Nirayama remained.
The quarterfinals saw Nirayama and Iwata Higashi advancing on one side with 5-0 victories, Shizuoka defeating the weak link Hiryuu, and Tokoha Kikugawa and Seisei battling the full 9 innings before Tokoha Kikugawa made the sayonara victory 3-2.
In the semis, the last seeded team on the left side of the bracket finally fell as Nirayama lost to Iwata Higashi 6-3. But to win their first ever natsu title, they'd have to go through Shizuoka who dominated Tokoha Kikugawa 12-4.
But Iwata Higashi put up a great fight. Ace Abe kept Shizuoka to 1 run early, and allowed them to tie it up in the 4th with a HR from 1B Moriguchi. Except he'd give the 1-run lead right back to them. An insurance run in the bottom of the 8th spelled doom for the potential first-timers as Harazaki gives Shizuoka their 22nd title and first in 8 years!