Monday, July 11, 2011

Natsu Qualifying - Kagoshima & Okinawa

The final 2 prefectures having started earlier, have advanced further in play and so deserve a separate post.

Day 5 was rained out, and rained out again, so that the games wound up being played on the 7th.

The majority of those game though when they finally got around to playing, were mostly uncontested.

At Prefectural Kamoike, Ooshima Kougyou defeated Fukuyama 7-0 in 7. Kagoshima Jitsugyou finally got underway and shutout Tsurumaru 5-0. And Kanoya Kougyou with a 5-run 1st goes on to win 8-4 over Kamou.

Over at Kamoike Citizens, Kagoshima Minami and Kokubun Chuo both advance with little difficulty. But it was the final game, Ooshima Kita and Kagoshima Dai-ichi which provided the most excitement. After Ooshima Kita scored 2 in the first, Kagoshima Dai-ichi went to work trying to tie it up. And in the 6th they found the equalizer. With that the game would go into extras.

The game continued on, inning after inning with no team able to break the deadlock. The counters went from the 11th to the 12th, and eventually to the 15th inning. All Ooshima had to do was keep Dai-ichi off the board for one more inning and they could at least assure a replay.

But it was not to be. Dai-ichi scores a run in their last at-bats and held on to win 3-2.

The 8th signified the 1st full day of 2nd round games. This time it would be Kamoike Citizen's Stadium that would have the action.

In the final 2 games, Kanoya was challenged by Shoushikan but managed to hold on 2-1. Tanegashima Chuo tried to hold on there against Kagoshima Tousen falling behind 2-0 in the 1st inning, but leveling the score at 3 in the top of the 6th. But Tousen would get the lead back in the bottom of the inning, and hold on to win 4-3.

On the 9th we had our first real upset. Seeded Kagoshima Jyousei was playing their first game against Satsuma Chuo. Jyousei held a slim 1-0 lead, and then Satsuma out of nowhere scored 5. And though they had 2 innings left on offense, they couldn't mount a comeback and they fell 5-2!

Meanwhile, fellow seeded team Kamimura Gakuen has little trouble defeating Kagoshima, though they go the full 9 innings in a 6-1 win.

And finally in yesterday's action, Shibushi held a 7-2 lead over Kakushou, but needed 2 runs in the 9th inning to stave off a late inning charge. Kakushou scores 6 in the last 2 innings but falls a run short, losing 9-8. Iwagawa and Izumi Shougyou were step-in-step for 4 innings but 5 unanswered runs for Izumi put sufficient distance, and 3 runs in the 9th would not be enough for Iwagawa.

The last game at Prefectural Kamoike saw seeded Izumi Chuo giving seeded Shounan a run for their money in their first game on the field. Shounan had to make a single run in the 2nd stick for the entire game, and Sakasegawa made it stick.

With games pushed back due to rain, all round of 16 matches were played on the 9th.

At Okinawa Cellular Naha, Okinawa Shougaku seems to have the easiest road it's ever had to the Best 4. No Itoman, no Kounan, no Urasoe Shougyou. They methodically wore down Yaeyama to a 6-0 win.

Game 2 saw Tomishiro continue their run, reaching the Best 8 by defeating Yokatsu 5-3. And in the afternoon game, Kounan continues its run to repeat as Okinawa champs, defeating Cinderella team Gushikawa in a low scoring affair, 3-1.

Meanwhile, over at Itoman Nishizaki, seeded Itoman was having trouble at home against Chinen. The game was scoreless for the first 6 innings until Itoman finally broke through with a run in the 7th. However Chinen also had success in their half, and scored 2! Itoman was in big trouble with 2 innings to go!

Forward now to top 9, and Itoman still down one. Chinen on the verge of an upset...

... but the pressure must have gotten to them as Chinen gives up 5 runs. There was no way for them to come back so much so quickly. Itoman advances 6-2.

In the 2nd and last game, Mawashi and Naha played a tight game throughout with the teams tied at 1 and then tied at 2 after 8. In the bottom of the 9th though, Mawashi would find the sayonara run to prevent extra innings.

And at Chatan, Urasoe Shougyou and Chuubu Shougyou squared off in the 1st game. And Urasoe had a hell of a time against Chuubu. Only able to scratch together 1 run early, Chuubu equalized in the top of the 5th. And when Urasoe tried to get the lead back, Chuubu would immediately tie things back up again.

So the game would go into extras. And it kept going... Urasoe continued to go deeper and deeper into their bullpen as the game advanced, and in the 13th it proved fatal. Chuubu scores 2 runs in the top of the 13th putting Urasoe behind the 8-ball.

Now it was up to Chuubu ace Tawada Shinsaburou to shut the door. But it wouldn't be so easy. Urasoe would score 1 to make it just a 1-run game. Alas, they were unable to get that douten run, and Chuubu Shougyou pulls off the upset of Urasoe Shougyou!!

In the middle game, Nago pulled away from Kitanakagusuku in the midgame, winning 9-4.

And finally, Nanbu Kougyou had gone ahead of Futenma 3-2 in the 7th. But top 9, Futenma finds a way to score 2 runs and take the late lead! Nanbu couldn't respond and thus their summer ended at the hands of Futenma.

So we had our field for the semifinals, and all teams would be back out on the field for the 2nd consecutive day.

Back to Okinawa Cellular Naha, Okinawa Shougaku broke out to a 3-2 lead over Mawashi. It would seem like that Okishou would be on their way, but Mawashi proved to be made of sterner stuff. They got one run back in the 3rd, and another in the 6th to make it just a 1-run game. Shougaku ace Yoza though would have none of it, bending but not breaking. He makes the 3 runs stick as they advance to the Best 4.

The 2nd game, on the other hand was never in doubt as Kounan scored in each of the 6 innings in a 10-0 mercy win over Futenma.

And over at Chatan, Itoman didn't want to leave any doubt this time around, defeating Nago 8-1 in 8 innings.

And in the last game, Chuubu Shougyou who just the prior day was in a 13 inning game against Urasoe Shougyou, found themselves down 2-0 when Tomishiro scored a run in the 5th. But that's when Chuubu went to work. They immediately get that run back in the 5th, then score the equalizer in the 8th. And so the game went, yep, into extras.

And once again, Tomishiro had to dip into their bullpen, much like Urasoe Shougyou and in the 12th, Chuubu Shougyou scores the sayonara run to send them into the Best 4.

So our semifinal matchups will be:
  • Itoman vs. Okinawa Shougaku - Itoman has been able to last so far, but Okinawa Shougaku is no pushover. Will they be able to get to the finals for a chance at their first appearance, or will Okinawa Shougaku finally get a chance to head back once again?
  • Chuubu Shougyou vs. Kounan - Kounan has been able to come back the year after winning it all under former ace Shimabukuro. Teams with a lot of seniors have a hard time coming back the next year. It's just the nature of kokoyakyu. But now comes the hard part. Chuubu Shougyou though having played 25 innings in 2 days will have 5 days off to recover. Ace Tawada should be back up and ready to go, especially since Kounan eliminated them in the fall. This should be an interesting semifinal all around.

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