Tuesday, August 2, 2011

93rd Koushien Qualifying - Osaka & Hyogo

Osaka and Hyogo do things a little differently than most prefectures. Like Wakayama, they do redraws, but they do more redraws in different places.

Osaka does 2 redraws, one at the round of 32, another at the round of 8. With so many teams in the round of 32, it's unlikely that favorite teams could find each other. That was the case here as a lot of the powerhouses drew different brackets. And all of them advanced out of the 2nd level into the Best 8.

Here, there was a clash in the first round of the 2nd redraw. Konkou Osaka and Riseisha would square off first with the winner probably facing Osaka Touin. Meanwhile, PL (Perfect Liberty) Gakuen had the other half all to themselves.

Osaka Touin won their quarterfinal game 10-0 in 5. Riseisha managed to do more with their 6 hits than Konkou Osaka, winning 3-1. And in the other matchup Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara won 6-3.

But the biggest surprise was Toukaidai Gyousei vs PL Gakuen. In the bottom of the 2nd, score tied at 1, Gyousei goes off for 7 runs on PL! Now, it was still early, and this was PL we're talking about so all is not lost.

And indeed PL gets back 4 runs in the top of the 3rd. Trailing 8-5 isn't great, but it isn't bad either.

However, reliever Ogawa coudn't put up a 0 for PL and Gyousei took back all 4 runs! PL found themselves back down 7! And when they got a run in the 4th, so did Gyousei.

Things did not look good for PL at all now. After a couple of zeroes, PL finally scored again, once again getting back those 4 runs and making it a 3-run game. But they would scuffle to score any more runs. One additional run in the 8th put the cherry on top of Toukaidai Gyousei's 14-10 upset!

That certainly shook up the bracket. Now, it seemed like the Osaka Touin-Riseisha winner would have the inside track to the title.

Osaka Touin took grab of that opportunity, scoring 5 early and never letting Riseisha gain any traction. They won 5-1.

After the upset, and this late in the tournament, you'd think that perhaps there wouldn't be a letdown for Toukaidai Gyousei....

You'd be wrong.

Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara scores 5 of their own in the first 2 innings, and bookends that with 6 in the 8th for an 11-0 win!

So they would try and get a crack at vaunted Osaka Touin for their first ever title.

And early on, they would get the first attack in with a run in the bottom of the 1st. Osaka Touin countered with 4 in the 3rd and 2 in the 4th and they certainly were in control. Sure, they gave a run back in the bottom half of the 4th, but it was still a 4-run lead.

In the 7th though, things would change. Fujinami started giving up hits, and before the inning was complete, he would be relieved by Nakano, but more importantly Higashi-Osaka had scored 3 to make it a 1-run ball game!

Worse yet for Osaka Touin, the trouble continued with Nakano. Bottom 8, Kashiwara gets the bases loaded with 1 down, and a sac fly by Nakagawa gets the douten run home! While Nakano is able to prevent the gyakuten run from scoring, it seemed like they were in trouble.

And after a quick inning from Osaka Touin, Kashiwara had a sayonara opportunity.

Hanamoto immediately puts the pressure on Osaka Touin with a leadoff triple! Now any form of sac fly and the game is over!

Instead of loading the bases, they elect to pitch to Ishikawa, and manage to retire him.

Now with a double play ending the inning, they walk Nishida and Yamazaki to load the bases. Nowhere to put Matsune, but also they have a force at home.

But Nakano errs! He hits Matsune for a dead-ball sayonara! Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara defeats Osaka Touin 7-6 on a dead-ball sayonara!

For such as team as Osaka Touin, it's got to be one of the toughest ways to lose. But for now first-timers Higashi-Osaka Kashiawara, it's the greatest feeling in the world...

The reason why Hyogo is weird is that they do a redraw for the Round of 16, then in Best 8, and finally for the Best 4. Almost like what they to at Koushien (They do Best 8 and Best 4).

In the redraw, all major teams avoided each other and were able to move on. Houtoku Gakuen, Kakogawa Kita, and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku all advanced - though Kobe Kokusaidai slid by Akou 3-1. Touyoudai Himeji advanced too, though it's been a couple of years since they went to Koushien.

The next redraw for the Best 8 almost had all 4 teams avoiding each other, except that Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku and Houtoku Gakuen did draw each other. That game went down to the wire with Houtoku Gakuen taking a 1-run lead in the bottom of the 8th before Kobe Kokusaidai scored 3 in the top of the 9th for the 5-3 win.

Touyoudai Himeji shutout Akashi Shougyou 3-0 while Kakogawa Kita had to go 10 innings to defeat Suma Higashi. In the last matchup Kawanishi Midoridai defeated Yashiro 3-1.

The semi redraw had Touyoudai Himeji get the easy draw with Kawanishi Midoridai, and proceeded to win 13-1 in 7. As much as Kakogawa Kita seemed to struggle in the last matchup, they rose to the occasion in this one. After they fell behind 3-1, they scrapped back to take the lead in the 7th, then re-take it in the 9th for a 5-4 win.

So it would be Touyoudai Himeji and Kakogawa Kita in the finals, and it turned out to be another good game. Scoreless for the first 6 innings, they each score a run in the 7th, and another in the 9th. The game would continue that way until it ended in a 2-2 draw.

That meant they'd have to do it all over again the next day. So the question would be which of the aces, Inoue (Kakogawa Kita) or Hara (Touyoudai Himeji), would break first.

The replay saw more 0's piling up over the first 4 innings. But Hara was holding up much better than Inoue. Touyoudai Himeji finally broke through with a run in the 5th, but it was 5 in the 7th that made the difference. Hara would throw a 2-hit shutout as Touyoudai Himeji won their 12th title, and first in 5 years.

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