Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm sure anyone who's been following the tournament by now...

...knows that Sanko (aka Nichidai-san) won the 93rd Natsu Koushien outright against Kousei Gakuin. As expected, the Kousei batters did not let Yoshinaga get himself into trouble and thus had a relatively easy final.

I got a beer in the 8th, talked to the girl and told her this one was to "celebrate" their victory though I don't particularly like them for the reasons I stated earlier. She replied it was still the 8th, I said to be realistic and that down 9 runs it's not going to happen.

Oh, and how is it that the beer in Japan doesn't totally make me red in the face as much as it does in the states? I generally hate beer, but getting it here isn't bad. And no, it's not because the girls make the experience better (though they do). Oh to be young again.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 8 Recap

Day 8 started off great for me as I was able to sit in the Narashino oen-dan again before retreating to the shade of the infield.

Game 1- Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) vs. Narashino (Chiba)

So the game was pretty much all Narashino from start to finish. They scored 3 in the first, 2 in the 2nd and never looked back. Oono was on the mound today for Narashino and was dominant outside of a homerun he gave up to Kitagawa in the 4th.

About the only downside to the game was that there were 4 hit batters - the #3 and #4 batters Fujii and Minagawa, last batter Koyama, and pitcher Oono.

I know there's little retaliation in Japan baseball, though if you watched Mr. Baseball you'd think otherwise. But that's an odd bunch to hit.

Game 2 - Hachiman Shougyou (Shiga) vs. Teikyou (Higashi Tokyo)

The problem with leaving the alps section was that I needed to buy a ticket to get back in (they sell tickets based on sections, not individual seats).

Problem was, it was Obon and when I walked out there were lines everywhere. If I had ANY hope of getting back it I had to hop into the shortest line, which was the 3rd base alps.

By the time I had gotten back into the stadium, the game was entering the 4th inning. It was hot and miserable outside (as with every single day - when did it stop raining in Japan?) so about the top of the 7th inning I had to retreat into the concourse.

But what struck me about the game was that Itou wasn't starting for them for some reason. I can't read minds nor have I done any research since the game to figure out why this wasn't the case.

I did say before that Teikyou will never win Koushien until they get a true ace, and I didn't think Itou qualified, but he certainly seemed like their best option.Now that's not to say it was a bad decision per se, after all through 8 innings starter Watanabe had just given up 2 hits.

But as I watched on the monitors and heard the crowd outside, I saw with one down the next 3 batters for Hachiman reach base.

And then when Matsumoto bobbled that ball which brought in a run, well I though it was intersesting sure, but still down 2 and needing a base hit it didn't seem likely.

By this time many of the younger kids had run outside. I was a little lightheaded still so I watched on TV the amazement of Endou's ball just clearing the right field fence. Right field! Hitting a HR there is almost like hitting one to LF at Safeco, it rarely ever happens!

But more importantly, it was a manrui homerun that gave Hasshou the 5-3 lead!

Masano would come in to relieve Watanabe, but not before the big damage had been done. Instead of winning the game by 2, they were now trailing by 2 with just 3 outs left to go!

And I watched in amazement as the Teikyou batters went fairly quietly in the bottom of the 9th
as Hachiman Shougyou pulled off the upset!

So first it was Kyukoku, now Teikyou. Who would be next?

Game 3 - Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) vs. Karatsu Shougyou (Saga)

Looking at this game, did I think Karatsu Shougyou have a chance to win it all? Not especially, and when you think about Kitakata Yuujyou's control, it seems like they may have little at all.

But I did think they stood a better chance than Sakushin Gakuin. In most cases, a pitcher's control issues will usually fail them a little later (though in Teikyou's case it was much earlier).

And early on in the game, it was Karatsu Shougyou who was leading the way with a run inthe 1st and another in the 3rd.
Sakushin would finally get a run thanks to a wild pitch on a strikeout no less.

And then one inning later, a hit batsmen combined with a relay throw error by Matsumoto led to the tying and the gyakuten run in the 5th! This while ace Ootani was shutting down the Karatsu offense.

With time running down, Karatsu did start creating scoring opportunities. The 7th they had the tying run in scoring position with 2 outs, then in the 8th with just one, and in the 9th with none! But in every single case, both Ootani and reliever Iino would shut down the threat meaning that Sakushin Gakuin advances to take on to face the aforementioned Hachiman Shougyou.

Game 4 - Jyosuikan (Hiroshima) vs. Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara (Osaka)

Each of the teams playing here defeated an opponet who has pulled off an upset in their prefectural taikais. Jyosuikan in Seki Shoukou (Oogaki Nichidai) and Shigakukan (Aikoudai Meiden) for Higashi-Osakadai.

Again, I went and favored the team that had the experience, which would be Jyosuikan.

As the game started though, it was a lot closer. Jyousuikan had the early opportunity in the 1st, but it was Kashiwara who scored the first run on a double by Matsunami in the bottom of the 2nd. An RBI triple by Kanao though the very next inning tied it right back up again.

Once again, in the 5th Kashiwara would retake the lead on a double by Matsumoto Taiki.

And with the score still at 2-1, things would start to get really weird in the 7th.

With 2 down for Jyosuikan, Kanao gets hit, Shimazaki doubles, and then Tanaka walks to load the bases.

Kimura then hits a groundball right to 2B Nakagawa...

...except it goes right through the wickets! 2 runs come in to score on the error and now Jyosuikan leads 3-2. Add in one more when Yasuhara singles and it's a 2-run lead! Kashiwara's own Shirane comes in to record the final out, but Jyosuikan might be finally hitting it's stride.

Bottom 7 now and the top of the order is due up for Kashiwara. Izumi comes in to PH for Mochidzuki and promptly singles to center. After a bunt and another single, there's runners at the corners for Ishikawa.

Ishikawa hits a grounder to 3rd. Higuchi's throw causes a collision between 1B Kanao and Ishikawa. Izumi scores on the error, but unbenounced to Kanao, Taiki had been running from 1st the whole time and was heading home! By the time Kanao realized this it was too late and it was a tie ball game!

But though it was a tie game, the pressure was on Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara. Jyosuikan was putting undo pressure on Shirane. If Kashiwara was going to win this, they'd have to do it in regulation. And they had that chance in the 9th. 2 outs, runner on 1st, Ishikawa singles then Nishida gets an infield single when no one was covering 1st. The winning run 90 feet away, Yamazaki stands in to get the run home. But he strikes out looking to end the inning.

And by this time it was too late. Jyosuikan would put 3 on the board in the 10th and that was all she wrote for the newcomers.

Before I work on more recaps...

...I will never, ever, EVER, root for Nichidai-san. They are officially my arch-nemesis. And I don't particularly want to talk about the game even though Narashino deserved to lose that game.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 7 Recap

Yeah, the lack of sleep really got to me. I wound up oversleeping on Day 7 and arriving at Koushien late. By the time I had gotten there, the first two innings of the first game had completed.

Game 1 - Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri (Nagano) vs. Meihou (Oita)
Well, to say that Meihou would have been a favorite in this game probably would have been right, but then again a lot of Meihou's success before was with Imamiya, and of course he's not there anymore, so it's really up to the next group to pick up the flag as it were. And if nothing else, they did get back here.

And after quickly settling in, it was apparent that Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri was struggling on offense, while Meihou was putting pressure on ace Sagamihara.

The flood gates finally opened in the 6th. After back-to-back triples, Satou is called out on strikes. However, C Furuya goes to the home plate umpire and has the K recalled back as a foul ball. Mind you, this was on a 3-2 count. With new life, he actually earns a walk and continues what would be a 6-run inning.

Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri made a late run and actually cut the deficit in half, but Okamoto who had come in to relieve Takao closed the job.

Game 2 - Tsuruoka Higashi (Yamagata) vs. Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
So Chiben Gakuen should have just been defaulted in as the Nara representative when Tenri withdrew. It's almost like clockwork how those two teams qualify.

But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that generally without competition it's hard to take the team to the next level.

While Nara has 2 teams, Yamagata is a bit jumbled with several teams that are above the prefectural average, but no one that really stands out.

Neither team really gained any traction in the game until the 4th when the first 3 batters for Chiben Gakuen reached safely eventually resulting in 2 runs. Tsuruoka came back and manufactured a run in the 5th but never really challenged with any scoring chances thereafter. Chiben Gakuen wins rather pedestrianly 2-1.

Game 3 - Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi (Gunma) vs. Yokohama (Kanagawa)
So Takasaki Kenkoudai's day of reckoning with Yokohama finally came. As much as I was down on Yokohama, I didn't think this would be the game they would trip up in.

And after quickly building a 5-0 lead, it seemed like it was all by the book.

Then in the post-break inning for Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukuishi, the unthinkable started happening.

Yanagi who had given up some hits here and there, started giving them up in bunches. Outside of a sac bunt, 5 batters reached safely with a double from Uno making it 5-3 that would knock him out. Souma was one out away from getting out of the jam when top batter Koike tripled to right tying the game at 5!

I mean, I knew Yokohama was beatable, but not like this!

Worse yet, Yokohama's offense had stalled against ace Katagai! Now all Takasaki had to do was to score a run and the upset may be theirs!

The problem was they couldn't get anything going either.

So the game went into enchousen where Nagasaka had a 2-out single and stole 2nd. Uno put a ball through the left side, but when Nagasaka was rounding for home, it was obvious that he'd be out. I think it was a matter of desperation as they need a run soon because I don't think they could have lasted much longer.

And sure enough in the bottom of the 10th, the game ended when Takasaki singled in Date.

Game 4 - Kanazawa (Ishikawa) vs. Seikou Gakuin (Aomori)
If there was one thing that I could tell about Kanazawa is that ace Kamata had learned to dial it down a bit to gain control.

And it was showing against Seikou Gakuin. He was limiting the offense quite a bit but still gave up the opening run.

That lasted for 2 inning when errors by Seikou Gakuin led to Kanazawa taking the lead 2-1. They extended the lead to 3 thanks to some errors and the lead seemed to be dormy.

Seikou Gakuin though started making some runs when they manufactured one in the 8th to cut the lead to 2, and then in the 9th worked the bases loaded with 2 outs. However Nakamura would not be able to get the timely hit and Kaanzawa would advance.

Day 6 Recap

Day 6
Day 6 is where I think my body started to hit a wall. I hadn't been getting much sleep each night (about 4-5 hours) and the extra walking plus being outside took it's toll to the point that (a) I got sick partially thanks to the A/C, and (b) I started nodding off at games.

Game 1 - Kaisei (Nagasaki) vs. Touyoudai Himeji (Hyogo)
So the other Kaisei got to play today against no pushover in Touyoudai Himeji. Last time ther were at Koushien was when I was there last.

They actually did keep up with them for 3 innings before giving up their first run, but their offense never really did get started and as a result went down quietly 4-0. If not for the 3-run HR given up in the 8th it would probably more reflect thier performance as ace Makise and reliever Nagae (who had to come in because of an injury in the 4th) held the Himeji offense in check.

Game 2 - Kousei Gakuin (Aomori) vs. Senshuudai Tamana (Kumamoto)
I was actually excited to see Senshuudai Tamana. It seemed like there were competing year after year, but never making it. So to seem them here was great.

And then the game started...

It was innocent at first, with both teams being held scoreless. But then in the 3rd, after the first 3 peopel reach, Ameku singled to right, then Kawakami hit a grand slam homerun and the game was blown wide open. The final damage would be 16-1 in favor of Kousei.

Game 3 - Fujishiro (Ibaraki) vs. Tokushima Shougyou (Tokushima)
Fujishiro was one of those "cardiac kid" teams that won their bid by coming back to beat Kasumigaura 6-5. They drew Tokushima Shougyou who isn't a bad team for being where they're from.

In the game itself, it was Fujishiro who opened the scoring with a run in the first. And perhaps I thought that there was more to this team. However Tokusho was able to string some hits together for a pair of runs in the 4th, and add another in the 5th to give them a 3-1 lead. Tatsuta did the rest, giving up just 1 run on 4 hits for the win.

Game 4 - Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Fukuoka) vs. Kanzei (Okayama)
As much as I irrationally like Kanzei, I am a realist for the most part and I realized that drawing Kyukoku was probably one of the worst 1st round draws to have.

Early on though, while Miyoshi was having little problem with the Kanzei batters, Kanzei ace Mizuhara was actually standing up well to the Kyukoku hitters.

But when Mizuhara walked in a run in the 4th I thought this was where Kanzei was going to break down.

On the contrary, in the bottom half cleanup batter Watanabe hits a ball deep to left and to my surprise leaves the yard for a solo shot tying the game at 1!

Even more surprising was that as I checked my scorebook in the 8th I had to do a double take. Not only had Mizuhra held his own, he had limited Kyukoku to just 4 hits! 4!!

And when an error leads to a run for Kanzei in the bottom of the 8th I thought to myself, "Surely I can't be seeing what I'm seeing, right?"

Well going to top 9 and the last 3 outs for Kyukoku, they had their 3-4-5 batters coming up.

And naturally Miyoshi hits a ball that deflects off a diving 3B for a double.

"It's never easy with Kanzei", I said to myself.

And after a K, Ryuu lines a double to right and just like that we were tied back up at 2. Mizuhara would shut it down from there, but into enchousen we would go.

Looking at the scorebook, I noticed that not only did Kanzei was the home team, but that they had their middle of the lineup coming first before Kyukoku.

But after Mizuhara sits down the 8-9-1 batters with little trouble and a nice play from the defense, Kanzei too would go down in order as their 3-4-5 batters were retired in relatively quick succession.

So while the game continued, the advanage at this point was back in Kyukoku"s favor.

But once again, Mizuhara works the count a bit high, but gets the job done.

Kanzei in the bottom half of the 11th gave themselves their own sayonara opportuniy with a 1-out double by Mizuhara himself. After Seki Takanori K's it'd be down to #9 batter Fujii.

And he singles to right! Mizuhara is being waved in but...

Well, let's just say they were a little too ambitious... and we went to the 12th.

There Mizuhara continued to dominated the Kyukoku offense to my surprise while opportunites abounded for Kanzei.

Bottom 12, leadoff walk to Ogura. Successfully sacrificed over, he advances to 3rd on a wild patch on ball 4 to Satou.

So the sayonara run is 90 feet away with cleanup batter Watanabe up.

He hits a hard ball to the right side where Hirabaru takes it and fires home...

but Ogura is called safe! Kanzei wins! Kanzei wins!

KANZEI WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Needless to say I was shocked, along with the majority of people at the stadium (except for the homers from Okayama of course).

So one of the favorites went down, and to one of my irrational favorites to boot.

And it wouldn't be the last one.

Small jump ahead

So just do I don' fall completely behind, I'm going to quickly go over the Best 8 matchups:

Day 12, Game 1 - Touyoudai Himeji (Hyogo) vs. Kousei Gakuin (Aomori)
So these two teams probably came out of the weakest brackets in the field. With no Ryuukokudai Heian to challenge them, Himeji cleared the 4-team bracket, though Shin-Minato gave them fits for 8 innings.

Kousei Gakuin did struggle with Tokushima Shougyou who is an upper mid-range team.

Neither team really stood out to me in any way, though if I were to pick a winner I may go with Kousei Gakuin.

Day 12, Game 2 - Jyosuikan (Hiroshima) vs. Kanzei (Okayama)
Um, even though I irrationally root for Kanzei, can I raise my hand and say I never saw this coming?

First defeating Kyukoku, one of the favorites to win it all, then Meihou who isn't quite the same without Imamiya.

Jyosuikan basically outlasted all three of their opponents, which in a close game as this one may very well be, it could be to their advantage. The only thing is, it's arguable now that Kanzei is none of those teams.

I'd like Kanzei to win, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Day 13, Game 1 - Chiben Gakuen (Nara) vs. Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
Yokohama was supposed to win Chiben Gakuen's bracket, but something funny happened on the way there. I did think Yokohama was beatable, but not in the manner they lost.

Also, it was supposed to be the familiar Chiben Wakayama that had a better chance of being here than their Nara counterpart, yet the reverse is true. If nothing else, Chiben Gakuen has the no-panic attitude of their well known sister school.

The same could be said for Sakushin Gakuin. Teikyou was by far the favorite, but their lack of a true ace cost them in the end. With them gone, the bracket opened up. Now Sakushin Gakuin did have good wins against Karatsu Shougyou and the surprise Hachiman Shougyou.

I remember telling someone that I'd not root for Chiben Gakuen, and I think I'll favor Sakushin Gakuin. Outside of the 9th inning against Yokohama, they have shown little.

Day 13, Game 2 - Narashino (Chiba) vs. Nichidai-san (Nishi Tokyo)
Deanna, I guess we're on different sides again.

I like what I've seen out of Naraahino, though the game yesterday vs. Kanazawa scared me to death.

Nichdai-san has been, well... Nichidai-san showing their scoring abilities against squads like Kaisei (Shimane) and Chiben Wakayama.

But, like Yokohama, I think there's a good sized weak spot that I think they recognize they'll significantly increase their chances.

I want to pick Narashino, but it's not a guarantee at all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 5 Recap

Day 5
Game 1 - Nichidai-san (Nishi Tokyo) vs. Nihon Bunri (Niigata)
Nihon Bunri outside of the magical year of 2009 had not done a whole lot, much like many of the teams out of Niigata.

And they had about a tough of a first round as you could get in Nichidai-san.

But it was them that opened the scoring in the 2nd with 2 extra base hits and an error from the Sanko defense.

It felt like it might actually be competitive...

...and then it wasn't.

14 runs later and well, we know who was the better team.

Game 2 - Yanai Gakuen (Yamaguchi) vs. Kaisei (Shimane)
I thought it unfortunate that two Chuugoku schools had to play each other. I'd like to see these teams advance, but not through cannibalizing each other.

But when Yanai Gakuen manages just 3 hits off of Shirane... Well, never mind...

Game 3 - Shin-Minato (Toyama) vs. Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)
This on paper seemed like a yawner. Heian who defeated both Fukuchiyama Seibi and Ritsumeikan Uji versus a rural prefecture team.

Let me say this... I will never doubt the power of an oen-dan ever again.

Shin-Minato's oen-dan extended past the designation section. It was like the whole 3rd base side was from Shin-Minato. I had retreated to the upper sections of the 3rd base side and it seemed there there was supporters as far as the eye could see.

And in this case the oen-dan didn't necessarily stop the Heian offense per se. Instead it seemed to help them primarily get out of pinches throughout the game. Which meant that they hung in there until they finally got timely hitting to put runs on the board. And when they took the lead in the 8th 3-1, the place went nuts and I couldn't believe my eyes that Heian was losing.

In fact Heian had runners in scoring position in 7 of the 9 innings, and in one of those innings they didn't, Takahashi hit a home run.

And when the last out was recorded, the place just went nuts. I don't blame them - they did in fact defeat a well-known team from a powerful prefecture.

Little did I know that this upset would be one of more to come...

Monday, August 15, 2011

To Mr. Otosaka...

If you happen to stumble upon this blog, it was a pleasure meeting you today, even though it wasn't for that long. I would have liked to have talked more about your son, how you came to Japan and how you've settled in amongst other things.

As it stood it felt like a rushed conversation as the game was about to begin and you were being moved about.

I thought I was going to be able to talk to you again considering how the game was going, but well... we know how it ended.

And I was going to offer my condolences after the game, but I think you had probably left to be with your son who I'm sure was crushed by the loss.

But I'm glad I got a chance to meet you even if for a moment.

Two other things about Days 3 and 4...

First on Day 3, I was in the center seats trying to let my skin rest from being burnt to a crisp. Literally.

Then during the 1st game, people start emerging from the "underground" area that you can see behind home. There were a lot of cameras and the person they were hovering around sat one row and a couple of seats to my right. The way the cameras were positioned I would have been in the background if there was any.

I tried not to look directly over because I hate it when other people do that on TV. But about halfway through the interview, I realized who it was.

It was Sawa Homare from the Women's World Cup Champions!

When the interview was over I was going to say something to the tune of "Congratulations", but I think the last thing I needed was to have her give me a blank stare at a person who spoke in English.

On Day 4 when I was in the Chiben Wakayama section, I was thinking about what I'd do if a foul ball went my way.

Then one of the batters hit one deep down the left field line, and it was coming right at me. I was so dumbfounded though, I just reached my hand out like an idiot and the ball deflected off my upper arm. There's a good size bruise there now. If I had actually done what I had planned on doing, I'd have my 2nd ball in the 2 Koushien's I've attended.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 4 Recap

Onto Days 4-8 as best as I can...

Day 4
Game 1 - Eimei (Kagawa) vs. Itoman (Okinawa)
Eimei has come on in the last two years to represent Kagawa. In fact, these last 2 years have been their only appearances. They're not a new school per se, so I wonder if it's a managerial change or just the personnel they have. I'm beginning to think that to better cover teams/players I'm better off not doing brackets. Too much work for one person.

I was happy in some ways to see Itoman make it. They seemed to be one of the better teams in Okinawa but would get eliminated before the finals - this year they made it and I wondered how they'd fare.

Sadly, not very well. Their performance against Eimei was far from stellar as they managed just 4 hits and the one run they did score was unearned.

Game 2 - Noshiro Shougyou (Akita) vs. Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima)
Noshiro Shougyou made it for the 2nd straight year as well, and were facing a Kamimura Gakuen squad that I was happy to see there.

And early on it looked like the squad that defeated a formidable Kagoshima Jitsugyou would have the better hand. A leadoff hit batter and subsequent error in the 3rd led to 2 runs. Another hit batter in the 5th would make it 2 runs again at 3-1. But in the span of 6 batters in the 6th, the game had completely reversed. Instead of leading, they now were trailing 5-3.

Considering their runs up until this point were done thanks to mistakes by Noshiro Shougyou, it followed that all they needed to do was not make any and they'd advance. They didn't and they won.

Game 3 - Shirakaba Gakuen (Kita Hokkaido) vs. Tottori Shougyou (Tottori)
This game was between two teams from prefectures that haven't had much success at Koushien in recent years. So it wasn't a surprise when it was a low-scoring affair between the two teams.

Shirakaba Gakuen held a slim 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the 9th only to see it immediately evaportate when Yasumoto Shinnosuke singles and Yoshida triples to left. Suddenly Shirakaba not only had lost the lead, but had the sayonara run just 90 feet away!

Kawagoe would need to clamp it down and he did inducing an strike out, and fly to shallow left, and a groundout.

The game would go into extras where Shirakaba Gakuen would win in the 11th.

There wasn't anything else really memorable other than the fact that though Tottori Shougyou lost, oh my god, the girls continually went, "kyaaaa!!!!" over the team. You could hear numerous individual "Ganbare!" screams amongst others. You'd think the team was rock stars - which they might be.

Game 4 - Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama) vs. Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama)
I had left the stadium to re-enter in the Chiben cheering section to see it first-hand. And since I didn't realize I had no more blank box scores in the book I brought with me, I was just enjoying the game.

Chiben Wakayama did indeed kick the daylights out of Hanasaki Tokuharu, but there were two things to note.

First, the oen-dan up close for some reason isn't the same as seeing it from a distance.

Second, I may have been suffering from exhaustion because there was a foul ball just inside the pole that was headed right at me. I had already run through the scenario of what I would do if this would happen, but suffice it to say I blanked. I reached out my hand like an idiot, and the ball deflects off my upper right arm. It's still bruised.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 1-3 Recap

So, I was all ready for Koushien today, and while the games were great, it felt like my mind was somewhere else all day. And I mean that in the sense that I don't know what the heck I was doing for most of it.

I got up at the right time, headed to the subway to go to Umeda so I could withdraw money. I got off at Nanba and started walking around, not finding the Japan Post office I had researched online. Kept walking, tried asking, gave up and went to Koushien. Noting it was 7:50 AM already, and I was supposed to be there at 8, I was screwed already.

Then on the train I realized my mistake. Why the heck did I get off at Nanba?

Crap, now not only did I not get money, I'd get there even later.

8:30 later...

All inside seats were sold out so I went to the 1st alps stands where Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi Takasaki, Kanazawa and Seikou Gakuin were.

Then proceeded to burn up in the heat. Suffice it to say I'm red all over, and I forgot my sunblock... and now I look like someone that nobody would want to deal with.

And in the rush I had no time to buy drinks before getting to the stadium, so I was paying 250 instead of 150 yen. More doh.

I did get to talk to 2 nice young women who I think were attending Ritsumeikan University. No pictures for those of you wondering. I get a bit hesitant asking girls about taking pictures. They soon realized my strange understanding of Japanese. I can read most kanji, understand what they're saying (though I think not as much as I actually can - that one's for you Deanna), so yeah.

Also, I need to figure out my purpose at Koushien. I can enjoy it, which means no scoring, I can do what I normally do which is scoring and no pictures, or I can figure out some way to incorporate it all, but the biggest problem is taking pictures. I don't want to leave the camera out in the sun, or hold it with my sweaty hands, but if I put it away I'm going to miss stuff. And if I take pictures I can't score.


So today I scored the games, had thoughts on the oen-dans though I didn't take pictures or videos during the games. Suffice it to say today was a test run and it went about as poorly as possible.

But the games themselves were good, I'll recap as best I can though from the alps stands it was harder to gauge stuff.

Day 1
Game 1 - Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi (Gunma) vs. Imabari Nishi (Ehime)
Gunma has been one of those prefectures that I can't figure out. It seems like they're more metropolitan than not, but they have little success at Koushien. Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi having played none of the "big" name teams in the prefecuture discounts their performance a bit. Imabari Nishi defeated a resurging Niita for the title, but not much else of note.

When the game started, it seemed evident who was the better team. Imabari Nishi ace Hayashi had problems with control and it was made worse whenever there were runners on base as he would throw constantly to keep the runners on (though it was later found to be a necessary evil).

Compounding things was what seemed like a shaky defense as well. 3B Suehiro took the brunt of it early, but the team suffered as a whole.

On the other hand was #10 Hayashi who was keeping everything in check it seemed. In fact, he didn't even give up a hit in the first 3 innings, though that would change.

Scoring came first for Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi. After another walk and a single, Hayashi would finally be relieved of his duties once Uchida successfully sac bunted.

When Yanagisawa laid down the squeeze, I thought one was going to score before I was surprised to see Kadomura coming home too! The throw was late and Kadomura seemed to make a great slide.

The key I think was Nakanishi's hesitation in coming in to field it. I think he was waiting for it to see if it went foul. But that allowed Kenkoudai to send the trailing runner home successfully. So 2-0 in favor of my alps stands.

Another run in the 4th after Yumoto singles, steals 2nd and scores on the hit and run and things looked good at 3-0.

But then it went all wrong for Hoshino. After a solid one-out single by Gouta, it seemed that Hoshino was the victim of unfortunate luck as one ball gets by the 3B, and the 2nd was missed by a diving Uno, though you can't really fault him.

That was followed by a double from Itou and a 2-run single from Suehiro, and it was now 4-3 Imabari Nishi.

Two batters and one more run later, and Hoshino was pulled for #11 Miki. Why ace Katagai hadn't come in yet I don't know.

But Takasaki Kenkoudai is fortunate when on a single by top batter Minomi, they aggressively send Ishimaru home - and when I mean aggressively, I mean no matter what - and is out by a mile.

Though they managed to stop the bleeding, the problem was new pitcher #10 Yano. His delivery, which I think would endear himself to Deanna, was very odd and probably threw off the timing on the batters. And while they struggled, an insurance run scored without a benefit of a hit in the 6th (walk, bunt FC E1, sac bunt, wild pitch) made it 6-3.

Kenkoudai would finally get to Yano in the 7th thanks to a leadoff triple by cleanup batter Kadomura. He'd be sac-flied home by Yanagisawa and the deficit was now 2 at 6-4.

It wouldn't be until the 9th when Kenkoudai would strike again and boy did they ever. Bloop since, double to left immediately put the tying runners on base.

And who else but Yanagisawa would drive them in with a gapper to LCF past the fielders to tie the game!

But after Yanagisawa is tagged out on a contact play, it didn't seem like they'd be able to push the gyakuten run through.

But after a groundout advancing Nagatomo to 2nd, it was ace Katagai (who had come in in the 6th) who blooped one down the left field line, scoring the go-ahead run!

And with their ace on the mound, it was curtains for the team from Ehime. 7-6 and Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi's reward is.... Yokohama.

Game 2 - Kanazawa (Ishikawa) vs. Ise Kougyou (Mie)
Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like Kamata from Kanazawa, it was just that I didn't get the big deal about him.

Yes, he can throw 150km/h. But without control it's no good and that's where my problem with him lied.

But this game was different. A lot of breaking balls early, and a fastball that wasn't even approaching 150. And much like how they dialed down Felix Hernandez in Seattle, a dialed down version of Kamata works too. And when he decided to hit 150 and more, once again the control wasn't there it seemed.

We may never have figured that out had 2nd batter for Isekou, Hashimoto, not missed 2nd on his way to 3rd.

Instead, it was Kanazawa who would score first in the 2nd with a double by Koshida to left.

While the game stayed at 1-0 for a while, it never seemed like Kanazawa was in any danger.

That was made even more apparent when Koshida up again in the 6th hits what I though was a flyball to left... only to see it leave for a 3-run HR??!!!

Kamata throws a complete game 5-hit shutout, striking out 10!

Game 3 - Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki) vs. Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)
So the one thing I was wondering was if Seikou Gakuin would lift the curse of Fukushima.

Early signs didn't look promising though ace Saiuchi seemed to be the victim of some bad luck, or perhaps some poor defense as a ball hit to left by Nichinan's cleanup Sakiyo catches the LF off guard somehow as he sprints at the last minute and winds up being behind it for a 2-run double!

Things continued to be going against Saiuchi when he throws a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the 5th. By now, down 3-0, I'm thinking that it's another failed year for Fukushima.

However, Saitou Yuuki (the 2B), triples to right center, helping to get one run back.

By the way, it was interesting to hear one Saitou Yuuki, but 2? And then to have the announcer have to repeat the name, first name and number?

Anyways, the tide seemed to start turning in the 6th when after issuing 2 walks to start the inning, Furuichi was replaced by #10 Murata. Though he was able to get out of the inning, once the Seikou batters started being patient, Murata started walking batters of his own.

Walking the top 2 batters more than likely spelled disaster and when a single by Mashiro turns into a double thanks to an error by the RF making it 3-2, it seemed inevitable. Haga brings in the douten run with a ball off the 2B, and Fukuda completes the comeback with a sac fly to right.

By this time Saiuchi had settled down and the win was in sight. Top 9, one down, but a chop single by Kasaoka followed by a clean one by Saikyo and Saiuchi wasn't in good shape. But after striking out Yamamoto he was just one out away.

Except that when he struck out Kakemoto, the ball got away from Fukuda and the run scored anyway!

Now Saiuchi would get out of the mess, but not before they'd have to start from scratch. And after they couldn't turn a one out double into the sayonara run, enchousen it was. Saiuchi would hold down the fort on the top half, and finish it quickly in the 10th when he gets his first hit of the game to score Nakamura.

Day 2
Game 1 - Narashino (Chiba) vs. Shizuoka (Shizuoka)
This had to be the game I was really waiting for. I mean, I would actually get to sit in the Narashino oen-dan. How cool is that? Well, for me at least.

Oh yeah, and their baseball team isn't half bad either.

But early on against a Shizuoka squad that had become one of the powerful teams in Shizuoka, They managed just 1 run amidst their multiple chances,

The offense would finally start turning around right after Shizuoka tied the game up in the 6th.

Shizuoka's ace Harazaki also helped via a couple of walks. 5 runs later and that's all she wrote. It's not a complete victory, but as long as they learn from it, I don't see any problems... yet.

Game 2 - Hokkai (Minami Hokkaido) vs. Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
2 powerhouses in 2 rural prefectures generally means a good game especially when they`re upper level talent.

Early in it was a case of both teams getting scoring chances but neither able to cash them in.

So instead, the first run comes off a solo shot by Kitagawa for Meitoku Gijyuku.

Hokkai ties it up when Zeniya lines a solid double down the left center field alley, then takes the lead thanks to an error by Umeda that extended the inning.

The lead wouldn't last very long though. Not even an inning as 2 consecutive dead balls can't be good in any circumstance.

And in the bottom of the 9th, an unfortunate error that would have sent the game into extras instead leads to the winning run.

Game 3 - Teikyou (Higashi Tokyo) vs. Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)
As the game progressed, the personalities of each school were easily present. Even when they had Kikuchi Yuusei, Hanamaki Higashi was a plucky squad that just would never quit. No matter what the deficit it seemed like there was a way for them to get back into it.

For Teikyou, perhaps the best example was back when I went in 2006. Best 8 game versus Chiben Wakayama, down 8-4 top 9. Teikyou comes roaring back with 8 runs, capped off by a pinch-hit 3-run HR!

However, the PH was for their last pitcher and come bottom 9, no one, no matter who it was that they threw onto the mound could record 3 outs. Chiben Wakayama came back to win on a walk-off walk 13-12.

And I'll go ahead and say this now, but until Teikyou has a true ace (and at this point I don't think even Itou Naoki qualifies), they will never win Koushien.

Teikyou got ahead 2-0 in the first, but thanks to some patience and timely hitting they tied the game. They were aggressive in the top of the 1st after scoring the tying run (albeit a bit too aggressive).

Then down 5-2, they used some nice decoy running to tie it up again. And one more time in the 6th.

However, when Teikyou gets ahead one final time, Hanamaki Higashi is unable to come back. Not to mention that a dubious ruling of obstruction really costed them a scoring opportunity. I don't know what you're supposed to do if you're trying to bunt and have to get out of the way.

Day 3
Game 1 - Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) vs. Fukui Shougyou (Fukui)
Game 2 - Kuratsu Shougyou (Saga) vs. Furukawa Kougyou (Miyagi)

There isn't much to say about either game, except that both Fukui Shougyou and Furukawa Kougyou can't both be this bad... right?

I mean Fukui is not a great baseball prefecture per se, but to get hammered the way they did? And Furukawa Kougyou defeated both Tohoku AND Rifu to win the bid. How did they ever do that?

Now given, both teams did for the most part held their own - though Fukui Shougyou not as much and Furukawa Kougyou did show their tough side later on, but still fell.

Also, I'm not sure what to make of Kuratsu ace Kitakata. He has power, and seems to control it at times. I wonder though if he`s not another Itou Naoki.

Game 3 - Seki Shoukou (Gifu) vs. Jyosuikan (Hiroshima)
For a team that had to beat Oogaki Nichidai, they have to be somewhat decent. But it`s not a given that they`ll be able to handle Jyosuikan.

As the game progressed, there wasn`t anything that really stood out about either team. No star P, good defense on both sides, and perhaps a little light on the offensive side.

I did find it odd that Seki Shoukou would go to their 2nd pitcher Yasue in the 6th. Naijyou had been more than servicable, though the dead balls and and walks might have been a bit much.

Yet he was having his own troubles in the 7th but got saved thanks to a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play.

Moving to the 8th, Yasue seems to disagree with a ball 4 call, and then proceeds to give up a lined shot to Shinozaki. Again though the defense bails him out, getting the runner at home which included a collision that I don't see in kokoyakyu.

The game would go into extras where I really started to like it. There was a lot of good defense, especially on the Seki Shoukou side. Twice they got out of a jam with a very nicely turned double play. Then it was a great stop by 3B Komatsu.

Oddly enough, it might have been a defensive nuance that cost them the game.

Bottom 13, chopper to the right side. Yasue goes off the mound and reaches up for a ball that's a ways away. But I think as a result it froze his own defense, after which both the 1B and 2B went for the ball, and Yasue himself didn't realize he had to cover the bag.

Then I think he was still dwelling on that when his throw on the proceeding bunt went awry. Sayonara runner on 3rd with no down, and there's only so much you can luck you can pull...

Game 4 - Shigakukan (Aichi) vs. Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara (Osaka)
I wondered aloud if it was a bad omen when the coach of the Osaka squad wasn`t able to hit the last ball in their pregame practice.

What I didn't wonder was whether it was a bad omen for both teams because as much as the last game was exciting, this one was horrible to watch.

There was errors everywhere, poor judgement by the defenses, and Higashi-Osakadai advances.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Okay, I decided to get the post done at an internet cafe in Osaka because it`s just too hard for me to do it when I get back to my room. Too tired and waiting too long to take a shower waiting for the AC to cool the room down again.

But first, WTF??? First Shin-Minato defeats Ryuukokudai Heian and now Kanzei (a team I irrationally root for) defeats Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku?? The Kyukoku?

WTF man?

Monday, August 8, 2011

I`m not dead...

...but in my infinite wisdom I left my laptop A/C charger in Nagoya. It`s in transit and I`ll have all my thoughts out there eventually.

Friday, August 5, 2011

No live blogging this year...

So, as you can see from the subject line, there is no liveblogging.

But there's a reason for that...

I'm in Osaka, and will personally be attending Natsu Koushien!

So, if you want to see the games, they'll be broadcast on the links to the left. There may be broadcasts on as well, which would give you good quality at higher resolutions, just follow RealKenDick on twitter. He'll let you know.

There is also a chatroom where people watching the game can talk about kokoyakyu or even daigaku yakyu or pro yakyu (in Japan). That's at

I would put my pictures from the trip on my daily recap posts, but I also realized that since my Sony Vaio was stolen when our house was robbed, I don't have a good laptop with a CD/DVD drive. And since the saying goes that pictures are better taken in RAW status then converted, I don't know how this is going to work.

Anyways, I have a long day ahead. I've sweated through 3 shirts and 2 shorts in 2 days, visited Aikoudai Meiden, Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, almost got in trouble for visiting Oogaki Nichidai and skipped Kyoto Gaidai Nishi for now because I was getting dead tired from the walking in the heat. Assuming they're still open, I'm getting a massage in Nanba.

The odd thing is that I don't think I've gotten sunburnt even with all the time outside. Why is that? I have however reminded myself for the umpteenth time that traveling light is a necessity, not a virtue, and that I really need a case with multi-directional wheels so I don't feel like my arm is about to fall off. I may just get one anyways.

The place where I'm staying (Banana House), is closer to Osaka than Tenri, which is where I stayed for the 2006 Natsu Koushien. It's not bad, but I need to remind myself to get some sheets to cover the futon tomorrow. And a blanket. Unless what I think is the thing that goes on top of the futon is the blanket in which... I still need a blanket (that's OCD me for you). Oh, and the fridge doesn't want to work but the freezer does (what??). Supposedly the population here is half-Japanese and half-foreign. Perhaps if I were a bit more extroverted I might like the people I've seen so far more, but it's not terrible, and I have multiple options to get back here in case the clock strikes midnight (there are only 2 lines to Tenri, and one real viable option). Tenri was nice in that it definitely felt secure, there was no one around the dormitory at the time, and I had my own shower (though not necessarily hot water).

I'm just waiting for the A/C to cool the room down to the point where if I take a shower and come back to the room (communal bath - ok, communal toilet - oy) I won't sweat again.

Prolly will stop by the FamilyMart for yogurt milk and regular milk for my evening drinks. Oh how I missed the yogurt milk here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

93rd Koushien Field

So there's still the Osaka and Hyogo recaps for me to do, but in the meantime here is the complete field.

It's an interesting one that's for sure.

And with the draws out, it gets even more interesting.

So, lets start from the Day 1 bracket (That's Bracket H) and work our way around...

Bracket H
Big names here are Yokohama and Chiben Gakuen. While Chiben Gakuen is one of two schools to come out of Nara perenially, it doesn't necessarily equate to a deep run. Yokohama has had their issues getting to Natsu Koushien in recent years but when they did in 2008, they can make a deep run. Problem is, their Kanagawa taikai was less than impressive.

Joining them are the likes of Imabari Nishi - who was a wild card for a couple of game in 2006, Tsuruoka Higashi - who hasn't been in a while, and Takasaki Kenkou Fukushidai who hasn't been at all.

I expect the big names to meet in the bracket final, and despite Yokohama's struggles, get out of this bracket.

Bracket A
As one of my favorite teams, Narashino finds themselves in this bracket. Unfortunately, while I wouldn't call it the bracket of death per se, it is a trap bracket (THE CAKE IS A LIE!).

Seriously though, they face Shizuoka first, who have come on as of late, then can face Meitoku Gijyuku or Hokkai, both of which are perennial teams and can be a stumbling block if not taken seriously, then there's the possibility of facing Kanazawa's Kamata, or Koushien semi-regulars Seikou Gakuin or Nichinan Gakuen.

I don't believe that there are any teams that play at a level equal to Narashino, but at the same time in any given game I think there's a tangible chance they do. I like them to advance, but at the same time I'm crossing my fingers.

Bracket B
Teikyou drops into this bracket, with former darling (albeit just because of Kikuchi Yuusei) Hanamaki Higashi.

Teikyou's bracket is fairly light on compeition, with only regulars Sakushin Gakuin and Fukui Shougyou occupying the other half of the bracket (though they do face each other first!)

A possible wild card in this whole scenario is Furukawa Kougyou. Though this is their first time to Koushien, they defeated both Tohoku and Rifu to win their bid. That's no small feat for sure.

I do expect Teikyou to be the favorite here, though I am intrigued by Furukawa Kougyou.

Bracket C
There are a lot of recent middle-of-the-road Koushien teams paired along with first timers here. Jyosuikan, Eimei, Kamimura Gakuen and Noshiro Shougyou have been to Kousien in recent years, but have little to show for it (yes, Kamimura Gakuen did make the finals in the spring).

Then there's teams like Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara who defeated Osaka Touin for their title, Itoman who finally made it after years of frustration, Seki Shoukou who defeated Oogaki Nichidai, and Shigakukan who denied Aikoudai Meiden their chance.

It's up in the air really, and I don't really have a favorite to come out of this bracket.

Bracket D
Sanko (aka Nichidai-san) plops themselves down into this bracket, and draws Nihon Bunri first. I like Nihon Bunri, and I loved their run in 2009, but in reality this is Niigata we're talking about here. It doesn't look good for them.

Chiben Wakayama also finds themselves here, though on the opposite side of the bracket. Hanasaki Tokuharu will get first crack.

Though these two are the favorites to meet in the bracket final, a wild card here will be Kaisei (Shimane - there are 2 Kaisei's this year) and the re-emergence of Nonomura-kantoku. He ran a pretty tight ship over there, but lost his job due to remarks he made regarding 21st century teams in senbatsu. Probably considered one of the old-time hard-liners, he's sure to have his team in top condition. Whether that will translate to an upset of Nichidai-san is another story.

Sanko will be the favorite for now, but I'd like to see how this year's Chiben Wakayama plays. Seriously... there's no point in looking at their prefectural taikai.

Bracket E
This is the first of the 3 4-team brackets.

Ryuukokudai Heian is here along with Touyoudai Himeji, the other Kaisei (Nagasaki), and Shin-Minato. Heian certainly has more overall expereience, but it seems whenvever Touyoudai Himeji makes it in recent years, you'd better watch out.

Bracket F
Bracket F may be the weakest of the 8 on paper, with Kousei Gakuin perhaps being the front-runner, if you can call anyone one at this point.

It may mean there's a chance for Senshuudai Tamana to advance, and I'd like that since I root for them each year.

Bracket G

Kanzei draws Kyukoku (Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku)??!!!

That's like saying, "Congratulations for reaching Koushien, now bend over."

I guess I'd better sit in Kanzei's section that day. They're not getting past the first game.

The real loser I think winds up being first-timers Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri. Meihou is their first opponent, and even if they win that, they get Kyukoku. Not fun.

Judging from my reaction, I think you know who I expect to get out of Bracket G.


And that's it! Games start in 2 days... let the battles begin!

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.

Monday, August 1, 2011

93rd Koushien Qualifying - Shikoku/Kyushu Update

So the Kagawa semis outside of last year's representative Eimei had some former participants, though it was a while ago. As a result, Eimei advanced from one semi, and Marugame from the other would meet up.

But it was all Eimei in the final as they won 8-0 for their 2nd consecutive title.

We almost had 2 upsets in the semifinals. First, Seikou Gakuen shocked seeded Naruto scoring 3 runs on just 4 hits. Naruto only had 2 hits and still managed to score 1 run.

In the other semi, Komatsushima was leading seeded Tokushima Shougyou 1-0. But Tokushou scored a run in the 8th and one in the 9th for a gyakuten sayonara win.

In the final, Tokushima Shougyou led 2-1 heading into the 9th when Seikou Gakuen tied the game! The game would be sent into extras, and while Seikou was able to hold on for a while, reliever Okigaki finally folded in the 13th, giving up the sayonara run giving Tokushou their 23rd title and their first appearance since 2007.

As Ehime passed onto the semis, most of the expected teams made it such as Imabari Nishi, last years winner Uwajima Higashi. They'd have to face Touon and Nitta respectively.

And while Imabari Nishi did their job, seeded Nitta did theirs by defeating last year's representative 2-1 on the strength of a 3-hitter by the tandem of Hino and Nakagawa.

In the finals though Nitta decided to go Hino then Yuyama then Nakagawa. Whether or not it proved to be fatal is unknown, but righter after tying the game at 1 in the 6th, Yuyama gives up 2 runs with prove to be the final margin.

So looking at the matchups, you had to figure it would be Meitoku Gijyuku versus either Kochi school (which would be a challenge).

Meitoku Gijyuku did make it to the finals, but they did it with the benefit of just 1 hit (and 7 free passes). Ace Omatsu would only give up 2 hits to Tosa himself. They would face Kochi, though only because they scored 7 in the 8th to win 7-3 over Kochi Shougyou.

In the final, Omatsu once again shut the door on Kochi's offense! He once again limited them to just 1 hit, though striking out just 3 giving Meitoku Gijyuku their 13th title and 2nd consecutive.

Just to show how good Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku (aka Kyukoku) is, they used backup pitcher Ooe in the semifinals against Oomuta for 8 innings before turning to Miyoshi, and he gave up just 5 hits. Miyoshi completed the shutout.

In the other semi, Touchiku surprised Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou with 3 in the bottom of the 8th for the gyakuten 4-3 win.

The finals was all Kyukoku, who won 11-2 for their 4th title, and their first appearance since 2009.

The final was a pitchers' duel as the teams only combine for 9 hits. Senshuudai Tamana makse the most of their 4 hits and plates a run - the only one scored in the game. Kumamoto Kougyou falls 1-0 and Senshuudai Tamana finally gets their first appearance at Koushien!

One could have argued that this was Meihou's tournament. Except for the fact that in the semifinals against Oita Shougyou, they fell behind 4-0 before scoring in the 2nd half of the game to win 10-5. Nihon Bunridai Fuzoku seemed to be the better team coming out of the semis with a 4-0 win over Hita Rinkou.

Yet in the finals, Meihou's ace Takao throws a CG 1-hitter giving them their 4th title as well and first since 2009.

In the finals between Nobeoka Gakuen and Nichinan Gakuen, Nichinan Gakuen would get the better of the matchup, winning 4-3 and earning their 6th title and first in 4 years.