Monday, June 18, 2012

Final Spring Taikai Update

It's been a couple of weeks, but now all spring taikais are done.  So lets span the nation and see what happened!

Wouldn't you know it, two strong teams in Hokkai and Hokushou drew each other in the first round.  And the game was a barn burner at the bookends of the game.  Hokushou jumped ahead 8-5 in the first three innings, leading 9-5 heading into the final third.  That's when Hokkai outscored Hokushou 7-2, scoring the sayonara run in the bottom of the 9th.  After a surprising struggle against Asahikawa Nishi (winning 10-8), they were matched with a Sapporo Nichidai squad who was hitting their stride.  Not enough though as Hokkai would score the go-ahead run in the 8th to win 3-2.

On the other side Sapporo Dai-ichi cruised through their games, having no trouble with Bushuukan and Sapproro Ryuukoku.

The final was closely contested as Hokkai and Sapporo Dai-ichi traded a run in the 3rd.  But in the 7th, Matsumoto comes through with a bases-loaded single which proves to be the difference in the game as Hokkai wins their 10th spring title.

Tohoku was the last super-regional to start and last to finish.

Starting with prefectural play, in Aomori, I'm surprised there were only 22 teams involved... I hope this isn't really the case in the summer...  Anyways, Kousei Gakuin did indeed lap the field, outscoring their opponents 30-8 to the title.  Sei-ai and Hirosaki Higashi join them to the super-regionals.

Honjyou and Meiou did indeed meet with Honjyou winning 4-3.  However, they were dispatched by Oomagari 6-1and that was that.  Akita Shougyou fared a little better, struggling against Akita Chuo before defeating aforementioned Oomagari 8-1 in 7 innings to reach the finals.

But the tournament belonged to up-and-coming Oodate Houmei.  Though they had a close one against Akita Minami to start, they averaged a margin of victory of 4 runs for just their 2nd ever title (Their first one was 33 years ago).  And in a local battle, Oomagari Kougyou defeats Oomagari 6-2 to take the 3rd and final spot.

In Iwate, one team who has not gotten respect at all, though it was fairly deserved is Ichinoseki Gakuin.  Passed up on bids to senbatsu, they've surely now playing with a chip on their shoulder.

And it showed.  Defeating their first 3 opponents by a combined score of 14-2, they continued taking out their frustrations on poor Morioka Dai-san... to the tune of 21-1 in just 5 innings!  So they've reached the finals and are going to at least make the super-regional.  Still, they'd have to get through Hanamaki Higashi.

Or not.  After a rather surprising 2-0 win over Morioka Shiritsu, Moriokadai Fuzoku jumped on Yamane scoring 3 in the 2nd and defeated Hanamaki Higashi 5-2!  And then they go on to add disappointment to Ichinoseki Gakuin, defeating them 8-3 for their 4th title.  Hanamaki Higashi had no trouble with Morioka Dai-san, winning 9-2 to take the last spot.

Sakata Minami and Nichidai Yamagata did indeed breeze through to the semis and squared off against each other in the Yamagata prefecturals.  And it was a matter of who could hold out the longest.   Turns out that was Nichidai Yamagata as they outscore Sakata Minami 6-2 in the final 2 innings to reach the final.

But it wouldn't be Yonezawa Chuo they'd be facing.  They were upset by Yamamoto Gakuen 4-3.  They in turn faced Tsuruoka Higashi and gave them a good run for their money, only falling by one run 6-5.

In the final, Nichidai Yamagata did not go to starter Iino who pitched the Sakata Minami game.  As a result, they were down 9-4 after 4 and that was the final score giving them just their 3rd ever spring title.  Yamamoto Gakuen would get a further reality check in the 3rd place game, losing 10-3.

In Miyagi, Sendai Ikuei held their end of the bracket, advancing to the finals though not in convincing fashion culminating in a 3-1 squeaker over Sendai Dai-san.  Rifu though struggled against Tohoku Koudai winning 6-5 before being mercy-ruled by Touryou 9-0.  That made Sendai Ikuei's 20th title that much easier as they won 6-1.  Meanwhile Rifu's struggles continued, but they managed a 5-4 win to reach the super-regionals.

Looking at Fukushima's bracket, the combined Sousou Fukushima team got a seed!  It's strange to see such a team get one, but the combined Futaba-Haramachi-Souma Nougyou did get one but lost to Asaka 1-0 in the first game.

But the tournament belonged to Seikou Gakuin who was unchallenged every stop of the way for their 3rd straight and 5th overall spring title. Soushi would take 2nd and Gakkou Houjin Ishikawa edging Wakamatsu Shougyou for the last spot.

When the super-regional bracket was drawn, the (actual) strong teams were rather spread out.  However, Moriokadai Fuzoku and Hanamaki Higashi were placed in the same quadrant, and wouldn't you know it, they faced off against each other again.  Once again, Sasaki-kantoku did not start ace Ootani, and once again Yamane was shelled.  However Hanamaki's offense came out this time around, but it wasn't enough as they fell once again 10-9.

Their opponent in the semifinal would be Sendai Ikuei who had no trouble with their prior 2 games.  Anticipating the matchup, Morioka sent out ace Deguchi to start the game.  The offense helped him out jumping out to an 8-0 lead early!  But immediately thereafter, Sendai Ikuei chipped away and chipped away until by the middle of the 9th, they had an 11-8 lead and won 11-9!

On the other side, Seikou Gakuin had an easy bracket, including defeating Gakkou Houjin Ishikawa once again.  They would play Kousei Gakuin, who once again on the big stage encountered close games, denying Ichinoseki Gakuin 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

Seikou Gakuin actually held a 1-0 lead going into the 9th before Tamura tied the game with a solo homerun!  However, Jyouma in relief couldn't hold the tie and in the first extra frame, loaded the bases before Nagai delivered the sayonara single.

In the final, Sendai Ikuei played catchup the entire game, falling behind 4-0 before catching up to 4-3 only to fall behind again 8-3 before rallying to within 2 in the 8th inning.  That's as close as they would get as Seikou Gakuin claims their 2nd (and 2nd overall) spring title!

Really, despite Saitama Sakae's defeat of Yokohama Hayato in the quarterfinals, they were the odd team in the foursome.  They did have a chance in the 1st to get ahead of Takasaki Kendai, but couldn't score and instead Kendai jumps out to a 3-0 lead and 4-0 victory.

In the other semi, Kanto Dai-ichi slowly built a 5-1 lead only to have it completely wiped out in the 9th inning.  Still, they managed to keep it at a tie which allowed Yoshie to be the hero in the bottom of the 9th.

Kanto Dai-ichi though couldn't stop Kendai in the final, as they could only muster just one run in the 9th, giving Kendai a 4-1 victory and their first ever spring title!

I was expecting Nihon Bunri to take the title, and after their 2nd win in the super-regionals, an 8-1 win against Seiryou, it seemed to be a matter of time.  Iinstead, Toyama Dai-ichi gave them a shock, scoring 4 in the 3rd to take a 4-1 lead, then 5 more in the 7th to win 9-6!

Meanwhile, while Chikyuu Kankyou managed to defeat Niigata Meikun in the first game, unknown Sabae defeated them soundly 10-2 as Urushido did not make an appearance.  They then denied an all-Toyama final as they outlasted Fujikoshi Kougyou 8-5 in 13 innings.

However, it wouldn't prevent Toyama from taking the title as Toyama Dai-ichi led wire-to-wire, taking their first ever title with a 7-1 win!

In the short Tokai super-regional, all 4 number one seeds would have advanced had not Aichi Sangyoudai Kougyou scored 3 in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Shizuoka 11-10.

So in the semis it would be Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu 1) vs. Touhou (Aichi 1), and Kinkidai Tousen (Mie 1) vs. Aichi Sangyoudai Kougyou (Aichi 2).

From these 4 teams, the inside track belonged to Kengifushou.  Indeed, they dispatched Touhou with little problem while Kinkidai Tousen played catch-up the entire game, finally taking the lead in the 8th, winning 8-7.

The final started out interestingly enough as Kengifushou led 3-0, only to see Kinkidai take a 5-3 lead before the game leveled at 5.  However, just one inning later, Kengifushou doubled their run total and separated themselves for their 4th title, winning 12-7.

Well, the Kinki regional went pretty much as expected.  In the first round, despite Toba's dominating performance, all they could manage was a close 3-1 loss to Chiben Gakuen.  Not bad, but not great.  Hieizan couldn't keep up with Houtoku Gakuen, but at least rallied from 4-0 down to tie it up before eventually losing 7-4.  On the other half, Touyoudai Himeji appears to have a ways to go still as they were mercy-ruled 7-0 by Osaka Touin.

The only surprise was Chiben Wakayama.  Facing off against the Hyogo #3 seed Akashi, they were unceremoniously ousted as Akashi led wire-to-wire in a 7-2 win.

Akashi's euphoria wouldn't last though, as they had to turn around and play Osaka Touin.  Still, against the offensive powerhouse, they managed to lose by the margin of 4-1. Their opponent in the final would be Chiben Gakuen, though not without some difficulty.  Sadotomo's HR in the 6th tied the game at 2 which would stand into extras.  In the 11th, Chiben finally broke through with 5 runs to advance.

However, against Fujinami in the finals, Chiben Gakuen had no answer.  In fact, even with just a 4-0 lead, they passed the ball to reliever Sawada who closed it out, giving Osaka Touin just their 2nd spring super-regional title.

Finally!  One of the teams I root for, Onomichi, makes progress!  They defeate Yonago Higashi 7-0, and edge out Yanai Gakuen 1-0 to reach the super-regional final!

Their opponent would be neighboring Kurashiki Kougyou, as they had no problems with Kurayoshi Sougyou Sangyou and senbatsu participant Tottori Jyouhoku.

Sadly for my boys by the water, the history of Kurashiki Kougyou was just too much as they lost 7-3, giving them only their 2nd spring super-regional title as well (their only other one was 37 years ago).

So, all spring taikais are done, and there don't really seem to be any new "contenders" that appeared since the last update.  Osaka Touin continues to look strong, Chiben Gakuen still is missing something to push them over the top.  Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi, if they can stick to their game plan has a shot, and the loss of Kousei Gakuin to Seikou Gakuin raises questions if they can continue their strong runs in the summer.

And even as I write this, I check up and realize that Okinawa has already started their Natsu Koushien qualifying!  Guess those posts will start coming fast and furious now!