Friday, August 3, 2012

The long road back...

Then there are the teams who have wandered and finally found themselves back at Natsu Koushien for the first time in a long time:

Hiroshima - Hiroshima Kougyou - 5th appearance, 1st in 20 years When Jyousuikan lost in the 2nd round, and then Kouryou in the 3rd round, the prefecture was suddenly up for grabs.  I thought that perhaps this would be the perfect time for Onomichi to break though and receive their first bid.

But in the semifinals against eventual champion Hiroshima Kougyou, Onomichi couldn't hold a 5-2 lead and the game went into enchousen.  Onomichi would suffer a fatal collapse in the 13th, giving up 8 runs and falling short yet again.

Hiroshima Kougyou then would use a pair of 4-run innings to defeat Eishin for the title.

Outside of a close opening game against Fukuoka Myououdai, Hiroshima Kougyou scored at least 8 runs in every other game reaching double digits 4 times.

Hiroshima Kougyou will have to depend on ace Tsukoma Yuu (辻駒祐), and Morita's poor performance against Onomichi in the semifinals means that I doubt he'll be trusted upon at Koushien unless they have to.

Despite the offensive output, it will be questionable if it will translate to Koushien given the competition they faced.  However, of the 9 appearances, they have only failed to get past the first game twice.  So when they get here, they at least stay for a while.

Gunma - Takasaki Shougyou - 11th appearance, 1st in 22 yearsGunma was also a prefecture expected to be locked up.  Takasaki Kenkoudai Fukushi had performed so well at Koushien, and with their excellent speed, would put pressure on their opponents.

In the 4th round though, they were surprisingly routed by Isesaki Seimei 8-1, and mercy ruled no less.

In fact, Isesaki Seimei would be the only team to even put a dent in Takasaki Shougyou, only losing in the bottom of the 9th inning on a walkoff.

There will be a lot of pressure on ace Seki Atsushi (関純), as the offense virtually disappeared after the 3rd round game.  The team didn't score more than 2 runs in any game the rest of the way.

Miyazaki - Miyazaki Kougyou - 3rd appearance, 1st in 52 years
Miyazaki Kougyou had been to Koushien recently, but that was Senbatsu back in 2010.  The last time they went to Natsu Koushien was all the way back in 1960 during the time the school split into Miyzaki Ooyodo.

The road wasn't that easy for Miyazaki Kougyou.  Each of their games were contested for a good portion of the game, and they had to face above average opponents in Miyazaki Nichidai, Nobeoka Gakuen and finally St. Ursula to earn their first trip back in over half a decade.

The team will depend on ace Nagatomo for the most part, though Seki has received some work.  Offensively, the team is average, so how they'll do in their first game is anyone's guess.

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