With an extra bid this year at stake, teams are more than ever focusing on this fall taikai for a chance to get to Koushien. The tournament is being held in Yamaguchi-ken this year, so they will get the 4th bid this time around.
Tottori Jyouhoku, looking for a return ticket to Koushien, looked strong in its first couple of games, but wound up falling behind to Yonago Kita right off the get-go in the semifinals, and never recovered, falling 4-3.
Meanwhile, Yonago Shouin was working from the depths of the bracket (relatively speaking as there are just 24 teams) barely getting by Yonago Higashi and Tottori Nishi to reach the finals.
In those finals, they were outs away from upsetting Yonago Kita for the title, but surrendered a 2-0 lead in the 9th and would have to win it in extras. They almost did in the 12th when they plated a run, but once again the defense couldn't close out the game. Alas, in the 14th inning Yonago Kita scored the sayonara run and claimed the title.
Tottori Jyouhoku would claim the final spot, needing a 3-spot in the 9th inning to defeat Tottori Nishi 5-2.
Okayama's prefectural taikai wound up being a predominantly low-scoring affair. Kurashiki Shougyou, Okayama's natsu representative, looked to reload for the new season. But after a 3-2 sayonara quarterfinal win over Okayama Ridai Fuzoku in 11 innings, it didn't look too good. And in fact it was as they fell to Kanzei (who themselves were reloading from a very successful 2011) 3-1.
Kanzei themselves though were facing very close games. In fact, that 3-1 win over Kurashiki Shougyou was their largest margin of victory, defeating Tamano Kounan 3-2, then walking off on Okayama Higashi Shougyou 2-1.
Their eventual opponent in the finals, Tamashima Shougyou, had it no better - not necessarily in the margin of victory, but that all their games prior to the final were enchousen affairs:
- 4-3 in 11 innings over Okayama Shoudai Fuzoku
- 2x-1 in 10 innings over Soushi Gakuen
- 3-0 in 11 innings over Koujyoukan
Koujyoukan almost took the 3rd spot, but let Kurashiki Shougyou rally late for the 4-3 win.
Last year's Risshoudai Shounan appears to have been yet another 1-year wonder as the reached the 2nd stage, but fell 2-0 to Matsue Shougyou. Kaisei, the main elephant in the prefecture, only got one round further, losing in the 2nd stage final (by mercy rule!) to Shimane Chuo 8-0 in 7 innings! And Iwamichisuikan, who had made a deep run last year fell in the same round 2-0 to Hamada. Joining them in the semifinals would be Masuda Higashi and Masuda Shouyou.
From here on out, all the games wound up being decided by one run. Hamada would score the only run in the ballgame in the 4th to defeat Shimane Chuo. Masuda Shouyou had to rally twice to defeat Masuda Higashi 6-5 to secure a spot in the Super-Regionals. And in the finals they again rallied, this time in the final 3 innings of regulation as Hamada struggled to find someone to close the game. Hamada looked to close it out again, scoring a run over reliever Terado in the 12th, but their own reliever Ogose couldn't seal the deal, giving the run back. One inning later, Masuda Shouyou would score the sayonara run to win the title. Meanwhile, Masuda Higashi couldn't recover from the semfinal loss and failed to qualify, giving the spot to Shimane Chuo 2-1.
In Hiroshima, once again Kouryou and Jyosuikan were placed in the same half of the bracket, meaning that there was yet another guaranteed spot as long as you reach the finals.
That spot would be taken by Soutoku who broke a scoreless deadlock against Setouchi in the 12th with a pair of runs, then had to hold off a counter-attack to win 2-1.
Meanwhile, Kouryou looked to have the championship in hand, leading Jyousuikan 4-1 going into the bottom of the 9th. But Shimoishi collapsed with just 3 outs to go, losing the game 5-4. Kouryou managed to turn the tables on Setouchi in the 3rd place game, scoring 3 in the 8th to reverse a 3-2 deficit to win 5-3.
Jyosuikan though must have taken the finals against Soutoku lightly as they never led, using 6 different pitchers in a 5-2 loss - almost guaranteeing that the two stalwarts of the prefecture will fall to opposite sides of the Super-Regionals.
Feel good story Ube Koujyou would have liked to gotten back to Koushien, but found themselves with an early matchup against young Hayatomo, and lost 7-4.
The road got no easier for Hayatomo. After a brief respite against Hagi, they rallied against Nanyou Kougyou, winning 6-5 in 11. Then they held off Ube Kougyou winning 6-4 to reach the finals.
Their opponent would be the unlikely Iwakuni Shougyou who pulled off the 3-2 upset of Iwakuni. They used that momentum 2 days later to defeat Hayatomo to claim only their 2nd ever fall title! (Their other one was in 1981!).
Iwakuni and Ube Kougyou thankfully would not have to fight for the final bid as they qualify 4 this year. But placement still may matter, and to that end Iwakuni led wire-to-wire - but still had to hold off a late charge to win 6-5.
Shikoku (3 bids)
Looks like Naruto has emerged as the dominant team in Tokushima. They completely blew through the brackets and never trailed in the prefecturals. They were challenged by Tokushima Shougyou in the finals when they scored 3 in the 8th to tie the game in the 8th. Naruto reclaimed the lead with a run in the bottom half and won 6-5.
Tokushima Shougyou actually had a tougher road, having to face Naruto Uzushio and Komatsushima on their road to the finals.
Rounding out the field is an Ikeda squad looking to give it's school relevance in the 2000s. They defeated Seikou Gakuen 11-4.
Kagawa went pretty much scratch, even though some of those teams struggled a bit advancing in the fall taikai. For instance, Takamatsu Shougyou barely beat Ootemae Takamatsu 7-6 in their very first game.
Joining Takashou would be Marugame and Jinsei Gakuen who had a much easier time of advancing to the semifinals.
The final team would be Eimei, who this time around wasn't ranked and had the benefit of a weaker road to the semifinals. They, along with Takashou would advance to the finals as each would handily defeat the two teams that had cruised to this point.
And in the finals, it would be the unseeded Eimei who would win, scoring 2 in the 10th inning as their ace Akagawa throws a shutout for the win.
In the battle for 3rd, Marugame allowed Jinsei Gakuen to rally twice, but somehow still managed to score 2 in the bottom of the 9th for the sayonara 6-5 win.
There were several usual subjects who advanced to the Ehime prefecturals. Saibi, Uwajima Higahi, Imabari Nishi, Nitta, Teikyou Dai-go and Kawanoe all advanced. Saijyou was not as fortunate, but that was because they were in the same sub-bracket with Imabari Nishi.
Kawanoe had to face Saibi in the first round, and lost - along with Imabari Nishi (to Imabari Kougyou no less) and Teikyou Dai-go. Imabari Kougyou would take down another named team in Nitta. Uwajima Higashi fell to Matsuyama Seiryou, which meant that only Saibi was the only favored team left.
And Saibi would have to face the very same Matsuyama Seiryou for a spot in the finals...
In that game, Matsuyama Seiryou had an answer for every Saibi score matching them run for run in three consecutive innings, forcing the game into enchousen tied at 4. In the 12th, Matsuyama Seiryou scored a run and actually threatened to upset the last major team remaining. But Saibi found a way to level the score yet again. Finally, in the 14th inning, Saibi would score the sayonara run to advance to the finals.
Their opponent would be the other giant killer - Imabari Kougyou. They dispatched Tanbara 8-1.
Imabari Kouyou would again give Saibi all it could handle taking the lead in the 4th with a run before Saibi tied it up in the bottom half of the inning. It would stay at 1 until the 9th when Imabari Kougyou score yet another run, and was on the precipice of winning the tournament. But ace Itou and his team perhaps let the moment get to them as Saibi rallied for 2 to claim only their 3rd ever fall title (and first since 2005).
As for the 3rd place game, Matsuyama Seiryou would have to play catch-up against Tanbara. This time around though, they took the lead earlier on with a 3-spot in the 6th, and held on for the 6-4 win and the last spot.
Kochi completely destroyed the field this fall taikai. How much? How about a run differential of 60 in just 5 games, and the narrowest margin of victory of 4 runs (against Tosa).
Is it also not surprising that the team that would finish 2nd would be Kochi Shougyou? They only had a run differential of 22, which included -6 from the final against Kochi.
So the battle was for 3rd place. The aforementioned Tosa would have to face a Kochi Minami team which had upset Meitoku Gijyuku earlier in the taikai 3-2 in 13 innings. Kochi Minami took the lead early, but Tosa kept it close and would up tying and pulling away late for a 10-6 win.