Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall Taikai Quick Recap (Tokai & Kinki)

Tokai (3 bids)
There were a lot of familiar players in the Shizuoka prefecturals.  The natsu representative, Tokoha Tachibana reached the prefecturals, but but fell 4-3 to Hiryuu.  I don't know much about them, but they worked their way from almost the bottom of one of the losers' brackets in the Toubu Regionals to qualify, then defeated the aforementioned Tokoha Tachibana, and narrowly lost to Tokoha Kikugawa 7-6 in the semifinals.

However, they kept their Koushien hopes alive with an 8-4 win in the consolation game over Shizoka Gakuen.

That was unfortunate for them as they were the 2nd team to give Shizuoka difficulty in the prefecturals, losing by the score of 2-1.  Numadzu Higashi gave them a big headache right off the bat, holding them to just 1 run in a 1-0 loss.

Otherwise they had little difficulty, especially in the championship game against Tokoha Kikugawa, routing them 14-1.

Aichi appears to be undergoing a bit of change this year.  Aikoudai Meiden without their ace Hamada falls in the 3rd round 1-0 to Yatomi.  That opened the door for Touhou to breeze through their quadrant.  And Shigakukan's 4-0 loss to Nagoya Kokusai in the quarterfinals almost assured them of a spot in the Super-Regional.  Still, Nagoya Kokusai gave them a great fight losing 7-5.

On the other half, Chuukyoudai Chuukyou looked to start a revival of their prior success posting two double-digit run totals, but was stymied in the quarterfinals against Toyokawa, losing 2-1.  Toyokawa in fact looked really good reaching the finals, but falling 9-0 to Touhou.

And in the consolation game Aichi Keisei, who lost to Toyokawa, took the final bid with an 11-7 win over Nagoya Kokusai.

In Gifu, there are almost 3 certainties - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou, Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou and Oogaki Nichidai.

And who advanced?  Yep, Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou, Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou and Oogaki Nichidai.

Kengifushou pretty much dominated the prefecturals, allowing just one run to Fujimi Kougyou in their opening game all the way to the finals where they faced their city counterpart.  Shigifushou did not have as easy a road taking 13 innings to defeat Teikyoudai Fujimi in the semifinals, edging Nagara 2-1 before that and a 2-0 win over Gifu Kakamino.

Despite all that though, they apparently get up for the rivalry matchup of commercial schools going 11 innings before falling 4-3.

Oogaki Nichidai slides into the 3rd and final bid after barely getting by Minokamo in the quarterfinals, and then doing the same to Teikyoudai Fujimi in the 3rd place game holding off a late surge.

It looks like Mie is in one of those rebuilding phases at this point which means it opens the prefecture up to the rest of the field.  For the record, Mie wound up losing in the quarterfinals to Inabe Sougou Gakuen 7-0.

In fact, Inabe Sougou Gakuen didn't yield a run until the 7th inning of championship game, which was somewhat unfortunate as they wound up not giving up 1, but 4 runs to Komono losing 4-3.  Komono had only been challenged one other game, and that was a 1-0 nailbiter against Ujiyamada Shougyou.

Tsu Shougyou would claim the last bid with a dominating 10-2 win over Hisai.

The draw for the Super-Regional is out and games will commence on the 20th:
  • Shizuoka (Shizuoka 1) vs. Winner of Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu 2)-Tsu Shougyou (Mie 3)
  • Komono (Mie 1) vs. Winner of Toyokawa (Aichi 2)-Hiryuu (Shizuoka 3)
  • Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu 1) vs. Winner of Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie 2)-Aichi Keisei (Aichi 3)
  • Touhou (Aichi 1) vs. Winner of Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka 2)-Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu 3)
The last quadrant by far is the toughest of the 4.  Oogaki Nichidai plays 3rd fiddle to the Shougyou schools from Gifu and winds up against Tokoha Kikugawa and Touhou.

Conversely, the easiest is the Komono-Toyokawa-Hiryuu matchup.  Komono is probably the weakest of the 4 top seeds and the other 2 teams are relative unknowns.

With an extra bid at stake, getting to the semifinals is key, having good performances up until that point is also vital to receive the bid.

Kinki (6 bids)
With 16 teams in the Super-Regionals to even it out and 6 prefectures, 2 prefectures will be shorted a team each year.  This time around, one of them is Shiga.

Kita-Ootsu and Hachiman Shougyou were on opposite sides of the bracket, so perhaps it would setup a finals matchup.

Except that Hachiman Shougyou lost to Youkaichi Minami 4-3 in their first game, and Kita-Ootsu lost to Youkaichi 6-5 in the quarterfinals!  So the two Youkaichi schools were responsible for knocking out some of the perennial powerhouses!

So who was left?  Well, Kousen remained as the only seeded team left in the bracket and would face Youkaichi.  Shiga Gakuen, who not too long ago got to Natsu Koushien, would be the 4th team, defeating Hikone Higashi along the way.

Both of the Youkaichi schools actually lose in the semifinals (actually, they're both shutout!).  So Shiga Gakuen and Kousen would represent Shiga in the Super-Regionals.  But the title still matters (as well as possibly a favorable matchup), and Kousen would take their first ever fall title with a 9-6 win!

In Kyoto, the 3 major programs - Fukuchiyama Seibi, Ryuukokudai Heian and Ritsumeikan Uji all qualified for the prefecturals, but all wound up in the same half of the bracket!  So it'd be guaranteed that one of the 3 wouldn't advance to the Super-Regionals.  Heian caught a break and wouldn't have to face another strong team until the semifinals.

Fukuchiyama Seibi managed to win the first matchup of school 3-1, then proceeded to overpower Heian 5-1 to guarantee a spot in the Super-Regionals.

But they would be denied the title!  Kyoto Shouei pretty much ran laps around the field save for a 9-7 win over Nissei.  And in the final, they annihilated Seibi 22-3 for their first ever title!

The 3rd place game had my 2nd favorite team from Kyoto - Kyoto Subaru, looking for a spot at the table, would have to get past Heian.  And while they kept the game close, they still lost 2-1 and will have to wait for the summer like all the other teams that failed this fall.

Nara is the other school to get just 2 bids.  Fortunately for the field, Tenri and Chiben Gakuen would have to meet in the quarterfinals, meaning that at minimum one bid from the other half of the bracket would be up for grabs.

Tenri would win that battle of the Nara titans 4-2, pretty much clinching the #1 seed.  They faced a very game Yamato Kouryou squad, who did not yield a run until they faced Tenri - which they proceeded to lose 5-1.

  • Champion - Chiben Wakayama (12th title, 1st in 2 years, 19th appearance overall)
  • Runner-Up - Shiritsu Wakayama (9th appearance, 1st in 8 years)
  • 3rd Place - Kouyasan (3rd appearance, 1st in 23 years)
With Wakayama, it is still assumed that Chiben Wakayama will win the prefecture.  Unless they somehow don't (like last year).

But the world was put back in order as outside of a 2-1 game over Minoshima, cruised to the title.

On the other half, Wakayama Shougyou and Shiritsu Wakayama, two of the above-average teams worked their way into a semifinal matchup.  With a guaranteed spot at stake, the teams treated this like a final.  Shiritsu Wakayama would prevail 5-4.

Wakayama Shougyou couldn't get up for the 3rd place game, falling to Kouyasan 3-1.

Despite the loss of ace Fujinami, Osaka Touin still has offense for days against their opponents.  They slashed their way through the prefecturals and into the finals where they faced a Riseisha squad who had equal success against their opponents.

But in the finals, the bats fell silent against ace Higashino.  They could only watch as Riseisha put up a pair of runs in the 7th, which would prove to be the winning runs as Riseisha won 3-1.

The 3rd place game would be between Osaka Shougyoudai Sakai and Uenomiya Taishi.  The game was close until the 7th inning where Sakai would plate 7 en route to a mercy rule win and a spot in the Super-Regionals.

Hyogo for the most part was also pretty routine.  Houtoku Gakuen and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku had relatively little trouble going through the brackets.

Kansei Gakuin appears to be the new Touyoudai Himeji (who btw lost to Houtoku Gakuen), surviving their first 4 games by the scores of 2-1, 2-0, 1-0 and 2-0 to reach the semifinals.  There, they faced Houtoku Gakuen and doubled their run output scoring 4 runs.  Only problem was that they gave up 8 and would have to qualify through the 3rd place game.

That game would be played against relative unknown Houjyou who had been blanked by Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku 7-0.  True to form, Kansei reverted back to their low-scoring affairs, winning 1-0 and earning a spot in the Super-Regional.

As for the final, the game turned out to be a pitchers affair instead of an offensive showdown, and Houtoku Gakuen would prevail by the score of 2-1.

The Super-Regionals begin on the 20th, and the draw is as follows:
  • Shiga Gakuen (Shiga 2) vs. Yamato Kouryou (Nara 2)
  • Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama 1) vs. Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto 3)
  • Riseisha (Osaka 1) vs. Kansei Gakuin (Hyogo 3)
  • Kyoto Shouei (Kyoto 1) vs. Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo 2)
  • Shiritsu Wakayama (Wakayama 2) vs. Osaka Shoudai Sakai (Osaka 3)
  • Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo 1) vs. Fukuchiyama Seibi (Kyoto 2)
  • Tenri (Nara 1) vs. Kouyasan (Wakayama 3)
  • Kousen (Shiga 1) vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka 2)
Ugh, a matchup between Tenri and Osaka Touin in the quarterfinals.  That had better be a good game if the loser is to get one of the final 2 bids.

Chiben Wakayama, should they survive a low scoring game against Heian should be a shoe-in for Senbatsu.

Kyoto Shouei's prize for winning Kyoto?  A matchup against Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku.  Not really what they were hoping for, I bet.  The other matchup looks interesting, but if Kansei Gakuin needs to be in a game where you have to take the under on 3.5 runs it's hard to pick them to go far...

Houtoku Gakuen may be in the same spot Chiben Wakayama is, but how hungry will Fukuchiyama Seibi be after losing so badly to Kousen?

And to bring it full circle, that hopeful weaker pairing after winning Shiga doesn't look so easy now.  I bet after the draw came out, their first thought was "マジで??”.

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