The championship game of the Meiji Jingu tournament is today and while one side may be favored to win, in terms of quality of team invited due to the bid, it may be better off that the other team wins!
Kyoto Shouei (Kinki - Kyoto) vs. Hokushou (Hokkaido - Otaru-shi)
Kyoto Shouei actually was fortunate to draw Hokushou. While a familiar face in 高校野球, they're not a dominating force as other teams. So they stood a chance in the opening matchup.
And in fact, they scored right off the bat in the top of the 1st!
But Hokushou ace Oogushi Kazuya (大串 和弥) would shut the door afterwards, giving up just 7 hits in a complete game effort.
Meanwhile, Domon would hit a sac fly to tie the game in the 4th and last batter Nishitani would hit a 2-run double off of Enomoto to give them the lead for good.
Urawa Gakuin (Kanto - Saitama) vs. Kochi (Shikoku - Kochi)
Though Kasumigaura's hopes took a big hit with the draw, Urawa Gakuin faced a favorable draw in Kochi.
The game still was close. Urawa would inch away to a 2-0 lead after their first 2 innings, only to see Kochi do the same 2 innings later to tie the game. But back to back timely hits by Nie and Yamane would give Urawa Gakuin back the 2-run lead.
Urawa ace Kojima was not on his game today, but despite giving up 7 hits and 8 free passes he holds on for the 4-3 win.
By the way, 4 of those hits went to cleanup batter Wada Koi (和田 恋) who was 4-4 on the day with a walk.
Sendai Ikuei (Tohoku - Miyagi) vs. Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Tokai - Gifu)
Sendai Ikuei had a good matchup in their attempt to send 4 teams to the 85th Haru Koushien. Kengifushou is no slouch, but is no powerhouse either.
Sendai Ikuei took a 2-1 lead in the second thanks to hits by Mima and Katou. But Kengifushou's ace Fujita would tie the game with a solo HR in the 7th. He'd try to keep the Ikuei offense down, but in the top of the 9th with the pitch count over 100, he gave up a 3-run HR to 2B Sasaki (who actually had started the game on the bench!). They'd add one more run as reliever Baba would shut the door in the 9th.
Kanzei (Chuugoku - Okayama) vs. Yasuda Gakuen (Tokyo - Sumida-ku)
Though they could have easily taken the Chuo-sen there, I'm pretty sure Yasuda Gakuen still bussed over to the game at Meiji Jingu. This is home turf after all.
They'd need every ounce of it as Kanzei occupied the opposing dugout.
But Yasuda opened the scoring with a sac fly from Takami in the 1st inning. Kanzei's #9 batter Uraki would tie the game in the 5th and it would stay that way until the 8th. Umeno would give Kanzei the lead in the 8th, only to see Takami come through again to tie the game.
Kanzei ace Kayama would end it in regulation with his only hit in the 9th, breaking the tie then closing it out to win 3-2.
Okinawa Shougaku (Kyushu - Okinawa) vs. Hokushou (Hokkaido - Otaru-shi)
Hokushou certainly was not looking forward to facing Okishou. Home to former ace Higashihama, they looked really solid throughout the Kyushu Super-Regionals.
The game though played out very close. Naka Shouji (名嘉昇司) would open the scoring for Okinawa Shougaku in the 3rd, only to have Igarashi execute a suicide squeeze in their half of the inning to tie the game.
It would stay that way as Okishou starter Higa yielded to Ura in the 7th. Oogushi would continue to pitch for Hokushou (eventually throwing 141 pitches in all).
Instead, he'd decide to end the game himself in the bottom of the 9th in dramatic fashion, hitting a sayonara homerun off of Ura to advance his team to the semifinals.
Urawa Gakuin (Kanto - Saitama) vs. Harue Kougyou (Hokushinetsu - Fukui)
Harue Kougyou must've been thrilled that they not only advanced out of the Fukui prefecturals, but won the Super-Regionals and will go to Koushien this spring.
But there's still more work to be done in perhaps getting their region one more team into the field.
To do that, they'd have to start with a tough matchup against Urawa Gakuin.
It didn't look good early though...
Takada and Saitou for Urawa would deliver RBI hits to give them a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning. Nie would then deliver a squeeze bunt and Yamane would hit a double to make it 5-0.
However, Urawa starter Wakumoto would collapse in the 2nd giving back all 5 runs. Watanabe, who would relieve him wouldn't fare any better in the 3rd retiring just 1 batter but charged with 2 runs. Itou would eventually stop the bleeding and give 2 innings of scoreless ball.
Takada would get them within 1 with a RBI triple in the 4th, but Tsuboda would settle down after that. Seki would deliver an infield RBI hit to get to the final score of 8-6!!
Day 4 - Semifinals
Sendai Ikuei (Tohoku - Miyagi) vs. Hokushou (Hokkaido - Otaru-shi)
Oogushi would have to be called on again as their team would face a strong Sendai Ikuei squad.
Sendai Ikuei for their part decided to start Baba Kousuke (馬場 皐輔). It was the right call as he shut down the Hokkaido representatives.
Oogushi, despite this being his 3rd game pitched very well, but wound up making 2 crucial mistakes. First was in the 3rd, giving up a 3-run HR to Kobayashi. Second was in the 7th when the bases would be loaded for cleanup hitter Uebayashi and he wouldn't miss, hitting a manrui homerun to effectively knock Oogushi out of the game.
That would be more than enough to advance to the finals and give Tohoku another team into Koushien.
Kanzei (Chuugoku - Okayama) vs. Harue Kougyou (Hokushinetsu - Fukui)
Harue Kougyou found themselves just one game away from the fall title and giving the Hokushinetsu region another bid.
Kanzei though would have none of it.
Thanks to an error right off the bat, Kanzei would put up 4 runs in the top of the 1st. Harue ace Tsubota would stay in the game, but would slowly give up more runs, capped off in the 7th with another 4 runs. Harue would be mercy ruled 10-2 in 7 innings.
Day 5 (Today) - Championship
So it'll be Tohoku champion Sendai Ikuei versus Chuugoku champ Kanzei...
In Kanzei's corner will be Iwakuni, who in all likelihood will be receiving the bid if Kanzei wins. Sakata Minami and Aomori Yamada will be backing Sendai Ikuei as it's possible either team could receive a bid depending on the selection committee's analysis.
Kanzei probably has the inside track to the title, but I expect Sendai Ikuei to try and make it close.