Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The 95th Natsu Koushien Field

(My apologies about the prefecural final updates, life and excel are getting in the way of me finishing this quickly.  Rest assured, I will have them up before Natsu Koushien begins.)

Without further ado, the field of 47.  Couple of notes:
  • 10 newbies this year
  • With Chiben Wakayama eliminated the longest streak of Natsu Koushien tournaments belongs to Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) at 7.  Next would be Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) at 4.
  • Minoshima has the longest gap between appearances (29 years) followed by Iwakuni Shougyou (27).
  • Urawa Gakuin will look for yet another haru-natsu renzoku yuushou, while Saibi and Anraku think revenge.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

7/26 Title Games

Ok, 17 champions have been crowned the last 2 days.  Let's see who has advanced to Koushien:

7/26 Title Games
Iwate - Hanamaki Higashi (7th title, 1st in 2 years)

After a rainout on the scheduled day, Moriokadai Fuzoku and Hanamaki Higashi finally clashed.

Moriokadai jumped on Hanamaki in the first inning with an RBI by ace Matsumoto to score Saitou.  Matsumoto would hold that lead until the 5th when back to back hits by Motegi and Hosokawa would give Hanamaki Higashi the 2-1 lead.  One inning later, it would all fall apart for Matsumoto as Tadano and Motegi (who ended up going 2-3 on the day) would tally 3 more runs to put it out of reach.  Hosokawa would scatter 1 run on 5 hits giving Hanamaki Higashi the title!

We know them for their grittiness.  Will we see it again this year?

Yamagata - Nichidai Yamagata (16th appearance, 1st in 6 years)
The Yamagata final was also rained out.  It perhaps allowed Yonezawa Chuo to contemplate rallying for the final against Nichidai Yamagata.

One day however, would wind up making little difference.  For Nichidai Yamagata would put the game out of reach early.  Takeda would start with squeeze bunt in the 2nd for a run.  In the 3rd Mineta would deliver a 2-run HR to right in a 3-run 3rd.

It was all Nichidai Yamagata after that, as ace Shouji and Aoki would later add HR's of their own in a 7-3 rout for the title.

Yamagata has been winless in the last 6 Natsu Koushien tournaments.  If there is any hope, they did to go the Best 8 in 2006.  But does such a run exist for them?

Toyama - Toyama Dai-ichi (1st appearance!)

Toyama Dai-ichi was looking for their first title against Sakurai who was looking for their 5th.

Ace Miyamoto would help his own cause opening the scoring for Toyama Dai-ichi in the 2nd with a sac fly to center.  3 innings later Fukui would extend the lead with a base hit to left.

Sakurai would pull within 1 in the bottom of the 5th, but Terazaki and Miyamoto would drive in 2 more runs in the lucky 7th.

That would be enough for Miyamoto as Kuroda-kantoku would finally celebrate his schools first ever title!  Now, can they parlay that into a win?  Over the last decade, teams from Toyama have advanced to the next round just 40% of the time.

Fukui - Fukui Shougyou (22nd appearance, 1st in 2 years)
So Fukui Shougyou (though not a no-name team by any means), was on the verge on a unique double upset.  If they managed to defeat Harue Kougyou in the final, they will have won the Fukui tournament defeating both Hokushinetsu senbatsu representatives!!  And with Tsuruga Kehi looking the stronger of the two representatives, it looked certainly possible.

Cleanup batter Ooishi would open the scoring against ace Tsubota with a timely hit to center.

And, that's all that Fukushou would need!  Nakamura Fumihide (中村 文英) would completely stifle the Harue offense giving up just 3 hits while striking out 9 in a 2-0 win to give Fukui Shougyou the title and completing the double upset!

Gifu - Oogaki Nichidai (2nd appearance, 1st in 6 years)
Despite having more Natsu Koushien title, Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou looked to be facing an uphill battle against Oogaki Nichidai.

Indeed, 3 straight hits ending with Naitou's 2-run triple followed by a sac fly from Takino would give Oogaki Nichidai a very quick 3-0 lead.  Starter Nagano for Shiritsu Fukushou would be pulled after just 1/3 of an inning giving way to Koedo.  Oogaki would add a run in the 3rd to make it a 4-run lead.

Starter Takada for Oogaki however would be unable to hold it.  Over the next 3 innings, Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou would come back to tie the game.

But just when Shiritsu Gifushou got back into the game, it would slip away yet again.  2 on, and the new Oogaki pitcher Hashimoto would come up big with a 2-run double to right.  One more run for good measure in the 7th, and Oogaki Nichidai would defeat Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou 7-4.

Shimane - Iwami Chisuikan (8th appearance, 1st in 8 years)
Iwami Chisuikan, formerly known as Gonokawa, would be looking for their first title since the name change.  In their way was Risshoudai Shounan.

It did look like Iwami Chisuikan would be pulling off the rout jumping out to a 5-0 lead early.  Ace Tanabe though would let Risshoudai get back within 1 over the next two innings.

But Risshoudai Shounan seemed to have troubles on the mound the entire game.  After pulling starter Shimozono after just 2.1 innings, Yoshihara would give up just one run until the 7th when he was pulled after letting the leadoff runner on.  Yoshimura would come in, but wound up giving up 4 runs (1 charged to Yoshihara), and that pretty much ended it for Risshoudai as Iwami Chisuikan would win 10-6 to claim their first title in 8 years!

Okayama - Tamano Kounan (3rd appearance, 1st in 11 years)
My dear Kanzei was just one game away from making it to Koushien.  And with 4 quick runs early on, it seemed like perhaps they'd get there.

But in the 5th errors would plague Kanzei.  4 runs would come in, giving Tamano Kounan the 5-4 lead.  Tamano ace Hoshi settled down after the shaky first 2 innings and would wind up striking out 7 and giving Tamano Kounan the title.

Kagawa - Marugame (4th appearance, 1st in 13 years)
To claim the title, Marugame would have to defeat the defending champions Jinsei Gakuen.  It wound up being easier than anyone expected as they would break to a 3-0 lead over the 1st 3 innings, then blow it open late all while ace Miyazaki would give up just 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 9 in a resounding 8-1 victory.

Friday, July 26, 2013

7/26 Update - 3 champions, and 9 more today

Sorry, a headache pretty much KO'd me during games so I wasn't able to do an update.

Anyways, we're in crunchtime now as the number of teams qualifying by the day starts to ramp up hard.

First our qualifiers.  The established guard ruled the day on the 25th.

Ibaraki - Jyousou Gakuin (15 appearance, 2nd consecutive)

There were very few surprises in Ibaraki this year.

Top seed Kasumigaura almost stumbled out of the block, sort of expected for a team newly in the upper ranks, in a 2-1 win over Hokota Dai-ichi.  That would wake them up as they would outscore their opponents 22-2 thereafter to reach the semis.  That shouldn't take away from their quarterfinal opponent Meishuu Higashi who had defeated Fujishiro in the prior round as flurries of runs were scored in the final innings.

On the other part of their half was Kashima Gakuen who clawed their way through the quadrant, which included a late game pull away from #5 seed Tsuchiura Kohoku 6-4, and Hitachi Dai-ichi who survived Tsuchiura Dai-san 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th then an upset of #4 seed Ishioka Dai-ichi 7-5.  The two teams would be tied at 1 until Kashima Gakuen broke out for 4 runs in the 9th for the win.

In the other half of the quadrant, #2 Jyousou Gakuin breezed through their games, and in the quarterfinals continued to roll with a mercy rule win over Mito Kougyou who respectfully got through the bracket.

Meanwhile, both #3 Shimotsuma Dai-ni and #4 Suijyou were methodically working their way through.  Suijyou after a pair of mercy-rule games, took an early lead over Tsuchiura Dai-ichi 5-0 then held off to win 5-3.  Shimotsuma Dai-ni you could say slowly warmed up.  After a 4-3 win over Tsuchiura Dai-ni, had a better 5-2 win over Mito Sakuranomaki before blowing away Taga. The warming up though wouldn't be enough as Suijyou's RBI by cleanup batter Hayashi Ryou (林 涼) would be enough to send them to the semis.

Both semfiinals wound up being one-sided.  Both Kasumigaura and Jyousou Gakuin cruised through to the finals.

Kasumigaura had a chance this year to finally breakthrough.  In 2011, they lost in the bottom of the 9th against Fujishiro, and last year they fell in the quarterfinals.  Now, prefectural stalwart Jyousou Gakuin stood in the way.

But much like 2011, Kasumigaura took the early lead with a run in the top of the first, and then even added a run in the 8th for good measure.

The pitching side seemed to be holding.  Starter Ueno went short of  5 innings but didn't allow a run.  Ichige came in relief and continued to shut down the favorites...

Until the 8th.

Ichige would be tagged with back to back RBI hits by Yoshizawa and Ikezawa and before you knew it the game was tied.  Katano, who was part of that 2011 game, came in relief and got out of the inning.

But something was probably in the back of Kasumigaura's minds.  Perhaps the shades of 2011 haunted them.  Perhaps my theory of what the schools just below the "powerhouse" tiers holds true - that teams need to learn how to win the big game, to not be intimidated by their history or the history of the other teams.  To just play with no abandon regardless of the opponent.

Because with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Kasumigaura would suffer the same fate as 2011.  Cleanup batter Uchida would blast a sayonara 2-run HR off Katano to give Jyousou Gakuin their 2nd consecutive title... and leave Kasumigaura broken for 2 of the last 3 years.

Niigata - Nihon Bunri (7th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
This year may have been Murakami Sakuragaoka's best chance to win the title.  Constantly exiting either in the 3rd round or the semifinals, they finally got to the title game.  But Nihon Bunri stood in the way of them and the title.

Murakami Sakuragaoka looked really good in the title game, pinging Nihon Bunri for a run in the first 2 innings.  And even after ace Shiina gave up a 3 spot in the 4th, Murakami pocked ace Ooyanai? Yoshinori (大谷内 睦規) for another run in the 5th and 6th innings to take the lead.  However, Shiina's downfall would be the big inning.  Nihon Bunri would score 4 in the 7th knocking Shiina out of the game and giving themselves a lead that just forced their opponents to get a run an inning.  After a scoreless bottom of the 7th, it was all but over as Nihon Bunri won the title 7-5.

Kumamoto - Kumamoto Kougyou (20th appearance, 1st in 4 years)
Buntoku had been to Koushien twice before, both summer appearances.  And they performed very well in recent years, losing in the 3rd round or the quarterfinal game.  This year though they would have to defeat Kumamoto Kougyou, who had been to Koushien quite often in the 2000's, but was quiet so far in this decade.  Still, they have a much bigger history at Koushien than Buntoku.

Once again, it was the underdog who jumped out ahead with a run in the bottom of the first.  Kumamoto Kougyou would respond quickly tying the game in the 2nd.  Forward to the 5th inning and an error would help Buntoku take a 4-1 lead.  Ace Honda seemed to make that lead stick... that is until the 8th where with 2 down and runners on 2nd and 3rd, Nishiyama and ace Yamashita would deliver back to back hits to tie the game.

The game would stay tied until the 10th where Kudou, who entered the game as a PH earlier, would deliver what would end up being the game winning RBI to give Kumamoto Kougyou their first appearance in Koushien this decade.

And now for our final games today.

When play finally started in Iwate it became clear that being a seeded team didn't mean a whole hill of beans. 3 seeded teams failed to get past their first game! Kurosawajiri Kougyou, Touno and Morioka Shiritsu all fell flat.  Even Moriokadai Fuzoku narrowly beat Morioka Nougyou 5-3 in their opener.  Senshuudai Kitakami fell one round later to Kuji Kougyou 6-4.

With one exception (Fukuoka), the schools who upset the seeded teams joined the remaining seeds (who had no trouble at all) in the Best 8.

Oddly enough, all 4 seeded teams were facing no seeds in the quarterfinals.

Morioka Dai-yon and Hanamaki Higashi handled their games easily over Fukuoka and Kuji Kougyou respectively, Ichinoseki Gakuin not surprisingly struggled with Kamaishi Shoukou but won 5-4, and in a bit of a surprise Mizusawa played to a 2-2 draw with Moriokadai Fuzoku!  However, a replay generally favors the favorite and true to form Moriokadai won 8-3 in the replay.

So the semifinals would feature Moriokadai Fuzoku facing Ichinoseki Gakuin, and Morioka Dai-yon squaring with Hanamaki Higashi.  Ichinoseki Gakuin fell flat once again, providing little resistance to Morioka Dai-ichi, while Hanamaki Higashi gritted their way with a 2-run 8th to get past Morioka Dai-yon and ace Nagasuzu 4-3.

And while they had to wait a day due to rain, familiar foes in Moriokadai Fuzoku and Hanamaki Higashi will face off for the Iwate title.

As much as Tenri has disappointed me over the years, so has Haguro in Yamagata.  In fact, they stooped to a new low.  Earning the #1 seed, they promptly lost their first game 3-1 to Tsuruoka Higashi.

The 4 seeded teams to reach the semifinals may not have been high seeds, but they are established strong teams within the prefecture.

With top seed Haguro out of the way, #6 Nichidai Yamagata was able to easily win their 3 games to reach the semis.  They will play #3 seed Sakata Minami who needed no help, outscoring their opponents 37-3.

On the other half, #2 seed Kunori Gakuen has been better as of late, but doesn't have the experience it seems losing in the 3rd round 2-1 in 14 innings to Shinjyou Higashi.  They would face #5 Yamagata Chuo for the right to be in the semis.  And while they made a great rally, a 7 run deficit was just too much to overcome as they fell 7-6.  #4 seed Yonezawa Chuo was in dire straits after ace Satou surrendered 3 runs to Toukaidai Yamagata in the final 2 innings.  But amazingly down 7-5, his team rallies for 3 runs for the comeback victory!

So two veterans on one side of the bracket and two hopefuls on the other.  Both semifinal games  expected to be very close affairs.

But interestingly, the game between Sakata Minami and Nichidai Yamagata almost was a blowout!  After a 5-run 1st by Nichidai it looked rather bad for the defending champs.  But they were not defending champions, nor representative 5 of the last 10 years for nothing.   They would claw back to within 2 runs by the 4th inning.  However, that would be as close as they would get as Nichidai would put up a pair in the 7th to put the game out of reach winning 8-5.

In the battle of Chuo schools, Yamagata Chuo was marked as the favorite - especially since they were able to reach senbatsu earlier this year.  But Yonezawa Chuo was not fazed at all.  For each time Yamagata was able to get to ace Satou early on, his offense would come right back to level the score.  Finally in the 8th, Yonezawa was able to pull ahead as Kusano delivered a timely hit on reliever Ishikawa.  Satou was almost able to close it out, but gave up the douten run in the bottom of the 9th.  Yonezawa brought them on the precipice of the finals again with a run in the 10th over ace Takahashi (who returned back to the mound), but once against Satou was not able to keep the lead.

Wouldn't you know it though, Yonezawa would do it again in the 11th.  Kouchi, easily the man of the game, got his 3rd RBI with his 3rd hit of the game.  This time, Satou would finally pitch a clean inning to win the game and send the team to the finals.

Toyama went surprisingly smoothly if you were a top seeded team.

Well, almost.

1-2 seed Toyama Shougyou was actually upset by Himi in their 2nd game 4-2 in 12 innings.  Himi almost pulled off the double upset, but Jige was unable to hold, resulting in a 2-1 loss to Sakurai.  The only other seeded team to lose prior to the quarterfinals was Takaoka Shougyou who fell 6-4 to Takaoka Dai-ichi.

Otherwise, fellow 1-2 seed Toyama Dai-ichi, and 3-4 seeds Tonami Kougyou and Shin-Minato were able to reach the semis.  Toyama Dai-ichi blowing through the field, Tonami Kougyou having a little resitance, and Shin-Minato just getting by Tonami Kokusaidai Fuzoku 2-1.

Shin-Minato would narrowly lose to Sakurai 3-2, while Toyama Dai-ichi would mercy rule Tonami Kougyou in 5 innings.  Suffice it to say that the title appears to be Toyama Dai-ichi's to lose.

So, the final shouldn't have been a surprise really.  The Hokushinetsu region was represented by 2 teams from Fukui, so why wouldn't Tsuruga Kehi and Harue Kougyou reach the finals?

Well, for Tsuruga Kehi, their draw included possible games against Fukui Koudai Fukui and Fukui Shougyou, and that is no easy task.  They got through Fukui Koudai Fukui 5-1, but wound up stumbling against Fukui Shougyou 5-1.  With the major competition out of the way, a routine 5-1 win over Fukui Nourin put them in the finals.

What about Harue Kougyou?  They were admittedly the weaker team it seemed despite winning the Hokushinetsu region last fall.

Well, they've survived by the skin of their teeth.  Literally.

First up, Keishin.  Tied 1-1 going into the 9th, they get the sayonara run off reliever Kitada to advance.  Then was Sabae.  Despite getting out to a 3-0 lead in the first, Sabae would tie it at 4 by the 6th inning.  This game would go into extras before Harue Kougyou would again deliver the sayonara blow in the 11th by cleanup batter Ono.

Finally, Tsuruga Kougyou. Ace Hirata was able to limit their opponent for 4 hits through 10 innings as Kinoshita finally delivered the game winning sac fly to send them to the finals 1-0.

So, despite being at Koushien this spring, Harue Kougyou looks to be the underdog against Fukui Shougyou.

Gifu was rather scratch as well.  The top 8 seeds advanced to the block finals with the only exception being C Block top seed Mashita Seifu.  With their early exit, Chuukyou breezed through to the block finals to face Nagara.

In A Block, Oogaki Nichidai continued their roll through by defeating a surely depleted Teikyoudai Kani squad who needed a sayonara 2-run HR by to rally to defeat Seki Shoukou 6-4 in the bottom of the 9th.

Moving on to B Block, and Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou got a big scare as they trailed Gifu Dai-ichi 2-1.  But they get to ace Koshikawa with a run in the 8th, then the sayonara run in the 9th to advance to the block finals.  They would face a Minokamo squad who like Teikyoudai Kani, rallied for down 6-3 with 7 unanswered runs in the 7th and 8th off off Kanou ace Gotou for the win.

Yet Minokamo was game for the vaunted Kengifushou.  They jumped out to a 2-0 lead right off the bat.  Ace Asano would try to hold the lead for the rest of the game, but would surrender the lead after giving up a run in the 4th and 5th.  The final blow would be in the 7th as cleanup batter Takenaka would deliver the gyakuten timely hit to win 3-2.

As mentioned in Block C, Chuukyou breezed through to face a Nagara team that had two close calls.  Nagara would put up a fight, but found themselves playing a game of catchup they couldn't win following a 3-run 5th.  Chuukyou would advance out of the block 7-5.

And finally in Block D, both Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou and Toki Shougyou would actually have a little difficulty getting through the block.  Both only had one mercy rule victory, and both needed to survive a close game against a no-name opponent (sorry Hida-Takayama and Oogaki Minami).

The block final would go to Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou as they would put up at least a run in 8 of the 9 innings defeating Toki Shougyou 14-8.

In the semifinals, Block D and Block C would play, leaving Blocks A & B to play in the other semi.

Chuukyou was game for Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou, taking the lead in the 6th with a timely hit from 2nd pitcher Takagi.  However, his lead would not last long as he would relinquish runs in the 7th and 8th innings giving Shigifushou the 2-1 win.

The other semifinal was not as competitive.  As much as perhaps people wanted an all-Gifu Shougyou final, ace Fujita just did not have it against Oogaki Nichidai.  A pair of runs in the 1st turned out to be enough as they pulled away 5-1.

So it will be Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou and Oogaki Nichidai in the final.

Shimane looked to have two powerhouses barreling towards the final.  One one side Kaisei, who barred through their 3 games going just 17 innings.  On the other, Risshoudai Shounan, who wasn't as dominant, still got through their 3 games with relative ease (though against Matsue Kita in their 3rd game they had just one outburst in the 7th for the 3-0 win).

Standing in Kaisei's way to the finals was Iwamichisuikan.  They worked their way through the bottom of the bracket all the way to face seeded Hamada.  In that quarterfinal game, Iwamichisuikan would put Hamada behind the 8-ball early and often.  Despite Hamada tying the game in the 5th, the constant pressure on ace Miura would be too much.  4 runs in the final 3 innings sealed Hamada's fate.

In the semifinal, Iwamichisuikan's Tanabe would outpitch Kaisei ace Onda with cleanup batter Nishida delivering the fatal blow with a HR in the bottom of the 8th.  Iwamichisuikan would advance to the final game with a 2-1 win.

Risshoudai Shounan's opponent would be Matsue Shougyou.  Having upset Masuda Shougyou, ace Masumoto would outlast Matsue Nourin's Aoyama and and Kadowaki to win 8-5 in 13 innings.  An easy win over Masuda Higashi set up the semifinal matchup.

While taking the early lead, Masumoto would get rocked in the middle innings leaving Matsueshou trailing 4-1.  His offense would rally in the next 2 innings to tie the game, but bottom 9 Shimozono would deliver the sayonara hit for Risshoudai Shounan to move on to the finals where Iwamichisuikan awaits.

Oddly enough, it was better to be a lower seeded team than a higher seeded team this year.

1-4 seed Okayama Jyoutou was the first to fall, being shutout by Kouyou 4-0.  Okayama Rikadai Fuzoku would be next to fall one round later, with a 6-2 loss to Kurashiki Kougyou.

However, neither would advance to the best 4.  5-8 seed Kanzei, who was not challenged up until that point, would pull away from Kouyou late to win 5-2.  As for Kurashiki Kougyou, while Koujyoukan did suffer a scare from Takahashi Nisshin,  ace Fukushima would throw a 4-hit shutout to eliminate the challengers.

In the other 2 quadrants, 1-4 seed Kurashiki Shougyou would face a surely tired 5-8 Okayama Higashi Shougyou squad.  They wound up playing Mizushima Kougyou to a 6-6 draw, then just survived in the replay 2-1, then won another 1-run game against Sakuyou.

Perhaps the close games helped Okayama Higashi Shougyou because ace Nogami made a 3-2 2nd inning lead stick to advance the team to a semifinal match versus Kanzei.

And finally, 5-8 Okayama Kyousei was no match for 1-4 Tamano Kounan.  Despite a small hiccup versus Mimasaka, where they just managed 1 run on 8 hits, they blew out Kyousei 10-0.

In the semifinals, the bottom of the order would stake Kanzei ace Kodama to a 2-0 lead as Tobe and Ichihara get back-to-back timely hits.  Kodama would make that lead stick winning 3-2.

The other semifinal was rather bizarre.  First Koujyoukan would go out to a 3-1 lead.  Fukushima would hold that score until the 7th and 8th when Tamano pulled within 1, then tied the game.  Reliever Satake would come in to try and keep the game level, but wound up giving up the gyakuten run to send the top seed to the finals.

What's so strange about that?  They did it on just 4 hits.

Kagawa's top 4 seeds this year did not seem like the usual suspects (with the exception of top seed Jinsei Gakuen).  #2 Kotohira and #3 Tadotsu both were teams that had not fared well, but for some reason had success in the spring.  Only #4 Marugame Jyousei made some sense as they have been one of the betters teams in prefecture.

And things played out like you expected.  Sort of.

Kanonji Chuo gave Jinsei Gakuen a proper fright, but reliever Nakayama kept the score at 4-3 in the final 6 frames. After that Kagawa Tousen Takamatsu actually led Jinsei into the 2nd half of the game, but reliever Yoshinari couldn't maintain the 3-1 lead.  A pair of runs in the 7th and 8th spelled their downfall.

So Jinsei Gakuen as a seeded team made the semifinals.  They would wind up being the only seeded team to do so.

After getting by a tough 1st round draw in Sangawa, Marugame Jyousei slid past Iiyama to reach the quarterfinals.  There they would face an Eimei team who had beaten an unknown Shido team 1-0, then jumped on reliever Matsumoto for Sanbonmatsu who proceeded to fritter away a 7-2 lead and then take the loss in the 10th.  Eimei wound up being up for the task, routing Marugame Jyousei 8-1 in 8 innings.

Things were even worse on the other half.  Tadotsu, despite just 5 hits, was able to defeat Takamatsu Nishi 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th.  But against Takamatsu Shougyou in the next round?  Annihilated in 5 innings 10-0.

And Kotohira?  Don't even ask. Takamatsu Minami limits them to just 1 run on 3 hits as they "upset" the #2 seed 4-1.

So who would jump on the opportunity?  Well, Takamatsu Kita game Takamatsu Minami a job well done, defeated them 5-3, and then 4-hit Shoudouhima to advance to the Best 4.  Marugame, despite needing to comeback against Ootemae Takamatsu's relief corps in game 2, took out Takamatsu Shougyou 5-2 to move themselves on the hill.

Semifinal 1 pitted the two heavyweights Jinsei Gakuen and Eimei.  The aces traded donuts for the longest time before Nakayama caved and allowed the first run in the 7th for Eimei.  Doi would come in relief for the 8th, but gave up 2 more runs.  All seemed lost for Jinsei, but Eimei's ace Akagawa cracked in the bottom of the inning.  A 2-run timely hit by SS Nishimaru, and another RBI from Oonishi tied the game at 3.  Fast forward to the 9th, and Nishimaru would get one more crack at Akagawa.  Sure enough, he delivered the sayonara hit to score Shinohara and send Jinsei Gakuen to the finals.

The 2nd semifinal was not exciting at all sadly.  Takamatsu Kita was definitely the odd man in the bunch, and well... Starter Horie would not even finish the first inning as Marugame scored 11 runs in the 1st inning.  They would win 11-0 on 5 hits and 8 walks...

So it's Marugame and Jinsei Gakuen in the final.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7/24 - Crowned champs and crowning champs

As mentioned, 4 teams crowned their champs, and several went at least to the last out.

Oita - Oita Shougyou (16th appearance, 1st in 15 years)
Oita Uenogaoka was certainly the underdog here against Oita Shougyou despite the gap in Koushien appearances.  And in the first half of the game they built a 4-0 lead.  Uenogaoka would pull within 2 with a run in the 6th and 8th, but perhaps going into the 9th needing 2 runs they were demoralized...

...because Oita Shougyou would score 13 runs in the 9th...

That's pretty much all you need to say...

Akita - Seiai (First appearance)
We were guaranteed a first timer out of Akita.  It was just a matter of who would win the title.

And nerves early on certainly played a part as the teams jumped on the starters.  Ace Hirakawa was tagged for 3 quick runs in the first 2 innings, while starter Ichido would not get a batter out in the 3rd before being taken out for ace Ono.  He too would be charged with 3 runs.

After the 3rd though, the teams settled down and the pressure was put on the offenses to respond.

In the 7th, the tie would be broken.  #6 batter Moriyama would deliver a timely hit giving Seiai the 4-3 lead.  Ono was spectacular out of the bullpen, giving up no runs and scattering 4 hits across the final 7 frames to give Seiai the championship!

Kagoshima - Shounan (18th appearance, 1st in 4 years)
The opposite of Akita happened in Kagoshima.  2 powerhouses in Shounan and Kagoshima Jitsugyou battled for the title.

Kajitsu would get out to an early 2-1 lead, and while reliever Yokota started the game, he only gave up that one run before ace Fukunaga entered the game.  However, Fukunaga would give up a pair of runs in the bottom of the 6th before his team leveled the score in the 7th.  It would remain at 3-3 until the bottom of the 9th when he would crack for the last time.

With runners at 2nd and 3rd, his counterpart Yamashita would hit a grounder to the left side.  3B Nagakura would make the diving stop, but couldn't get the final out as Shounan would win in sayonara fashion 4-3.

Akita - Akita Shougyou (17th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
I wondered if Kakunodate would be a challenge for Akita Shougyou.  A pair of runs in the 2nd after Akitashou scored 1 in the bottom of the 1st answered that question.  Ace Souma was up to the task, limiting the damage Akitashou would deal.  However, he did give up the douten run in the 4th inning then in the 8th after taking the lead gave it back in the bottom of the 8th.

The game would go into enchousen tied at 3 (Boy 3-3 games seem popular yesterday).  Souma would go pitch for pitch with counterpart Sasaki as the game ticked off innings.

But when Kakunodate would fail to score in the 15th, Souma would have to play for a draw.  And I don't know what it is, but knowing that you best case scenario is a replay the following day and you're the underdog, there is a lot of pressure on you because you cannot win the game, just lose it.

And sadly for Kakunodate, that's what happened.  1 out, bases loaded, C Miura would hit a fly to right.  The throw in would not be in time, and Akita Shougyou would break the hearts of the possible first timers 4-3 in 15 innings.

And now for titles to be decided today...

Niigata - Murakami Sakuragaoka vs. Nihon Bunri
Niigata was very scratch up until the Best 8.  The only casualty was #4 seed Niigata Kenou Kougyou as they surprisingly 2-hit by no-seed Shibata in the round of 16.  Now, the 5-8 did struggle a bit, with the exception of Niigata Meikun who I found surprising to be in such a position.

What was more surprising was that even though Murakami Sakuragaoka was a #1 seed and had done well in recent times, ace Shiina 2-hit Niigata Meikun!  That opened my eyes a bit and made me start really considering them a #1 seed.

The next top seeded team to fall would be #2 Shibata Chuo in a very flat 5-2 loss to 5-8 seed Maki where they were never really in it.  #3 Nihon Bunri almost blew it squandering a 4-run lead over Chuuetsu, but recovered to win 6-5.

The finals would be set when Murakami Sakuragaoka made short work for Niigata Kougyou, while Maki made it close for a while before a 5-spot in the 8th put them out of commission.

It goes without saying that Nihon Bunri has been to Koushien many times in recent years, while Murakami Sakuragaoka will be playing for their 1st ever.  They've done well so far., but there's one more game to go.

Kumamoto - Kumamoto Kougyou vs. Buntoku

Despite losing half of the seeded teams early, the remaining half would survive to the best 8 - the top 3 in Kumamoto Kougyou, Seiseikou and Buntoku, and #8 seed Kumamoto Kita.

Seiseikou though would have to endure a frenetical 9th where Senshuudai Tamana would score a run to make it 1-0, then rallied for 2 in the bottom of the 9th for the win.   Also Buntoku would combine for just 9 hits with Kumamoto Kita, but did just enough to win 2-1.

In the quarterfinals, Kumamoto Kougyou would continue to chug along, shutting out Kumamoto Kita 4-0.  Despite giving up just one run though, they only had one mercy rule game and that was their very first one.  Tamana Kougyou would recover from a 2-0 deficit early and defeat Uto 3-2.  On the other half, Seiseikou recovered nicely to defeat Shuugakukan in 7 innings, while Buntoku had to deal with an always scary Luther Gakuin.  Once again though, Luther Gakuin falls just short despite a 2-run bottom of the 9th losing 3-2 in 11.

Kumamoto Kougyou would advance to the finals with their 2nd mercy rule game, while Buntoku would use a 5-run 4th on Seiseikou ace Ootake to hold on for the 5-4 win.

Needless to say with just 1 run given up by Kumamoto Kougyou in their very first game, it looks like an uphill battle for Buntoku.

Monday, July 22, 2013

7/23 - 4 more tickets to be handed out

With 6 teams down, 4 more are in their final stages.

Aomori - Yet another first timer!

Sadly for Aomori Yamada this will not be their year.  Despite giving up just 6 hits to Seiai, they fell behind 3-0.  Reliever Ichido would close it out taking Seiai to the finals, winning 4-2.

In the second semifinal, Hachinohe Nishi did well early against Hirosaki but for starter Satou he would falter in the 5th inning giving up 4 runs.  Hirosaki wouldn't look back though, though ace Hirakawa did give up 7 runs in a 12-7 win.

Both Seiai and Hirosaki will be fighting for their first Natsu Koushien apperance (Hirosaki did appear in Haru Koushien back in 1971).

Akita - A real David vs. Goliath

In the first semifinal between underdog Kanashi Nougyou and favored Akita Shougyou, despite Kiba striking out 9 batters over 7 innings, he would give up the go-ahead run in the 7th.  So Akita Shougyou will move on to the finals as a "no-seed".

For Oomagari and Kakunodate, aces Shibata and Souma would be involved in a pitcher's affair.  But in the 8th inning with 2 down and a runner on 2nd for Kakunodate a fielding error allowed the runner to score.  That lone run proved to be the difference as Kakunodate would advance to the finals where they will have to slay the powerhouse to reach Koushien for their first time.

Oita - The same old story?
So, Oita had many of the same old teams emerging from the brackets towards the finals regardless of seeding.  When 1-2 seed Jyouhou Kagaku fell in their first game, Oita Shougyou was happy to oblige sweeping through their quadrant.  Same in Kitsuki's quadrant.  Oita, after a narrow victory over Mori, defeated both Hita Rinkou and Beppu Aoyama rather handily.

On the other half, Meihou and Yanagigaura both got through their games to face each other (though Yanagigaura narrowly held on over Oita Nishi 6-5).  In the quarterfinal, Yanagigaura held a 4-1 lead, but when the kantoku pulled starter Baba for Shimoike, the reliever was unable to hold the lead, giving up 4 runs (the final 2 in the top of the 9th) to give Meihou the 5-4 win.

In the other quarterfinal were Saiki Kakujyou and Oita Uenogaoka, both of whom upset the seeeded teams in their quadrant.  Certainly while having appearaed in senbatsu recently as a 21st century team it's not much more experience, they certainly haven't been a bad team in the prefecture and were probably the favorites.

But right off the bat, Saiki scored a run.  That run would stick until the 6th when Anami(?) hit a game-tying HR making it an new ball game.  Forward to the 9th and Tajiri would deliver the sayonara hit sending them to the semifinals.

In the semifinals, Oita Shougyou wound up blowing a 5-1 lead in the later innings to Oita before #9 batter Emoto would deliver the game winning hit to put their team in the finals.  They will face Oita Uenogaoka who used a 6-run 5th to defeat Meihou 8-6.

Kagoshima - The real folk blues...

(Sorry this is abbreviated for now, will update later)

If you not one of the seeded teams for the most part.

In fact all but 2 seeded teams advanced into the Best 8. First was Shoushikan. In their very first game against Kagoshima Chuo, ace Nakano couldn't hold a 2-0 lead, giving up a pair in the 7th. After being replaced by Yoshikuni in the 8th, he couldn't hold the tie. #3 batter Nishi gets the timely hit to put Kagoshima Chuo up 3-2 as Horikiri closes it out in the 9th for the upset.

Two days later was Kajiki Kougyou. They had a 3rd round matchup with Kawauchi Shoukou. Despite ace Fukukura's average outing, the Kajiki kantoku decided to pull him for Tamoto after 5 innings. That would be costly as Kawauchi would score 2 runs immediately after the reliever entered the game. Kajiki Kougyou immediately went into panic mode as they used the lucky 7 to tie the game at 4 then add on one more to take the lead. But Tamoto just couldn't make it to the 9th. He gives up the douten run in the 8th, then the sayonara run in the 9th with 2 outs.

In the end Shounan would best Kagoshima Jyouhou 5-1, while in the other semifinal, Kanoya Kougyou almost pulled off the upset against Kagoshima Jitsugyou, but ace Hashiguchi couldn't close it out. He would be charged with all 3 runs in the 7th as Kajitsu would pull away 9-4.

4 more tickets punched... bonus time for attendees!

Our 3rd-6th bids for Natsu Koushien have been decided, and in some cases, we needed extra time!

Minami Hokkaido
Hokushou and ace Oogushi just had one last obstacle to returning to Koushien and that was Komadai Tomakomai.  Perhaps ready to challenge again, #5 Koyama gave them the 2-0 lead in the 4th inning.

Ishii though couldn't make it last giving up 3 in the 6th and another in the 8th.  Once again though and error plus a base hit from Koyama again would tie the game at 4 apiece.

It was then that the Komadai kantoku replaces Ishii with Yoshio... and it all went sideways.

Yoshio would give up 6 runs in the frame... and that would be that for securing Hokushou's 3rd title, and first in 3 years.

The pressure was evident for both Waseda Saga and Arita Kougyou as they were fighting for their first title.  Neither pitcher was sharp as both offenses got hits early and often.  Yet through 6, Arita Kougyou had built a 4-2 lead.

That would change when Tsuga delivered for Waseda giving them a 5-4 lead.

Down to their last out and the bases loaded Kuwahara would come through with a base hit to left to tie the game and send it into extras.  One inning later, with the winning run 90 feet away and 2 down, SS Fujikawa would end it with a base hit through the left side giving Arita Kougyou their first title in their long school history!

In the battle between the prefectural heavyweights, starters Tanigawa (Nagasaki Nichidai) and Yamaguchi (Sasebo Jitsugyou) did not do a terrible job, but neither could go past 6 innings.  By the time Taniguchi had left the mound, Nagasaki Nichidai held the slim 3-2 lead.  Nichidai was 3 outs away from closing it out, but reliever Fukuda couldn't to it.  With one out and runners at the corners Tazaki would deliver the douten RBI.

And in the 11th, it would be reliever Kinoshita who would deliver the sayonara base hit off of Kaneko to give Sasebo Jitsugyou their 2nd consecutive title (and 5th overall).

As highlighted on my twitter feed, Okinawa's final was broadcast on QAB.

Perhaps in an attempt to save the ace a couple of innings, Misato Kougyou's kantoku decided to start #12 Oonaka.  It would be a fateful decision as leadoff batter Moromizato would triple to right center, followed by a base hit by Chinen to give Okinawa Shougaku a quick 1-0 lead.

After a fly to center advanced Chinen, Shibahiki would drive a ball to deep center.  Kamita would catch it, but his throw in would short hop SS Nishikuratou and get by him allowing Chinen to score making it 2-0.

The next inning, ace Nakamine would come in, but it would wind up to be too late.  For no matter how much Misato Kougyou would scrap a run together, Okinawa Shougaku would come right back.  Eventually Nakamine would give in allowing a couple more runs giving Okinawa Shougaku the 5-2 win, and their 6th summer title (1st in 8 years).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

7/21 - Final & Semifinal Matchup Update

So here's where we stand for prefectures either having their finals or semifinal matchups:

Minami Hokkaido - What's old is new again...
Sadly, it was not a good day if you were from Hakodate.  For Hakodatedai Yuuto, Murata and Kudou would combine to give up just 5 hits and 2 runs to Komadai Tomakomai (both charged to Murata).  However, they would only get 4 hits of their own... and were shutout by their counterpart Ishii.

For Hakodatedai Hakuryou, they had an opportunity (or perhaps a slap in the face) when Hokushou did not start Oogushi.  And indeed a pair of runs in the 5th gave them a 2-1 lead.  Oogushi would come in though in the 6th to clamp things down.  And Kaneda would wilt under the late game pressure as 4 unanswered runs in the final 3 innings would give Hokushou the 5-2 win.

Saga - "Chase the chance!" (extra props to anyone who knows the reference)
The Saga semifinals had teams that had some experience at Koushien, and thus perhaps were favored in their matchups.

First up a matchup with 2 seeded teams in Saga Kougyou and Arita Kougyou.  Ace Furukawa had done well to shut down the former the 1987 representative, but still found themselves down 2-1.  However in the 6th Kusano would tie the game with a base knock and the game would eventually head to enchousen.

Just one inning in, and Arita Kougyou had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs.  #3 batter Kishigawa would get his only hit of the game, but it would be a hit that would send his team to the finals for a chance at their first ever title in their 113 year history!

In the 2nd semifinal, it would get off to a terrible start for favored Imari Nourin.  An error in the first inning would lead to 2 runs for Waseda Saga.  They would have to play catchup for the rest of the game, but Waseda ace Kuroiwa would not give them any chance.  Imari would get one last chance with runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs in the 9th, but Kuroiwa would shut the door on a 5-hit shutout sending Waseda Saga to the finals for a chance at their first title... in their 3 year history.

Nagasaki - The same old story... though just.
With 4 seeded teams and all recent Koushien participants, it would be much of the same.

First up, scrappy Senbatsu participant Souseikan and Nagasaki Nichidai.  While Nichidai took the lead 1-0 in the 1st inning, Souseikan would depend on that sticktuitiveness to exchange blows in the middle innings emerging with the 5-4 lead.

But the 9th inning proved to be too tough for ace Oono.  2 outs bases loaded and Nichidai sends up pinch hitter Miyahara.  He delivers a base hit to left, scoring they douten and gyakuten run.  They would not leave anything to chance as Fukuda would come in relief, strike out 2 in a scoreless 9th for the save and a chance for their 6th title since 2000.

In the other game, Sasebo Jitsugyou and Kaisei would be trapped in a defensive standoff with both teams getting opportunities, but unable to convert them into runs.

The decisive blow would come in the 8th inning when with a runner on for Kajitsu, #3 batter Yamaguchi would blast a 2-run HR to give them a 4-2 lead.  Kinoshita would end the game setting up a matchup between Nagasaki Nichidai and Sasebo Jitsugyou.

Okinawa - David vs. Goliath(?)
With most of the well-known teams gone, it seems that the Fall Kyushu champions Okinawa Shougaku would be a breeze to go once again here in the summer.

But before that we had the first semifinal between unseeded Misato Kougyou and seeded Yaeyama, both looking for their first title.

And Yaeyama certainly had the upper hand early building a 3-0 lead after 3 innings.  And while Ikemura wan't exactly in tip top shape, after a double play in the 8th things seemed well...

But a pinch hit single by Naima followed by another from Kanda put two runners on quickly.  Then Nishikuratou's (西蔵當) fly ball to left was botched by Higa allowing both runners to score!  That would be followed by a wild pitch allowing the douten runner to reach 3rd, and then a hit batter putting Shimabukuro on at 1st for the gyakuten run.  2 pitches later, cleanup batter Miyagi Ryouta (宮城 諒太) would single through the left side tying the game up at 3.

No amount of going to the mound would help Ikemura as Matsudou would bloop one into left.  Higa's throw home take a couple of bounces but is on line.  However, Shimabukuro slides around Takara giving Misato Kougyou the 4-3 lead.

And in one final indignity Takaesu (高江洲) blasts one to center, just past the reach of a sprinting Higashinagata (東長田) who stumbles and falls.  As Takaesu rounds the bases, Higashinagata fumbles with the ball allowing Takaesu to round 3rd for a running 3-run HR to make it 7-3.  Iha would come in for Misato Kougyou to close out the game sending them to the finals.

In the other semifinal Mawashi proved to be a formidable opponent for Okinawa Shougaku tying the game at 2 in the top of the 9th inning.  But in the 10th, cleanup batter Shibahiki would deliver the sayonara run to send Okinawa Shougaku to the finals.

So it'll be underdog Misato Kougyou facing the defending fall champs Okinawa Shougaku for the right to head to Koushien.

I have no clue how the Aomori HS Baseball Federation decided on rescheduling games because they weren't in chronological order.  Thus seeded teams like Touou Gijyuku wound up playing on back-to-back days in their first two games!  (Though it didn't seem to affect them at the time)

The first major casualty was seeded Hachinohe Kougyou.  A 4-run 8th for Noheji busted their chances at a title as they fell 6-4.

Despite the wacky rescheduling, they were back on schedule by the 16th.

Now, you may not have known this but Kousei Gakuin changed their name to Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei.  This happened back in April.   Was it because of the bad luck they've experienced being the bridesmaid 3 straight Koushien tournaments?  Who knows.  It didn't seem to affect them, getting past 1-4 seed Touou Gijyuku and reaching the best 8.

Next up was Seiai - a team that hasn't gone to Koushien, but can be a real pain in the ass for teams trying to get there.  Still, Kousei led 1-0 heading into the 8th.  But perhaps Nakai-kantoku left ace Satou in there an inning too late as Narita and Sasaki drive in a run each and gave Seiai the 2-1 lead.  Ace Ono would finish it out and end Kousei's chance at the title.

Their opponent would wind up being Aomori Yamada.   After many years of scuffling, it might look like they're on their way back - as denoted by their 1-4 seed.  But perhaps not fully.  After 2 easy wins, they would have to rally from a 6-2 deficit to defeat Hirosaki Minami 7-6.  It might have served as a wakeup call as in their next game against 5-8 seed Goshogawara Shougyou, they would win handily 8-2.

In the other semifinal, we have two upset-minded teams.  First up, Hachinohe Nishi.  After an easy first round, Aomori would plunk 9 runs on them in the 2nd inning.  Yet Hachinohe Nishi would claw their way back to 12-11 with 3 innings to go.  And in the 8th, they would complete the comeback with 2 runs to win 13-12.  Then later in the quarterfinals against 1-4 seed Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi, they would fall behind yet again.  And once again they would fight back to tie it in the 8th, then win it with 2 in the 9th for the 6-5 victory.

They will play Hirosaki for the other spot in the finals.  And early on you could have called them the cardiac kids.  Already having survived a 10 inning affair in their first game, they faced off against inter-city rival Hirosaki Kougyou.  They came back to tie the game in the later innings at 3, and would go 14 innings before taking the lead and having Hirakawa hold on for dear life for the win.  If that weren't enough, Noheji in their next game would not let let Hirosaki have an easy game, having an answer for every punch thrown at them.  But when Hirosaki put one more on the board in the 9th, Hirakawa made sure yet again that their opponent would not have a response.

Oddly enough, against their first seeded team in Hachinohe Kita... they mercy ruled them!  Go figure.

Akita turned out to be a bonafide scramble.  Many of the seeded teams looked rather beatable, and #5 Akita Kougyou was the first to fall thanks to a 4-run 8th by Oomagari.  Next up were top seed Noshiro Shouyou, #2 seed Honjyou and #5 seed Yokote.

And all 4 remaining seeded teams would fall in the quarterfinals!

But within these 4 no-seeds is a fox among the hens.  Yes, Akita Shougyou was a no-seed.  And though perhaps it seemed justified with 2-0, 3-0 and 2-1 wins (including the latter against #1 Noshiro Shouyou) a mercy rule win over #8 Akita Nishi showed everyone that they're still a powerhouse, seed or not.

Kanaashi Nougyou will be tasked next to remove the hidden final seed in the field.  After surviving 10 innings against Araya, they would shutout both #5 Yokote and #4 Akita Chuo by scores of 2-0 and 1-0.

The other semifinal guarantees a team a chance at their first summer title.  The aforementioned Oomagari would go on to narrowly defeat Akita Minami 3-2 then have ace Shibata scatter 5 hits to defeat #3 seed Ootdate Houmei 3-1.

Their opponent will be Kakunodate.  After 2 easy mercy rule games they started off facing #2 Honjyou.  And no offense to Honjyou, but they're probably one of the easier (most hard-luck) high seeded teams to face.  Sure enough ace Souma would give up just 4 hits while striking out 11 in a 2-1 win.  After that would be the other seeded team you'd want to face in Akita - #7 seed Meiou.  This time, Souma would throw a 3-hit shutout striking out 9 to reach the semifinals.

Nobeoka Gakuen prevails for 2nd bid!

The Miyazaki final between Nobeoka Gakuen and St. Ursula was expected to be a close affair.  Nobeoka Gakuen had represented Miyazaki in recent years, and St. Ursula is always a contender but has only summitted the top back in 2005.

St. Ursula continuously had to play from behind, but somehow found an answer each time.  When Nobeoka scored 3 in the 3rd, Ursula replied with 3 of their own, 2 in the 4th and 1 in the 7th were also replied in kind one inning later.

And so the game would head into extras.  But ace Hamauzu from St. Ursula could not last.  With 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd, leadoff batter Kajiwara (who earlier caused an error that tied the game) would deliver the go-ahead run.  Yokose in his 7th inning of work would close it out to give Nobeoka Gakuen the title!  It would be their 7th title and first in 3 years.

St. Ursula alas once again falls just short, and will have to wait for the fall tournament for another shot at Koushien...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

2nd bid to be determined today, 4 more in semifinal stages

One down, 48 to go.  We'll get our second today, and 4 more will play to determine our finalists:

Despite the fact that several seeded teams were upset earlier, it was still predominantly the familiar names that advanced forwards.

The one exception was Miyazaki Kougyou, who was actually mercy-ruled by Miyazaki Oomiya 13-2!
Otherwise, the seeded team (Houshou), or the team that defeated the seeded team (Miyazaki Minami, Miyazaki Dai-ichi) advanced.

That did not change in the quarterfinals.  Miyazaki Shougyou did fall behind Miyazaki Oomiya, but got to ace Shimizu late to win 4-2.  Nichinan Gakuen did get ahead with a 5-run 2nd inning, but had to hold on after Miyazaki Dai-ichi replied with 4 of their own in the bottom half.  They held on to win 6-4.

On the 2nd day of quarterfinals, fellow seed Nobeoka Gakuen easily dispatched Houshou in 7 innings, while Miyazaki Minami's hearts were broken when Yoshinaga hit a running home run (to left center) in the bottom of the 13th inning giving St. Ursula the win.

So, it was the usual suspects in the semifinals.  First up was Miyazaki Shougyou and St. Ursula.  Miyashou got out to a 3-0 lead.  But ace Matsuda couldn't hold the lead, relinquishing all 3 runs in the 7th thanks to a hits from SS Kodama and C Takahashi.  Takahashi would get another chance in the top of the 9th and didn't disappoint, driving in the gyakuten run against reliever Murakami.  Ace Hamauzu Yuuki (浜渦 悠樹) who came in relief closed it out sending St. Ursula to the finals!

St. Ursula will face Nobeoka Gakuen in the final as ace Yokose would come in early relief (2 outs in the 1st inning) to limit Nichinan Gakuen to just 2 runs on 4 hits in a 5-2 win.

Now in semifinal action...

Minami Hokkaido
Despite the apparent lack of a front-runner during regional play, the regional heavyweights still took the spotlight in the 2nd stage.

Hakodatedai Yuuto (an irrational favorite of mine), actually struggled with Sapporo Okadama but finally pulled away in the 7th with 3 runs to win 5-3.  After an easy win over Hakodate Chuubu, they will face a Komadai Tomakomai team who seems to have picked it up as of late, beating Kita-Hiroshima and Sapporo Kousei 5-1 and 5-2.

I thought it would be Toukai Dai-yon's chance this year, and after a 5-1 win over Shoushi Gakuen, it looked good.  However, Hakodatedai Hakuryou is trying to remind me that Yuuto isn't the only Hakodatedai school.  They're also doing it in rather heart-stopping fashion, defeating Kotoni Kougyou 4-0 in 10 innings when Kotoni's ace Yamamoto fell apart, then against the aforementioned Toukai Dai-yon, trailed 4-1 in the bottom of the 8th before Yamashita delivered a 2-RBI hit, followed by one more from leadoff batter Matsumura.  Fast forward to the bottom of the 10th and 1B Narita Daiki (成田 大希) would deliver the bases-loaded sayonara hit to send them to the semifinals.

It won't be an easy task today as they will face Hokushou - though their most recent game against a game Hokkaido Sakae squad, they survived a 3-1 affair despite Oogushi giving up 11 hits.

Could we see an all-Hakodatedai final?  It's possible, and Oogushi is not a perfect ace by any means.  But he does somehow exhibit qualities of a poor man's Oshima - and closing out a game against a well-known team is always hard.  So chances are... probably not.

While we're down to our Best 4, it appears that one team so far is steamrolling their way to the title.  That would be Saga Kougyou.  Their only non-mercy rule game has been against Ogi, and they generally are an above average team.  They will face fellow seed Arita Kougyou, who has progressively gotten by on less runs each game, winning 3-2, 2-1 and most recently 1-0 against Kanzaki Seimei.

On the other half, we had a surprise.  Waseda Saga, who has been decent, but not necessarily excellent, looked strong in their first two games, then had ace Kuroiwa limit seeded Karatsu Shougyou to just 4 hits and 4 walks in 12 innings allowing his team time to drive in the sayonara run in the bottom of the 12th - by #9 batter Aoki no less.

Waseda Saga will face former Koushien participant Imari Nourin.  They, like Arita Kougyou, have recently gotten by on the skin of their teeth.  First against Kashima Jitsugyou when starter Okamoto gave up a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning, and then in the 12th giving up what seemed to be a game-losing run.  But reliever Kitamura, in his 8th inning of work, couldn't get the final 3 outs.  Imari Nourin would rally with back-to-back RBI hits giving them the 5-4 win.  Then against intra-city team Imari, they would send out Shimodaira who like Okamoto couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in the later innings.  But with runners at 1st and 3rd with 2 down in the bottom of the 9th, a grounder from Okamoto is missed by Oozaki giving Imari Nourin their 2nd sayonara win in as many games.

Nagasaki has wound up pretty scratch this year.  Outside of Seihou and Hasami who failed to get past the 2nd round, all seeded teams advanced to the Best 8.

That doesn't mean though that their road was easy.  For Souseikan it was a game against Nagasaki Sougoudai Fuzoku where ace Oono gave up the tying run in the top of the 9th.  He would be bailed out one inning later by CF Yanai who delivered the sayonara hit.  Compared to that, a 6-1 win in their next game over seeded Keihou (who did well in their own right) was nothing.

Nagasaki Nichidai actually trailed Oomura Kougyou by as much as 5-1 early on, but neither starter Hirano nor reliever Matsuoka could hold the lead.  Nagasaki Nichidai would claw their way back and win 7-6 with the gyakuten run in the top of the 9th.  And while Isahaya Nougyou did well to upset Hasami earlier, they were no match for Nagasaki Nichidai in the quarterfinals.

For Sasebo Kougyou, the loss was particularly painful.  Up 4-3 against Kaisei with just one out to go.  But cleanup batter Noguchi would drive in the douten and sayonara run to send them to the quarterfinals where they would pull away from Shikamachi Kougyou late to win 4-1.

The only seeded team to not have a nail-biting game so far is Sasebo Jitsugyou, which included a 5-hit shutout over Isahaya.

Okinawa too has been scratch.  Well, except for Hokuzan who lost in their first game.  Misato, who defeated them, would have to play intra-city opponent Misato Kougyou for the right to be in the semifinals.  But after taking a 5-1 lead with just 3 innings to go, they couldn't close the deal.6 runs and 2 innings later and Misato would be done for.

Misato Kougyou will play Yaeyama for the chance to be in the finals.   Despite being an unseeded team, Urasoe Shougyou worked their way through the field giving themselves a chance at Yaeyama.  The pitching was not up to the task however, and they would fall 5-3.

On the other semi, Mawashi has looked fairly solid, though a slightly narrow 3-1 over Haebaru may be cause for concern.  They'll need to have their A game as Okinawa Shougaku looms on the horizon.  This after they received a scare against Kitanakagusugu.  Down 1-0 with 3 outs to go, Nakamine cannot seal the deal giving up the douten, then the sayonara hit to pinch-hitter Uehara.  That seems to have woken them up as they are back on track to claim the summer title.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kita Hokkaido bid claimed by 1st time winner Obihiro Ootani!

Yes, that's right, we have our first ticket punched and it's from the northern most region!  Here's how we got there:

On the 2nd day of the round of 16, Asahikawa Kougyou, expected to be one of the favorites advanced though pulling away late against Shibetsu.  What was more surprising was that in the other 2 games on the 14th, both Obihiro Sanjyou and Obihiro Hakuyou won their games against Engaru and Memanbetsu respectively - not an easy feat.

Finishing up the opening round of the 2nd stage, Komadai Iwamizawa looked rather beatable in a 5-4 win over Kushiro Koryou.  Their next opponent Asahikawa Minami, would 10-run rule Nayoro and looked rather good throughout.  And in the final game of the 15th, Obihiro Ootani would blitz Takikawa Nishi late 15-4 in 8 innings and reaching the semifinals perhaps thought that they might have a chance.

And boy did the 16th blow things wide open.  First Asahikawa Kougyou was shocked as Asahikawa Ryuukoku's ace Oohashi threw a 4-hit shutout, upsetting one of the favorites 4-0!  After Obihiro Sanjyou made easy work of fellow school Obihiro Hakuryou, Asahikawa Minami floored the followers yet again, putting the foot down on Komadai Iwamizawa leading from wire-to-wire 11-8!!

This meant that all of the recent powerhouses were eliminated and a team would represent Kita Hokkaido at 夏甲子園 for the first time in at least 10 years!

In the semifinals, Obihiro Ootani would take an early 2-0 lead over Asahikawa Ryuukoku.  However, immediately after taking the lead, Ryuukoku would the lead with a 3-run 2nd.  It would stay that way until the 6th when 3B Kado Yuuhei (角 雄平) scores 2 to retake the lead!  Reliever Satou Kazuma (佐藤和真) would close out the game for Obihiro Ootani as they advanced to the finals!

The other semifinal had Obihiro Sanjyou trading blows with Asahikawa Minami pulling out to a 3-1 lead before a 3-run 7th would give Minami the lead.  But Sanjyou would comeback in the 8th and 9th innings to take a 5-4 lead.

But with 2 down, ace Morikawa would walk cleanup batter (and ace) Tsujimoto and #5 batter Kashima (translation ?).  That brought up Mizobuchi who drove one over the outfield for a game-winning sayonara triple!

That setup the final between Obihiro Ootani (looking for their first title) versus Asahikawa Minami (who was at 夏甲子園 only once before in 1964.

As perhaps expected, Asahikawa Minami took the lead early from Obihiro Ootani, building a 3-run lead in the 4th.  That was wiped out by Obihiro in the bottom of the 4th.  It would stay tied until the 8th when with the bases loaded, Tsujimoto would hit the aforementioned Kado to bring in the gyakuten run.  Satou would close the game out for Obihiro Ootani thus securing their first ever Koushien appearance!!

Congratulations go to the boys from Obihiro on their first ever trip to Koushien!  Carry your flag proudly!

7/15 Update - Getting the small things done first...

And by that I mean I'm avoiding the bigger super-regions.  There's just so many games to update.

Niigata has fallen slightly behind due to a full rainout on the 13th and a partial one on the 14th.  All but 3 9-16 seeded teams though have played.  Only seeded upsets so far have occurred on the 9-16 seeds which can be expected.  Matsudai, who in their first game scored 3 in the bottom of the 9th for the win after Arai scored 3 in the top of the inning, continued their ぎりぎり run defeating Tookamachi Sougou 2-1 while Mitsuke understandably fell to Teikyou Nagaoka 9-0.

Of the top 4 teams, only #2 Shibata Chuo really breezed through their first game.  #1 Murakami Sakuragaoka and #3 Nihon Bunri both won, but not necessarily convincingly..  And #4 Niigata Kenou Kougyou actually trailed Nagaoka Nougyou 2-0 before coming back to win 4-3.

Nagano began play on the 13th with Achi mercy-ruling Toyoshina 10-3 in 7 innings.

Over in Matsumoto the past couple of days we had one of the more uglier scores - Iwamurada annihilating Sonan 35-1 in 5 innings, followed by a nail-biting 3-2 sayonara victory by Suzaka over Matsumoto Misuzugaoka.

In Ueda, Toukai Dai-san overcame a 4-run 3rd from Komoro with a run in 5 of the first 6 innings for the win while Matushiro will look to make a miracle run with a 6-3 win over Koumi.

Meanwhile, over at Suwa-ko, in the battle of agricultural schools, Shimo-Ina Nougyou scores late defeating Minami-Adzumi Nougyou 7-4 while Okaya Minami walks off Shiojiri Shigakukan 2-1 in 11 and Chino's Kishima makes a lone run in the 2nd stick over Nozawa Minami.

And finally, in Olympic Stadium, both Nagano Nishi and Sakaki started the last two days with back and forth games before pulling away late to win 7-4.  Shimo-Suwa Kouyou used a run in the top of the 9th to beat Iiyama 3-2.

Toyama off to a rainy start as games were rained out at Toyama Prefectural and Kurobe Miyano.  Of the games that played, all were blowouts except for Kosugi who defeated Yatsuo 3-0.

The first full day of games were mostly close affairs highlighted by Toyama Hokubu who tied the game against Toyama Izumi at 4 in the 9th then broke out with 4 in the 11th for the win.  On the other hand, poor Chuo Nougyou was blown out by Uodzu 37-0.

In comparison, the15th was the complete opposite with mostly lopsided games, one of the few exceptions being Fujikoshi Kougyou edging out Kouhou 2-1.  Not surprisingly, if I told you that the seeded teams played on the 15th and all advanced, that would probably explain it.  Only 5-8 seed Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku did not achieve a mercy rule win, though they did play Takaoka Kougyou.

Rain plagued Fukui on opening day.  For Asuwa, it sadly delayed the inevitable.  For facing Fukui Koudai Fukui who was not a seeded team was rather bad luck.  7 innings later, and they were sent home, losing 8-1.  Keishin took all that Kagaku Gijyutsu could give and passed 5-4.  There was almost an upset on day 1 of games as Usui fell behind Mikuni by as much as 4 runs, fought back to take the lead, then held off a late charge for the 9-8 win.

What's more surprising than seeing a non-seeded Fukui Koudai Fukui?  How about an unseeded Fukui Shougyou?  That was the case as Maruoka stepped in the opposing dugout.  They lasted 7 innings in an 8-0 loss.  Fukushou will face Wakasa who was almost level with Fujishima for the entire game, and though let a 1-run lead slip in the 12th made sure to advance with 6 runs in the 13th inning.

Should Fukui Koudai Fukui upset Tsuruga Kehi, and Fukui Shougyou defeat Wakasa, there will be a semifinal matchup that in most years might be a semifinal matchup or better.

Ishikawa started on the 13th and had Nonoichi Meirin rout Kanazawa Nisui 11-3 in 8 innings.

5 games on the full docket, and most were yawners except for Kanazawa Nishigaoka getting by Iida 3-1, and Kanazawa Shougyou outlasting Daishouji 3-2 in 11.

The 15th again was mostly the same with the exception of those at Benkei Stadium.  There, Kenritsu Kougyou won the battle of industrial schools, defeating Komatsu Kougyou 1-0.  Ootori Gakuen followed that up by using a run in the 6th and 7th innings to beat Kanazawa Kouyou 3-1.

Shiga's opening day was cut short.  After Rittou blew an early lead and had to scramble to defeat Katata 8-6, the rains postponed Higashi-Ootsu and Youkaichi Minami.

The next day Higashi-Ootsu would win 2-1, though again, the rains would cancel all remaining games at Oujiyama though Moriyama Kita and Kousei would play 1 scoreless inning before the umpires thought better of it.  Same over at Hikone with Kousen defeating Ootsu Shougyou 4-1 before games were cancelled.

The 15th was the first full day of games that were actually played, and over at Oujiyama Torahime rallies in the last 2 innings to beat Echiko 3-2, and Minakuchi uses a 2-run 8th for a gyakuten 4-3 win over Nagahama Kita.

Yamanashi has had no problems with the rain, and my team from this prefecture, Nihon Koukuu (i.e. Japan Aviation Academy) used a 6-run 4th to beat Shirane 7-3, then 2 days later traded huge blows with Ootsuki Tankidai Fuzoku before scoring 6 unanswered runs in the middle innings for a 13-7 win.  They will face 5-8 seed Nichidai Meisei next after they beat Koufu Dai-ichi 8-4.

In fact, all seeded teams that have played so far advanced without issue.  They include Yamanashi Gakuindai Fuzoku, Toukaidai Koufu and Fuji Gakuen.

In other action, Nirasaki Kougyou finds something in the well with their backs against the wall, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Hokuto 2-1.

With games pushed back one scheduled game day, Blocks A and B got started on the 13th.  All 4 seeded teams within those blocks (Oogaki Nichidai, Teikyoudai Kani, Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou and Minokamo) advanced via mercy rule.  In fact of the 16 games played, only 3 were close.  Kanou got by Ikeda late 4-3, Gifu Dai-ichi using a 5-run 7th to break the game open late against Nakatsu Shougyou, and Kakamigahara Nishi also with 2 runs late for a gyakuten win over Gujyou Kita.

The games were much more tighter on the 14th in the C & D Blocks.  So much so that C Block seed Mashita Seifu lost 1-0 to Gujyou in their first game!  It wasn't the only close one in Takayama as Hida-Takayama tied it at 3 with Gifu Jyouhoku in the bottom of the 9th winning 3 innings later 4-3.  Over in Seki Municipal, Mugi won a 14-inning marathon over Kamo 5-4.  And in other action, a HR by Taniguchi was insufficient for Takayama Kougyou as they fell to Fuwa 2-1, and a 4-run flurry for Kani just fell short as they lost to seeded Nagara 5-4.

Back to Blocks A & B on the 15th and it was status quo for the seeded teams.  Kanou gets another mention after surviving another 1-run game, this time 1-0 over Oogaki Kougyou, while Seki Shoukou uses a pair of runs in each of the final 2 innings to beat Ginan Kougyou.

For Aichi, rounds go at a frenetic pace as each game day means over 20 games across the prefecture.

And with so many games, there are bound to be many interesting games.

Such was the case with Kouyou on the 13th.  After scoring 6 runs in the 6th to take a commanding 10-3 lead, Nanzan facing elimination replies with 7 runs in the next two innings to tie the game.  Kouyou would win it in the bottom of the 9th 11-10.  Sadly, Tokoname would dismiss them 2 days later 12-2 in 6 innings.  Toukai Shougyou would just about replicate the feat in the very next game at Atsuta Jingu - but the biggest difference being that they score 6 runs in the final 2 innings, take the lead 8-7 giving Nishin Nishi no chance to reply.

Over in Toyoda, Okazaki Jyousei let an early 5-0 lead slip away versus Gamagoori, but scored 2 in the top of the 9th to save the win.  However, their next opponent would be Shigakukan (who isn't a bad team in Aichi) and while they gave them a decent run, they would lose 4-0.

To the 14th and Nagakute bookended a 12 inning affair with Kira with 3 runs for a 6-3 victory.  Rather fortunate considering they allowed Kira to tie the game in the 8th.  Next up will be Seto Kita SougouIchinomiya Kougyou held off a 9th inning rally by Toyota Ootani just enough to win 3-2.  Chigusa is next on the docket.  And the alma mater of one of my new friends unfortunately lost as well with Nagoya Minami falling 3-2 to Shinjyou.

No seeded teams have played yet, thanks to Aichi's unique double-bye for those teams.

Shizuoka is much the same, with games from the 13th to 15th representing 1st round play - so no seeded teams as of yet.

Opening day was not kind to Shimada as they were routed by Toukaidai Shouyou 12-2 in 6 innings.

Onto other 1st round action, and Hamamatsu Jyouhoku Kougyou rallied late against Kakagu Gijyutsu then thought to have the game won in the 10th before finally putting it away 8-4 in 12 innings.  5-8 seed Gotenba Nishi is next.  Seiryou will move on to face Hamamatsu Gakuin after scoring the only run in the bottom of the 9th versus Fuji Higashi.  The same can be said for Kakegawa Nishi and Nichidai Mishima - the only difference being that Nichidai Mishima scored a run in the top of the 9th before Kakegawa Nishi scored 2 to end the game. Itou trailed Shizuoka Shiritsu 5-0 after 2 innings, fought back to tie it in the 8th and would win 8-6 in 11.  Ina Sougou down 3 in the 9th would score 4 for the 8-7 win over Fuji.

But perhaps in one of the most heartbreaking games of all qualifying would be Kiga.  After tying it up in the 7th with Arai the game would go into extras.  In the 14th they would score 2 to take the lead, only to have Arai tie it in the bottom of the 14th.  And in the final inning, when all Kiga could play for is a draw, Arai scores one to win the game.

Monday, July 15, 2013

7/14 Update - Out of the blocks (Chuugoku & Shikoku)

Most of Chuugoku and Shikoku have started along with most of the other prefectures.  Let's see where they're at.

Nothing really of note so far in the 6 games played.  The closest game was Yonago Higashi rallying from down 5-0 to Tottori Nishi to pull within 2, but lost 6-3.  Tottori Jyouhoku has advanced easily past the first round.

Much like Tottori, not many close games in Okayama to start either.  Okayama Gakugeikan and Okayama Shoudai Fuzoku both advanced on day 1.  Kanzei's attempt to return to 甲子園 started off with a 5-0 win over Okayama Housen.

The only really close games was at Acorn Stadium.  Tamano holding off Konkou Gakuen 5-4, and Okayama outscoring Wakeshizutani to win 9-6.

An exciting opening game in Shimane on the 14th as Mitoya and Matsue Kougyou traded runs every other inning, with Matsue Kougyou leading 5-4.  But just 3 outs from advancing, they cannot close it out and Mitoya scores 2 in the bottom of the 9th for the sayorara win!

Opening day at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium was interesting for several reasons.  First Soutoku and Hiroshima Shougyou would fight for 13 innings with Soutoku pulling off the 4-3 sayonara win in 13 innings.  The other interesting fact was that the pitcher used for Hiroshima Shougyou was #10 Inosencio Wilson.  From what I've been able to discern, his father was Filipino and was actually studying back in the Philippines before coming to high school in Japan.

Anyways, the first couple of days have the seeded teams watching as the rest of the field fights it out in the lower levels.  It's a mixed bag, but there are quite a few close games starting out.

In Kure Nikou, Kure Mitsuta led Kumano 7-0 but the tandem of Maeda and Sugimoto barely held Kumano off winning 7-6.  At Shimanami, Kure Shouwa also holds on, turning a 3-0 lead into a 3-2 win over Mihara.

Yamaguchi doesn't mess around on opening day.  10 games across 4 stadiums.  Honestly though, I believe they had their opening ceremonies the day before.

Anyways, in opening action Ube Tousen trades blows with Ube Frontier Kagawa and wins 10-8.  Takamori continually chases Kudamatsu, and just falls short 5-4.  A 5-run 8th gives Shimonoseki Nishi the 7-4 win over Ootsu Ryokuyou.

Meanwhile, the seeded teams that did not manage to draw a bye played the next day.  How a 5-8 seed gets a 1st round bye while a 1-4 seed doesn't is beyond me.  No upsets thus far, though Ube Kougyou did not look especially sharp against Houhoku winning 3-1.  Yanai Gakuen and Karyou both advance, but will be facing 5-8 seeded teams in their next matchup (Iwakuni and Nanyou Kougyou respectively).

Opening round games have been completed, and seeded teams are queued up.  One school has already played and that's Jinsei Gakuen.  They had an easy first game and will face a Kanonji Chuo squad who uncharacteristically almost lost in their first round game against Sakaide, recovered to mercy rule Mitoyo Kougyou.

Otherwise, Kasada used late-game heroics to score 2 in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Takamatsu Sakurai and will face Iiyama next.

Not much to report in Tokushima, all games were pretty much one-sided.  About the only interesting game was Wakimachi scoring 11 unanswered to turn a 6-1 loss into an eventual 12-7 win over Komatsushima Nishi.  Otherwise Kawashima, Tomioka Nishi, Tokushima Shougyou and Jyounouchi all advance.

Interestingly, very low scoring games dominate early action.  Yet only a handful were contested.  Iyo Nougyou used a run in the 1st and 9th to defeat Yoshida 2-0.  Niihama Higashi outlasted Kita-Uwa 3-2 in 11 innings.  And Minami-Uwa used a run in the lucky 7th to get by Matsuyama Kougyou 4-3.

Much like Tokushima, mostly lopsided games.  Seeded teams do not get later games and as such, Kochi, Kochi Shougyou and Meitoku Gijyuku have all played and advanced.

But Kochi Tousen had their dreams crushed when they could not close a 6-2 lead in the top of the 9th.  6 runs later and Aki Sakuragaoka would advance.  And Kochi Ootemae would fight but lose in the bottom of the 13th 2-1 to Nakamura.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

7/13 Update - Well on their way (Kyushu)

Kyushu has been running games everyday and as a result several are already in the Round of 16.

Despite the number of teams in Fukuoka, games later today will determine the final 16.  Half the field has already been decided. So here's where we stand:

In the Kita Regionals, Block A seed Moji Gakuen struggles through their games, but with a nail-biting 6-5 win over Munakata advance to the 2nd stage.

In Block B Koga Kyouseikan, who had upset Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku, looked really good heading into the final, but Keisei quickly shot them back down to earth, scoring a mercy-rule win in 8 innings punching their ticket onwards.

Iidzuka, Block C's seeded team, almost lost in the 2nd round, blowing a 7-2 lead to Kurate, recovering to win in 10.  They then blew a 5-0 lead to Yahate before scoring the sayonara run in the bottom of the 9th to advance to the Round of 16.

And in the last of the teams already qualified Block D seed Seirin was not dominant in their first 2 games, but had shutout their opponents.  They were facing a Kokura Kougyou squad who had barely gotten by with 3-2 wins in both of their games.  But in the block final, it was Kokura Kougyou who perhaps built on their experience to upset Seirin 5-4 to secure their spot.

Bids to be decided today in the Kita regionals are:
  • Block E - Seeded Jiyuugaoka also has struggled in their first 2 games, and will look to get by Houkoku Gakuen (whom like Kokura Kougyou won their 2 games 3-2) to win the block.
  • Block F - Seeded Toukai Dai-go had to come back from down 3-0 against Kokura in their last game and will face Higashi-Chikusui Gakuen in their block final.
  • Block G - Ikutokukan (whom I believe is more famous for their academics), survived 4 lead changes, a combined 14 runs in the final 3 innings of regulation, and possible elimination twice to win 11-10 in 12 innings over Kenritsu Kouryou.
  • Block H - Kibougaoka pulled off the upset of seeded Noogata in the semifinal and will face Tobata who, much like in the Ikutokukan game had many lead changes, fought of elimination in the 8th and won 10-9 in 10 innings.
Moving on to the Minami regionals:

Fukushou, who upset Block A seed Fukushima, didn't breeze through, but weren't really challenged either, securing a round of 16 spot with a 3-1 win over Chikusuidai.

In Block B, seeded Kashii certainly had to be worried as Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou wound up in their block.  Give props to Kashii though, they fought the "favorites" for 8 innings before giving up the only run in the top of the 9th.

We may have our favorite in Block C.  Higashi-Fukuoka got stronger through the block, routing Asakura 10-0 in 8 innings to advance.

And in Block D, Nanchiku would upset seeded Chikuyou Gakuen, then just get by Oki Gakuen 3-2 to move one step closer to the title.

In today's games, we have:
  • Block E - Kurume Shougyou recovered from their 1st game scare and will meet Fukuoka for the right to advance.
  • Block F - Oomuta, who had to fight from the deepest part of the bracket has advanced to meet seeded Fukuokadai Oohori.
  • Block G - Seeded Yuusei will have one heck of a gut check in the block final.  They will face off against Nishi-Nippon Tankidai Fuzoku just to get to the round of 16.
  • Block H - Unseeded Kyushu Sangyoudai Kyushu will meet Musashidai to get one of the last spots in the 2nd stage.
Saga is already playing the round of 16 games, but before then one seeded team fell in the early stages, and that was Saga Kita losing 7-2 to Kashima Jitsugyou.  Saga Kougyou though has already advanced with a 4-1 win over Ogi.  They'll play Kishima Shougyou, who almost blew the lead over Koushikan but won in 12.

Other teams still in it are well -known ones such as Karatsu Shougyou and Imari Nourin.

Ah, my Seihou.  After a lackluster first game, Kyushu Bunka unceremoniously ousts the seeded team 2-0.  Hasami too seemed unprepared - down 4-0 to Isahaya Nougyou early it would be too much for the low-scoring squad.  All other seeded teams are still alive and will play over the next 2 days.

The last 3 days have been brutal for seeded teams.  First it was #6 Yachiyo Higashi who lost 6-2 to a game Luther Gakuin.  Then it was #4 seed Chinzei and #5 Toukaidai Seishou who lost in back-to-back games to Mifune and Uto respectively.  And finally #7 Jyouhoku would fall in 13 innings to Shuugakukan 4-3.

Oita has suffered as much as well.  1-2 seed Jyohou Kagaku came back from down 2-0, but lost in their opening game 3-2 in 11 innings to Oita Tsurusaki.  3-4 seed Kitsuki gave up 2 runs in the top of the 9th to lose to Takada 2-1.

Joining Miyazaki Nichidai among the ranks of the fallen seeds early were Takanabe and Miyakonojyou Higashi who both probably were not challengers to the title.

But Nisshou Gakuen probably had one of their better chances, but had to face Miyazaki Shougyou and were mercy ruled 9-2 in 7 innings.

With no real seeded teams, sometimes it can be hard to pick favorites.  But you can still look at the regulars and see how they're doing.  But most have played just one game and advanced, though for teams like Kamimura Gakuen they'll need to pick up the pace after a 3-2 win over Kagoshima Shougyou.

Okinawa in round of 16 play, and first up Misato shocks Kounan leading wire-to-wire, upsetting them 6-3!  They, interestingly enough will have an inter-city matchup with Misato Kougyou, who outlasted Chinen 3-2 in 11 innings.

Seeded Yaeyama has advanced to the Best 8, but not convincingly, and now they have their toughest matchup yet against Urasoe Shougyou (though they haven't whomped on their competition either).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

7/13 Update - Ah, the rain... (Hokkaido, Tohoku) least for the Tohoku region.

Kita Hokkaido
So, Kita Hokkaido restarts on the 13th.  And perhaps surprisingly, mostly blowouts.  Obihiro Ootani and Asahikawa Ryuukoku both advanced via mercy rule, Takikawa Nishi passed by Kitami Hokuto by the score of 3-1.

The rain had prevented games from being held at Haruka Yume Stadium for 2 days.  And on the 11th, the final games at Aomori Municipal and Hachinohe Nagane were rained out.

All stadiums were able to hold games on the 13th, and for Hirosaki who had to wait 2 days they needed one more inning at Maple to defeat Touou Gakuen 3-2.

A lot of seeded teams also kicked off on the 13th.  1-4 seed Hachinohe Kougyou needed extras to defeat Towada Nishi, while 5-8 seed Oominato became the first casualty, losing to Aomori 9-4.

Aomori managed just 1 game on the 12th, with is too bad for Hirosaki Jitsugyou as they led Tsuruta 16-0 after Tsuruta's half of the 4th when the game was called due to rain.  In the battle of Hachinohe Koudai schools, it was seeded Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi, who defeated their younger counterpart Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ni 16-4... though with games called off elsewhere, I'm betting that the 10-run 5th that put the game on mercy status was partially due to the weather.  Which may have been a shame for the underdog.  Even Maple Stadium succumbed on the 12th, with only the first game finishing as Noheji managed to make a 4-1 lead stick, defeating Goshogawara 4-3.

Only 2 close games back on the 11th and both were at Maple Stadium - Towada Nishi just down 1-0 to Momoishi in the bottom of the 9th ties the game and then wins it 2 innings later.  Takko trailed Misawa Shougyou 3-0 after the 1st inning, but came back to win 4-3.

Akita was rained out on the last two days, but finally got games in on the 13th.

Mostly blowouts, but 2 games excitingly went into extras.  Akita Hokuryou managed to tie the game at 2 in the bottom of the 9th, however things all went awry in the 12th when Yokote Seiryou scored 5 and put the game out of reach.

In the other game Yashima, trailing Oomagari Nougyou Oota 5-3, mounts 2 rallies in the 7th and 8th after their opponents try to extend the lead, tying it at 8-8!  But they couldn't immediately capitalize and Oomagari would win with a run in the 12th.

Iwate meanwhile, has been totally rained out so far.  Who knows when they'll be finally able to get started.

Yamagata opened play on the 12th, and with a 10-run 1st Yamagata Jyouhoku easily got by Oguni.  The 13th saw more blowouts, but games were rained out at Tsuruoka Dream Stadium.

Miyagi opened yesterday at Ishinomaki Municipal with Shiogama defeating Tsukidate 9-2 in 8 innings.

Fukushima opened on the 11th, and while I don't necessarily get to see pictures of opening ceremonies across the prefectures, Fukushima is the first I've seen to have teams march in with their school flags (photo credit Asahi).

And the opening game was a heartbreaker for Iwase Nougyou.  Leading 4-3 with just 3 outs to go, Kiyota for Haramachi hits a running gyakuten 2-run home-run and they win 5-4.

First full day of games followed on the 12, and there are quite a few close 1st rounders.  Fukushima Nishi pulls out the 2-1 win a run in the bottom of the 8th over Nakoso KougyouAoi breaks a 3-3 deadlock with Sukagawa Touyou with 2 in the 10th.

The theme continued on the 13th with Souma Higashi rallying in the bottom of the 9th with a pair of runs to tie the game at 5.  And when Asaka Reimei scored 3 in the 10th, Souma Higashi almost pulled it off again, but fell short losing 8-7.

It was a relatively good day for the combined teams as well.  Sousou Fukushima (Futaba, Haramachi, Souma Nougyou) held off Adachi Higashi for the 6-4 win.  Aidzu Nishi Rengou (Nishi-Aidzu, Kitakata Higashi, Bange) made a 4-0 lead barely stick with a 4-3 win over Shuumei.  It was not a clean sweep though as the combined team of Nakoso-Toono-Onahama were mercy ruled by Kooriyama Kita Kougyou.

One game was rained out, and that was Aidzu Kougyou vs. Shoushi at Aidzu Stadium - this despite Aidzu Kougyou holding a 3-2 lead after 6 innings.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

7/10 Update - 4 more prefectures enter the fray!

So the 10th saw Aomori, Iwate, Saitama and Niigata begin their qualifying , though without "much" incident.

Aomori with just one game on opening day, Sanbongi Nougyou managing just 5 innings in an 11-1 loss to Mutsu Kougyou.

Iwate with a pair of games, Ichinoseki Tousen with no problems against Oohasama with a 5-2 win.  In the 2nd game, Takata and Morioka Chuo went back and forth all game, with several lead changes and tie ball games.  But Takata secures their spot in the 2nd round with a 4-run 9th to win 11-7.

Just one game over in Kiryuu, the replay between Tokiwa and Shiritsu Maebashi.  And the game went in 3 parts.  Tokiwa takes a 3-0 early lead, only to see Maebashi score 6 in the 5th.  But Maebashi cannot hold the lead, giving up 2 runs in the 7th and 8th innings.  There would be no enchousen this time around as Tokiwa advances.

Just one game on opening day.  Oomiya Nishi scores the only run of the game in the 2nd inning to defeat Shuumei Eiko.

Higashi Tokyo
More games at Meiji Jingu while the Swallows are on the road.  Ooyama and Kita-Toshima Kougyou was just a normal 3-2 game in favor of Toshima at the break, but then the teams score 19 runs in the next 3 in a 15-9 win for Ooyama.  Shuutoku had no problems in their 2nd game over Touyou, and in much like the first game, Higashi and Adachi Shinden score 18 runs in the 5th and 6th innings with Adachi moving forward with a 12-8 win.

Over in the #2 stadium, we had 2 blowouts.

Niigata with 2 games at Hard-Off Eco to open the tournament.  Shoutokukan no match for Nagaoka Nougyou losing 19-0 in 5 while Keiwa Gakuen lasts just 7 in a 9-2 loss to Muramatsu.

Starting in the south regionals Nishi-Nippon Tankidai Fuzoku, having to come from the depths of the block, almost got tripped up by Kyushu Sangyoudai Kyusan, but a 3-run 8th gave them the 4-2 win.

Ogoori hosted both seeded teams today.  Block G seed Yuusei had no trouble with Hakata Kougyou, while Itoshima's stint as the Block H seed ends after just one game, unable to rally down 2, losing 2-1 to Kyushu Sangyoudai Kyushu.

In the northern regionals, at Matobaike Block H seed Noogata got past SeihouKita-Kyushu and Kanda Kougyou traded leads 4 times early but eventually Kita-Kyushu kept the lead and held on for a 10-9 win, and Koga Kyouseikan continues their strong run defeating Kouryou in 7 innings and will face Keisei in the block final.

At Nakama Muncipal, Block A seed Moji Gakuen does continue to advance, though with a 4-1 win over Kokura Shougyou.  They will face Munakata in the block final.

2 seeded teams start play today, with Saga Kougyou easily dispatching Karatsu Higashi, while Tosu Kougyou needed a 2-run 8th to defeat Shiota Kougyou 2-1.

For some reason, Tosu Kougyou's game was pushed back a day, so all games at Blue Stadium have been pushed back one slot.

Only other game of note was Kanzaki Seimei scoring 5 in the bottom of the 9th to defeat a devastated Tosu squad 5-4.

Not much action in Nagasaki, though each venue did have one good game.  Seiryou breaks a 6-6 tie with Sasebo Kita with 4 in the lucky 7 to win 11-6.  And at Sasebo, Oomura score 1 in the 9th to defeat Sasebo Toushou 4-3.

6 games on the slate yesterday, but all rather one-sided.  Jyouhoku and Seiseikou both advance, though not via the mercy rule.  Senshuudai Tamana is also one of the ones who advance.

3 games today, and the closest one was the 2-1 win by Oita Minami over their intra-city rival Oita Higashi.

It was no surprise that facing St. Ursula would be no easy task for seeded Miyzaki Nichidai.  And yet, St. Ursula jumped out to a 4-1 lead.  Miyazaki Nichidai would scramble the rest of the game, but fail to find the 同点 run, bowing out 4-3.

Miyakonojyou Higashi would be another seeded team to fall, and unfortunately it was after blowing a 3-0 lead with just 3 outs to go.  Instead it would be Miyazaki Nishi who would advance.

Only Houshou would be the seeded team to advance, with a convincing mercy rule win over Tsuno.

Kamimura Gakuen, one of the better teams in Kagoshima, were put to the test by Kagoshima Shougyou, but managed to win 3-2. Shounan, who narrowly lost to Kagoshima Jitsugyou in the spring, easily won their first game in 8 innings over Iwagawa.  Fortunately, they won't have to Kajitsu until the final.

And in other games, Tokunoshima becomes the 2nd team to advance from the 1st round to the 3rd round with a mercy-rule win over Yoron.