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.
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).