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.

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