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.