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.