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!