Seikou Gakuin almost suffered the same fate as Chiben Wakayama. In the final against Nichidai Tohoku, Seikou Gakuin never led during regulation. Instead they had to come back from 2-run deficits twice, the second of which in the last two innings to force enchousen where they finally took the lead when it mattered - with a sayonara run in the bottom of the 10th.
Seikou certaintly wasn't infallable this year. Against Gakusha Ishikawa they actually trailed 8-4 after 2 innings before rallying to win 10-9. Still, they managed to hold off the competition and win their 7th straight title, the longest such current run in kokoyakyu.
Aikoudai Meiden returns to Koushien again, though not without some difficulty. In the block final, they couldn't shake off Meiwa but never trailed winning 6-5. Then in the finals, they looked rather pedestrian against a very game Aichi Reimei holding on for a 2-1 win to head to Koushien for a 2nd straight year. Their offense also looked rather average as well, with most of their mercy rule games coming early.
Both teams seems to be on a down year despite reaching Koushien. Not sure who the edge goes to.
Aikoudai Meiden (Aichi)
RF Yamamoto ?
LF Onda Kouki
SS Nakano Yoshiki
1B Ishihama Ryouta (#15)
2B Hattori Shinsou
CF Tomozawa Takashi
3B Tokunami Yuuto
C Ono Kouta (#13)
P Azuma Katsuki
Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)
SS Nishimura Daiki
2B Ishino Yuuta
LF Yokomizu Kazuto
1B Sonobe Satoshi
RF Satou Shouhei (#18)
CF Yaoita Hyuuma (#9)
3B Ihara Takashi
C Hirose Kazumi
P Ishii Naru (#10)
09:01 - First Pitch!
Well, Ishii throws about as slow as I remember, not really hitting 130 with his fastball. Yamamoto with a hit to left, Yokomizu plays the hop and the leadoff batter is on board.
Yokota tries the safety bunt, but fouls it off instead. He does run the count full. And there is mention of Kurano-kantoku for Meiden using the term AMB478 in reference to Aikoudai Meiden Baseball 48. Really? That's about as corny as it gets, though I guess you can't fault him for trying.
Onda tries the three bunt, but Hirose makes the catch and doubles off Yamamoto as they tried the bunt-and-run. 2 outs.
Nakano battling Ishii hard at the plate, fouling off a couple before earning a walk. Ishii finally hit 130 on the gun, but the slider and slow curve are, well... slow, in the high 110-low 120s and high 90s respectively.
Ishihama gets the start at cleanup despite having an average of 0.000.
Ishihama goes down and drives one to left! Yokomizu back to the wall....
The guy with no hits in the Aichi taikai hits a 2-run HR?!! Unbelievable! 2-0 Meiden!
Hattori pops out to 2nd, but that's a surprise to start the game!
Azuma more of a standard ace, fastball in the mid-upper 130s with a slider seemingly in the mid 110s which is a bit of a gap.
But his control is good early as he gets Nishimura looking, then when Ishino thinks he has ball 4, the ump rings him up for the 2nd K looking!
Yokomizu makes contact, but it's a routine groundout to 1st to end the inning. A good start for Meiden indeed.
Ishii settling down after the surprise 2-run HR. Meiden is working the count, so while Ishii retires the side in order with 3 very routine outs, his needs 17 pitches to do so, so his pitch count is climbing rather quickly.
Azuma after a good 1st, misses around the plate to cleanup batter Sonobe, falls behind 3-0 and eventually walks him. Saitou-kantoku will play for the run and has Satou bunt.
Yaoita with a comebacker under Azuma's glove into center and now it's runners at the corners and a great scoring opportunity for Ihara!
Ihara plays the drag squeeze up the first base line! Ishihama plays the ball, but only has 1st for the out! Sonobe scores to make it 2-1!
Douten runner on 2nd, and Hirose goes into bunker mode fouling off a couple of pitches but winds up hitting one back to Azuma who tosses it to first for the 3rd out. However, some good mechanics help cut the deficit in half!
Azuma lines up the curve from Ishii and slices it through the middle and into center for a leadoff single. Back to the top of the order and Yamamoto. Kurano-kantoku is not calling for the bunt as Yamamoto fouls one off.
However, he grounds to 3rd and Ihara cuts down the leadoff runner. Onda tries to surprise the defense with another bunt, but Hirose quickly gets on it, and despite a double clutch throws him out.
Nakano is very patient for a 3-hole hitter, working his 2nd AB also to 3 balls. Ishi though wins the battle when Nakano skies one to shallow left for the 3rd out.
Azuma's control is back on track it seems, with Ishii a rounder to Ishihama who takes it himself, Nishimura who chases a screwball inside for his 2nd K, and Ishino a chopper to Hattori who makes a bit of a soft toss, but still beats Ishino to the bag for the 3rd out.
Ishii trying to pitch inside to Ishihama winds up nicking him and putting him on.
Hattori also lays down a drag bunt up the first base line that stays fair and does the job.
Oh? Kurano-kantoku has Tomozawa bunting as well?! His first attempts goes foul, but he's still showing it. He does! They do indeed call for it looking for a one-off from Tokunami.
But Tokunami is jammed by Ishii and Ishino in the grass in shallow right makes the catch for the 3rd out. A double bunt seems like it is indicative of how Kurano-lantoku things of his offense.
Hm, Seikou's batters can't seem to figure out Azuma. After a routine grounder by Kokumizu, both Sonobe and Satou go chasing pitches out of the zone and Azuma has 5 K's so far.
Ishii into a good groove now. Ono a hard grounder, but right to Sonobe. Azuma tries to bloop one to left, but it hangs up too long.
Yamamoto with one to center... and while Yaoita looks like he should have been there, it drops in front for a base hit. Things getting a little dicier when Onda lines one to right moving Yamamoto to scoring position.
But a grounder to short is handled by Nishimura who flips to 2nd just in time for the 3rd out. Small hiccup there, but nothing serious.
Apparently Yaoita is the only one who can size up Azuma, skipping one past Ishihama into right. He has both of Seikou's hits so far today.
Ihara with the drag bunt again up the right side. Azuma goes to 2nd, OH!
He throws it away! Yaoita goes to 3rd and now Seikou looks to tie the game with a mere sac fly (or more likely squeeze bunt).
Hirose showing bunt, but not getting the favorable calls on balls that looks like, well... balls. Instead he's behind 0-2.
Squeeze! But he pops it up! Azuma catches it, throws to 3rd for the double play. WHAT?!
Throws to 1st.. triple play!!! The team celebrates the 1-5-3 triple play that gets Azuma out of the big jam!
That might demoralize Seikou heading into the break. Pehaps the can regrroup during the time off.
Ishihama with a scorcher through the left side means he's been safe on all 3 ABs despite no hits prior.
Kurano-kantoku goes for the double bunt to move him to 3rd. Wonder what this is all about.
Tokunami up, and Kurano-kantoku calls him over and now Tokunami showing bunt too? That doesn't make any sense.
But with the count 3-1, he singles through to right! Ishihama scores and it's 3-1 Meiden! Ono replays the hit and now perhaps things are unraveling for Ishii? Captain Itou goes to talk to Ishii,
Azuma up and he's showing bunt? Ah, perhaps for that one pitch. He swings and grounds to Ishino who just does get Ono at 2nd for the 3rd out. But Meiden's double bunt pays off this time and they extend their lead.
Ishii's day is done as #8 Sakatani comes in to hit..
Sakatani with a blast to right! Yamamoto running back to the fence...
It's a pinch hit HR for Sakatani and Seikou gets that run right back!
Ishino follows that up with a shot that bounces off Ishihama for a base hit! Seikou immediately trying to counter and then some!
But Ishino's bunt goes to Azuma. He goes to 2nd... and this time gets the lead runner.
Yokomizu though lines out right to Azuma who easily doubles off a running Ishino and the inning is over. But Seikou continues to fight.
Sakatani stays in to play LF, and ace Kon comes in for Yokomizu and takes over on the mound. Kon is not a hard tosser either, ranging in the low 130s. Plus, there's a bit of wildness there too.
Which so far isn't hurting him. Versus the top of the order, he gets a groundout from Yamamoto and a towering infield pop up from Onda. He almost gets the 3 up 3 down, but Nishimura can't cleanly field it and Nakano gets on base. That lasts for all of 3 pitches as Ishihama is finally retired on a grounder to 2nd.
Sonobe jumps on the first pitch and lines it over Tokunami's head and down the line for a leadoff double! Douten runner in scoring position! Interestingly Saitou-kantoku is not having Satou bunt!
After a foul ball, Saitou-lantoku has a message relayed from Ishigaki to Satou.
Satou takes a couple of good hacks, but grounds out to 1st. Ishihama, already near 1st flips to Azuma instead and almost costs them an out. Job done though, Sonobe stands on 3rd for Yaoita who is 2-2 so far.
And in trying to pitch inside to Yaoita, Azuma hits him! Ihara up to bat as Ono goes out to talk to him.
Saitou-kantoku calls for the safety squeeze, but Ihara bunts it foul up the 3rd base line!
Now it's Kurano-kantoku who calls for a conference on the mound.
Meiden, playing for the squeeze throws two balls outside, but Ihara isn't biting, the runners aren't going.
Ihara goes for the safety squeeze, but the bunt is right at Tokunami! He goes home and Ono makes the tag for the 2nd out! Saitou-kantoku can only laugh at the situation.
Hirose up, and he singles to right! Yaoita is being sent home.. No wait! He scampers back to 2nd as the throw in would have definitely beat him. But now it's manrui for Sakatani who hit the PH HR earlier!
Azuma and Ono trying to hit the outside corner just does to get the count 1-2. They try again, but it's outside. Fastball down and away, nothing doing! Full count and everyone will be on the move!
Grounder to the left side! It's through! Yaoita scores! Ihara being sent home.. throw is late and he scores! Sakatani advances to 2nd on the throw and he single-handedly has brought his team back! It's 4-3 Seikou Gakuin!
Azuma gets Nishimura to ground out to end the inning, but the damage is more than done as Sakatani has the manrui gyakuten timely!
One down for Meiden and Tomozawa gets around on an inside pitch and singles to right center. Kurano-kantoku continues to play aggressive bunting as Tokunami moves him to 2nd, but now there's 2 outs as they leave it up to Ono.
? Now Kurano trying for the hit-and-run??! It's different, I'll give it that, but the strategy is certainly unconventional...
AH! Kon catches Tomozawa trying to jump early and he's caught! 1-6-5 and the inning is over! Meiden trying to be too aggressive costs them!
Ishino with a chopper to the left side. Nakano tries to quickly fire to 1st, but Ishino dives in safely. Saitou-kantoku will play for the insurance run as Kon is showing bunt. He can't lay it down though, and falls behind 0-2. He tries the bunt yet again, but runs it foul for the 1st out.
No matter for Sonobe as he lines a screwball back up the middle for a base hit! Meiden in big trouble with Satou stepping in. But he chases a screwball way outside and there's 2 outs. However the wild pitch allows the runners to advance for uh oh... Yaoita.
But Ishihama makes a great diving stop on a scorcher fryom Yaoita and takes it himself for the 3rd out! Azuma and Meiden out of the jam!
But they're also running out of time. Kurano-kantoku going to the bench as #3 Wakahara hits for Ono.
He gets ahead 3-1, and draws the leadoff walk!
Azuma will step in to hit as #17 Nakata comes in to run for Wakahara. Kurano-kantoku with just 3 outs to go, bunts the runner along 90 feet for an out.
Back to the top of the order and Yamamoto. Kon giving him nothing to hit, and he's swinging anyways. He flies out to right, and Nakata goes to 3rd.
Last chance for Meiden as Onda steps in. He swings on the first pitch and skies one to center! Yaoita under it... and secures it for the last out!
They've done it! Seikou Gakuin rallies for 3 unanswered runs to defeat Aikoudai Meiden 4-3!
To be honest, the game seemed to belong to Meiden early. The triple play in the 5th seemed to signify that it would be their game. And yet, after the break, it was Seikou Gakuin who made it theirs.
Or... should I say Sakatani Ryou did. In 2 ABs he goes 2-2 with a HR and 3 RBIs. You can't do much better than that.
Now, Seikou will have issues going forward. The pitching is good, but not necessarily great. But considering their track record, they may still have another win or two in them.
Meiden will go home certainly disappointed. But expect them to retool and go for the aki taikais and a chance at senbatsu next year.
Ishii Naru (Seikou Gakuin) - 6 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 0 K, BB, HBP
Sakatani Ryou (Seikou Gakuin) - 2-2, HR, R, 3 RBI
Sonobe Satoshi (Seikou Gakuin) - 2-3, 2B, R, BB
Azuma Katsuki (Aikoudai Meiden) - CG, 4 ER, 9 H, 7 K, BB, HBP
Ishihama Ryouta (Aikoudai Meiden) - 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Yamamoto ? (Aikoudai Meiden) - 2-5