Thursday, February 27, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Kainan (Wakayama)

Kainan earned the wild-card bid for the 21st century schools.  They were rewarded for their efforts in the arts while still being successful in baseball - having reached the Kinki Super-regionals.  With Chiben Wakayama dominating the scene in Wakayama, you wouldn't have known that this is Kainan's 17th appearance, since it is their first in 27 years.  They made 3 Natsu Koushien appearances and have reached as high as the Best 4 (Note though that Wakayama was not always awarded a bit to Natsu Koushien - why I'm not quite sure).

Road to Senbatsu
Newcomer Tournament
  • def. Shouyou 7-6
  • def. Tanabe Kougyou 12-2 (5 inn)
  • def. Hidaka Nakatsu 5-1
  • def. Kouyou 1-0
  • lost Chiben Wakayama 5-2
Wakayama Prefecturals - 2nd stage
  • def. Tanabe 11-1 (6 inn)
  • def. Kinkidai Shinguu 3-2
  • lost Chiben Wakayama 6-5
Kinki Super-Regionals
  • lost Riseisha 2-1
Kainan had to fight hard just to bypass part of the prefecturals.  They almost lost right off the bat to Shouyou and would have had to fight through the 1st stage of the prefecturals.  Then, with a ticket to the 2nd stage at stake, they faced former Koushien participant Kouyou and scored the only run in the game to secure their spot.  With that done, it would be okay to relax again Chiben Wakayama.  Winning that game and playing 1 more inconsequential one doesn't mean anything if you can't beat them again later when it might matter.

Fortunately, they were separated on opposite side of the bracket in the 2nd stage.  With the prospect of facing them only when they reached the finals, they easily handled Tanabe first before trading early blows versus Kinkidai Shinguu, delivering the last shot in the top of the 3rd and making it stick the rest of the game.

Oddly enough, they were facing Chiben Wakayama again with little at stake other than perhaps possibly avoiding a 1st round game.  Even still, they actually put together a big inning early to take a 5-2 lead.  However, ace Okamoto Masayuki (岡本 真幸) couldn't go back-to-back days and faltered late, allowing Chiben Wakayama to come back with 4 unanswered runs after the break to fall 6-5.

This meant that they would probably have to fight a prefectural winner to start the Super-Regionals, and sure enough they drew Osaka champs Riseisha - certainly not an easy task, and yet had a fighting chance.  Okamoto once more did all he could to keep his team in it, but again he couldn't keep it up late as he would give up a run in the 8th which would be enough to give Riseisha the victory.

Kantoku Morimoto Naohisa (森本 直寿) appears to go with Okamoto exclusively.  He reportedly can throw in the upper 130s with a slider/changeup combination - though I would think more likely he sits in the mid 130s.

Offensively, not sure who to point at - though Okamoto did hit a HR against Tanabe.  The top of the order, 2B Fukuda Isao (福田 力) and SS Sorayama Yuudairou (空山 侑大朗) help set the table for the rest of the team.

Playing Chiben Wakayama close does count for something, but Chiben also went to their bullpen for the most part in that game.  That result though is backed up somewhat by the narrow loss to Risesha in the super-regionals.

It's a bit hard to say whether they'll get past the first game, but I think they'll have a chance depending on the opponent given some of the results they've posted.

Well, that's it for the reviews!  I might update individual teams as more information comes out in the following days leading up to Senbatsu.  I may also put up my own version of the newspapers "grading" scales that might be more delineating than they provide - though without footage on all teams it's just a guess at best.

16 days until the draw for Senbatsu!

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