Wednesday, February 26, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Ooshima (Kagoshima)

The western 21st century bid was awarded to Ooshima, a school who had reached 2 Kagoshima semifinals last year (it's a bit hard to explain since the natsu taikai doesn't count in this statement) and whose location (they're closer to Okinawa than mainland Kagoshima) makes it really difficult to compete as they have to travel by ferry and sometimes by plane - making every game they play a real road game.

Road to Senbatsu
Kagoshima Prefecturals
  • def. Shouyou 7-0 (7 inn)
  • def. Sendai Shoukou 1-0
  • def. Kagoshima Gyokuryuu 6-5 (10 inn)
  • def. Amami 5-0
  • def. Shounan 8-7
  • lost Ibusuki Shougyou 2-1
Unlike other prefecturals, since Kyushu has so many prefecutres rolled into it most only receive 2 bids for the Super-Regionals.  Ooshima lost in the semifinals and thus their road to senbatsu ended... that is until they were awarded a 21st century bid.

The road to the semifinals was rather bumpy, including a narrow 1-0 win over Sendai Shoukou.  Then down to their final out, leadoff batter Takeyama Shuu (竹山 舟) hits a triple over the RF head to inexplicably tie the game, with Ono Kounosuke (小野 浩之介) hitting a HR to center to end the game 1 inning later!  And then against top tier Shounan they actually held a comfortable lead before 4-spot in the 8th made it a very close affair.

Off topic, but it's a bit funny as looking at the schools I noticed that Amami is no more than a 10 minute walk from Ooshima!  And they wound up playing them in both the spring and fall tournaments!  Also, even though the 3rd years were not on this team, they did defeat Kamimura Gakuen in the spring taikai.

Kantoku Watanabe Yoshichika (渡邉 恵尋) uses a pitching tandem, going between ace Fukunaga Shou (福永 翔) and Maeyama Yuuki (前山 優樹).  Cleanup batter Ono and #5 batter Haku Keigo (泊 慶悟) probably will be the center of the offense.

There's no videos or game footage, so there's little to base judgement from.  Chances are Ooshima hasn't had the ability to face strong competition on a regular basis and could easily be considered one of the weaker teams in the tournament.  But, even facing weak competition it's hard to just luck yourself into the semifinals - especially since they did end up facing (and defeating) Shounan.  I hope they try and do more than being just happy to be there.

We're in the last 50 meters, and it's the final entrant - 21st century wildcard Kainan out of Wakayama.

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