Saturday, July 26, 2014

8 more tickets punched last two days...

And you guys may be better off following my twitter (see the left side of the page) to get relatively real-time coverage on the games, because work has been too busy to allow me to catch-up on the prior day's games.

So what happened on Thursday:
Kita Hokkaido - Kushiro Kougyou v. Bushuukan
Like many other prefectures, it seems like this is the year for the tier 3 schools to make hay.

FYI, when I say tier 3, I mean the following:

  • Tier 1 - Schools that regularly make Koushien (Chiben Wakayama, Nichidai-san, Houtoku Gakuen, Ryuukokudai Heian, Osaka Touin, etc,)
  • Tier 2 - Schools that have made it to Koushien, but generally run into the upper tier (Yokohama Hayato, Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku, Nihon Koukuu)
  • Tier 3 - Schools that regularly do well, but rarely, if ever reach Koushien (Bushuukan, Toukai Dai-yon, Kyoto Subaru, Kasukabe Kyouei, St. Ursula, Oberlin, etc.)

And so this final was a chance for both schools to get to Koushien.  And actually Kushiro Kougyou had made it once before back in 1979, but lost in the first round to Hieizan.

But the game wasn't close, Bushuukan put up 3 runs in the first inning and never really looked back.  Kushiro Kougyou made it close with a pair of runs in the 9th, but an 8-5 win means that they're making their first ever appearance at Natsu Koushien!

Aomori - Aomori v. Hachinohe Gakuen Kousei
Aomori had a magical run, defeating both Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi and Aomori Yamada to reach the final.  But then they had to face Kousei, and you would think that the run would end.

Thankfully for everyone (except Kousei) they didn't get the memo.  In fact, they were the ones to strike first, with 3 runs in the second no less.  And when Kousei replied with 3 of their own the 3rd, they scored another in the 4th.  But after Kousei tied it yet again in the 5th, you had to wonder if Aomori was going to have another burst in them.

The answer seemed to come 2 innings later when Kousei would score 4 in the 7th to seemingly take a commanding 8-4 lead.  Aomori made one final push in the 9th, but it would fall short as Kousei goes yet again to Koushien with a 8-6 win.  Now if only they could win Koushien itself...

Iwate - Hanamaki Higashi v. Moriokadai Fuzoku
If there is one name that you need to know from this matchup, it is ace Matsumoto Yuuki.

No, not Hanamaki Higashi, but Moriokadai Fuzoku!

Because in the 1st inning, he blasted a 2-run HR to deep right to the 2nd fence (the one actually bordering the entire ballpark!).

Now, it was obviously still early, and Hanamaki as they are wont to do, started scrapping runs together, first with a run in the 2nd, and then 3 more in the 4th.  You had to wonder if Moriokadai would be able to mount another charge against the vaunted squad.

Fast forward 1 inning later, and Moriokadai had managed to score a run to cut the lead to 4-3.  And wouldn't you know it, Matsumoto stepped in once again, this time with runners at the corners.  After a SB, a base hit could give the team back the lead.

Matsumoto drives a ball to deep center, and somehow over the fielder's head yet again!  2 runs do score and Moriokadai Fuzoku took the 5-4 lead!

The rest of the game was hang on time.  Matsumoto was by no means dominant on the hill, but he was doing just enough to get by, with some help from Hanamaki at times.  For instance in the 6th runner on 2nd, bunt is placed, but right to Matsumoto who wheels to 3rd for the tag.  They get a 2-out double in the 7th, but a great diving catch by Moriokadai's LF saved the game.

Once that catch was made, I think the rally in Hanamaki Higashi was dashed.  The last 6 outs went by without a whimper and Moriokadai Fuzoku (or rather Matusmoto Yuuki) claims the Iwate title!

Yamagata - Sakata Minami v. Yamagata Chuo
Yamagata Chuo had claimed their only title 4 years ago, and if you go back and look at the records, it wasn't against the top competition the prefecture had to offer (Sakata Minami, Nichidai Yamagata, Tsuruoka Higashi, etc.).  So while they were here in the finals, it was against the aforementioned Sakata Minami, and you had to think that they would fall short again...

It certainly looked that way.  Despite ace Ishikawa eventually recording 12 K's, it was Sakata Minami who held the 2-0 lead going into the 9th.

But in that 9th, Okuyama would start off with a double,  couple of batters later Aoki would hit a 2-RBI double to tie the game.  And Nagai and Takahashi would complete the comeback with timely hitting on their own.  5-runs later and Sakata Minami and their supporters were shocked to see themselves down 5-2 with just 3 outs to go!

There would be no rally as Yamagata Chuo would truly break their curse of Koushien and punch their second ticked with a 5-2 win!

Oita - Oita v. Meihou
Here was another prefecture where a potential first timer (Oita) had a prefectural powerhouse standing in their way (Meihou).

Once again, Oita actually opened the scoring with a run in the 2nd.  They continued to be the aggressor in the 7th, breaking the 1-1 tie with a pair of runs.

But late game, and Meihou seemed to flex their powerhouse muscles with 4 unanswered runs to lead 5-3 going into Oita's 9th.  There was a flicker of hope as Oita had runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out.  But whether or not Meihou forgot to play no doubles defense, #8 batter Ishimoto hit a ball to center over the fielder's head for that key double to tie the game!

The game would eventually head to enchousen, but not for long.  Once again there were 2 outs for Oita and a runner on 3rd.  Cleanup batter, and ace Sano, delivers a single to center for the go-ahead run!

Sano would go on to shut down the Meihou batters in the bottom of the 10th and Oita gets to celebrate their first ever natsu title!

Kagoshima - Kanoya Chuo v. Kamimura Gakuen
We've heard this story a lot, and it happened here yet again.  Kanoya Chuo, a better-than-average squad squaring up against top tiered Kamimura Gakuen for the Kagoshima title.

But the game was rather close throughout.  Kamimura Gakuen scored a run in the 5th thanks to two doubles.

It stayed that way until the 7th where Kanoya Chuo manufactured a run the old-fashioned way - base hit, bunt, base hit, beat throw home.

Kamimura would continue to put pressure on Kanoya Chuo ace Nanashima, and almost came through when a ball just went foul down the 3B line in their half of the 7th.  Eventually though, the game would head to enchousen.

There, Kanoya got a leadoff double, and when they tried to bunt the runner over, Kamimura's 3B muffed on the ball an everyone was safe.  And after the trailing runner took 2nd, Kanoya's 1B delivered a single to center scoring 2.  That would prove to be more than enough as the game ends on a great diving catch by Kanoya Chuo's LF and they too will make their first trip to Koushien!


And for yesterday it was a quiet day as most prefectures had a day off in anticipation of championship games (there are 7 today!):
Ibaraki - Fujishiro v. Kasumigaura
Like Kakunodate, I was happy that Kasumigaura made it back to the finals.  The one fear that I have regarding schools like these was that even though they got back, their best chance was behind them.

Sadly that was the case with Kasumigaura.  Fujishiro scored 5 in the first inning and it was all downhill from there.  They would go on to win 12-3.

Kumamoto - Jyouhoku v. Buntoku
Jyouhoku and Buntoku have both been to Koushien before, but they are more like a Tier 3 school in that they continuously run into the top teams.  Yet this year, here they sit facing each other with a golden chance to return.

The teams played under pressure the entire game, with both teams playing desperate.  It remained scoreless until the 8th inning.

There, Jyouhoku gets a leadoff single to the SS.  He had to range over, but the throw wasn't in time.  It looked like Buntoku would get out of the inning as Jyouhoku not once but twice failed to bunt the runner over.

Yet, Jyouhoku got another base hit to the same gap in short and the next thing you knew, Jyouhoku's LF doubled off the wall in LF and suddenly they were up 2-1!

Buntoku wasn't able to do anything until the 9th when their cleanup batter Shiga hits a HR to narrow the margin to 1.  Jyouhoku brought in ace number Morotomi to close the game.

First thing he did though was hit the batter on the very first pitch.  A base hit later, and suddenly it looked like they were going to fall apart.

But a fly ball to center ended the game, and Jyouhoku heads to Natsu Koushien!


JH said...

Wow, I must be seeing things.

The evil empire Sanko and Chiben Wakayama ousted at the same day!! (Was there any Summer Koshien in the 21st century that both of them did not participate?)

Besides those two, we see a number of giants that have also failed to reach this year's Koshien such as Sendai Ikuei, Hanamaki Higashi, Houtoku, Urawa Gakuin, Jyousou Gakuin and so forth.

Perhaps this year would be the best chance within a decade (or if not two or three decades) for the schools like Teikyou or Chiben/Tenri to win a summer championship. They have always somehow bumped into bigger giants in the nationals, but quite a number of notable foes are already gone.

Or, would it be too early to predict Ryukokudai Heian's haru-natsu renpai, or Hachinohe Gakuin Kosei's championship that they missed not one, not two, but three times in a row? (Oh well who knows. Who would have thought that last year's mighty Urawa Gakuin and Sanko would go down at their first games.)

JH said...

There are still a number of regional tournaments to be decided, but at the current stage, who would you pick as the favorite to win the nationals?

For me, I would say....
[Among those who already secured a ticket]
- Ryukokudai Heian
- Okinawa Shougaku
- Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Yes, this is personal)

[Among those who have to win a game or two to reach Koshien]
-Meitoku Gijyuku (if they found a way to lessen the load on Kishi)
-Risheisha (well, they meet Toin in the Osaka semis. Let's see how that plays out.)
-Yokohama (I personally don't want this year's Yokohama to win as I still hold the grudge against them for ousting Matsui. But well, they might win as they are Yokohama. Let's hope Yokohama Hayato to win Kanagawa.....)