Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Upcoming finals matchups

5 finals matchups are set now, let’s see who will be playing for the title:

Minami Hokkaido
Things got turned upside down in the quarterfinals. First, in the second half of the quarterfinals, Toukai Dai-yon never trailed against Sapporo Dai-ichi, pulling away to an 11-5 win. Sapporo Nichidai also never trailed in their matchup, sending Komadai Tomakomai home with a 5-1 victory. This meant there was no real top level powerhouse left. It also meant that the winner of the first semifinal stood a better chance of claiming the title.

In that semi Otaru Chouryou, continuing their run long after defeating Hokushou in the regionals, built a 8-4 lead over Urakawa. But much like Nihon Koukuu yesterday in Yamanashi, they couldn’t record the final 3 outs. Urakawa would score 5 runs to take a 9-8 lead. But unlike Nihon Koukuu, Otaru Chouryou didn’t know the meaning of give up. They came back and scored 2 runs to win the game 10-9 to reach the finals! The other semifinal was not as climactic. Toukai Dai-yon scored a pair of runs early, but it was the 6-run 5th that put the game away. 2 more in the 6th and it was all over for Sapporo Nichidai.

So it’ll be the Cinderella Otaru Chouryou and the always decent, but never good enough Toukai Dai-yon who will play for the Minami Hokkaido title.

The third quarterfinal was a shocker.  Aomori scored in only one inning against Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi, but they scored 6 in that frame.  They made it hold up in a 6-4 victory to advance to the semis.  Their opponent would be as expected Aomori Yamada, who blanked Goshogawara Shougyou 4-0.

The first semifinal was as expected, but not in the manner we expected.  First Seiai slowly built a 4-0 lead through the middle innings. That was completely wiped out by a 4-run 7th from Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei. An inning later, Kousei would push through the gyakuten run, and with 3 outs to go, Seiai couldn't find a response.  Kousei prevails 5-4 and is one step away from yet another trip to Koushien.

Meanwhile on the other semifinal, Aomori Yamada, who has been trying to return back to their glory years, also built up a 3-0 lead over Aomori.  But for some reason, despite being the more "experienced" team, they could not record the final 3 outs.  Aomori puts together 7 hits and 5 runs in the top of the 9th and completely crushes Aomori Yamada's spirit, winning 5-3!

So Aomori will need to put another performance like that against Kousei if they want to reach Koushien.

Just about all of the quarterfinal matchups were in doubt.  In fact 3 were mercy ruled (though Noshiro Shouyou was tied 2-2 until a 6-run 4th) and the 4th (Kakunodate) was a 6-0 shutout.

So it would be Oomagari Kougyou v. Noshiro Shouyou and Yuri Kougyou v. Kakunodate in the semifinals.

Kakunodate's semi (the 2nd of the 2) was no contest sadly for Yuri Kougyou.  Kakunodate scored a pair in the first, then twisted the screws in the middle innings, winning 7-0 in 7 innings.  Things were a little different in the first semifinal however.

You see, Oomagari Kougyou had managed to keep Noshiro Shouyou off the scoreboard until the 5th and even then it was just a run.  That kept them in the game long enough to come through with a 4-run 7th to take the lead.  Of course, closing games seem to be a bit of trouble for schools this year, and this game was no exception.  Noshiro Shouyou scored 3 in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game and send it into enchousen.

Right off the bat, Oomagari managed to manufacture a run, putting Noshiro immediately on its heels.  But the bugaboo of defeating a strong team got to Oomagari.  2 walks and an error led to the tying run.  And with 2 outs and the bases loaded, reliever Tashiro would give up the oshidashi, sayonara walk to give Noshiro Shouyou the victory.

And so Kakunodate will get a second chance to get to Koushien.  This time however, Noshiro Shouyou stands in the way.

Saga's semifinals were much closer than what we've seen so far.  Perhaps because all 4 schools are in Saga city.

In the first semifinal, Saga Kougyou had managed to keep Saga Gakuen off the board for 7 innings.  Then in the 8th they were able to break the scoreless deadlock with a pair of runs.  Saga Gakuen would make the standard rally, but unlike some other teams, Saga Kougyou did not break.  They would hold on for the 2-1 win and earn a spot in the finals.

Saga Shougyou put up a similar fight against Saga Kita and in fact took a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the 6th.  Saga Kita would immediately tie the game in the bottom half, and the game would wind up in enchousen.  In the 11th, with a runner on 1st and 2 out, top batter Kinoshita would hit a ball to right center for the sayonara RBI triple to give Saga Kita the 3-2 win and a chance to return to Koushien

Miyazaki will be the battle of the Gakuen's for the title.  Nichinan Gakuen got the tougher test against Miyazaki Nichidai as the teams were knotted up at 1 from the first inning before a pair of runs in the lucky 7 for Nichinan was all they needed to move to the finals.

Meanwhile, Nobeoka Kougyou proved to be no match for Nisshou Gakuen.  Despite lasting the full 9 innings, they would be shutout 6-0.

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