Thursday, December 31, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

So I just mentioned 2 posts ago the fact that Akashi Shougyou defeated Houtoku Gakuen twice. So what are the chances for Houtoku Gakuen themselves?

It doesn't really look all that good. Because while they did tough out a win against Touyoudai Himeji, they also had to tough out wins against schools like Ikuei and Shinkou Gakuen in the prefecturals and blew a 2-run lead against Kita-Ootsu before pulling it out in extras and then losing to yet another Shiga team. Worse yet, they were shutout in 2 of their final 3 games of the aki taikai.

Despite all this, ace Nushijima Daigo (主島 大虎) is a good enough pitcher to be garnering a bit of attention. He doesn't throw all that hard (mid 130s), has a slider and a slow curve. He has had games where he's recorded upper teen Ks in a game, but then when you look at the super-regionals, he recorded just 4 and 7 Ks respectively - not exactly eye-bulging figures.

As mentioned before, Houtoku Gakuen suffered 2 shutouts. With a poor offense and no players that stand out, expect a lot of bunting when a player reaches base limiting opportunities.

Previewing the projected field - Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto)

Ah, Heian is back yet again. One of the multiple 5 kanji schools in Kyoto (I always seem to make a point of that, but it's something I notice because the schools are always in contention).

Heian for the most part was like Akashi Shougyou - they managed to dodge most of the schools in their prefectures only needing to pass through Fukuchiyama Seibi in the finals and they did that with ease too. In fact, they basically breezed their way through until they suddenly ran into a wall in Shiga Gakuen (of all schools).

Their ace, Ichioka Souma (市岡 奏馬) supposedly throws average (low-mid 130s) with a slider and curve. The peripherals are nothing to write home about, and his stamina can be put into question with him and reliever Oono (who by the way didn't record an out in the loss), issuing 12 free passes in 7 innings.

Offensively, while the team does get their fair share of hits, its not surprising that the middle of the order is where their strength lies. This includes SS Nishikawa Hirotaka (西川 寛崇), and 1B Hashimoto Kazuki (橋本 和樹). They also certainly benefited from free passes in many of their victories - something Shiga Gakuen limited and once again perhaps will be a weakness of the school in their chances of taking the senbatsu title.

Previewing the projected field - Akashi Shougyou (Hyogo)

Akashi Shougyou probably got the softest trip you could get for being in a metropolitan prefecture. Yes, they had their scares against no-name teams - Nishiwaki Kougyou (yes, I know they made Koushien before, but they're still a tier 3 school), Shiritsu Amagasaki and Yashiro before finally playing a quality school in Houtoku Gakuen in the final (which they won in a 2-0 shutout). They were then gifted another relatively soft super-regional, defeating Fukuchiyama Seibi and Shiritsu Wakayama before eliminating themselves early (though at least making a game of it) 3-5 to Osaka Touin.

The game certainly revolves around their ace, Yoshitaka Takeshi (吉高 壮), a pitcher who has now defeated Houtoku Gakuen twice, and while Houtoku Gakuen isn't the powerhouse it once was in Hyogo, it's still impressive. His velocity is apparently average, but uses his slider/curve/change to work the edges.

The offense is highly dependent on being patient. They get more than their fair share of walks, and that will be important because they do not have a consistent hitter across the board. The strategy can work, but all they have to do is face a team that has a good pitcher and if they are forced to swing away they could be in trouble. And, having faced an easier schedule, it could mean the team is in more trouble than most heading into their first game.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Shiga Gakuen (Shiga)

Shiga Gakuen is a surprise, having gone all the way to the super-regional semifinals to earn their first senbatsu bid. Now, they had to fall into the super-regionals after losing to Kita-Ootsu in the prefectural semifinals, but managed to advance where they defeated Houtoku Gakuen and Ryuukokudai Heian before losing to Osaka Touin.

The ace of the staff handed all duties when things mattered. Kamimura Hikari (神村 月光) may throw in the mid 130s, but that's all I know. Whatever the delivery is, it seems effective in earlier competitions, but when pressed versus Ryuukokudai Heian and Osaka Touin, the strikeout rates fall by a good amount. Now, the runs scored have not increased as a result - even against Osaka Touin, so in that respect it doesn't seem to hurt them.

Cleanup batter Umakoshi Daichi (馬越 大地) is by far their best hitter, recording either a hit or an RBI in each of their games. Tokudome Kaito (徳留 魁人) at the top of the order also does his fair share setting the tone for the middle of the lineup.

The loss to Kita-Ootsu in the prefecturals is muted somewhat by the fact that they've had several quality wins and the narrow loss to Osaka Touin. Without much info on the pitching though it's hard to say how far they can go but they probably can be counted on to win a game.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Osaka Touin (Osaka)

Osaka Touin... do I really have to?

I may be objective in reviews and cannot deny the talent they have (see Nakata Shou), but I dislike the school with a passion especially after the perceived tactics against Mie in the finals not too long ago. And no, I won't let it go because I'm frankly getting tired of aspects of 高校野球 like this and I'm not going to filter it anymore in my posts.

In the prefecturals, they breezed through their first 5 rounds before barely getting by Riseisha in the semifinals, and blowing a 4-run lead against Osaka Shoudai Sakai losing in 13. Momentum was restored against Oumi Kyoudaisha in the super-regionals, and they managed to make it last, narrowly defeated Akashi Shougyou and Shiga Gakuen for the title. The loss to Takamatsu Shougyou in the Meiji Jingu taikai can be taken with a grain of salt because perhaps they didn't want to introduce another strong school.

The team regularly put up double digit hits every game - as expected from Osaka Touin. Two batters that stand out are natch in the middle of the order, 3B Yoshizawa Kazuto (吉澤 一翔) and 1B Furutera Hiroki (古寺 宏輝). Their 9-4 drubbing of Chiben Gakuen I found here. The offense is never a question, and if it is, they wouldn't be here.

What I don't know is if the pitching will make them an unstoppable force. Their ace by far is Takayama Yuuki (高山 優希), a fireballer by all definitions who Deanna might like because his hat flies off every throw. He supposedly reaches 150, though normally sits in the upper 140s and appears infatuated with throwing hard. Which is a problem, given his 29/20 K/BB ratio in the super-regionals and Meiji Jingu tournament. Anyone who cares so much about throwing hard is generally destined to fail. You didn't see Fujinami or Ootani looking at the gun after each pitch. When he does throw an offspeed pitch, it's either the standard slider/curve combo with a forkball thrown in.

The depth behind him is a bit questionable with the immediate option being Iwamoto Yuusei (岩本 悠生) (apparently the hat flying off is a thing now). He doesn't strike out many batters, but could be serviceable if needed to give his ace a rest. The other options (all freshman) - Kagawa Akira (香川麗爾), Tokuyama Souma (徳山 壮磨) and Inoue Daisuke (井上 大輔), saw some action, but in cases where it may have been low-leverage and therefore may not be counted upon.

As long as Takayama can focus on pitching and not the JUGS gun, then Osaka Touin (as usual) is a title contender.

Previewing the projected field - Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie)

Inabe Sougou Gakuen, not Mie, is the Mie representative that makes it to senbatsu. They did so showing mixed form, losing to Kaisei, but then redeeming themselves by defeating Oogaki Nichidai and then revenging their loss to Kaisei before blowing a 6-run 1st inning lead to Touhou, falling 10x-9 in 10.

It appears that their ace is Yamauchi Tomoki (山内 智貴). But they're generally using several pitchers in a game, the main option being Watanabe Keigo (渡辺 啓五) who may throw up to the low-140s, but also includes Mizutani Yuu (水谷 優), Tamura Rei (田村 玲), and Watanabe Yuuki (渡邊 祐希). But I don't have any information of any of them outside of the small blurb on Watanabe Keigo. That's actually a bit disturbing because no information is bad because it means they're generally not worth covering. AND THEY'RE THE RUNNER-UPS!

Offensively the only consistent batter is their cleanup hitter, LF Fujii Ryouma (藤井 亮磨) who either recorded a hit or an RBI in each of their last 6 games. There are some videos of games, nothing official, and nothing that helps identify players. Now there is also leadoff batter RF Miyazaki Yuuto (宮崎 悠斗) who has recorded multiple hits in several games, but has been held hitless at times.

With the lack of videos and information, as well as the close games they had throughout against average competition, their chances at Senbatsu are probably slim.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Touhou (Aichi)

Touhou's fall run was anything but easy. Of their 10 games they played, 7 of which were decided by 2 runs or less (the other 3 were mercy-rule blowouts). But they avoided all the dangerous teams in Aichi, before finally facing top-level competition in the super-regionals - though to be fair, it was mainly against 2 schools from Mie (Mie, Inabe Sougou Gakuen). Still, they won the title and narrowly lost to Aomori Yamada in the quarterfinals.

Ace Fujishima Kento (藤嶋 健人) appears to be where the buck stops. He pitched every inning but in the first game of their run. Since Touhou was at Natsu Koushien, we have a good idea of what he can do. He can throw in the low-140s, the delivery looks very quick and the ball can sneak up on a batter, much like that grounder in the 1st AB of that video. It can also explain the high K rates during the tournament (he did have an abbreviated 7 inning no hitter against Chuukyou in the super-regionals). But it looks like under the spotlight it's not as effective - though after a run at Koushien he may have tightened his game up. With no one behind him, it's him or bust.

What's troubling - and that may have been expected due to their low offense, is that one of their best hitters... is Fujishima. Now, there are strong teams that have their ace as their best offensive player - just ask Tsuruga Kehi. But it's more likely that the ace as a cleanup hitter means that the offense is fairly weak. Yes, there is leadoff hitter LF Suzuki Mizuki (鈴木 光稀) and 1B Matsumoto Ryuuya  (松本 凌弥), but I'm not sure if that will be enough to carry the team - but they certainly can hang in there if Fujishima can hold up.

Previewing the projected field - Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)

Formerly known as just Fukui, they were basically the 3rd wheel to Tsuruga Kehi and Fukui Shougyou. But for now anyways they have leapfrogged Fukui Shougyou on the ladder, and might make it a clean sweep for the prefecture for the Hokushinetsu bids. I say might because this may be a rare case wherein the committee might overlook a runner-up in favor of a semi-finalist. What stops it is that the case for the other possible candidate probably isn't strong enough to overrule that.

Now, I've made a case of a Tier 3 school hitting their heads against the top teams in a prefecture. But Fukui Koudai Fukui is a solid Tier 2 school and yet here are their losses going back:
  • 2015 Fall - Super-Regional Championship - lost Tsuruga Kehi 1-6
  • 2015 Fall - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 0-8
  • 2015 Summer - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 3-4x (10 inn)
  • (2015 Spring - Super-Regional Opening Round - lost Niigata Kenou Kougyou 4-6)
  • (2015 Spring - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 3-7)
  • 2014 Fall - Super Regional Opening Round - lost Kanazawa 1-2x
  • 2014 Summer - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 2-10
So in the last 2 years, of their 7 losses, 5 were at the hands of Tsuruga Kehi. The ()'s in the spring are there because the spring tournaments in general have no bearing on either Koushien tournament outside of perhaps seeding. In fact, if you go back over the past decade (thanks Asahi), of their 32 losses, 11 were at the hands of Tsuruga Kehi - 8 in a finals and 2 in the semifinals. That's butting your head against the ceiling if there was one.

This year, as you can see, they lost to them twice, and in pretty dominating fashion. And they regularly had close games against schools not normally considered powerhouses.

The weird bit is that ace Tanaka Igarashi (田中 嵐士) did not pitch against Tsuruga Kehi in either case, which might account for the blowout losses. But the question is why - unless Fukui Koudai Fukui believed that losing either game didn't matter - the prefectural title because they had already made the super-regionals and the difference between facing a champion and runner-up was inconsequential, and the super-regionals because they figured the semifinalists didn't have a strong enough resume. The former I can believe, but you would have to be pretty dead sure that the resume of the semifinalists below you wasn't overly convincing and that you were guaranteed a spot to sit him.

Anyways, it's not like Tanaka is completely useless (he does appear to strike out quite a few hitters), and none of the other relievers - Ujiie Takumi (氏家 拓海), #18 Ishiguro Naoki (石黒 直哉), Fukuda Shouto (福田 翔人), Suburu Ryouma (巽 竜馬) seem to be all that useful. Not only did they struggle against Tsuruga Kehi, but also when they relieved Tanaka early against Nagano Shougyou.

Offense-wise, the 3 players who seem to be the most consistent are 2B Tanimoto Kanmasa(?) (谷本 甲仁), 3B Kitamura Shintarou (北村 進太郎) and 1B Tsukamoto Daiki (塚本 大貴).

Despite the fact that they didn't use their ace, the losses to Tsuruga Kehi and the close games against other non top-tier schools with their ace means that they're probably not in contention for the senbatsu title.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui)

Tsuruga Kehi is back yet again. They were in a purple patch there for a while with aces Kishimoto and Hiranuma. But last summer, with Hiranuma hurt, they couldn't get past the 2nd round and Hanamaki Higashi.

It's surprising that they're back though. Because even with Hiranuma hurt, they started him in the game, and despite reliever Yamazaki Souichirou (山崎 颯一郎) pitching 2 scoreless innings when Hiranuma struggled, they went back to Hiranuma. If you're Yamazaki, what are you thinking? "I pitched 2 innings of no-hit ball, got 4 strikeouts, and yet when the middle of the order comes around I'm relieved for a pitcher who is injured?!"

You'd think it wouldn't sit well.

Now, Yamazaki is the ace, an above-average throwing righty who can hit 140, with a slider and curve. The mechanics aren't there at times, leaving his ball up and away. Despite that, he doesn't walk many batters, but stamina may be an issue as shown when he was only pitching his 2nd complete game at Meiji Jingu (he pitched a CG then only 1.2 in the next game). Despite striking out 9, he cratered the final 2 innings, yielding 8 runs.

Nishimoto Taiki (西本 汰生) is a sidearmer who doesn't throw hard (mid-120s), though he did 3-hit Fukui Koudai Fukui in the prefectural final and limited Aomori Yamada to 3 runs in 7.1 IP.

While the pitching is necessary for a title run, they're also known for their powerful offense having scored less than 4 runs just twice in the fall. But the three to look at are leadoff hitter RF Uemura Motoki (植村 元紀) who sets the tone, returning player SS Hayashinaka Yuuki (林中 勇輝), and freshman CF Kaminakao Masaki (上中尾 真季).

If the pitching can hold up, and that's a big if, they have a good chance.

Previewing the projected field - Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo)

Well, this iteration of a rare rivalry in Tokyo has gone the way of the boys from Kanto Dai-ichi, having defeated Nishogakushadai Fuzoku 4-3 in a wild finish. Just to let you know how amazing this is, here are the times these two teams have played when the chips are on the line (heck, I didn't even realize it went this far!):

  • 2006 Summer Qualifying - 4th Round - 8-9 after Nishogakushadai Fuzoku scores 6 runs late to overtake.
  • 2007 Summer Qualifying - 3rd Round - 14x-7 (7 inn) - After falling behind 7-1, they score 13 unanswered to call the game early.
  • 2008 Summer Qualifying - Semifinals - 7-2 - Their dominance continues after slowly pulling away to a 4-0 lead, conceding the 2 runs late.
  • 2011 Summer Qualifying - Semifinals - 7x-0 (7 inn) - Nishogakushadai Fuzoku reloads, but the results are the same, scoreless through 4, but Kanto Dai-ichi pulls away afterwards.
  • 2013 Summer Qualifying - Semifinals - 1-8x (8 inn) - This time Nishogakushadai Fuzoku finally exacts their revenge, pulling the same game that Kanto Dai-ichi did in 2008 - take the lead early, extend it, yield a late run, but win early.
  • 2013 Fall Qualifying - Finals - 7x-6 (10 inn) - Oddly the first time they would play in the fall (but not the last). Kanto Dai-ichi tried to slowly inch away like they've done in years past, but Nishogakushadai Fuzoku would have none of it, scoring 4 unanswered to tie the game. But it would be for naught as they would lose in the first frame of extras. Nishogakushadai Fuzoku would get snubbed for Yokohama when they shouldn't have.
  • 2014 Fall Qualifying - Semifinals - 5-6 (11 inn) - This was when finally Nishogakushadai Fuzoku made this a real rivalry, coming back the next year, trading punch-for punch with Kanto Dai-ichi, and this time prevailing in extras. While they would be the runner-up yet again, they would get the invite.
  • 2015 Fall Qualifying - Finals - 4-3 - Kanto Dai-ichi pulls it out late with 2 runs in the 8th and 9th innings against ace Ooe to claim the title and perhaps deny Nishogakushadai Fuzoku a spot at senbatsu.
So in the past 10 years, they have played 8 times out of a possible 20, with Kanto Dai-ichi leading the rivalry 5-3. And amazing yet, the last 6 times they have played in either the semifinals or the finals!

Given the fact that Tokyo is a large prefecture (even when they're both allocated to Higashi Tokyo), this is a pretty high rate of meeting each other. And they fact they're pretty much on the level tells you that this rivalry may continue for a long while.

On the pitching side, they aren't afraid to use a mix of pitchers led by ace Kawai Kaito (河合 海斗), reliever Satou Shouma (佐藤 奨真), and spot reliever LF Takei Taketo (竹井 丈人), the pitchers are of average velocity (low-mid 130s), while Takei can supposedly hit 140. But there is almost no information on the pitchers on the internet, just these videos. Good news is that against Nishogakushadai Fuzoku the two main pitchers, along with first year Ogawa Tatsuki (小川 樹) they struck out 8 while walking 3.

Offensively, from what I've found, it's the other two OF's that seem to lead the hitting. CF Miyamoto Eigo (宮本 瑛己) and RF Motohashi Keito (本橋 慶人) are the extra base hitters on the squad. Sadly, the box scores are not available for their games, so it's hard to say how good they are. And while they lost to Sapporo Dai-ichi, it was Takei that started the game and gave up 3 runs in 3.2IP. This suggests to me they weren't taking this game seriously, perhaps even not minding giving up this game lest Nishogakushadai Fuzoku gets in their way again.

I think they stand a chance, but with so little info (probably because of potential scouting issues), it would be hard to claim them a title chance.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Kiryuu Dai-ichi (Gunma)

Kiryuu Dai-ichi is looking to revive themselves in the world of 高校野球, reaching the quarterfinals 2 years ago after a decent hiatus from the scene.

Ace Uchiike Kakeru (内池 翔) and Aoki Kaito (青木 快人) are the tandem that leads the pitching staff. Uchiike isn't anything special - mid-130s fastball with a slider and curve. His numbers this fall have been solid outside of their game against Urawa Gakuin, but given his repertoire it's not surprising he's not blowing away the competition - but the general lack of free passes is a plus.

Aoki Kaito would be a player Deanna would like. He's a knuckle-scraper, and while that can fool batters, and we've seen them be successful in the majors in a closer role (Darren O'Day and Pat Neshek for instance), I don't know if it can work in long stretches - hence his longest outing was 4 innings in their loss against Jyousou Gakuin.

Offensively, leadoff batter Oikawa Keita (追川 恵太) sets the tone for the team, finding ways to get on base or bring in a run. There's also Murota Yoshito(?) (宝田 善統) who at least finds a way to get a base hit, and at #5 in the order hopefully has people in front of him to drive in.

With the lack of information, it's hard to project where they will land. The pitching side isn't impressive, but if it's serviceable it could be good enough.

Previewing the projected field - Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)

Toukaidai Koufu has been on a run of late, representing Yamanashi 3 of the last 4 years. This after being off the map for a decade. And when they make an appearance, you're almost certain to see them make some type of run - of their 17 total (spring + summer) appearances, only 5 times have they exited in their first game, and 3 times they've won 1 game before bowing out. In fact, they've reached the semifinals 5 times!

So, what team do we have here?

Resume-wise it's hard to say. Their quality wins were against Nihon Koukuu in the prefectural final, and then faced Tier 3 schools Kasukabe Kyouei and Kasumigaura before getting shutout by Kisaradzu Sougou.

Matsuba Yukito (松葉 行人) and Kikuchi Hiroki (菊地 大輝) had come in relief last summer, most times to protect a lead, and once to keep the deficit small. He was able to do the former, but not the latter. Unfortunately for Kikuchi, the only videos I found of him were related to Kiyomiya (thank God Waseda Jitsugyou is not in the tournament).

I can't tell if they've switched roles, because Matsuba pitched more of the Super-regionals than Kikuchi. Kikuchi started the first game against Kasukabe Kyouei, but was pulled after giving up 4 runs in the 6th inning. Not that it may matter unless either has improved significantly. Both kept K/BB ratios close to 1 (though Matsuba had his best performance against Soujitsu of all schools). And from my commentary in the summer, neither appeared to be really impressive.

Two mainstays of the offense are back - now 1B Matsuoka Shuunyuu (松岡 隼裕), and now SS Fukutake Shuu (福武 修). Also joining him is RF Harada Ryuusei (原田 隆聖) who slotting behind Matsuoka at least gives him some protection (though most teams don't pitch around batters - it has been happening in an unintentional intentional sense more often).

The bottom of the lineup - where usually offense goes to die - appears to be in place here too. Yes, they did have some success, but when paired against the eventual champions, they went a combined 1-16.

It's an average squad overall in the end, and while it's possible they can win a game offensive black holes are generally hard to overcome.

Previewing the projected field - Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki)

Jyousou Gakuin finished as the runner-up in the super-regionals and will certainly be getting an invite. Their resume is a hodgepodge though. Nothing of note in the prefecturals outside of losing to Kasumigaura in the finals. But then they beat Yokohama, Nihon Koukuu and Kiryuu Dai-ichi before losing in that wild game versus Kisaradzu Sougou. The offensive output though was very small - just enough in most cases to win, so it may signal that more emphasis will be placed on their pitching staff.

The ace is Suzuki Shouta (鈴木 昭汰), who was the ace of the team last spring at senbatsu. His range is in the upper 130s touching 140, and may have a wide variety of pitches which might include a two-seamer, cutter, shuuto, curve, changeup and slider. But from the videos that you see - especially last year's senbatsu - the off-speed pitches are never really in the zone and that can be shown in the walks he offered to Yokohama and Nihon Koukuu. Any decent sense of patience at the plate and I think he's sunk.

The other option is Kashimura Yuuta (樫村 雄大), a freshman righty. Thankfully, the videos show his pitch speed on the scoreboard, and it seems to be in the low 130s for the fastball with an offspeed pitch in the upper 110s. In his game against Kiryuu Dai-ichi, he struck out 8 while walking 4. It was a complete game shutout, but the 4 walks are a bit iffy.

Offensively, the best player by far is freshman 1B Miyazato Bunta(?) (宮里 豊汰), who hits and hits for power. He was 7-13 with 6 RBIs during the Kanto super-regionals. Judging from the final game verus Kisaradzu Sougou, where in an extra inning affair he was 1-2 with 4 RBIs, my guess is they finally had enough and walked him a bit. Then there's another freshman, CF Suyama Yuuki (陶山 勇軌 - the video was from his days prior to Jyousou). He's not the hit machine Miyazato is, but he does seem to be able to get the timely hit.

2 players though doesn't a lineup make, and if teams do decide to work around Miyazato, it'll be a bit harder for the team to produce runs.

The pitching is sketchy enough to dismiss their chances for the title, though if they play an undisciplined team they may get a game or two.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Kisaradzu Sougou (Chiba)

Kisaradzu Sougou makes only their 3rd Senbatsu appearance having won the Kanto (ex Tokyo) title. Which is a bit odd because I keep thinking they're a better team than that.

They ran laps around Chiba at least with the exceptions of Tousou Kougyou (?!), and Senshuudai Matsudo. As for the super-regionals though, they had to survive 4 close games, having to come back in 3 of them to claim the title - including a wild final against Jyousou Gakuin.

The ace of the staff is Hayakawa Takahisa (早川 隆久), a lefty that throws in the mid-upper 130s with the standard slider/curve combo. He pitched the first 2 games of the super-regionals before handing the ball off to what seems like a large bullpen (which is odd other than the fact that perhaps they figure they'd already qualified finishing in the top 4. Against Toukou Gakuen he looked like a pitcher managing the game, striking out 5 and giving up 9 hits. Then he turned around and gave up just 3 hits (though 4 walks), striking out 8 against Hanasaki Tokuharu.

Takeda Hiroyoshi (武田 大慶) was the next in line, sent to face Toukaidai Koufu and did his work, pitching a complete game shutout. He struck out 6, but did give up 4 walks in the 2-0 win. He seems to work vertically in the zone leaving high pitches in the middle. Not a great thing, but he doesn't seem to leave many mistakes in the zone that can be severely punished. He also doesn't seem to throw that hard, so control will even be more of an issue.

Finally, the ball was handed off to a triumvirate of pitchers - all righties. Oonuma Hiromu (大熊 啓夢 sorry, that was the best video I could find, there are better stills here) was first, and he supposedly throws 130s. Next up was Wada Soutarou (和田 崇太郎), whose name search turns up someone with the same name in some group called KING&HEAVY. Finally was Mitsuishi Kazuki (三石 和季 - whose only video was when he was in junior high).

The other thing is that those three combined gave up 13 hits in the 13 inning affair, with just 4 Ks and 10 free passes. Mitsuishi was probably the best of the 3, saving the game in the 9th by keeping the deficit at 2, then pitching shutout ball in extra frames. Each of them did well when they came in, but Oonuma and Wada both ended up struggling to the point they had to be relieved.

Offensively, it seems their best hitter is RF Torikai Ranma (鳥海 嵐万) and CF Kido Ryou (木戸 涼). Neither are anything special to write home about, but both at least put up decent numbers.

There's nothing about this team that stands out. They appear to be a solid team who can hang in there, but I'm not sure they're a title contender.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Previewing the projected field - [Hachinohe Gakuin] Kousei (Aomori)

Might as well start calling them by their new name. If you haven't noticed Kousei Gakuin (光星学院) changed their name to Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (八戸学院光星) or in shorthand Kousei (光星).

No matter what you call it, their rise to prominence has been sudden. There were signs when they went to Natsu Kousien 3 of 4 years in 2000-2003 reaching the quarterfinals twice and the semifinals the other time. But in 2011 they stamped their mark in history (albeit infamously), by reaching 3 straight calendar Koushien finals losing all of them.

The school went through the name change right afterwards and while they haven't had the same success (it's hard not to unless they actually won the whole thing), but after a full year off went to Koushien both times in 2014, and senbatsu in 2015.

And here they are again. They've done it defeating every team they should have soundly, and winning the close games against the upper tier teams (except for the Aomori Yamada rematch in the finals). They did it leaning on ace Sakurai Kazuki (桜井 一樹). I don't have much information on him other than possibly having a slider, curve and changeup. That, and the fact that he doesn't strikeout many batters can be a concern if he doesn't have pinpoint control.

Offensively, it's hard to identify a person who stands out. Perhaps the top of the order which naturally should have your better hitters. But then you turn to their loss against Aomori Yamada, and they could muster just 3 hits. If the pitching is very contact-dependent, the offense will need to come though in case Sakurai doesn't have his best.

Previewing the projected field - Aomori Yamada (Aomori)

Aomori Yamada is finally back. I can't even remember how many years it's been (just checked it was 7 years ago - 2009 summer) that they were last at Koushien.

Man, that's a long time for a team I thought was a prefectural powerhouse. I don't know the story, if it was staffing changes, if they weren't really a powerhouse - instead me catching them in a sweet spot when I first starting getting serious about following 高校野球.

They've been close in recent years, but this time they were able to put it all together, revenging a loss to Kousei in the prefecturals in the Super-Regional final. It wasn't dominant though, as they had close games throughout the Super-Regionals - Tsuruoka Higashi, Akita and Sendai Ikuei before finally hitting their stride in the final 2 games.

The ace of the team is Hayato Horioka (堀岡 隼人), but only pitched in the first game in relief, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits (and 6 walks!) striking out just 3. None of the other pitchers - Tsuboi Tomoya (坪井 友哉), Urushidate Io (漆舘 伊皇) or Mikami Seshiru (三上 世視滝) fared much better with Mikami being the only pitcher to record a K. Ouch.

At this point then you'd have to turn to the offense to carry the team. And they did have success against Tsuruga Kehi (though Hiranuma is gone now), but predominantly in the middle of the lineup - C Murayama Naoya (村山 直也), SS Mimori Masaki (三森 大貴) and 1B Saitou Koumei (齊藤 孔明). Saitou was actually walked twice in their loss to Tsuruga Kehi - showing perhaps the lack of depth in the lineup. If they can be worked around like that, it will be that much harder for the team to make a deep run especially given the lack of good pitching.

Previewing the projected field - Sapporo Dai-ichi (Hokkaido)

In the leadup to next year's senbatsu (and because I have a lot of dead time at work), I'll be getting posts out on the teams in the projected field. First up is the Hokkaido champions Sapporo Dai-ichi.

Sapporo Dai-ichi pretty much handled all the teams they needed to without much issue until they hit the meat of the schedule - which started in the quarterfinals against Hokushou and followed that up with Komodai Tomakomai and Hokkaido Sakae.

For a champion team though, there's little information on them. Ace Kamide Takuma (上出 拓真) throws in the low 130s with a changeup of sorts that he tends to leave up. Here is the game versus Takamatsu Shougyou in the Meiji Jingu Taikai (Skip to 1:03.30 as that is when he comes in relief.). Against lefties, he seems to let the ball fly out early, leaving pitches up and away and not close. Even in general he leaves the fastball up in the zone and is prone to fly balls.

Offensively, their best hitter was their #9 hitter, RF Kanemura Kyousuke (兼村 京佑). He was 4-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs versus Kanto Dai-ichi, and then was 3-4 with a double and 2 RBIs against Takamatsu Shougyou.

With such little information, and from what I could see and read, it doesn't look like Sapporo Dai-ichi is a legitimate title contender. Depending on the rest of the field and their draw, it's possible they could be one-and-done.

Meiji Jingu Bid

The final bit of projections finished last month when Takamatsu Shougyou of all teams won the Meiji Jingu Taikai defeating Sapporo Dai-ichi, Osaka Touin and Tsuruga Kehi.

If you took that at face value, you'd think that Takamatsu Shougyou would be considered a senbatsu title contender. Remember though that the winner of the tournament gives their region an extra bid. If you were Osaka Touin (Kinki Super-Region) or Tsuruga Kehi (Hokushinetsu Super-Region), would you win and give a team a chance at the title?

Let me put it another way. Let's say you're Kasumagaura and you won the Kanto Super-Regionals. Yokohama lost in the quarterfinals and thus is outside the top 4 (in order) and would probably be left out as long as the semifinalists didn't have a terrible resume (let's say they don't). Let's also say that in Tokyo (where the floating bid lies), the winner and runner-ups are Nichidai-san and Waseda Jitsugyou, which means that in all likelihood the bid would go there.

Would you win the Meiji Jingu tournament if it meant that Yokohama would get an invite? If I were in that situation, I wouldn't win. If you were Osaka Touin this year, would you win and let either Houtoku Gakuen or Chiben Gakuen into the tournament?

So Takamatsu Shougyou it is.

Hokkaido (1) - Sapporo Dai-ichi
Tohoku (2) - Aomori Yamada (Aomori), Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Aomori)
Kanto (4) - Kisaradzu Sougou (Chiba), Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki), Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi), Kiryuu Dai-ichi (Gunma)
Tokyo (1) - Kanto Dai-ichi
Hokushinetsu (2) - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui), Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)/Saku Chousei (Nagano)
Tokai (2) - Touhou (Aichi), Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie)
Kinki (6) - Osaka Touin (Osaka), Shiga Gakuen (Shiga), Akashi Shougyou (Hyogo), Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto), Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo), Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
Chuugoku (2) - Soushi Gakuen (Okayama), Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi)
Shikoku (2) - Takamatsu Shougyou (Kagawa), Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
Kyushu (4) - Shuugakukan (Kumamoto), Kaisei (Nagasaki), Kagoshima Jitsugyou (Kagoshima), Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki)

Chuugoku/Shikoku Floating Bid + Meiji Jingu Bid
Saibi (Ehime), Jyosuikan (Hiroshima), Kaisei (Shimane)

With Takamatsu Shougyou's win, Saibi who I mentioned earlier had the best Shikoku resume for the floating bid will now get the Meiji Jingu Bid instead. With that, the floating bid is almost certainly heading north to the Chuugoku region.

So now we need to take a closer look at Jyosuikan or Kaisei. I'd first look at Kaisei since they played the champs Soushi Gakuen. But they were shutout 5-0 and their only quality win was a 7-0 mercy rule win over Hiroshima Shinjyou. Jyosuikan lost 6-3 to Nanyou Kougyou, who was annihilated by Soushi Gakuen in the final. And they don't have a quality win to their name. None.

Ouch. The resume's are not good at all. If I had to take someone, it would be Kaisei because their shutout loss was no different than any of the other teams to play Soushi Gakuen.

The only other option, and it's a huge longshot, would be that the floating bid actually stays in Shikoku and is given to Tosa, whose 2 losses in the Aki Taikai were to the same team - Meitoku Gijyuku. That's not disgraceful at all, but to intentionally give a 4-2 split when there was an option for a 3-3? Highly unlikely.

Tokyo/Kanto Floating Bid
Nihon Koukuu (Yamanashi), Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama), Nishogakushadai Fuzoku (Tokyo)

So here's the problem with that rivalry between Kanto Dai-ichi and Nishogakushadai Fuzoku. Despite the fact the the committee wants the big teams in the tournament, it can't simply continue to hand out floating bids that way. And so while Nishogakushadai Fuzoku may be worthy, it might be that the Tokyo final was a loser-out scenario now that Kanto Dai-ichi didn't win the Meiji Jingu Tournament. (In fact, they lost in their very first game. Still don't believe me about letting a good team in?)

Remember though that the 2 potential Kanto candidates, Hanasaki Tokuharu and Nihon Koukuu played their quarterfinal games close, but didn't have a great resume otherwise. Nishogakushadai Fuzoku defeated both Waseda Jitsugyou and Nichidai-san...

Sentimental wise, I'd love to see Nihon Koukuu get it. I mean, get the Japan Aviation Academy baseball team at Koushien?

If we went strictly by resume and separate from other years, Nishogakushadai Fuzoku gets the bid hands down. But it's not done in a bubble - at least from what I can tell, so I doubt they're getting in again. Name recognition, Hanasaki Tokuharu gets the bid. I secretly hope though Nihon Koukuu somehow winds up with it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

And we're done!

So the aki taikai super-regionals are done. Kanto Dai-ichi comes back with a pair of runs in the 8th and 9th to defeat Nishogakushadai Fuzoku 4-3. This means the invitee list is as follows:

Hokkaido (1) - Sapporo Dai-ichi
Tohoku (2) - Aomori Yamada (Aomori), Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Aomori)
Kanto (4) - Kisaradzu Sougou (Chiba), Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki), Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi), Kiryuu Dai-ichi (Gunma)
Tokyo (1) - Kanto Dai-ichi
Hokushinetsu (2) - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui), Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)
Tokai (2) - Touhou (Aichi), Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie)
Kinki (6) - Osaka Touin (Osaka), Shiga Gakuen (Shiga), Akashi Shougyou (Hyogo), Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto), Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo), Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
Chuugoku (2) - Soushi Gakuen (Okayama), Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi)
Shikoku (2) - Takamatsu Shougyou (Kagawa), Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
Kyushu (4) - Shuugakukan (Kumamoto), Kaisei (Nagasaki), Kagoshima Jitsugyou (Kagoshima), Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki)

And now for the floating bids:

Tokyo/Kanto Floating Bid
Nihon Koukuu (Yamanashi), Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama), Nishogakushadai Fuzoku (Tokyo)

So here's the problem with that rivalry between Kanto Dai-ichi and Nishogakushadai Fuzoku. Despite the fact the the committee wants the big teams in the tournament, it can't simply continue to hand out floating bids that way. And so while Nishogakushadai Fuzoku may be worthy, it might be that the Tokyo final was a loser-out scenario.

So let's look at the potential Kanto candidates. If we go by resume, Hanasaki Tokuharu's only win in the super-regionals was Kitoku, while in the prefecturals they were able to defeat Kasukabe Kyouei, but not Urawa Gakuin. Nihon Koukuu needed 15 to defeat Hakuoudai Ashikaga in the super-regionals which can be a quality win, but in the prefecturals they don't have one, losing to Toukaidai Koufu in the finals.

Neither resume is that great. And to boot Nishogakushadai Fuzoku defeated both Waseda Jitsugyou and Nichidai-san...

If we go by resume, Nishogakushadai Fuzoku should earn the bid (again). If the JHBF is loath to award it again to them, then you can flip a coin for either candidate.

Chuugoku/Shikoku Floating Bid
Saibi (Ehime), Jyosuikan (Hiroshima), Kaisei (Shimane)

This one feels self-explanatory. The best candidate out of the Shikoku region is Saibi, who played eventual champions Takamatsu Shougyou close in the semifinals, shutout Naruto, and mercy-ruled Kochi Shougyou. Their loss to Imabari Nishi in the prefecturals was validated when Imabari Nishi lost in 10 innings also to Takamatsu Shougyou.

None of the possible Chuugoku candidates Jyosuikan or Kaisei have a similar resume, so Saibi should get the bid.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Aki Taikai Update

The site has been relatively quiet since the end of the Natsu Koushien tournament, and a good part of it is that in general nothing for the most part changes. To prove my point, here's what's happened in the Aki Taikai:

Hokkaido (Completed)
I look at the final, and it looks like Hokkaido Sakae had made the final, and actually had the lead. But Sapporo Dai-ichi rallied against ace Kanazawa to take the title 2-1. It's actually their first title, which is a bit surprising.

However, to their credit they defeated Hokushou 6-4, then Komadai Tomakomai 1-0 to reach the final. So this title was well-earned.

Tohoku (Completed)
Well, this is a surprise. First, here's who qualified.

Aomori - Hachinohe Kousei Gakuiin, Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi, Aomori Yamada
Akita - Akita, Noshiro, Noshiro Shouyou
Iwate - Moriokadai Fuzoku, Kamaishi, Ichinoseki Gakuin
Yamagata - Sakata Minami, Yamagata Chuo, Tsuruoka Higashi
Miyagi - Sendai, Tohoku, Touhou
Fukushima - Seikou Gakuin, Gakkou Houjin Ishikawa, Fukushima Shougyou

Aomori, scratch...
Akita, same there...
Iwate, whoa. No Hanamaki Higashi, but then again they generally have to reload after a run. And good for Kamaishi.
Yamagata, scratch...
Miyagi, Tohoku might finally be becoming relevant again.
Fukushima, it's Seikou Gakuin and everyone else.

As for the Super-Regionals, it was a shocker. Kousei gets to the final giving up just 1 run in 3 games. On the other half of the bracket it was of all teams Aomori Yamada who defeated Tsuruoka Higashi, Akita, Sendai Ikuei and Moriokadai Fuzoku to reach the final setting up a rematch of the Aomori semifinal.

And since both schools are bound to get the phone call, you would think that perhaps they'd tone it down for the final.

Nope. Both schools sent out their ace, and Aomori Yamada's Horioka outpitches Kousei's Sakurai in a 5-0 win! Maybe finally Aomori Yamada is back.

Kanto (Completed)
Kanto is generally the last to finish. But the prefecturals are done and here are the qualifiers:

Saitama (Super-Regional Hosts) - Urawa Gakuin, Hanasaki Tokuharu, Kasukabe Kyouei
Gunma - Kitoku, Kiryuu Dai-ichi
Ibaraki - Kasumigaura, Jyousou Gakuin
Tochigi - Hakuoudai Ashikaga, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku
Chiba - Kisaradzu Sougou, Chiba Meitoku
Kanagawa - Yokohama, Toukou Gakuen
Yamanashi - Toukaidai Koufu, Nihon Koukuu

Saitama, scratch (yay Kasukabe Kyouei!)...
Gunma, hey there's a surprise, Kitoku defeated both Kendai Takasaki and Kiryuu Dai-ichi to take the prefectural title...
Ibaraki, I'm glad to see that Kasumigaura has been able to continue its success...
Tochigi, Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku will to me ever be linked with their soul-crushing win over Kanzei back in the famous 2006 tournament...
Chiba, I love Narashino but I know that their pitching hadn't been very strong over the last couple of years... Chiba Meitoku making the Super-Regionals is a cool thing though.
Kanagawa, Yokohama has not lost a step with Watanabe-kantoku's retirement defeating Touin Gakuen, mercy ruling Toukaidai Sagami and then Toukou Gakuen for the title...
Yamanashi, hooray! Nihon Koukuu makes it to the Super-Regional stage! Uh, oh, they were 2-hit shutout in the final...

The semifinals were 2 shutouts, Kisaradzu Sougou must be doing something right because after defeating Toukou Gakuen and Hanasaki Tokuharu 2-1 they shutout Toukaidai Koufu 2-0.

Jyousou Gakuin's defensive game seems to have won the day, defeating Yokohama, Nihon Koukuu (awww....) before shutting out Kiryuu Dai-ichi 4-0.

Weirdly, the final was anything but a defensive struggle. Perhaps it was the long slog through the tournament, but after the game was 1-1 through 5 the teams scored 13 more runs. including 2 runs each in the 9th to keep the game tied, and another run each in the 10th. Jyousou Gakuin would challenge again in the 13th with runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out, but a strike throw home on a base hit, and a great tag by C Ozawa Shou would keep the game tied. And in the bottom half of the inning, Kisaradzu Sougou would take their one and only lead when ace Mitsuishi's grounder was booted at 2nd, allowing Koike - who had doubled earlier, to come home for the 8-7 win!

Tokyo (In progress)
Their prefecturals are their Super-Regionals so their tournament structure

How weird would it be if Kanto Dai-ichi and Nishogakushadai Fuzoku faced each other again?

Well... it could happen. Nishougakushadai Fuzoku plays Toukaidai Takanawadai in the first semifinal, while Kanto Dai-ichi faces Teikyou.

In a prefecture as big as Tokyo I cannot believe that these two schools could have their "rivalry" renewed yet again.

Hokushinetsu (Completed)
Well, the prefecturals lined up as follows:

Niigata - Nihon Bunri, Murakami Sakuragaoka, Tokyo Gakkan Niigata
Nagano - Nagano Shougyou, Saku Chousei, Matsushou Gakuen
Toyama - Takaoka Shougyou, Toyama Shougyou, Namerikawa, Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku
Ishikawa - Nonoichi Meirin, Komatsu, Komatsu Ootani
Fukui - Tsuruga Kehi, Fukui Koudai Fukui, Fukui Shougyou

Niigata, Nihon Bunri nothing new but the other two were surprises...
Nagano, looks like the capital city is finally putting out strong schools. Always thought it weird that the major city in a rural prefecture didn't have strong teams...
Toyama, top 2 nothing new but the last 2 good for them to make it in a year their prefecture hosts...
Ishikawa, what the heck?! Nonoichi Meirin defeated both Komatsu Ootani and Komatsu for the title? Seiryou nowhere to be seen as they are perhaps in rebuild mode.
Fukui, the scratchiest of the scratch.

All the surprises out of the prefecturals for the most part were easily eliminated in the first round of the Super-Regionals though Namerikawa had a lead against Nihon Bunri and Komatsu Ootani had rallied from down 4-0 to Takaoka Shougyou to take a 6-4 lead, only to give up 4 runs in an inning again to fall.

In the quarterfinals, Nihon Bunri may have been the victim of circumstance. Leading Saku Chousei 5-4 through 6 the game was declared a no-game due to rain and replayed the next day where they lost 2-1 in 11.

In the semis, Saku Chousei and Nagano Shougyou both put up fights in their games. Saku Chousei had the lead against Tsuruga Kehi, but the pitching couldn't close it out. Nagano Shougyou actually rallied from down 6-0 to tie the game but their pitching too let them down.

And so it was 2 Fukui schools in the finals, and a rematch of the prefectural final. Usually, the losing school in the first matchup would have a better go at it, but Tsuruga Kehi never let Fukui Koudai Fukui in the game, following up that 8-0 prefectural win with a 6-1 super-regional win.

Tokai (Completed)
In the small Tokai region, the qualifier for the Super-Regional were as follows:

Shizuoka - Kakegawa Nishi, Nichidai Mishima, Fujieda Meisei
Aichi - Touhou, Kyouei, Eitoku
Gifu - Oogaki Nichidai, Chuukyou, Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou
Mie - Kaisei, Mie, Inabe Sougou Gakuen

Gifu and Mie are very scratch, though one could argue that Kaisei defeating Mie is an upset. Kaisei though is a decently strong team in Mie so in terms of teams making it, this isn't a surprise. Shizuoka is a bit of a surprise to not see any of Shizuoka, Tokoha Kikugawa, Tokoha Tachibana among others. For Aichi, Touhou is an above average squad, Eitoku has been decent as well, and Kyouei is a surprise.

On one side, it was scratch. Mie defeated Eitoku and Kakegawa Nishi to reach the semis, where Touhou waited. Sadly for Mie, Touhou would prevail 3-1 to reach the final.

On the other side, Mie's schools seemed to show which prefecture had the best teams as a group. Inabe Sougou Gakuen defeated Nichidai Mishima, and then Oogaki Nichidai(!) to reach the semis. Kaisei with the first round bye, held on to defeat Kenrisu Gifu Shougyou 5-4(!) setting up a rematch of the semis of the prefectuals where Kaisei won 5-4 in extras. And in the rematch it would be ISG that would prevail with another close game, 2-1.

The final was nuts. ISG jumped out to a 6-0 lead right off the bat in the top of the 1st. Touhou immediately snagged 2 of the runs back in the bottom half and then in the 3rd got back the remaining runs. It looked like perhaps Touhou had the advantage taking the lead with 3 in the 6th, but ISG finally showed some life with 3 of their own in the lucky 7. This game would head to enchousen where 3B Konishi Keiji would deliver the game winning hit to give ISG the title 10-9!

Kinki (Completed)
Qualified teams from each prefecture were as follows:

Shiga - Kita-Ootsu, Oumi Kyoudaisha, Shiga Gakuen
Kyoto - Ryuukokudai Heian, Fukuchiyama Seibi
Nara - Chiben Gakuen, Naradai Fuzoku, Heijyou
Osaka - Osaka Shougyoudai Sakai, Osaka Touin, Hanandai
Wakayama - Shiritsu Wakayama, Kouyasan
Hyogo - Akashi Shougyou, Houtoku Gakuen, Shinkou Gakuen

Shiga, Kyoto - easily scratch.
Nara - Chiben Gakuen scratch. Naradai Fuzoku I think has cemented their place as a prefectural powerhouse even if they haven't been to Koushien as much as Chiben or Tenri. Heijyou would be a surprise, but then again any school would be that wasn't Tenri.
Osaka - Osaka Touin is scratch, even if 2nd in the prefecture. Osaka Shougyoudai Sakai isn't a powerhouse, but they produce results in a very big prefecture. Hanandai I've never heard of, so finishing 3rd is quite the accomplishment, even if their only quality game was a 1-0 win in the 3rd place game against Riseisha(!).
Wakayama - With perhaps the decline of Chiben Wakayama complete as Takashima-kantoku retired, Shiritsu Wakayama - who has been a good school in the prefecture, fills the gap. Kouyasan gets the benefit of filling the other spot.
Hyogo - This is actually scratch if you consider history. Akishi Shougyou and Shinkou Gakuen have historical success, even if not necessarily in recent times. Houtoku Gakuen has continued to be a strong school throughout the years.

As for the super-regionals, the end result was no surprise. Osaka Touin blew through their first 2 games, and then perhaps because they at this point qualified by reaching the semis ramped the team down... and still defeated Akaishi Shougyou to reach the finals where a surprise Shiga Gakuen team who defeated both Houtoku Gakuen, and Ryuukokudai Heian!

Shiga Gakuen fought hard in the final, but fell 3-2.

Chuugoku (Completed)
The region was almost fully scratch:

Tottori - Tottori Jyouhoku, Sakai, Tottori Nishi, Yonago Nishi
Okayama - Konkou Gakuen, Kurashiki Kougyou, Soushi Gakuen
Shimane - Taisha, Kaisei, Izumo
Hiroshima - Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin, Jyosuikan, Hiroshima Shinjyou
Yamaguchi - Hayatomo, Ube Shougyou, Nanyou Kougyou

The only team perhaps you could argue is a surprise is Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin, but even then they've been more than decent recently.

The sad part is that none of the prefectural champions made it out of the 2nd round and only Konkou Gakuen and Hayatomo made it out of the first round.

Nanyou Kougyou worked the hardest using their experience to survive 3 close games against Tottori Jyouhoku (Tottori 1), Hayatomo (Yamaguchi 1), and Jyosuikan (Hiroshima 2) to reach the final.

Meanwhile Soushi Gakuen, despite being the Okayama 3 seed was only troubled in their 1st game against Ube Shougyou before dispatching Konkou Gakuen and Izumo.

The final was a laugher, but in the favor of Soushi Gakuen! They beat Nanyou Kougyou 12-1 to take the title!!

Shikoku (Completed)
Shikoku was pretty scratch as well.

Kagawa - Shoudoshima, Takamatsu Shougyou, Eimei
Tokushima - Naruto, Jyounan, Ikeda
Kochi - Meitoku Gijyuku, Kochi Shougyou, Tosa
Ehime - Imabari Nishi, Niita, Saibi

Shoudoushima may not be a brand name, but they've been a good team in Kagawa for a while and I see them as a seeded team often. Same goes for Jyounan.

Like Chuugoku though, the top seeds did not fare well. Meitoku Gijyuku was the only prefectural winner to make it past their first round bye - and even then allowed Nitta to score 2 in the bottom of the 9th to make it a 5-4 game.

Desperate to leave no doubt about their invitation, as opposed to the last two years when they had to depend on the floating bid, they won their semifinal (in 10 innings) over Tosa 4-3.

Takamatsu Shougyou would be their opponent in the final, but their fans probably needed resuscitation. It was a close opening round against Ikeda until the 8th inning where they scored 2 to make it a "comfortable" 6-3. Then they blew a 5-2 lead to Imabari Nishi before scoring 4 in the 8th to win 9-7. And then against Saibi they trailed 3-0 right off the bat, scored 4 immediately thereafter to take the lead, and then nailbited to a 6-5 win.

Takashou finally had enough of it in the final, blowing out Meitoku Gijyuku 6-1 to take the title.

Kyushu (Completed)
And finally, in the southern super-region, here were the qualifiers:

Fukuoka - Kyushu Sangyoudai Kyushu, Kokura
Saga - Saga Shougyou, Kanzaki Seimei
Nagasaki - Kaisei, Nagasaki Sougou Kagakudai Fuzoku
Oita - Usuki, Meihou
Miyazaki - Nichinan Gakuen, Tomishima
Kumamoto - Shuugakukan, Kyushu Gakuin
Kagoshima - Kagoshima Jitsugyou, Kagoshima Jyousai, Shounan, Ooshima
Okinawa - Yaeyama, Kounan

Fukuoka has a wider variety of schools as for some reason unlike other metropolitan prefecures there is no dominant set of teams. Saga is not much of a surprise as Kanzaki Seimei has always been considered an above average school. Nagasaki is a bit of a surprise as there is no Nagasaki Nichidai, no Souseikan, no Seihou. Nagasaki Sougou Kagakudai Fuzoku is a new face, but didn't face anyone of note until Kaisei in the final. Oita's Meihou no surprise, but Usuki is defeating not only Meihou, but Oita Uenogaoka and Oita Shougyou as well. Same goes for Tomishima making the final, though they did beat St. Ursula. And it's scratch the rest of the way.

The results of the super-regional though was surprising. 2 schools almost blew through the fields. On one side was of all schools Shuugakukan! After a coming from behind to win 4-2 with all 4 runs late against Meihou, they easily took care of Yaeyama and Nichinan Gakuen. On the other side, it was Kaisei!! They dispatched Kounan and Usuki before overcoming an early deficit with a 5-run 4th to win 6-5.

And so it was that Shuugakukan and Kaisei would battle for the title! And it was all Shuugakukan scoring early and late in a 13-2 blowout!

So, here's where we probably stand with the bids:
Hokkaido (1) - Sapporo Dai-ichi
Tohoku (2) - Aomori Yamada (Aomori), Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Aomori)
Kanto (4) - Kisaradzu Sougou (Chiba), Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki), Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi), Kiryuu Dai-ichi (Gunma)
Tokyo (1) - Pending
Hokushinetsu (2) - Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui), Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)
Tokai (2) - Touhou (Aichi), Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie)
Kinki (6) - Osaka Touin (Osaka), Shiga Gakuen (Shiga), Akashi Shougyou (Hyogo), Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto), Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo), Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
Chuugoku (2) - Soushi Gakuen (Okayama), Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi)
Shikoku (2) - Takamatsu Shougyou (Kagawa), Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
Kyushu (4) - Shuugakukan (Kumamoto), Kaisei (Nagasaki), Kagoshima Jitsugyou (Kagoshima), Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki)

Hokushinetsu is going to be a weird case. Fukui already has had in recent years 2 qualifiers. I don't know how receptive the JHBF is to doing that again. But I can't really make an argument for the semifinalists either. So both Fukui schools should go - but that doesn't necessarily mean they (and by they I mean Fukui Koudai Fukui) will.

Otherwise, everything you see is probably who will be invited.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Day 15, Championship - Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)

So after 48 games we are finally here. At a final that could have been predicted, and probably once we got to the Best 4, wasn't wanted.

Miyagi is looking for it's first ever Koushien title. Of course that means that this would be Sendai Ikuei's first as well. Only twice before has a team from Miyagi reached the finals. Ikuei was first back in 1989, losing to Teikyou 2-0 in 10. Then in 2003 with Tohoku and if you didn't figure it out already, yes - Yu Darvish.

Sendai Ikuei has had to come from deep in the field to get here. The good news was that their first game was relatively early, and they had no problems with Meihou. The closest games they had were in the Round of 16 when they edged out Hanamaki Higashi 4-3, and then the next round where Akita Shougyou put up a fight early before their ace broke down midway.

If we don't count the Meihou game, the team doesn't get extra base hits that often despite what you'd think. Only 11 of the 43 hits have gone for extra bases.

Also, with perhaps the exception of Sasaki Ryousuke, who has been fairly consistent, it is different people delivering each game. Which is good, because you're not overly reliant on one person like some other teams.

As for the pitching, there's Satou Sena, who I swear has been around for forever. He's not an power pitcher by most metrics, as when he's on he doesn't strike out a lot of batters. While his #10 Doumeki Yuuki spelled him for a bit against Hanamaki Higashi, Sena's last outing against Waseda Jitsugyou he struck our just 3, while walking/hitting 7 in all. Not a good sign going into the finals. Don't be surprised if Doumeki starts the game.

The last time a Kanagawa team was in this spot was with Toukaidai Sagami, facing Kounan and Yousuke Shimabukuro, and a revamped Hifumi Shinta who wound up being more wild than effective. Would you believe that the last time a Kanagawa team won a title was back in 1998 with Yokohama and... yep, Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Toukaidai Sagami has only been challenged once against of all teams Hanasaki Tokuharu. Outside of that their schedule has been rather soft, facing Seikou Gakuin, Yuugakukan and last time out Kanto Dai-ichi. They had 19 of their 52 hits go for extra bases, with their 2 key batters being their 3 & 5 hitters Sugisaki and Isoami.

As for the pitching, time is split between ace Ogasawara and #11 Yoshida who have been effective enough. Not dominating, but effective. What is concerning is the end of the semifinal against Kanto Dai-ichi. Yoshida was beginning to struggle late, and when Ogasawara came in, the batters had a bit of a field day. Of course they still won, but with 0 days rest neither pitcher will get themselves right for today. Will they have anything left today?

We're about to find out!

Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa)
2B Chino Keijirou
CF Miyaji Kyouhei
SS Sugisaki Shigeki
RF Toyoda Hiroshi
1B Isoami Eito
C Nagakura Ren
LF Takeuchi Daiki
3B Kawaji Seitarou
P Ogasawara Masayuki

Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
3B Satou Shouta
CF Aoki Reima
SS Hirasawa Taiga
C Gunji Yuuya
1B Doumeki Yuuki (#10)
LF Kii Kaishuu
RF Sasaki Tooya
2B Yatsu Koudai
P Satou Sena


13:02 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
They will go with Sena to start the game, but Doumeki is lingering at 1st.

First pitch forkball, swing over by Chino. He has to fight off pitches as his ouen-dan sings the school's theme.

And he successfully dumps a ball into left for a leadoff hit, and we're off and running.

After an attempt at bunting, they go for the hit-and-run instead, but Miyaji fouls it off. He does get it into play, and advances the runner with a 6-3 putout.

Sena leaves a ball up! Sugisaki drives one to deep center! It's off the top of the padding! He's in with an RBI double and Toukaidai Sagami is already ahead 1-0!

Toyoda a base hit through the left side! Sugisaki being sent home and the throw is much too late! 2-0 Sagami and it's a quick time-out called by Sasaki-kantoku.

Isoami grounds to 3rd for the 2nd out. And while Nagakura makes contact, it's a lineout to right. Inning over, but Toukaidai Sagami off to a strong start.

Bottom 1st
Ogasawara gets the inside strike on Shouta to start his final campaign.

Aoki hits a changeup off the end of his bat and it's a harmless groundout to short.

Hirasawa alsot gets the ball off the end of the bat, but it shoots through the right side for a base hit. And with 2 down, he'll try and steal 2nd! Nagakura's throw to 2nd is high and into center! Hirasawa moves to 3rd.

Ogasawara decides to hit 149 on the gun, which I think is the fastest we've seen, the result though is a walk to Gunji, bringing up Doumeki.

But he weakly grounds to 1st and the side is retired.

Top 2nd
Takeuchi gets a leadoff single and is moved along via out to 2nd and 3rd, flipping the lineup back over to Chino.

And Chino is being as stubborn now as he was in the 1st.

This time though he gets him on the fastball and the side is retired.

Bottom 2nd
Ogasawara effectively using the inside part of the plate against opposite handed hitters as he strikes out Kii looking

Tooya gets a base hit, but when Sasaki-kantoku puts on the hit and run, Yatsu swings and misses on a high pitch and Tooya is more than dead meat at 2nd.

Yatsu, after fouling off a couple of pitches, swings and misses on the changeup. Side retired.

Top 3rd
Sugisaki guides a ball back up the middle for a 1-out single. Toyoda with a grounder up the 3rd base line, Shouta with it in foul territory, but hesitates and his throw to 1st is late.

Isoami checks in with his hit, and that drives in Sugisaki without a throw. 3-0 as Sasaki-kantoku calls time yet again.

It's no help though as Nagakura lines one down the left field side. Another run scores and Toukaidai Sagami is trying to run away with it early now at 4-0.

Monma-kantoku calls for the squeeze, but Takeuchi misses. Isoami is run down for the 2nd out.

Takeuchi flies out to right, but Sagami has doubled their lead. Worse yet, Sena doesn't seem to be able to fix his control issues.

Bottom 3rd
Ogasawara looked to be heading for a clean inning, but on the 2nd groundball to Sugisaki he airmails the throw to 1st.

Aoki takes advantage stepping out and hitting a ball back up the middle! It's past Sugisaki and there will be no throw home! The error costs them a run as it's 4-1.

Hirasawa rips a ball to center! All Miyaji can do is block it and Hirasawa is in with a double! Monma-kantoku calling time now.

Gunji with a base hit! He singles past Chino! Aoki scores and it's 4-2!

Doumeki single to center! Hirasawa comes in! It's a 4-3 ballgame!!

Kii with a liner, but it's a soft one to Ogasawara! He goes to 2nd and that kills the rally! But not before we have a ballgame again!

Top 4th
But now it's a matter of pitcher attrition. Who can hold out?

Senda walks Kawaji to start the frame. Ogasawara bunts him over.

Sena finally retires Chino. Gets a big assist from Hirasawa on the short chopper, but there's 2 down.

Miyaji hits a ball to left, Kii turning around, sprints back! It's over his head! Kawaji can easily score and it's 5-3! Kii got fooled just enough there and Toukaidai Sagami pulls ahead just a little further again.

With 1st open, they are careful with Sugisaki, eventually issuing a walk.

Toyoda singles to left! Kii misplays the ball again! Miyaji definitely scores, and Kii throws to 3rd and gets an oversliding Sugisaki for the out.

But, 3 steps forward, 2 steps back. It's a 3-run lead for Sagami.

Bottom 4th
The bottom of the lineup for Sendai Ikuei though is unable to make headway as they go down in order.

Top 5th
Yamamoto comes in for Kii to start the inning. Probably due to the 2 plays he had last inning.

Sena gets his first 1-2-3 inning. He needs it, but what he needs more is the offense to get going again now that it's turned over.

Bottom 5th
Sugisaki with another error! Shouta gets on base thanks to the wide throw and Sendai Ikuei has a chance perhaps to cut into the lead again.

Sasaki-kantoku calls for the bunt, and Aoki is able to lay it down. But 1st is open as Hirasawa steps in.

Oooo.... And Ogasawara gets the outside strike to get Hirasawa out. 2 down.

Gunji pops out to 2nd and we're at the break. Sena certainly looks like the worse of the 2 pitchers so far, but Ogasawara is not without his issues as well. Still, Sendai Ikuei is chasing 3 with their offense only showing life in 1 inning.

Top 6th
Kawaji with a drive to right. Tooya running to the foul pole! Is this ball gone?

NO! It's an out! Tooya leaps, makes the catch as his back collides with the padding and hangs on! He's on the ground, but he has the ball!

And quickly Ogasawara flies out to left, and Chino strikes out on 3 straight.

Bottom 6th
One down and Yamamoto gets a 4-pitch walk.

#15 Nishimaki is hitting for Tooya! And he singles through the left side!

Yatsu with a single to center! Manrui for Sendai Ikuei for Sena!

But he goes down on 3 straight and it'll be up to Shouta to bring the runners home. Monma-kantoku calls for time.

Ogasawara not really pitching in the zone, trying to take advantage of Ikuei perhaps pressing. Shouta for his part is at least staying alive by fouling pitches off.


Shouta, drive to center! Miyaji ranging over, now back! It's past him! Everyone's going to score! Everyone does score! Miyaji is in at 3rd and we're all tied at 6-6!!!!!

Aoki with a blooper to right center! Everyone converging on it!

It's Toyoda! He has a long slide and makes the catch for the 3rd out!

Damage done! It's a 3 inning game!

Top 7th
Nishiwaki stays in at 1B, Doumeki to RF.

Quick flyout to center by Miyaji. Sugisaki soon follows with a grounder to short.

Toyoda liner to right! Doumeki charging! Dives... MAKES THE CATCH!!!!

That's balls right there. It gets past him, it's 7-6 for sure.

Bottom 7th
But with momentum seemingly with Sendai Ikuei, the middle of the lineup is falling flay. Hirasawa with a popup, and Gunji fly to center - suddenly there's 2 out.

Doumeki gets hit and the inning continues.

Sasaki-kantoku tries to send Doumeki.... But Nagakura just gets him with his throw! Side retired!

Top 8th
One down, Nagakura's grounder to Yatsu is muffed putting on the gyakuten run.

Takeuchi fooled badly on the forkball for the 2nd out.

And Kawaji down on the forkball! 3 out!

Bottom 8th
Perhaps they wanted to take the base so that Yamamoto could either drive in the run, or lead off the inning. However, he grounds out to 2nd.

Nishimaki makes good contact, but also grounds out to 2nd.

Yatsu gets hit, but he's called to be in the zone and not getting out of the way, and is therefore called out! 3 down and we're onto the 9th!

Top 9th
Ogasawara drive to right?? Doumeki going back?????

NO WAY!!!!!!!!!


Where in the world did that come from! First pitch for Sena and it's gone! And Sagami has the lead! It's 7-6!?!!!

Uh oh...

Miyaji double down the left field line...

Sugisaki blooper also down the left field line, Miyaji in for 8-6...

Toyoda with a gapper to left center for a double, 9-6.

Isoami fly ball to right center. Doumeki dives... and makes the catch! But he forgets how many outs are there! Toyoda tags up from 2nd and scores for 10-6.

The bleeding finally ends there, but so does Sendai Ikuei's chance at the title.

Bottom 9th
Sendai Ikuei goes quietly in the bottom of the 9th and as Toyoda makes the final out, they win their 2nd ever Natsu Koushien title!

Man, it's a sad way to end such a great game. Satou Sena is understandably inconsolable, especially after holding out as long as he did. I don't know if you prefer losing like that or in sayonara fashion where it's closer. Perhaps if it was closer you could have though about doing something different. But perhaps like this you know you had nothing left... Perhaps if it was close, you'd look back on Kii's plays before he was pulled and wonder if he had played it right, would they have the lead instead of a tie game.

There's a lot of ifs, and it shouldn't take away from what Toukaidai Sagami did, especially Ogasawara who delivered the real final blow that would KO Satou Sena. Just a bummer way to end an exciting final.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day 14, Semifinal 2 - Kanto Dai-ichi (Higashi Tokyo) v Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa)

So who will play X in the finals?

Will it be Toukaidai Sagami who had their biggest test last time out against Hanasaki Tokuharu? Or will it be Kanto Dai-ichi who has survived 3 close, and yet vastly different, ballgames?

In that game for Toukaidai Sagami, it wasn't until late, and with some help from the defense of Hanasaki Tokuharu that they were able to win. Outside of that 9th inning, they had 5 times when they had runners in scoring position, and converted twice and the on e in the 8th wouldn't have scored if the pitcher wasn't called for a balk.

Their offense literally lives and dies by the middle of the lineup, which was 19/33 in the last 2 games. The 8-9-1-2 batters were 2/30.

Kanto Dai-ichi lives at the top of the lineup. And from their games so far, can play any type of game that is needed and hang in there.

Kanto Dai-ichi (Higashi Tokyo)
CF Okoye Rui
3B Ihashi Toshiki
SS Itou Masato
1B Igarashi Yuuki
RF Nagashima Ryouma
2B Kuroda Shunta
LF Moriyama
C Suzuki Daichi
P Abe Takeshi (#10)

Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa)
2B Chino Keijirou
CF Miyaji Kyouhei
SS Sugisaki Shigeki
RF Toyoda Hiroshi
1B Isoami Eito
C Nagakura Ren
LF Takeuchi Daiki
3B Kawaji Seitarou
P Yoshida Ryou (#11)


13:22 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Well, much like last game, Okoye struggles in his first AB, succumbing to the slider in front of the plate.

Ihashi also goes down swinging.

But Itou draws a full count walk to keep the inning going...

That is, until he's caught stealing 2nd.

Bottom 1st
Chino first pitch swings, and lines a single to left.

Miyaji not bunting, lines a ball over Ihashi down the left field line! Chino given the green light around 3rd, and there's no throw! 1-0 Sagami just like that!

Make that 2-0! Sugisaki lines a ball down the right field line this time for another double!

Oh dear...

Toyoda hits a ball to deep left, that's going... going...


Tokaidai Sagami off to a dream start! It's now 4-0!

Isoami down the right field line again!! He's in with a double!

Now Abe is broken. He walks Nagakura, and Yonezawa-kantoku's seen enough. #16 Kaneko enters the game.

Top 2nd
Nagashima tries to start the long road back with a one out single back up the middle. They go for the hit-and-run, which saves Nagashima as he beats out Yoshida's throw to 2nd.

Moriyama gets plunked in the inner arm and is down for a little while. Seems ok now.

Suzuki flies out to center and the inning is over.

Bottom 2nd
While Chino gets his 2nd base hit of the game, and in as many innings, they go for the bunt.

With 2 down, it looks like Kanto Dai-ichi is going to get out of it, until Itou's pickof the ball goes off his glove and up his arm instead. It goes in the air and Chino can score making it 5-0.

The inning ends when Moriyama makes a leaping catch sprinting back to the wall on a ball hit by Isoami.

3rd Inning
Kaneko gets a base hit to lead off the 3rd, bit while there is no bunting, none of the top 3 of Kanto's lineup can do anything.

Kaneko is shutting things down on his end, but the offense needs to get going and quick.

4th Inning
Igarashi leads off with another base hit, and is moved over to 3rd with 2 outs.

Moriyama draws a walk, but Suzuki grounds out to 3rd to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Chino gets his 3rd hit of the game - all singles. 2 down and Sugisaki gets his 2nd double, somehow getting it past Sugisaki and again down the right field line.

Kuroda though is fooled and has to reach out to make contact. Flyball to center and Okoye has it for the 3rd out.

5th Inning
Kaneko gets a base hit to start the inning. But after he's moved to 2nd, Kanto Dai-ichi looks to hve gotten a break when Yoshida-Isoami-Chino all converge on a bunt by Isoami. With no play, Isoami fires to 3rd and they get Kaneko out at 3rd.

Isoami gets thrown out trying to steal 2nd, and Kanto Dai-ichi looks done.

Isoami got a single back up the middle. Nagakura bunts, and Ihashi throws the ball high. E5, runners at corners.

Another sac bunt, Yoshida gets to it, sees the runner isn't coming home, tries to fire to 1st, but that's off line too.

Kawaji singles through the right side, 7-0 and Yoshida hands the ball off to #11 Komatsubara. He quickly gets 2 outs, including Chino for the first time this game.

But now Miyaji gets his 2nd hit, and scores 2 more. 9-0.

6th Inning
Kanto Dai-ichi gets a chance to break the shutout, but with runners on 1st and 2nd, Moriyama can't pull the trigger on a slider and the side is retired.

Moriyama guesses wrong on a fly ball by Sugisaki an it falls just fair for a double. 2 flyballs later and it's 10-0.

Rest of game
In the 7th Kanto Dai-ichi as a 2-out single by Okoye comes around to score on a double by Itou. 10-1.

With Yoshida at 130+ pitches, ace Ogasawara takes the hill in the 8th.

And things aren't going as planned. Despite hitting 147, he gives up singles to Nagashima and Kuroda. After a K, Suzuki hits a ball back up the middle. Sugisaki makes the diving stop, finds no play at 1st, goes to 3rd. Kuroda is hung up, so he goes for home. The rundown breaks down immediately as Kuroda passes Nagakura and scores! 10-3.

Ogasawara does get the final 2 outs, but the performance this inning is concerning. I think Toukaidai Sagami's pitching is in trouble tomorrow.

Kanto Dai-ichi continues to get solid contact against Ogasawara, but it's more than too late for Kanto Dai-ichi as the game ends at that score. Still, for Kanto Dai-ichi it's an impressive run given the games they had to play - even though in the end they fell short.

Day 14, Semifinal 1 - Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) v Waseda Jitsugyou (Nishi Tokyo)

If you follow my twitter feed, you'd think I was overdoing it withe Kiyomiya Koutarou blabber by the media. If anything, I think I'm understating it.

The only thing is, in his last 2 games, he's backing it up. Against Toukaidai Koufu he went 3-4 with 2 2B, a HR, and 5 RBIs. And in last game against Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku, he went 2-4 with a 2B and another HR. So if you're going to be watching the broadcast, there will be a lot of Kiyomiya being said. If you want to make it a drinking game, be careful.

That said, there are other batters too. One of which is 2B Tomita. He hit a HR in 2 consecutive ABs in his last game, though went 0-5 against Toukaidai Koufu.

But for Waseda, their 6 runs last game were on just 8 hits. Sure they made the most of them, but what will happen against what in all likelihood be Satou Sena?

Sendai Ikuei's offensive output, when looked at in hits hasn't declined as they've progressed. There's also no one hitter to single out as everyone can check in with at least 1. That's good in that you won't ever feel like you won't be able to drive a run in, but also bad because you can't call on a hit when you need it.

As mentioned before, Satou Sena is the ace - but he's not alone. His partner of sorts Doumeki is certainly serviceable, though perhaps to be used in short stints as from his Hanamaki Higashi performance.

The crowd today will probably be pro-Waseda. The hype will have encompassed the stadium by now.

Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
3B Satou Shouta
CF Aoki Reima
SS Hirasawa Taiga
C Gunji Yuuya
1B Sasaki Ryousuke
LF Kii Kaishuu
RF Sasaki Tooya
2B Yatsu Koudai
P Satou Sena

Waseda Jitsugyou (Nishi Tokyo)
3B Yamada Jyunpei
RF Tamagawa Ryou
1B Kiyomiya Koutarou
C Katou Masaki
SS Kaneko Kinsuke
2B Tomita Naoki
LF Miyazaki Renta (#11)
P Matsumoto Kou
CF Watanabe Daichi


08:00 - First Pitch!

Top 1st
Shouta work the count deep, and gets a high fastball to drive, but it's right to Miyazaki.

Aoki also works the count full, and grounds out to short.

Hirasawa grounds to short, and Matsumoto has to work for it, but gets the clean inning.

Bottom 1st
Sena not necessarily sharp early, going behind 3-1 to Yamada before getting the out, then not geting what looked like a strike to walk Tamagawa.

The media gets the Kiyomiya hype machine on full bore, but then he grounds into the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Top 2nd
Dunno what it is with the strike zone, but Matsumoto walks Gunji to start the inning. There will be no bunting though, as Ryousuke flies out to Miyazaki in shallow left center.

Kii though singles to left! That puts a runner in scoring position!

But Tooya grounds to Kiyomiya! He goes to 2nd for 1, but no throw back for the double play.

Which ends up not mattering because Yatsu grounds into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd
Sena doing well to keep the ball down. Gets 2 groundballs before hitting Tomita - undoubtedly trying to pitch him in, before getting a can of corn to end the inning.

Top 3rd
Sena of all people contacts a hanging slider down the left field line for a double.

Shouta with a drive to left! Miyazaki going back, going back... Off the padding! Sena held up in case it was caught, so he only makes it to 3rd.

Aoki hits the high fastball the other way! That's fair and will score both runs! 2-0 Sendai Ikuei!

Now Aoki takes off for 2nd! Throw from Katou, not in time! That allows him to get to 3rd when Hirasawa grounds out to the right side.

Gunji chopper to the left side! Yamada charging gets to it, but goes to 1st! Kiyomiya is spun around as his arm runs into a sprinting Gunji. Looks ok though.

Bottom 3rd
Matsumoto grounder to short, but Hirasawa loses the ball before the transfer, and it's an E6. He's bunted over.

Yamada now draws a walk at least creating a force, but if there's no double play Kiyomiya would be up.

And Tamagawa hits a liner, but right to center for the 2nd out.

So Kiyomiya does step in. He htis a chopper back up the middle! Yatsu gets to it, but no one's covering 2nd! Tries to get Matsumoto overrunning 3rd, but no deal! Manrui for Soujitsu!

AH! Sena spins around and he picks off Yamada at 2nd! Inning over!

Top 4th
After a one-out infield hit to Yatsu and a sac bunt, Izumi-kantoku switches out Matsumoto for #10 Kamijyou!

Grounder to 3rd! But the ball bounces off of Yamada!  Kaneko not in position anymore and Yatsu can score! 4-0 Sendai Ikuei!

And now a single by Aoki!


Hirasawa with a drive to right center!!! Watanabe and Tamagawa going to the fence! But Tamagawa breaks away!!!


3-run HR from Hirasawa opens the floodgates!! It's 7-0 Sendai Ikuei!

Bottom 4th
Does the Waseda offense have an answer?

Not so far. Katou quickly flies to left, and Kaneko can only hit one back to Sena.

Tomita does get an infield single, but Miyazaki strikes out on a change inside to retire the side.

Top 5th
A HBP doesn't hurt Kamijyou as he gets a DP, but he still gives up a double to Tooya, showing the offense isn't going to let up.

Bottom 5th
Sena still giving up the occasional walk, this time to Kamijyou. But he's wiped out with a 6-4-3 double play of their own.

Yamada with a grounder up the middle, but Yatsu makes a great stop and throw for the 3rd out! We're already at the break and Sendai Ikuei is in full control!

Top 6th
#17 Yoshino in the game now for Waseda.

Gives up a walk to Shouta, but he's caught stealing to end the inning.

Bottom 6th
Up by so much, there's no need to attack Kiyomiya so he's given the unintentional intentional walk.

Kaneko makes things interesting with 2 outs as he singles to left, but Tomita swings on the first pitch and flies out to center. Inning over.

Rest of game
The game devolves wherein Waseda is getting it's bench players in and in a little way so is Sendai Ikuei. Even the commentators cut down on the Kiyomiya talk and accidentally refers to Waseda Jitsugyou as Waseda Daigaku.

Satou Sena does finish the game with a shutout as Sendai Ikuei advances to the finals 7-0.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Day 12, Quarterfinal 4 - Kanto Dai-ichi (Higashi Tokyo) v Kounan (Okinawa)

The tarp is on the field right now, under what I think is a lightning delay.

But I'll be writing this up assuming that the game is on.

Now again, I don't have anything against Kounan. In fact it was great to see Kounan go Haru-Natsu. But as I've said before, they've had their title, give someone else one.

Kounan has been challenged in both of their games. As mentioned in the marathon vs Iwamichisuikan, then chipping away against Toba, tying and then winning the game 4-3 late. These close games can either mean they're good at fighting close battles, or they're on the cusp of finally being broken. Which one though I don't know.

As for Kanto Dai-ichi, they got their test in Chuukyoudai Chuukyou where it was a pitching duel all the way through before Igarashi ended the game with one swing.

Ace Tanabe gets the start today after getting the Chuukyoudai Chuukyou game off. Yes. Off. Could this be a case like Nobeoka Gakuen where they have an embarrassment of riches at the position?

Kanto Dai-ichi (Higashi Tokyo)
CF Okoye Rui
LF Ihashi Toshiki (#5)
SS Itou Masato
1B Igarashi Yuuki
RF Nagashima Ryouma
3B Maruyama Shunya (#13)
C Suzuki Daichi
2B Kuroda Shunta
P Tanabe Ren

Kounan (Okinawa)
SS Higa Tatsutoshi
2B Naka Hibiki
LF Gushiken Taiki
1B Kina Chouki
RF Shiroma Gakuto (#18)
C Sakumoto Kazuki
CF Sunagawa Kento
3B Takara Shoubu (#13)
P Hiyane Masaya


15:55 - The tarp is finally coming off, but estimated start time has not been mention yet.

The game is set to start at 16:20 though the rain is still falling.

Top 1st
Okoye goes down swinging after Hiyane pounds him inside.

Ihashi also can't figure out the delivery of Hiyane and is late to a ball inside.

And Itou goes down swinging as well! Hiyane strikes out the side!

Bottom 1st
One down for Kounan and Naka hits a chopper up the middle. Kuroda runs it down, but has no throw to 1st.

Gushiken walks on 4 straight and Kounan perhaps with something brewing. But Kina goes down swinging on a changeup for the 2nd out.

Shiroma liner to right.. but Nagashima is there for the catch! Side retired!

Top 2nd
Igarashi with not a strikeout, but does groundout to short.


Nagashima with a drive to left! Gushiken sprinting to the wall! Looking up!!


So, Nagashima homers to end the game against Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, then homers here to start against Kounan. 1-0.

Bottom 2nd
Sakumoto scorcher up 3rd base line past Maruyama! He'll be in with a leadoff double!

Sunagawa grounder to left side, goes under Maruyama's glove! Itou backs up but there's no play!

Takara grounder to short, OFF ITOU!!! Everyone is safe again and Kounan has manrui, no out!! Kanto Dai-ichi calls time.

There's no place to put Hiyane, and Tanabe goes 3-1 on him! Does run the count full, but this is dangerous!


Tanabe with a sense of relief as Suzuki wanted that ball inside, and he went outside corner.

But Higa gets the run in! Deep fly to right, Okoye makes the catch and the tag up makes it 1-1!

Naka liner to center! Okoye charging in! Slides!

Just misses it! He slides another 20 feet as Ihashi gets to the ball! Sunagawa scores and it's 2-1! The weather may have had something to do with it as if it were dry he may have gotten to that ball.

Top 3rd
It seems like a while ago, but Hiyane now gets his 5th K as Tanabe chases the high heat.

Ihashi lays down the bunt, but Takara picks it up despite it looking like it was going to run foul. His throw to 1st is late and the inning continues! This does bring up Itou with 2 outs and perhaps an imperfect AB.

But Itou singles to center! Sunagawa up with the AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunagawa misses the ball! Ihashi heading home! The throw is much too late and we're tied at 2-2!

Igarashi grounds to 1st, but we're back level through 3.5!

Bottom 3rd
Tanabe still struggling a bit. He walks Kina to start the frame and is subsequently bunted to 2nd.

But Sakumoto flies out to left, and Sunagawa chases the changeup for the 3rd out.

Top 4th
Nagashima continues his hot hitting! Hits a ball just fair down the right field line for a double. Maruyama bunts him over.

Suzuki grounder to 3rd, off Takara! It's right to Higa, but he has to go to 1st! Nagashima scores and it's 3-2 Kanto Dai-ichi!

Another error! Grounder to 2nd and it's off Naka's glove and into the air! Kuroda is safe and Kounan has to call time.

Tanabe strikes out for the 2nd time, but Kanto Dai-ichi retakes the lead.

Bottom 4th
Higa with a grounder to 3rd, and that's off of Maruyama and into foul territory! Higa going for 2nd! Maruyama throws and it's wide!!! Higa going for 3rd! Nagashima charging, throws to 3rd...

AND THEY GET HIM!!! Despite all the errors Maruyama made, Nagashima of all people bails him out with a strong throw to get a greedy Higa!

Top 5th
Ihashi with a one-out walk. And with 2 down Igarashi singles past a diving Higa.

And that brings up of all people, Nagashima.

Do you even pitch to this guy right now?

They do and he goes down swinging on a changeup! 3 out!

Bottom 5th
The bottom of the 5th goes very quickly and we hit the break with Kanto Dai-ichi holds a slim 3-2 lead! There's been mistakes on both sides as well as timely hitting. It'll be the team who can execute in the rain that will win this game.

Top 6th
Hiyane with his 8th K, tying up Maruyama in the process. Gets Suzuki too on a ball in the dirt.

Doesn't quite get the 3 Ks he did in the 1st inning, but Kuroda's groundout to 2nd will easily suffice.

Bottom 6th
Shiroma base hit to center puts the douten runner on. Sakumoto moves him to scoring position.

And now #16 Ninomiya hits for Sunagawa. But Tanabe sits him down on a fastball down and in!

With Takara's walk though it puts two runners on for Hiyane.

Grounder to 2nd... off Kuroda! He can't find it! Shiroma coming home!

No wait! He stops! But now he's caught in no-man's land! Kuroda fires to 3rd and they get him! Oh, man, that's 2 3rd outs at 3rd base...

Top 7th
This is interesting. #12 Katou is hitting for Tanabe! His day is done!

Okoye becomes Hiyane's 10th K en route to a clean frame.

Bottom 7th
It is #16 Kaneko who takes the hill.

One down and Naka continues to rake! Hits it by Kuroda for a single!

Hit-and-run!! Gushiken with a single through the right side and it's runners at the corners now! Kanto Dai-ichi calls time.

SQUEEZE!!!! The squeeze is on, but Kina fouls it back!


They go with the forkball and Suzuki somehow is able to catch the foul tip! 2 out!

Shiroma scorcher up 3rd base line.... FOUL!!! JUST FOUL!!!

But he won't be denied!! Shiroma liner... just out of the reach of a diving Itou!! Naka will score and we're all tied at 3-3! Sakumoto pops out thereafter, but we have a new ballgame!

Top 8th
Igarashi with a gapper to right center gets on with a 1-out double.

Nagashima with one right at Kina, but he blocks it and takes it himself for the second out.


Maruyama goes down swinging and Kounan will look to take the lead in the 8th!

Bottom 8th
But the bottom third of the order goes down with not so much as a whimper. Two flyouts to left and a K on Hiyane and just like that we're off to the 9th!

Top 9th
Problem is, we're in the next inning and Kanto Dai-ichi is only now sending up their 7-8-9 hitters!

One down, Kuroda singles to left. He's not stopping!!!  Going for 2... and he somehow slides underneath the tag!!

Kaneko is all tied up and now there's 2 outs!

It's all up to Okoye now, but he's hitless on the day.




He finally gets his first hit of the game, and boy is ever a big one!!!! He gives his team the 5-3 lead with just 3 outs to go!!

Bottom 9th
Kounan not done yet!!

Higa ball to deep left!! Ihashi to the foul pole, but it stays in the yard! Higa gets a leadoff double!

Naka reaches down and pops it up! Kaneko and Igarashi almost mess it up but Kaneko makes the catch!!

Gushiken fighting tooth and nail fouls of a couple of pitches.

Liner to left! THAT'S A BASE HIT!!!  HIGA WILL SCORE AND IT'S 5-4!!!

Kanto Dai-ichi calls time!

Now Kina steps in, he's hitless on the day!

Grounder to short! Itou doesn't have Kuroda there! Has to take it himself! Gets the out at 2nd! Throw to 1st... HIGH!!!!


.Count goes to 1-2 after he swings over a slider!


THE BALL GETS AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  SASAKI THROWS TO 1ST!!!!!!!


Kanto Dai-ichi holds on to defeat Kounan 5-4 behind the as clutch as you can get 2-run HR by Okoye!

Whoo.... I don't know what to say.