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.