Saturday, July 23, 2016

Natsu Koushien Qualifying - Upcoming semifinals (07.23)

So aside from the semifinals from my prior post:

  • (S) Ichinoseki Gakuin vs. (S) Ichinoseki Kougyou
  • (S) Moriokadai Fuzoku vs. Senshuudai Kitami
  • ① Seikou Gakuin vs. ⑤ Nichidai Tohoku
  • ② Kounan vs. ③ Shouin Gakuen Fukushima
  • (S) Sakushin Gakuin vs. (S) Yasaka Chuo
  • Motegi vs. (S) Kokugakuin Tochigi
  • ①~④ Toukaidai Koufu vs. Teikyou Dai-san
  • ①~④ Nihon Koukuu vs. ①~④ Yamanashi Gakuin
  • ①~④ Kaisei vs. Risshoudai Shounan
  • ①~④ Taisha vs. Izumo
  • (S) Souseikan vs. (S) Oomura Kougyou
  • (S) Seihou vs. (S) Nagasaki Shougyou
  • (S) Kagoshima Jitsugyou vs. Shibushi
  • Sendai vs. (S) Shounan
We have the following ones on tap for this weekend:

What the hell happened in Akita? Sure, they're weak as all heck (they were winless from 1998-2010 - let that sink in), but you still usually see the usual suspects going to Koushien anyways...
  • ⑧ Oodate Kokusai def Akita Shougyou 3-2 ??!!
Sure, Akita Shougyou was unseeded, but they were responsible for 4 of the prefectures 5 wins in the last 5 years, including 2 last year to get to the Best 8. And yet, they made 3 runs in the first inning stick. Also note that Oodate Kokusai has not gone to Koushien at all.
  • ④ Oomagari Kougyou def Oodate Keiou 5-3
Now, think about this, Oodate Keiou was the merger of 3 schools - Oodate Katsura, Oodate, and Oodate Kougyou. And in the spring, they went 3-2, thought one of their losses was Noshiro Shouyou 10-0. But they won 3 games to get to the quarterfinals and they even had a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the 8th. But ace Seki gave up 3 in the frame and that was that. Still impressive for a team incepted this year. Oomagari Kougyou is looking for their 1st Natsu appearance.
  • Noshiro Kougyou def Akita Shuuei 5-4
This quadrant was by far the weakest, and it showed as both seeded teams were eliminated. Neither team looked all that impressive in their games to this point, but both were fighting to keep their run for their first Koushien appearance alive. Noshiro Kougyou never trailed, but blew a 3-0 lead, and almost blew a 5-3 lead in the 9th, but they move on.
  • Kakunodate def ⑦ Noshiro Shouyou 1-0
Kakunodate is the only remaining semifinalist who has been to Koushien, but that was in 2014, after losing in the finals the prior year. This year, facing the team that they eliminated in the finals to go to Koushien... well there's only 1 way to put this:

Kogita Atsuya (小木田 敦也) walks 1 in a no-hitter.

Yep, Kakunodate no-hit Noshiro Shouyou. *drops mic*

With Nihon Bunri's loss in the round of 16 to Nagaoka Oote, Niigata Meikun and Chuuetsu were slated to be the front runners to win.
  • ① Niigata Meikun vs. ⑨~⑯ Maki
  • ⑤~⑧ Kamo Gyousei vs. ② Chuuetsu
And here we are, with both teams just 1 win away from facing off for the title.

Niigata Meikun seemed to have a hiccup in the quarterfinals against Nagaoka Shougyou, but ace Hirota Shouichirou kept them at bay, pitching a 4-hit shutout though he only struck out 4. Meanwhile Chuuetsu continues to gain steam, defeating Teikyou Nagaoka 10-1 in 7 while being the recipient of 14 free passes, while leaving 11 men on base. I can't comprehend that.

But Chuuetsu certainly has the inside track over Niigata Meikun right now.

Nagano is pretty much the equivalent of a middling NBA team, they good enough to win at least a game, but not good enough to make a deep run. 7 times since 2000 they have won at least 1 game, but none of the teams have gone past the 3rd round.
  • Komoro Shougyou vs. ⑤ Saku Chousei
  • Tokyo Shidai Shirojiri vs. ② Matsushou Gakuen
Ueda Nishi ran into a brick wall in the quarterfinals, losing 10-2 in 7 innings to Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri, so no repeat champion here. But now they're facing Matsushou Gakuen, who is (a) certainly hungry to get back to Koushien after years of disappointing runs and (b) is solely responsible for 3 of their 4 losses since 2015. You know there is a score to settle.

There's also a score to settle in the other semifinal as well. See, Komoro Shougyou and Saku Chousei faced each other last summer as well. And also in the semifinals... it was a closely contested affair, but Saku Chousei won 3-2. Komoro Shougyou has never been to Koushien, but looks on the other side of the bracket and has to think that if they can exercise this demon they have a fighting chance in the final.

Times are a changing again in Kyoto...
  • (S) Tounan vs. Fukuchiyama Seibi
  • Ritsumeikan Uji vs. (S) Kyoto Shouei
Oddly, the two teams who have been more prominent were unseeded, but then again, if they based it on the spring taikais, it means nothing. Tounan is looking for their first Koushien title, and Kyoto Shouei's only appearance, they took Tsuruga Kehi the distance, losing 6-5.

Tounan's games have been getting closer and closer the further they progress, and this not having played anyone of note. So Fukuchiyama Seibi will be a huge step up.

Speaking of which, Fukuchiyama Seibi has passed their biggest test, defeating Ryuukokudai Heian in the round of 16 3-2. They're not going to give a dominating performance, but they should be the favorite.

Ritsumeikan Uji can write down that they beat last year's champions Toba 3-0, but they didn't score those runs until the final 2 innings. And outside of their game against Kyoto Subaru, all of their games have been close.

Kyoto Shouei in 3 of their 4 games had pitched nothing but donuts. Yet against Hokuriku, they found themselves trailing 5-1. But they scored 1 in the 7th and 2 in the 9th to send the game to enchousen where they would win 2 innings later. Not sure what to make of it all, so I guess we'll have to see if that game was just a bump in the road or not.

Welp, Kanzei crashed and burned. Who's left is mostly brand names, save for one:
  • ⑤~⑧ Soushi Gakuen vs. ①~④ Okayama Sanyou
  • ⑤~⑧ Tamano Kounan vs. ⑤~⑧ Kurashiki Shougyou
Oddly, that is the only top seed left in the tournament, Okayama Sanyou. However, they have not faced any of the top competition (mostly because they're the ones that are left), so facing Soushi Gakuen (who shutout Okayama Ridai Fuzoku) is going to be a big ask.

Kurashiki Shougyou was the party that eliminated Kanzei, and have been pretty consistent in their 3 games. Tamano Kounan's offense has gotten better as the team has progressed, but their pitching has also given up runs as well.

Expect the spring representatives (Soushi Gakuen) to play to be the summer representative as well against Kurashiki Shougyou.

Takamatsu Shougyou is on a mission to get to the Koushien finals again it seems. That loss to Chiben Gakuen must've left a bad taste in their mouths...
  • (S) Ootemae Takamatsu vs. (S) Takamatsu Shougyou
  • Kanonji Chuo vs. Jinsei Gakuen
Takamatsu Shougyou has won 12-0, 8-1 and 16-0. They look by far the front runner to go to Koushien, but will the get as favorable as a draw as they did in the spring?

Well, Waseda Saga seems to be still a ways off (thankfully) as they were blanked by Ryuukoku 10-0. Who's left in Saga is mostly upper-tier schools:
  • (S) Saga Shougyou vs. Imari
  • (S) Ryuukoku vs. Karatsu Shougyou
Imari has their work cut out for them as Saga Shougyou survived a barnburner 9-7 over Saga Kita. Imari hasn't yielded a lot of runs so far, so there is hope, but not sure how much.

Ryuukoku, outside of the game against Waseda Saga, has been in low-scoring dogfights. Karatsu Shougyou is their opponent, who offed the seeded Kanzaki Seimei 7-3.

Meihou will not repeat as Oita representatives, losing in spectacular fashion 12-5 to Saiki Kakujyou. But while seeded teams are all left, they're not brand names, though whomever wins it will not be their first rodeo.
  • ⑤~⑧ Touin vs. ⑤~⑧ Saiki Kakujyou
  • ①~② Usuki vs. ③~④ Oita
Of the 4, Oita is the one who has been there most recently, but their 2014 Natsu Koushien appearance was their first. Then you go back to the 1990's for the last time Touin (1995) and Saiki Kakujyou (1996)were at Koushien in either capacity. And for the only top seed left, you have to go back to post-WWII Japan (1949) for the last time Usuki was there.

Each team has had hiccups on their way to the semifinals, and none really stand out except for maybe Saiki Kakujyou whose blemish was falling behind 5-4 before scoring 8 runs in the 4th.

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