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.