Does appearing more often result in better chances to win the title?

So one may wonder, do tiers matter in terms of winning Koushien? I’ve taken the tier list and started moving teams off the lists as they are eliminated. Upcoming teams at risk in red.

Champion

  • Tier 1 – Saitama – Hanasaki Tokuharu (5th apperance, 3rd consecutive)

Runner-up

  • Tier 1 – Hiroshima – Kouryou (22nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)

Semi-finalists

  • Tier 1
    • Nara – Tenri (28th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
  • Tier 3
    • Nishi Tokyo – Toukaidai Sugao (3rd appearance, 1st in 17 years)

Quarterfinal Elimination

  • Tier 1
    • Iwate – Moriokadai Fuzoku (10th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
    • Miyagi – Sendai Ikuei (26th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
  • Tier 2
    • Oita – Meihou (6th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
  • Tier 3
    • Kagawa – Sanbonmatsu (3rd appearance, 1st in 24 years)

3rd Round Elimination

  • Tier 1
    • Fukushima – Seikou Gakuin (14th appearance, 11th consecutive)
    • Osaka – Osaka Touin (9th appearance, 1st in 3 years)
  • Tier 2
    • Gunma – Maebashi Ikuei (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)
    • Higashi Tokyo – Nishogakushadai Fuzoku (2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)
    • Hyogo – Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)
    • Ehime – Saibi (5th appearance, 1st in 4 years)
    • Kagoshima – Kamimura Gakuen (4th appearance, 1st in 5 years)
  • Tier 3
    • Aomori – Aomori Yamada (11th appearance, 1st in 8 years)

1st/2nd Round Elimination (both rounds grouped in since some start in 2nd Round)

  • Tier 1
    • Minami Hokkaido – Hokkai (38th appearance, 3rd consecutive)
    • Tochigi – Sakushin Gakuin (13th appearance, 7th consecutive)
    • Chiba – Kisaradzu Sougou (6th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
    • Kanagawa – Yokohama (17th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
    • Yamanashi – Yamanashi Gakuin (7th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
    • Niigata – Nihon Bunri (9th appearance, 1st in 3 years)
    • Wakayama – Chiben Wakayama (23rd, 1st in 2 years)
    • Kochi – Meitoku Gijyuku (19th appearance, 8th consecutive)
  • Tier 2
    • Higashi Tokyo – Nishogakushadai Fuzoku (2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)
    • Aichi – Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (28th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
    • Toyama – Takaoka Shougyou (18th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
    • Gifu – Oogaki Nichidai (4th appearance, 1st in 3 years)
    • Hyogo – Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)
    • Shimane – Kaisei (10th appearance, 1st in 3 years)
    • Kumamoto – Shuugakukan (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)
    • Kagoshima – Kamimura Gakuen (4th appearance, 1st in 5 years)
    • Okinawa – Kounan (11th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
  • Tier 3
    • Kita Hokkaido – Takikawa Nishi (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)
    • Aomori – Aomori Yamada (11th appearance, 1st in 8 years)
    • Akita – Meiou (9th appearance, 1st in 8 years)
    • Yamagata – Nichidai Yamagata (17th appearance, 1st in 4 years)
    • Ibaraki – Tsuchira Nichidai (3rd appearance, 1st in 31 years)
    • Nagano – Matsushou Gakuen (36th appearance, 1st in 9 years)
    • Ishikawa – Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (2nd appearance, 1st in 8 years)
    • Fukui – Sakai (1st appearance), merger in 2016 of…
      • Harue Kougyou (no appearances)
      • Sakai Nougyou (no appearances)
    • Shizuoka – Fujieda Meisei (1st appearance)
    • Mie – Tsuda Gakuen (1st appearance)
    • Shiga – Hikone Higashi (2nd appearance, 1st in 4 years)
    • Kyoto – Kyoto Seishou (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)
    • Tottori – Yonago Shouin (3rd appearance, 1st in 17 years)
    • Okayama – Okayama Sanyou (1st appearance)
    • Yamaguchi – Shimonoseki Kokusai (1st appearance)
    • Tokushima – Naruto Uzushio (1st appearance), merger in 2012 of…
      • Naruto Dai-ichi (1 appearance, 2004)
      • Naruto Kougyou (6 appearance, last in 2008)
    • Fukuoka – Touchiku (6th appearance, 1st in 21 years)
    • Saga – Waseda Saga (1st appearance)
    • Nagasaki – Hasami (3rd appearance, 1st in 16 years)
    • Miyazaki – Seishin (St.) Ursula (2nd appearance, 1st in 12 years)
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90th Haru Koushien Projected Field

90th Haru Koushien Projected Field

(photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)

With just the Meiji Jingu Taikai bid (which is entering its final stages) and the 21st century teams left, the field is almost all set.

One difference though. Since this is the 90th iteration, it’s possible that they repeat what they did in the 80th tournament – and that the floating bids mostly become bids for all regions:

  • Hokkaido (1)
  • Tohoku (2)
  • Kanto ex Tokyo (5 + 1 floating?)
  • Tokyo (1 + 1 floating?)
  • Hokushinetsu (3)
  • Toukai (3)
  • Kinki (6)
  • Chuugoku (3)
  • Shikoku (3)
  • Kyushu (4)
  • Meiji Jingu Bid (1)
  • 21st Century Teams (3)

So, who are the projected teams?

Hokkaido (1)

  • Komadai Tomakomai

Already covered, but while they may be back to Koushien, the team doesn’t look all that strong

Tohoku (2)

  • Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)
  • Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)

I question how strong the region is, though Seikou Gakuin’s loss to Souseikan is muted by the fact they in turn defeated Osaka Touin.

Kanto ex Tokyo (4 + 1 floating)

  • Chuo Gakuin (Chiba)
  • Meishuu Hitashi (Ibaraki)
  • Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa)
  • Keiou Gijyuku (Kanagawa)

The bottom 2 should be names you know although Keiou has been away from the scene for a while.

What is more surprising is the top 2 schools. Chuo Gakuin and Meishuu Hitachi come from nowhere to reach the super-regional final. But neither school had no favors in the super-regional tournament, so there may some more legitimacy in their upcoming invitation.

  • Kokugakuin Tochigi (Tochigi)/Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)?

Of the schools who could receive the floating bid are these two who had narrow losses in the super-regional and have comparable resumes in the prefecturals.

Tokyo (1 + 1 floating bid)

  • Nichidai-san

Sankou is doing Sankou things, with good offense, but not necessarily the pitching as shown in their loss to Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa.

  • Kousei Gakuen

As the runner-ups, they would be the team to receive the floating bid, but the problem is their resume which isn’t strong as compared to the possible Kanto invitees.

Hokushinetsu (3)

  • Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Ishikawa)
  • Seiryou (Ishikawa)
  • Toyama Shougyou (Toyama)

If not for the fact that Hokushinetsu gets one extra bid, the region would have been represented by one prefecture yet again. Despite the fact that Seiryou won the prefecturals, it was Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa who breezed through the super-regionals.

Toyama Shougyou should get the final bid as they were in competition from runner-up Toyama Kokusaidai and had a better time of it in the super-regionals as well.

Toukai (3)

  • Shizuoka (Shizuoka)
  • Touhou (Aichi)
  • Mie (Mie)
  • Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou (Gifu)?

Nothing new here, as Shizuoka and Touhou are names we’ve heard before. Mie should be the 3rd team in over Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou because while both faced the best competition in-prefecture, both also faced Oogaki Nishi at one point and Mie’s ace Fukuda threw a 1-hitter in a game Oogaki Nishi had to have.

Kinki (6)

  • Osaka Touin (Osaka)
  • Chiben Wakayama (Chiben)
  • Otokuni (Kyoto)
  • Oumi (Shiga)
  • Akashi Shougyou (Hyogo)
  • Chiben Gakuen (Nara)

It’s possible that based upon the results that each prefecture will get one team into the 90th Haru Koushien tournament. It’s a bit hard to project the last 2 teams because none of the quarterfinal losers really impressed, but Akashi Shougyou and Chiben Gakuen seemingly did the best.

Chuugoku (3)

  • Okayama Sanyou (Okayama)
  • Shimonoseki Kokusai (Yamaguchi)
  • Setouchi (Hiroshima)

Okayama Sanyou makes a return to Koushien in almost sweeping fashion, taking the title after trading blows with runner-up Shimonoseki Kokusai 12-11. Setouchi should take the last spot over fellow prefectural school Onomichi due to their performance in the super-regionals.

Shikoku (3)

  • Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
  • Eimei (Kagawa)
  • Matsuyama Seiryou (Ehime)

More known commodities here with Meitoku Gijyuku and Eimei. Matsuyama Seiryou gets in with their close semifinal against the eventual champions.

Kyushu (4)

  • Souseikan (Nagasaki)
  • Tomishima (Miyazaki)
  • Nobeoka Gakuen (Miyazaki)
  • Touchiku (Fukuoka)

Kyushu is in flux again, with Tomishima and Touchiku finding their way into the field of now 36.

Meiji Jingu Bid (1)

  • Kyushu via Souseikan – Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima)/Meihou (Oita)
  • Shikoku via Meitoku Gijyuku – Takamatsu Shougyou (Kagawa)/Ootemae Takamatsu (Kagawa)

The Meiji Jingu final is set and it’s Souseikan v Meitoku Gijyuku. Either Kyushu or Shikoku will get one extra team in the field. Should Meitoku Gijyuku win, Takamatsu Shougyou should get the bid, though a small chance should be given to Ootemae Takamatsu given who they played, but it’s slim. If Souseikan wins, it’s a tossup between Kamimura Gakuen and Meihou though gun to head I’d say Kamimura Gakuen has the inside track.

Aki Taikai Update

Aki Taikai Update

(photo courtesy of Asahi)

I’ve been busy with a new job and other obligations that are higher on my priority list (sorry, but when covering kokoyakyu hasn’t made you a dollar and does not figure to into the near future, you kinda put it on the backburner when time becomes a constraint).

But at least I can post about updates since most are just starting into their super-regional play.

Hokkaido (1) – Komadai Tomakomai

The teams who made it to the super-regionals included quite a few well-known names, but a lot of unknown quantities as well

Quadrant 1

  • Bushuukan v (winner of Sapporo Sousei v Hakodate Kougyou)
  • Hokkaido Sakae v Obihiro Nougyou

Quadrant 2

  • Wakkanai Ootani v Sapporo Yamanote
  • Sapporo Ootani v (winner of Hokushou v Asahikawa Jitsugyou)

Quadrant 3

  • Kushiro Meiki v (winner of Ritsumeikan Keishou v Kita-Hiroshima)
  • Komadai Tomakomai v Shirakaba Gakuen

Quadrant 4

  • Sapporo Nichidai v Clark Kokusai
  • Engaru v (winner of Hakodatedai Hakuryou v Asakikawa Ryuukoku)

But as the rounds progressed, the cream naturally rose to the top. The top 4 eventually became Hokkaido Sakae, Asahikawa Jitsugyou, Komadai Tomakomai and Sapporo Nichidai. Only Hokkaido Sakae was the odd man out, but none of the 4 really dominated proceedings up until that point. The games here on continued to be close affairs, with the eventual winner being Komadai Tomakomai winning 7x-6 in 12 over Sapporo Nichidai and then a ridiculous 12-10 over Asahikawa Jitsugyou. Needless to say I don’t necessarily hold high hopes for them at senbatsu.

Tohoku (2)

  • Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)
  • Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)

Boy, this super-regional wasn’t even close. Seikou Gakuin shows no sign of stopping, defeating their first 3 opponents 28-2 before Hanamaki Higashi finally played them close, losing 6-4 in the final. Despite Seikou’s dominance, this was their first ever fall title.

The question becomes how strong the region is as Hanamaki Higashi played close games against Kakunodate and Nichidai Yamagata en route to the finals.

Kanto ex Tokyo (4 + 1 floating)

What the heck happened in Kanto? I know I perhaps panned the region in the past, but this field while containing familiar teams, may not be familiar to you.

Quadrant 1

  • Kokugakuin Tochigi (Tochigi 1) v Shiritsu Kawagoe (Saitama 2)
  • Takushoku Kouryou (Chiba 1) v Keiou Gijyuku (Kanagawa 2)

Quadrant 2

  • Meishuu Hitachi (Ibaraki 1) v Yamanashi Gakuin (Yamanashi 2)
  • Kendai Takasaki (Gunma 1) v Toukou Gakuen (Kanagawa 3)

Quadrant 3

  • Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama 1) v Chuo Gakuin (Chiba 2)
  • Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi 1) v Kasumigaura (Ibaraki 2)

Quadrant 4

  • Toukaidai Sagami (Kanagawa 1) – Bye
  • Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi 2) v Kanto Gakuendai Fuzoku (Gunma 2)

Where there are certainly some big names (Kendai Takasaki, Hanasaki Tokuharu, Sakushin Gakuin, etc), there are a lot of schools here who are of Tier 3 status or worse that have just appeared out of nowhere. While perhaps a refreshing change, those top tier schools are just chomping at the bit to defeat them and move on.

Tokyo (1 + 1 floating bid)

Tokyo is in the midst of determining their group of 16 as games there and everywhere else are rained out to the typhoon. Here’s where we stand:

Quadrant 1

  • Ikubunkan v Kousei Gakuen
  • Toukaidai Takanawadai v Higashi-Yamato

Quadrant 2

  • (Toritsu Hino v Kokushikan) v (Waseda Jitsugyou v Kanto Dai-ichi)
  • Kinjyou Gakuen v Risshoudai Risshou

Quadrant 3

  • Toritsu Shouwa v Nichidai-san
  • Meijidai Nakano v Teikyou

Quadrant 4

  • Nihon Wellness v Nichidai Buzan
  • Meisei v Iwakura

A whole bunch of unknowns with the bigger names looking for easy prey. Though Waseda Jitsugyou v Kanto Dai-ichi is an early blockbuster game.

Toukai (2)

Not much to talk about here, quite a few well-known names:

  • Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou (Gifu 1) v
    • winner of Aichisangyoudai Mikawa (Aichi 2) v Tokohadai Tachibana (Shizuoka 3)
  • Shizuoka (Shizuoka 1) v
    • winner of Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie 2) v Gifu Kakamino (Gifu 3)
  • Touhou (Aichi 1) v
    • winner of Tokohadai Kikugawa (Shizuoka 2) v Matsusaka Shougyou (Mie 2)
  • Mie (Mie 1) v
    • winner of Oogaki Nishi (Gifu 2) v Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi 3)

Hokushinetsu (2)

Again some familiar names here as well. Times never change…

Quadrant 1

  • Kanazawa Gakuin (Ishikawa 3) v Toyama Shougyou (Toyama 1)
  • Sakai (Fukui 2) v Saku Chousei (Nagano 2)

Quadrant 2

  • Takaoka Shougyou (Toyama 3) v Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Ishikawa 2)
  • Nihon Bunri (Niigata 1) v Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui 3)

Quadrant 3

  • Hokuetsu (Niigata 3) v Nihon Wellness Shinano-Chikuhoku (Nagano 1)
  • Hokuriku (Fukui 4) v Seiryou (Ishikawa 1)

Quadrant 4

  • Matsushou Gakuen (Nagano 3) v Kanadzu (Fukui 1)
  • Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Toyama 2) v Chuuetsu (Niigata 2)

Kinki (6)

Another big region, and more powerhouse names. Tenri however is not among them. Oh well.

Quadrant 1

  • Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama 1) v Riseisha (Osaka 2)
  • Houryuuji Kokusai (Nara 3) v Hieizan (Shiga 2)

Quadrant 2

  • Otokuni (Kyoto 1) v Shinkou Gakuen (Hyogo 3)
  • Chiben Gakuen (Nara 1) v Nishiwaki Kougyou (Hyogo 2)

Quadrant 3

  • Oumi (Shiga 1) v Hidaka Nakatsu (Wakayama 2)
  • Akashi Shougyou (Hyogo 1) v Hikone Higashi (Shiga 3)

Quadrant 4

  • Osaka Touin (Osaka 1) v Kyoto Seishou (Kyoto 2)
  • Kinkidai Fuzoku (Osaka 3) v Takada Shougyou (Nara 2)

Chuugoku (2 + 1 floating bid)

Hiroshima is hosting and as a result gets to qualify 4 teams to the super-regional. Perhaps speaking to the continued weakness of the region, many of the teams appearing here are of Tier 3 quality.

Quadrant 1

  • Tottori Jyouhoku (Tottori 2) v Onomichi (Hiroshima 4)
  • Eishin (Hiroshima 1) v Kurshiki Shougyou (Okayama 2)

Quadrant 2

  • Shimonoseki Kokusai (Yamaguchi 1) v Masuda Higashi (Shimane 3)
  • Shimonoseki Nishi (Yamaguchi 3) v Kaisei (Shimane 1)

Quadrant 3

  • Okayama Gakugeikan (Okayama 1) v Takagawa Gakuen (Yamaguchi 2)
  • Iwami-Chisuikan (Shimane 2) v Okayama Sanyou (Okayama 3)

Quadrant 4

  • Tottori Shougyou (Tottori 3) v Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin (Hiroshima 2)
  • Setouchi (Hiroshima 3) v Yonago Shouin (Tottori 1)

The way they put the teams into each quadrant confuse me as in 2 of the quadrants, it’s just 2 prefectures. It feels like you should be able to mix the schools more effectively so that there are different prefectures in each quadrant.

Shikoku (2 + 1 floating bid)

They’re not even at the super-regionals yet, though their super-regionals are very short in nature so they can afford to wait until later (though the weather might be a factor for starting earlier anyways.

Kyushu (4)

Kyushu has quite a few well-known names in the super-regional, but one name missing is Shuugakukan. Having lost all of their aces and Kajisha=kantoku retiring, perhaps they will fade into the sunset.

Quadrant 1

  • Souseikan (Nagasaki 1) v Miyakonojyou Higashi (Miyazaki 4)*
    • *defeated Kyushu Gakuin (Kumamoto 2) 3-2
  • Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa 1)
    • defeated Imari (Saga 2) 8-0

Quadrant 2

  • Nobeoka Gakuen (Miyazaki 1)
    • defeated Chikuyou Gakuen (Fukuoka 2) 5-2
  • Meihou (Oita 1) v Kagoshima Jitsugyou (Kagoshima 2)

Quadrant 3

  • Saga Gakuen (Saga 1) v Nagasaki Shougyou (Nagasaki 2)
  • Tomishima (Miyazaki 2) v Buntoku (Kumamoto 1)

Quadrant 4

  • Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima 1)
    • def Tsurusaki Kougyou (Oita 2) 12x-0 (5 inn)
  • Touchiku (Fukuoka 1) v Kounan (Okinawa 2)*
    • *def Miyazaki Nichidai (Miyazaki 3) 2-1

It looks like the rotation may go to some lower tier schools this time around. Which is good in that they get a chance, but bad in the sense that teams like Osaka Touin and Hanasaki Tokuharu who may reach will supposedly have an easier time of things.

99th Natsu Koushien – Final – Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) v Kouryou (Hiroshima)

99th Natsu Koushien – Final – Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) v Kouryou (Hiroshima)

(picture courtesy of Yahoo! and if you know any better Hanasaki Tokuharu you aren’t giving this guy a pitch to hit. Not one.)

Hanasaki Tokuharu

Road to the title

  • def Kaisei (Shimane) 9-0
  • def Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Ishikawa) 9-3
  • def Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma) 10-4
  • def Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate) 10-1
  • def Toukaidai Sugao (Nishi Tokyo) 9-6 (11 inn)

The narrative finally changed with Hanasaki Tokuharu. Sunawaki struggled, the finally use their ace in the hole sending Shimizu in earlier to pitch a longer stint.

And it almost didn’t work because of a rough 9th inning by Iwase. Even still, Shimizu was still required to pitch a longer stint than perhaps they wanted.

So their win unfortunately brings up questions now for Hanasaki Tokuharu that makes this game possibly more interesting. Because if Sunawaki is truly out of gas, then Shimizu has to shoulder the load. Sure, they’re carrying #11 Saitou and #16 Nakamura, but neither were used in very high leverage situations so unless they’re super-secret aces (which I highly doubt), their pitching situation could be a little more uncertain than originally planned.

Oh, and the bottom of the lineup, while it does deliver, still is for the most part a black hole…

Kouryou

Road to the title

  • def Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi) 10-6
  • def Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) 6-1
  • def Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) 6-4
  • def Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) 10-4
  • def Tenri (Nara) 12-9

Tenri thought it a good idea to pitch to Nakamura. They were sorely mistaken.

In fact, Nakamura almost single-handedly defeated Tenri by himself driving in 7 of Kouryou’s 12 runs. Why they didn’t pitch around him is beyond me. He was the main danger (though there were others) and you shouldn’t have let him beat you. And yet, you basically gave him the keys to the city.

Kouryou’s question is the pitching duo of Yamamoto and Hiramoto. Yamamoto was battered around a bit, and Hiramoto provided very temporary relief but still had to cede the mound back to Yamamoto to close the game out.

This will not fly against Hanasaki Tokuharu, so they’ll need to find a solution and quick. Either the offense will just need to be gangbusters throughout the game, or Yamamoto needs to find that reserve tank for one last push.

I still expect Hanasaki Tokuharu to win this, and give Saitama their first ever Natsu Koushien title (which is still mind-boggling to me). It’s just not as clear-cut as it was 24 hours ago.

Lineups

Hanasaki Tokuharu

  • CF Tachioka Ren
  • 2B Chimaru Tsuyoshi
  • LF Nishikawa Manaya
  • 1B Nomura Yuuki
  • C Sunaga Hikaru
  • 3B Takai Yuutarou
  • RF Ogawa Megumu
  • P Sunawaki Sui (#10)
  • SS Iwase Tomoharu

Kouryou

  • RF Takada Masaya
  • 2B Yoshioka Hiroki
  • C Nakamura Shousei
  • LF Kagawa Daiki
  • 1B Oohashi Shouki
  • CF Satou Kouji (#13)
  • SS Maruyama Masashi (#15)
  • 3B Matsuoka Naoki
  • P Hiramoto Ginjirou

14:00 – First Pitch!

The pitchers starting for each team suggest that they’re going to run the same strategy. They’re going to run their weaker pitchers out first and then replace with their starters as late as they possibly can. It will be interesting to see which team either blinks first or is forced to change.

Tachioka already getting them off to a quick start with a single back up the middle.

Chimaru doubling down the RF line and already Hanasaki Tokuharu is threatening.

Nishikawa jammed, but bloops a ball that falls in shallow center out of the reach of the scampering fielders. Both runners score and Hanasaki Tokuharu leads 2-0.

They then decide to play small ball and bunt Nishikawa to 2nd, but after a walk, Takai hits into a 4-6-3 double play to retire the side. How will Kouryou respond?

Well, one out and Yoshioka singles through the right side ahead of Nakamura. I’d still walk him, but Hanasaki Tokuharu joins everyone else in pitching to him.

And he thanks them by doubling down the LF line. 2 runners in scoring position, thank you very much.

I DON’T GET IT. THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO BE PITCHING TO THIS GUY. NONE. ZERO. NADA. ZILCH.

And guess what? Kagawa strikes out on all those outside pitches Sunawaki is feeding the RH batters, and Oohashi weakly hits one back to Sunawaki.

WHY ARE YOU LETTING HIM SWING THE BAT AT ALL?

Hanasaki Tokuharu’s bottom of the lineup still scuffling a bit. Ogawa singles, but after a failed bunt, Ogawa is picked off 1st and run down. Iwase make his AB costly going 10 pitches, but strikes out.

Kouryou finds an answer in the 2nd. Maruyama walked with one down, and Hiramoto, who hits well despite being at the bottom of the lineup (presumably because they’ll have to put weaker hitting Yamamoto there later), doubles down the right field line to make it a 2-1 ballgame!

But the lineup has turned over for Hanasaki Tokuharu and Hiramoto struggles again.

Tachioka walks to start off the inning. A sac bunt and groundout move him to 3rd. He then hits Nomura who steals 2nd without a throw (double steal concerns).

However, that comes back to bite them as Sunaga singles up the middle bringing in both runners and extending Hanasaki Tokuharu’s lead to 4-1.

Kouryou gets one of those runs back again thanks to a Murakami single, a stolen base and a timely double by Oohashi over Tachioka’s head. But at 4-2 Kouryou is losing ground and innings.

Hiramoto’s spot int he lineup comes in the 4th and I figured having retired the bottom third of the order, he’d get his AB and then Yamamoto would come in.

But instead Hiramoto stays in for the 5th. I don’t like that decision.

Tachioka walks, Chimaru singles to right.

And then Nishikawa hits a ball to the right center field wall for a 2-RBI triple making it 6-2. Even then Hiramoto isn’t relieved and it isn’t until Nomura’s single to make it 7-2 that Yamamoto comes in.

Now, Yamamoto gives up a double to right center after a sac bunt, making it 8-2, but you sent him into an unsalvageable situation. If you put him in versus the top of the lineup and he failed, then you were sunk anyways because Hiramoto was not going to do better the third time around.

But with two outs the defense completely capitulates on Kouryou. Takada drops a fly ball and Matsuoka misses on a grounder bringing in 2 more runs on errors. 10-2 and this game has gotten out of hand.

Kouryou gets A run back in the 5th with Takada’s single and Yoshioka’s double. They still pitch to Nakamura who gets an infield single.

Announcers are all like “MAKING A COMEBACK!”

Murakami grounds into 4-3 double play. Oohashi strikes out.

Ehhhhhhhhhhh, nah.

This game is basically over unless Kouryou can get the douten runner in scoring position. That’s about what it’s going to take for me to think that they have a chance again in this game.

Needless to say that doesn’t happen.

Hanasaki Tokuharu in tour de force eliminates the one threat to their title and claim their first, and Saitama’s first ever, Natsu Koushien title with a 14-4 win over Kouryou.

The offense (outside of the bottom third) was unstoppable. Nobody like a Nakamura who was hands and above the rest, but just a lot of good hitters you couldn’t work around.

The pitching? Excellent. They went from the 1st round to the quarterfinals on their RELIEF STARTER. Their ace Shimizu came in late innings, but wasn’t pitching the majority of the game until the semifinals.

And when I saw him come early in the semifinals, it was just about game over. The enchousen semifinal put some doubt, but it was allayed right in the first inning.

They had just about the complete team, and Iwai-kantoku has played his pitching staff to perfection. They’ve earned this title through and through.

99th Natsu Koushien – Semifinals, Game 2 – Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) v Toukaidai Sugao (Nishi Tokyo)

99th Natsu Koushien – Semifinals, Game 2 – Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) v Toukaidai Sugao (Nishi Tokyo)

(photo courtesy of Sponichi)

Hanasaki Tokuharu

Road to the title

  • def Kaisei (Shimane) 9-0
  • def Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Ishikawa) 9-3
  • def Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma) 10-4
  • def Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate) 10-1

I can just copy paste the opening bit from their last game. I mean, read this:

One more game has passed, and the story stays the same. Dominated opponents, bottom of lineup struggling, pitching doing enough to win.

The scary part is that their ace Shimizu has only been used in the final innings of games. If he can actually go for longer stretches (and he has before) and he’s been saved until this point, Hanasaki Tokuharu could just run away with this title.

Toukaidai Sugao

Road to the title

  • def Takaoka Shougyou (Toyama) 11-1
  • def Aomori Yamada (Aomori) 9-1
  • def Sanbonmatsu (Kagawa) 9-1

This game is the hardest Toukaidai Sugao has faced so far this tournament with two unstoppable forces colliding here in the semifinals (Tenri and Kouryou thank them both for KOing each other here).

They’ve had a break in that they drew into the later side of the brackets and that they were able to use relief starter Toda in the Aomori Yamada game. However, in the Sanbonmatsu game he was not as effective pitching the final inning putting into question his usability should they need him. This could be a problem for them if ace Matsumoto cannot pitch the entire game.

It is the only question we have about Toukaidai Sugao, but unfortunately it is a big one as we’ve seen the inferior pitching staffs fall by the wayside.

Lineups

Hanasaki Tokuharu

  • CF Tachioka
  • 2B Chimaru
  • LF Nishikawa
  • 1B Nomura
  • C Sunaga
  • 3B Takai
  • RF Ogawa
  • P Sunawaki (#10)
  • SS Iwase

Toukaidai Sugao

  • SS Tanaka
  • RF Matsui
  • 2B Kodama
  • 1B Katayama
  • 3B Okuyama
  • LF Satou
  • CF Ushiyama
  • C Shikakura
  • P Matsumoto

13:20 – First Pitch!

1st Inning

Early on, it appears that offense continues to dominate the day. Though Hanasaki Tokuharu gives a helping hand.

First two batters get on with solid singles. After a sac bunt Sunwaki fires a wild pitch scoring Tanaka, 1-0 Toukaidai Sugao. Okumura singles making it 2-0, just like that.

2nd Inning

Hanasaki Tokuharu gets on the board in the 2nd, thanks to two leadoff hits of their own from Nomura and Sunaga. But they can only manage one run when Ogawa hits a grounder to 2nd.

But Sunawaki’s struggles on the mound continue. He gives up a triple to right center to Ushiyama. 2 batters later, Matsumoto singles back up the middle and they have their 2-run lead again at 3-1.

3rd-5th Innings

The teams continue to trade runs over the next couple of half innings.

Matsumoto gives up 2 walks in the 3rd and allows both to score on a ringing double off of Okumura’s glove. Tie game at 3-3, but not for long…

Because in the bottom of the 3rd, a one out single by Kodama and subsequent walk puts two runners on. 2 batters later Satou hits a double down the right field line scoring Kodama giving Toukaidai Sugao back the lead at 4-3.

But not for long…

Because Ogawa leads the 4th for Hanasaki Tokuharu with a single to center. 2 outs and now on 2nd, Tachioka doubles down the left field line scoring Ogawa and tying the game at 4-4…

Hanasaki Tokuharu finally plays their ace in the hole. Shimizu comes in with one out in the 5th and what would have been Sunawaki’s 3rd time through the order. He immediately shuts down the Toukaidai Sugao offense.

6th-9th Innings

Ace Matsumoto also seemed to have found his stride, but when he was to face the lineup for the 4th time, #11 Toda is sent in in his place. They’re going to ride him the rest of the way.

But in the 8th, he gets into a spot of trouble. An error by Tanaka lets Nomura on. After a sac bunt, Toda hits Takai and walks Ogawa to load the bases.

With the 8-9 batters up Toda might be able to get out of the jam. Shimizu strikes out and he just needs one more.

Instead Iwase comes through with his first hit, lining a double down the left field line scoring 2 and giving Hanasaki Tokuharu the 6-4 lead!

And in the 9th they look to play add-on. Chimaru doubles down the left field line, but they don’t bunt him over. Instead Nishikawa and Nomura are retired. Sunaga would be walked to get to Takai, who was hitless on the day and he strikes out. Still they had the 2-run lead.

The bottom of the 9th went to an auspicious start when Ushiyama’s chopper to short is whiffed at by Iwase. Two batters later, PH Inomata (for Toda) singled to left. 2 runners on, but still nothing to be excited about yet.

That was until leadoff batter Tanaka hit a rip shot to short. Next thing you see, it goes off Iwase and ricochets all the way to right center. Both runners come in to score and before you know it we’re all tied at 6-6.

Shimizu gets the final 2 outs, but the damage has been done and we’re headed to enchousen!

Enchousen

The problem for Toukaidai Sugao is that they’re going to #10 Yamauchi. We hadn’t seen him at Koushien so far, and there’s a good reason why:

  • 2nd Round – v Touhou – 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 4 K, 2BB
  • Semifinals – v Nichidai-ni – 0.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 1 K

He’s just not that good…

Which means that Toukaidai Sugao is now under a clock. They need to walk off in the next inning or two or else it will all fall apart.

In the bottom of the 10th, they get their chance. Katayama hits a ball up the middle, and while Iwase runs it down he can’t put enough on the throw at 1st.

With a sac bunt, Satou and Ushiyama could end the game with a base hit. But both would ground out to Iwase (whom the ball is seeming to find now) and the inning is over.

Top 11, Nishikawa gets his first base hit with a one out single to right. With 2 outs, Toda throws a wild one allowing him to reach 2nd.

Sunaga hits a grounder to short and while Tanaka would field it, he would have no play. So what seemed innocuous enough has become a potential problem. It doesn’t get any easier when Sunaga steals 2nd without a throw, afraid of the double steal.

PING.

And then Takai drives a ball to right. Matsui scrambles back, leaps, and the ball goes over his glove! Both runners will score as Hanasaki Tokuharu grabs the 8-6 lead!

Things don’t get any better when Ogawa’s ball to second goes off of Kodama for another base hit. Runners at the corners and Toukaidai Sugao threatens for more.

AH! But while Yamauchi strikes out Shimizu, the ball gets away from Shikakura and Takai scores to make it 9-6!

With that, the jig is finally up. Toukaidai Sugao has no recourse now and they know it. They go down in order in the bottom of the 11th to fall 9-6.

So the narrative wound up being right on both accounts. Shimizu for Hanasaki Tokuharu was apparently saved and was able to come in for longer stretches. For Toukaidai Sugao, Toda wasn’t as good as his Aomori Yamada performance and more like his 1 inning of work against Sanbonmatsu.

Once both narratives were the case and Toda was in the game, Toukaidai Sugao was in a lot of trouble. They got a break in the 9th thanks to Iwase, but going to Yamauchi for extra innings meant that they broke the proverbial glass in case of emergency. They weren’t able to end the game quickly and they ended up paying the ultimate price.

So Hanasaki Tokuharu advances to the finals, but they have problems of their own.

  • First, Sunawaki struggled mightily before being relieved by Shimizu. What does he have left in the tank, if any?
  • Shimizu may have been saved, but he came in with one out in the 4th. If it was a regulation game that’s not as much of an issue, but he wound up pitching 7.2 innings. How much does he have left?
  • The bottom of the lineup came through, but they still batted a combined 4-14 (0.285). It hasn’t hurt them so far, will they continue to be able to get away with it?
99th Natsu Koushien – Semifinals, Game 1 – Kouryou (Hiroshima) v Tenri (Nara)

99th Natsu Koushien – Semifinals, Game 1 – Kouryou (Hiroshima) v Tenri (Nara)

(picture courtesy of Baseball King)

Kouryou

Road to the title

  • def Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi) 10-6
  • def Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) 6-1
  • def Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) 6-4
  • def Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) 10-4

Kouryou did exactly what I thought it might against pitchers who lacked control – jump all over them. I’m still surprised Osaka Touin’s offense couldn’t do the same to Sendai Ikuei, but that’s another story.

Their #10 Yamamoto is apparently their de facto ace, being the most effective pitchers of the staff. And while they were comfortably in the lead, all the pitchers that followed him were not that effective. Which means that they’re pitching staff could be even worse off than Tenri if he cannot go longer stretches.

Tenri

Road to the title

  • def Oogaki Nichidai (Gifu) 6-0
  • def Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo) 2-1 (11 inn)
  • def Meihou (Oita) 13-9

The crowd roared, the Meihou bench was all excited, and I had finally gotten a bit nervous as the tying run for Meihou stood on the on-deck circle. They guy who earlier that inning hit a manrui HR. Given the way homeruns were leaving the park like it was going out of style it was entirely possible that he could do it twice in the same inning.

That didn’t happen though and Tenri moves onto the semifinals – something they haven’t done since 1997, and in Natsu Koushien since 1990.

Perhaps Nakamura-kantoku wanted to see is bullpen in action without the backup of their ace and a 10-run lead was the best time to do it. But it was close to completely backfiring as Meihou went from 13-3 to 13-9.

Well, hopefully he’s learned that his relief staff is just about unusable. Or if he does use them, Usui better be on the field still to come back in. That would be one kokoyakyu strategy I think he’d better keep around instead of flat relieving him.

That also means that Tenri’s pitching staff is back to the traditional ace system for the final 2 games, which being on back-to-back days may put them in one of the worst positions of the remaining teams.

So it’s a matter of which pitching falls apart first. Both teams have proven they can punish bad pitching. Which ace will falter first?

Lineups

Kouryou

  • CF Takada Masaya (#9)
  • 2B Yoshioka
  • C Nakamura
  • RF Murakami (#14)
  • LF Kagawa
  • 1B Oohashi
  • 3B Matsuoka
  • P Yamamoto (#10)
  • SS Maruyama (#15)

Tenri

  • LF Miyazaki
  • 2B Yamaguchi
  • SS Oota
  • RF Jinno
  • C Shiroshita
  • 1B Yasuhara
  • 3B Morimoto
  • CF Sugishita
  • P Usui

10:03 – First Pitch!

Usui immediately gives up a single to Masaya and is bunted over. With Nakamura coming up for Kouryou I expected Nakamura-kantoku to walk him being the danger he…

PING.

WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ARE YOU PITCHING TO THIS GUY WITH A BASE OPEN??!!

Nakamura homers to center tying Kiyohara Kazuhiro’s (PL Gakuen) record of 5 HRs at a single Natsu Koushien tournament, and giving Kouryou the 2-0 lead.

And at this point I know Tenri’s in trouble, because when I thought they were being smart, they weren’t at all, and this is going to be a long game.

The game wasn’t pretty in general as both starters were running on empty.

Tenri in the bottom of the 1st, gets a Yamaguchi walk and Oota single, but can’t score.

Usui gets into trouble again in the 2nd giving up 2 singles to the bottom third of the lineup, but gets bailed out with a Masaya 6-4-3 double play. Almost the same story in the 3rd where Yoshioka singles to left, but in this case he tries to steal 2nd and is thrown out. They still pitch to Nakamura (he pops out), and thankfully for Usui a Murakami single leads to nothing.

Finally in the bottom of the 3rd Tenri gets something going. One out singles by Miyazaki and Yamaguchi but the tying runners on and then Yamamoto hangs one for Jinno, who knows what to do with it. He gaps it to right center for a triple, tying the game at 2-2.

That though starts a flurry of run-scoring as the teams go back and forth beating up on the already tired pitching.

Top 4, an error by Oota on a grounder by Oohashi comes around to score on Yamamoto’s double down the RF line.

Bottom 4, Tenri lines up 3 straight base hits with Yasuhara and Moriomoto driven by yet another triple, this time by Sugishita over Masaya to give Tenri their first lead at 4-3.

PING.

OH FOR CHRIST’S SAKE.

That ping was Nakamura breaking Kiyohara’s record as he hits his 6th HR to left, tying the game at 4-4 in the 5th.

Tenri threatened again in the bottom of the 5th with a double by Oota past a diving Matsuoka and a single to left by Nomura.

At this point, Kouryou goes to the bench and sends in Hiramoto, but not as a straight replacement for Yamamoto. Instead Yamamoto goes to 1st in reserve and Oohashi goes to LF.

With Sakashita up, Tenri tries the suicide squeeze, only for Shiroshita to pop it up, Hiramoto to catch it and double off Oota at 3rd, effectively killing the rally.

After the break, leadoff hits by Maruyama and Masaya would knock Usui out of the game as Tenri would bring in #17 Sakane as a straight sub.

Sakane, despite his best efforts couldn’t keep Kouryou off the board. A walk to Nakamura (with 1st open mind you) would load the bases. He got a comebacker to force the out at home, but new P Hiramoto would hit a single to right center giving Kouryou the 6-4 lead.

And after Tenri failed to score in the bottom of the 6th despite a leadoff double, Kouryou would add on 3 more in the 7th, expanding the lead to 9-4 and effectively ending Tenri’s chances.

Now some would argue that Tenri made it interesting in the bottom of the 9th, scoring 3 runs, and having the douten run at 1st with no out, but I’ve seen too many games to expect Tenri to come back. Not only that but Kouryou was able to bring back in Yamamoto who effectively shut down Tenri and end the game.

Tenri put themselves behind early when they didn’t need to in the 1st, doubled down on it when giving up their 2nd HR to him, and then waving the white flag by straight subbing out Usui who could not return like Yamamoto did if the relief corps struggled. Add it all together and there’s your L.

Kouryou rightly though makes the finals, but given the upcoming matchup their pitching is in very poor shape at this point. If Tenri could batter both of their pitchers on the mound, whomever they face will be able to do much worse.

The advancement and downfall of 高校野球?

The advancement and downfall of 高校野球?

(photo courtesy of Asahi)

There’s a reason retiring Kajisha-kantoku of Shuugakukan is the headline picture of this post – because his team became a talking point because of its composition.

I wondered 3 years ago at my old blog if times were a-changing. It looks like they are now, which is great. How?

1) The expanding of the pitching staffs

Part of the romanticism of kokoyakyu is that one ace carried the team to the title. Go back to 2006 when it was Komadai Tomakomai’s Tanaka Masahiro versus Waseda Jitsugyou’s Saitou Yuuki. Both almost pitch every inning of the tournament, including the replayed championship game. Go back further and there’s Matsuzaka Daisuke and his final 3 games of Natsu Koushien:

  • Quarterfinals – vs PL Gakuen, CG, 17 IP, 250 pitches thrown
  • Semifinals – vs Meitoku Gijyuku, W, 1 IP
  • Finals – vs Kyoto Seishou, CG, No-hitter

But if teams, especially the powerhouses, were smart they would be stockpiling as many arms as possible

Last year, he had 4 pitchers who could throw 140+.

  • Arimura Taisei (有村 大誠)
  • Tabuchi Kurea (田畑 孔怜充)
  • Taura Fumiharu (田浦 文丸)
  • Kawabata Kento (川端 健斗)

When they lost last year, they also lost the first two pitchers meaning that Taura and Kawabata would have to shoulder the load this year.

Now? Tenri used a pitcher in one of its earlier games (though he was useless in the game against Meihou), Hanasaki Tokuharu hasn’t even used their ace Shimizu much, Kouryou has been patchworking pitchers together, and if you go to the quarterfinal losers, Moriokadai Fuzoku has a multiple pitcher setup, Seikou Gakuin basically ran relief pitchers until they were at-bat and then pinch hit for them.

Well, you get my point.

About the only team that may be using the old setup is Toukaidai Sugao.

Now, some of those pitching staffs were still not effective (Moriokadai Fuzoku, I’m looking at you). But the idea remains – if you are a powerhouse, you should be able to get the better talent and therefore the better pitchers. So why not get them and utilize them to the fullest?

About the only thing that would stop an ace from going there is sharing the load. If you’re sharing the load, perhaps your talent won’t be singled out. Perhaps the scouts won’t think you can go longer into games, etc.

2) The death of the bunt

It’s not really dead, but in the past the bunt was really prevalent. Not just regular bunts, but suicide squeezes as well.

Bunting seemed like a necessity for those weaker schools where talent wasn’t as good and runs were at a premium. Get a runner on, bunt them to 2nd (even if there was one out), and hope for a timely hit.

I went through my blog posts, and I have cases of just 4 squeeze attempts. It used to be with a runner on 3rd, the squeeze was expected so much that most defenses automatically planned on defending against it. But it was so rare this year that when Seishin Ursula did it, Waseda Saga was completely off guard.

That’s what the suicide squeeze is supposed to do.

In addition, where there are still sacrifice bunts, teams are again taking advantage of teams’ aggressiveness in fielding bunts to execute either the butcher-boy tactic or a push bunt for a base hit. Neither of which in the past were done much before.

3) The sheer numbers of HRs

The prior record for number of HRs hit at a Natsu Koushien was 60 back in 2006. I was there for that tournament and that tournament continues to amaze me how incredibly awesome it was.

This tournament we hit 60 in the 2nd quarterfinal. We’re at 64 now and that number should go up. We may not hit 70, but we may get close.

Is this a change in thinking? We know that in the states there is a marked increase in HRs in MLB, but could that somehow be trending in Japan as well? The number of HRs went up markedly in 2015, again in 2016 and 2017 would seem to break that number.

I don’t know for sure, but if people are paying attention, maybe it has something to do with it.

All of it is great, but perhaps there is an underlying trend to it all, and I think there is…

4) The emergence of younger kantoku’s

Let’s take a look at the ages of the kantoku’s that reached the best 8:

  • Kouryou – Nakai Tetsuyuki (55)
  • Tenri – Nakamura Ryouji (49)
  • Toukaidai Sugao – Wakabayashi Hiroyasu (51)
  • Hanasaki Tokuharu – Iwai Takashi (47)
  • Sendai Ikuei – Sasaki Jyunichirou (57)
  • Meihou – Kawasaki Jyunpei (35)
  • Sanbonmatsu – Kusaka Kouta (33)
  • Moriokadai Fuzoku – Sekiguchi Seiji (40)

There are some older kantoku’s (Kouryou, Toukaidai Sugao and Sendai Ikuei) who have been at the job for a while, but then you look at the rest and there are some in their 30’s, and you can forgive Tenri’s kantoku – he played in NPB.

And don’t forget last year’s champ, Sakushin Gakuin. Kobari Takahiro won the title at 33 years of age and took over the job at the ripe young age of 23.

The influx of younger kantokus and in some cases kantokus with NPB experience could also be part of the change you see in terms of tactics.

Ok, that’s all well and good you may ask, but how is this leading to the downfall of the sport?

Maybe I exaggerated a bit, but what this all means to me is that the powerhouses will continue on getting stronger as they utilize their rosters more to accommodate more pitchers and build their team more pro-style. The game appears to be moving that way, so those teams that already have a talent advantage will probably continue distancing themselves more from the others. Which means that rural prefectures that already suffer from lack of talent due to lack of numbers could see the gap get worse.

That’s good I guess for those who are fans of those powerhouses, but it will mean more non-competitive games which isn’t good for the sport in my opinion.

But that’s where we’re headed. We’ll just have to see what happens in the following years…

99th Natsu Koushien – Quarterfinals, Game 4 – Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

99th Natsu Koushien – Quarterfinals, Game 4 – Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)

(photo courtesy of Daily Sports)

Hanasaki Tokuharu

Road to the title

  • def Kaisei (Shimane) 9-0
  • def Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Ishikawa) 9-3
  • def Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma) 10-4

I can just copy paste the opening bit from their last game. I mean, read this:

One more game has passed, and the story stays the same. Dominated opponents, bottom of lineup struggling, pitching doing enough to win.

I mean, what else is there to say?

The team’s prospects for winning the title have increased significantly with the elimination of Osaka Touin, but that bottom of the lineup could prove to be troublesome eventually.

Moriokadai Fuzoku

Road to the title

  • def Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) 4-1
  • def Matsushou Gakuen (Nagano) 6-3
  • def Saibi (Ehime) 12-7 (10 inn)

That game against Saibi was just nuts. 2 manrui homeruns in the same inning, a HR in the 9th to tie the game, and then a complete collapse of Saibi’s pitching in the 10th.

But as we’ve seen from that game, the pitching is vulnerable. We knew it could be from the prior matchups. It’s just a matter of if a team can take advantage of it. As the games have progressed, each successive opponents seems to have done more and more, which would leave me concerned if I was a fan of theirs that their time might be up.

Lineups

Hanasaki Tokuharu

  • CF Tachioka
  • 2B Chimaru
  • LF Nishikawa
  • 1B Nomura
  • C Sunaga
  • 3B Takai
  • RF Ogawa
  • P Sunawaki (#10)
  • SS Iwase

Moriokadai Fuzoku

  • LF Hayashi
  • 3B Oosato
  • CF Ueda
  • SS Higa
  • C Matsuda
  • 2B Kobayashi
  • 1B Yabuuchi (#16)
  • RF Usui (#11)
  • P Miura Mizuki

16:25 – First Pitch!

2nd Inning

The pitching on both sides has an uneventful 1st, but

PING.

Nomura exits the box fist in the air, he knows it as it goes around the left foul pole for a 1-0 Hanasaki Tokuharu lead.

Moriokadai Fuzoku strikes back immediately. Higa leads off with a single. Now at 2nd with 2 out, Yabuuchi drives a ball off the padding in left bringing Higa in to tie the game at 1-1.

3rd Inning

Teams are trading jabs it seems. Sunawaki singles to lead off the inning. 2 down and at 3rd now Chimaru hits a ball to short, but Higa’s throw handcuffs Yabuuchi and he can’t make the pick. Sunawaki scores to give Hanasaki Tokuharu back the lead.

Rest of game

From the first couple of innings you could tell that Moriokadai Fuzoku was on borrowed time. Sunaga’s leadoff double in the 4th would come around to score making it 3-1.

The 4th would be the breaking point though.

The team batted around, with Mizuki giving up 2 hits early, walking one then hitting the aforementioned Sunaga to bring in a run, Takai brings in 2 and Ogawa one more. All in all 4 runs and Hanasaki Tokuharu carried a commanding 7-1 lead into the break.

It was pretty much clinical after that, with Hanasaki Tokuharu adding 3 more in the 9th after Moriokadai Fuzoku brought in their ace making the final margin 10-1. So they and Toukaidai Sugao, the two teams who have been blowing out the competition, will face off for the right to play in the title game. Much to the relief of Kouryou and Tenri who have a significantly easier matchup against each other.