Month: July 2017

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update – 7/30

Only 2 finals today, leaving Miyagi to close out qualifying, and they’re delayed one more day because the 2nd semifinal of Touryou and Sendai Ikuei ended in a 2-2 tie.

Nishi Tokyo – Toukaidai Sugao (3rd appearance, 1st in 17 years)

I didn’t think Toukaidai Sugao had a shot, I figured the only way they could win is if they were patient with Waseda’s pitchers because I didn’t think they improved anything despite starting from scratch.

From the records though it seems like they weren’t all that patient, they just beat up new ace Yukiyama with errors contributing to the 3-run 5th inning.

What’s more, it was #11 Matsumoto who held the Waseda offense silent. for the most part giving up just 7 hits while walking 1.

The final indignity was Waseda imploding due to errors in the 9th as they realized their summer might be coming to an end. Matsumoto closes the game out and Toukaidai Sugao denies Kiyomiya a chance at Koushien!

Osaka – Osaka Touin (9th appearance, 1st in 3 years)

In fact both favorites were in trouble early. While Osaka Touin had opened scoring in the 2nd with a Tokuyama timely hit, Ookanmuri had back-to-back 2-RBI doubles by Ihara and Samukawa suddenly gave them the 4-1 lead! Could this be happening?

Well, sure, but it was still early and Ookanmuri would have to survive 7 more innings, and that’s no small feat.

Osaka Touin scored 1 back in the bottom of the 3rd, and when I tuned back in it was manrui in the 5th.

Suddenly Maruyama throws back-to-back oshidashi walks and a 4-2 lead became a 4-4 tie. The break would come at the right time for them as they could regroup. But even still if they wanted a chance they either needed to put up several bagels or score immediately.

Unfortunately neither happened. Not only did they not score in the top of the 6th, leadoff batter Fujiwara hits a HR to right giving Osaka Touin the lead. Even if it was just 1 run, it in my opinion was a death knell.

And in the 8th Ookanmuri just fell apart. Murakami wasn’t effective at all, players were misplaying balls, and Osaka Touin scored 5 to make it a 10-4 ballgame.

Ookanmuri mounted one last comeback in the top of the 9th. 10-4 became 10-6 and then 10-8 when Ihara doubled down the LF line bringing in 2. Samukawa, the second half of that 2-RBI duo in the 3rd was up and could possibly tie the game with one swing.

But instead he’s hit and put on base. Good enough because it brought up Kimu who was just 1-4 on the day. He’s retired and so Osaka Touin survives, though with a very shaky effort 10-8 and will try to achieve their 2nd haru-natsu renzoku yuushou.

God help us if they do.

Advertisements

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update – 7/29

We’re almost done!

We have just 3 prefectures left to go, and today is all the big name schools looking for (and probably getting) their Koushien bids. The finals yesterday unfortunately were non-competitive.

Champions crowned

Higashi Tokyo – Nishogakushadai Fuzoku (2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)

This was all Nishogakushadai Fuzoku as Toukaidai Takanawadai just couldn’t keep up from the get to. They were down quickly 8-0 and could not recover.

Kanagawa – Yokohama (17th appearance, 2nd consecutive)

It was all Yokohama here, Masuda HR in the 1st, Ichimura 2-run HR in the 3rd, and then when Toukaidai Sagami pulled within 2 at 5-3, Yamazaki hits a 3-run HR and that was that. 9-3.

Toyama – Takaoka Shougyou (18th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

I unfortunately didn’t catch a lot of this game because of the last one at the bottom, but Kouhou put up a fight for 4 innings… and then it all fell apart. 5 runs in the 5th and that was pretty much it. Kouhou did what they could, drawing 5 walks along with their 5 hits and putting a pair of runs on the board, but they still fell 8-2.

Ishikawa – Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (2nd appearance, 1st in 8 years)

Couldn’t catch this game either, which is too bad because I root for both aviation schools. But here Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa scored 3 in the 2nd and then 2 more in the 5th to re-establish their 3-run lead. Yuugakukan had many chances, drawing 7 walks against Nihok Koukuu Ishikawa ace Sado but could still only push in 2 runs.

Aichi – Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (28th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

Eitoku had a chance to win the title, but former champs Chuukyoudai Chuukyou stood in the way and stood in the door blocking their way. 9-1 win with 3 HR’s and that was that.

Okayama – Okayama Sanyou (1st appearance)

Okayama Sanyou sent Ooe to the mound again, after giving up 5 runs in 5 innings of work. In a replay, the better pitching usually wins.

But the script was turned upside down. First Okayama Sanyou scored 4 in the 1st. Then 3 more in the 4th for a commanding 7-0 lead.

Second was ace Ooe for Okayama Sanyou.

No-hitter, through 5…

Through 6…

Through 7…

Through 8!!!

Ooe was suddenly just 3 outs away from a no-hitter!

And then Kobayashi gets a hit off Ooe to lead off the 9th.

He’s replaced, and there’s some shakiness, but they close out the 9-2 win for their first ever title!

Contested Titles

Nishi Tokyo (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Waseda Jitsugyou (Tier 1) v Toukaidai Sugao (Tier 3)

So Toukaidai Sugao did shutout Nichidai-san, and avoided a letdown in an 11-8 battle with Nichidai-ni. But they’re fighting the Kiyomiya’s who haven’t played anyone of note, haven’t blown out anyone, and who basically redid their entire pitching staff with their C taking over as their #2 pitcher.

Still, good luck Toukaidai Sugao. To win, you need to be patient against the pitching staff and get walks.

Osaka (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Ookanmuri (Tier 3) v Osaka Touin (Tier 1)

Ookanmuri had a run in 2015 where they reached the semifinals. And here they make a run to the finals, but have avoided any of the competition.

Of course that ends now with the Haru Koushien champs. It’s been a bit more shakier on the pitching front, but they have beaten both Konkou Osaka and yesterday Riseisha in a rematch of the Haru Koushien final.

Ookanmuri will have a very tough job which probably will not come to fruition. Sorry.

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update – 7/28

So much to cover, and still many games to go.

Champions crowned

Nara – Tenri (28th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

Tenri, still can claim Tier 1 status since they’re the only other team outside of Chiben Gakuen that gets to go to Koushien from Nara it seems.

Tenri scored a couple of runs early and one perhaps thought that they were on their way versus Naradai Fuzoku.

Wasn’t really the case. Despite getting more opportunities, Tenri appears stuck in the old ways of baseball and it almost cost them. as Naradai Fuzoku made one last stab at it in the late innings. They got one in the 8th to make it a 2-1 ballgame.

But then the panic start setting in. Bottom 8th still, 2 out, runner on 1st. Groundball to 2nd, toss to 2nd, but the runner is called safe! The SS continues to sell it instead of going to 1st and as a result everyone’s safe. Ace Usui gets a groundball to 2nd again to end the inning, but the team appears to be nursing the game home.

Come the 9th and Usui is pitching out to the left-handed batters. With no threat to go inside, they start attacking those pitches. First batter lines it down the 3B line, but the 3B makes a great save for the out. But the second one does the same and this time the 3B can’t come up with it. It goes for a double and Tenri is in trouble.

But Naradai Fuzoku is undone by one unlucky play. Liner to short, runner is taking his normal lead. Maybe he could have gone back to 2nd earlier, but the SS tosses to 2nd and he’s doubled off ending the game and giving Tenri the victory.

Wakayama – Chiben Wakayama (23rd, 1st in 2 years)

It may seem like I give up early on games, but when Hayashi hit a 2-run HR giving Chiben Wakayama the 2-0 lead I thought perhaps the dream was going to die hard.

But as I was watching other games, I flipped back to see that somehow Kioukan had scored 2 right after and tied the game! And as the innings progressed and as the 0’s continued piling up I wondered if Kioukan could actually do it.

Then in the 7th, Morimoto gets a base hit to left, steals 2nd on the K to Hayashi. And when Kurano delivered the timely hit to put Chiben Wakayama up 3-2 I thought that might be it.

Until the 9th…

One out Nakamura gets a base hit. Perhaps in a panic Kurahara replaced by Oosaki. He gives up a base hit to Tokunaga and Ishikata loading the bases! And still 1 out! A base hit could end the game!

Instead more hearbreak. Yamamura, hitless on the day lines a shot to short. Nakamura perhaps forgot about the baserunning rules because he takes off for home. He’s on one knee trying to turn back, but Nishikawa’s toss easily gets there before he does and Chiben Wakayama holds on 3-2…

Hyogo – Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)

Here, this game was pretty clear-cut. Pro prospect Inoda hits a 2-run HR of his own in the first and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku really didn’t let off the gas. Though they only scored 4 runs, ace Okano gave up just 3 hits and 1 walk in a complete game effort.

Ehime – Saibi (5th appearance, 1st in 4 years)

It was all Saibi in this one as well, though early on one thought that perhaps the teams would be trading runs all night. In fact it was all one way traffic as well. Tied 1-1, Utsunomiya gets a 2-RBI double to make it 3-1. And then in the 3rd, Yoshioka, Shiraishi and Yano with RBI’s making it a 6-2 ballgame and knocking out relief starter Takahashi Kenshin and bringing in Takahashi Kentarou.

Too little too late, and perhaps wouldn’t have mattered anyways. Saibi adds on 4 more runs in a 10-3 rout securing their 5th appearance.

Yamaguchi – Shimonoseki Kokusai (1st appearance)

The game seemed all in Shimonoseki Kokusai’s favor. They were getting more than their fair share of chances compared to Ube Koujyou, but the on thing they weren’t doing was turning that into runs though by the end of their half of the 8th they were ahead 4-1.

Was it going to be enough though? Beacuse Ube Koujyou started making a late inning rally scoring 2 in the bottom of the 8th making it just a 1-run ball game.

And things looked bad in the 9th. After a great leaping catch by Shimatani to save an extra base hit, Ueno gives up a single back up the middle to Masaki. After Furutani lines one hard, but right at Shimatani, Tateishi draws a walk despite being behind 0-2. With Kaita in to PR for the runner at 2nd the stage was set for a possible comeback. And it could come at the hands of ace Hyakutome.

And in the AB he takes a letter high pitch down the LF line and it has the distance, but goes foul! Straighten that out and he’s won the game!

But instead he swings under a high breaking pitch and Ueno and Shimonoseki Kokusai celebrate their first ever Yamaguchi natsu title!

Fukuoka – Touchiku (6th appearance, 1st in 21 years)

With the stuff I had been reading about Fukuokadai Oohori, especially considering they had players on the U-18 squad, including their ace Miura, that this would be a big task for Touchiku to get the upset.

And when Kubota hit a triple in the 1st and the throw got away from Sakaguchi allowing him to score, you wondered if they were going to be up for it.

Instead Morita hits a HR in the 2nd followed later by a Kitamura squeeze play giving Touchiku the 2-1 lead. And Mizukami would add a timely double to make it 3-1 by the end of the 3rd. And still it seemed like Touchiku was getting the better chances while Fukuokadai Oohori struggled to create any offense against ace Ishida.

And in fact the game would end 3-1 in a seemingly comprehensive victory by Touchiku to get to their first Natsu Koushien in over 2 decades!

Finals contested

Higashi Tokyo – Toukaidai Takanawadai (Tier 3) v Nishougakushadai Fuzoku (Tier 2)

Nishougakushadai Fuzoku is on on the verge again for heading to Koushien having defeated their heated rivals Kanto Dai-ichi, and by mercy rule no less. And after giving up 4 runs in their first game, it’s been almost nothing since.

The last step in the process is Toukaidai Takanawadai, who has been mired in the upper, but not top tier of Tokyo. The win against Teikyou isn’t worth as much as it used to, and Toua Gakuen is another 3 team. I don’t really fancy their prospects in this final.

Kanagawa – Yokohama (Tier 1) v Toukaidai Sagami (Tier 1)

It hasn’t taken that long for Yokohama to recover after the retirement of Watanabe-kantoku. They’ve gone to Koushien last year and look to do so again. The major obstacle was Toukou Gakuen, which they pulled away late against in a 10-6 slugfest. The pitching isn’t stellar as you see them giving up runs every game, but the offense has been more than enough.

In their way is fellow powerhouse Toukaidai Sagami who hasn’t played anyone of note, and whose offense isn’t that great, but at least isn’t giving up as much runs.

Still, Toukaidai Sagami has never been known for their pitching, so it would be impressive if ace Saitou could stifle the Yokohama offense.

Toyama – Kouhou (No Tier) v Takaoka Shougyou (Tier 2)

Kouhou has pretty much come from nowhere in 2017 to challenge the powerhouses in Toyama. And this summer they can put a win against Toyama Dai-ichi to their name who have tried to dominate the prefecture. But a come-from-behind 10-9 win aver Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku might signal that their pitching staff is being stretched to the limit.

What’s more, their opponent in the final is Takaoka Shougyou, another strong team in the prefecture, who dispatched Shin-Minato 6-2 in the semifinals. After a couple of unnecessary close games early, they have seemed to pick up momentum as the rounds have progressed, which can’t be a good sign for Kouhou.

Ishikawa – Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Tier 3) v Yuugakukan (Tier 1)

The main school may not have made it, but their secondary school in Ishikawa has made the finals for the 2nd straight year, losing to Seiryou the year before. They held on to beat them this year 8-7 and that along with a 7-4 win over Komatsu Ootani could be enough this year to put them over the top.

But one last powerhouse awaits and that is Yuugakukan, who has been one of the main teams to come out of Ishikawa in recent years. They’ve been involved in several close games, but none against top tier competition. This will be their first real test coming in, how will they handle it? And against an ace in Sado Yuutarou who struck out 13 against Seiryou?

Aichi – Eitoku (Tier 3) v Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Tier 2)

Eitoku comes to the final after a fairly successful run which was culminated in a 9-2 mercy rule win over Touhou which one would hope help given them confidence going into the final. This despite the fact that their ace Kamaya doesn’t strike out many batters.

Chuukyoudai Chuukyou kind of dropped off the map after their famous win in 2009 over Nihon Bunri. It didn’t help their kantoku retired as well. After popping back up in 2015 to take the title, they’re at it again and if they win this game they could be back once again, and no one in Aichi is hoping that happens.

But here they are, with their closest game against Aikoudai Meiden, who has been relegated to the masses it seems. They also have a mass of pitching they use, though none are ace “dominant”. Still, I imagine the former Natsu champs will look to take it to the Cinderella’s early and smash their hope before it can gain momentum.

Okayama (replay) – Okayama Sanyou v Soushi Gakuen

The two teams return less than 24 hours after the umpires decided to call the game instead of resuming from a rain delay. The two teams were tied in the 8th with Komatsu recording an out in the top of the 11th.

I had written Okayama Sanyou off for dead after Soushi Gakuen scored 4 in the 3rd. But when my feed talked about manrui for Okayama Sanyou, I figured I’d take a look. Not only was it manrui, but Imoto, Abe and Komatsu all had timely hits to bring the margin back to 6-5! And when PH Ogawara walked it was tied up at 6-6! 2 batters later, Kawata singles and of all things Okayama Sanyou had the 7-6 lead!

Suddenly Okayama Sanyou was on the verge of winning the title!

But it wasn’t going to be that easy was it?

Single, double for Soushi Gakuen and the sayonara runner was in scoring position. Unlike Soushi Gakuen, Okayama Sanyou decided not to walk with 1st open which proved costly. A base hit tied the game and a sac fly later gave Soushi Gakuen the 8-7 lead. And now it would be their turn to try and close the game.

But a leadoff single brings back ace Nanba to the mound perhaps to play the handedness factor. Sac bunt put the runner in scoring position.

Instead though Abe takes advantage of the strategy, taking an outside pitch the other way into the gap in RCF for a game tying double! 8-8!

And on a flyout to right, the runner at 2nd tags up and somehow makes 3rd base! Now, with another base open, Soushi Gakuen walks to create the force. Kataoka with 2 hits lines a ball, but right to short and the game heads to enchousen.

Okayama Sanyou would get another chance in the 10th. Kawata leads off with a walk. After a bunt, the next batter is put on. Imoto pops up to shallow right, and while the 2B catches it, Kawata takes off for 3rd and just beats the throw!

After another intentional walk to load the bases Komatsu stands in to try and deliver the win. Instead he’s jammed and pops back up to Nanba to end the inning!

At that time, the tarp was being put on. No rain, but clouds were surrounding the stadium. And almost when they finished putting it on, the downpour started. It was your typical summer Japanese rain and when it finally subsided 30 minutes later I thought the game was going to continue.

Instead the umpire comes out and puts up his hand and just like that the game is called. It’s a “no-game” officially, but could be considered an 8-8 tie as well.

So the teams get a night to sit and think, but they’ll have to return to Muscat Stadium to do it all over again. Usually in replays the better team wins as the pitching suffers. That would be Soushi Gakuen, so we’ll see if that’s the case.

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update – 7/27

9 champions crowned yesterday and our field is almost rounded out.

Champions Crowned

Aomori – Aomori Yamada (11th appearance, 1st in 8 years)

The final was pretty much an even affair, but as with the recent tussles between the two Aomori Yamada has Kousei Gakuin’s number. In the late going, Aomori Yamada scored 1 run in the 7th and 2 in the 9th, which was just too much. Kousei’s Koike had a 9th inning solo HR, but that was all as they fell 5-3.

Ibaraki – Tsuchiura Nichidai (3rd appearance, 1st in 31 years)

I honestly do not know what happened in this game. Last I had left this matchup it was all Kasumigaura, up 7-2 with just 3 innings left.

Then I check it again and it’s 8-4.

Then 8-6.

Then 9-wait… It’s 9-8 Tsuchiura Nichidai?!

So I watch again as Kasumigaura has to find a run in the 9th. And they do. Base hit, bunt, timely single and they’re tied. Can’t push through the sayonara run, and they head to enchousen.

And now the innings start to tick off. I start seeing 10th, 11th, 12th inning on the scoreboard and neither team seems to be doing anything. After the 13th now it becomes dangerous because the teams are at-risk of having a replay.

Top 15th and the pressure is on Tsuchiura Nichidai. Fail to score in the top of the inning and the best they can do is draw.

But the leadoff batter doubles and now the shoe is on the other foot now. Next thing I know they’ve driven the go-ahead runner in, and I know that barring the team being able to quickly regroup Kasumigakura is done.

And in the bottom of the 15th that was indeed the case. Kasumigaura loses it at the death, and Tsuchiura Nichidai finally makes the trip back to Koushien.

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

Urawa Gakuin seemed a bit on the back foot, as relief starter Watanabe had been struggling. In the 5th it came all to a head as he got himself into a manrui situation due to walks/hit batters then waked in a run. Reliever Kuwano came in for one batter and he too walked in a run. Not until Sano came in, did they finally got out of the inning – but he also walked his first batter, so 3 of the 4 runs scored by Hanasaki Tokuharu were via the walk.

And that was pretty much it. Shimizu gave up a 2-run HR, but otherwise it was all Hanasaki Tokuharu as they won 5-2 and earn yet another bid to Natsu Koushien.

Gunma – Maebashi Ikuei (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)

Kendai Takasaki tried to be their gritty selves, but Maebashi Ikuei seemed to have opportunities every inning and it didn’t help that Kendai Takasaki was issuing free passes putting runners on base.

Who while they initially tied it up at 2-2 in the 3rd, Maebashi Ikuei put up runs over the next 3 innings which was enough to put it out of reach. Maebashi Ikuei is starting to cement themselves as a fixture in Gunma.

Fukui – Sakai (1st appearance)

Sakai (or partially the former Harue Kougyou), dominated Tsuruga from start to finish. Ace Yoshikawa Hiroto gave up just 2 hits and walked none as Sakai went on to win 3-0. He was part of the U-15 Japan team back in 2015 so there’s something there, but not sure how much as while he only allowed 2 hits, he struck out only 3 so he’s certainly a contact pitcher.

Gifu – Oogaki Nichidai (4th appearance, 1st in 3 years)

Oogaki Nichidai controlled things early before ace Shuugyou Keito faltered in the 7th leading the defending champs to tie the game. But Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou was already on their 2nd pitcher at the time, and actually went to their 3rd pitcher to start the 8th. That didn’t go well as reliever Fugo Yuuma (who actually was on the U-15 roster in 2016) got just one out in 4 batters and was pulled for Shigemoto who did not help things. All of those baserunners Fugo put on scored and that was that.

Tottori – Yonago Shouin (3rd appearance, 1st in 17 years)

Yonago Shouin won the game, but it was Yonago Higashi who actually out-hit the eventual champions, but it was a key 2nd inning with RBIs from Ueda, Yamaguchi and then a 2-out 2-RBI hit from leadoff batter Babahata. Those 4 runs were more than enough for Yonago Shouin and ace Tatsumi Shinyu as he managed those baserunners to a 5-2 win.

Shimane – Kaisei (10th appearance, 1st in 3 years)

Much like the Tottori final, while Kaisei led from wire-to-wire, Masuda Higashi actually out-hit them as well. However, the top of Kaisei’s lineup, led by cleanup hitter Ueda with his 2 RBI’s, were more than Masuda Higashi could handle, this despite the fact that Nakamura and Katahara struck out just 2.

Naruto Usuzhio – Naruto Uzushio (1st appearance) fka Naruto Kougyou (7th appearance, 1st in 9 years)

Despite the fact the new version of Naruto Kougyou had been unable to go to Koushien, asking Itano to beat them was probably a lot to ask for.

2 innings in and Itano was already down 4-0. The final margin would be 6-0 as Naruto Uzushio finally makes their return to Koushien.

Contested Finals

Nara (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Tenri (Tier 1) v Naradai Fuzoku (Tier 3)

Tenri is about to make a return trip to Koushien, but they have not been able to have success like their main rival in the prefecture – Chiben Gakuen. They managed to beat them in a head-to-head matchup (they almost blew the lead), and should sit as the favorites in the matchup.

Naradai Fuzoku has at least poked its head outside of the prefecture, able to go to Haru Koushien back in 2015. No success once they got there, but at least perhaps they could gain some confidence. And in fact they did beat Tenri in the spring taikai so perhaps they aren’t afraid of the matchup.

Wakayama (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Chiben Wakayama (Tier 1) v Kioukan (Tier 3)

Chiben Wakayama is on the decline, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still considered a formidable opponent. They still put up double digits on every opponent save for last year’s representative Shiritsu Wakayama.

Kioukan will be the most recent opponent to try and take their licks against the powerhouse. They’ve survived 3 one-run games against lesser opposition but I wonder how they will do in the finals. If this was several years ago, I’d give them no chance. But now? They might have one.

Hyogo (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Akaishi Shougyou (Tier 3) v Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Tier 2)

Akashi Shougyou broke through for their first Koushien experience last spring and rewarded their fans with a quarterfinal experience defeating Nichinan Gakuen and Touhou. They’ve reached the finals, but have not played any top tier teams and have had close affairs in their last 2 games.

Meanwhile Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku has had to play both Kansai Gakuin and Houtoku Gakuen, winning both by just 1 run. It will be up to ace Okano to keep the game low-scoring and give his team a chance to take the title.

Okayama (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Okayama Sanyou (Tier 3) v Soushi Gakuen (Tier 2)

Soushi Gakuen, after years in the shadows of other schools in Okayama broke through in 2016 and is on the verge of perhaps becoming the king of the prefecture should they win this game. It would be 4 straight calendar Koushien appearances.

Not only that, but in this particular run they defeated both Okayama Ridai Fuzoku and Kanzei fairly handily.

If the times are a changing, it’s not good news for Okayama Sanyou, who themselves have been mired in Tier 3 status. They can at least show a win to Tamano Kounan to their name, but otherwise it’s been against no-name competition. They will need to play their best game ever to make their first ever appearance.

Yamaguchi (1800 PDT/2100 EDT) – Shimonoseki Kokusai (Tier 3) v Ube Koujyou (Tier 2)

Ube Koujyou is trying to raise its status in the prefecture, but so far, they’ve had to depend on Haru Koushien appearances to promote their name.

This run to the final has not been smooth sailing nor convincing as they came back from down 4-0 to walk off 6-5, then gave up 7 runs versus Tokuyama Shoukou. It may have been a mercy-rule win, but the amount of runs given up are a red flag.

Shimonoseki Kokusai is looking for their first title. There were doing the same 2 years ago but fell short against Shimonoseki Kougyou.

This run has been more impressive, with a 4-0 win against Takakawa Gakuen and an 8-7 win over Ube Shougyou. And in the latter game, they rallied several times, including the final 2 innings before taking the lead for good in the 11th. If there is a team that might be able to take on Ube Koujyou, it might be them.

Ehime (2030 PDT/2330 EDT) – Teikyou Dai-go (Tier 3) v Saibi (Tier 3)

It’s odd to consider Saibi a tier 3 school, but while they have had success past the turn of the century, it’s been sporadic and not sustainable. They reach the finals with only a quality win vs last year’s champs Matsuyama Seiryou.

Teikyou Dai-go finally got their chance at Koushien with a Haru appearance last year. Yeah, they got a couple of breaks to go their way, but they still earned it nonetheless.

They got similar breaks, only having to face Saijyou in the 3rd round as significant competition. However in the semifinals, they had to rally from down 5-0 against Kawanoe and won 16-11 in extra innings. I don’t think that will fly in the finals though.

Fukuoka (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Fukuokadai Oohori (Tier 3) v Touchiku (Tier 3)

Both schools have basically been in the muck that is Fukuoka. Up until recently Fukuoka was generally up for grabs between one of almost double digit teams who could regularly make deep runs. As of late it has been Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku.

They’re not here in the finals this year, and that opens it up for that mass of schools. This year it’s Fukuokadai Oohori and Touchiku.

Fukuokadai Oohori is looking to make it a Haru-Natsu appearance, having reached the quarterfinals earlier this year. They reach the finals having avoided the big names, but the run last fall/spring cannot be ignored.

Touchiku houwever, is looking for their first appearance in 29 years, not only that, but they’ve defeated both Fukuoka Koudai Jyoutou and Nishi-Nippon Tankidai Fuzoku in consecutive games to get to this point.

While Fukuokadai Oohori does have players in the U-18 national team, I think Touchiku might have a chance in this matchup.

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/26)

Some finals finally were able to be played, some were rained out, and some should have been called due to rain if probably not due to the fact that they were finals games and are not called official early for understandable reasons.

Crowned Champions

Yamagata – Nichidai Yamagata (17th appearance, 1st in 4 years)

This was competitive early, but as can be with two teams in lower tiers it can get away from one side very quickly, and that’s what happened here. 7 runs in the 5th and 6th innings and it was a 16-3 rout. They’ve made deep runs in recent appearances and it appears they’ve reloaded for another run.

Niigata – Nihon Bunri (9th appearance, 1st in 3 years)

It was a touch-and-go affair on both sides as Nihon Bunri had a 2-0 lead, got it back and then in the 8th lost it. But then a timely hit from Iida ties the game, and two batters later Kawamura gives Nihon Bunri the lead for good with a 2-run HR from which Chuuetsu could not recover.

Shizuoka – Fujieda Meisei (1st apperance)

If not for the rule that a championship game go to completion, this game would have been called after the end of the 6th due to rain (mercy rules I guess could still be ignored).

Because these two teams waited 3 hours for the rain to clear with Fujieda Meisei firmly in control 12-2 (They were up 11-0 through 4). And when they finally did decide to play, it was still pouring, there were puddles in the infield, and it was just not enjoyable at all – especially for Nichidai Mishima (though they were still cheering loudly until the end).

In the final 3 innings, 19 runs were scored – more than the first 6 innings combined. Fujieda Meisei wins 23-10 but the last 3 innings were not necessary.

Shiga – Hikone Higashi (2nd appearance, 1st in 4 years)

I somehow thought that Hikone Higashi had performed better than they actually had in Shiga, but to realize they’d been to Natsu Koushien just once was surprising. And facing powerhouse Oumi would not have been an easy task.

But they were able to pull away in the middle innings as ace Masui Shouta gives up just 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 8. The 5 walks are going to be a concern going forward, but they’ll cross that bridge when the draw their first opponent.

Mie – Tsuda Gakuen (1st appearance)

I was watching this game yesterday with some interest as I was cheering a little for Mie, though Tsuda Gakuen had not yet been to Koushien. But by the time I caught the game in the 5th, Tsuda Gakuen had a 3-2 lead. Mie, scrappy as they ever were tried to find the tying run, but time and again they were turned away.

I figured the game was over when Tsuda Gakuen scored in the 9th, but with two out a routine flyball to left was dropped allowing the game to continue. That brought up Ogawa, who had already hit a HR earlier in the game. He delivers a base hit for another RBI, and bringing the team within 1.

But with the game on the line, Mie sends in #2 Okada to pinch hit, yet he had been 0-3 so far in his appearances. A peculiar move in my opinion, and in 3 pitches he watched strike 3 hit the outside corner and Mizutani secures Tsuda Gakuen’s 1st even Natsu Koushien appearance.

Kochi – Meitoku Gijyuku (19th apperance, 8th consecutive)

Yusuhara’s story was great to read, but the battle was significantly uphill. Meitoku Gijyuku scored their first run in the 3rd, and when they opened it up for 4 runs in the 4th, I figured that was going to be that.

Now Yusuhara found a way to stay in it, mostly due to the offense of their ace Asai – who actually was batting 8th in the order. Even still, he delivered 2 base hits and 2 RBI’s. But while they tried to claw back the margin, a run from Meitoku in the middle just made it a 6-3 ballgame. Not terrible, but still a significant deficit.

Meitoku Gijyuku added on in the bottom of the 8th and Yusuhara finally waved the white flag. Meitoku goes to their 8th straight Natsu Koushien tournament with a 7-3 win, and let’s hope Yusuhara is more than just a one-hit wonder.

Contested Finals

Aomori (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Aomori Yamada (Tier 3) v Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Tier 1)

There was a time where Aomori Yamada annually was a contender to go to Koushien. I’m not exactly sure what happened after 2009 if there was something that happened to them as a school, or if it was just the rise of Kousei Gakuin (nka Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei), but they’ve been relegated to Tier 3 status after a decade’s worth of dominance.

They poked their heads back into things last spring, but now is a chance for them to perhaps take it to the team that has supplanted them as the powerhouse of Aomori.

And one could argue that Kousei is on the downswing. Sure, they’ve still made appearances every year, but I suppose nothing matches the string in 2011-2012 when they made 3 straight Koushien finals, losing to Nichidai-san in Natsu 2011, and then losing to Osaka Touin in both Haru and Natsu of 2012.

But the games they’ve put together so far are a message that they’re not done quite yet as the top team.

Funny thing is, the last time these teams played in the Natsu taikai was back in 2012. And even more interesting, in the matchups they have played, it’s been Aomori Yamada who has been on the right side of the ledger.

Saitama (1800 PDT/2100 EDT) – Urawa Gakuin (Tier 2) v Hanasaki Tokuharu (Tier 1)

Hanasaki Tokuharu has in recent years gone from a team who could reach the later stages, but couldn’t deliver to one who now is one of the mainstays of Saitama. They’ve represented a strangely weak metropolitan prefecture (much like Fukuoka), but have started delivering results, winning 2 games in each of their last 2 appearances.

They’re going for their 3rd straight Saitama title, having yielded no more than 2 runs in any of their games, though to be fair, they have avoided major competition.

Urawa Gakuin hasn’t quite recovered from that infamous 11-10 loss to Sendai Ikuei when ace Ooshima could not physically continue in the 9th inning due to cramping in his lower legs, made way for Yamaguchi who immediately gave up the game-winning hit.

They’re perhaps on their way again with wins over Seibou Gakuen and Kasukabe Kyouei, though the fact their offense has been stifled in recent games is a bit troubling. One tick in their favor is that they have not 1, but 2 pitchers who can seem to strike out their fair share of batters – Shimizu Youhei and Sano Ryuuya. The latter is apparently on the draft radar.

Gunma (1830 PDT/2130 EDT) – Maebashi Ikuei (Tier 2) v Kendai Takasaki (Tier 1)

Maebashi Ikuei came from nowhere to win Natsu Koushien in 2013 behind ace Takahashi Kouna. Since then they perhaps have seen a bump in that they’re now competitive on an annual basis, but they have yet to turn that into regular Koushien appearances. That has changed in the last couple of years and they’re looking for their 2nd consecutive trip to Natsu Koushien.

In their way has been the darling of Gunma this decade – Kendai Takasaki. Never with real big name power, they have reached the quarterfinals in 4 of their 6 total Koushien appearances. They’re looking for another chance, and have seemed to gain momentum as the games have progressed, culminating in an 8-1 win over Tokyo Noudai Dai-ni.

Maebashi Ikuei hasn’t been a slouch in their own right either, but they haven’t really faced any brand name competition either. Kendai Takasaki will be a big jolt for them to face, and in the final no less.

Ibaraki (1800 PDT/2100 EDT) – Kasumigaura (Tier 3) v Tsuchiura Nichidai (Tier 3)

Both Kasumigaura and Tsuchiura Nichidai I’ve seen in brackets as seeded teams, and yet both have not really delivered results as they’ve each been tripped up by other fellow Tier 3 schools and above.

You could go back and forth on this one. Kasumigaura has had the more recent success, actually winning the Ibaraki title in 2015, though they failed to win a game at Koushien. Sano Nichidai has a quality win in the semifinals, defeating Fujishiro 3-2. But Kasumigaura has pitchers who can rack up the Ks, not something that is necessary, but as I’ve said before gives the staff a little more leeway.

I think perhaps Kasumigaura has the advantage, but if the game gets higher scoring the needle might swing back over.

Fukui (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Sakai (Tier 3) v Tsuruga (No Tier)

Well, we now have our second no-tier team in a final this year. But first the favorite in Sakai.

You might wonder about Sakai. Their school history goes back only to 2015, but there’s a good reason for that. The school was formed as a merger between Sakai Nougyou and Harue Kougyou. Harue Kougyou back in Aki 2012 defeated Tsuruga Kehi and won the Hokushinetsu Super-regional, earning a trip to Haru Koushien.

Since then they’ve still toiled in Tier 3 status, but find themselves here on the brink of their first ever trip to Natsu Koushien, bolstered by a 2-0 shutout of Fukui Shougyou. The only problem is that outside of a blowout against Takeo, all their games have been close and the pitching isn’t lights out.

What helps is that they’re facing Tsuruga, who has had a history of going to Koushien, but that was back in the mid-20th century. Their last appearance at Koushien was back in 1999, and they have struggled in recent years. They’ve basically won low scoring affairs, apparently led by ace Miyama Wataru, who does strike out batters. However, that should be tempered by the fact that they faced no significant competition on the way to the finals.

So we’ll see how these “newcomers” do when faced with a more competitive school.

Gifu (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Oogaki Nichidai (Tier 1) v Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou (Tier 3)

As if to make things more confusing last year’s winner Chuukyou has changed their name to Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou. Not to be confused with Chuukyoudai Chuukyou in Aichi (who by the way is still alive, having defeated Ichiro’s alma mater Aikoudai Meiden).

Anyways, they’re in the finals again looking to go back to back and move up to join teams like Oogaki Nichidai who compete for the title annually. They had a scare from 2015 winner Gifu Jyouhoku, but survived 2-1. Then they perhaps had a letdown as they kept Gifu Seitoku Gakuen hanging around before pulling away in the 9th to win 10-6. Looks like they depend on 2 pitchers, Furuta and Kudou, but neither are real strikeout artists.

While Oogaki Nichidai hasn’t been to Koushien the last 2 years, doesn’t mean they’re not involved. In fact, their losses in the summer taikai have been to the eventual winners. They’re hoping to turn around that script this year.

But if they’re going to do it, they’re going to need to keep the score low. Their key wins were a 5-1 win over Minokamo, and then more importantly a 1-0 win over Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou.

Oogaki Nichidai doesn’t have K pitchers either, but they trust more than 2 it seems. The one constant is Shuugyou Keito, who pitched in both games. But should he falter there are other options.

Dunno who has the pressure here, normally I’d think Oogaki Nichidai to reverse the trend, but it could also be Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou to keep Oogaki Nichidai out.

Tottori (2200 PDT/0100 EDT) – Yonago Shouin (Tier 3/No Tier) v Yonago Higashi (Tier 3/No Tier)

Both teams seem on the borderline of Tier 3 status as both have had recent success. But one resume stand out from the other by leaps and bounds – that of Yonago Shouin.

On the road to the final they have had to play basically the representatives of the prefecture since 2010.

  • 1st Round – def Tottori Shougyou (2004, 2011) 5-3
  • 2nd Round – def Tottori Jyouhoku (2009, 2012-13, 2015) 6-2
  • Semifinals – def Yazu (2010, 2014) 8-2

Even if Tottori is weak overall, facing these types of team and beating all of them is still a significant feat.

That is what Yonago Higashi must face in the final. Granted, they’ve given up just 3 runs in their 3 games, but they have been against teams with a combined 1 Natsu Koushien appearance.

That’s a big red flag, and in the face of the opposition resume, it all seems one-sided and not in Yonago Higashi’s favor.

Shimane (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Masuda Higashi (No Tier) v Kaisei (Tier 2)

Kaisei at one point in time was the team out of Shimane. My lasting impression was back in 2011 when I saw them live and they lost to Nichidai-san with their duo of huge pitchers – Shirane and Mori.

After that year though, they have fallen from that dominating status to merely just one of the contenders, giving way to other teams like Iwami Chisuikan and Risshoudai Shounan.

They’re back in the finals, having defeated Risshoudai Shounan in the process. The offense seems there, but the pitching is a bit more questionable. In that aforementioned Risshoudai Shounan game, their ace Nakamura struck out just 2 while walking 4.

Masuda Higashi’s rise coincides with the arrival of a new kantoku Ooba Toshifumi (大庭 敏文). Since he took over in 2016, Masuda Higashi is 19-5 and now on the verge of their first appearance since 2000. The only hangup is the lack of solid competition faced up to this point. Kaisei will be a big test for them in their most important game this century.

Tokushima (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Naruto Uzushio (Tier 3) v Itano (No Tier)

While Naruto Uzushio has never made it to Koushien, it belies a history that goes further back. Formed in 2012, it was a merger of Naruto Dai-ichi and Naruto Kougyou. The latter was a force in Tokushima in the 2000’s.

So they’re looking to begin forging their own history, but as mentioned have not been able to reach Natsu Koushien as their own school. This appears to be their chance though their rip roaring offense was slowed down in the semifinals.

The surprise is Itano, who from natsu 2006-haru 2017 was 17-30. Then here this natsu taikai, they are 4-0 and looking for their first title.

The reason is as is most cases, their ace. Morii Kendo reportedly throws in the upper 140s and strikes out a ton of batters. It’s been no-name competition so far, can he rise to the occasion in the final?

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/25)

5 champs crowned yesterday, some as Niigata and Yamagata were rained out.

Crowned Champs

Akita – Meiou (9th appearance, 1st in 8 years)

Action was pretty much one way in this matchup. Meiou opened the scoring, and basically held Kanaashi Nougyou off the basepaths all game. Their 3rd pitcher Satou gave up a run in the 9th, but a 5-1 win and Meiou will get a chance, albeit 8 years later, to wipe that ill-timed throw to 3rd out of people’s memories.

Chiba – Kisaradzu Sougou (6th appearance, 2nd consecutive)

I saw the first couple of innings of this final. Wanted to watch it all because I so badly want Narashino to make it back to Koushien. But they were playing catchup all night and wound up never leading, falling 4-3. They had their chances it seems, but just could never get themselves ahead. And so it’s another year with them on the sidelines as Kisaradzu Sougou takes hold of Chiba.

Kyoto – Kyoto Seishou (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)

I caught the game in the middle, but by then it was already over. While Heian had just scored 3 in the top of the 5th, it was a drop in the bucket as they still strailed 12-4 to Kyoto Seishou. There really wasn’t a need to watch the rest of the game as Kitayama did what he needed to do to win the game. 12-6 and Just like that Kyoto Seishou is on their way back to Natsu Koushien after a long absence.

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

Hiroshima, or at least Hiroshima teams stick in my mind for rain delays. A Natsu Koushien a couple of years back had Jyosuikan try 2 times to play a game, only to have it rained out. I think they even led both times. And on the 3rd try they lost.

Well, the Hiroshima final was rain delayed before the start, and again after the 2nd inning. Once the game resumed, it was Kouryou who jump started things, with a 6 run 4th capped off by a HR from #3 batter Nakamura. But what was 6-0 became 6-2 and then 6-5. But reliever Yamamoto came in and shut things down in the 7th and got out of a 1st/3rd situation in the 8th. Kouryou made his job easier with 3 runs in the 9th and that was that.

Oita –  Meihou (6th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

I thought this would be more contested than it actually was. Meihou ace Hashidzume Kaito pitches a 3-hit shutout. Only strikes out 2, but 3 hits is 3 hits. Meihou will try once again to replicate the success of Imamiya from 2009.

Contested Finals

Yamagata (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nichidai Yamagata (Tier 2) v Yamagata Chuo (Tier 2)

Niigata (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nihon Bunri (Tier 1) v Chuuetsu (Tier 2)

See prior review on the 21st as teams have been rained out.

Saitama – Urawa Gakuin v Hanasaki Tokuharu

Ibaraki – Kasumigaura v Tsuchiura Nichidai

Guess Tohoku/Hokushinetsu region played rain tag. Saitama and Ibaraki rained out. Review to come tomorrow.

Shizuoka (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nichidai Mishima (Tier 3) v Fujieda Meisei (Tier 3)

This is an actual surprise to not see not one of Shizuoka, Tokohadai Tachibana or Tokohadai Kikugaka (formerly Tokoha Tachibana and Tokoha Kikugawa respectively). But the Tokohadai schools both lost in the quarterfinals, and Shizuoka (who defeated Tokohadai Tachibana) was paper-cutted to death by Fujieda Meisei as they scored 1 run from the 3rd to 7th innings. Oh, and 3 in the 2nd and 6 in the 9th to seal the deal.

While Fujieda Meisei can say they’ve beaten Shizuoka, ace Kubota struggled early in the matchup and could have fatigue issues in the final. For Nichidai Mishima, they’ve used a set of pitchers in their games and could actually have the advantage despite the lack of key competition faced.

Shiga (2030 PDT/2330 EDT) – Hikone Higashi (Tier 3) v Oumi (Tier 2)

For some reason I thought Hikone Higashi was on a higher level than they actually are. Instead they’ve toiled being good, but not good enough. And their nemesis hasn’t been one of the powerhouses like Oumi or Kita-Ootsu, but instead another school who had been toiling in Minokuchi. In fact, in 3 of the prior 5 years Minokuchi has specifically ended their run, wherever they were at that point of the taikai. This year, they faced them yet again, this time in the semifinals. And while neither team got a lot of hits off the other, Hikone Higashi did more with it, scoring 5 runs late against ace Miyawaki to advance to the finals.

Oumi meanwhile is looking for its 2nd consecutive appearance and 3rd in 4 years. They’ve given up just 1 run, and that was to Ritsumeikan Moriyama in the 3rd round. But they’ve not faced any of the other prefectural powerhouses so Hikone Higashi should provide their toughest test.

Mie (2030 PDT/2330 EDT) – Mie (Tier 1) v Tsuda Gakuen (Tier 3)

Mie despite being a Tier 1 school in my eyes, feels like they still play with a blue-collar mentality. Not sure why, but it’s endeared me to them in some way. Even more so after that 2014 final where I think Osaka Touin played mind games with them to take the title. Still won’t forgive them for that.

They would have been perhaps the favorites to take the title up until their semifinal against Tsu Shougyou where they survived a late inning flurry of runs to advance 6-5 using 4 pitchers to bring the team home.

That probably opens the door for Tsuda Gakuen who has blown out their competition so far, mercy-ruling all games except for their first against Hisai. They can also count a mercy-rule win over Komono in the semifinals as a point in their corner as well.

The question is if perhaps Mie’s pitching has been stretched out too far at this point and if Tsuda Gakuen can take advantage of it.

Kochi (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Meitoku Gijyuku (Tier 1) v Yusuhara (No Tier)

This is a first I think. We all know who Meitoku Gijyuku is, so there’s no need to discuss their legitimacy. They’re going for their 8th straight title and only dropped runs to Kouchi Shougyou. The 2-0 win versus Okou can be a bit concerning, especially when it comes on just 5 hits.

But the surprise is no tier Yusuhara. A team that had won just 10 games from Natsu 2007 to Aki 2016 is now in the finals. The secret is kantoku Yokokawa Tsunehiro, who formerly coached Muroto when they made their one and only Koushien appearance, sending the team to the quarterfinals of the 2007 Haru Koushien.

He was called upon, despite being in retirement, to become the kantoku of Yusuhara in 2013. Since then they have won 1 game in each taikai save for 2 occasions. And now, with wins over Kochi and Nakamura, find themselves in the finals against the #1 team in the prefecture. There is no second chance like Muroto had, but if they can somehow pull off the upset, it would be one amazing thing. And perhaps for one day, bring back the romanticism of 高校野球.

 

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/24) – Champs and Finals!

Slowly, because mother nature abhors doing things in mass, we are getting our finalists.

Crowned Champions

Iwate – Moriokadai Fuzoku (10th appearance, 2nd consecutive)

Kuji was in the game for the first half, down just 2-0 at the break. Against a team like Moriokadai Fuzoku you could easily be worse. And when I saw that Kuji had a leadoff double to start the top of the 6th, my thought was “they have to score here” if they don’t they’re done.

They didn’t score, and Ueda hits a 2-run HR in the bottom of the frame. He hits one more in the 7th as Moriokadai Fuzoku pulls away for 9-0 win and another Natsu Koushien appearance.

Nagano – Matsushou Gakuen (36th appearance, 1st in 9 years)

I didn’t get a chance to catch the 1st inning, but saw that 4 for Matsushou Gakuen and thought “whoa, wasn’t expecting that”. But Matsushou Gakuen had unfinished business from last year when Saku Chousei routed them in the finals.

And yet, Saku Chousei was far from done. The Tier 1 school did what Tier 1 schools do and is claw their way back. By the end of the 6th they had pulled the game level and Matsushou Gakuen was on the verge of losing it much like Toukaidai Sapporo did the other day.

But Iryou came through with a timely hit in the 8th to give Matsushou Gakuen the lead, and ace Naoe Daisuke shut the door in the final 2 innings to complete their revenge and bring the team back to Koushien.

Kumamoto – Shuugakukan (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)

I’m not sure why I didn’t see this game through. I saw early on when the teams were knotted at 1-1. It stayed that way all the way to the 9th as both teams really didn’t do a whole lot, especially Kyushu Gakuin who really needed to get to the Shuugakukan duo.

But that duo, even if weaker from the 4-headed monster from last year, was still better off than perhaps a single ace. Because Kyushu Gakuin’s Tajiri in the 9th had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Hanjyou Touma delivers a base hit driving in both runners and giving Shuugakukan the 3-1 lead with just 3 outs to play. Taura closes his relief stint out without giving up a hit and Shuugakukan is back at Koushien again.

Last of all, best wishes to Kajisha-kantoku. Hopefully he comes back to be with the team at Koushien.

Today’s Contested Finals

Akita (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Meiou (Tier 3) v Kanaashi Nougyou (Tier 3)

The last time Meiou was at Koushien in 2009 I believe they lost in heartbreaking manner when the C tried to pick off the runner at 3rd only to have the throw go into left field. It goes without saying it was completely unnecessary and a terribly way to lose.

Ever since then they’ve gone back down to middling in the ranks of Akita, bumping heads against the top teams. They’re here in the title game having avoided all the possible traps along the way.

The same can be said for Kanaashi Nougyou who also has avoided playing the top teams in Akita and has had an easy road to the final. Two Tier 3 schools to the finals and both will be desperate to win this game.

Chiba (1800 PDT/2100 EDT) – Narashino (Tier 2) v Kisaradzu Sougou (Tier 1)

Narashino is back in the finals again, within a stone’s throw away from Koushien. It hasn’t been pretty at times, and they’ve avoided the powerhouses. They’ve done what has been asked, but now a major obstacle stands in the way in defending champs Kisaradzu Sougou.

And Kisaradzu Sougou is no easy task as they have given up just 4 runs in 6 games. 2 in their opening game against Nagareyama Ootaki no Mori and then in their semifinal versus Toukaidai Ichihara Bouyou.

It’s a big ask, but man I would love to hear Narashino back at Koushien. I ran out the door, but I would have had my Narashino jersey on otherwise to support them.

Niigata (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nihon Bunri (Tier 1) v Chuuetsu (Tier 1)

See prior review

Kyoto (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Ryuukokudai Heian (Tier 1) v Kyoto Seishou (Tier 3)

Heian has pretty much breezed through save for a 4-3 win over Toba. Not the best game to put at the top of the resume, but they’re here nonetheless. Kyoto Seishou gets a chance to go back to Koushien and if I remember correctly, it was that team that gave their ace the #18 number instead of the standard #1.

They had a close game versus fellow Tier 3 school Kyoto Gaidai Nishi, and then had to come back versus no-tier Doushisha Kokusai. Their walk numbers are scary, and by scary I mean horrendous. They’ve got their work ahead of them today.

Hiroshima (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Hiroshima Shinjyou (Tier 1) v Kouryou (Tier 1)

For the longest time Kouryou and Jyosuikan both dominated Hiroshima and any road to Koushien went through one, if not both teams.

But in recent years, one team has broken that foothold – Hiroshima Shinjyou. And this year they are looking for their 3rd straight appearance.

To me it’s amazing that Kouryou may be the underdog in this matchup. Kouryou has almost scored double digits in every game so far, except for the semifinal versus Hiroshima Shougyou where a solo HR by C Nakamura was the only scoring in the game.

For Hiroshima Shinjyou, it was about the same except for their 4th round win versus Hiro. They have started to give up runs in more recent games, so perhaps there’s something there, but for Kouryou ace Hiramoto, I’m not convinced he has the stuff to slow down their offense.

Oita (1800 PDT/2100 EDT) – Oita Shougyou (Tier 3) v Meihou (Tier 2)

Meihou had a stretch back in the later 2000’s where scrappy Imamiya Kenta helped propel the team to the forefront. They’ve been competitive since then, but not as much. Oita Shougyou broke a 15 year drought back in 2013, but have not necessarily turned it into more appearances. They get a chance to do that here.

Both teams have pretty much obliterated the competition meaning that something will have to give. Oita Shougyou’s pitchers have at least shown the ability to strike out batters, which might give the team an slight buffer over Meihou because I will take an advantage on the mound when faced with lack of information.