Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/11)

A lot of prefectures kicked off qualifying this past weekend. Normally the Asahi website would only show later round games, but Nagano is jumping the gun and had games right from opening day. And it’s a good exercise to watch because you are seeing close games between teams that can barely fit their uniforms and for a split second you believe the romanticism in 高校野球 still exists. But then you see a team face a seeded team like Saku Chousei and are mercy-ruled and then you’re reminded that Koushien is reserved mostly for about the top 10% of the schools.

So here’s where we are. I’ll mainly cover the prefectures where noteworthy stuff is happening as over half the prefectures are in play and I unfortunately don’t have time this week specifically.

Okinawa (Best 4)

So the one surprise in the top 16, Shuri, actually went from down 3-0 early to up 10-5 late But perhaps in a twist of fate, they were the ones on the wrong side of a comeback as Ginoza would score 6 in the bottom of the 8th for an 11-10 win. They however, could not beat the rising power that is Mirai Kouka, falling 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

The new surprise is Mirai Kouka’s next opponent, Yaeyama Nougyou. Before 2017, they had won just 2 games in the past 5 years in tournament play. And yet, they have reached the semifinals, with a 6-2 win over of all teams Urasoe Shougyou, one of the powerhouse teams in the prefecture. Their C Miyagi Nao (宮城 羅) even hit a home run during the game.

Usually that means that they have a big ace, but in that win they used 4 pitchers in all so it’s more of a managing job by their kantoku. Makes sense since in the game prior they switched back and forth between 2 pitchers – Tonoshiro Yoshihiro (登野城 吉絋) and Yarabu Shouji (屋良部 将司).

But Mirai Kouka is no easy ask, and even if they win that game, they have to face either Itoman or Kounan, who have reached the semis, but not necessarily in dominating fashion.

Kita & Minami Hokkaido (Draw for Round of 16)

We have the draws for each of the halves and it is not kind to the main players:

Kita Hokkaido

  • Koryou v Asahikawadai
  • Bushuukan v Engaru
  • Obihiro Ootani v Wakkanai Ootani
  • Asahikawa Jitsugyou v Takikawa Nishi
  • Nakashibetsu v Kushiro Hokuyou
  • Asahikawa Nagamine v Asahikawa Ryuukoku
  • Esashi v Abashiri Minamigaoka
  • Shirakaba Gakuen v Clark Kokusai

All those teams in bold can be considered front-runners for the title, and all of them managed to draw each other. It’s good for the rest of the teams that aren’t them, especially for those on the Shirakaba Gakuen v Clark Kokusai part of the bracket, but barring some upset, the road still goes through them.

Minami Hokkaido

  • Eniwa Kita v Sapporo Nichidai
  • Esashi v Hakodate Kougyou
  • Otaru Koryou v Toukaidai Sapporo (fka Toukai Dai-yon)
  • Hokkaido Sakae v Sapporo Kousei
  • Tomakomai Chuo v Hakodatedai Yuuto
  • HokkaiHokushou
  • Komadai Tomakomai v Sapporo Dai-ichi
  • Sapporo Ootani v Sapporo Seishuu

The draw was kinder here, but even still 4 top teams are playing each other right off the bat, and for Hokkai or Hokushou it’s possible Hakodatedai Yuuto looms on the horizon.

Fukuoka

As is the case in Fukuoka, there is chaos. No team has yet to take a foothold and already in their first games, seeded teams are being sent home. Kurate walked off Yaehata 7-6 and Mii upset Fukushima 5-2, though neither are considered a powerhouse.

All other seeded teams have won, but not all in dominating fashion. So perhaps we’re in for more upsets.

Saga

Not many games have been played and the one seeded team to have played, the famed Saga Kita, did not look great against Shiota Kougyou, winning 5-3.

But there is one notable game. Tara, who had not won a game since at least summer 2006 (since that is as far as Asahi’s history goes), going 0-25 in that span, mercy ruled Karatsu Seishou 8-1 in 7 innings. During that time, here’s what they had to suffer:

  • 15 shutouts and 4 games scoring just 1 run
  • 18 games giving up 10 runs or more including 3 of 20 runs and 1 of 30 runs
  • Closest game was in natsu 2010 where they had a 3-1 lead over Karatsu Kougyou before losing 4-3.

The irony of it all? You could theoretically call this win a revenge game. Why?

Karatsu Seishou has won just 5 games during the same time period, with their last win in fall of 2010. The opponent? Tara.

Nagasaki

2 seeded teams played much earlier than the rest with Oomura falling behind early to Matsuura and never recovered losing 6-3. Again not a prominent team in the prefecture, but a loss nonetheless.

Kumamoto

Again, only a couple of seeded teams have played, both have won, but Kumamoto Kougyou let Hitoyoshi stick around winning 5-2.

Kagoshima

Kagoshima is behind a bit due to the torrential rains that have plagued the area in recent days so not all the seeded teams have played their 3rd round games yet. Kamimura Gakuen and Kagoshima Jitsugyou are through with little trouble. Meanwhile, Ikeda fell to Kagoshima who themselves are through to the 4th round and Takeokadai was mercy-ruled by Sendai Shoukou. Again, neither were great teams so it’s not a big surprise. The one minor upset was seeded Reimei falling to Kanoya Chuo, though the latter is not a slouch in the prefecture by any means.

Kagawa

Just 38 teams in the prefecture, and only Marugame Jyousai has yet to play from the seeded teams. But if they put in a good performance they could easily be the front-runners to go.

Why?

Well, Sanbonmatsu won 4-1 over a Sakaide Shougyou squad who has not performed well in recent times. Eimei was given a rough opening game playing Marugame and blew a 5-3 lead in the 9th inning losing 6-5 in 10. And Sakaide was just non-competitive against Kagawa Chuo losing 7-1.

Aichi

Seeded teams have double byes, so they’re still yet to play. But two teams have broken years-long losing streaks this year.

Toyooka‘s last win was in 2007 where they mercy ruled Nisshin 18-0. While they have had close games,the team only plays in the summer so it’s 1 years’ worth of practice just to lose 1 game. That changed this year when they went back and forth with Taki pulling away with 4 runs in the final 3 innings for a 9-6 win.

Kamogaoka‘s futility is about that of the aforementioned Tara. They won 9-8 against then Ningen Kankyoudai Okazaki Gakuen (nka Okazaki Gakuen) also in natsu 2007. Since then they have played 10 games getting shutout in 7 of them and also giving up 10 runs or more in 7 games (though not the same games). They ended their drought this year with a 12-1 win over Okazaki Shougyou but were then in turn mercy ruled by Kyouei 10-0.

Gifu

Half of Gifu’s seeded teams have played so far, and they all breezed through with a combined score of 45-2. The only blemish was Chuukyou Gakuindai Chuukyou who defeated Gifu Kita 13-2 in 6 innings. Minokamo, Tajimi and Oogaki Nichidai all pitched shutouts.

Nagano

Nagano’s games are live on the Asahi website which is rare because they’re showing all games from the 1st round to what probably will be the finals.

All the top seeded teams have played at least their first game (in the 2nd round). The top of the top seeded teams (Komoro Shougyou, Toukaidai Suwa) all had mercy rule wins. #3 Ueda Nishi actually had a tough opponent in Matsushiro and won 6-0. After that, the teams struggled with #6 seed Saku Chousei the only other one to record a mercy-rule win. #7 Shinonoi fell 9-7 to Matsukawa and #8 Ina Kita was mercy ruled by Matsushou Gakuen 8-0, though I guess Ina Kita can’t be blamed too much as Matsushou Gakuen wasa former powerhouse though just a Tier 3 school now.

Niigata

The road to Koushien might go through the top seeded teams as Nihon Bunri, Chuuetsu and Sekine Gaken recorded mercy rule wins. Niigata Meikun could only manage a 4-0 win over Jyouetsu Sougou Gijyutsu.

Higashi Tokyo

Still way too early for the seeded teams to play, but while Nichidai-san has had success, Dai-san Shougyou has not going 0-13 since natsu 2007. The team had been unable to score more than 1 run until natsu 2015. But this year against Tsubasa Sougou, they finally managed to notch a 5-2 win. They will play Itabashi who has only 7 wins since 2007 including their first round win this summer.

Saitama

Dominated by 3 schools since 2011 – Urawa Gakuin, Kasukabe Kyouei and Hanasaki Tokuharu (all of which are the top seeded teams) – each of them won handily via mercy rule. Looks like the road once again will go through at least one of these schools.

Tochigi

All seeded teams to have played so far – Hakuoudai Ashikaga, Tochigi Kougyou, Ishibashi, Sano Nichidai and Sakushin Gakuin – have all won their opening games.

Meanwhile, 2 teams ended winless streaks that stretched back to 2011. Ashikaga Seifuu ended an 0-10 streak with a 6-2 win over Tochigi. Oyama Hakuyou ended a similar 0-10 streak by defeating Mibu 8-0 in 7 innings.

Gunma

The top seeds in the prefecture, Maebashi Ikuei and Kendai Takasaki both advanced in their first games, but neither put up strong wins like one would want from early games. To be fair, Kendai Takasaki was never known for offense, but still a 5-0 isn’t all that great.

Iwate

Half of the seeded teams are playing today and while I was updated for games played up until the 11th, I’ll make an exception here since it’s the last one. Hanamaki Higashi has yet to play, but the other seeded teams Moriokadai Fuzoku, Morioka Dai-yon and Hanamaki Minami all won, though while the former 2 won by mercy rule the latter defeated Oofunato 3-2.

The other seeded teams will play tomorrow and so far none have lost.

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