Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/21) – Semifinals and later

More updates! Any prefecture who has not advanced from yesterday’s update not mentioned (for obvious reasons).

Championship Games (All live on Asahi)

Kita Hokkaido – Shirakaba Gakuen v Takikawa Nishi (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

Shirakaba Gakuen makes the finals though they gave up 2 runs in the 1st and are on the precipice of being the champions. Standing in their way is Takikawa Nishi who limited Asahikawadai to just 3 hits in a 3-1 win. I’d root for Takikawa Nishi, and the games against Asahikawa Jitsugyou and Asahikawadai help, but they’re still understandably the underdogs.

Iwate – Moriokadai Fuzoku v Kuji (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

Moriokadai Fuzoku basically has one hand on the crown and just needs to put it on their heads. Morioka Dai-yon gave them some resistance early, but crumbled post-break.

Kuji won a back-and-forth affair with Oofunato Higashi 6-4 and will try to mount the last stand against the defending champions. But it seems mostly in vain.

Fukushima – Seikou Gakuin v Iwaki Kouyou (1900 PDT/2200 EDT)

Same story, different prefecture. They schedule the game early to get it out of the way. Just kidding. But not really.

Seikou Gakuin is about to win the prefecture for the 11th straight year. That will be 9 graduating classes now that have failed to see Natsu Koushien. Oy.

Iwaki Kouyou will try to stop it but if you look at recent history, they might as well fold:

  • Haru 2017 – lost 3-18 in Fukushima final
  • Aki 2015 – lost 4-8 in Fukushima semi-final
  • Haru 2015 – lost 0-3 in Fukushima final
  • Natsu 2014 – lost 0-4 in Fukushima semi-final
  • Haru 2014 – lost 0-4 in Fukushima semi-final
  • Aki 2013 – lost 1-5 in Fukushima 2nd round

Yikes. Someone needs to beat Seikou Gakuin, but I’m not sure this team is it.

Semifinals

Oita (not playing today)

Again major players litter the scene with one underdog to try and spoil the party:

  • Oita Shougyou v Yanagigaura
  • Meihou v Oita Maidzuru

Oita Shougyou looks to make their first trip in 4 years. Slow start in 1-0 win over Nakatsu Higashi, but otherwise breezed through no-names. Yanagigaura has been a solid school, but had not gone to Natsu Koushien since 2003. They eliminated last year’s champs Oita 7-3 in the quarterfinals.

Meihou’s been flashing the bats, scoring double digits every game, but not facing anyone noteworthy. Offense by itself can still play though so they could have some leeway in that respect. Plus they get to play the David in the group, Oita Maidzuru, who beat 2008 champ Hita Rinkou.

The weird bit is that from their loss in the 2nd round of natsu qualifying 2014 to their first game in the haru taikai in 2016 they could not win a game. Since then they put in at least 2 wins in each competition and now have won 4 straight to get to the semifinals.

Well, usually when a team pops up, it’s the ace that gets them there. Oita Maidzuru’s ace is Masukawa Kazuma (益川 和馬). No videos, just that article. Southpaw, has a curve, slider and changeup. Took over the ace position in his freshman year, which explains their quick rise to prominence. If he pitched in all games, his losses were:

  • Natsu 2016 – 2-7 to Oita in 3rd round
  • Aki 2016 – 0-2 to Kitsuki in Oita quarterfinals
  • Spring 2017 – 3-4 loss to Oita in Oita quarterfinals

It may not be that hard to imagine them making it, but they still have the brand names to play.

Kumamoto (not playing today)

A couple of lower tiered teams still in play here, and by couple, I mean 2:

  • Shuugakukan v Yatsushiro
  • Buntoku v Kyushu Gakuin

Shuugakukan is trying to get to their 4th straight calendar Koushien appearance despite the presence of Kajisha-kantoku. With only a 2-headed monster on the mound instead of 4 they have reached the finals again, but barely beat Chiharadai 4-2 in the 2nd round and then trailed Kumamoto Kokufu 4-1 going into the bottom of the 6th before they scored 8 unanswered runs. Their position is not as dominant as it was, but it’s been enough… so far.

Yatsushiro has come on in 2017 defeating Seiseikou twice, and Senshuudai Tamana in the Haru taikai. Their only loss so far was a 5-3 loss to Buntoku. Their ace is Ogata Sorato (緒方 空澄), but there is no information on him.

Meanwhile the aforementioned Buntoku, who blanked Taragi 5-0 in the quarterfinals gets to play 2015 champ Kyushu Gakuin, who has not played anyone significant but stumbled a bit in their 6-4 win over Minamata in the 2nd round.

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