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