(photo courtesy of Minyuu Shinbun)
Author’s note: Due to lack of time, rosters will not be posted in the blog posts. I will work over next couple of days to get my normal spreadsheet up and running as inserting them into each blog post is too time consuming.
Seikou Gakuin (14th appearance, 11th consecutive)
- Location – Date-shi, Fukushima
- Private school
- Student Body – 759 students (175 female)
- Club Size – 125
- Kantoku – Saitou Tomoya (斎藤 智也)
Road to Koushien
- def Motomiya 13-0 (5 inn)
- def Kitakata 7-0 (7 inn)
- def Aidzu 8-0 (7 inn)
- def Odaka Sangyou Gijyutsu 5-0
- def Nichidai Tohoku 6-2
- def Iwaki Kouyou 5x-4
Seikou Gakuin almost didn’t make it out for the first time in a decade. Iwaki Kouyou was able to answer for every score they put on the board, except for the final run, for which there was no chance to do so. Sometimes winning for so long can breed complacency and perhaps that was the case here.
Now, as for their performances what they can say is that in half of those appearances over the past 10 years they have reached the Best 8. Not a bad feat considering where they’re coming from. The problem is, in all those cases their loss wasn’t really close, suggesting while they may be above the riff-raff, they’re not good enough to be with the elite. And given the fact that their final 2 games in prefecture were far from dominating, especially on the mound, it suggests that this might be one of their down years.
Okayama Sanyou (1st appearance)
- Location – Asakuchi-shi, Okayama
- Private school
- Student Body – 1,090 students (474 female)
- Club Size – 97
- Kantoku – Tsutsumi Naohiko (堤 尚彦)
Road to Koushien
- def Okayama Minami 11-1
- def Hayashino 10-2
- def Tamano Kounan 7-0
- def Okayama Gakugeikan 10-2
- def Koujyoukan 4-1
- draw Soushi Gakuen 8-8 (10 inn, rain)
- def Soushi Gakuen 9-2
Okayama Sanyou wins their first ever Natsu title, and it wasn’t easy having to go through the recent prefectural winners, and Soushi Gakuen twice. Perhaps even more amazing is that in the replay, relief starter Ooe had a no-hitter through 8 innings. Usually the underdog program in a replay would suffer due to depletion of their pitching, but it seemed the shoe was on the other foot.
As good as that is though, Okayama really hasn’t had that much success at Koushien in recent times. So while Okayama Sanyou may have summited the mountain, there’s an even bigger one facing them now. If there is some consolation, it’s that their offense continued to play all the way through the finals.
- 2B Yabuki
- CH Watanabe
- SS Segawa
- 1B Yaginuma
- RF Nihira
- LF Matsumoto
- C Satou Kouichi
- 3B Oohira
- P Saitou
- SS Kawada
- 2B Okada
- RF Morishita
- LF Imoto
- 1B Abe (#5)
- 3B Komatsu (#1)
- C Matsuoka
- P Ooe (#10)
- CF Kataoka
13:20 – First Pitch!
Ooe picking up right where he almost left off in the Okayama final – a 1-2-3 inning.
Kawada meanwhile drills a pitch the other way to the RCF wall for a leadoff double. Will we see yet another crooked number in the 1st?
No! Saitou goes back to back K’s to Morishita and Imoto and we have a scoreless opening frame.
Ooe has a fork and shuuto go with the traditional slider and curve. Bit unlucky for Okayama Sanyou as Kawada fields a ball near the 2nd base bag, but doesn’t get in front of it and the ball just deflects off of it for a base hit.
Nihira up and he puts a charge into a ball which was high and away, and lands it on top of the padding in left! Yaginuma comes around to score on the triple and one of the old standards at Koushien leads 1-0!
Make that 2-0 after Matsumoto singles though the right side!
Ooe gets 2 outs afterwards, but then gives up a walk to the #9 batter. Ooe surprisingly struggling after an easy 1st.
Yabuki singles through the right side! Kouichi is being waved around, but Morishita fires home and in one motion Matsuoka picks the ball after one bounce and tags the runner for the 3rd out!
The 2nd isn’t kind to Saitou either. He walks Abe and then 2 batters later he hits Matsuoka.
Once again Saitou though strikes out Ooe and then Kataoka hits it right to Oohira who steps on the bag for the 3rd out. Newcomers denied again and Ooe will need to hold serve.
Ooe not getting much help from his defense either. groundball by Watanabe is thrown away by Kawada allowing him to reach 2nd. A sac bunt, and a sac fly later and it’s 3-0 Seikou Gakuin.
Okayama Sanyou getting runners on base every inning, but cannot bring any of them home. Morishita hits a ball off of Fukagawa and deflects from short to right field for a double. Add in a hit batter and Saitou is in a small bit of trouble. Abe makes good contact, but flies to right ending the inning.
Ooe is finally knocked out after yielding a double to Oohira and a triple to Yabuki making the score 4-0. Ace Komatsu comes in and gets Okayama Sanyou out of further damage, but the runs slowly tick up.
In fact he gives up another run in the 5th on 2 more hits and the standard at Koushien, Seikou Gakuin, slowly crushing newcomers Okayama Sanyou 5-0 at the break.
Okayama Sanyou once again has a great chance to get on the board in 6th. Walk from Abe and double from Komatsu give them runners at 2nd/3rd with just 1 out. Yet Saitou strikes out Matsuoka and new 1B Ogawara to end the inning.
Nihira gets a chance to hit a HR for they cycle and he does hit a HR.
If he was in a silo.
Instead it’s just a popup to short. Still, not a bad day for him.
Rest of game
Okayama Sanyou finally raises the white flag. After getting several early opportunities to get to Saitou they resign themselves to their fate as he throws a 4-hit shutout. The game unceremoniously ends with a caught stealing at 3rd of all things.
Seikou Gakuin advances again, but you wonder if Saitou can continue to get out of pinches like he had in this game. Who know how the game would have gone if Okayama Sanyou has scored in the 1st.