Tag Archive > Koshien

A Quick Koshien Qualifying Roundup

» 19 July 2011 » In amateur baseball, Koshien » 4 Comments

It’s one of my favorite times of year. Japan’s high schools baseball teams are once again marching on the road to Summer Koshien. Here are a few items making news:

  • Nara powerhouse Tenri is out of this summer’s qualifying games due to violence within the club. The Japan Student Baseball Association handed down a two month suspension on June 14th, and their absence opens a path for Chiben Gakuen or another school to represent Nara at Koshien. Interestingly, it has been either Tenri or Chiben Gakuen representing the prefecture for 36 of the last 39 summer tournaments, while Koriyama holds the other three. Kansai Chuo is highly ranked this year; might this be their chance to make the dance for the first time ever?
  • Speaking of first-timers, congratulations to Itoman of Okinawa, the first team to punch their ticket to Nishinomiya. Itoman held on in the prefectural final to beat Chubu Shogyo, 2-1. If I’m not mistaken, they will become the geographically southernmost Japanese school to play at Koshien, though there were teams representing Taiwan in the days when the island was under Japanese rule.
  • Spring and Summer 2010 champions Konan saw their great run end in that same Okinawa qualifying bracket. The loss of their fine left handed starter Yosuke Shimabukuro to graduation was more than they could overcome.
  • Narashino, one of the stronger teams from Chiba Prefecture, has a  great marching band. While their baseball is entertaining, something special happens when their boys are batting and they fire up their instruments. You can hear an audio clip of them here. The sonic treat alone is worth tuning into their games for.
  • Yokohama, a traditional power in Kanagawa Prefecture, is looking a bit shaky these days. While they breezed through their first game with a 10-0 score, they struggled to overcome a plucky Yokohama Shogyo squad on Monday (July 18th). Tokaidai Sagami, the Spring champions and 2010 Summer Koshien runners-up to the aforementioned Konan, are looking strong again and would like their shot to win it all. Getting out of the Kanagawa qualifier, with its 186 teams, won’t be easy.
  • Typhoon Ma-on has disrupted the schedules in the southern parts of Japan. As it makes landfall during the week, expect the cancellations to spread. Let’s hope the storm passes quickly, and that everyone in the affected areas stays safe and dry.

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Stars of Senbatsu

» 03 April 2011 » In Koshien » 9 Comments

Tomorrow’s professional baseball stars have to come from somewhere, and in Japan more often than not a young ballplayer will cut his teeth with a top high school team. The best kokoyakyu (high school baseball) teams are featured in two annual national tournaments, known colloquially as Spring and Summer Koshien. The spring tournament, or Senbatsu, is an invitational competition involving 32 teams. This year’s champion, Tokaidai Sagami, was crowned on Sunday. Here’s a look at some of the top individual performers from the just-concluded event:

Shuuto Takajo, C, Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku

Though his team fell short in the final game, Kyukou’s catcher put on one of the best hitting shows of the tournament. He batted 12-for-19 (.632) over 5 games and had a stretch of 8 consecutive hits. His talent was best on display when he batted 5-for-5 with a double against Hokkai.

Yoshinao Kamata, RHP, Kanazawa

Though his team lasted only one game, it was clear from the outset that Kamata was the best professional pitching prospect this tournament had to offer. His fastball reached 150 kph, but more importantly he has good command and movement of an excellent slider and change-up. He started out fooling batters with a terrific ability to change speeds and locate his pitches. His pitch selection was intelligent.

His defense failed him, however, and by the 5th inning seemed to either run out of gas or let frustration get the better of him. His team had very little offense as well and it all lead to a 4-0 loss in which he allowed 8 hits but struck out 11. He needs to improve his stamina, but should be an exciting player to look out for this summer.

Tokaidai Sagami hitters: Hirotsugu Satoh (C) Shunta Tanaka (IF) Tetsuya Usuda (CF), Masaru Watanabe (RF)

I’m cheating a bit on this one. I had wanted to select one player to represent how powerful this team’s offense was, and I couldn’t. The team banged out a tournament record 74 hits and outscored their final two opponents by a combined score of 22-3 (46-9 overall). These four players alone, who comprise the top of the lineup, went 21-for-42 (.500) with 11 extra base hits over just those two games! In the championship game, Watanabe also played outstanding defense, making two difficult catches in deep right field and the team ran the bases very aggressively. It made a huge difference as their offensive machine steamrolled the competition.

Takumi Miyoshi, RHP, Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku

It’s hard to get through Koshien without an ace, and Kyukoku had Miyoshi to lean on. The right hander started out the tournament like gangbusters, striking out 23 batters and allowing only 12 hits over his first 18 innings pitched. As the competition became tougher, his numbers dipped, but he was still able to maintain a 3.00 ERA for the tournament despite taking a 14 hit, 6 run pounding in the final game. While he didn’t hit for much average, Miyoshi clubbed two home runs of his own.

Sho Azegami, CF, Nichidai-san

The only player to outdo Takajo in a single-game performance, Azegami’s highlight game was a 6-for-6 day in a 13-2 win over Kakogawa Kita. Over the entire tournament he batted .688 (11-for-16) for his strong Tokyo team. He knocked in 6 runs while adding 3 doubles and a triple to his ledger. Over his four game stint, it added up to a 1.000 slugging percentage. Unfortunately, his team was done in by Kyukoku in the semifinal round.

Ryoma Matsuda, RHP, Hasami

Lastly, it wouldn’t be right to conclude without mentioning the stellar individual effort of Ryoma Matsuda. He was able to stifle a traditionally strong Yokohama High School in his opening game, allowing no earned runs. He showed a similar effort in the second round, surrendering two runs (1 earned). Despite this, his team bowed out of the competition by not providing him any run support that day, and Matsuda finished the tournament 1-1 with a 0.50 ERA.

** I would like to thank my friends Edwin Dizon (who can be found on Twitter as @RealEdwinDizon) and Shin for their input and insight during these past two weeks. I could not have compiled this list without their help.

A special thank you goes to Michael Westbay for once again providing all the Koshien fans a free online space to interact, watch, chat, and learn together during Senbatsu.

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Spring Koshien Begins Today

» 22 March 2011 » In Koshien » 8 Comments

In an attempt to return to some degree of normalcy, 83rd Spring Koshien (Senbatsu) will begin today.

While NPB is still sorting out their issues and starting dates, the 32 team high school invitational tournament will begin Wednesday morning as scheduled.

If you’ve followed Japanese baseball for any length of time, you know that the two major annual high school tournaments are breeding grounds for the NPB stars of tomorrow. The games are followed closely not only by passionate fans and alums, but pro scouts as well.

Games can normally be watched for free online here. If you need rosters, scheduled match-ups, or game times in either Japanese or English, the Kokoyakyu blog is an excellent source. Game recaps and analysis are also provided.

Pick a team and let the games begin!

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NPB Bullet Points: Koshien, College Ball, Auctions

» 06 August 2010 » In amateur baseball, npb » 10 Comments

Lots going on tonight, let’s jump right in.

  • With Koshien underway, I’d like to once again endorse the Goro Shigeno blog as the premier English destination for Koshien coverage. Video is available online here (requires MS Windows), and since many games are played early in the day it should be a little easier to enjoy them on this side of the Pacific.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with Koshien and Japanese high school baseball, I recommend checking out the film Kokoyakyu, which can be purchased on dvd or viewed via Hulu.
  • As I type this, Japan is playing Korea for the bronze in the World University Baseball Championship. Yuki Saito surrendering a grand slam in Japan’s last game against America cost Japan a shot at the gold. I tried to get into this tournament, but the number of blowouts made it hard to follow. As I type this, Japan is holding a 9-0 lead over Korea.
  • NPB is auctioning off signed, game-worn All-Star jerseys for charity. I haven’t looked through all of them, but Yu Darvish’s jersey figures to fetch the highest sum, with a current bid of 524,000 yen ($6130 at the current, awful exchange rate). If loyal reader EJH wants to purchase Masataka Nashida’s jersey, he’ll only have to beat a bid of 71,000 yen.
  • Mac Suzuki is making a return to Calgary Vipers of the independent Golden League.

And on a final, non-baseball note, August 6/7 marked the 65th anniversary of the World War II atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I was glad to learn this morning that for the first time, the United States sent an envoy to Hiroshima’s annual memorial ceremony. I visited Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Museum in 2003, and it was a moving experience that really cemented my already strong opposition to armed conflict. Despite the fact that the conventional firebombing of Tokyo caused more damage than the atomic bomb, Hiroshima is certainly the more striking example of the cost of war. Today it’s one of the nicest cities in Japan, and I’d recommend visiting to anyone, for both the historical significance and the civic beauty. Today is also a good day to remember Langdon Warner, the American Harvard historian who is credited with convincing the US government to spare Kyoto and Nara from serious attacks.

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More Koshien

» 13 August 2009 » In international baseball » Comments Off

Watch live video from Welcome to http://npb.club.tw/ on Justin.tv

Or if you want to watch later

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Archived Koshien Video

» 11 August 2009 » In international baseball » 5 Comments

I captured some justin.tv footage of Koshien from the other day. You can check it out here.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/08/11)

» 11 August 2008 » In npb » 3 Comments

Going light on English today, for no particular reason:

Lots of Japanese-language links to share today:

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