To close to take: Koshien semifinals are set

We’re entering the final stages of this summer’s Koshien tournament.

And it was quite a tournament so far. Lots of upsets and the big names have exited the stage earlier than expected. The biggest of them all has to be Tomohiro Anraku, who’s Saibi crashed out in the 3rd round against Hanamaki Higashi in a thriller. Anraku was a bit shaky at the start giving up 3 runs through 3 innings but then settled down and simply mowed through the Hanamaki Higashi lineup. Saibi clawed themselves back into the game and were able to tie the whole thing in the 8th. The game went to extra innings and there the Iwate representative tacked on 4 runs on Anraku. Game over? Far from it. Saibi had two men on when Anraku, who batted clean up, came to the plate. Boom, three run homer and a close game again. In the end Saibi weren’t able to fight back, losing 6-7 after 10 innings, but this was a real drama. Too bad I wasn’t able to watch it unfold as I turned off the TV when the 9th inning had ended. Tough luck. Here’s Anraku’s homerun anyway:

The same round saw local heroes Osaka Toin exit the tournament against Meitoku Gijiku, who only allowed one run against the Kansai powerhouse. They would eventually be defeated by Nichidai Yamagata. A day later Yokohama were downed by Maebashi Ikuei.

So now we’re at the semifinal stage an the matchups are Nichidai Yamagata against Maebashi Ikuei and Hanamaki Higashi versus Nobeoka Gakuen. We have the possibility of an all Tohoku final, which would be pretty cool.

And just to give yoou an idea how hotly contested this year’s Koshien is: all quarterfinal games were decided by one single run, with two of them going to extras. Maebashi Ikuei and Nobeoka Gakuen both came from behind to win it in walk off fashion.

First Maebashi Ikuei:

And then Nobeoka Gakuen game highlights:

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