Saito, Tanaka duel to stalemate

Kyodo

Yuki Saito and Masahiro Tanaka hooked up in a heated pitching duel Sunday as Waseda Jitsugyo and Komadai Tomakomai played out a 1-1, 15-inning tie to force a replay of the final of the National High School Baseball Championship.

News photo
Waseda Jitsugyo starter Yuki Saito (left) and Hokkaido’s Komadai Tomakomai hurler Masahiro Tanaka pitch during Sunday’s final of te National High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium.
KYODO PHOTO

Saito pitched his third complete game in as many days with a 16-strikeout effort while Tanaka fanned 10 in 12 2/3 innings after taking the mound in the third inning of a game that resulted in a replay of a championship game for only the second time in tournament history.

Both teams will meet again Monday afternoon at Koshien Stadium as Tokyo’s Waseda Jitsugyo, aiming for its first-ever title in the annual meet inaugurated in 1915, continues its bid to end the reign of two-time defending champion Komadai Tomakomai.

One more win will make the Hokkaido school only the second team overall and first in 73 years to claim a third consecutive title. Chukyo Shogyo did it in 1931-33.

In Sunday’s game, the ace pitchers of both finalists lived up to their billing as future prospects in professional baseball and limited their opponents to only a few scoring chances until the game went into extra innings.

After being held to just one hit through seven innings, Komadai Tomakomai shortstop Yuya Miki broke a scoreless deadlock in the eighth when he drove a low fastball from Saito over the center-field wall for a one-out solo homer.

Waseda Jitsugyo tied it in the bottom half on a Takashi Goto sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored Kojiro Higaki, who had hit a one-out double to the gap in left-center and took third on a relay throw error.

In the extra innings, Komadai Tomakomai wasted bases-loaded opportunities in the top of the 11th. Ryuya Nakazawa reached on a leadoff single up the middle and Atsushi Honma was hit by a pitch before both runners advanced on a Naoya Washiya sacrifice bunt.

The only other time when the final was replayed was in 1969. Ehime’s Matsuyama Shogyo and Misawa of Aomori were locked in a scoreless tie in 18 innings before Matsuyama Shogyo won 4-2 the following day.