NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. – Yuki Saito worked tirelessly on the mound yet again to lead Tokyo’s Waseda Jitsugyo to its first National High School Baseball Championship title after a 4-3 victory over Komadai Tomakomai from Hokkaido on Monday.
|Waseda Jitsugyo Outfielder Yu Funabashi singles home a run off Komadai Tomakomai reserve pitcher Shota Kikuchi with one out and runners at the corners in the first inning during the rematch of the National High School Championship final on Monday at Koshien Stadium. Waseda Jitsugyo won 4-3 for its first championship.
In a replay of Sunday’s game that ended in a 1-1, 15-inning tie, Saito struck out 13 in his fourth complete game in as many days as Waseda Jitsugyo dashed Komadai Tomakomai’s hopes of becoming only the second team to win a third straight national title in front of a crowd of 50,000.
Waseda Jitsugyo, which had played in the inaugural national championship in 1915 and reached the final for the first time in 26 years, claimed the title in its 27th appearance in the annual summer meet held at Koshien Stadium.
In the national invitational tournament held every spring, the other major high school baseball meet on a nationwide scale, Waseda Jitsugyo triumphed in 1957 when Japanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh was instrumental both on the mound and at the plate.
“We waited 88 times and now I feel the weight of the team’s history behind this achievement,” Waseda Jitsugyo manager Minoru Izumi said, referring to the number of competitions played thus far in championship history.
“I thought Komadai would never allow us to sit on the (three-run) lead.” he added. “They were truly strong and I don’t think a team like that can be built every year.”
Saito, whose performances in the tournament were closely monitored by professional scouts, allowed six hits and did not walk a batter in a 118-pitch outing a day after throwing 178 pitches in a duel with Komadai Tomakomai ace Tanaka.
Tanaka replaced starter Shota Kikuchi in early innings for the second straight day and pitched 7 2/3 innings yielding three runs on four hits and three walks. He threw 165 pitches in 12 2/3 innings of work on Sunday.
“We lost and there is nothing else to say about the result,” Komadai Tomakomai manager Yoshifumi Koda said.