Konan earns Koshien title

Becomes first Okinawan school to win summer tournament


Konan of Okinawa Prefecture roughed up highly touted right-hander Shinta Hifumi and trounced Kanagawa’s Tokaidai Sagami 13-1 in the final of the National High School Baseball Championship on Saturday.

Konan became only the sixth school in the long history of Japanese high school baseball to win both the spring and summer national tournaments and first since Daisuke Matsuzaka, now with the Boston Red Sox, helped Yokohama do so in 1998.

In front of 47,000 spectators at Koshien Stadium, Konan had two big innings — a seven-run fourth and a five-run sixth — while left-handed ace Yosuke Shimabukuro scattered nine hits and allowed just one unearned run in his fourth complete game of the tournament.

Shinya Irei broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single in the fourth. The Konan offense went on to spray hit after hit against Hifumi.

“Our team and the people of Okinawa were looking forward to this day,” Konan manager Masaru Gakiya said of the first summer title by an Okinawan school.

“My boys completely made Koshien their home and got better every game. We had pressure to win the tournament, but we achieved our goal thanks to support from many people.”

Moritsugu Ganeko hit a three-run homer in the sixth among his three hits and finished with four RBIs. Kai Kedashiro went 4-for-4 with two RBIs.

Hifumi surrendered 13 runs and 16 hits in six innings in his third start in as many days.