NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. – Second baseman Yoshitsugu Yamaguchi went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Masahiro Tanaka struck out 10 in eight strong innings, leading Hokkaido’s Komadai Tomakomai to a 7-4 win over Chiben Wakayama in the semifinals of the National High School Baseball Championship on Saturday.
Tokyo’s Waseda Jitsugyo shut out tournament debutant Kagoshima Kogyo 5-0 in the other semifinal to set up a showdown in Sunday’s final with Komadai Tomakomai, which came within one win of becoming only the second school to claim a third consecutive national title, and the first in 73 years.
Komadai Tomakomai rested ace pitcher Tanaka, considered a major attraction in the amateur baseball draft this fall, and Chiben Wakayama took advantage of his absence to go ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by catcher Ryohei Hashimoto.
The Hokkaido school hit back immediately in the bottom half and took a 4-1 lead with an attack keyed by an RBI triple by Atsushi Honma and Yamaguchi’s two-run double.
Chiben Wakayama came within a run twice through four innings, but Komadai Tomakomai pulled away with a two-run fifth ignited by an RBI single from Tanaka, who took the mound in the second after Shota Kikuchi and Masahiro Okada proved ineffective and each lasted less than an inning against the potent lineup of the Wakayama school.
Tanaka allowed just one run and four hits, holding Chiben Wakayama scoreless in the final five innings.
In Saturday’s second game at Koshien Stadium, Waseda Jitsugyo right-hander Yuki Saito struck out 13 and walked none in a three-hit shutout and his fourth complete game in eight days.
Cleanup hitter Takashi Goto hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the affiliate of Waseda University increased the lead on RBI doubles by Tatsumi Koyanagi in the second and Saito in the eighth.
On the mound, Saito has allowed only six runs in 45 innings in five games in the tournament.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5