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Konan trounces Kanagawa to win HS baseball championship

Date Posted: 2010-08-26

More than 4,500 Okinawans pressed into the Naha International Airport terminal Sunday evening to welcome home the Konan High School baseball squad that made history a day earlier, becoming the first Okinawa high school to win the summer National High School Baseball Championship.

“Our team and the people of Okinawa were looking forward to this day,” says Masaru Gakiya, the Konan manager, as he spoke of winning the title in front of 47,000 fans at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture. Konan drubbed Tokaidai Sagami of Kanagawa Prefecture, 13-1, as the Okinawa team had two slugfest innings, a seven-run fourth and a five-run sixth. “My boys completely made Koshien their home and got better every day,” Gakiya added, noting “we had pressure to win the tournament, but we achieved our goal thanks to support from many people.” Konan’s Yosuke Shimabukuro allowed only nine scattered hits and one unearned run as he pitched his fourth complete game of the tournament. Tokaidai’s highly promoted right hander, Shinta Hifumi, was pummeled with 13 runs and 16 hits in six innings during the championship game, his third start in as many days at Koshien.

Capturing the 92nd annual summer tournament championship marked another record as Konan became only the sixth high school in Japan’s long history of baseball tournaments to win both the spring and summer national tournaments. Saturday’s sweep was the first time since Yokohama accomplished the feat in 1998 behind the power pitching of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who’s now with the Boston Red Sox. The buildup to Koshien and the national championships began earlier in the summer with 4,028 high schools vying for a chance at the tile.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima was on hand for the championship at Koshien, making the mainland Japan stop on his way back from an official trip to China to promote Okinawa’s commerce and tourism. Two chargter flights made the trek from Okinawa to Hyogo Prefecture as well.

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