Sunday, August 22, 2010

Konan the Koshien Destroyers

Congratulations to Konan High School of Okinawa on winning Japan's national summer high school baseball tournament. Familiarly known as Koshien, the name of the fabled Osaka-area stadium where the event is held, the tournament is the dream of every Japanese high school baseball player and a national obsession for every Japanese baseball fan.

With a 13-1 win over Tokaidai Sagami High School of Kanagawa, Konan, of Okinawa's capital of Naha, become only the sixth team in Koshien history – dating back to 1915 – and the first since Daisuke Matsuzaka's 1998 Yokohama High School team to win both the spring and the summer tournaments. Konan's championships are the first ever by a school from Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture.

Yosuke Shimabukuro, Konan's left-handed ace, won the tournament in March, going 12 innings and throwing 198 pitches to defeat a team from Tokyo. This summer, he threw a complete game in the championship, scattering 9 hits and striking out 4.

Yosuke Shimabukuro, the workhorse of Okinawa's Konan High School, pitches against Tokaidai Sagami in the championship of Koshien, Japan's national summer high school baseball tournament.
Shimabukuro started all five of Konan's tournament games, pitching a total of 42 innings with 2.36 ERA and striking out 41 batters. During the tournament, Shimabukuro also recorded his 100th career strikeout at Koshien, during the 2nd inning against Sendai Ikuei.

Koshien is the place where legends are born; Hideki Matsui and Daisuke Matsuzaka performed heroics here during their high school days. After Yosuke Shimabukuro's performance at this year's Koshien, perhaps he'll go on to superstardom in Nippon Professional Baseball.

In other Japanese baseball news, Edogawa Minami, Japan's Little League representative, won its first game against Mexico, 4-1, on Friday night. Down 1-0 with two out in the top of the 6th inning, 5'1" Ginga Maruoka powered the first pitch he saw from Ricardo Puga over the wall for a 3-run home run. This is the only video on YouTube that I could find. A camera is shooting a TV tuned into the game, but at least you can see it. Maruoka is so cute!

Kaname Shinozaki (22) and Takeshi Saito (5) celebrate Ginga Maruoka's 3-run home run in the Little League World Series as catcher Eduardo Mata of Mexico looks on.
Japan plays Puerto Rico, which routed Germany 11-0, on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. 日本頑張れ!

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