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HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL

Koryo humbles Yokohama in Koshien final

Kyodo

Masahiro Fujita slammed a two-run homer to lead a 20-hit attack as Koryo crushed Yokohama High School 15-3 in the final of the 75th national high school baseball invitational tournament Thursday.

News photoKoryo players celebrate after beating Yokohama 15-3 in the final of the 75th national high school baseball invitational tournament at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

Koryo claimed its first invitational title since 1991 and its third championship overall. It was its first final appearance in 12 years.

“The game proceeded differently from what I had expected. Our players did their best by believing in themselves at a stadium we have dreamt of. I’m so happy I can’t contain my tears,” Koryo manager Tetsuyuki Nakai said.

Combined with nine hits produced by Yokohama, the game saw a total of 29 hits, the most in a final in the history of the tournament.

Koryo’s 15 runs also tied Osaka powerhouse PL Gakuen for the most runs recorded in a final in 1982.

Koryo opened up a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Left fielder Kojiro Katayama, who went 5-for-6 with four RBIs, connected for a triple before Fujita slammed his homer off Yokohama starter Hideaki Wakui into the right-field bleachers. Fujita had three hits and four RBIs.

Koryo added two more runs in both the third and fourth innings.

It was Wakui’s first start in the tournament, as ace Yoshihiro Naruse was unable to pitch after suffering a broken fingernail. However, after 3 2/3 innings, Yokohama gave up on Naruse and put Wakui on the mound.

The move did not halt Koryo’s offense, however, as the Hiroshima Prefecture team scored four more runs in the sixth inning.

Koryo pitcher Kentaro Nishimura gave up three runs on nine hits in going the distance to contribute to handing Yokohama its first loss in five spring and summer final appearances.

Koryo has produced several professional players and its alumni include Hanshin Tigers outfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto and Tomohiro Nioka of the Yomiuri Giants.