Chukyo survives scare to win high school title

Chukyo survives scare to win high school title

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Chukyodai Chukyo survived a ninth-inning scare in the final against Nihon Bunri on Monday to win its first national high school championship in 43 years and a record seventh overall.

The Aichi Prefecture powerhouse pulled out a 10-9 victory over the Niigata school after giving up five runs and facing the potential tying run on third base in the top of the ninth.

With Nihon Bunri trailing by one and runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth, a Naoki Wakabayashi line drive settled into the glove of third baseman Kanji Kawai at Koshien Stadium.

"We faced a stunning rally by Nihon Bunri in the ninth. My players stayed patient and managed to protect the lead," said Chukyo manager Toshiyuki Ofuji. "Our team scored a lot of runs throughout the tournament. It was a complete team effort."

The championship game appeared to be a one-man show by Shota Dobayashi until late in the contest.

The Chukyo pitcher and cleanup hitter had a two-run homer in the first and a tiebreaking two-run single in a six-run sixth that made it 8-2. An inning later, Chukyo extended the lead to 10-3.

But Dobayashi succumbed to Nihon Bunri's rally after retiring the first two batters of the ninth.

The first Niigata school to play the final in high school baseball's long history drew within 10-6 on back-to-back RBI extra-base hits off the right-hander.

A pair of singles off reliever Jumpei Morimoto drove in three more runs to make it 10-9.

Seven consecutive Nihon Bunri batters got on base before the final out. Four of them had hits with two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

In a post-game interview, Dobayashi did not look like a man on the winning team.

"I had a very hard time on the mound in the ninth," said a teary-eyed Dobayashi.