Kubasaki tops ASIJ, will meet St. Mary's
They’d lost to American School In Japan 1-0 the last time the two teams met on March 15 at Yokota Park.
In Friday’s rematch at the same field, Kubasaki returned the favor and reached the Far East High School Division I Baseball Tournament title game in the process.
Jared Paul doubled to deep left-center field in the fourth inning, plating Jaren Blessett with the game’s only run as Renton Poole outdueled Justin Novak in a battle of ace right-handers and the Dragons upset the heavily favored Mustangs 1-0 in the tournament semifinals.
“We got some timely hitting and got some breaks. That’s the game of baseball,” Dragons coach Randy Toor said.
Meanwhile, reigning Division II Tournament champion Robert D. Edgren completed a four-game sweep of pool play to capture the top seed entering Saturday’s single-elimination playoffs at Naval Air Facility Atsugi Japan’s Bandy Field.
With the win, Kubasaki returned to the finals for the first time since winning the inaugural 2010 tournament at Bandy. At 3 p.m. Saturday, the Dragons face a St. Mary’s International team in its first finals appearance after a 17-2 semifinal rout of Nile C. Kinnick.
Paul’s game-winning hit came moments after Novak and the home-plate umpire collided when he was chasing down a foul ball. Play was stopped for a few minutes while a new plate umpire suited up.
Novak insisted afterward that the collision didn’t affect his pitching ability, and that Paul drove a ball that Novak said he left up in the zone.
Other than that, Novak and Poole put on a spine-tingling pitching duel. Novak allowed just the hits to Paul and Blessett while walking two and striking out seven. Poole gave up three hits and no walks and struck out five Mustangs.
ASIJ was trying to regain the title it won in 2011; the Mustangs weren’t invited to defend in 2012 due to what organizers called an “unfortunate oversight.” They’ll play for third against Kinnick.
In the last day of D-II pool play, Edgren posted double-digit run totals in its two games, beating favored Zama American 11-4 and E.J. King 15-3. But Eagles coach Brett Lehner said he wasn’t taking a thing for granted after going 4-0 in pool play. The Eagles won the title last year and finished second the year before.
“This tournament is up for grabs,” he said. “Each team has its weaknesses. There are reasons we play the games on the field.”
The D-II championship game is at 4 p.m. Saturday at Bandy.