Kyoto-based Korean school Kyoto International School (KIS) is rising as a sensation in high school baseball. First Joining at the Japanese High School Baseball Championship or a widely desired goal of high school baseball teams, the Korean ethnic school arrived at the semifinal to everyone’s surprise.
In the quarterfinal of the Summer Koshien held on Thursday at Hanshin Koshien Stadium located in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, KIS beat off Fukui Prefecture’s Tsuruga Kehi High School by 3:2. Wrapping up the 8th inning in a tie of two to two, the Kyoto representative scored an extra one point supported by a safe hit to right field and the opponent’s error in the bottom of the 9th inning. The school song that starts with the “East Sea” in the Korean language resonated across Japan on NHK once again.
Tsuruga Kehi High School has participated in the Summer Koshien as many as 10 times, building upon its status as one of the best baseball powerhouses in Japan. It achieved championship in the 2015 National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament of Japan or the Spring Koshien. KIS’ head coach Komaki Noritsugu said in an interview with NHK after the wining of the match, “It was expected to be a tough battle so I asked the athletes to maintain a certain level of stamina and do their best to the last minute.” He was reminded of thinking that it was over when KIS lost two points in the top of the 8th inning but happily gave the athletes credit for victory later.
The Summer Koshien is attended by 49 high schools from each municipal region – two schools from Tokyo and Hokkaido each as an exception – which pass the preliminaries in the nation’s 47 regional locations. It is more of a battle between local municipalities rather than of a high school-level competition, which explains why it gathers a great deal of popularity across Japan. With KIS winning three games running, some taxis have a cheering phrase saying “Go, KIS! Kyoto International 9” attached on them.
“It is a great pleasure to make Korean residents in Japan happy and excited,” KIS Principal Park Kyung-soo said. “I hope the school to win the upcoming match to reach the final of the competition.” The semifinal and final are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.