Japan stuns Mexico at World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic

This article was last updated on March 21, 2023

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Japan stuns Mexico at World Baseball Classic

Munetaka Murakami appeared disoriented throughout most of a memorable World Baseball Classic semifinal against Mexico, but he quickly turned into the hero of the night with just one swing.

On Monday in Miami, Japan outlasted Mexico 6-5 to advance to the final, with Murakami delivering the walk-off double after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Shohei Ohtani had sparked the game-winning rally with a leadoff double, followed by a walk from Masataka Yoshida, setting the stage for Murakami’s heroics.

In the final, Japan will face the United States, pitting two of the top pre-tournament favorites against each other.

While the night was billed as the American debut of Japanese pitching sensation Roki Sasaki, it turned out to be much more. Sasaki was impressive, striking out Randy Arozarena on a 102-mph pitch to start the game. Sasaki and Mexico starter Patrick Sandoval exchanged zeros until Mexico’s Luis Urías hit a three-run homer off Sasaki’s feared splitter in the fourth inning.

Although Japan had several chances to match Mexico’s output, it repeatedly hit potential extra-base hits to Arozarena, who made crucial catches at crucial moments. Finally, in the seventh inning, a two-out rally put two men on for Yoshida, who hit a game-tying homer.

Mexico took the lead again in the eighth inning, but Japan kept battling and eventually prevailed.

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