Japan wins World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic

This article was last updated on March 22, 2023

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Japan wins World Baseball Classic

In a thrilling World Baseball Classic (WBC) final at Miami’s LoanDepot Park on Tuesday, Japan defeated the United States 3-2, with Shohei Ohtani striking out Mike Trout in a showdown between two of the game’s best players to seal the victory. Japan has now won three of the five editions of the WBC, and they were undefeated with a perfect 7-0 record in this year’s tournament.

Representing their respective countries, Ohtani and Trout led their teams onto the field and faced each other in a moment of pure sporting magic. With Japan clinging to a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning, Ohtani, Japan’s ace, walked the first batter but then got Mookie Betts to hit into a double play, setting up the showdown with Trout. Ohtani threw 100 mph fastballs and struck out his Los Angeles Angels teammate on six pitches to trigger celebrations as the Japan team poured out of the dugout.

According to Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama, the win could have a big impact on the sport’s popularity back home, with young baseball fans inspired to become players. Ohtani, who was named the WBC’s Most Valuable Player after posting the best statistics over the entire tournament, was described by U.S. manager Mark DeRosa as a “unicorn” to the sport, with his ability to perform at the highest level in all aspects of the game.

The game saw early fireworks as U.S. shortstop Trea Turner hit a second-inning solo shot, but Japan answered right back with a home run from Munetaka Murakami in the bottom of the inning. Japan took the lead in the third inning, and Kazuma Okamoto added a home run to increase their lead in the fourth. The U.S. managed to trim Japan’s lead in the eighth inning with a monster homer from Kyle Schwarber off Yu Darvish, but it was not enough to prevent Japan from securing the victory.

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