In the World Baseball Classic, Japan defeated Mexico in a close match, with Munetaka Murakami’s walk-off, two-run double securing Japan’s victory. Shohei Ohtani hit a leadoff double that sparked Japan’s late rally and Yoshida hit a tying, three-run homer that contributed to Japan’s win. Japan will now face the defending champions, the United States, in the tournament’s final.
In another game, Rōki Sasaki, the 21-year-old right-hander, made his debut appearance for Japan on the global stage, striking out three batters in four innings. Dozens of MLB club officials attended the game to scout Sasaki, who is considered a future major league sensation. Despite the impressive start, Sasaki gave up five hits, including a three-run homer to Luis Urías in the fourth inning.
Japan has secured its place in the World Baseball Classic final after an exciting ninth-inning rally against Mexico. The rally was sparked by a leadoff double by Shohei Ohtani, who looked up at the crowd and waved his arms in a rare show of emotion. Munetaka Murakami delivered a walk-off, two-run double that won the game for Japan with a score of 6-5. This is the third time that Japan has reached the final of the World Baseball Classic.
Team Japan will face off against the United States in the final game. Shota Imanaga is expected to start for Japan, while Merrill Kelly is expected to start for the United States. The United States, the defending champions of the tournament, have won the World Baseball Classic once before.
Ohtani was a standout performer for Japan, going 2 for 4 and scoring in the seventh inning when Masataka Yoshida hit a tying, three-run homer. Ohtani’s double off losing pitcher Giovanny Gallegos was his fourth of the tournament, and he finished with a batting average of .450, nine hits, nine runs, and eight RBIs.
In front of a crowd of 35,933 that chanted “¡Si Se Puede!” throughout the night, left fielder Randy Arozarena had a standout performance for Mexico. He made a leaping catch in the fifth inning to preserve a 3-0 lead and signed a few mid-inning autographs. He then doubled and scored in the eighth inning to bring the score to 4-3.
The game began as a pitching duel between Rōki Sasaki and Patrick Sandoval. However, Japan’s offensive power proved too much for Mexico’s relievers. After the game, members of Team Japan rushed the field in triumph, while Mexico players exited with their heads bowed and hands on their hips.
“These games are really critical and the foundation of baseball,” said Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama through an interpreter.
Rōki Sasaki, the 21-year-old right-hander, made a notable impression in his first global stage appearance for Japan during the World Baseball Classic. He struck out three batters in four innings, throwing 64 pitches, 26 of which reached speeds of over 100 mph. Dozens of MLB club officials attended the game and reportedly consider him a future major league sensation.
Despite the impressive start, Sasaki gave up five hits, including a three-run homer to Luis Urías in the fourth inning. In contrast, Patrick Sandoval, who started for Mexico, allowed just four hits and struck out six in four scoreless innings before being replaced by José Urquidy.
Japan rallied in the game, hitting 10 of the 53 hits they made during the tournament, and scored six runs to win the game 6-5. Masataka Yoshida hit a tying, three-run homer off reliever JoJo Romero in the seventh inning, and Hotaka Yamakawa hit a sacrifice fly that brought Japan within a run of Mexico.
Yoshida is set to start his first season in the major leagues with Boston and is expected to begin as the team’s cleanup hitter. Despite feeling nervous before hitting his home run, Yoshida said that he believed in himself and had stepped into the box with confidence.
In a rare move, Shohei Ohtani took batting practice on the field before the game and hit a ball that soared above the second deck at loanDepot park and bounced off the video board, impressing the crowd of young fans who gathered around to witness the feat.
The World Baseball Classic final will take place on Tuesday at loanDepot Park in Miami, with Japan facing off against the defending champions, the United States.
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