Japan stuns USA in dramatic final to win World Baseball Classic
Ohtani hit .435 with one home run, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 walks as Japan joined the Dominican Republic in 2013 to become the only undefeated champion in baseball’s first national team tournament. Ohtani, the 2021 AL Most Valuable Player was 2-0 with one save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings.
Japan went 7-0 and outscored their opponents 56-18, reaching the final for the first time since winning the first two WBCs in 2006 and 2009. No other nation has won the title more than once.
Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto homered as Japan led 3-2.
Trea Turner gave the United States the lead in the second with his fifth home run of the tournament, a record, and Kyle Schwarber pulled the Americans within a run when he went wide in the eighth against Yu Darvish .
It was the second consecutive major title for the Japanese, who beat the United States 2-0 in Yokohama for the 2021 Olympic gold medal. Japan used the best players in this tournament while the United States United sent the released major leaguers and top prospects.
Turner gave the United States the lead in the second set with a left drive against Shota Imanaga (1-0), tying South Korean Seung Yuop Lee in 2006 for the most in a WBC. It lit up a sold-out crowd of 36,098 – fans were given wristbands with colored lights that twinkled.
Murakami, 23 already a two-time Central League MVP, tied the game on the first pitch from the bottom half when Merrill Kelly (0-1) raised a fastball. Murakami drove it 115.1 mph into the upper deck of right field, 432 feet away.
Murakami’s late brace helped Japan beat Mexico 6-5 in Monday night’s semifinals and his third-inning home run against Nick Martinez gave Japan the lead in the gold medal game. gold 2021.
Japan charged in the second on singles from Okamoto and Sosuke Genda, and a walk to Yuhei Nakamura. Lars Nootbaar, the first player of non-Japanese descent to appear for the Samurai Warriors, followed with a pitch scored by Aaron Loup for a 2-1 lead.
Okamoto reinforced the lead in the fourth when he sent a flat Kyle Freeland slider to the wall at left center.
Japan was beaten 9-5 as Imanaga combined with six relievers to hold the United States 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. The 29-year-old left-hander and Shosei Togo pitched two innings each, Hiroto Takahashi, Hiromi Itoh and Taisei Ota had three outs apiece, with Ota escaping two-out, no-out issues by retiring Trout on a flyout and getting Paul Goldschmidt at the floor in a double game.
Trout and Ohtani hugged behind the batting cage during pregame practices, then held their nation’s flag as they led their teams home in single file during introductions, Trout on the right field line and Ohtani on the left.
Several thousand fans had arrived hours earlier to watch Ohtani batting practice and cheered when he threw a player on the video board above the second center deck.
Trout hit .296 in the tournament with one home run, seven RBIs and 12 strikeouts.
Japan receives $3 million in prize money and the United States $1.7 million. Half of each goes to the players, the other half to the National Baseball Federation.
The MLB openers will take place on March 30, the same day the season begins in Japan.