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HomeNewsJapan snatches World Baseball Classic crown from USA

Japan snatches World Baseball Classic crown from USA


MIAMI — Shohei Ohtani emerged from the bullpen and put fellow Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout in the matchup the entire baseball world was eager to see, leading Japan to a 3-2 victory over reigning champions United States to win his first World Baseball Classic title since 2009 on Tuesday night.

“Whether it was getting him out or giving me a hit, I didn’t want to have any regrets. I wanted to throw my best pitch,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani, the dominant pitcher and explosive slugger who has captivated fans on two continents, was named the Classic’s Most Valuable Player and held the trophy to his chest.

Ohtani reached on a single to the infield in the seventh inning as the designated hitter and then moved to left field to warm up the arm in Japan’s bullpen and earn his third appearance on the mound in the tournament.

With his 100 mph fastball, the right-hander led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk to Jeff McNeil, last year’s NL batting champion, but then got Mookie Betts to hit into a double play.

Then it was Trout’s turn, the United States captain and three-time MVP.

“I could see that he took a deep breath to control his emotions,” said Mark DeRosa, the United States manager. “I can’t imagine being at that moment. The two best players on the planet facing each other as teammates at the time.”

Japan's pitcher Shohei Ohtani (16) celebrates after a 3-2 victory over the United States in the final of the World Baseball Classic, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Miami.  (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Ohtani struck out Trout, making him swing a breaking pitch with a full count.

Ohtani’s only previous save was in the Japan postseason in 2016.

Ohtani batted .435 with a home run, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 walks in Japan’s undefeated march in the fifth edition of the Classic. By lifting their third crown, the Japanese emulated the feat of the Dominican Republic in 2013 as the only undefeated champions.

From the mound, Ohtani went 2-0 with one save and a 1.86 ERA while striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings.

Japan carved a 7-0 record and outscored their rivals 56-18 to reach the final for the first time after winning the first two editions of the Classic, 2006 and 2009. No other nation has won the title more than once. .

Trea Turner (8) is congratulated by teammates from the United States after hitting a home run against Japan in the final of the World Baseball Classic, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Miami.  (AP PhotoMarta Lavanderi)

Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto homered to put Japan up 3-2.

Trea Turner put the Americans ahead in the second with his fifth home run of the tournament and Kyle Schwarber tackled the hosts to one run by hitting a home run in the eighth off Yu Darvish.

Turner slapped it in the second inning with his drive to left Shota Imanaga (1-0), tying South Korea’s Seung Yuop Lee’s 2006 record for the most in a Classic.

It was the second major title for the Japanese, victorious 2-0 against the Americans in Yokohama for the gold medal of the 2021 Olympic Games. Japan to its best players for that tournament, while the United States to discards from the Major Leagues and prospects

Japan pocketed a prize of 3 million dollars and the United States received 1.7 million. Half of each goes to the players, the other to the national federations.

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