Tuesday, October 3, 2023
HomeBaseballWorld ClassicA classic champion! Japan win for the third time

A classic champion! Japan win for the third time

With Shohei Ohtani as closer, the Asian giant defeated the USA in the Grand Final

By dint of hits and dominant pitching, Japan beat the USA 3-2 on Tuesday in the Grand Final of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The Asian giant finished undefeated 7-0 and added its third gold medal in five editions .

Trea Turner put the USA ahead with a solo homer in the second off starter Shota Imanaga's pitches. 

But Japan responded immediately, at the bottom of that inning and took the lead 2-1, with a homer from Munetaka Murakami, the hero of the game against Mexico, and a ground ball from Lars Nootbaar. 

The Japanese team added one more with a home run by Kazuma Okamoto in the fourth inning against lefty Kyle Freeland. 

Read also: Masataka Yoshida is the new Japanese charterer

Four Japanese pitchers combined to hold the USA shutout until the eighth inning, when Yu Darvish gave up a solo shot to Kyle Schwarber. The game went down one, but the Padres star was able to contain the Americans and handed over the baton to Shohei Ohtani. 

The young MLB star, reminiscent of Babe Ruth, worked out the first two outs with a groundout into a double play by Mookie Betts and a strikeout to Mike Trout. He scored the first save of his career. 

The win went to Shota Imanaga, who ended up pitching 2.0 innings of just one run, no walks and two strikeouts. And the reverse for Merrill Kelly.

Asian hegemony 

With three titles and a pair of bronze medals in five editions, Japan consolidates its hegemony in the World Baseball Classic. 

In 2006 and 2009 they signed the two-time championship, defeating Cuba and South Korea in the final, respectively. In 2013 and 2017 they fell out of contention for the title, but finished third to extend their legend as the only team that always manages to get to the podium. 

After a long wait, extended by the pandemic, they are reunited with glory in this 2023.

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