Munetaka Murakami’s deep double bounced off the wall as Shuhei Ohtani scored from second and Ukyo Shoto from first to win the Baseball Classic semi-final against Mexico to send Japan to its third-ever final.
Japan never advanced until the last stroke of the match – having lost 3-0 and then 5-3 to Mexico over the course of the competition.
Mexico’s closer, Giovanni Gallegos gave up a double to Otani and then walked Masataka Yoshida for Murakami’s victory. Shoto came up to pinch-hit for Yoshida.
Japan, who won the first world championships twice in 2006 and 2009 and reached the semi-finals in the past two editions, will meet the United States at the tournament on Tuesday in Miami.
Mexico took a 5-4 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, and the Los Angeles Angels’ Ohtani hit a first pitch off the St. Louis Cardinals’ Gallegos for a double.
A back-and-forth double from Monetika Murakami sent Japan into the tournament against the USA
Shuhei Otani’s double in the ninth inning sparked a Japan comeback victory over Mexico
Japan’s players came running off the court – in their third WBC match
Then Murakami, J. League Central’s MVP in each of the past two years, holed a 1-1 pitch from the wall in right center field. Ohtani scores, with the speedy Shuto coming home easily as well, sparking a wild celebration.
Game after game through a translator, Otani said, “I wish we had scored more goals earlier to make it comfortable for the shooters, but the shooters came through and I’m glad we got this win.”
Taisei Ota took the win after scoring a leadoff lead in the ninth.
Mexico jumped out on top thanks to a three-run homer by Luis Urillas of the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth inning. Japan tied the score with a three-pointer from Yoshida in the seventh to score Ohtani and Kensuke Kondo.
And in the eighth, an RBI double by Boston Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo and a single by Tampa Bay Rays’ Isaac Paredes put Mexico up 5-3. Japan halved the deficit on a sacrifice fly by Hotaka Yamakawa in the bottom of the eighth.
Mexico starter Patrick Sandoval of the Angels threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out six.
When asked about the feelings in the dugout after Yoshida’s three-run home run to tie the game 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Japan’s Lars Nutbar said the team was just trying to keep its balance and stay focused.
“Crazy game, man. Crazy feelings. It’s good to be on top,” Nutbar told Fox after the match.
Down 3-0, Boston Red Sox signing Masataka Yoshida hit a three-run home run
The shot scored by Ohtani and Kensuke Kondo tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning
But Mexico took a 5-3 lead on RBI runs from Alex Verdugo (above) and Isaac Paredes in the eighth.
Mexico’s pitchers held Japan in the eighth inning, but were unable to hold out the ninth inning.
It was Munetaka Murakami who scored Otani and Shoto to win the match for Japan
Japan will now face the United States in the championship game on loan at Depot Park in Miami
Yoshida was just too big for us this whole tournament, and we were pulling players all game long, and we weren’t making money.
So, I think we as a group have confidence that we’re going to scratch someone, it’s just a matter of when… That’s kind of the group mentality, just never give up. We are playing for our country in the WBC, it’s incredible.
After the strikeout and Japan’s celebration, Otani spoke to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal and described what the team was feeling and what went through his head in the bottom of the ninth.
“Murakami…was having a slight slump, but…it came at a critical time from which he was going to emerge,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
I was leading the inning, he threw it through the strike zone, I just wanted to get a good swing on it. I got a good first putt, it was just over the area, over the plate, and I got a good swing on it.
Otani and Japan are now preparing to take on fellow Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout and Team USA in the WBC Championship match.
Two-way player Otani told Rosenthal he would be available to pitch, but he wants to take a few notches at the plate first.
“I will certainly be ready to play anywhere, but before that I will have to make sure I hit some kicks on the board before I play,” he said in Japanese.
DISCLAIMER:- Denial of responsibility! olorinews.com is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org The content will be deleted within 24 hours.