Baseball – Japan’s Ohtani strikes out Trout to seal World Baseball Classic win
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Additional reporting Rory Carroll in Los Angeles.
Editing by Peter Rutherford
(Reuters) – Shohei Ohtani struck out Mike Trout in a showdown between two of the game’s best players to seal Japan’s 3-2 victory over the United States in a riveting World Baseball Classic (WBC) final at Miami’s LoanDepot Park on Tuesday.
Baseball is the United States’ national pastime but Japan’s win over the defending WBC champions means they have won three of five editions of the global showcase.
They were a perfect 7-0 through this year’s edition.
The contest ended in a duel that is likely to go down in baseball folklore as Ohtani, the hitting and pitching sensation from Japan, faced off against his Los Angeles Angels team mate and U.S. captain Trout.
“Whether I got him out or he got a hit off of me, I didn’t want to have any regrets,” said Ohtani through an interpreter. “I wanted to make my best pitch.”
“This is a different experience, representing your country and facing guys representing their country. It was a different intensity and it was great.“
Carrying their nation’s flags, the two men had led their respective teams onto the field and then at the climax, in a moment of pure sporting magic, stood across from each other with everything on the line.
With Japan clinging to a 3-2 ninth inning lead they turned to their ace Ohtani.
He walked the first batter he faced in Jeff McNeil but then got Mookie Betts to hit into a double play, bringing up Trout with two out and the sellout crowd on its feet.
Throwing 100 mph fastballs Ohtani struck out his Angels team mate on six pitches to trigger celebrations as the Japan team poured out of the dugout.
Ohtani was named the WBC’s Most Valuable Player after posting the best statistics over the entire tournament.
U.S. shortstop Trea Turner provided the early fireworks with a second inning solo shot, taking Shota Imanaga into the left field bleachers for his fifth home run of the WBC to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Japan answered right back in the bottom of the inning, slugger Munetaka Murakami, who drove in the two runs in Japan’s walkoff semi-final win over Mexico, slamming a home run to deep center off Merrill Kelly.
After Kelly loaded the bases U.S. manager Mark DeRosa had seen enough, making the switch to Aaron Loup, who would get them out of the inning but not before Lars Nootbaar grounded out to first to score Kazuma Okamoto with the go-ahead run.
Okomato added to Japan’s lead with a home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
And Japan had a huge opportunity to put the contest out of reach in the sixth when Jason Adams walked three to load the bases, but Nootbaar flied out meekly to right to end the threat.
With the U.S. running out of innings Kyle Schwarber, the National League’s home run champion, slammed a monster homer off Yu Darvish in the eighth, taking him into the upper deck to trim Japan’s lead to 3-2.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Additional reporting Rory Carroll in Los Angeles. Editing by Peter Rutherford)
Follow us @NairobiReviewKE for more stories.
If you have a story you’d like us to share kindly DM us directly @NairobiReviewKE on twitter or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.