THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
March 22, 2023 at 12:53 JST
Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto each homered and Japan held on to defeat the United States 3-2 on March 21 to win its third World Baseball Classic crown.
Two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, struck out his Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout in the ninth to secure the victory in Miami.
The United States took an early lead on a solo shot by Trea Turner off Japanese starter Shota Imanaga in the second inning.
Murakami’s crushing home run in the bottom of the frame quickly knotted the score.
Samurai Japan went ahead on Lars Nootbaar’s infield grounder that scored Okamoto, and then widened its lead with Okamoto’s solo shot in the fourth.
But Kyle Schwarber belted a homer off Yu Darvish in the eighth inning to trim the lead to 3-2 and set up the dramatic finish.
Ohtani closed out the game against the defending WBC champions by fanning Trout, a three-time American League MVP.
“This is what I have dreamed of,” Ohtani said after the game. “So I am very happy.”
It was Japan’s third WBC gold medal, and the first since the team repeated as champs in 2009.
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