Japan tops US 3-2 for WBC championship
Published 10:53 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023
MIAMI (AP) — Shohei Ohtani emerged from the bullpen and fanned Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout for the final out in a matchup the whole baseball world wanted to see, leading Japan over the defending champion United States 3-2 Tuesday night for its first World Baseball Classic title since 2009.
Ohtani, the two-way star who has captivated fans across two continents, beat out an infield single in the seventh inning as a designated hitter, and walked down the left-field line to Japan’s bullpen to warm up for his third mound appearance of the tournament. He walked big league batting champion Jeff McNeil before getting Mookie Betts to ground into a double play.
Trout, the U.S. captain and a three-time MVP, then ended the game by striking out on a full-count breaking ball.
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Ohtani batted .435 with one homer, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 walks as Japan joined the Dominican Republic in 2013 to become the only unbeaten champions of baseball’s premier national team tournament. Ohtani was 2-0 with a save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings.