Japan won the World Baseball Classic (WBC) for the third time. In the final game, Japanese baseball players were too strong for the United States (3-2). The United States won the previous edition of the prestigious WBC in 2017, which is the only baseball tournament in which major league professionals also participate.
Homeruns by Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto, among others, helped Japan take the lead. In the ninth inning, superstar Shohei Ohtani swept the victory from the mound. With a few fastballs, the Japanese pitcher knocked out American lead Mike Trout, and his teammate Los Angeles Angels. Japan also won the first two editions of the WBC, in 2006 and 2009. In 2013, the Dominican Republic won.
Ohtani was named MVP, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Before the game against the Americans, he also played an important role by getting his team on edge by making a speech. “I told them to stop and admire the American team. Of course the team is all big names and stars. All the Japanese players know them. But I didn’t want them to get passive. I said show respect, but be aggressive and confident.”
The Americans opened the scoring at MLB club Miami Marlins, but the Japanese came back strong after that. Otani was overjoyed at the overall victory. “This is the best tournament for me. I love the atmosphere and everything that goes with it.”
The WBC Netherlands Kingdom team started with two wins, but then lost twice and faltered in the group stage. The Orange reached the semi-finals in 2013 and 2017.
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