Team Japan has won its third World Baseball Classic title, defeating the USA 3-2 in an intense final. The victory for Samurai Japan was not without its drama, with teammates Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout facing each other in the final out of the ninth inning. Ohtani emerged victorious, striking out Trout to end the game.
Ohtani had a solid performance in the championship game, finishing 1 for 3 with a walk at the plate and throwing a scoreless inning from the mound. The 2021 AL MVP finished the tournament with a remarkable .435 batting average and a 1.86 ERA from the mound. Trout, on the other hand, went 1 for 5 in the title game, finishing the tournament with a .296 batting average.
Team USA started strongly, with a solo homer from Trea Turner in the second inning off Japanese pitcher Shota Imanaga. However, Samurai Japan responded quickly with a solo homer from Munetaka Murakami in the third inning, followed by an RBI fielder’s choice from Laars Nootbaar to take a 2-1 lead over the USA.
Japan extended their lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning after a solo home run from Kazuma Okamoto. The USA cut Japan’s lead to 3-2 after Kyle Schwarber hit a huge home run off former Dodger Yu Darvish.
Team Japan advanced past pool play after going undefeated in Pool B, securing wins against Australia, China, Czech Republic, and South Korea. Samurai Japan then beat Italy 9-3 in the quarterfinals and Mexico 6-5 in the semis to secure their spot in the final.
Team USA, meanwhile, finished second in Pool C, with their only loss coming against Mexico. The USA punched its ticket to the final after defeating Venezuela 9-7 in the quarterfinals and Cuba 14-2 in the semis.
The victory for Team Japan marks their third World Baseball Classic title, cementing their status as one of the strongest baseball teams in the world.