In an exciting back-and-forth affair that had a World Series atmosphere, Team Japan had the final say with an emotional walk-off double in the bottom of the 9th over Team Mexico. Munetaka Murakami, who had been struggling at the dish sitting at 0-4 on the night, came through in the clutch with a game-winning double that secured Japan’s place in the World Baseball Classic final.
The stage is now set for a highly anticipated championship showdown, with Team Japan set to face off against Team USA on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, which will be broadcast live on FS1. With what has been an excellent turnout and a highly viewed World Baseball Classic, this will be an epic final for the world of baseball as two powerhouses will play for the crown.
A Back And Forth Affair
Japan’s superstar Shohei Ohtani showed why he is considered one of the best players in the world. Ohtani went 2-for-4 and kickstarted the winning rally in the ninth inning with a leadoff double, which put the tying run on base and set the stage for Munetaka Murakami’s heroics. Masataka Yoshida followed Ohtani’s leadoff double with a walk and set up Murakami’s game-winning double.
Team Mexico got the scoring going with Luis Urías putting his team on the scoreboard in the fourth inning with a three-run home run off Roki Sasaki. Angels starter Patrick Sandoval held Japan at bay and turned in an excellent outing throwing 4.1 innings of scoreless ball while scattering four hits and recording six punchouts. But Japan’s offense was too good to stay silent all night. Yoshida had an answer for Mexico in the seventh inning with a clutch three-run homer he golfed down the line off of Mexico’s reliever JoJo Romero, tying the game and setting the stage for the dramatic final two innings.
Late Inning Drama
Alex Verdugo, who recently joined Yoshida on the Boston Red Sox team, grabbed the lead right back for Mexico in the 8th with a go-ahead RBI double that drove in Randy Arozarena. Isaac Paredes then drove in pitch runner Jarren Duran, giving Mexico a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the 8th.
Japan once again mounted a quick answer. After the first two Japanese players reached base, they laid down a sacrifice bunt, and then Takumu Nakano crossed the plate on a Hotaka Yamakawa sacrifice fly, cutting Mexico’s lead to just one run.
Mexico went scoreless in the top of the 9th. The stage was then set for a dramatic final inning, and Japan delivered with Munetaka Murakami’s walk-off double that secured their spot in the WBC final against Team USA.
Here is the call from Japanese TV:
AS CALLED ON JAPANESE TV: pic.twitter.com/3zzrOXp0O5
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 21, 2023