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Team Japan reigns supreme in WBC for third title

Photo courtesy of Flickr
A dream matchup for some baseball fans took place this past Tuesday, March 21, at a sold-out LoanDepot Park Stadium in Miami, Fl. between the US and Japan.

It is the ninth inning, fans cheering, with teammates and coaches anxiously waiting across the sidelines as weeks of exciting international baseball came down to this historic final matchup between Team USA and Team Japan with Los Angeles Angels teammates Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) title.

A dream matchup for some baseball fans took place this past Tuesday, March 21, at a sold-out LoanDepot Park Stadium in Miami, Fl. as fans and viewers around the world watched the epic game unfold in front of them, as it only took an off-the-chart slider to end it, with a 3-2 victory for the USA.

Throwing his glove on the floor and pumping his fist into his chest with excitement, Ohtani and his team hoisted the championship trophy up in the air for the third time, being the only team to have won multiple championships, winning back-to-back in 2006 and 2009.

“I have seen Japan winning and I wanted to be part of it, I really appreciate that I was able to have that great experience,” Ohtani said. “The next generation of kids who are playing baseball, hoping those people would… play baseball, that would make me happy.”

The thrilling matchup teed off with Team USA, as Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner struck his fifth home run of the WBC during the second inning, scoring a point and setting the lead.

However, that lead did not last long as third baseman Munetaka Murakami helped his team tie the score. Smashing U.S. starting pitcher Merrill Kelly’s pitch into the upper deck, Murakami was in position for a perfect home run.

Team Japan, filled with confidence, then chased Kelly from the game with two singles and a walk, giving Japan a slighter edge with a 2-1 lead.

Japan had more success and strength at the plate during the fourth inning when they faced Kyle Freeland. First baseman, Kazuma Okamoto hit a hanging slider over the left-center field and set the way to a 3-1 advantage.

While his team was performing well and hitting home runs, Ohtani was getting his uniform pants dirty from running the bases and was ready to leave the bullpen and enter the mound.

Right off the bat, Ohtani fired a 102-mile-per-hour fastball to leadoff batter Jeff McNeil and then walked him, setting up Mookie Betts into a double play, setting the battleground for Trout to follow next.

An anticipated matchup that many baseball fans have hoped and dreamed for, it all came down to Ohtani when he threw a fastball that eventually fell into a 3-2 count. As Trout missed Ohtani’s final shot, which was a sweeping slider, he bounced off the mound excitedly leaving Team Japan in victory.

Ohtani went on to be named MVP for having the best statistical performance throughout the tournament, which was a childhood dream for the player.

“To be able to get the MVP, this really proves that Japanese baseball can beat any team in the world,” Ohtani said.

Japan set the tone for the tournament, winning six overall games, knocking out China in opening action and closing Pool B by beating Korea, the Czech Republic, and Australia, and knocking out Italy in the quarterfinals. They punched their way into the championships by beating Mexico (6-5) this past Monday.

Erik Acosta is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Erik Acosta
Erik Acosta, Editor-in-Chief
Erik Acosta is the editor-in-chief for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in theatre. He plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism and print with hopes of working at LA times, Washington Post and ABC News.
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Team Japan reigns supreme in WBC for third title