Samurai Japan Holds off Team USA to win its 3rd World Baseball Classic.

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Samurai Japan Holds off Team USA to win its 3rd World Baseball Classic.

The final out of the 2023 World Baseball Classic came down to two Angels of the Major League, quite literally, fan favorites Shohei Ohtani pitching for Japan and Mike Trout at the plate for Team USA. With a full 3-2 count Ohtani caught Trout swinging on an 82-mph sweeper, sealing the victory for Japan 3-2.

Undefeated Japan swept the WBC for its 3rd title since the introduction of the tournament in 2006, their first since winning back-to-back in the inaugural tournament and the 2009 tournament. Japan has gone 38-8 all-time in the tournament. Japan’s ability to go undefeated has showed it’s resiliency throughout the tournament, staving off two comebacks from Mexico on Monday and Team USA on Tuesday.

They are the only team to have won the tournament multiple times, having done it 3 times is impressive. Japan has taken America’s Pastime and really turned it into its own. Approximately 97.4% of TVs in Japan tuned in to watch Ohtani strike out trout. 97.4%! That number is just astronomical.

Shohei Ohtani was named MVP for having the best stats over the course of the whole tournament. “I happened to be able to get the MVP,” Ohtani said. “But this really proves that Japanese baseball can beat any team in the world.”

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

“Of course, I believe this is the best moment in my life, and just because we won today, though,” Ohtani said. “Of course, this doesn’t mean that we achieved a final goal, but this is just a passing point. Our team has just started, so I think we need to tune-up for the future.”

“Winning today is obviously the most important,” said Lars Nootbaar, Japan Outfielder. “But the fact that we were able to go undefeated through the whole time, beat a great Mexico team yesterday, come back today and then play against, obviously, maybe the greatest lineup that’s ever been assembled in baseball history makes it sweet that we did it undefeated, for sure.”

“It feels like I’m living in a dream right now,” said Nootbar. “It’s pretty unbelievable. To be able to win the third one for Japan makes it even sweeter.”

Trea Turner got the game scoring off first by hitting a 406-foot left field solo homerun off of Shota Imanaga in the top of the Second. This was Turner’s 3rd homerun in in as many games and his record tying fifth for the tournament. This lead, however, wouldn’t last long.

In the bottom of the second Munetaka Murakami, hit a 432-foot homerun to left-center field off of Merrill Kelly. Later in the inning Lars Nootbaar drove in Kazuma Okamoto on a sacrifice grounder off of relief pitcher Aaron Loup.

Kazuma Okamoto provided an insurance run by hitting a solo homerun off of Kyle Freeland in the Fourth. Japan would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game. Despite Team USA’s best efforts.

Kyle Schwarber hit a 436 foot left-center homerun off of Yu Darvish in the top of the eight to bring Team USA within one.

In the top of the Ninth Japan called on Shohei Ohtani, who had only ever closed out a game one other time, in 2016 for the Nippon-Hamm Fighters. Coming down to the epic battle between “Angels” with Ohtani coming out on top, this time.

“That’s obviously fun, obviously didn’t come out the way I wanted to. You know, I think as a baseball [fan] everybody wanted to see it. He won round one,” Trout said with a laugh.

We are all definitely excited to see what World Baseball Classic 2026 will bring to the table. It’s for sure going to be drama filled, and exciting for the baseball world.


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