Japan Crushes Czechs to Stay Unbeaten in WBC

Japan’s Masataka Yoshida in action

Japan’s star-studded lineup of professionals proved too much for a gutsy Czech Republic team made up largely of amateurs, overwhelming Europe’s No. 2 team 10-2 in their Pool B game in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday night at Tokyo Dome.

Masataka Yoshida of the Boston Red Sox went 2-for-2 and with 3 RBIs as Japan improved to 3-0 in the five-team group and moved into position to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals.

Japan starter Roki Sasaki of the Chiba Lotte Marines, who tossed a perfect game last season, allowed two hits and one unearned run with eight strikeouts over 3⅔ innings. Two relievers held the Czechs one run and two hits the rest of the way.

The team, known as Samurai Japan, finishes up the group stage against Australia on Sunday night.

Should Japan lose to Australia, it will still advance outright with an Australian win over the Czech Republic on Monday. Should the Czechs prevail, it will leave the three teams with 3-1 records and the top two places decided on tiebreaking criteria.

On Saturday, the Czechs got off to a surprising start when they opened the scoring in the first inning by combining a two-out double and a throwing error for a run off the hard-throwing Sasaki.

Meanwhile, Czech starter Ondrej Satoria held Japan scoreless for the first 2⅔ innings, including a strikeout of Los Angeles Angels slugger Shohei Ohtani, until he gave up a two-run double to Yoshida that put Japan on the scoreboard.

The Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ Tetsuto Yamada followed with an RBI single to make it 3-1.

In the 8th inning, Shugo Maki homered into the left-field stands.