• Baseball

Samurai Defeat U.S. in WBC Final

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shohei Ohtani and Samurai Japan celebrate their victory over the United States on Tuesday in Miami (Wednesday Japan time).

MIAMI — Japan’s national team on Tuesday (Wednesday Japan time) won the World Baseball Classic for the third time with a 3-2 victory over the United States, the defending champion.

It was the first WBC championship for the team known as Samurai Japan since 2009, when it finished off back-to-back titles.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Munetaka Murakami hits a solo home run in the second inning.

Japan, which swept through its seven tournament games, starting with round-robin pool play, tied the score against the U.S. in the second-inning on a solo home run off the bat of Munetaka Murakami of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The Samurai later in the inning took a 2-1 lead on an infield single.

Slugger Kazuma Okamoto of the Yomiuri Giants belted a solo homer in the fourth inning to give the team a 3-1 cushion.

Japan’s relief pitching shut down U.S. rallies in the middle innings, and the Samurai turned the ball over to Yu Darvish of San Diego Padres in the eighth inning and Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani, who was already in the game as the designated hitter batting third, in the ninth.

Ohtani, who was selected as the tournament MVP, closed the game out by getting Angels teammate Mike Trout to swing through a pitch for strike three.

“I was just thrilled because the players looked so happy,” said Japan skipper Hideki Kuriyama.

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