Shohei Ohtani uncorks 102-mile heat as Japan oust Italy to reach World Baseball Classic semifinals

For the fifth time in five World Baseball Classics, Team Japan has reached the semifinals and is one of the last four teams. Japan edged out Italy behind Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish in Tokyo on Thursday (JPN 9, ITA 3) to earn a ticket to the semifinals in Miami. Japan is undefeated at this year’s WBC. Italy is eliminated.

Ohtani got the mound start and drove through the first four innings before hitting two batters and handing a two-run single in the fifth to Diamondbacks minor league player Dominic Fletcher. He finished with two carries allowed in 4 2/3 innings and stayed just under the WBC’s 80-pitch limit (he threw 71) in the quarterfinals. Ohtani also threw his fastest throw ever, a 102.0-mile heater, going 1 for 4 with a walk at the plate.

Japan took control of the game with a four-run third inning. Kazuma Okamoto, a first baseman for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, hit a triple home run. Japan added three runs in the fifth inning, thanks in part to a two-run double by Okamoto. The four-time All-Star in Japan went 2 for 2 with a double, a homer, two walks and five RBI in the win over Italy.

With a 7-2 lead in game seven, Japan looked to Darvish in relief to pin victory or go home. He allowed Fletcher a solo homer in two innings of work. This was Darvish’s first relief appearance since he was still with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan in 2010. Memorably, he came out of the bullpen to end Japan’s win in the 2009 WBC championship game.

Japan is perfect at this year’s WBC with 5-0 and beat their opponents 47-11. They now travel to Miami for the semifinals, where they await the winner of Friday’s Puerto Rico-Mexico game. Here is the WBC:

Quarterfinals 1st


March, 15

Cuba 4, Australia 3

Quarterfinals 2nd


March 16th

Japan 9, Italy 3

Quarterfinals 3


17. March

Puerto Rico vs Mexico

Quarterfinals 4th


March 18th

United States vs Venezuela

semi-final 1


19th March

Winner Cuba vs Quarterfinals 4th

semi final 2


March, 20th

Winner Japan vs. Quarterfinals 3

championship game


March 21st

Winner semi-final 1 vs. Winner semi-final 2

Ohani is not expected to field the rest of the WBC although the schedule would allow him to start the championship game in normal calm, something he has never done in his career. Japan has Roki Sasaki and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the top two pitchers in the world outside of MLBlined up to start in the semi-finals and, if they advance, next Tuesday’s championship game.

Japan won the 2006 and 2009 WBCs and placed third at the 2013 and 2017 WBCs, and was by far the most successful team in the tournament’s history. With the departure of the Dominican Republic and USA hardly convince in the first round, Japan is the favorite for this year’s title.

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