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Japan Dethrones US, Captures Third World Baseball Classic Title

Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani is named World Baseball Classic MVP after an all-around performance that included two wins, a save and a .435 batting average.



World Baseball Classic
Samurai Japan players, including Shohei Ohtani (center), celebrate the team's victory over the United States in the World Baseball Classic final on March 21 in Miami. (KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Japan Dethrones US, Captures Third World Baseball Classic Title

Shohei Ohtani struck out teammate Mike Trout for a storybook ending as Japan edged the defending champion United States 3-2 on Tuesday, March 21 in a thrilling final to win its third World Baseball Classic title and first in 14 years.

A day after a dramatic 6-5 sayonara win over Mexico on Monday in the semifinals at loanDepot Park in Miami, Samurai Japan was back for more excitement in the final against its main baseball rival.

Kyle Schwarber hit a solo homer in the top of the eighth inning off Yu Darvish to pull the hosts within one run and set up a nail-biting finish.

Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama sent his biggest star out to nail down the victory in the ninth and the two-way sensation didn't disappoint on the mound.

Ohtani issued a leadoff walk to Jeff McNeil, which just added to the tension for Japan and its legion of fans who made the long trip to Miami and millions more watching back home on Wednesday morning local time.

But there was a huge sigh of relief when Ohtani then got six-time MLB All-Star Mookie Betts to hit into a double play. 

That brought up Ohtani's Los Angeles Angels' teammate and good friend Trout, a three-time American League MVP.

After getting three balls and two strikes on Trout, Ohtani threw a slider that moved away from the star player as he whiffed in vain to end the game.

World Baseball Classic
Shohei Ohtani reacts after striking out Mike Trout to end the game. (ⒸSANKEI)

Thrilling Achievement for Ohtani, Teammates

Japan's players, who didn't lose a single game in the tournament, poured out onto the field for a wild celebration.

"I'm happy to have realized my dream," Ohtani said. "I was nervous on the mound but am happy I was able to protect the slim lead."

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.

Sports editor Ed Odeven contributed to this report.

Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.

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