The games at the 2023 World Baseball Classic were of such high caliber that they conveyed the inherent joy of baseball at its finest.
With a 7-0 record in the WBC, Samurai Japan, led by manager Hideki Kuriyama, featured quality hitting and pitching along with smart baseball fundamentals.
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.
NPB star Munetaka Murakami delivers a walk-off double in the ninth inning against Mexico, sending Japan to the WBC title game for the third time.
Hard-throwing youngster Roki Sasaki is scheduled to start the game for Samurai Japan, which needs a win to advance to the World Baseball Classic final.
For Samurai Japan, impressive wins over China, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Australia underscore the team's tremendous talent and roster depth.
The sophomore guard scored a season-high 23 points, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range, against South Dakota on November 27.
Stellar pitching from starter Masato Morishita and relievers keep the Americans off the scoreboard
Ryoji Kuribayashi holds the U.S. in the 10th to pick up the win.
Japan will face the U.S. on Monday for a chance to reach the semifinals.
That Yamamoto started the first of two tuneup games is a fairly strong indication that Inaba plans to have him start the opening game on Wednesday.
Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto has emerged as one of the best pitchers for Samurai Japan.