Japan advanced to the World Baseball Classic final in incredible fashion on Monday, coming back in the final innings to overcome two deficits and beat Mexico in a tense and entertaining classic battle.
The see-saw match, won by Japan 6-5, was a highlight all on its own, full of energy, twists and turns, which ended when Japan’s best young hitter got rid of his struggles and doubled the last two runs in the end of the ninth inning.
Munetaka Murakami (L) reacts after hitting a double run in the ninth inning of Japan’s World Baseball Classic semifinal game against Mexico at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida on March 20, 2023. (Essonne Info) == Essonne Info
Munetaka Murakami, who last year became the country’s youngest Triple Crown hitter, had been manager Hideki Kuriyama’s first choice as a baseball hitter, but he hadn’t done much since the end. last season, and in Japan’s last two games, he was replaced at No. 4 by new Boston Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida.
Yoshida tied the game with a three-run homer in the seventh inning, and with Japan trailing 5-4 in the ninth inning, he walked after Shohei Ohtani started with a double, putting Murakami on the hot seat with a chance to win the game.
“He’s way better than he hit,” said Yoshida, whose Orix Buffaloes have faced Murakami’s Yakult Swallows in the past two Japan Series.
“We all know him very well and I think he also believes in him.
Kuriyama said the 23-year-old striker looks like he wants to prove to the world, through the WBC, what he is capable of.
“I believe he (Murakami) felt bad, but I believed in him,” Kuriyama said.
Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama attends a press conference following Japan’s 6-5 victory over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic Semi-Finals at loanDepot park in Miami, Florida on March 20, 2023. ( Essonne Info) ==Essonne Info
Murakami admitted to doubting himself before coming to the plate and considered bunting instead of swinging. But between a display of fire and energy after Ohtani reached second goal and Kuriyama telling him to do his best, the youngster strengthened his resolve.
“I think he (Ohtani) gave us all the power and the emotion we needed,” Murakami said. “I knew it was up to me and that I had often been in a position to do damage and didn’t.
And when he swung, the ball flew from his bat into the deepest part of Miami’s LoanDepot Park.
“Manager Kuriyama has been coaching us since last November, and that’s very important. I think he gave me extra attention, and I really appreciated his interest, and I’m glad I was able to reciprocate. »
Until this action, the Mexican Randy Arozarena was on his way to becoming the hero. After landing a terrific catch to get his glove over the left field fence and retrieve a home run ball, the dynamic and fun outfielder struck a pose at the fence that delighted his teammates and rowdies alike. Mexican fans.
Two more good catches from Arozarena late in the inning with the bases loaded and a double in the eighth inning helped Mexico take control of the game, before Japan charged again.
“There are no quitting on this team. There is always a positive energy,” said Japan center Lars Nootbaar. “Everyone encourages each other. Whether it’s a good swing or a takedown, people encourage each other. I think it’s contagious.”
Mexico manager Benji Gil, whose team came from behind to knock out mighty Puerto Rico in the quarter-finals and reach the WBC semi-finals for the first time, summed up the match expertly.
“We have to take our hats off to Japan,” Gil said. “Neither team deserved to lose, but someone had to win. Both teams put on a great performance, with great pitchers, and at no time did they give up or give in…Japan advanced, but the baseball world won today. »
Luis Urias (3) celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the fourth inning of Mexico’s World Baseball Classic semifinal game against Japan at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida on March 20, 2023. (Essonne Info) ==Essonne Info
Féliciane is one of the talented editors of Essonneinfo. She has written for the site since its launch, and has become a well-known figure in the industry for her skillful reporting and unique take on stories. Féliciane’s main hobby is travelling. Her passion for travel has allowed her to write in-depth articles about cultures around the world.