Japan walk-off 6-5 win over Mexico books their spot in final
This game was epic! It had everything that baseball promises: great pitching, contact hitting, small ball, big blasts, and a walk-off finish. This was one of the best baseball games you could ever hope to see.
Mexico got out to a three-run lead in the fourth with a towering shot from Luis Urías and held it. Great pitching, more than a pinch of luck, and of course Randy Arozarena kept Mexico in front for seven innings.
On the Japanese side of the ball, there was solid play and lots of base runners; in fact they stranded ten of them on the night. But the lucky breaks all fell Mexico’s way, and sometimes it is better to be lucky than to be good.
In the seventh inning, Masataka Yoshida blasted a bomb off the right field foul pole to level the score, and once again Mexico hit right backposting two of their own in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead. Japan clawed one back but were in desperate straits.
And then, with all the chips down, in the bottom of the ninth Japan got two runners on base for Munetaka Murakami. The NPB triple crown winner has been oddly silent in the tournament so far. He had gone 0 for 4 on the night, and 0 for 18 in the entire WBC competition. It was only a matter of time before his bat came to life and that moment was when it counted most.
A massive double blasted off the left center wall allowed two runs to score to make it 6-5 for Samurai Japan and propel them into the final game against the USA tomorrow.
Mexico owe their appearance in the semi final, as well as their holding the lead as long as they did in this game, to Randy Arozarena. The Cuban-born outfielder has seared his name into the hearts of all Mexicans and his defensive play in particular was perhaps some of the best play in the entire tournament. In the words of the immortal Costa Rican-born Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, “We Mexicans are born where we want to.”
“Us Mexicans are born wherever the hell we feel like it.”
Japan will now face the USA in the 2023 WBC final game tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Miami’s loanDepot Park. Japan are the only country to have ever won the title twice and are looking to extend that to become the undisputed kings of world baseball. Defending champions USA are looking to join Japan as the only teams to have ever repeated as champions. It promises to be a clash of titans.
Find out how you can watch the final.