Japan toppled defending champion USA in a 3-2 victory to snatch the World Baseball Classic title Tuesday night and the team – and the nation – didn’t hold back on celebrating its win.
Shohei Ohtani led Japan to its first WBC crown since 2009 from the mound in a mouthwatering matchup fans had been dying to see as he faced his LA Angels teammate Mike Trout.
Ohtani won the duel as, with a full count, he delivered a slider to the outer part of the strike zone on Trout who swung and missed.
Ohtani ran off the mound in celebration and Japan were crowned the World Baseball Classic champions, sparking jubilation in Miami and back home.
The star pitcher didn’t stop leading his team once he left the field either as he spearheaded the celebrations, spraying champagne on his teammates as Japan kickstarted its title party in the clubhouse.
The Japanese team didn’t hold back on celebrating its World Baseball Classic victory
Star pitcher Shohei Ohtani led the celebrations as his teammates doused him with champagne
Team Japan pose for a group photo in the club house after toppling the USA 3-2
The celebrations began with a bit more poise on the field as the victorious players received their medals before lifting the trophy.
But heading back to the clubhouse, the Japanese donned commemorative t-shirts and protective ski goggles, popped the cork and let the champagne flow.
The jubilant stars went back and forth spraying each other with beer and champagne and performed the traditional ‘doage’ – team members tossing the winning manager and players into the air.
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar, Ohtani and San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish were also tossed into the air alongside manager Hideki Kuriyama.
Baseball was made popular in Japan by American teachers and missionaries in the 1870s and 1880s and a win over the USA in the final clearly meant more than just a game.
‘The greatest decision I ever made,’ said Nootbaar, who was the first to play for Japan by ancestry.
He spoke in a television interview after the game, and then hugged his mother, Kumiko, who was standing alongside.
‘Nippon daisuki,’ Nootbaar said in Japanese. ‘Arigato.’
‘I love Japan. Thank you.’
Samurai Japan popped the corks and let the champagne flow back in the clubhouse
They donned the customary ski googles to protect their eyes as they sprayed champagne
Ohtani wears the commemorative t-shirt with the trophy, Japanese flag and ‘champions’ on
Manager Hideki Kuriyama was tossed into the air by team members on the field
Padres pitcher Yu Darvish (center) is sprayed by Munetaka Murakami and Lars Nootbaar
And it wasn’t just the team that celebrated as the jubilant mood travelled over to Japan where fans watched the tense final.
As Ohtani delivered the winning pitch against Trout and leapt from the mound, fans watching back home jumped out of their chairs, erupting in cheers.
Japanese television stuck to its live coverage from Miami for almost two hours after Japan defeated the US, showing replays of the game over and over again in between clips of the team’s celebrations.
The country’s baseball fans flooded on to the streets of Tokyo to grab newspapers marking the event.
The country’s top circulating newspaper Yomiuri rolled out a special Wednesday afternoon edition for commuters, usually reserved for serious matters of state, late-breaking election news, or as it was last year – the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
‘Japan, the World’s No. 1,’ the headline read in Japanese, with commuters at Shibuya station pushing and shoving to grab the collector’s item.
They queued up to grab a copy from policeman handing the newspapers out on the street.
It also gave a boost in Japan to baseball, which has been challenged by soccer as the country’s favorite sport. Japan is unlikely in the short-term to win soccer’s World Cup, but its baseball is world class. Its won three of the five WBC titles, dating to the first event in 2006.
Japan joined the Dominican Republic in 2013 as the only unbeaten champions of baseball´s premier national team tournament.
Fans back in Japan rushed out to grab newspapers to commemorate the victory
They queued up to grab a copy from policeman handing the newspapers out on the street
Many were eager to get their hands on the issue, which had Ohtani plastered across the front
Japanese television stuck to its live coverage from Miami for almost two hours after the game
Crowds gathered to watch the tense final, erupted in cheers as Ohtani struck out Mike Trout
‘I was OK with either losing or winning,’ said Hiroya Kuroda, a 44-year-old in a crowd of about 400 watching the game in a studio at Tokyo Tower. ‘But I was very moved by the fact that they showed us a dramatic game on that stage in the United States.’
Toshiya Ishii, a 29-year-old fan, broke down crying at the victory.
‘Thank you Ohtani,’ he said. ‘Congratulations Samurai Japan. Thank you.’
‘It’s definitely probably number one,’ Ohtani said of his most cherished baseball moments, via The Athletic. ‘A storybook situation and ending.’
Japan, which also prevailed in 2006 and 2009, leads all nations with three WBC titles.
Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber homered for Team USA, which entered this tournament as the reigning champions by virtue of its 2017 title.
Turner, who went 2-for-4 on Tuesday, hit five homers during the United States’ WBC run. Betts went 2-for-5 for the Americans.
USA opened the scoring in the second inning as Turner slugged a 406-foot solo homer to left off a Shota Imanaga fastball.
Murakami tied the score on the first pitch of the second inning, blasting a 432-foot shot off a Merrill Kelly fastball.
Japan took a 2-1 lead later in the inning, knocking Kelly out of the game after loading the bases with one out. Reliever Aaron Loup got the two batters he faced in the second, but Lars Nootbaar’s soft groundout brought home the go-ahead run.
Ohtani and his team lifted the trophy that had eluded them since they last won it in 2009
It was a battle of LA Angels teammates: Mike Trout of the US (R) and Ohtani of Japan (L)
For his role throughout the tournament, Ohtani was named the World Baseball Classic’s MVP
Okamoto’s 407-foot homer off a Kyle Freeland slider gave Japan a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
USA started well in the seventh as pinch hitter Jeff McNeil drew a four-pitch walk against Taisei Ota and Betts singled to left. However, Trout lined out to right, and Paul Goldschmidt bounced into a double play to end the threat.
Schwarber cut the USA deficit to 3-2 after a strong at-bat against Yu Darvish. After working the count to 2-1, Schwarber fouled off six straight pitches before getting hold of a splitter and hammering it 436 feet to right-center field to draw the Americans closer.
Ohtani came out to close the game – something he hasn’t done since 2016 and never done in the United States. Despite his tendency to play as a starting pitcher, Ohtani said he called back to those past situations when he faced down the final three batters.
‘That experience was huge for me,’ Ohtani said through a translator. ‘This wasn’t my first time…, so I knew how to prepare for it – even though it was like five, six years ago – but that experience really helped out this time around.’
In the ninth, McNeil drew a leadoff walk against Ohtani. Betts’ double-play grounder then set the stage for the epic Ohtani-Trout matchup.
Ohtani won the duel, getting Trout on a 3-2 sweeping breaking ball that tailed away from him.
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Sports Event Casino Handicap Description
|PK||0||It means not giving in to each other, and winning 1 point wins all.|
|0-50||0/0.5||Indicates that when the handicap team is tied with the transferee team, the team betting on the handicap loses 50%.|
|0 loss||0.5||Indicates that when the handicap team is tied with the transferee team, the team betting on the handicap loses.|
|1+50||0.5/1||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap wins 50% and wins all 2 points.|
|1 level||1||Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the two teams will tie and win by 2 points.|
|1-50||1/1.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 2 points.|
|1 loss||1.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins by 2 points.|
|2+50||1.5/2||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap wins 50% and wins all 3 points.|
|2 flat||2||Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the two teams will tie and win all 3 points.|
|2 losses||2/2.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 3 points.|
|3+50||2.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins all 3 points.|
|3 losses||2.5/3||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap wins 50%, and all 4 points win.|
|3 levels||3||Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the two teams will tie and win all 4 points.|
|3-50||3/3.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 4 points.|
|3 losses||3.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins all 4 points.|
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