Another night, another thrilling win for Samurai Japan at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Pinch hitter Seiichi Uchikawa brought in the tiebreaking run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, Tetsuto Yamada provided more breathing room with a two-run home run later in the frame, and the Japanese emerged from a back-and-forth battle against Cuba with a 8-5 victory on Tuesday night at Tokyo Dome.
The Japanese took a big step toward qualifying for the semifinals in the U.S. with the win.
An early wakeup call couldn’t knock Cuba off its game and neither could China.
Cuba rebounded from a late-night loss to Japan less than 24 hours earlier by scoring four runs in the fourth inning on the way to a 6-0 win over China in Pool B of the 2017 World Baseball Classic on Wednesday at Tokyo Dome.
Tokyo (March 6, 2017)
Cuba has unquestionably been the biggest overall surprise of the first three World Baseball Classic editions. Team Israel may already be well down the road to changing that scenario during the first couple of days of the current renewal for MLB’s increasingly popular “true, legitimate” baseball world series. But across the first three high profile showcase events it has been the Cubans who have written the most unexpected fairy tales and turned the largest numbers of sceptics into true believers.
The fans waited as Nobuhiro Matsuda rounded the bases and exchanged high-fives with his teammates. They knew what was coming, and when Matsuda pumped his fist and let out a guttural yell, as is his custom after home runs, the Japanese fans packed in Tokyo Dome exploded with enough force to knock the roof off the Big Egg.
Cuba scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning, to tie with the Orix Buffaloes in its first warm-up match against japanese professional teams in preparation for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
In that inning Cuban catcher Frank C. Morejón singled, Roel Santos followed with a double, and both scored when shortstop Alexander Ayala singled to left. Ayala scored the tying run later, when William Saavedra reaches on first base on a throwing error by third baseman Ito Hikaru.