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Shohei Ohtani scores first home run at WBC as Team Japan goes unbeaten entering quarterfinals

Shohei Ohtani
via MLB

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    Major League Baseball (MLB) superstar Shohei Ohtani led Japan to secure an undefeated 4-0 record as the national team heads into the quarterfinals of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. 

    The Japanese baseball team earned a spot in the quarterfinals on Saturday after defeating the Czech Republic 10-2.

    On Sunday, the Japanese two-way player delivered his first home run of the tournament in the first inning of the match as Japan handed Australia its first loss with a dominating 7-1 score.

    In addition to his 448-foot, three-run home run, Ohtani finished with four RBIs in total to help the national team complete the elimination round unscathed. 

    Japan’s star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto was also dominant, allowing just one hit and striking out eight over four shutout innings. Australia had only five hits in the game, including a solo home run by Alex Hall in the ninth inning.

    Japan is set to face world No. 16 Italy, led by former MLB All-Star Matt Harvey, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Italy advanced along with Cuba from Group A on tiebreakers.

    Ohtani is wearing the national Samurai Japan jersey for the first time in nearly eight years since representing his country at the 2015 WBC tournament.

    He last represented Samurai Japan in the 2015 WBSC Premier12, which is regarded as the top international men’s baseball tournament without MLB players. In the competition, Ohtani helped Team Japan secure a bronze medal. Although he was selected for the 2017 WBC, an ankle problem forced him out of the tournament.

    His participation at the 2023 WBC also marks the first time he has played in an international tournament since moving to the U.S. and joining the MLB in 2018.

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