TOKYO (AP) — Shohei Ohtani hit a 448-foot, three-run home run in the first inning that landed just below his image on an video advertising board and had four RBIs to lead Japan over Australia 7-1 Sunday night at the World Baseball Classic.
Japan, already assured of advancement, won its group with a 4-0 record and will play a quarterfinal on Wednesday against the second-place team from Group A, to be determined later Sunday. South Korea beat the Czech Republic 7-3 in the day’s other Group B game.
Ohtani turned on a hanging curveball from loser Will Sherriff, who didn’t even watch the flight of the ball into the Tokyo Dome’s right-field seats, bending and putting hands on his knees. It was the first home run of the tournament for Ohtani, who is 6 for 12 with eight RBIs and seven walks. He walked with the bases loaded in the sixth, the third straight walk after reliever Blake Townsend entered.
Winner Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out eight in four scoreless innings, allowing one hit and no walks. He threw 42 of 60 pitches for strikes, averaging 95.2 mph with his fastball and topping out at 96.9 mph. The 24-year-old right-hander was the Pacific League’s MVP for the Orix Buffaloes in 2021 and 2022, and pitched a no-hitter last June 22 against the Saitama Seibu Lions.
Robbie Perkins was the only Australia batter to reach against Yamamato, on a one-out single in the third. Alex Hall homered in the ninth off Hiroto Takahashi, who finished a five-pitcher, five-hitter.
Australia (2-1) is second in Group B, ahead of the Czechs and South Korea (both 1-2) and eliminated China (0-3). Australia would advance with a win over the Czechs on Monday, when South Korea plays China.
SOUTH KOREA 7, CZECH REPUBLIC 3
TOKYO (AP) — Ha-Seong Kim of the San Diego Padres hit two solo homers for South Korea.
Winning pitcher Se Woong Park struck out eight in 4 2/3 innings. South Korea improved to 1-2 in Group B and will play winless China in its final group game. The Czechs are also 1-2.
St. Louis Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman had a two-run single for South Korea. Kim’s homer in the sixth made it 6-0.
Matej Mensik put the Czech Republic on the board with a two-run double in the seventh. Kim hit his second homer of the game in the bottom half.
Loser Lukas Ercoli allowed six runs in 1 1/3 innings.
CUBA 7, TAIWAN 1
TAICHUNG, Taiwan (AP) — Cuba got home runs from Yoán Moncada of the Chicago White Sox and Erisbel Arruebarrena.
Cuba and Taiwan are both 2-2 in a tight Group A. The Netherlands and Italy were set to play later Sunday. The Dutch are 2-1 and Italy is 1-2.
If the Dutch defeat Italy, they would advance to the quarterfinals, as would Cuba.
Cuba broke out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on a double by Alfredo Despaigne that scored Moncada and White Sox teammate Luis Robert. Arruebarrena’s two-run homer later in the inning made it 4-0.
Cuba starter Elian Leyva pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the win, striking out four. Loser Shih-Peng Chen allowed five runs — four earned — and five hits in 1 1/3 innings.
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