Japan won the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night, downing Team USA 3-2 in the championship game at loanDepot Park in Miami.
The game ended in dramatic fashion with Japan’s Shohei Ohtani striking out his MLB teammate Mike Trout with a full-count slider to seal Japan’s third title.
Japan won in 2006 by defeating Cuba in the final and in 2009 when it edged out South Korea. It went through the 2023 tournament undefeated.
Team USA’s Trea Turner hit a solo home run off Shota Imanaga to open the scoring with one out in the top of the second. But in the bottom half of the inning, Munetaka Murakami, a two-time MVP in Japan, led off with a home run off Team USA starter Merrill Kelly to tie the score at 1-1.
Kelly failed to make it out of the second with Japan loading the bases with one out on singles by Kazuma Okamoto and Sosuke Genda and a walk by No. 9 batter Yuhei Nakamura. Pitcher Aaron Loup came in for Team USA and gave up an RBI ground out to Lars Nootbaar before getting Kensuke Kondoh to fly out to center to end the inning with Japan ahead 2-1.
Japan made it 3-1 with a leadoff home run by Okamoto in the bottom of the fourth.
In the eighth inning, with Yu Darvish in to pitch for Japan, Kyle Schwarber homered on the 10th pitch of his at-bat to draw Team USA within one at 3-2.
The next version of the World Baseball Classic will be held in 2026 at a site to be determined.