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2023 World Baseball Classic Day 3: Ohtani stars as Japan get off to winning start

The two-way star starred in two ways as Japan beat China.

World Baseball Classic Pool B: China v Japan Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images

The 2023 World Baseball Classic continued along on Thursday with four more games, including the debut of a potential contender. Between that and an extra inning battle, it was quite the day, so let’s check in on yesterday’s action.

Pool B: Japan (1-0) 8, China 1 (0-1)

So, it turns out that Shohei Ohtani guy is pretty good. Japan’s two-way star got the start on the mound and allowed just one hit in four scoreless innings, while striking out five. Meanwhile at the plate, he went 2-for-4 with a double, two walks, and two RBI as Japan won fairly comfortably over an overmatched China team.

After the Cardinals’ Lars Nootbar led off the bottom of the first for Japan with a single, China starting pitcher Xiang Wang struggled to find the zone and walked the next three hitters — including Ohtani and NBP/potential future MLB star Munetaka Murakami. The third plated Nootbar, giving Japan an early lead.

Despite the early setback and having clearly way less talent, China managed to hang in there for a while. They managed to escape a bases-loaded jam in the second, and it took until a fourth inning two-RBI double from Ohtani for Japan to get on the board again. China then scored a run themselves in the sixth on a solo homer from Pei Liang.

However eventually, the talent differential became too much and Japan scored five total runs across the eighth and ninth innings, putting the game away. That being said, not a bad effort from China considering on paper, the game looked like a potential mercy rule affair.

Pool A: Italy 6 (1-0), Cuba 3 (0-2)/10 innings

Four 10th inning runs allowed Italy to get their WBC off to a winning start with a victory over Cuba.

The first five innings went scoreless as Cuba’s Roenis Elías and Matt Harvey (yes that one) and Andre Pallante for Italy went back and forth. The tie was eventually broken in the top of the sixth when Italy scored a run on a Dominic Fletcher RBI single. They then went up 2-0 thanks to a Miles Mastrobuoni RBI “double” that Yoenis Céspedes didn’t exactly play perfectly.

Cuba got one run back in the seventh on a Lorenzo Quintana run-scoring single, and then tied the game in the eighth when Erisbel Arruebarrena drove home Alfredo Despaigne with another single. That sent the game to extras where the real fireworks happened.

Starting with a runner on second, Italy’s John Valente quickly put them ahead when he led off the 10th with a single. Fletcher then picked up another RBI when he brought home Valente. A couple batters after that, the big blow came when the Royals’ Nicky Lopez fully broke things open with a two-run double.

Cuba tried to rally in the ninth, with Luis Robert Jr. scoring a run with a single, but it was too little, too late as Mike Piazza’s Italy came away with the win.

Pool B: Czech Republic (1-0) 8, China (0-2) 5

Featuring a team of firefighters, amateurs, and Eric Sogard, the Czech Rebublic made their WBC debut against China, and got off to the perfect start. They scored two runs on two hits — including one from Sogard — to score quickly in the top of the first.

In the third, Matej Mensik added to the Czech’s lead with a solo homer.

Meanwhile on the mound, Daniel Padysak — a college pitcher at Charleston Southern — started the game with four no-hit innings. China eventually got on the board when the Czechs went to the bullpen, but still didn’t record a hit in the process. Reliever Martin Schneider walked the bases loaded in the fifth, eventually giving up a run on a ground out. China didn’t record a hit until the sixth, by which the Czech Republic had gotten that run back.

Despite leading for so much of the game, things began to get away from the Czech Republic in the seventh inning. China struck back with four runs on four hits and two walks, with a wild pitch and an error by pitcher Michal Kovala mixed in. After all that, China was in front by a run.

It stayed that way until the ninth inning, when things got flipped up again. Down to their final two outs, Martin Murzik launched a three-run home run, putting the Czech Republic back in front.

They added an insurance run and eventually held on for a wild and historic win.

Pool A: Cuba (1-2) 13, Panama (1-2) 4

After dropping their first two games, Cuba basically went into this game needing a win to keep any chances alive. Things started well enough, as they scored a run each in the first and second innings, but Panama soon struck with four runs in the second inning, including two on a Rubén Tejada home run.

With their backs against the wall, Cuba battled back. The scored four runs in the sixth, which included RBI from Yoán Moncada and Robert.

Cuba then fully broke things open with a five-run seventh inning and never looked back from there.

Today at the WBC:

Korea vs. Japan
Time: 5:00 a.m. EST
Venue: Tokyo Dome, Japan

Italy vs. Chinese Taipei
Time: 6:00 a.m. EST
Venue: Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, Taichung

China vs. Australia
Time: 10:00 p.m. EST
Venue: Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan

Panama vs. Italy
Time: 11:00 p.m. EST
Venue: Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, Taichung