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2023 World Baseball Classic Day 4: Japan thrashes archrival Korea

One of the group stage’s premier rivalries saw Team Samurai come out on top in a walk.

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

Sometimes, Yankees-Red Sox just doesn’t live up to the hype that ESPN wants. On Friday at the World Baseball Classic, one of the most-anticipated showdowns of the group stage ended with a whimper as Japan clobbered Korea 13-4. While there wasn’t significant drama in that contest, Chinese Taipei put forward a classic effort in a stellar game against Italy, and Australia proved themselves a real threat to advance in Pool B.

Pool B: Japan (2-0) 13, Korea (0-2) 4

In what was supposed to be the biggest face-off of Pool B, Team Samurai clubbed their chief rival Korea all over the Tokyo Dome. Shohei Ohtani will always garner a mention whenever his team is on the field, and the two-way star did go 2-for-3 with two walks. The big stick of the night belonged to Red Sox free agent signee Masataka Yoshida, who drove in five runs in the game:

Yoshida’s garnered some debate among projections and scouts for what he’ll put up at the MLB level, but his swing looks big league quality.

Korea actually got out ahead, going up 3-0, with catcher Euiji Yang slapping his second home run of the tournament opening the scoring in the third inning. Reigning KBO MVP Jung Hoo Lee followed that with an RBI single ... and then Japan woke up.

Four runs in the third put Japan on top, two more in the fifth put them in command, and a five-run sixth put the game out of reach. The Samurai have scored 21 runs and allowed just five in their first two games, showing why they were one of the favorites to win this entire tournament. They’ve looked dangerous and haven’t even sent arguably their best pitcher, phenom Rōki Sasaki, to the mound yet.

Pool A: Chinese Taipei (1-1) 11, Italy (1-1) 7

If you could stay up for it, you would have seen one of the best games we’re likely to get at the WBC. Five different lead changes kept the hometown Taiwanese crowd on edge, before Kungkuan Giljegiljaw hit a Steph Curry-style dagger to seal Chinese Taipei’s first win of the tournament:

Italy gave as good as it got, responding to an early 1-0 deficit with a pair of runs in the second inning, courtesy of Nicky Lopez. The Royals infielder has been this squad’s best player in the WBC so far, notching two hits and driving in three in Friday’s contest. After tying the game in the bottom half, Taipei went up by three with a big third inning.

Enter Sal Frelick:

The back-and-forth game was international competition at its best, and also potential evidence in favor of Chinese Taipei’s claim that the baseballs are livelier than the regulation ones most players are familiar with.

Pool B: Australia (2-0) 12, China (0-3) 2

The baseball ‘Roos jumped all over China in the early goings, putting up five runs in the first three innings. Rixon Wingrove notched a bases-clearing double in the first to spot Australia 3-0, and Darryl George and Aaron Whitefield added RBI singles in the third to put Aussie up big.

China added two runs in the fourth, before Australia poured it on, sending six more men home in the home half — two on a Robbie Glendinning home run. After 18 tough innings against Japan and Czech Republic the past couple days, the Chinese pitching staff was gassed and they could only do so much against the relentless Aussies.

This game only ended up going seven innings due to the WBC’s mercy rule, where any game separated by ten runs or more after seven is automatically over. Darryl George provided the “walk-off”, of sorts, hitting a two-run single in the seventh to ice the game.

Unless the Czechs have some big upsets in them, Australia is in good shape to advance to the second round, even if Japan takes the group as expected. That would be a WBC first for them and particularly surprising given Korea’s presence in Pool B, but Australia has the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of their upset win the other day.

Pool A: Panama (2-2) 2, Italy (1-2) 0

In contrast, we got a dynamite pitching duel in the first few frames of this matchup, as starters Michele Vassalotti and Harold Arauz combined for eight innings of one-run ball, surrendering just four hits and striking out six between them.

Jose Ramos’ long ball was the only run of the game until the seventh, when Allen Córdoba singled in a run to edge the lead to two. Four Panamanian pitchers combined to throw a shutout, keeping Italy off the board and boosting their chances of advancing out of the group. Netherlands (2-0) is still in the driver’s seat to win the group, but at this point, any of the other four teams could plausibly advance as well if the breaks go their way.

Today at the WBC:

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

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

Nicaragua vs. Puerto Rico
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
Venue: loanDepot Park, Miami

Colombia vs. Mexico
Time: 2:30 p.m. EST
Venue: Chase Field, Phoenix

Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela
Time: 7:00 pm EST
Venue: loanDepot Park, Miami

Great Britain vs. United States
Time: 9:00 pm EST
Venue: Chase Field, Phoenix

Czech Republic vs. Korea
Time: 10:00 pm EST
Venue: Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan

Chinese Taipei vs. Cuba
Time: 11:00 PM EST
Venue: Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, Taichung