MIAMI, FL — Home runs from Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber wasn’t enough to take down Japan’s undefeated run in the World Baseball Classic Final on Tuesday night, March 21.
A classic showdown between two powerhouses came down to two teammates facing off. One on the mound and one in the batter’s box. Shohei Ohtani struck out Mike Trout swinging to return the WBC title back to Japan as the Japanese beat the Americans 3-2.
“This is the best moment in my life,” Ohtani said after the game. “Whether I got him out or he got a hit off me, I didn't want to make any regrets. I wanted to make my best pitch,” Ohtani said.
The moment almost seemed scripted as arguably the two greatest players on the planet right now squared off in a do-or-die situation. It was exactly what the world of baseball wanted to see.
"I think every baseball fan wanted to see that. I've been answering questions about it for the last month and a half," Trout said. “Did you think it was going to end any other way?”
Ohtani brought the heat in Trout’s at-bat. His fastballs reached 100 MPH. Trout whiffed on two of them before he missed a slider tailing to the outside. Ohtani recorded the save, and Team Japan took down the Defending Champion USA.
Team USA struck first as Trea Turner’s insane tournament run continued. He hit his 5th home run, tying the WBC tournament home run record, when he crushed a 2-1 pitch from Shota Imanaga over the left-field wall at loanDepot Park in Miami. The homer tied South Korea’s Lee Seung-yuop’s mark set in the inaugural tournament in 2006.
Japan third baseman Munetaka Murakami tied the game, 1-1, with a home run into the upper deck beyond right field in the bottom of the second inning, and the Japanese never looked back. Kazuma Okomoto added a homerun to give Japan a 3-1 advantage entering the 8th inning. Kyle Schwarber homered off Yu Darvish to pull the USA to 3-2, but Darvish managed to get out of the inning without further incident.
After the game, Japan celebrated their hard-won victory and became only the second team in WBC history to go undefeated in the tournament. Ohtani batted .435 with one homer, four doubles, eight RBIs, and 10 walks. The 2021 AL MVP was 2-0 with a save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings.
While the loss stings for the United States, the Americans almost went back-to-back in this tournament. If our best keep showing up, America can continue to remain at the top in America’s pastime.