Japan Wins Exciting 2023 World Baseball Classic Final Against the United States

Dario Luna, Photography Editor

Every three or four years we have the World Baseball Classic. In 2023, the WBC was played in three different nations, the U.S.A., Taiwan, and Japan. The games were transmitted on Fox Sports, and it was hard this year for people without cable to watch the games. This year, we had the sixth edition of the World Baseball Classic.  This tournament was previously held in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2021.

Before the tournament can start, teams have to qualify in three ways. The first qualification is placing the top four teams from the previous WBC. Secondly, the team must perform well in tournaments outside the World Baseball Classic to get recognized and get an invitation. The final way to qualify is to be lucky enough to be one of the nations to host the tournament.

The teams that made the tournament this year were Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, United States, Venezuela, Panama, Nicaragua, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Great Britain, Czech Republic, and Australia. This made for a total of 20 teams.

Prior to the tournament, there were doubts and uncertainties about certain teams. Some of the stronger teams according to various sources were Dominican Republic, Japan, the USA, and Venezuela.

For the most part, it was close to the predictions except for the Dominicans being cut short and not making it to the playoffs after a loss to Puerto Rico. The quarterfinals comprised Australia, Cuba, the USA, Venezuela, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. From these eight teams, the four that advanced were Cuba, the USA, Japan, and Mexico. These semifinals were where the playoffs got really interesting.

The quarter-finals began with a matchup of Cuba vs the USA. The USA built its momentum even more with this match as they stunned Cuba with run after run. They rack in 12 runs against Cuba’s two with a stunning performance by ex-Dodger Trea Turner. Turner, in his two previous games prior to the final was 4 of 8, racking in three home runs and eight RBIs as well as three runs.

At the other end of the bracket was Mexico vs Japan. This match was, in my opinion, the best game of the tournament. Mexico was led by a Cuban who was nationalized as a Mexican prior to the tournament, Randy Arozerana. Mexico led the game until the 7th inning by three runs.

Baseball Image (RSNStats)

Japan then hit a 3-run home run and tied the game. The 8th inning then came around and Arozarena hit a double. Right after that, Verdugo got a hit and sent Arozarena to home plate to take back the lead.

Then Joey Meneses got a hit to send Verdugo home and the inning ended.  Japan then racked another home run in the bottom of the 8th making the score 5-4, in favor of Mexico.

Mexico then opened the ninth and didn’t get any runs which opened up the possibility for Japan. This is where Japan took advantage and their superstar Shohei Ohtani got a critical hit followed by another key hit from the batter behind him. A double then brought in both runners and the game ended there with Japan winning and qualifying for the final.

At this point, there is only one game left, Japan vs the USA. It began with a solo home run by Trea Turner to open the scoring 1-0 in favor of the Americans as the match is played in Miami.

In the same inning, Japan tied it up with a solo home run. The second inning ended with a 2-1 lead for Japan. The 4th inning ended with a solo home run by Japan to make it 3-1.

The 8th inning began with a solo home run by Kyle Schwarber of the USA. The 9th inning started with a 3-2 lead for Japan. There are two outs as Mike Trout stepped up to the plate to face his major league Angel teammate Ohtani on the mound. This was USA’s last chance and the count was 3-2. Ohtani struck out Trout and Japan is named a 3-time champion of the World Baseball Classic.